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.
In the Ruins of a Blue and White Empire: "This is the tale of two sons. One who told a story that brought down a kingdom. The other who will never finish rebuilding it." Esquire revisits the Penn State scandal and its aftermath through the eyes of Jay Paterno and the unnamed Victim 1 in the criminal complaint against Jerry Sandusky.
The next round of college football realignments may be under way: thanks to a rumor that bounced around about Florida State looking waaay westward to the Big 12. Just before the annual ACC meetings kicked off this weekend, the chairman of FSU's Board of Trustees came out in favor of exploring the possibility of jumping. Coach Jimbo Fisher came out in support of at least the possibility, forcing FSU President Eric Barron (a former Dean at the University of Texas, the biggest force in the Big 12) to deliver a smackdown memo detailing that there are no negotiations whatsoever and why the rumors need to stop. Which is, of course, going to have that exact effect, right?
NFL: Ex-Players Live Longer Than the Guys Who Watched Them: A study by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has found that pro football players outlive other American men. The NFL sent a newsletter to 3,200 retired players on Tuesday outlining the findings. Players in the study played for at least five seasons between 1959 and 1988, and were found to have lower rates of cancer (possibly due to lower smoking rates, which the study did not address) and heart disease (except for larger players, particularly defensive linemen). The NIOSH is currently studying neurological causes of death.
Accountant Signs With Dolphins: In a move guaranteed to someday be an uplifting film, Les Brown, who never played college football and was most recently employed as an accountant at an investment firm, has signed with the Miami Dolphins after impressing scouts during pro day at BYU (where his brother was an offensive lineman before graduating this year and another brother is currently a tight end). Brown is up against some stiff competition as a tight end (including Anthony Fasano), but he signed an NFL contract, and who among us can say that?
Arkansas Lays Down Petrino: Bobby Petrino has allegedly been fired as coach of the University of Arkansas Razorbacks football team, following a motorcycle accident that expanded to reveal a probable extramarital affair with a Razorback staffer that Petrino had just hired.
NFL suspends Sean Payton, fines Saints, takes draft picks, and more: The NFL has come down hard on the New Orleans Saints over the bounty system of the last three seasons. Head Coach Sean Payton is out for a year, the team GM for eight games, and former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams indefinitely. In addition, the team loses its next two second-round draft picks and was fined $500,000.
NCAA Slaps OSU on the Wrist, USC Still Feeling Groin-Kicked: The Ohio State sanctions have come, with a one-year bowl ban (that will also prevent them from playing in the Big Ten Championship next year), a nine-scholarship reduction, three years of probation and a five-year show-cause penalty for ousted coach Jim Tressel that effectively prevents him from working at a NCAA school. Now many USC fans are up in arms about how this compares to the Trojans' sanctions, where the fact that the coach should have known about one player receiving improper benefits resulted in double the bowl ban and triple the scholarship reduction. The NCAA says that the difference was that USC "lacked institutional control," while OSU merely "failed to properly monitor." SI's Stewart Mandel says that the Buckeyes' penalties were the NCAA hitting the reset button, essentially not wanting to use USC as a precedent after having penalizing the Trojans for their "adversarial response" to the investigation.
It's Official: LSU-Alabama for the BCS National Championship. The real surprise is the 11-2 Virginia Tech Hokies vs. the 10-2 Michigan Wolverines in the Sugar Bowl -- the former being the first ever ACC at-large BCS pick and the latter getting picked in lieu of the just-barely-not-Big-Ten-champion Michigan State (who beat the Wolverines). The Fiesta Bowl is a de facto 3 vs. 4, with the inched-out Oklahoma State Cowboys playing the Stanford Cardinal. The Orange Bowl is stuck with ACC champion Clemson vs. Big East Champion West Virginia, and the Rose Bowl is back to its usual Pac-12/Big Ten contretemps, with the Wisconsin Badgers coming to Pasadena again to face the Oregon Ducks.
NCAA Conference Death Watch - Big East gains on Big 12: Out of nowhere, Syracuse and Pitt jump from the increasingly wrongly named Big East to the Atlantic Coast Conference. Details haven't been ironed out, but this is seen by many as the latest step toward four 16-team superconferences (and a de facto football playoff of sorts), with the ACC trying to make a case for being the fourth.
Meanwhile, Texas and Oklahoma are looking more and more like the next members of the Pac-16 (with little brothers Texas Tech and Oklahoma State along for the ride).