Strength in numbers

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Much like college GPA’s, NCAA athletic power conferences are all about numbers.

However, much like college GPA’s, numbers can be misleading.

For example, the Big Ten has for a long time been comprised of 11 members, and with the recent addition of Nebraska now has 12 schools (11+1=Big Ten).  The Big-12 has had 12 teams since its establishment in 1996 but with the departure of the Buffaloes and Cornhuskers it now has a standing membership of merely ten and looks to be losing another in Texas A&M  (12-[2 or 3]=Big 12).  The Pac-10 added Colorado and Utah, stretching its capacity from ten to 12.  However, the Pac-10 accompanied its expansion with a name changed to the Pac-12 (10+2= Pac 12).  Finally, some math that adds up.

Although the remaining “power six” conferences don’t have numerals in their titles, numbers are still very important.

The SEC has just announced the acceptance of Texas A&M as its 13th member and could be adding number 14 soon (possibly Missouri, although the SEC has denied informally inviting the Tigers to join).  The ACC, too, is looking to inflate to 14 patrons, offering membership to Syracuse and Pittsburgh just this week with rumors swirling that it could be looking to snag two more schools from the Big East to jump to 16 members.  The Big East (a.k.a. the Big Half the Country), arguably the most super of all super-conferences in terms of sheer numbers, currently has 16 members, although the subtraction of Pitt and Syracuse will drop it down to 14, and more importantly to only six football schools.

So, how is this all going to end up?

Well, reports today are saying that the Pac-12 is done expanding and all remaining members of the Big East are staying put.

Assuming these reports are accurate and that those involved will actually follow through on their intentions, this is what we’re left with:

Texas and Oklahoma (and Oklahoma State by default) have nowhere to run and are forced to remain in the Big-12 (a.k.a. the Big-9).  The SEC has 13 members and must find a 14th somewhere in order to have even divisions with seven teams apiece.  The ACC has 14 members and must look elsewhere other than the Big East to get its 15th and 16th schools if it desires to continue expanding.  The Big East is left with 14 schools in basketball and a severely weaker football conference with just six members.  The Pac-12 and Big Ten are finished expanding, content and stable with 12 members alike.

What MUST happen…

Nothing NEEDS to change in the Big Ten, Pac-12 or ACC.  However, for the remaining three power conferences, additions MUST be made.

The SEC only needs one more member.  The Big-12 could survive, momentarily, with just a single addition to reach 10 members, but likely would need three to be highly competitive with the other leagues.  However, if the SEC’s 14th school is Missouri, then the Big-12 will need two immediate joinees and four altogether long-term.  As for the Big East, it is fine with 14 members in basketball, although Pitt and Syracuse were two of its elite.  Football is another story.  The Big East has to add two more football schools, at least.  TCU has already accepted an invitation to join the Big East next summer, however the school may change its mind due to the recent alterations.

At first, all of this conference shifting slash realigning slash seceding kind of annoyed me.  I liked things the way they were.  I didn’t like the idea of schools jumping ship for more money or just to be different and difficult.  But now, who cares?  Schools are just chasing the money as they should.  The games are going to be just as long and contain just as many players regardless of who’s playing who and where.  And change is a good thing, for universities and fans.  As fans, we’ll get to see new match-ups of teams that we normally wouldn’t see play one another and in games that are more meaningful.  The real beneficiaries of major conference expansion are the elite “mid-majors.”  School like BYU, Utah, TCU and others now have the opportunity to play in power leagues.

We all go to college to learn, and you don’t have to be a math major to know that 12-2=10, or 14+2=16.  Just like you don’t have to be an athletic conference commisioner to know that teams + more teams = more $$$.

After all, I’m sure the increase in profit margin will result in an additional increase in scholarships.  Yea, definitely.


Follow me on Twitter @Long_And_Gangly






LeBron James Has a Receding Hairline?

LeBron James

Image by yourFAVORITEmartian via Flickr

Let me preface this post by saying that LeBron James is the best basketball player on the planet, hands down (seriously, put your hands down, it’s distracting).

He just kind of has a questionable hairline.

Now, I know I’m not the only one who’s noticed the King’s increasing dependency on the head band over the past few seasons to conceal his fleeing follicle line.  It’s pretty blatant.  But, LeBron has played this pretty smartly from the get go, rockin’ the head band since high school, since having a full, tight line.

Unfortunately for number six, that NBA logo just isn’t big enough to disguise his disappearing do, and ESPN’s Mike Hill and Jay Harris call him out (and each other) in their latest webisode of Both Sides of the Ball.

Hill takes the opportunity to jokingly compare James’ “three-quarter full” hairline to his lacking ability to finish games, while Harris says “The Chosen One ” had an inspiring dream of hairline revival, only to wake up to the sad, hairless truth.

Nevertheless, James, like all of us, is in a bit of a recession, and one YouTuber lends his analysis on a recession that may never upswing.

I don’t know about you, but I watch a lot of basketball, so I think I’m qualified to propose a thought here:  LeBron James touches his head band more throughout the course of an NBA game than the basketball.  I’m just saying, it’s a fact.  Watch that dude drive to the hole and take a hard foul.  What’s the first thing he does?  He doesn’t check to make sure all his limbs are intact or if he’s dripping blood from his face.  No, immediately he’s at the head band, adjusting and aligning it to its proper place.

And if he loses the head band completely?!

It’s over.  All concentration is lost.  The focus has shifted from catching touchdown passes from D-Wade to now locating and reapplying the superband (yes, I am implying that LeBron James’ headband has superpowers).

So what does this all mean?  What is it really about?

Well, I’m pretty sure it means that the closer LeBron’s hairline gets to the back of his head the closer he gets to a championship.  So, for the sake of all LeBron fans out there, “Hairline, just ‘keep backin up, backin up.”


Follow me on Twitter @Long_And_Gangly

Why The NBA Should Stay Locked Out

National Basketball Association

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The NBA lockout has been in full, collective-bargaining swing since mid-summer, and it’s becoming more and more possible that there won’t be any 2011-2012 season at all.

Who cares?

I don’t.  And I’m sure there are many other true basketball fans who don’t either.  Now, I don’t say this because I’m one of those “I only watch college basketball, and the NBA is nothing but overpaid college dropouts playing 1-on-1, dunking and shooting 3s”  type of fans.  I love the NBA.  Sure, it has its pros and cons (no pun intended), but I still love it.  It’s the absolute highest level of basketball in the world, the best playing the best.

But I think I could live without it for a year.

In anticipation of a shortened or non-existent season, what’s happening?  NBA stars from around the league are teaming up to play in professional leagues overseas, basketball SUPERSTARS are filling tiny gyms all over the country to play astronomically elite pick-up games, and Kevin Durant is burning gyms straight to the ground (if Rucker Park had a roof, I think it’s safe to say 66 points would’ve blown it off).

These players are going back to their roots and playing for the game’s foundational reward, pride and respect.  They’re putting city vs. city (L.A. vs. D.C., Philly vs. Baltimore) to see which part of the country has the best ballers.  Carmelo Anthony grabbed his best NBA buds, Bron and CP3, to short out scoreboards against KD and crew in Maryland last week.  And apparently the cancelled NBA summer League in Las Vegas has been reborn into a NBA-only fall league.

So, what’s the problem here?  Superior basketball is still being played, and all that I need is to be able to see it.  Since ESPN and TNT apparently are going to have some weekly time slots opening up, here’s an idea:  go televise these games!  A few highlights of Team Melo vs. Team Durant from Morgan State on Sportscenter aren’t enough to quench my basketball thirst.  I need the whole thing.

Go to Baltimore, go to Turkey, go to any high school gym or rec center necessary and give us an opportunity to see our stars in a different light.  Follow @KingJames on Twitter, get the up-to-date time and location and have your cameras ready.  Put your Bones and Hawthorne episodes on hold, and tell Ernie, Kenny and Chuck to grab their blazers because basketball will be played this year.  We just don’t really know where.


Follow me on Twitter @Long_And_Gangly

Comments encouraged.

Hi, my name is…

LeBron James

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First impressions are everything. I really hope I don’t mess this up…

Hi, my name is Jamie (the male kind). I’m 23 (yes, just like Michael Jordan), live in St. Louis, Missouri, and care about a handful of things: basketball (OK, so that doesn’t really constitute a handful but it’s good for now).

I possess a journalism degree that nobody wants to pay me to use and a hairline similar to that of Josh Duhamel (no, it’s not receding). I’ve been against blogging for a long time (I don’t even have a Facebook page), however the creation of this blog isn’t a concession. The general social networking population thinks that just because it types something and posts it online it’s newsworthy. Whereas, I don’t expect anyone to actually read my postings, thus obtaining no amount of worthiness at all.

My blog will never update you on the random disappearance of my Grey’s Anatomy DVDs, my afternoon lunch destination (unless I happen to be dining with David Lee of the Golden State Warriors) or how completely unbelievable my day at the lake was. Instead, I’ll give you my thoughts, comments and analysis on all things basketball, how I see it.

Now, I don’t want to mislead anyone. I’ve never done this before, so let’s try not expect literary greatness or overly insightful commentary just yet. That’s not to say I won’t get there, just give me some time.

Mainly, this is just an outlet for me to practice my writing and create potentially “meaningful” (using the word very loosely here) work samples, so when a possible paycheck-giver asks what I’ve been doing during the multiple years since graduating from college, I can at least say, ‘I tried.’

So pay attention and maybe you’ll learn a few things…like why the NBA should stay locked out or perhaps even what happened to LeBron James’ personality.

— JG