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Pac-12 Looking to Expand into China

On the heels of adding two universities to its conference, and securing a $3 billion TV contract, the Pac-12 has turned its attention overseas. The New York Times reports that Larry Scott, the conference’s commissioner, boarded a plane headed for Beijing on Sunday. Yes, Beijing.

Scott has ambitions of playing Pac-12 sporting events in China. All of the professional sports leagues like the NFL and NBA already has business stakes in foreign territories, but a collegiate conference playing games that count in China — not just the exhibitions — would be a first.

Scott has previous experience working with China during his tenure with the Women’s Tennis Association, and he has scheduled meetings with many Chinese officials. His aim is to build ties that will hopefully introduce the skill of Pac-12 sports into the Chinese market. There are also talks of Notre Dame and Stanford playing their scheduled 2013 matchup in China.

Unlike many of the other BCS conferences, the Pac-12 Conference’s location plays into its favor. Of all American universities, the big name schools on the west coast like UCLA and Cal — namely because of academics — already have a strong presence in China. In fact, many of the schools’ independent push for international exposure is what led Scott to Beijing.

Scott is also banking on the fact that collegiate sports in China does not compare to America. Sports in China is all about the Olympics and state sponsorship. While Scott has downplayed the role of money into his expansion aspirations, this business trip is no doubt about branding and renminbi — Chinese currency. Tapping into Chinese wealth cannot be ignored as a motive.

Deron Williams Calls David Stern a ‘Bully’ for Blocking Trades

After a tumultuous week that saw Chris Paul traded to the Lakers, then denied for “basketball reasons,” Deron Williams summed up what a lot of players and fans were probably thinking about the NBA’s commissioner.

“You’re fighting a bully,” Williams said according to the NY Daily News. “David Stern is a bully, you can’t really go up against him. He knows he’s a bully. It’s no secret. You got to be. I think every owner of every big business is a bully. That’s how they become successful.”

Maybe the fact that Williams is right in the middle of the Dwight Howard trade talks is what caused the Nets star point guard to sound off. Calling Stern a “bully” is pretty tame when you consider the hailstorm of criticism Stern has faced from the media, but unlike journalists Williams is an NBA player. If he’s right about Stern being a bully, the NBA might be sending him a fine very soon. Stern has had no qualms about being the bad guy lately. Rarely have we ever seen the commissioner of any sport hog the spotlight the way Stern has.

Best and Worst Bowl Game Gifts

Aside from every college football player’s obvious wish to play in a bowl game, there are other perks than holding up the winning trophy. Case in point: the gifts you get. These days athletes know that a bowl berth means that there are gifts waiting for them.

Bowl gifts are as close to payment as most college football players get — at least within the phony NCAA rules. The gifts being handed to players this year run the gamut from electronic devices to souvenirs, from every young man’s fantasy to the downright bizarre. These tokens of appreciation can add up to hundreds of dollars in retail value.

This year the list includes some sweet electronics like the Amazon Kindle Fire and the Apple iPod nano, both of which are courtesy of Northrop Grumman’s Military Bowl. The R+L Carriers Bowl is giving away a Samsung Galaxy tablet. Since we are talking about 18-22-year-olds, few things will top the Sony Playstation 3 that is given out at the Beef’O’Brady’s Bowl. The Meineke Car Care Bowl’s Toshiba 32-inch flat-screen TV is also sure to win many hearts.

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Jason Garrett Ices Kicker Dan Bailey, Cowboys Lose to Cardinals

Cowboys coach Jason Garrett made an enormous mental mistake at the end of his team’s game against the Cardinals Sunday that cost his team a victory.

With seven seconds on the clock in a tie game, Dallas kicker Dan Bailey set up for a 49-yard field goal attempt that likely would have won the game. Bailey booted the ball straight through the uprights. The only problem is that a timeout was called right before the snap, and it came from his own sideline. Jason Garrett signaled for a timeout, effectively icing his own kicker.

Of course, you might guess what happens next. Bailey’s second field goal try hooked to the left and fell short, sending the game into overtime. The Cardinals then won on a dump-off pass to LaRod Stephens-Howling who went 52 yards to the house.

In a game filled with mistakes, none will compare to Garrett’s coaching gaffe. Not only did he screw up his own kicker, but the Cowboys allowed nearly 20 seconds to run off before spiking the ball, leading to the eventual timeout. They should have run another play prior to the attempt, but they used poor clock management.

Garrett reportedly took the advice of kicking coach Chris Boniol to call the timeout. He apparently wanted to get a “clean operation” on the field goal attempt. Whatever their excuse, it was a poor decision.

Another thought is that Bailey took it easy on the second field goal attempt because he believed the Cardinals would also call a timeout to ice him. For the Cowboys, the only positive aspect of Sunday’s loss was that the Giants lost too, keeping Dallas atop the NFC East.

Stevie Johnson Mocks Plaxico Burress by Pretending to Shoot Himself (Picture)

Just before the two minute warning in the first half of their game with the Jets, Buffalo Bills receiver Stevie Johnson scored on a short five-yard slant. It was particularly impressive since he was covered by Jets’ star cornerback Darrelle Revis. After the score, Johnson decided to celebrate with a little dance and pretended his hands were guns. Then, he pretended to shoot himself in the thigh — a shameless mocking of Plaxico Burress’ self-inflicted gunshot wound.  You can see a video of the play over at NFL.com, but here is a screenshot from the celebration:

Getting creative with touchdown celebrations like this one earlier in the season, but Johnson took it a little too far on Sunday.  It would be tough for the NFL to fine Johnson for something like that given all the celebrations we’ve seen over the years, but I’ve seen Roger Goodell issue fines for much less.

Parents Sue After Blown Call Keeps New Mexico High School Team Out of Playoffs

The parents of football players at Atrisco Heritage High in New Mexico sued after a blown call by the referees help keep the school’s team out of the Class 4A state playoffs.

Atrisco was facing St. Pius and needed to win by at least 10 points to clinch a playoff berth (the point margin was a tiebreaker). The team had a 24-15 lead and was trying to set up for a field goal that would give them a 12-point win. Atrisco caught a break on a tripping penalty that stopped the clock with just three seconds left in the game. That set up a possible 41-yard field goal attempt for Atrisco’s kicker, who had hit a 50-yarder earlier in the season.

However, Atrisco never got to kick because the officials started the clock before the snap. When the clock expired, the referees walked off the field, and rules stated that the score would stand at 24-15. Because of that decision, Atrisco ended up a point short of a playoff berth.

After Atrisco got robbed of an opportunity to attempt the field goal, a group of Atrisco parents filed an injunction. Unfortunately, a judge ruled against them last Thursday, dashing their last hope of postseason play (the playoffs began Friday).

If you feel like the actions of the parents were extreme, their reason makes plenty of sense.

“We don’t want to see their four years of hard work end on a bad call,” Atrisco football parent Kenneth Street told KOAT. “We feel that we have to do whatever we can to try and rectify the situation for them.”

The problem is the referees should have been the ones to fix the situation, not a judge. They should have been willing to admit a mistake as soon as it was made and allowed the team a field goal attempt. Why walk off the field if it’s been pointed out you made the wrong call? That’s on the referees to do the right thing.

Chest bump to Prep Rally via LBS contributor Gene

UCLA’s Joshua Smith Apologizes for Calling Loyola Marymount ‘Straight Bums’

UCLA lost its season opener to Loyola Marymount on Friday night, 69-58. What was already a difficult loss for the nation’s 17th-ranked team to stomach was made worse by a bonehead tweet from center Joshua Smith. According the the L.A. Times, Smith tweeted, “Just lost to some straight bums lol” after the game.

It’s never a wise decision to go on Twitter and start name-calling after a game.  Doing it after a loss makes even less sense.

The UCLA center apologized on Saturday by tweeting, “What I said wasn’t smart and was bad sportsmanship. I apologize for the comment i made yesterday. We lost to a team that just outplayed us.”

Widely considered to be one of the Bruins’ best overall players, Smith should realize everything he does will be heavily scrutinized. He managed only five points and four rebounds in 16 minutes against LMU. Those numbers certainly don’t give you the right to talk trash, much less disparage the opposing team.

Obviously Smith’s remarks stemmed from frustration, but he needs to use better judgment. Insulting your opponent on Twitter will never score you any points with the fans or media.  When your team loses to lesser competition you’re only adding insult to injury.