The days of a two division format in the Big Ten and other conferences could be numbered. The NCAA is working to review a rule change that would allow conferences to have the ability to determine how a conference championship game can be arranged, allowing conferences to abandon the long-standing NCAA policy that only division champions may compete in any sanctioned conference championship game.
And this could be a major change for the Big Ten.
When Nebraska joined the Big Ten in 2011, it allowed the Big Ten to hold its first conference championship game in football. The NCAA previously required conferences to have at least 12 members in order to be eligible to organize a conference championship game, made popular by the SEC following its addition of Arkansas. With Nebraska bringing the conference membership to 12, the Big Ten split its membership into the awkwardly-named Legends and Leaders Divisions.
Without looking it up, which division was Penn State in? The answer is down below.
When the Big Ten made its most recent expansion to welcome Maryland and Rutgers to the conference, the conference took advantage of the newest members to remake its division lineup with a more traditional East and West format. And, for many of those years, the perceived dominance of the East has been a recurring storyline. What happens when the two best teams in your conference are pit in the same division?
That’s often just the way things go sometimes for every conference, but this appeared to be a more pressing concern for those following and covering the Big Ten, which has seen every Big Ten championship game since the 2014 expansion won by the champion of the East Division (Ohio State five times, Penn State, Michigan, and Michigan State once each). The last four Big Ten championship games have been decided by double-digits.
So, with the NCAA preparing to allow conferences to dictate their own championship game terms, and with a mega-media rights deal in the works, it makes too much sense for the Big Ten to use this opportunity to reshape its conference championship game plans.
The Big Ten will not be alone. The ACC has taken the lead on expressing an interested in changing its conference championship game format, and the PAC-12 is another conference many expect to follow suit. The SEC, on the other hand, may see no reason to mess with a good thing. But how the dynamic changes when Oklahoma and Texas join the conference remains something to watch.
But changing the championship game is one thing. REarranging a conference schedule without the limits of forced division matchups is something else entirely. How the Big Ten handles that may be the more intriguing development to watch unfold. Will schools have protected matchups? If so, who would Penn State be paired up with, especially if Ohio State and Michigan remain locked in their heated rivalry?
These are all questions that will have to be answered, and for every member of the Big Ten as well. What may seem best or most attractive for Penn State may not be for another school, and vice versa.
The times are changing, and so is the way a Big Ten champion will eventually be crowned.
Trivia answer: Penn State was a member of the Leaders Division from 2011 through 2013.
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Jacob deGrom having follow-up MRI on Monday
The Mets said on May 10 that deGrom had started throwing, with GM Billy Eppler specifying that deGrom was “out to 60 feet at light intensity.”
If the news after deGrom’s follow-up MRI is good, the expectation is that he’ll be able to ramp up further.
The news that deGrom was throwing followed positive MRI results on his right shoulder that were revealed on April 25, and the Mets said on the 25th that deGrom would receive a follow-up MRI in approximately three weeks.
At the time, deGrom’s MRI and CT scans showed “considerable healing” of his stress reaction, which led to him being cleared to “begin loading and strengthening of the shoulder.”
DeGrom has been out since April 1 and was transferred to the 60-day IL on May 10 — the same day Eppler said he had started throwing. The 60-day move had no bearing on deGrom’s timeline since he was never returning before the second week of June anyway.
On March 31, with spring training nearing a close, deGrom reported shoulder tightness. He was placed on the IL the next day, after an initial MRI revealed the injury.
“Most scapula stress fractures that are caught early heal relatively reliably if the player strictly adheres to the rest and rehab protocol,” Deepak Chona, MD, a Stanford-trained orthopedic sports surgeon and founder of SportsMedAnalytics who does not personally treat deGrom, told SNY in April when discussing deGrom’s injury. “Any time there is an extended period off followed by a ramp back up, there is an accompanying risk of overdoing it and having a setback. However, as long as deGrom progresses slowly, you should expect a full recovery of his prior pitching performance with respect to both velocity and control.
“Furthermore, once he’s back, I wouldn’t expect this to act up again midseason. DeGrom at age 33 is not exactly young for an MLB pitcher, but he’s shown the ability to bounce back before. We have no reason to expect this to be much different.”
At the moment, the Mets’ rotation consists of Max Scherzer, Chris Bassitt, Carlos Carrasco, and Taijuan Walker. Tylor Megill, who is on the IL with biceps inflammation, could return as soon as his 15-day stint is up on May 27.
Golf legend Tom Watson engaged to marry former CBS Sports executive LeslieAnne Wade
Golf legend Tom Watson is engaged to marry a longtime CBS Sports executive. The eight-time major champion became formally engaged to LeslieAnne Wade on May 7 while on a visit to the University of Notre Dame, where Ms. Wade was attending a reunion with her college roommates.
The couple plans to marry on July 9 in New Jersey before traveling to the Open Championship in St. Andrews. Ms. Wade confirmed the engagement and wedding date to Golfweek but declined further comment. The pair have known each other for 15 years.
Watson, 72, is a Hall of Famer and 39-time winner on the PGA Tour. His eight major titles include five Open victories, two Masters and a U.S. Open. His late wife, Hilary, died after a two-year battle with pancreatic cancer in 2019.
Ms. Wade has been a widely respected fixture in the golf world for decades. She served as a Senior Vice President of Communications at CBS Sports and currently works with the Endeavor agency and for White Tee Partners, a women-owned marketing agency she co-founded. Her first marriage ended in divorce some years ago.
Watson retired from competitive golf in 2019 after an almost 50-year career during which he won 70 titles and twice captained the United States in the Ryder Cup.
Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire: Five players who can help you with stolen bases
Does your fantasy baseball team need speed? Here are some players to add who should help in stolen bases moving forward.
Eli White, OF, Texas Rangers (2%)
White hit leadoff over the final two games of the weekend series and is up to seven steals over just 38 at bats this season. White is a 28-year-old without much long-term upside but hit well in Triple-A last season, and his current .237 batting average hides a .370 OBP and a 129 wRC+. Moreover, White’s strong defense should lead to a continued everyday role, and Texas is giving the green light, as the Rangers have the third-most SBs this year. Only seven players have more steals than White this season, and all of them have 100+ ABs (White has 38).
Jorge Mateo, 2B/SS/OF, Baltimore Orioles (39%)
Mateo is tied for the MLB lead with 10 steals, so he shouldn’t still be available in so many Yahoo leagues. The new left field dimensions have transformed Camden Yards from arguably the best park in baseball for power into arguably the worst park in baseball for homers, but Mateo possesses “80” speed and should continue to run wild on the base paths. With Adalberto Mondesi out for the season, Mateo has a real chance to lead baseball in steals.
Vidal Bruján, 2B/OF, Tampa Bay Rays (6%)
Bruján has struggled badly over a limited MLB sample, but he should get an opportunity now with Manuel Margot and Brandon Lowe on the IL. Bruján swiped 44 bags (with 12 homers) over just 103 games at Triple-A last season, and he had attempted a whopping 11 stolen bases over just 16 games there this year. Moreover, Tampa Bay is leading MLB by a wide margin in SB attempts, as they are the only team in baseball attempting more than one per game. In other words, Bruján’s SB upside is massive, which would be extra helpful in such a scarce category given how many other later speed options like Jonathan Villar, Akil Baddoo, Garrett Hampson and Victor Robles (among others) have been busts.
Nick Senzel, 2B/OF, Cincinnati Reds (4%)
Senzel is expected to begin a rehab assignment Wednesday and should be back in Cincinnati soon. He’s been a major disappointment with the Reds (and is without a steal this season), but this is still a former No. 2 pick entering his prime with a strong enough minor league resume that THE BAT X projects a .272 BA (109 wRC+) with nine homers and 11 stolen bases over 360 ABs rest of season. Senzel is 2B/OF eligible, swiped 14 bases over just 375 ABs as a rookie (and his Sprint Speed is in the 83rd percentile) and gets to play in the second-best hitter’s park in baseball, so he’s well worth stashing in fantasy leagues.
Andrew Velazquez, SS, Los Angeles Angels (1%)
Velazquez is quietly up to six steals on the year, and his elite defense at shortstop should help keep his bat in LA’s lineup. He swiped 29 bags over just 264 at bats in Triple-A last season, and the Angels are among the league leaders in SBs this season. Velazquez is more of a deep league option, but he’s a middle infielder getting regular playing time who’s running. And his .190 batting average comes with an average exit velocity that’s actually in the 72nd percentile. Velazquez is another option for those desperate for speed.
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