Do not forget about Friday's mailbag where we answer your questions - there's still room available.
From the "Drunken Moose Studios," here we go...
Expansion road block
Apparently the only thing that is slowing down the college sports conference land grab is the Longhorn Network. Yes, that Longhorn Network that is the all-University of Texas channel that jumpstarted this wave of programs looking for new homes and conferences looking for new TV markets and college sports fans looking for one of those baggies that are in the bag pouches of airline seats.
Follow along: Texas started the Longhorn Network to generate extra revenue and the desperate Big 12 allowed them to partner with ESPN and keep the overflow cash. Some call it capitalism some call it kowtowing, either way it all-but pushed Nebraska to the Big Ten, Colorado to the Pac 12 and Texas A&M to the SEC in the last 18 months. Now, as the last four remaining Big 12 football programs - Texas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State - that have some marketability are looking at jumping to the Pac-12 and form what would be the first mega-conference (the Pac-16), the Pac-12 commissioner and the presidents of the schools in the league told Texas, "Thanks, but no thanks," to joining their conference without agreeing to revenue sharing across the board. So the Big 12 is still in tact this morning for all intents and purposes because of the Longhorn Network. Crazy indeed.
Now there appears a possible push for the Big 12 to try to stay together and add teams to replace the ones it lost. There are rumblings that Missouri has been offered an invite to the SEC - and in this expansion craze the SEC's strong (read lucrative) TV deals and position of strength mean an invite from the SEC is like a Wonka Golden Ticket, everyone wants one but there are very few out there.
Here's a different possibility, though. With the Pac 12 seeming content to stay with 12 schools, and Oklahoma left holding Texas's veil, it's time for the SEC to add Missouri and then go scoop up Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. Don't worry about how the new teams in the SEC 16 are going to be split into two divisions, because in truth the future will be split into four divisions, with the four division winners playing a semifinal game and the winners playing a championship game in football. In other sports, the four-team pods will make travel easier. Plus with only three division games every year in football, you have way more flexibility in scheduling both within and outside the league.
So if the SEC adds Missouri, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, let's see where the chips fall.
Here's the breakdown (And we stayed with the direction division names rather than the Leaders/Legends or Hall/Oates type of breakdown - although we can spin off the Hall/Oates theme):
The SEC West (The SEC Ringo): Texas A&M, Missouri, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State
The SEC South (The SEC George): LSU, Arkansas, Mississippi, Mississippi State
The SEC Central (The SEC Paul): Alabama, Auburn, Tennessee, Vandy
The SEC East (The SEC John): Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, South Carolina
Note - we moved Tennessee to the central because of rivalries and an SEC East of Florida, Tennessee, Georgia and South Carolina would be too brutal every year.
Around college football
Five quick stories from college football that need to be shared (In fact let's toss out a 5-in-10 - five items in 10 words or less - by the 5-at-10):
- Dooley's media stiff arm after bad Vols practice: Bush-league move by second-year Vols coach shows frustration
- Squelched QB controversy: Demoted Texas QB Gilbert has season-ending injury
- Spurrier thinks USC will be fine: NCAA allegations don't worry Ball Coach; Stephen Garcia does though
- Homage to the Chief: Chased out of Knoxville, John Chavis doing work at LSU
- Immovable object vs. irresistible force: Coming Saturday with Arkansas (47 ppg) at Alabama (6 papg)
Braves bounce back
Wow, welcome to the family of Braves lore, Randall Delgado. The rookie starting pitcher delivered five strong innings of scoreless baseball in Atlanta's 4-0 win over Florida.
What's more important, Delgado's effort overlapped the Braves scoring four quick runs and taking a commanding lead. So the bullpen stalwarts - especially set-up man Jonny Venters and closer Craig Kimbrel - got the night off and the Braves still won. That's what the French call having your cupcake and eating it in two pieces, or something like that.
OK, the Cardinals also won, so the lead in the wildcard race stays at 2.5, and the Braves have a much-tougher schedule down the stretch than St. Louis. That said, Delgado's strong outing was a much-needed tonic for the Braves staff.
Now, Atlanta needs Derek Lowe to be the pitcher on the mound that he is on the salary ledger. Lowe is being paid staff-ace money - $15 million per season - and staff aces are supposed to take the ball in big moments like today and dominate.
Derek Lowe, whatcha' got?
This and that
- The Artist Formerly Known as Ron Artest was the first to be dismissed from "Dancing with the Stars" this week. Artest, who changed his name to Metta World Peace - seriously - was bested by a less-than-A-list of personalities that includes show favorite Hope Solo, TV-talking heads Nancy Grace and Ricki Lake and the multi-layered shim that is Chaz Bono. A Laker losing to Chaz Bono? Somewhere Kobe Bryant just punched a wall.
- The U.S. Attorney General said the Full Tilt poker site was a "giant ponzi scheme." Wow, that's not good.
- After a huge game (and loss) against top-ranked Oklahoma, Florida State is back at it this weekend with a trip to Clemson, which ended Auburn's nation-leading 17-game winning streak last week. FSU starting quarterback E.J. Manuel is questionable right now with an injury to his left (non-throwing) shoulder. His back-up is Clint Trickett, who is the son of FSU offensive line coach Rick Trickett. Which got us thinking, sure every offensive lineman everywhere wants to protect their QBs. But is there any player anywhere that's going to get every ounce out of his offensive line more than Clint Trickett? If Trickett gets lit up the lineman have to go answer to Trickett's dad, who will have to answer to Trickett's mom, and we all know if momma ain't happy, then nobody's happy. Here's saying that FSU may have 32 holding penalties, but there will be few hits on the quarterback Saturday.
Last night Ric Flair introduced the starting lineup for the Boston Red Sox for their TV broadcast.
Got to say that the 5-at-10 has been a longtime admirer of the Nature Boy, and getting him to read the lineup card was a great move.
In your next company softball game, pick-up hoops showdown or Texas hold 'em game (for entertainment purposes only of course), who do you want to hear call your name in the introduction? Ric Flair is good, especially with his trademark "Wooo" worked in, but we have a couple of others in mind we'll share after lunch, and the fellow that coined the phrase, "Barely big enough for three syllables, '5-at-10'" will be involved.