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THE DAILY ATHENAEUM

8 | SPORTS

Tuesday September 20, 2011

Texas, Oklahoma may leave Big 12 conference AP — Texas and Oklahoma cleared the way Monday for their departure from the Big 12 Conference, with regents at both powerhouse schools giving their presidents the authority to find a new home. University of Oklahoma president David Boren said he is focused on either keeping the Sooners in the Big 12 or moving to the Pac-12. And while he said is not inevitable that Oklahoma will leave, he said the league must share television revenue equally among its members for the Sooners to stay. “Our goal is to be an equal partner in any network, and we think it ought to be the goal of every other member of any conference that we’re a part of to be an equal member of that conference,” Boren said. “We all ought to value each other every single member of that conference and none of us should seek to play a stronger leadership role than anyone else.” Texas regents gave president Bill Powers the authority to negotiate a move out of the Big 12 to a new conference, with any decision requiring their final approval. Powers made no mention of the Pac-12, the ACC or any other conference. After the vote, Powers said only that the process is “ongoing” and left without further comment. Oklahoma State’s regents have called a special meeting on the topic Wednesday and Texas A&M has already said it plans to leave the Big 12 for the Southeastern Conference by July if legal issues can be addressed. If Oklahoma leaves, so will Oklahoma State, Boren said. He said he has been talking with Oklahoma State officials and he expects the in-state rivals to stick together. “Oklahoma State has attractive options and we are working with our colleagues at the University of Oklahoma to make sure the best interests of both institutions and our state are achieved,” Oklahoma State President Burns Hargis added. “We will be prepared at the appropriate time to take whatever steps are necessary for Oklahoma State.” The Big 12 did not return a call seeking comment. It is the second straight year that the landscape of college athletics has been shaken up by alignment

changes. The Big 12 lost Nebraska to the Big Ten and Colorado to the Pac12 over the summer and, with A&M’s foot out the door, the league formed after the 1995 season from members of the Big Eight plus four from the old Southwest Conference finds itself in a precarious position. With Oklahoma State and Texas Tech likely to follow their richer, more powerful neighbors wherever they go, leaving five Big 12 teams in the same quandary as the five Big East football members remaining after Pittsburgh and Syracuse announced plans to join the ACC. School and conference officials from the Big East and Big 12 have been discussing ways to merge what’s left of the two leagues if Texas and Oklahoma leave the Big 12, a person involved in the discussions told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk publicly about the talks. Oklahoma and Texas both flirted with leaving the Big 12 last year but decided to stay. The league put together a $1.2 billion television contract to split among 10 teams but decided not to create a conference network similar to the ones in place by the Big Ten and Pac-12. The Big 12 also does not have equal revenue sharing like other power conferences, and members bristled after Texas inked a 20-year, $300 million agreement with ESPN to create a Longhorn Network. The revenue question and national attention played a large role in Texas A&M’s decision to leave, but its move to the SEC is on hold because of the threat of lawsuits by Big 12 members including Baylor. Several influential Baylor alumni and University of Texas benefactor B.J. “Red” McCombs took out fullpage ads in Texas newspapers over the weekend suggesting the Big 12 is “a conference not only worth fighting for, it’s worth waging peace for.” Baylor even commissioned a poll on the topic, with its marketing department saying it provided reasons for the league to stick together. Texas officials have said they want the Big 12 to hold together but would keep “all options” open for the university, including reported discussions with the Pac-12 and ACC.

But Texas has little appetite for a Big 12 without rival Oklahoma or Texas A&M. “Last time everybody talked about where everybody was going, we ended up staying in the same place,” Longhorns coach Mack Brown said Monday. “So my thoughts have always been the same: I think the University of Texas wants to stay in the Big 12.” Coach Tommy Tuberville said Texas Tech’s leadership “would love to keep this thing together with all the other teams that have been with us.” “I thought we were really on the verge a couple weeks ago of this thing going south but I think there’s a true effort out there by several teams that have a lot to say about this of keeping the Big 12 intact and maybe growing it.” The trend toward 16-team superconferences picked up steam Sunday when the Atlantic Coast Conference announced it was officially adding Pitt and Syracuse just years after taking Virginia Tech, Miami and Boston College from the Big East. “College football is as great as it’s ever been,” Brown said. “But we bet- Texas head coach Mack Brown reacts to a play in a game against BYU. ter keep considering the best interest of the players or at some point they’re going to get so frustrated it won’t be fun for them.” The NCAA has no authority over conference affiliations, though NCAA President Mark Emmert said Monday that he has been contacting university presidents and conference commissioners. He said he is urging them to consider the wellbeing of the student-athletes. Emmert also said talk of having four or five superconferences is nothing more than conjecture. Texas lawmakers are watching the situation but are unlikely to interfere, said state Rep. Dan Branch, the Republican chairman of House Higher Education Committee. Branch said he has told Texas regents and administrators he would like the state’s major universities to be rooted in a conference in the middle of the country -- not one that is “Los Angeles or Atlantic-centric.” “I hope they will also take into consideration the greater good for Texans,” Branch said. “(But) I understand in this new world, we’ve got to allow those regents and presidents to make those decisions.” Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones passes in a game against Tulsa this season.

Yankees Rivera records save 602, baseball’s new all time record NEW YORK (AP) — Mariano Rivera stood by himself, in the center of the diamond at Yankee Stadium. For once, the great closer wasn’t sure what to do next. So he smiled, blew a kiss to the crowd, and then doffed his cap as cheers washed over him following the record 602nd save of his career. “Oh, my God, for the first time in my career, I’m on the mound alone,” Rivera said. “It was priceless. I didn’t know it could be like that.” Rivera pitched a perfect ninth inning, striking out Chris Parmelee on what appeared to be his signature cut fastball to end the New York Yankees’ 6-4 win over the Minnesota Twins on Monday. Fans from the smallest crowd in the Stadium’s three-year history stood and shouted from Rivera’s first pitch to his last as he retired Trevor Plouffe, Michael Cuddyer and Parmelee in order and broke Trevor Hoffman’s mark. They even roared in the bottom of the eighth when Nick Swisher grounded into an inning-ending double play and drew a loud cheer from fans who wanted to see history made at the ballpark for the second time this summer. In July, Derek Jeter got his 3,000th hit at home. “These guys are into it,’” Rivera thought to himself. It’s a remarkable achievement, considering the slender righthander throws mostly one pitch. Opposing hitters have seen it for years, but still haven’t figured it out. “It’s amazing,” Cuddyer said. “You’ve got a 99 percent chance of knowing what’s coming, and he still is able to go out there and dominate.” So good for so long, Rivera has built a Hall of Fame-caliber career and been a pillar of five World Series championship teams. The only person who might not acknowledge Rivera isn’t the best closer of all time is Rivera himself. “You know me, I’m not like that,” Rivera said. “I like to be under the radar, do my job.” He nearly did it outside the country. The 41-year-old Rivera tied Hoffman with save No. 601 on Saturday in Toronto. The AL East leaders lost Sunday, putting Rivera in line to get the milestone

in the Yankees’ last homestand of the season. On Monday, the crowd hollered as Rivera came in to his customary of “Enter Sandman.” The fans grew louder with every strike, every out as Rivera closed in. He even broke a bat for good measure sawing off Parmelee and sending the rookie back to the dugout for another piece of wood. Parmelee lasted only one more pitch. Plate umpire John Hirschbeck rung him up, and catcher Russell Martin came out to the mound, gently placed the ball in Rivera’s glove, and then gave the skinny Panamanian a big hug. Rivera stayed and accepted congratulations Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira and finally Jeter came over to him before the bullpen and bench got there while the Twins watched from their dugout. “I think it shows what he means to baseball, what he’s done,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “I also think it shows the class of the Minnesota Twins.” Eventually, the Twins went back to their lockers and the Yankees did, too. That meant Rivera was left on the mound. He tried to sneak off the field with them, but longtime teammate Jorge Posada pushed him, laughing, onto the mound, where fans cheered him once again. And who would’ve thought it, at least back in 1995 when Rivera started out. He began his career as a starter, lasting only 3 1-3 innings and losing 10-0 to the Angels in his debut, before becoming a star in the bullpen. Rivera’s 602 saves have come in 674 chances. Hoffman got his 601 in 677 tries. Paid attendance was 40,045, less than the capacity crowd and attendant hullabaloo surrounding Jeter’s historic hit. STATS LLC said Monday’s makeup game drew the fewest fans since the new Yankee Stadium opened. “Thank God it’s over, too. Because I was getting a little uncomfortable,” Rivera said. New York now has another goal before heading to Tampa Bay to close the season: winning the division. The Yankees lead Boston by 5½ games with 10 to play. The Twins lost their ninth

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got guys that can rise to the occasion.” Holgorsen said speed is the main thing his team is concerned about stopping on Saturday night, especially since one of LSU’s most explosive players, wide receiver Russell Shepard, will be allowed to play this week after sitting out the first three games of the year. “We’ve got to adjust to the speed of the game quick,” Holgorsen said. “We worry a little more about scheme and when you play a team like this that has talented individuals at every position and they’ve got backups that are talented as well.” The solid play the Mountaineers got from the offensive line against Maryland is something they plan to build on. After struggling for the first two games, WVU’s linemen did a good job of allowing Geno Smith to have more time to throw the ball and opening up holes in the running game. “We played better up front. They pretty much proved our point that they were capable of

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Yankees closer Mariano Rivera celebrates with his son after breaking the major league record with his 602nd career save Monday at Yankee Stadium. straight, tying a run in May as their worst of the season. The Yankees have been struggling, too this was just their fifth win in 12 games. Rivera has finished their last three victories, though. He earned his 600th save in Seattle on Sept. 13. Now that the milestone is behind him, Rivera can focus on getting ready for his 16th October in 17 seasons that’s when he really made his reputation. Those 602 saves don’t count any of the 42 wins in 47 chances he locked down in the playoffs. A.J. Burnett didn’t make it past the fifth inning, but Cory Wade (6-1), Boone Logan, Rafael Soriano and David Robertson kept the Twins at bay until Rivera came on

in the ninth, and Curtis Granderson hit his 41st homer of the year. Granderson’s homer off Scott Diamond (1-5) came in the first after Jeter reached on an infield single and Robinson Cano hit an RBI triple in the third followed by Swisher’s single to make it 5-0. Rodriguez hit a two-out RBI single in the sixth right around the time Rivera was realizing he could be called on in the ninth. As he has been since he got his first save on May 17, 1996, Mo was ready in the ninth. The only thing he wasn’t quite set for was the spotlight. “Don’t get me wrong, it feels good,” Rivera said. “The reception was wonderful. I could not ask for anything more than that.”

pumped up, as ESPN College GameDay hypes up the game all day until the 8 p.m. kickoff. Garvin and several other players talked about getting too hyped up before and during the game against Maryland, which is hard not to do for a big game like this, at home and on national television. But, the players are told every week by head coach Dana Holgorsen that the next game is just like every other game on the schedule, regardless of who they are playing. The players should take that advice from their coach, because if they don’t, this SEC powerhouse will blow them out of the water with their talent and athleticism. The defense has its confidence flying high after getting a few turnovers Saturday, and that goes a long way when you’re going up against a top-5 team. If the players believe, they will rally around each other and play better as a unit. The little things they got

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finishing blocks and springing the running backs free and getting some pretty good pass protection,” Holgorsen said. “LSU’s got as good a D-line as anybody in the country and they’ve got about eight or nine guys that they can roll in there. “We know we’re not going to be able to wear them down because of their depth, we’re just going to have to execute and do our best to hang on.” Another thing West Virginia has been able to do a good job of so far this season that it wants to carry over to the LSU game is the balance it has had offensively. Junior inside receiver Tavon Austin, redshirt sophomore wide receiver Stedman Bailey and sophomore wide receiver Ivan McCartney have all caught at least 15 passes for more than 200 yards. “We’re still looking for a couple more,” Holgorsen said. “Spreading the ball around to people has always been one of our goals. You can put five skill guys out there and our goal is to spread the ball around to all five of them and make five guys as productive as we possibly can.”

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james.carvelli@mail.wvu.edu

caught on late in the second half against Maryland, leading to the Terps almost coming back to win, may not happen against LSU this weekend now. This is crucial because a team like LSU will capitalize on plays that Maryland did not. The defensive line continued to struggle, recording no sacks and struggling to pressure Maryland quarterback Danny O’Brien in the second half. This week is a pivotal time for somebody, anybody, to make a difference on the front seven of the defensive line. If you pressure a quarterback like LSU’s Jarrett Lee, he will make mistakes. If not, he can lead his team to victory without putting up huge numbers. Get ready for a wild night in Morgantown. As much as the West Virginia offense needs to keep its stride going, the defense needs to continue to make critical plays and clean up the mishaps it made in the second half last week. Remember as this seemingly special season unveils – defense wins championships. ben.gaughan@mail.wvu.edu

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The DA 09-20-2011  

The September 20 edition of The Daily Athenaeum, West Virginia University's official student newspaper.

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