Conference realignment shockwaves continue, plus another absurd Shohei Ohtani day

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Good morning! Shohei Ohtani is absurd (CTRL-c, CTRL-v).


The Big 12 is winning

Colorado is officially heading back to the Big 12. Despite the Buffs having a … middling reputation in recent years, they could trigger college sports’ latest chain reaction.

A few layers here:

  • The move makes total sense, and not just because of CU’s Big 12 history. Conference commissioner Brett Yormark has been courting the Buffaloes for a year now, thoroughly outfoxing his Pac-12 counterpart. Yormark secured a media rights deal that will pay Colorado $32 million per year, while Pac-12 commish George Kliavkoff still has nothing to show on that front.
  • The more Kliavkoff delays, the more his schools get antsy. Chris Vannini writes that it will be up to Arizona and Arizona State to decide the fate of the Pac-12, and Arizona president Robert C. Robbins told The Athletic’s Max Olson he’s just waiting to see the Pac-12’s media deal. Tick tock.
  • The Big 12 has a plan, as Olson highlights here. UConn is involved? Sure. But there’s a plan, and the schools are pumped, even after Texas and Oklahoma fled. In the Pac-12, meanwhile, three schools have decamped in the last year (USC and UCLA to the Big Ten), the conference has no future media plan and members can’t agree on whether to expand or not. They are losing and losing fast.

Who’s next to leave? The Arizona schools? Oregon and Washington? Utah? Stewart Mandel has a great column on the Pac-12’s negligence, which is worth your time today.

Ouch, Football

Let’s escape training camp, please

We’re less than a week into training camp, and multiple superstars have injury scares. Let’s start with the quarterback:

  • Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow pulled up lame with a non-contact injury yesterday. Judging by our reporting from the scene, the world stood still for 30 minutes. Team officials confirmed his injury is just a calf strain, which could force him out for a couple weeks, but is a relief for a Bengals team with astronomical hopes this season.
  • Dolphins defensive back Jalen Ramsey will undergo meniscus surgery after suffering a knee injury in practice yesterday. Ramsey, still an elite defender, was a huge acquisition for a Miami team primed to ascend the ranks. He indicated yesterday he would return later in the season.


How, Shohei?
Maybe Shohei Ohtani really is motivated by the Angels taking him off the trade market. Ohtani — the MLB home runs leader, by the way — threw a shutout yesterday in the first game of the Angels’ doubleheader. That’s the first shutout of his career. Oh, and he hit two homers in game 2. He sounded energized after the game.

Bronny released from hospital
Bronny James was discharged from the hospital Tuesday night, a James family spokesperson said, a positive sign after James was admitted Monday with sudden cardiac arrest. LeBron James expressed gratitude on Twitter last night. See all the details here.

Fight Fight Fight

A rare true megafight

Terence “Bud” Crawford vs. Errol Spence Jr. is normally the kind of fight boxing doesn’t make until it’s too late. The politics that have plagued the sport for decades usually delay these bouts until one or both boxers are past their primes, when the flashy-sounding battles become duds.

Not this time. The entire sport is pumped for Saturday night. Some quick notes:

  • Both welterweight champions are undefeated, a combined 67-0. I thought Andrew DeWitt’s preview, which includes an interview with trainer Eric Kelly, was instructive. Kelly predicted Crawford by KO in the eighth round or later. In an exclusive interview, Spence was confident, too.
  • The fight goes head-to-head with UFC. Though Justin Gaethje-Dustin Poirier isn’t a title fight, it’s an electric matchup, as Greg Rosenstein writes. Those two will fight for the “BMF” belt.

It will be fascinating to see which fight garners more attention. The current best possible boxing match faces just a pretty-good UFC card. The fact that it’s a close attention battle is a bad sign for boxing, as Jim Trotter opines, but boxing has a chance to make gains Saturday.


Sean Payton trashes everyone

Did you have anything to do with the Broncos last year? Stand near any coach or player? What about the Jets? New Denver coach Sean Payton thinks you did an awful job.

Payton went off  in an interview with USA Today yesterday, offering the kinds of comments that make you wonder if he knew the recorder was on. Some choice excerpts:

  • On Nathaniel Hackett’s coaching job last year: “It might have been one of the worst coaching jobs in the history of the NFL. That’s how bad it was.”
  • On the Broncos’ strategy last offseason: “Part of it was their own fault, relative to spending so much (expletive) time trying to win the offseason — the PR, the pomp and circumstance, marching people around and all this stuff … We’re not doing any of that. The Jets did that this year. You watch. ‘Hard Knocks,’ all of it. I can see it coming.”
  • On Russell Wilson’s performance last year: “It wasn’t just Russell. He didn’t just flip. He still has it. This B.S. that he hit a wall? Shoot, they couldn’t get a play in. They were 29th in the league in pre-snap penalties on both sides of the ball.”

Sheesh. It’s hard to be worse than the Broncos were last year, but for all of his bluster about the Broncos’ PR strategy last season … is this better? Putting a target on your back like this? Maybe it works out. Payton is a good coach.

It’s definitely fun for us, though. Drama always welcome. Denver plays the Jets at home in Week 5, by the way. Jets coach Robert Saleh went full dad cringe on the situation.

Pulse Picks

Hudson Malinoski has a bright future. The incoming college freshman is already a Maple Leafs draft pick. He might not be here if not for a rare and risky surgery when he was just 13. Joshua Kloke has the heartwarming — and harrowing — story.

Ken Rosenthal has more fresh MLB trade deadline rumors. Watch out for the Mariners. Jim Bowden also has six trades he’d like to see before Tuesday’s deadline.

Keith Law has some counter thoughts on the Ohtani situation: The Angels keeping him can still be worth it, even if he leaves.

The Astros are staying afloat this year thanks to a crew of players who signed for $1,000. Chandler Rome has a great story about those guys through a unique lens — the former Astros scouts who evaluated them.

This story has everything: Sauce Gardner, Aaron Rodgers, a guy named Al the Jeweler, and a chain for Rodgers, who is clearly having the time of his life.

We have writers on site at The National, the biggest card show around. Fun cards inside.

The Pirates traded Carlos Santana to the Brewers, a smooth move for both sides, according to our Stephen Nesbitt. The Mets also traded closer David Roberston to the Marlins.

Jordan Henderson, the Liverpool captain we wrote about last week, has finalized his transfer to Saudi side Al Ettifaq.

Saquon Barkley said he “had an epiphany” about holding out: “The best thing I can do for myself would be coming back, going out there playing the game I love.”

(Photo: Robin Alam/ Getty Images)

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