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Pac-10 wearing ‘Kick Me’ sign

Changing the subject might not have been Larry Scott’s sole intent two weeks ago when the Pacific-10 Conference commissioner mentioned the possibility of expansion, but he had to take the focus off the present.

These have been a difficult few months for the Pac-10. Its football teams went 2-5 in bowl games, Southern California coach Pete Carroll bolted to the NFL, USC was grilled by the NCAA, Oregon football turned into the Miami of the Northwest, and two athletic directors moved to Mountain West Conference schools (including Jim Livengood to UNLV).

And let’s not even talk about basketball.

The bad times might only be beginning, with concerns about what will happen to USC at the top of the list.

The school met with the NCAA infractions committee for three days through Saturday night. David Price, NCAA vice president for enforcement services, said it was the longest such meeting in his 11 years.

USC is the football face of the Pac-10, and if the Trojans are slapped down hard by the NCAA, the entire conference will feel the sting.

Then there is the mess at Oregon, which seemingly has opened a satellite campus at the local jail. It’s so bad that the Oregonian has a poll on its Web site asking fans what troubles them most about the program: "fighting," "domestic violence," "drunken driving," "insubordination," or "theft." "Domestic violence," at 69 percent, had a big lead.

If USC or Oregon are unable to be the Pac-10’s football heavyweight, which school steps into the void? Oregon State? UCLA? Washington?

No wonder Scott is considering adding Utah and Colorado. Allegedly.

■ KORNHEISER BENCHED — It’s a tough week for fans of "Pardon the Interruption." Tony Kornheiser is off ESPN for two weeks because of on-air comments he made about fellow network anchor Hannah Storm’s taste in clothes.

Kornheiser apologized for his remarks, but ESPN removed him anyway, replacing him with Dan LeBatard to dish with Michael Wilbon and greatly diminish one of the best half-hours of the day.

No one can match the Kornheiser-Wilbon chemistry, and bringing in LeBatard is like substituting a Triple-A player for Alex Rodriguez.

■ BRING YOUR MITTENS– If the Winter Olympics organizers really want to capture the public’s imagination, they need to consider a "sport" that recently took place in Oberwiesenthal, Germany — naked sledding.

Shockingly, it was a big hit, with 14,000 spectators turning out to see the, uh, race, creating major traffic jams. But it didn’t go over well with Mayor Mirko Ernst, who said, "The good name of Oberwiesenthal is at stake."

Despite threatening to ban the event, Ernst took no action. He merely expressed his shock — shock! — that it went on.

This being a family newspaper, we can’t show you the pictures. But SI.com provides a link on its Web site.


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