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Desktop Sportsman - 06/13/10

On its face, expansion sounds like an interesting thing. I mean, I've been praying that UW will one day again play Nebraska in football (and my prayers have been answered). I would love to see Missouri replace San Jose State on the schedule. As much as I may not care for a Rutgers or a Syracuse in the league, I know Penn State wants them and I know Missouri would be a great fit for the Big Ten too.

But what have God wrought if this happens? I mean Baylor in the Pac 10? Are you kidding me? I thought Texas was so big and bad they could do whatever they wanted. Now if they want to bolt for the Pac 10 they've got to take much of the Big 12 South with them? How are they going to make any more money for themselves when their softball team has to fly to Spokane to catch the bus for the 50-mile trip to Pullman, Wash. to play Washington State?

It's inevitable politics would get involved in this process (that's how the Big 12 got started in the first place and that's how Virginia Tech wound up in the ACC) and it looks like it has. Some freshman Texas state legislator from Jim Hogg County who happens to be a Texas Tech grad can basically dictate to Texas what it can and cannot do when it comes to collegiate athletics. That's power? What's the point of pulling the plug on the Big 12 if joining the Pac 10 means recreating the same kind of league only farther West? I'm sure Oregon State is going to love to live off of Texas' dime just as Iowa State does.

At some point you have to ask the very question: What's the point? If Texas can't make the big move by itself without taking their brethren in the Big 12 South (which is sort of like taking your brothers and sisters along when you go out on a date to movies), then is it worth blowing up the Big 12? A 16-team Pac-10 that goes from Canada to Mexico to the Louisiana border?

So much of what is great about college sports is the tradition involved with it. A lot of that would be altered utterly with proposed new leagues. But I also am aware that this is a much different country than it was in the 20th Century when many of these leagues were formed (Or the 19th when the Big Ten was formed in 1896. Wisconsin was a charter member). I know from what Jim Delany speaks about population drain to the Sunbelt and expansion is a way to counter this and still remain the biggest player in the casino.

But the question remains, is it all worth it knowing that Notre Dame is standing pat? We may well be opening pandora's box just to punish Notre Dame for being who it is.

You see how football is such a dominant sport not just in our culture but also economically because just like high school realignment, it drives the process. Thus basketball powers like Kansas and Kansas State have to sit and watch the process play itself out not knowing its own fates. Still, it should be pointed out a program does not have to be in a BCS conference to be a power in college basketball. Butler proves it. Gonzaga proves it. So does Memphis and Northern Iowa. Kansas, given its tradition and facilities and brand name will be fine wherever it lands.

No doubt the U.S. national team got a gift goal against England in the World Cup but the U.S. wants to at least get to the quarterfinals, which it has the talent to do so and should, a little luck doesn't hurt.

Speaking of eating junk food, the Brewers' eating of Jeff Suppan's $10 million contract is the equivalent of the Double-Down sandwich. But alas it is a necessary move because something has to be done to fix the pitching staff to salvage the season and that means bringing in as many new arms as possible in the hope they can do better than what they started with. They can't be any worse.

Over two million people showed up for the parade in Chicago to honor the new Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks. Five years ago they were considered one of the worst franchises in sports (and believe me they were). Now they are champions. And as soon as Donald Sterling gets smart and sells the Los Angeles Clippers, maybe LeBron James will go West and play for them and turn a perennial laughing stock into champions too. It can happen. Just getting rid of an owner (or having them croak as Bill Wirtz did)can make a big, big difference.

The Twins survived their first test of the season, in first place in the AL Central without Joe Nathan. Now they face their next test, a tough interleague schedule with several of their infielders on the DL.

It's easy to be cynical when past so-called "next-big-things" don't live up to their hype. And yes it's only one game against a bad team. But boy, can you remember a rookie debut in any sport as impressive as Stephen Strasburg's was?