The Greatest of All-Time, Muhammad Ali, died yesterday at the age of 74 (The Guardian).
It would be wrong, or at least woefully inadequate, to call Ali just a boxer. He was certainly at the top of that sport for a time, winning a gold medal at the 1960 Olympics, becoming heavy weight champion at 22, and ultimately becoming the greatest boxer ever known.
But he was just as famous for his controversial conduct outside the ring, allegedly throwing his medal into the Ohio River to protest the treatment of African-Americans, and later refusing to fight in Viet Nam as a conscientious objector, among many other such protests.
He was equally notorious for his silver tongue. His insults and trash talk often rose to the level of poetry. At his best, he was never less than a force of nature. In his own words, he was "the greatest! [He was] the king of the world!"
But he was also deeply flawed, and in remembering an alleged hero, it's perhaps good to remember him with warts and rough edges intact (Scipio Tex, Barking Carnival).
Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.
The Big 12 spring meetings were a busy affair. The conference passed the Baker Mayfield rule, allowing walk-ons to transfer to other schools within the conference without losing a year of eligibility. This was a sensible and workable rule, so congratulations.
And now for the nonsense we typically expect from the august body that runs the Big 12. The conference announced its decision to reinstate the conference title game in 2017, although no expansion plans were announced (Jake Trotter, ESPN). That means the Big 12 will be a 10-team conference with divisions and a title game, but also a full round-robin schedule. If this makes no sense to you, welcome to the club.
Predictably, the media could barely contain its excitement over the conference
caving to the CFP's 13th game sham possibility of Oklahoma and Texas playing twice in the same season. Of course, that's only possible if they're in the same division, and that has not yet been decided. While geography seems like the best way to divide a conference, it also tends to produce significant imbalances. A north-south or east-west divide would put the Big 12's current top programs in the same half of the conference, for example. Sensible alternative have been offered, and I think I like the idea of the remnants of the old Big 8 in one division, with the Texas schools and West Virginia in the other. Jason Kirk sort of agrees with me.
The big story here is that the conference championship game will raise about $27M in additional revenue. Each team in the league stands to make about $30.4M, and with additional revenues from third-tier rights, this plan will lift all boats by a lot.