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Samuel Chi - December 11, 2014

The worst thing the Big 12 can do is going for the quick fix. When no such "fix" is needed.

Sure, the conference rightfully feels it got screwed by the selection committee after being the only Power 5 conference left out of the inaugural College Football Playoff. But before the Big 12 runs out to hastily extend an invitation to Cincinnati or BYU or whomever to join the conference - or arrange a title game between its top two teams - it needs to ...

Stop. Just stop.

The Big 12 got left out not because it didn't stage a conference title game or because its conference champion didn't play a 13th game. It got left out because the selection committee proved to be no more discerning than the average fan who watches too much ESPN.

The fact is that if you replaced TCU with TEXAS, the Big 12 doesn't lose that final playoff spot to Ohio State and the Big Ten. Or if you replaced OHIO STATE with ILLINOIS, then the Horned Frogs would be on their way to New Orleans to face Alabama in a national semifinal game.

The Big 12 lost out because the schools it had in contention were small, private, Christian colleges, not college football behemoths like the four teams that made it. And in no small part because that's the way ESPN wanted it.

Did you see Kirk Herbstreit in the last three weeks proselytizing on behalf of his alma mat ... uh, Ohio State? Even as the Buckeyes labored to beat Big Ten also-rans Indiana and Michigan, Herbstreit claimed that they were "gaining momentum" and without fail, put Ohio State in his own Final Four week after... read more »

Patrick Kelley - December 04, 2014

On Tuesday, the University of Alabama-Birmingham (UAB) decided to discontinue its football program. In an era when palatial training centers and multimillion dollar stadiums are built with the sole purpose of serving college football teams (the operative word being college) it is unheard of for a university’s administration to actually cut funding from the most sacred of cows in American culture.

But with UAB subsidizing the athletic department to the tune of $20 million per year, its decision to focus efforts on education and create a financially feasible future for its athletic department was the most logical choice. The decision will also hopefully trigger a trend of athletic departments becoming completely financially independent of their associated universities.

As noted by UAB officials, the university subsidizes two-thirds of its $30 million athletic budget and would need additional funds for football facilities, including an indoor practice facility and an on-campus stadium (the team played home games at Legion Field, owned by the City of Birmingham.)

Taking UAB’s press release at face value, the athletic department predicted — with the help of third-party consulting firm CarrSports Consulting — that an additional $49 million would be needed to keep the football team afloat for the next five years (that figure does not include needed funds for a stadium) and that the lion's share of that $49 million would have to come from education, research, patient care or the student services budget - a move that would... read more »

Tom Carkeek - November 26, 2014

Back in prehistoric days - that is, before Twitter - jocks had to go out of their way to put their ignorance on full display. Perhaps an annoying reporter's question would set them off. Or a pesky heckler at a public appearance would get under their skin.

But now it's much too easy. These vapid, self-absorbed athletes just log in to their Twitter accounts, and out spills ill-informed, unadulterated tripe.

The latest entrants in the Derby of the Dense are those who obliterated logic and objectivity by castigating the grand jury decision in the Ferguson, Mo., case. It's probably not surprising that young people who earn millions by bouncing a ball or swinging a racket come up somewhat short in their sociological interpretations. But it's distressing nonetheless.

By and large, they're taking their cues from their idols at the top, Barack Obama and Eric Holder.

In remarks shortly after the grand jury decided not to indict Officer Darren Wilson in the death of Michael Brown, Obama, the master of passive-aggressive messaging, tepidly asked for calm before obliquely emasculating law enforcement several times. And Holder, who is Al Sharpton with a fancy title, assured the race baiters that the federal government would not be deterred from its investigation.

A legally empaneled grand jury heard testimony from about 60 witnesses before rendering its decision. Transcripts of that testimony are available, though it's probably safe to assume the pampered athletes who shot off their mouths didn't bother reading any of it.

To summarize: The... read more »

Sheldon Hirsch - November 25, 2014

Chicago Bulls superstar Derrick Rose caused an uproar by revealing that he sits out some basketball games to minimize injury. Rose specified that he does not want to attend his son’s future graduations “all sore.” Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal, among other critics, argued that playing with injuries is an occupational requirement justified by NBA salaries and athletic glory. O’Neal added that Rose seemed “soft.”

The Rose brouhaha inverts the usual situation. Athletes typically brag about how tough or talented they are. Most people discount the talk; only performance matters. In this instance, however, critics focused on Rose’s timid talk rather than on his exemplary on-court performances. 

Ironically, many observers previously suggested that Rose’s aggressive play contributed to his injuries and recommended that he tone down his approach in the interests of his long-term health.

Following the exchange, Rose continued his physical play (seemingly at odds with his own sentiments) and led the Bulls to victory over the first-place Toronto Raptors. He attacked the basket relentlessly — no Raptor could stay in front of him — and fought through pick after pick set by Raptors big men trying to free their own star, Kyle Lowry. Unfortunately, Rose’s characteristic aggressive performance ended prematurely with a pulled hamstring, perhaps giving voice to those advising more prudence in his play.

Until Rose plays soft (for the first time ever) or sits out a meaningful game... read more »