Conference Realignments, Sucker Punches & Salary Caps

One of the biggest sports weekends of the year may have left us with more questions than it answered. On the college football gridiron, the weekend really kicked off on Thursday night, as LSU showed the nation why they may have the best defense in the league and made Mississippi State look like a junior varsity team. On Saturday night, a relevant Florida State team played its version of the national championship game, as Oklahoma came into Doak Campbell Stadium and handed them a nail-biting loss. And of course the other major story in college sports this weekend was the departure of Pitt and Syracuse from Big East.

These two charter members of the Big East are joining the ACC – which may have become the new powerhouse basketball conference overnight – and former Big East commissioner Mike Tranghese isn’t happy it.

“College football has just taken control of everything that’s gone on in the country,” said Tranghese in an interview on ESPN’s Outside the Lines. “All of these moves are about football, and money, and greed, and I’m embarrassed about the whole thing. It seems that things such as integrity, and loyalty, and congeniality are gone.”

While I’m salivating over the fact that Pitt and Syracuse will each play two games per year against the likes of Duke, UNC and Maryland, I’m worried about the future of the Big East Tournament. It’s easily one of the best sporting weeks in New York City every year, and somehow, no matter what type of season they’ve had, Syracuse always seems to make a run. Maybe it’s because all the love that NYC has for Syracuse. And what happens if, as is currently being discussed, UConn and Rutgers are the next to go? What if Georgetown follows suit? Or Notre Dame? Will we eventually see a Big East conference where the best two teams in the Northeast are St. John’s and Providence? That’d be weird. Will MSG eventually host the ACC Tournament instead of the Big East? Will recruits from the Northeast become even more inclined to choose Syracuse and Pitt so they can stay close to home while still playing in the nation’s best conference? These are questions currently without answers.

Then there was boxing. Well, sort of. If you had watched each episode of HBO’s 24/7, you were probably tricked, like I was, into thinking that Victor Ortiz actually had a chance to win this fight. Also, if you were like me, you probably paid a bar $20 to watch the fight at 9:30 p.m., only to realize that the main event wouldn’t take place until around 11:45 p.m. As I walked back into the bar at around 12:10 p.m., the fight was just ending.

As the great Floyd Mayweather and his lesser opponent came to the middle and touched gloves to restart the action following an illegal headbutt, the weakened Ortiz and the referee both seemed to space out for a minute. After a hug and a kiss, Mayweather tagged him with a left and an even more powerful right to knock him out. Whether it was a cheap shot by Mayweather, some kind of funky predetermined outcome, or just the best way to put Ortiz out of his misery before the fight got really ugly, we will never know. What we do know, is that Mayweather haters now have even more of an impetus to demand a Pacquiao bout. Because Mayweather is constantly worried, almost obsessed, with his legacy, he will point to the golden zero at the end of his record as the lone reason why he does not need to fight the Filipino champ.

And then there’s the ongoing game that that isn’t taking place on a field, a court, or a ring, but in the conference room of an undisclosed hotel. I’m talking, of course, about the NBA lockout. How much progress has been made, we really don’t know. The NBA is insistent on a hard salary cap, something around $58 million, that would mean teams like the Lakers and Heat would have a difficult time retaining all of their stars. This would largely affect the league’s distribution of talent, especially if a salary floor is also introduced.

The two sides seem to be miles apart on the actual numbers on the losses the NBA has taken over the last three years, and now it seems as though owners of the small market teams are forming their own factions. Things will get even worse if teams have to pay their television partners for missed games. Will players start to cave once they start actually missing paychecks? Is a 50-game season the best we can hope for?

What do you think?

Follow Mike on Twitter at @Mike_Aufses.

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