Archive for the ‘first of the month rant’ Category

I remember watching an unknown German boxer named Axel Schulz whip George Foreman on a Saturday night in 1995 and was appalled at what I heard announced after the fight.

The judges ruled that the 46-year-old Foreman was the winner of the bout by a split-decision and those words ring in my ears to this day. The then tubby, wobbly Foreman didn’t come close to winning the fight and it was a travesty that he retained his championship belt.

A few months later, Foreman refused to fight Schulz in a rematch. Gee, I guess George didn’t want to lose a second time.

Another ridiculous boxing moment occurred Saturday night that reminds us that the sport is dirty and scandalous. Manny Pacquiao got the better of a boxer named Timothy Bradley and there was never a moment during the 12-round bout where I felt I was watching an upset in the making.

Apparently I need to visit the eye doctor soon because the judging decision in the welterweight title bout doesn’t jive with the fight I watched.

Despite Pacquiao carrying the action and winning nearly every round, the decision was split in favor of Bradley.

Making the decision even nuttier is Bradley twice said in the post-fight interview that he needed to watch the tape to see if he had won.

Oh yeah, and he already knew the rematch would be held on Nov. 10.

Why would a rematch date already be set before anybody knows who won a first fight between two boxers? If Pacquiao wins, there obviously isn’t any need for a rematch.

Also of concern is that promoter Bob Arum was quoted as saying the following shortly after the match ended:

“I’m going to make a lot of money on the rematch, but this was outrageous,” Arum said.

So the promoter is already boasting about the money he will make? You’d like to think the person in charge of overseeing an honest event would be more concerned about the travesty involved and the integrity of the sport.

But if integrity is lacking at the promoter level, you can see why the judges would be shady too.

As long as everybody can make money through a rematch, who cares that a man was wronged? Who cares about another black eye for the sport of boxing?

In fact, through 12 rounds of the actual fight, there was no reason for anyone to want to see these two guys in the ring a second time. Now it will be marketed as the opportunity for Pacquiao to regain the crown he lost via controversy.

What a fraud. What a scandal. What a corrupt sport.

The decision reminds us all why boxing is such a little-respected sport in this era. There certainly isn’t any reason to have any confidence in any of the people who run the sport.

The Nevada Athletic Commission has lost its final shred of credibility and there will be drastic repercussions on my part.

I simply will not watch the rematch under any conditions. Don’t care if it is easy to watch boxing for free online in this era (disclaimer: I may or may not have watched the Pacquiao-Bradley bout at no cost).

Another horrible boxing decision that comes to mind is the 1989 bout between Thomas “Hit Man” Hearns and Sugar Ray Leonard. The fight should have gone into a history as a classic but is instead best known for being a controversial draw.

Hearns knocked down the popular Leonard in both the third and 11th rounds and Leonard staged a magnificent 12th-round rally when everybody felt he needed a knockout to win.

He didn’t get the knockout but retained his title when the bout was stunningly ruled a draw. One judge said Hearns won, one said Leonard won and the other scored it evenly.

Another scandalous decision was when Lennox Lewis thoroughly whipped aging Evander Holyfield in 1999. Lewis landed about 2 1/2 times the number of punches and battered Holyfield’s face but the fight was ruled a draw.

That a paid boxing judge actually felt Holyfield won that fight defies all human logic.

So it’s not a surprise when there is a controversial ruling at the end of the boxing match. But the sport – term being used loosely here – loses what little shreds of credibility it has when millions of people at home pay to watch an event and the ruling announced doesn’t jive with what they witnessed during the course of the fight.

Pacquiao landed nearly twice as many power punches (190-108) as Bradley. He connected on 38.5 percent of his punches to Bradley’s 27.7 percent. He dominated the action throughout the fight.

As I stated previously, there was never one single time during the fight where I felt I was watching a possible huge upset.

Can you imagine watching the St. Louis Cardinals defeat the Texas Rangers in Game 7 of the World Series and then seeing three judges decide a few minutes after the game ended that the Rangers actually won the contest?

I never like to use the word “fixed” to describe a sporting event with competitive athletes doing battle but it certainly applies when there are actually two judges who think Bradley defeated Pacquiao.

With Floyd Mayweather in jail and there appearing to be little or no chance of a big-money fight with Pacquiao, perhaps the Nevada Athletic Commission took it upon their own hands to ensure there would be a buzz-worthy fight later this year by coming up with this controversial decision.

Instead, they may have even topped the ruling in favor of Foreman as the worst boxing decision ever.

So perhaps it is time for me to make the best decision ever – I am placing boxing on restriction for the rest of the year.

I have no interest in watching Pacquiao and Bradley fight again – particularly with the new “champion” immediately saying he’ll be giving Pacquiao a rematch on Nov. 10.

If Pacquiao has any personal scruples, he’ll say no thanks to Bradley’s offer and he’ll tell Arum to go fly a kite (or words much naughtier).

But Pacquiao won’t do that because this ridiculous decision puts him in position to line his pockets with more money.

So these two guys can fight whenever they want. Arum can promote the heck out of the fight all he wants.

I won’t be tuning in. No chance.

This is a decision I should have made one night back in 1995.


It has been three days since football legend Junior Seau committed suicide and there are no clear answers for why the former San Diego Chargers standout would shoot himself in the chest.

As I’ve tried to decipher the situation over the past few days, I keep coming back to my initial reaction on Wednesday upon hearing the initial report that Seau had been shot.

I immediately predicted on my favorite social media site that it was self-inflicted. I also texted a similar message to one of my brothers.

Sadly, the death being caused by Seau’s own hands was proven true less than an hour later.

Perhaps even more sadly, I wasn’t surprised.

Before I tell you why his suicide wasn’t as stunning to me as it was to so many others, let me tell you that I covered Seau for six seasons with the Chargers. I last saw him at a Super Bowl media function in Phoenix a few days before the New England Patriots lost to the New York Giants in February, 2008.

When I asked him a question in the group setting, there was immediate recognition from his facial expressions, the level of his voice and the way he filled up my tape recorder with usable quotes. He knew I was from the hometown newspaper that so many of his friends and people from the past would read.

He was in one of his comfort zones and all was well in his world.

Flash forward a few years later and we can only guess how Seau was coping after leaving the sport and being on the outside of the NFL lifestyle.

He had attempted to retire before and was unable to do so and joined the Patriots. But I think the biggest hint of his struggles to move on from football occurred in October, 2010.

What happened then was the first thing I thought of when reading the initial report of Seau’s shooting.

Seau drove his car off a cliff and survived the plunge even though his vehicle was estimated to be traveling at 60 miles per hour. Seau’s story was that he fell asleep at the wheel.

At the time, it sounded real fishy and I wasn’t convinced when authorities bought Seau’s story. But it was the outside stuff that really raised the red flags that driving off a cliff might not have been an accident.

There seemed to be an inordinate amount of spin control being delivered following the incident – stuff including how Junior Seau has too much to live for and would never kill himself – and my highly trained journalistic antenna wasn’t buying it.

I have seen way too much effort put into covering up minor things by pro franchises and college athletic programs and making sure Seau’s reputation remained intact was certainly something that would be considered worthy of spin control. Particularly with it occurring hours after he was arrested on a domestic assault charge, which was later dropped.

When it comes right down to it, who in San Diego County really wanted to believe that Seau would try to kill himself just because he had been arrested?

Seau was a city icon and one of the most popular athletes in San Diego’s sports history. The guy had done thousands of good deeds for kids and other people he didn’t even know. He was a local institution who led the Chargers to their only Super Bowl appearance.

He was a revered leader for all 20 of his NFL seasons and didn’t fit the profile of someone who would harm himself.

So Seau was given the benefit of the doubt. People of his level of fame and popularity often are.

But I wonder if people close to Seau asked him the hard questions at the time. And if they did, were they easily persuaded that all was well by Seau’s ability to charm folks with his smile and personality?

A lot of athletes struggle to make the transition from superstar to regular person. There will be nothing they do the rest of their lives that even comes remotely close to having 70,000 fans cheer their every move, and they no longer have the structure and purpose that comes along with being a professional athlete.

All the things they have known for years suddenly end – the team meetings, the offseason workouts, the bonding with their teammates and the ultimate exhilaration of winning a football game on Sunday.

Kind of like an Olympian who wins a gold medal in their early 20s – what can possibly top their athletic accomplishments?

Football was Junior Seau’s identity from as long as we all first heard of him and he was one of the top linebackers who ever played the game. That’s a tough thing to just leave aside and it’s an issue thousands of other athletes have had to battle.

There is the strong possibility that Seau was battling depression or could have brain injuries stemming from all those years of ferocious play. The best thing in the wake of the tragedy is that his family has decided to donate his brain for examination and we will get those answers and be able to make the appropriate conclusion.

The thing we all have a hard time with now is attempting to figure out why Seau didn’t reach out for help last Wednesday morning. Why didn’t he call his now-distraught mother if he was struggling? Why didn’t he call Chargers president Dean Spanos – who I absolutely know would have dropped whatever he was doing in a split second to get help for Seau.

Seau was a popular figure who had the means to deal with issues that your commonly distressed person doesn’t have available. Why did his frame of mind prevent him from doing so?

He also had to know his mother would be crushed and that his four children would have to move on in life knowing their famous father took his own life. That is quite a burden for those kids and other family members to have to deal with.

You also wonder what the interaction might have been earlier that morning between Seau and his girlfriend – identified as Megan Noderer. Her frantic 911 call after discovering Seau’s lifeless body is excruciating tough to listen to as she hyperventilates and is in hysterics after returning home from the gym.

So many things left unanswered for now and the outpouring of appreciation in San Diego County for Seau is a reminder of just how beloved he was. Only Padres star Tony Gwynn and former Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson have been in the same popularity stratosphere.

One of the saddest things of the situation to me is this – Seau will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame immediately upon becoming eligible and won’t be around to enjoy the occasion.

He certainly deserved to enjoy football’s ultimate honor after having invested so much energy and passion for the game.

It’s sad that suicide is now part of the Seau legacy and hopefully we will get some answers for why he took his own life.

Then there’s also this — perhaps part of his legacy is still to come if it is proven that he suffered major brain dysfunction from playing football.

Bobby Petrino made himself look like one despicable person when he left the Atlanta Falcons late in his first year on the job to become the head coach at Arkansas.

Petrino left 13 games into his first season on the job in 2007 and his players found out via a note he left in the locker room.

The dude was a quitter – there were three games remaining – and didn’t even have the guts to tell the players to their faces he was leaving.

But somehow Petrino has topped that episode by again displaying his lack of character with a week of shame that will certainly be hard to surpass in the future.

The events surrounding Petrino’s motorcycle accident on Sunday will certainly lead to his firing in coming days by Arkansas.

Petrino was placed on administrative leave by Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long on Thursday night for lying about details associated with the accident.

The 51-year-old Petrino said publicly on Tuesday that he was the only person involved in the accident. But the police report released Thursday told a much different story.

The police report stated that 25-year-old Jessica Dorrell was on the back of the motorcycle when it crashed.

That revelation created a couple major problems for Petrino.

You see, Petrino hired Dorrell last week to be the football program’s student-athlete development coordinator and the police report led to his admission that he was involved in a “previous inappropriate relationship” with Dorrell.

Lying to the boss is never a good idea. Leaving out that information as part of an attempt to cover up that you had an inappropriate relationship with someone you just hired also isn’t a smart move.

Lying to the media on Tuesday was equally as dumb. Any major-college football coach in his 50s should be intelligent enough to know that multiple news organizations would request the police report.

Oh, did I mention that Petrino is married and has four children? Um, yeah.

To say Petrino’s action are beyond stupid is being much too kind.

Powerful coaches like Petrino get so used to lying and covering up things that they think they can get away with anything.

As long as a coach is winning football games – and Petrino has done a good job of that at Arkansas – fans, boosters and university employees are happy to look the other way or help the head coach sweep things under the rug.

I watched Long’s press conference online Thursday night and he didn’t come across as someone who is amused about being lied to by Petrino.

Long said he was going to review the situation and hoped to have a resolution soon.

Reading between the lines – the university’s legal folks are going to be reviewing Petrino’s contract to see if it can fire him without being liable for his annually salary of $3.56 million through the 2017 season.

The contract reportedly has a clause in which Arkansas can fire Petrino for conduct “which is clearly contrary to the character and responsibilities” of head football coach (CHECK) or negatively hurts the reputation of Arkansas (CHECKMATE).

I predict Petrino is the former Arkansas coach by Monday.

Petrino took a swing at damage control earlier Thursday with his statement in which he admitted to his lack of being forthcoming about Dorrell’s presence in the accident and confessed to the “inappropriate relationship.”

“My concern was to protect my family and a previous inappropriate relationship from being public,” Petrino said. “In hindsight, I showed a serious mistake in judgment when I chose not to be more specific about those details. Today, I’ve acknowledged this previous inappropriate relationship with my family and those within the athletic department administration.”

Petrino has a daughter named Kelsey who happens to be the same age as Dorrell. Would love to hear her “statement” regarding her married father having a woman playmate of the same age.

Hey coach, ever think of protecting your family by not engaging in an inappropriate relationship?

Some family man he is. The ‘I’ in Petrino certainly doesn’t stand for integrity.

As for Dorrell, she doesn’t sound much like a woman of character herself. She is engaged to be married to Josh Morgan, Arkansas’ director of swimming and diving operations.

Can you say awkward if both Petrino and Dorrell remained employed at the university? Or if all three happened to be in the same swimming pool?

The breaststroke never sounded so exciting.

Yeah, that pain in Petrino’s neck isn’t going away anytime soon. He’s currently wearing a neck brace and also has four broken ribs from the accident.

Petrino’s attempt at spin control also included a plea to keep his job – and wouldn’t you if you were making $3.56 million a year to coach football?

But it’s hard for a man to be a leader if he has no character. Petrino will be learning that lesson in a hard way.

One other thing – Petrino wasn’t wearing a helmet when he crashed his motorcycle.

You know it’s a bad week when that turns out to be your least-costly mistake of the week.

Good Friday won’t be a good Friday for Petrino.

There is a female driving an automobile with the license plate “MORTY 2” who is a danger to the public in Boise.

Don’t know her name, her background or anything about her.

All I know is I am lucky she didn’t sideswipe my car on Wednesday night.

The freeway dumps into downtown Boise and the road has a curve to it. “MORTY 2” was to my left and as the road swerved, there was her car creeping into my lane.

I’m always cautious around that area so fortunately I was on alert as her tires continued to move further into my lane. There was a car directly to my right and I had nowhere to go.

I put the foot on the brakes and slowed down so the back right side of her car wouldn’t hit the front of mine.

When the road straightened out, I passed her and looked her way and I wasn’t the least bit surprised at what she was doing.

She was texting and driving.

I stared over at her and she didn’t look my way. The female was looking down at her phone and not paying the least bit of attention to anything around her.

I have no doubt that “MORTY 2” doesn’t even know she nearly caused an accident that would have sent cars flying all over the busy road.

She was oblivious to everything except whatever was on her phone.

Unfortunately, there are dopes like “MORTY 2” all over Boise – you ought to see Eagle Road, the busiest street in the state of Idaho, in the late afternoons – who believe playing on their phone is more important than driving.

I found the timing interesting because Idaho legislators are debating a bill to ban texting-while-driving at the moment and you would think it would be a no-brainer.

Similar bills have been shot down in recent years and that makes little sense to me. I can see it is a huge problem just because I am alert while driving. You can’t drive a half-mile without seeing someone looking down at their phone or actually typing on it.

Do these lawmakers even pay attention to what’s going on around them when they drive their own cars?

Perhaps they are waiting for the statistics to grow – as in more people dying from this unnecessary issue – to finally do what more than 35 other states have done and ban texting-while-driving.

Or perhaps too many lawmakers are close buddies with auto insurance providers and know their pals don’t want to lose income.

Just think how much money insurance companies – and car repair outlets – make from things like auto accidents. Last thing they want is a texting ban.

Guess who pays for the costs associated with accidents? You and I do as our auto premiums continue to rise even when the driving record remains spotless.

I can remember there being a huge fuss right after Christmas in 2009 when an 18-year-old girl named Kassy Kerfoot died on Eagle Road due to texting and driving. According to news reports, the girl had no idea that the cars in front of her had stopped because she was texting. She looked up and swerved around those cars on to the other side of the busy street and crashed into oncoming traffic.

More recently, another 18-year-old named Taylor Sauer was killed when she reportedly slammed into the back of a tanker truck while texting on the freeway. News outlets reported she posted this comment on her Facebook page just minutes before the accident.

“I can’t discuss this matter now. Driving and facebooking is not safe! Haha.”

Before you think that only teenagers are affected by this situation, let’s consider that both the two young ladies listed above have families and friends who probably are haunted by the fact that a loved one died in such a senseless manner.

Also consider that any one of us can be driving down the road as a law-abiding citizen and have somebody who is playing on their phone cross into our paths. All it takes is being in the wrong place at the wrong time for any of us to have our lives affected by someone whose attention is solely focused on texting or using social media sites.

Basically, texting is the major way the younger generation communicates – heck, there was no such word as email when I was in my teens or early 20s – and there needs to be a law in place to set the appropriate standards and punishments.

There needs to be something that catches the attention of people. The word “illegal” tends to do that.

Yes, there will still be people who text while driving if a law gets passed. Just as there are people who speed and drive drunk despite the laws in place. But banning texting-while-driving will cause a lot of people in the Boise area to stop and the roads will become much safer.

Oh yeah, when you’re on your commute, please keep an eye out for a car with the license plate “MORTY 2.”

As I can attest, she’s an accident waiting to happen. Don’t let it be your car that gets sideswiped by somebody like her.

Perhaps Idaho lawmakers will eventually agree that folks like “MORTY 2” are dangerous.

You know the drill on Super Bowl Sunday – you can’t run to the bathroom during timeouts because nobody wants to have to rewind the television to show you the commercial you missed.

Of course, you can’t use the restroom during the action because nobody wants to pause the television set during the middle of a drive either.

What a dilemma for your poor bladder if you are downing sodas or cold beers at the same pace Tom Brady and Eli Manning are throwing darts downfield.

But why such an infatuation with Super Bowl commercials anyway? And how silly it is that advertisers are willing to pay so much money for a 30-second clip.

The average commercial price for Sunday’s Super Bowl in Indianapolis between the New York Giants and New England Patriots is $3.5 million. That’s a lot of coin for 30 seconds.

Makes me wonder if that money could be put to better use.

How about if Coca-Cola decided to purchase two less commercials and give bonuses to all their loyal employees?

What if Budweiser skipped a couple commercials and cut the cost of a 12-pack by a buck?

What if told Danica Patrick to get lost instead of airing the typical must-visit-the-Website to see how it ends trick it pulls every year.

Oh wait, now that Danica Patrick won’t be racing in the Indy 500, Super Bowl Sunday will be the only day we remember she exists. Danica really needs the Go Daddy gig.

But isn’t it silly that companies continue to pay such high rates for 30 seconds of airtime with the troubles the economy has been facing in recent years? Why not reinvest in the company or give away an extra $3.5 million to different charities that help disadvantaged people?

Heck, why not just send me $35,000 just for the heck of it. That might even prompt me to switch from Diet Coke to Diet Pepsi. (You are on the clock, Pepsi … my contact info is in the upper right of the screen).

The average commercial price for last year’s Super Bowl between the Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers was $3 million so you can see the leap in price. By next year, the average price is expected to be over $4 million.

Think about this too – these companies easily spend another million or two with production and filming and finding the right actors that fit their brand and portray their messages. So the real cost to a company is even higher.

Perhaps some people recall last year’s commercials but I have no idea which one was the best last year. Nor do I ever go out and buy something just because a company’s commercial was good.

This commercial stuff just makes no sense to me.

Some of us are more interested in the game – not in commercials or seeing Grandma Madonna onstage at halftime.

If you don’t think there is too much unnecessary stuff associated with the Super Bowl, consider this: Bookmakers released odds on whether or not Kelly Clarkson will flub up the national anthem – what, is she going to “Breakaway” with her own version?

Oh yeah, that’s right — Christina Aguilera couldn’t get all the words straight last year.

I get that one now.

Look, I’ve covered three Super Bowls and nobody inside the stadium has any clue what is going on during those incredibly long breaks in play. Never heard anybody at the game worrying about missing a commercial.

And Sunday’s halftime will be 31 minutes long as opposed to the 12-minute break during the regular season. Totally unfair to the players to have such a drastic change in the typical routine.

But players quickly learn one thing when they enter the league – what’s best for them doesn’t matter to NFL owners. All that matters is making money.

And if companies are willing to hand over boatloads of cash to the NFL and television networks, those greedy folks are more than willing to open their hands and try to catch all the bills.

So count on me to be more interested in the game than the commercials – well, unless “The Summoner” shows up on TV in the AT&T commercial.

You know – the one where the gal asks the guy if he is checking out the game on his phone during a dinner date, which is followed up with this now-famous reply.

“What am I like some kind of summoner who can just summon footage to his phone like that? C’mon?’”

Ahhhhhh, not good. I’m now wondering if AT&T will shell out the cash to give The Summoner some much-deserved air-time on television’s biggest stage.

If only I could summon my own footage … at my price.

Boise State and Idaho played a basketball game on the same afternoon that Kentucky and Louisville squared off.

Guess which contest created more of a frenzy?

OK, so that’s not a very tough question.

Now guess which rivalry is guaranteed to be played again next year?

They do some silly things in the state of Idaho but haggling over whether or not the two largest universities in the state play a college basketball contest and at what site shouldn’t be one of them.

It should be a no-brainer. We’re not talking basketball powerhouses here.

Boise State has never won a NCAA tournament game. Idaho has won all of one.

In other words, neither school has any bragging rights over the other. Period.

The two teams squared off on the last day of 2011 at a neutral site located 22 miles west of the Boise State campus and the contest at the Idaho Center in Nampa provided one of the better doses of basketball atmosphere the Treasure Valley has seen in recent years.

Half the fans in attendance were cheering for Boise State, the other half were hollering for Idaho.

The contest also turned out to be a pretty good game as Boise State received 26 points from freshman Anthony Drmic and held on for a 76-73 victory when a last-second 3-pointer by Idaho’s Kyle Barone sailed long (here is the stellar Associated Press game story –

But currently there’s debate over a possible meeting next season as Boise State has no interest in traveling up to the Vandals’ neck of the woods in Northern Idaho.

University president Bob Kustra created a ruckus when he exuberantly claimed the football program wouldn’t play in Moscow after leaving the Western Athletic Conference and somehow that decision has carried over into all the other sports.

The sad thing is that Boise State home games are sparsely attended as second-year coach Leon Rice attempts to build up the program. One of the few times the locals perk up is when Idaho is the opponent.

The two teams played home-and-home as members of the same conference in the WAC, and in this era of tight budgets, you’d think playing a home-and-home series with an in-state rival would be a no-brainer.

New Mexico and New Mexico State figure out how to do it every year and I’ve always assumed people in Boise are a tad smarter than those folks who make wolfing sounds at Lobos games or choose to live in Las Cruces, N.M.

Idaho coach Don Verlin made it clear after Saturday’s contest that it isn’t his school doing the haggling. Verlin sounded like he’d play the contest in a Boise park at midnight on a frigid night in January if that’s what it takes.

“I think it’s a game that should be played every year whether we’re in the same league or not,” Verlin said. “It’s a rivalry game and it should be played. If they want to play the game or not next year, that’s up for them. If they want to play, they name the date and we will be here.”

Rice didn’t come out as strong as Verlin and said that playing Idaho again next season is something to be discussed after this season.

I got the sense Rice would like to play Idaho when he began talking about making the rivalry better. But you could also tell he was being careful not to be forceful about it and risk upsetting someone higher up the food chain.

Might be that university president of his school that referred to Idaho fans as “drunk and inebriated” two summers ago.

Boise State is bringing in a new athletic director in Mark Coyle who starts on the job later this week. Perhaps he can help get all the nonsense straightened out.

After all, Coyle is leaving Kentucky – a place where basketball is king and where every possession is part of the frenzy when Louisville is the opponent.

My alma mater once had the good fortune to have Marshall Faulk on the football roster for three seasons and failed to take advantage. One measly bowl appearance (to the defunct Freedom Bowl) during the time the top player in school history ran wild.

Yes, my college diploma is from San Diego State. I also covered the school’s football program for seven consecutive seasons from 2000-06, and I never once had to pack my suitcase for a bowl game.

Let it sink in – the Aztecs never once had a winning season in football before I was moved up to the NFL beat.

That’s while playing in the Mountain West Conference, one of the have-not leagues of college football.

San Diego State was never a factor in the Mountain West race while having foes like New Mexico, UNLV, Colorado State and Wyoming on the conference slate every season. That’s under three different head coaches and three different athletic directors.

Now the fine institution that I attended will announce Wednesday that it will join the Big East as a football-only member. Yeah, I said Big East.

Reminds me why I never took a geography class in college.

Made the mistake of taking geology but that’s another story (“Earthquakes don’t kill,” the professor repeatedly insisted. “Buildings do.”) Um, whatever.

San Diego State in the Big East would be like East Carolina joining the Pac-12. Nothing like being 3,000 miles away from conference leadership – the Associated Press has measured the distance as 3,067 miles from San Diego to the Big East office in Providence, R.I. – and there’s nothing overly intriguing about the new marriage.

Boise State wasn’t bold enough to join the Big East without a Western partner and San Diego State seized the opportunity to join the Broncos when Brigham Young resisted Boise State’s overtures.

You can’t fault either school for wanting off a sinking ship. You might recall the Mountain West/Conference USA merger agreement that was forged a few months ago. That pact assures that every school remaining in one of those two conferences will be a small-time program and an outsider when it comes to BCS access and national respect.

The moment that agreement was reached, you knew Boise State was a goner. You can’t have a Top 10 football program hanging around 21 schleps if you expect even minimal respect or aim to remain in the upper stratosphere.

But what I wonder is this: Couldn’t remaining patient to see how the landscape continues to evolve and change been more prudent? Why the rush to join the Big East?

A school like Boise State holds the cards in this poker game, not the desperate Big East.

Think of what has transpired in the two short years since a then-solid Mountain West Conference could argue that it was on par if not better than the Big East.

I’m not solely talking about the departures of BYU, Utah and TCU from the Mountain West. We all get that the Mountain West has gone from a semi-strong league to the weak conference it is now destined to remain.

Two years ago, Colorado and Nebraska and Texas A&M and Missouri were proud members of the Big 12 (at least outwardly).

Two years ago, the Pac-12 wasn’t even looking to expand and Larry Scott wasn’t even yet the commissioner.

Two years ago, Syracuse and Pittsburgh – long-time pioneers of the Big East – couldn’t have been swiped away by the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Two years ago, nobody would have cared if West Virginia wanted to join its league.

Two years ago, the Western Athletic Conference used to try and argue that is was on par with the Mountain West.

Two years ago, nobody was predicting all the crazy realignment that has happened in the past year or so.

So who knows what will happen in the next six months, let alone two more years. There might not even be automatic-qualifying bids in two years. Perhaps the BCS is broken up by the time two more years roll by.

The ironic thing to me is that the Big East has long been part of the system that keeps programs from the Mountain West and Conference USA at a second-tier level. And once the Big East is on life support with just five remaining football programs, desperate programs (San Diego State, Boise State, Houston, SMU and Central Florida) come at the drop of the hat (or visions of dollar bills, to be accurate) to bail out the league.

All to join a league that includes Rutgers. Oh yeah, Rutgers!

The other four Big East programs also don’t have West Coast appeal – Cincinnati, Connecticut, Louisville and South Florida. I was at the San Diego State home game in 2007 when a nationally ranked and unbeaten Cincinnati squad played the Aztecs and there was no anticipation or buzz and complete apathy toward the matchup from the county’s 3 million residents.

Announced attendance that beautiful Saturday night was 24,647 – and that figure was padded. The guess I made that night was there was about 18,000 fans in the house.

Perhaps the worst part of the move is the effect it will have on San Diego State’s basketball program.

The Aztecs have a well-respected basketball program that went 34-3 last season while playing in the Mountain West, rated as the nation’s fourth-toughest league.

Now San Diego State is on the verge of joining the Big West, a bus league that will greatly hinder future progression by the Aztecs.

Instead of conference foes like UNLV and New Mexico (and Brigham Young from the recent past), San Diego State fans can look forward to home-and-homes with Cal State Northridge, Cal State Fullerton, UC Riverside, UC Davis, UC Irvine and Cal Poly.

There’s a reason why the Big West is annually a one-bid league to the NCAA tournament.

Good thing Steve Fisher plans to retire soon because I can’t see Fab Five Fish happy in a kindergarten league after building the program from the bottom of college basketball to a sold-out product that captivates the city.

But there is one good thing about the Big West – the league actually is in the west.

Didn’t need a college geography class to figure that out.

The NBA season was supposed to begin earlier this week and one thing is abundantly clear:

Most people can care less that the league is mired in a labor dispute and not playing basketball games.

Most of the people I communicate with regularly are sports fans and none of them are in anguish that the NBA schedule didn’t begin on Tuesday.

College basketball starts next week so fans in need of a fix will certainly have another option. Of course, the games are usually more competitive and compelling at the college ranks too.

The way I see it is the NBA is in a no-win situation. The league just isn’t held in high esteem like the NFL and both sides are seen as greedy millionaires that are acting like clueless idiots during a horrible recession.

The NBA owners forced this lockout – similar to what the NFL did earlier this year – but the players union has been unable to educate the public the way NFL players were able to do.

Part of that is because the public at large doesn’t care why the NBA is experiencing a work stoppage. The league has backup players who make more money than NFL stars so there is no way the players will ever earn the public’s sympathy.

The people who do care overwhelmingly think the players should accept what it being offered and get back to work – though playing games for a living isn’t viewed as labor by the masses.

Owners want to revamp the system and figure the players will cave once they miss a couple paychecks. The entire November schedule has already been canceled and it appears there won’t be any games played before Christmas even if a settlement is reached sometime this month.

The people who are really hurt by the impasse are the working stiffs employed by the clubs and the game-day employees who depend on the league for a living. Heck, I can include myself in that group since I make a significant percentage of my writing income during the NBA season.

I won’t reveal here how much that was last season but let’s just say my monthly take was higher than what many newspaper sportswriters make. I’m not talking entry-level kids just out of college but guys covering pro teams and college sports too.

But guess what? I’m not necessarily saddened by the work stoppage either. It’s been kind of nice this week to have spare nights to do what I want as opposed to being held hostage by the Milwaukee Bucks playing the Sacramento Kings, or some other NBA snoozer.

That’s a big part of the problem with the NBA – the product is fantastic in the playoffs when the lousy franchises have all called it a season but it is largely substandard during the regular season.

The Dallas Mavericks were an amazing story while sweeping the Los Angeles Lakers in the second round of the playoffs and eventually beating the Miami Heat in last season’s NBA Finals. People were thrilled to see Dirk Nowitzki finally earn an championship ring and it seemed everybody who doesn’t live in South Florida was just as happy to see LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh come up short.

Zach Randolph and the eighth-seeded Memphis Grizzlies were another fantastic playoff story by upsetting the top-seeded San Antonio Spurs in the opening round and taking the fourth-seeded Oklahoma City Thunder to a seventh game before falling in the second round.

But the problem with the NBA is that the momentum doesn’t carry over. When the season finally ends in mid-June, there isn’t a “can’t wait for the next season to start” feeling as there is with the NFL.

The train of thought is more like this: We’ll tune in Christmas Day for the marquee telecasts, pay token attention at the All-Star break to see who is having a big season, and start tuning in occasionally after the NCAA basketball tournament ends.

Then everybody buys in at playoff time when all the players up their performances – and we suddenly all remember why we dislike Jeff Van Gundy’s mouth and Craig Sager’s wardrobe.

But paying attention to all 82 games isn’t a priority for most sports fans. If Kevin Durant or Kobe Bryant goes off with a 50-point performance on national television, that’s fine. But most people could care less how the Minnesota Timberwolves or Washington Wizards are faring on a nightly basis.

So the NBA can go ahead with the labor stoppage and act oblivious to what the public feels. But most people just aren’t going to lose a lot of sleep over there not being an NBA regular season.

If there is a settlement that saves the season, the diehard fans will be ecstatic. The rest of the sporting populace then has to decide how much interest to have in a shortened season and inferior product.

And if there is a settlement, I’ll be happy to miss out on free time and deal with the New Jersey Nets playing the Charlotte Bobcats or the Cleveland Cavaliers playing the Houston Rockets.

Why? Because I’ll be paid to care.

I’m greedy that way … just like the owners and players, all I care about is my personal bottom line.

Otherwise, count me in with the rest of the folks who are shedding no tears over the NBA’s absence.

Dave Winfield turned 60 today? Say it isn’t so.

This is one of those famous athlete birthdays that can make one feel a bit old.

This 60th birthday thing makes those days that Winfield played on some very awful San Diego Padres teams in the 1970s feel like something that happened in the 18th century.

Doesn’t seem possible that the guy frequently driving the Cadillac sporting “MR DMW” license plates on San Diego Mission Road could be that old. Don’t know how it feels to him, but it is pretty sobering to me that Winfield has hit 60.

I can recall being a kid hanging over the first base dugout during batting practice still seeking to get my first bat from a major-league player. It was a sunny summer day prior to one of those midweek day contests in which the Padres would play in front of a nearly-empty stadium.

Winfield picked me to hand the bat to … it didn’t matter that the bat actually belonged to Jerry Turner or that I would eventually get several others over the next half-dozen years or so – it was my first bat.

Getting that first bat from Winfield brought status to a kid. He was developing into a superstar and it was much better than saying you received a bat from Billy Almon, Hector Torres or Fred Kendall.

Those were the good old days in which baseball players weren’t that far from removed the rest of society. Winfield lived in a modest townhouse right down the road from the stadium and you would frequently run into baseball and football players at stores and other places in the neighborhood.

One time we encountered George Hendrick at a car wash on the main drag. He had a reputation through the media of being a jerk but he couldn’t have been more accommodating.

Hendrick liked the bicycle I owned and asked if he could ride it. We stood there laughing watching a major-league baseball player pedaling away on my cool little bike.

Another time Hendrick saw us walking down the street and offered us a ride home. There were way too many of us crammed into his light green Porsche.

(Wow – this is weird timing … a foul ball was just hit down the first-base line in the postseason game between the Tampa Bay Rays and Texas Rangers … Hendrick is Tampa Bay’s first-base coach and he fielded the bouncing ball and walked it over to hand it to a fan.)

So a day like today makes me remember the way things used to be and how different things are for the youngsters growing up in the early 21st century.

Star athletes live in gated communities and few of them live in your common every-day neighborhood like the one in which I grew up. Most of them have other people running their errands and many of them have bodyguards to keep the common folk from interrupting them or becoming a bother.

Of course, the ticket-price thing is a problem, too. I went to all 81 Padres’ home games one season. Can’t imagine a teenager being able to do that in today’s era of inflated ticket prices.

Winfield’s birthday makes it two consecutive months in which there was something that made my bones ache.

The responsible person for September’s feelings of old age was Green Bay Packers receiver Randall Cobb.

Last April, I trumpeted Cobb as a player the San Diego Chargers needed to draft since it was apparent they weren’t going to re-sign returner Darren Sproles.

The organization didn’t heed the advice and the Super Bowl champion Packers got a steal by getting Cobb late in the second round.

Solid receiver and great returner who put up mindboggling statistics against SEC teams while playing for Kentucky. A guy with a big heart and an even better work ethic.

What is there not to like?

Oh, I discovered something all right on the opening night of the NFL season on Sept. 8. Cobb became a household name due to a 108-yard kickoff return and a receiving touchdown in his professional debut as the Packers defeated the New Orleans Saints but there also was something highly disturbing that was revealed.

Not disturbing for Cobb … disturbing for me.

Cobb became the first player born in the 1990s to play in an NFL game.

Yeah, that is something that definitely makes one feel ancient.

Damn you, Randall Cobb.

Hmmm … Chubby Checker turned 70 today. He’s just a name to me so that doesn’t bother me.

But Dave Winfield turning 60 does.

Is it time to purchase a rocking chair?

Late Sunday afternoon, I noticed that Pro Football Hall of Famer Lee Roy Selmon had passed way.

The 56-year-old Selmon had suffered a devastating stroke two nights earlier so it wasn’t a totally unexpected development but it was still unnerving.

Not solely due to the tragic circumstances but for the date of Selmon’s passing – Sept. 4.

I never like to hear of any deaths on that day. You see, Sept. 4 is the anniversary of my father’s death.

Selmon is the second high-profile athletic Hall of Famer to die on Sept. 4. The other is baseball Hall of Famer Hank Greenberg in 1986.

In some ways, it is hard to believe Sunday made it eight years since my father, Michael Henry Sullivan Sr., succumbed to Parkinson’s disease.

Other times, it seems much, much longer than eight years.

Perhaps that’s because I no longer want to think about all the visits to his nursing home over a four-year span. Nearly every day off was spent there and I regularly went straight from covering San Diego State football practice to the nursing home hoping he was still awake.

Many times as his illness progressed, he wasn’t awake but I never considered driving there a wasted trip.

It would have been nice to have been in San Diego on Sept. 4 to go by his gravesite and pay my respects but I made due on a beautiful day in which San Diego weather invaded Boise.

Spent the final six hours of Sept. 4 with two of my brothers and their families and the night was simply superb. Particularly touching was when darkness arrived while when I was hanging out with my two awesome nieces in the backyard.

While pushing little Mallory on the swing set, her old sister Isabel told me to look up in the sky. She pointed up toward the brightest star and told me to look up at my dad.

Isabel wasn’t even alive when my father – her grandfather – passed away.

That is something that saddens me. I have three very cool nephews and three very sweet nieces who will grow up without my father being a part of their lives. I am aware that at least one of the nephews gets very sad that he doesn’t know his grandfather.

I do know this – my dad would be so proud of all six of them.

I’m sure the Selmon family can relate. Lee Roy Selmon was a terrific college player at Oklahoma when I was a little kid and was one of the all-time great NFL defensive players while playing for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Tampa Bay had some awful teams back then but that didn’t stop Selmon from becoming a major star. He is so revered in the area that one of the major freeways is named after him.

It always is a bit hard to handle when players I watched as a kid pass away. It’s even tougher when the player is in their 50s like Selmon or even younger.

I guess it is just easier to accept if the famous ex-athlete is in their 70s – baseball’s Harmon Killebrew dying at age 74 is a recent example – than when someone like football legend Walter Payton dies at age 45.

In 2011, there seems to have been a slew of stunning deaths involving basketball players that remind you anyone can die at anytime.

Lorenzo Charles scored the winning basket in one of the biggest college basketball upsets ever (North Carolina State over powerful Houston in the 1983 NCAA title game) but died while driving a bus at age 47.

Armen Gilliam, a beast on Jerry Tarkanian’s UNLV teams in the 1980s, died of a heart attack while playing basketball at age 47.

Robert “Tractor” Traylor, who played at Michigan in the 1990s, died of a heart attack in a Puerto Rico apartment at age 34.

You can even throw in the mystery of former TCU basketball coach Neil Dougherty dying at age 50 when he went out for a jog. I sat across the table from Dougherty at Mountain West Conference basketball media day asking him questions the middle of last decade.

On and on and on the lists can go – from baseball legend Roberto Clemente dying in a plane crash at age 38 while on a goodwill mission, to Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart being killed by a drunk driver at age 22 just hours after pitching in a game. Another former Angels player, Lyman Bostock, was shot and killed at age 27 while sitting in a car just hours after a game and Cardinals pitcher Darryl Kile died at age 33 of a heart attack in his Chicago hotel room prior to a game.

The 1990 death of Loyola Marymount’s Hank Gathers during a college basketball game, the crazy 1999 plane crash in which golfer Payne Stewart died, the infamous July 4th shooting death of football quarterback Steve McNair in 2009, or the stunning 2000 automobile crash in which Pro Bowl linebacker Derrick Thomas was paralyzed and died a few weeks later.

Deaths happen in all walks of life at any time. But I feel them just a bit more when they occur on Sept. 4.

As far as I’m concerned, Selmon’s death makes it three Hall of Famers who have died on Sept. 4.

Oh yeah, I am counting my father as one of the three.