Today in sports: the Big 10 and Pac-12 close a new scheduling deal to gobble up more college sports scheduling real estate, Penn State's top choice to replace Joe Paterno passes, and Alex Rodriguez's bad knee gets the experimental blood therapy treatment in Germany.
First-year Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Munchak says he has "no interest" in becoming the next football coach at Penn State. That's a blow to the search panel looking for Joe Paterno's replacement, since the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that Muchak -- a former All-American lineman with the Nittany Lions -- was the school's top choice for the job. With Munchak emphatically taking himself out of the running, the leading candidates are reported to be Green Bay Packers quarterbacks coach Tom Clements, who went to Notre Dame but is from Western Pennsylvania, and -- oddly -- former New York Jets and Cleveland Browns head coach Eric Mangini, who has no ties to Penn State, has never coached at the college level, and earned a reputation for being uncommunicative and only sporadically successful during his five seasons as an NFL head coach. [The Tennessean]
Conference realignment has already slashed-and-burned its way through the college football landscape, and now the Big 10 and Pac-12 have reached a new scheduling alliance under which "each team from the Pac-12 and the Big Ten will play a team from the other conference in football each season" starting in 2017 and member schools will "play each other extensively in other sports starting as soon as next season." Like conference expansion, the plan sounds irresistible in the abstract, but is bound spark copycat arrangements by other conferences that will almost certainly go too far and further cheapen college sports as a whole. But until that happens, the arrangement seems pretty great: football games will pit "programs of similar strength, meaning that marquee games like Ohio State versus Southern California, Wisconsin versus Stanford and Michigan versus Oregon" early in the year, while high-profile early season basketball matchups are being touted as a way to "help the sport open its season more definitively, the way Major League Baseball does with its opening day." Even non-revenue sports could conceivably benefit. Big 10 commissioner Jim Delany suggested "universities like Michigan or U.S.C. could host a showcase track meet that would feature aspiring Olympians from both conferences," thus increasing their exposure. If this all sounds too great, don't worry: college sports knows how to take the germ of a good idea and turn it into a unwieldy and voracious monster with precious little oversight. [The New York Times]
Former NFL vice president of officiating Mike Pereira -- now a rules analyst for Fox Sports -- has apparently had his fill of former Oakland Raiders and Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Jon Gruden misquoting portions of the league's rule book in his capacity as an announcer on Monday night football. In a new Fox Sports column, Pereira says Gruden was "a loudmouth as a coach who constantly disrespected officials" and is now " a blowhard in the broadcast booth who spouts off when he doesn’t know what he is talking about." Pereira singles Gruden out for having "butchered two plays regarding hits on defenseless receivers" in the second quarter of Monday night's game between the New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons. Based on the transcripts of Gruden's comments, juxtaposed against the actual text of the NFL rule book, we agree with Pereira, who insists somewhat unconvincingly that he doesn't have an axe to grind with the combative Gruden, who has never met an officiating crew that failed to botch multiple calls in key situations. "To me, the second you agree to step into the broadcast booth, you agree to learn the rules. It goes with the job," Pereira writes. "You, as an announcer, have an obligation to know the rules. You are free to pontificate as to whether or not you like a rule, but you must present the rule first." [Fox Sports]
The New York Yankees and Major League Baseball apparently gave third baseman Alex Rodriguez the go-ahead to travel to Germany to receive the experimental blood therapy treatment Orthokine on his balky right knee. Sources tell the New York Post that Rodriguez made the trip on the recommendation of Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, who had the procedure, which involves "taking blood from the patient’s arm and spinning it in a centrifuge, a machine used in laboratories to spin objects around a fixed axis" and then injecting it into the injured area, last summer to treat his own knee injury. Nobody knows if the procedure really works, but a source says Rodriguez had the treatment within the last month and has already resumed his off-season training program, and is slated to arrive on-time at spring training in March. [New York Post]
79.5. That's the over-under line for tonight's Alamo Bowl matchup between Baylor University and the University of Washington. (So if you bet the "over," you're betting the teams will combine to score 80 or more points.) According to RJ Bell, CEO of the sports betting Website pregame.com, that's the highest over-under line Las Vegas has ever set for a bowl game, narrowly beating out the 2004 Autozone Bowl between Boise State and Louisville, where the total points scored line was 78.5. When Baylor played the University of Oklahoma in November, the over-under was 81.5 points, which was the highest line in regular season history. Before that, only twelve college football games ever had an over-under greater than 76 points. Counting the Baylor-Oklahoma game, which Baylor won 45-38, nine of those games went "over" the total spread, compared to four for the "under." For what it's worth. [RJ Bell]
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