Monday, June 7, 2010

Meanwhile, the SEC sits back and laughs

The college conference expansion saga has officially come to a boil, and it's fascinating to see how the story has shifted. It was supposed to be the Big Ten who was in charge - they announced their plan to expand and made a big show of doing so. Would they get Notre Dame at last? Assuming not, how badly would they wreck other conferences? Jim Delany was dropping hints at coming into the south a few weeks ago, ridiculous as he sounded. Now it's the Pac-10 who's on the prowl, and Nebraska appears to be the program holding all the cards unless ND decides to jump in at the last minute. The Big 12 supposedly has given Nebraska and Missouri an "in or out" ultimatum, but if they don't have Big Ten offers yet they can't say. Is the Big 12 going to kick the Huskers out if they don't say they'll stay in the next couple of weeks? Not a chance in hell, because then they'd have to replace them if they want to continue having a conference title game. The question is whether Texas is willing to hang around and find out how the story turns out or not. If the Longhorns decide to take the Pac-10 offer rather than wait and see on Nebraska, the Big 12's toast and programs like Kansas are in a major jam. Meanwhile, the Big Ten that was so sure they were calling all the shots is worried about starting their own branded sports bar.

The sports world spent the weekend paying tribute to legacy of John Wooden after the legendary UCLA coach died late Friday evening. There are tons of different stories out there to link to on this subject, but for a piece you might not have seen yet I'll go with this one from Esquire's "What I've Learned" series. Wooden was a giant, and the only person in college sports I can think of who can even possibly have a similar status would be Joe Paterno if he retired and continued to maintain a public presence. Bobby Bowden's too damaged from his last decade to play that role, and no one in college hoops makes sense for it. Dean Smith doesn't want the attention, Bobby Knight's too polarizing, and Mike Krzyzewski's too corporate. We will not see anyone like Wooden again.

We'll have an NBA Finals to enjoy now thanks to Boston taking down the Lakers last night. The Celtics can win game 6 or 7 in Staples if need be, but there was no way they were going to win them both even if they swept all three at home. Rajon Rondo's development continues to be astounding. This is a guy drafted 21st - a pick behind Renaldo Balkman (thanks again, Knicks!) - just four years ago. Now he's putting up triple doubles on the road in the Finals. I don't think Boston can take all three at home, but if the games are like last night's they'll be fun to watch.

It takes something pretty strange for me to have a reason to write about women's lacrosse, but the Chicago Tribune has details on something that qualifies. There's a prominent lacrosse official who is the longtime partner of the trainer for Maryland's team. The ACC has barred that official from working any of their games, since she's got an obvious bias to Maryland (complete with wearing team gear and traveling to their events with her partner). Despite that, the NCAA inexplicably let her work the Final Four of lacrosse even though Maryland was a participant. She didn't work a Terps game, but did go confer with the officials who were at halftime. How hard is it to avoid assigning any official with a dating relationship to a Final Four team to work the event? It's like the NCAA went out of their way to see how shady they could look.

There have been all kinds of theories floated about Barack Obama since his emergence on the national stage. His birthplace, his religion, and lots more has been called into question. If you have deep seated beliefs about any of those things, please feel free not to share them because politics isn't what we do here. The latest item raised about the president's background can not be ignored, however. There are now people who are truly convinced that Obama appears in the video for Tag Team's hit Whoomp (There It Is). The man's a Harvard Law grad, and some folks think he was wearing ear rings and a "Compton" hat in a 1993 music video. It's absolutely mind boggling.

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