FORT WORTH, Texas ― Clint Adkins sat in front of his computer Wednesday afternoon to begin preparing for this weekend's Built Ford Tough Series event in Oklahoma City.
The veteran announcer, who typically teams with Brandon Bates to provide in-arena commentary, scrolled through the world standings and was surprised by the laundry list of riders outside of the Top 35.
He noticed Caleb Sanderson and Guilherme Marchi, who are at least ranked inside the Top 40. Then he found Brendon Clark, Aganldo Cardozo and Stormy Wing ranked in the 40s, while Harve Stewart and Ryan Dirteater are both ranked in the 50s.
Most surprising was Austin Meier, who comes into this weekend ranked 70th, and 243 points outside of the Top 35.
"To have this conversation really blows my mind," said Adkins, who will fill in for Craig Hummer in the broadcast booth on Sunday for the final two rounds of the event on CBS Sports Network. Brandon Bates will co-host Pure PBR on Saturday, along with Justin McBride. Hummer will return to the booth next week in Sacramento, Calif.
Seeing Meier so far down the standings, Adkins added, "I'm shocked."
Last year's Top 35 qualifiers from the World Finals are guaranteed a spot competing in the first five BFTS events in 2013, before the weekly draw will be determined by who is ranked in the Top 35 this year.
Meier is guaranteed five long-round bulls between Oklahoma City and Sacramento, with the opportunity to qualify for two Built Ford Tough Championship Rounds and, perhaps, three possible bonus bulls.
"To have this conversation really blows my mind."
He needs three scores to just draw even with Scottie Knapp and Dakota Beck, who are currently splitting 35th and 36th with 408.87 points.
By comparison, Meier only has 166.25 points.
In his favor, last year, Meier went 0-for-the-weekend in New York, before covering six in a row and 10 of 11 to assert himself among the contenders for the remainder of the 2012 season.
Adkins paused, then noted Meier did go 0-for-3 a year ago in Oklahoma City and concluded, "I'm dumbfounded were having this conversation. … He's gotta be there (in the Top 35). He's gotta be there. He's a Top-10 guy.
"He has to rise to the challenge that's in front of him."
The good thing for Meier and the remaining seven aforementioned riders is the fact that all of the riders ranked between 30th and 36th are playing the waiting game for another two weeks.
Brant Atwood, who is ranked 30th, will be in Oklahoma City by virtue of winning a Touring Pro Division event in Pueblo, Colo., and Beck is as an alternate.
The other five ranked between 30th and 36th - Chris Lowe, Zack Brown, Joseph McConnel, Skeeter Kingsolver and Knapp - are at the mercy of how the top riders perform at the next two BFTS events.
In fact, Lowe is in Australia and will not be competing, while McConnel missed the entry deadline for some TPD events and could slip as well.
Jason Malone, No. 20, and Reese Cates, No. 23, are the riders most likely to remain inside the Top 35, which would secure them a spot in the draw, beginning in Anaheim, Calif.
Troy Wilkinson is sitting 26th, but won't be competing between now and then either. He would have to fall 10 spots in the world standings. However, there are only 137 points between No. 36 and where he's currently ranked.
Sean Willingham, who earned an alternate position this week after winning a TPD event in Austin, Texas, arrives in Oklahoma ranked 27th in the world, and is guaranteed three long round bulls.
Although he's likely to miss next week's event in Sacramento, a qualified ride or two would go a long way in assuring the Georgia-native a place in the Top 35, beginning in Anaheim.
Given the points available, there is simply not enough room for Sanderson, Marchi, Clark, Cardozo, Wing, Stewart, Dirteater and Meier to all be in the draw by the end of the two-week trip to California.
With this weekend being a three-day event, they all have to take advantage of the opportunity. However, adding to the degree of difficulty - as if the mental game wasn't already being played - the WinStar World Casino Invitational is a Super Classic, in which some of the riders will not only face one, but two Classic bulls - in Rounds 1 and 3.
All 35 riders will face a 3- or 4-year-old bull in the opening round, and in Round 3, the Top-15 scoring Classic bulls return for a second out.
"Have you ever looked at the guys who have won Oklahoma City," Adkins asked? "It's kind of a different-looking list."
Some past winners include: Paulo Lima (2011), Ednei Caminhas (2009), Jody Newberry (2006), Ross Johnson (2005), Jason Bennett (2001, 2000) and Tater Porter (1999).
Noticeably absent from the list of Oklahoma winners are the four stalwarts that won multiple World Championships over the course of their careers - Silvano Alves (2), Justin McBride (2), Chris Shivers (2) and Adriano Moraes (3) - and cumulatively tallied more than 90 event wins en route to earning a combined nine gold buckles among them.
Though he wouldn't name names, Adkins predicted four of the eight will still be outside the Top 35 in another two weeks.
Marchi has bucked off six in a row, including reigning World Champion Bull Asteroid, and has never bucked off seven in a row since debuting on the BFTS.
Adkins agreed that it would be unfathomable to think Marchi, who is 32.7 points out of the Top 35, would run his buckoff streak to 11 without earning at least one qualified ride in the next two events.
"He's not in as bad a shape as Austin is, obviously."
Follow Keith Ryan Cartwright on Twitter @PBR_KRC.
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