Monday Morning Briefing

Another week of grown men (and women) with Ph.D.’s acting like little kids with crushes — yes, it’s time to round up the weekend that was conference expansion talk, and more . . .

The Big 12 is fighting a two-front war. Two more big meetings coming this weekend, as the New York Times Pete Thamel reports in this overview of the situation. Essentially, however, the situation is this. The Big 12 is a sitting duck. The Big Ten is looking to attack from the north and east. The Pac 10 is looking to attack from the west. Even the SEC would like to get in on Texas sweepstakes, though it would figure to be a longshot. The Big East, meanwhile, might be breathing just a bit easier. A month ago, it was the conference at the top of the endangered list. Now, it’s the Big 12.

Other league members have given Missouri and Nebraska a deadline in which to say whether they’re committed to the Big 12 or are keeping a Big 10 option open. Like a commitment means anything in this situation.

A question? With schools looking to jump to mega-leagues in order to try to cash in on larger media revenues, what happens if those revenues ever tank? Is anyone talking about what kinds of risks these schools are taking on? Is anyone talking about the further commercialization — not to mention professionalization — of college sports? Didn’t think so. For further reading:

  • The churn of 24-hour coverage has made privacy in conference expansion talks impossible. [Orlando Sentinel reports]
  • Baylor is launching a major push to supplant Colorado in the Pac 10’s expansion and stay with its Texas brethren. Politicians in Texas even are getting involved. [Fort Worth Star-Telegram]
  • Pac 10 gives expansion an official go-ahead [Seattle Times]

If there were any doubt that Rajon Rondo is the central player for the Boston Celtics, that should have been put away last night. Rondo comes up big, and the Celtics even the series up in Los Angeles. Rondo’s triple-double, 19 points, 12 rebounds, 10 assists, wasn’t his first in playoff play. But it was his most important to date. Instead of piling up numbers in losing causes, Frank Dell’Apa of the Boston Globe said this performance had meaning. [Boston Globe]

With the start of World Cup 2010 just days away, the extent to which South Africa is working to keep hooligans from the venues is coming to light. The Australian newspaper describes it as a “virtual hooligan net.” It wasn’t hooligans, but rabid fans in search of free tickets who stampeded at a Nigeria-North Korea tune-up just north of Johannesburg. Fourteen fans were hospitalized, none with serious injuries, but one police officer is reported to have sustained serious injuries when he was crushed into a gate, the Los Angeles Times reports. On the field, Didier Drogba, after successful elbow surgery in Switzerland, will rejoin his Ivory Coast team, though it’s not clear when he’ll be ready to play. More later today in the World Cup Digest.

Norman Chad, always a must-read, compares the World Cup and World Series of Poker. [Washington Post]

In Ottawa, it is now against the rules in one youth soccer league to win a game by more than five goals. Some parents are ticked off. Critics say the new rule coddles kids and doesn’t prepare them for “real life.” [National Post]

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