One interesting facet of the debate over Arizona’s new immigration law is that sports figures seem much more willing to speak out about it than most political issues. In a way, I suppose that reflects the role that sports has played in our debates about race. But the ferocity of the outrage from the sports community has been surprising to me: first the Arizona Diamondbacks might lose their status as host of the 2011 All-Star Game, and now the owner of the Phoenix Suns has decided the team will wear “Los Suns” jerseys (which look pretty cool). Trey Kerby does a nice job of summarizing why this is so unusual:

people in the sports world keep their political leanings to themselves. Sure, there are a few guys who regularly speak out on political issues, but for the most part that’s considered bad business. As Michael Jordan put it, “Republicans buy shoes too.”

Baseball probably couldn’t avoid addressing the issue; given the high number of players of Latino heritage, there was bound to be a backlash among the rank-and-file. But it wasn’t as much of a (ahem) slam dunk that the basketball team that relies on plenty of Arizona Republicans for ticket sales would publicly object. I’ll be interested to see if the Arizona Cardinals have anything to say on the matter.

So Sports Illustrated‘s best NFL guy, Peter King*, tweets this Friday night:

Report: missouri, nebraska, syracuse, pitt and rutgers to join big ten

He follows up with a link, which goes to a story on annarbor.com, which in turn leads to a story on a Michigan an Indiana NBC station, WNDU:

A source in St. Louis familiar with the situation told NewsCenter 16 Thursday afternoon that Missouri will leave the Big XII and soon join the Big 10. Other schools expected to follow the Tigers are Syracuse, Pitt, Rutgers and Nebraska.

This, it seems to me, is big news. And yet I can’t find anything referencing the report on the www.sportsillustrated.com, or espn.com, or even www.collegefootballtalk.com. That’s right, even the rumor sites don’t have anything. What’s going on? Is it because there’s nothing to see here?

*Excluding Paul Zimmerman, of course, who’s been out of commission since suffering a stroke.

It’s that time again. It’s not too much of a stretch to say that this draft will have a big part in determining whether Josh McDaniels gets replaced after three years, or if he sticks. Once they trade TE Tony Scheffler (which should be any day now), Shanahan’s guys will be gone and the team will have McD’s fingerprints all over it. There’s still some time to go before the 2009 draft can be judged fairly, but the top trio of Knowshon Moreno, Robert Ayers, and Alphonso Smith produced a resounding “meh” in their rookie season. So if McD blows this draft… not good. Here’s what I’m hoping the Broncos do in the first three rounds this weekend:

Round 1: Trade down, if possible, to collect an extra pick. If they can’t, then get center Maurkice Pouncey. Not exciting, but exciting should not be job one for McDaniels and GM Brian Xanders. Denver needs to replace Casey Wiegmann, and Peter King says teams look at Pouncey and see a ten-year rock in the middle of the offensive line.

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Haven’t had time to write this week, and not just because I’ve been playing with the iPad. Dissertation, grading, baby, new season of Mad Men on DVD… Life is busy at Chez Panoptiblog. But there are three sports-related stories I would hate to miss commenting on…

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I’m with Tony Dungy. I just don’t see how the Colts lose this when they haven’t lost a meaningful game all year long. And I’m one of those who doesn’t get the Peyton Manning hatred. I like the guy.

Colts 34, Saints 24.

And now for the food…

POST-GAME UPDATE: Huh. That was surprising.

Notre Dame, having just fired head coach Charlie Weis, has now hired Cincinnatti coach Brian Kelly to replace him. While Kelly doesn’t bring the star power that Bob Stoops or Urban Meyer would have, the consensus is that Kelly, who took the U of Cincy to a pair of BCS bowls, is the right man for the job. And now every Irish Catholic football fan on college football’s green earth shouting, “The Irish Are Back!”

The argument goes something like this: (a) Kelly has won everywhere he’s been, with lesser recruits; (b) Notre Dame has better recruiting than Cincinnatti; and therefore (c) just imagine how well he’ll do at Notre Dame!

It reminds me of something that happened at Iowa a few years ago.

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Uh-oh. Non-Iowans are starting to buy into the Hawkeyes.

I can see why. The Hawkeyes are now 7-0, with impressive road wins at Penn State and Wisconsin. The Buckeyes, who were previously assumed to be very capable of dropping Iowa on November 14, lost their second game of the season. The Hawks are now, in sports cliche-speak, “in control of their own destiny.”

It’s easy to be upset about the first BCS rankings that came out, with Iowa sitting at number six behind a team from the WAC (Boise State) one from the Big East (Cincinatti). You look at those two teams’ schedules and it makes you ill. Who have they beaten? But asStewart Mandell points out for SI.com, Boise State’s weak schedule is going to catch up to them in the computer polls.

And while I have a lot of respect for Pete Carroll, I really, really don’t want to hear him complain about not being ranked higher in the polls. Why is there a “huge discrepancy” between the human and computer polls? Because computers don’t understand USC and the other big programs are supposed to get special treatment. You’ve had every benefit of the doubt for nearly a decade, coach. Don’t drop games to teams you should beat and it won’t be a problem.

***

The Broncos have beaten the Chargers at San Diego. It’s not just that Kyle Orton has 9 TDs to 1 INT, or that Elvis Dumervil already has ten sacks. It’s not just that they’re 6-0 heading into their bye week. Try this on: they’re 2-0 in their division, with both games against the Chiefs, and home games against the Raiders and Chargers remaining. Wow.

The Phillies just came back to shock the Dodgers 5-4, with SS Jimmy Rollins hitting a two-out, two-run double. First guy since Kirk Gibson to bring a team back with a walk-off run when they’re only one out away from losing in the playoffs. Meanwhile, Ryan Howard hit a two-run homer in the first inning to tie a record for consecutive games with an RBI. Who else holds the record? Lou Gehrig. When you start throwing the names Kirk Gibson and Lou Gehrig around, you know you’re doing something right. They’re one win away from a second consecutive World Series. Wow.

After spending weeks trying to trade for Blue Jays pitcher Roy Halladay without giving up their entire AAA club, my Phillies have turned to plan B: Cleveland pitcher and reigning Cy Young winner Cliff Lee. And they had to give up exactly zero of the top-flight prospects that the Jays were demanding. Word is, the Philly management decided to leave the negotiating table after the Toronto GM asked if they wanted to see a magic trick:

I was reading this story about ESPN sideline reporter Erin Andrews. According to the AP story, somebody shot video of her, without her knowledge, in which she’s nude and fixing her hair. But to add insult to embarrassment, then the New York Post went and published photos from the video, which is pretty vile. In response, ESPN has banned anyone working for the Post from appearing on any of ESPN’s networks.

But the reason I bring this up here is this line, buried in the AP’s story:

Every state but Iowa now has some law on the books dealing with video voyeurism, according to the National Center for Victims of Crime.

I would’ve just assumed that there would be a law addressing this; we’re too far into the YouTube era to ignore it. Seems like there ought to be something, even if it’s nearly impossible to catch people who do this kind of thing. I wonder if it just means there’s nothing specific about video, or what.

So, the LeBron dunk tape is out on the webs now, and it’s quite a letdown. For those who don’t know the story, Xavier University’s Jordan Crawford dunked on NBA superstar LeBron James at James’ own Nike-sponsored camp. His reaction, foolishly, was to have Nike officials confiscate the known videotapes, leading people to imagine James on the wrong end of a poster.

Over at Slate, Josh Levin takes this as an opportunity to contrast James with an earlier superstar being unexpectedly, publicly, taken down a peg by a nobody. It’s fun to watch:

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