By Brian Hoffman
It seems like sooner or later we’re going to have just one legitimate conference of 40 or 50 schools in the NCAA, and then we’ll basically have no conferences at all.
When the “Big 10” added the University of Southern California and UCLA to their conference a couple weeks ago it will give them 16 schools when the two California teams officially start play in 2024. Obviously that’s more than 10, and has been, so what problem would it be to change the name? Maybe of the 16 schools only 10 are considered “BIG.” Is Rutgers a big school?
The Southeastern Conference(SEC) currently has 14 schools and word has it they’d like to add a few more to keep up. Raiding our local Atlantic Coast Conference seems like a possibility, although “local” is a stretch since schools like Pittsburgh and Boston College joined. Do you remember when all the teams were somewhat in proximity to the “Atlantic Coast?”
Virginia Tech fans have to be sweatin’ this one out. When the Hokies joined the ACC Tech was assured a great schedule of football and basketball games every year, but what if the “Big 10ish” and SEC start enticing the likes of Clemson, North Carolina, Florida State and others. The Hokies could be left with a football schedule of Akrons and Old Dominions instead of Notre Dames and Clemsons. Unless, of course, the Hokies can hitch their wagon to one of the two ever increasing mule trains that threaten to ruin college sports as we know it.
Of course, Stevie Wonder can see this is all about football. My question is, will USC and UCLA be playing the other Big 10 schools in ALL the sports? No other sport makes as much money for the school as football. Basketball is next, but sports like cross country and field hockey most likely don’t bring in anything at all. And, with Title 9 that could be a problem.
With that in mind I googled Penn State’s field hockey schedule. The Nittany Lionesses have non-conference trips to Virginia, William & Mary, Lafayette and Princeton, with the longest trip being about a five or six hour bus ride to Williamsburg. However, they have eight games against Big 10 opponents, including games at Iowa and Michigan State and home games against Northwestern and Michigan. Those are pretty long trips for teams that don’t bring in any money.
Enter two teams from California. According to my “Google Maps” the distance from State College, PA to Los Angeles is 2,570 miles. That’s a 38 hour drive by car with no traffic, and add some hours by bus. Of course you wouldn’t be taking a bus, so if Penn State plays USC or UCLA in one of several non-revenue sports it would entail a plane flight and hotel expenses.
I imagine the Big 10 could split the conference into two eight team divisions, but are you really in the same “conference” if you never play teams in the other division? And you have to be very careful with the Title 9 stuff. Why would the Penn State football team fly to games in LA and the women’s volleyball team would not get to make those trips?
I really don’t like the way these two conferences are sucking the others dry. Soon all the teams capable of winning the football championship will be stacked in just two conferences, if it’s not like that already.
Maybe it’s the conservative side of me, but I liked things the way they were with a bunch of conferences, geographically compatible with traditional rivals and a sense of stability. That scenario may soon be gone forever.
GRINER’S IN A TOUGH SPOT
I feel bad for Brittney Griner and would love to see her back home, but I wonder what she was thinking when she took cannabis oil to Russia? Did she ever see the movie “Midnight Express?”
Midnight Express is a 1970 movie about the true experience of Billy Hayes, who wrote a book about his arrest and incarceration after being caught with hashish in Turkey. Just watching the movie made my heart beat fast as the Turkish police searched his bags. Hayes was sent to a hellish prison for a long sentence, but eventually escaped. After watching that movie I vowed to never smuggle hash into Turkey. Maybe IN a turkey, but only in this country and with a medical waiver.
I know kids make mistakes, but Brittney Griner is 31 years old and should have known better. You don’t take that kind of chance in foreign countries, especially a place like Russia. Does she watch the news?
Also, why was she going there in the first place? The Russians had already invaded Ukraine, so she had to know that Americans were going to be especially scrutinized. Apparently she made a lot of money playing basketball in Russia, but what good is that money doing her now?
I find it strange that these golfers who have signed up for the LIV tour are being criticized for taking money from Saudi Arabia, but I haven’t heard anyone question why Griner was making money in Russia while the Russians were wiping out entire cities of innocent Ukrainian people.
Now she’s written a letter to President Biden begging for help to be released from prison. Maybe she should have written a letter to Biden asking him if it was a good idea to take cannabis oil into Russia while we’re sending military aide to a country they’re destroying.
Don’t get me wrong, I feel bad for Griner and would love to see her back home safe and sound playing in the WNBA. However, when you go through the gate that says “Beware of Dog,” don’t act surprised when you get bit.
DOG DAYS OF SUMMER
I was listening to sports talk radio shortly after the 4th of July and they were debating whether or not Joey Chestnut should be considered an “athlete.” My question is, is this even reason for debate?
Chestnut, as you likely know, is the legendary “competitive eater” that is featured every 4th of July in the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest in Brooklyn. This year he won the contest for the seventh consecutive year, eating 63 hot dogs in 10 minutes. That was 15 and a half hot dogs better than the second place eater!
Seven consecutive Nathan’s titles is impressive indeed, you can’t argue with that. Tom Brady has won seven Super Bowls, but not seven in a row. I don’t think the New York Yankees, in all their glory, ever won the World Series seven straight times. UCLA won seven straight NCAA basketball championships from 1967 to ’73, and they’re often mentioned in the same sentence as Joey Chestnut. People say, “Joey Chestnut, he’s no Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.”
But is Chestnut an athlete? The argument for him being one is that he has to train to be able to down all those hot dogs, and he’s a competitor. No denying that, but does that make him an athlete? Chris Farley trained to be an actor. Minnesota Fats was a competitor in billiards. I’m sure John Daly has practiced a lot of golf , but I don’t consider any of the three to be athletes.
What Chestnut is, to me, is a fascination. Why would anyone even want to eat 63 hot dogs in 10 minutes? Is it for the money?
Well, I did a little research on that. The hot dog eating winner gets $10,000, and Joey has won it 14 times. So, his 14 championships have earned him $140,000, not a lot for 14 years of consumption. Ken Jennings made more than that in a week playing Jeopardy, and he’s not an athlete either.
Chestnut also won a pumpkin pie eating contest in 2021, downing almost 17 pounds of pie in 11 and a half minutes. He’s made some money from endorsements, mostly from food companies and even one from Pepto Bismol, which makes more sense. Do you remember, “I can’t believe I ate the whole thing!!” That was for Alka-Seltzer, but you get the idea.
Blue ribbons and upset stomachs aside, the question of whether he’s an athlete is no question at all. Lebron James is an athlete, Joey Chestnut is a sideshow that has captured the imagination of folks not much different than the sword swallower at the traveling carnival.
“I can’t believe he swallowed the whole thing!!”
I was sad to learn of the passing of Mike Cromer, who died June 22nd at the age of 81. He was a good friend to the kids of Salem for many years.
Mike served as President for seven years when Salem was a member of the Little League Baseball organization. He was assistant administrator for District 12 from 1986 to ’93, was a player agent for the South Salem teams and also served as president of the South Salem Booster Club.
Mike was instrumental in bringing Little League baseball and softball state tournaments to Salem and also volunteered at the Chance Crawford Tournament. Wherever ballgames were played Mike was a willing volunteer and supporter of our kids here in Salem.
For his lifetime of love for the game, Mike was honored with the Wayne LaPierre, Sr. Baseball Community Service Award by the Salem-Roanoke Baseball Hall of Fame in 2017. He’ll be missed.