NFL Divisional Round Produces Predictable Results: The #1 and #2 seeds in both the NFC and AFC have advanced to the conference championships for the first time since the 2004-05 season. The NFC title game pits the Arizona Cardinals (the oldest team in the NFL) against the Carolina Panthers (the most recent expansion team that wasn't a replacement franchise) in each team's quest for its first Super Bowl victory after being in one apiece. On the AFC side, the New England Patriots and Denver Broncos will meet to see which first-ballot-HOF quarterback will go to Santa Clara.
Kobe Bryant announces retirement: Kobe Bryant -- 5-time NBA champion, 17-time All-Star, 3rd on the list of all-time scorers in the regular season and postseason, unconvicted but all-but-admitted rapist -- has announced his retirement via a poem on the Players' Tribune.
College Football Belt Backlog: The definitive (I believe) trail from Rutgers-Princeton 1869 to Nebraska-Alabama 1972, this proves that the College Football Belt site starts with the right team. This is how bored I was at work today. Starting at the first recognized college football game (Rutgers vs. Princeton, November 6th, 1869) and using the nearly complete records on SportsReference.com, I traced the lineal College Football Belt through the 1972 Orange Bowl, after which point the good people at College Football Belt start up.
Al Golden Out at Miami: After suffering the worst loss in school history, the University of Miami has relieved head coach Al Golden of duties, effective immediately.
Chargers Will Apply to Move to L.A.: The San Diego Chargers have declared their intention to relocate to Los Angeles for the 2016 season, expressly to get the jump on a potential Raiders or Rams move.
The Hot Seat: The college football head coach carousel is starting to claim victims, with Maryland's Randy Edsall getting the boot after a 2-4 start (and losing that fourth one after it was already an open secret that he was gone), North Texas's Dan McCarney getting the boot after the worst FBS loss to an FCS team in history, Rutgers' Kyle Flood's three-game suspension probably going permanent at some point, and USC's Steve Sarkisian very likely gone pending a temporary leave of absence to deal with alcohol issues.
Tokyo 2020 Committee Releases Short List of New Sports: Eight sports are in line for addition to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics: baseball/softball, bowling, roller sports, sport climbing, squash, surfing, wushu, and karate. Tokyo 2020 organizers will make their recommendation this September, with the IOC making its final decision next August. The list of non-recommended sports was a vast one: air sports, bowls, bridge, chess, dance sport, floorball, flying disc, football, korfball, netball, orienteering, polo, racquetball, sumo, tug of war, underwater sports and waterski and wakeboard.
Patriots crush Colts in the rain: Foul weather didn't slow down Tom Brady and the Patriots as they beat Andrew Luck and the Colts 45-7 (the second worst drubbing in AFC Championship history). This will be the Pats' 8th Super Bowl trip, tying them for the record with the Steelers and the Cowboys; and Brady's and Bill Belichick's 6th, tying them with Mike Lodish (player) and Don Shula (coach).
Ducks v. Bucks in Arlington: The post-BCS era started with a firm (if unintentional) repudiation of the BCS, as defending national champion Florida State was embarrassed by perennial bridesmaid Oregon and defending-minus-one (and -minus-two) champ Alabama was beaten by perennial SEC victim Ohio State.
Tide-Buckeyes, Ducks-Noles: It's official -- the participants in the College Football Playoff will be the four power-conference champions that played a conference championship game. #2 Oregon takes on undefeated defending national champions #3 Florida State in the Rose Bowl, while Nick Saban's #1 Alabama faces Urban Meyer's #4 Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl. #5 Baylor and #6 TCU are left out, handicapped by being in the 10-team Big 12.
MLB Pace-of-Game Committee Suggests Six New Rules: The Arizona Fall League will test out six new rules intended to speed up baseball this year.
1 -- Hitter must keep one foot inside the batter's box (except for fouls, wild pitches, time outs granted by the umpire, etc.).
2 -- Manager can signal an intentional walk rather than have the pitcher throw.
3 -- Maximum break of 2:05 between innings, hitters in the batter's box by 1:45. Umpire can call a strike on slow hitters and a ball on slow pitchers.
4 -- Maximum of 2:30 for pitching changes, including during inning breaks (clock starts when reliever enters the field).
5 -- Three "timeout" mound conferences per game.
6 -- 20 seconds to pitch after receiving the ball (Salt River only). Clocks will be posted in dugouts.
Area Man Buys Bills for $1B: The trust that inherited the Buffalo Bills from Ralph Wilson has apparently agreed to sell the team to Terry Pegula, the owner of the Buffalo Sabres. The amount is being reported as slightly above $1 billion, which would be a record for a team that does not own its own stadium. Pegula had become a favorite due to his large wallet and his roots in Western New York. The other team owners still need to agree to the sale at their next meeting in October.
I wrote an e-mail two years ago that was inappropriate and offensive. I trivialized our fans by making clichéd assumptions about their interests (i.e. hip hop vs. country, white vs. black cheerleaders, etc.) and by stereotyping their perceptions of one another (i.e. that white fans might be afraid of our black fans). By focusing on race, I also sent the unintentional and hurtful message that our white fans are more valuable than our black fans.
Eight NFL Stars Sue for Getting Doped Up: Eight former NFL players (including HOFer Richard Dent) have sued the league for four decades of being drugged off their asses by team trainers and doctors, leading to long-term medical issues and drug addiction. The suit seeks to establish a class action that would cover every player who was treated without being fully advised of what was being done to him, which is to say pretty much every player in NFL history.
Nets Sign First Openly Gay NBA Player: Journeyman center Jason Collins has signed a 10-day contract with the Brooklyn Nets and will make history as the first openly gay player for an NBA team when he takes the court in a game. The Nets play the Lakers tonight at 9 p.m Eastern. Collins came out in a Sports Illustrated cover story last April, but was not signed by a team until now.
UW Snaps Up Boise's Petersen: After Boise State wunderkind coach Chris Petersen allegedly turned down the USC job, the Trojans turned to Washington's Steve Sarkisian. UW responded by taking Petersen after what is described as a short negotiation.
Tokyo Wins the 2020 Summer Olympics: After Madrid was eliminated, Tokyo beat Istanbul in the final vote for the 2020 Summer Olympics. Concerns over the lingering environmental effects of the Fukushima nuclear disaster may have been outweighed by concerns over Middle East unrest and Spanish economic woes. This puts the Olympics in East Asia for consecutive events, with the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeonchang, South Korea.
NFL Settles with Players for $765 Million for Brain Traumas: A judge has announced a tentative settlement between the NFL and the more than 4,000 players who had joined in a suit over concussion-related brain injuries. The mediated result would cost the league $765 million, with payments to individual players based on their medical status. Any former NFL player would be eligible.
Olympics drop wrestling for 2020: The International Olympic Committee has dropped wrestling from the list of "core" sports as of the 2020 Games. The shocking decision would mean that the sport, which had 18 events for men and women at last year's London games, is off the program for the first time since 1900.
HoboJacket: Some MIT guys have a... great? idea: buy clothes from schools you hate and give them to the homeless. They get warm, and you get the chance of seeing someone begging for spare change in a Bulldogs jacket. Is this a brilliantly terrible idea or a terribly brilliant one?
The Best Deal Ever Is Not Good Enough: We discussed the Silna brothers six years ago, but there's a new wrinkle in the saga of the biggest money giveaway in sports history. Ozzie and Daniel Silna, owners of the ABA's St. Louis Spirits, negotiated a deal when the NBA absorbed four other ABA teams in 1976 -- one-seventh of TV revenues from those four ABA teams, forever. This has made them somewhere between $240 and $300 million, but they're suing for a chunk of international broadcasts and the NBA TV network, ideas no one had thought of 36 years ago.
One At Bat: "Of the almost 17,500 people to play in Major League baseball, Adam Greenberg is the only player to have his career end on the very first pitch. In fact, according to Major League rules, Adam’s debut only counts as a plate appearance, not an official at bat. Our goal…to get Adam Greenberg the official at bat he deserves."
The first college football Coaches Poll is out: Last season's runner-up LSU has edged out last season's champion Alabama (who received two more first-place votes than LSU) by four points and still-under-sanction USC (who received one more first-place vote than LSU) by fifteen. Unsurprisingly, the SEC dominates the rankings, with three more teams in the top ten (#6 Georgia, #9 South Carolina and #10 Arkansas) and Florida and Auburn rounding out the list at #23 and #25, respectively. The Big 12 sees Oklahoma jump from a 10-3 #15 season last year to #4 in the new poll, while defending Pac-10 champions Oregon return at #5. The biggest leap up is the ACC's Florida State, from a 9-4 #23 season last year to a preseason #7. Michigan leads the Big Ten at #8 (with the two participants in last season's inaugural Big Ten Championship Game, Wisconsin and Michigan State, at #12 and #13 respectively). Huge drops include last season's #3 Big 12 champions Oklahoma State to #19, #7 Stanford to #18, and #6 Boise State to #22. All three lost high-powered quarterbacks to the NFL.
The college football playoff is a go: The mythical NCAA football championship has expanded from two teams to four. As of the 2014 season, the top four teams at the end of the season will be seeded 1-4 and 2-3 in a rotation of the four current BCS bowls (and two more to be determined) on December 31st and January 1st, with the winners proceeding to a championship game (which cities will bid to host, much like the Super Bowl) on the first Monday in January at least six days after the latter semifinal. The selections will be made by a committee, which will take into account records, strength of schedule, head-to-head results and conference championships.
The Atlantic calls for the NL to go DH: With the move of the Houston Astros from the National League to the American League (which puts an odd number of teams in each league), Major League Baseball will more or less be forced to spread interleague play throughout the season. Jake Simpson of The Atlantic says that this should give MLB the chance to finally give up on having each league play with different rules -- specifically, the designated hitter. The disparity is simply too much to spread over the course of a whole season, Simpson says.