Notes, quotes and rants on sporting items that have caught my attention of late:
Item: Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott didnt provide much reason for optimism last weekend that a deal will soon be struck with DirectTV for the fledgling Pac-12 Sports Networks.
We want every customer to have access to our network, Scott said Saturday in Corvallis. We wont be satisfied until everyone gets it, but these things sometimes take some time.
Scott was asked about DirecTVs offer to provide games on an a la carte basis to its subscribers.
We didnt take that as a very serious offer, the commissioner said. There are 50 different sports networks; none of them are distributed a la carte. We hope (DirecTV) takes it on the same basis as Comcast and Dish and all the others as part of their service.
Nor will the Pac-12 cut DirecTV a special deal.
We had four big cable operators sign up a year ago, Scott said. No one who comes late to the party is going to get it with a better arrangement. Everyone in the industry understands thats the way it works.
Comment: Trail Blazer fans can identify. Theyve been waiting for three years now for the local NBA club to make a deal with DirecTV. Just glad I have Comcast.
Item: Scott said one topic of discussion during this weeks meeting of Pac-12 athletic directors at San Francisco will be the possibility of a weekly injury list for football.
I intend to have a conversation about whether the conference ought to have a policy or not, Scott said. Were going through a process of due diligence, spending time with other conferences (discussing it) ... for the first time, well evaluate this.
Scott is also mindful of what he calls dust-ups between coaches and media involving injury reporting, close practices and other issues.
Ive gained an appreciation for the dilemma the media have in terms of reporting, the commissioner said. Im sensitive to it. Its broader than just an injury-reporting system. Its about access as well.
Comment: Its also about a bunch of control-freak jerks running Pac-12 football programs. UCLAs Jim Mora publicly dresses down a Bruin media intern. Southern Cals Lane Kiffin walks away from a group interview after 28 seconds and a reasonable question about a players injury. Washington States Mike Leach says regardless of whether there is institution of a weekly injury list, he wont cooperate.
Leach, Oregons Chip Kelly and others say releasing injury information gives opponents a competitive advantage. If everybody provides legitimate information, as in the NFL (usually), whats the advantage?
Of course there ought to be an injury-reporting system. The Pac-12 coaches, though, will never allow it to happen. Scott will give the issue lip service and hope it goes away.
Item: Every Pac-12 team plays each of its divisional opponents but misses two teams from the other division in football. All conference games count in the standings, though some teams have decidedly easier schedules than others. Why not just count in-division games in terms of qualifying for the Pac-12 championship game?
Were not the first conference to deal with this, Scott said. Weve studied the way others do it. At this stage, the consensus is you count all the games, even though its not 100 percent pure. You can have a tough or easy schedule depending on the teams you miss. But for the most part, people accept this is the way it should be.
Comment: I dont accept it. A round-robin schedule is the best system, which will never happen in a 12-team conference. To level the playing field, though, only in-division games should count.
Item: Over the last couple of years, weve seen a trend toward super teams stocking elite talent in the NBA, with Miami first and now the Los Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn Nets. Even with a salary cap and luxury tax, teams in small markets seem to have a competitive disadvantage, Oklahoma City notwithstanding.
During the lockout, there was a lot of discussion about small markets versus large markets, Portland owner Paul Allen says. There are some unresolved questions to see how this plays out over the next few years, with teams that can afford to go deep in the luxury tax versus smaller-market teams. Oklahoma City has a very talented roster, but they may be in the luxury tax before long, and that may strain their finances.
Were going to have to look down the road to whether were going to have to change the league structure to address those things. Ive always felt it was important for every market to be able to field a competitive team. Ive told the other owners that, and they pretty much agree.
Comment: Im not sure if theres an answer here. The NBA has done a better job than most pro sports leagues with these issues major league baseball still doesnt have a salary cap, for instance. Its maddening for small-market franchises to serve as farm teams for the Yankees, Dodgers and Red Sox, thats for sure.
Item: Baseballs playoff experiment has two wild-card teams in each league squaring off in a single knockout game, then teams with home-field advantage playing the first two games of a five-game divisional series on the road with the final three scheduled for home.
Comment: Who came up with this idea, Pauly Shore?
If there are two be two wild-card teams, there has to be a three-game series. Baseball is not a one-game, winner-take-all type of sport. A division series has to have a 2-2-1 format. Even a non-genius like me can figure that one out.
Item: Terry Stotts seems to have a nice blend of young and veteran assistants on his six-man Trail Blazers coaching staff. Jay Triano and Kim Hughes are the older, experienced hands while holdover Kaleb Canales along with Dale Osbourne and David Vanderpool are the younger guys.
Theyre out here working with players before practice, theyre staying after, the first-year Portland head coach says. There are many facets to the job, but the No. 1 priority for each one of them is to develop players. Theyre all establishing good relationships with the players. To have that just a week into camp, with that kind of communication, means its pretty good going forward.
Comment: It could prove to be a trying season for the Blazers, but Stotts is the right kind of cool hand to be running the ship. Hell be good with a young group of players who are going to require patience.
Item: Oregon runs through its Pac-12 opposition like a knife through hot butter, making 50 points the new 40.
Comment: Put together a Pac-12 all-star team to face the Ducks in the conference championship game and play it at Autzen Stadium.
Item: The NCAAs new rule kicking off from the 40-yard line has virtually eliminated kickoff returns.
Comment: Who came up with this idea, Bobcat Goldthwait?
Its a cockeyed, politically correct move to ostensibly cut down on injuries. Move the kickoff back to the 35-yard line. It is one of footballs most exciting plays. If there are more injuries on kickoffs, the number is marginal. Football is, after all, a contact sport.
Item: The NBA considers placing ads on uniforms. Im not in favor of it, Commissioner David Stern says, but Im not standing in the way of it.
Comment: Hey, it works for NASCAR and soccer, right?
It would put more money in the greedy owners pockets and cheapen the league.
Item: Rasheed Wallace, making a comeback with the New York Knicks, wears his practice jersey backward at practice but has yet to take part in workout sessions.
Comment: What do you expect from Mr. T?
Both teams played hard, Wallace told me when I called for an explanation.
Liberty High coaches call out Putnam coach Brad Lewman for running up the score in a 63-0 victory last Friday after starting quarterback Max Bailey throws a touchdown pass to Deshawn Stephens the latters sixth TD of the night in the fourth quarter. Lewman pleads innocent, stressing he has only 26 players suited and, if he plays the reserves, it affects their eligibility in the junior-varsity game.
Comment: Play the starters the entire way if you want, coach, but dont have your starting QB throw for a score late in the game. Hand off the ball three times and punt if you must. Its called good sportsmanship.