Texas, ESPN have channeled their energy


ESPN wasn’t buying into the creation of a Pac-12 TV network — Fox outbid the World Wide Leader on that one — but when it comes to joining the University of Texas for a members-only BBQ, there’s smoke and fire in the air.

The Sports Business Daily reports today that Texas will announce a 20-year, $300 milion deal with ESPN for the creation of the Longhorn Network, for both sports and non-sports programming. It’ll launch this fall and be owned by ESPN, which will pay the school rights fees that average $15 million a year.

ESPN has issued a press release saying the channel has yet to be named, and will debut in September. The network also said it would have an “on-line broadband companion” to “offer extensive content, particularly events not featured on the linear TV network due to simultaneous events or other overlapping programming.” ESPN also says it will “create and operate a new, authenticated online/broadband site that will aspire to broadly aggregate content from around the state. It will provide fans, students and parents with access to extensive Texas high school sports, including football, basketball and more, through this centralized home.”

The deal was sublicensed from IMG College, the Longhorns’ multimedia rights holder.

The Sports Business Journal also points out that the Longhorns’ budget for the ’10-11 fiscal year, already the nation’s richest, is $137 million.

This will be high-level, entertaining cultural, music, scientific, Discovery Channel, History Channel kind of stuff. And we have a team put together working on it, and that will be done in collaboration with ESPN,” Texas president William Powers told the Austin Statesman.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Was there an alternative to KSPN-USC staying in bed together?


Five more years of KSPN (710-AM) and USC for football and men’s basketball broadcasts, the station and the school announced today. That means the two that hooked up with the 2006 football season will stay connected through the 2015-16 basketball season.

“We are delighted to continue to have 710 ESPN as our flagship radio outlet for Trojan football and men’s basketball games,” said USC athletic director Pat Haden. “As the worldwide leader in sports, the way that 710 ESPN has represented USC’s brand is consistent with the way we present it, both in Los Angeles and nationally.”

The deal also means Pete Arbogast and Paul McDonald stay on as the football broadcast team, while Chris Fisher and Jim Hefner continue on basketball.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Play it forward: Jan. 17-23 on your sports calendar


Highlights of the week ahead in sports, both here and afar:


NBA: Clippers vs. Indiana, Staples Center, 12:30 p.m., Prime; Lakers vs. Oklahoma City, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., TNT:


No one can milk an MLK Day like the NBA. The Clippers, asked to make the quicker turnaround from yesterday’s emotional win over the Lakers, have the matinee. Then L.A.’s other team tries to recover with a flashback to their playoff opening series from a season ago, when they stole the thunder from eighth-seeded OKC with a six-game win. Kevin Durant averaged 25 a game (five below his season average), but it was a golden-haired Ron Artest given credit for taking him down. On a day where there are 13 NBA games to be played, the TV lineup also includes Chicago at Memphis (10 a.m., ESPN), Sacramento at Atlanta (1 p.m., NBA TV) and Orlando at Boston (5 p.m., TNT), with the TNT studio crew hanging out at Staples Center to take it all in.
The next LAL-OKC matchup is on the last Sunday in February on ABC.


Tennis: Australian Open, first rounds, ESPN2:

On our backward calendar, the event actually started yesterday, but it’s already into Monday now and we’re still playing catchup. ESPN2 has about a bajillion hours, including coverage that began on Sunday and runs until 5 a.m. on this day, then repeats from noon to 3 p.m. before going back live at 6 p.m. until 5 a.m. Tuesday. It’s a bit mindboggling, but that’s common for this time of year. Meanwhile, maybe you could use a towelling off. Here’s a great buy for $74 Aussie currency (linked here).

NHL: Kings at Dallas, 5:30 p.m., Versus:

The NHL’s MLK slate: Six games. The Kings, perhaps, could use some time away from home, against a Stars squad first in the Pacific Division and winners of three in a row.


NHL: Kings at St. Louis, 5 p.m, FSW:

How the Blues have won five in a row against the Kings, including both meetings this year, and one last week, could be addressed in the visiting locker room before the puck drops.

NHL: Ducks at Ottawa, 4:30 p.m., Prime:

The Senators’ play of late, sending them 11 points out of the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, has the locals speculating about the future of head coach Cory Clouston and GM Bryan Murray.


Golf: PGA’s Bob Hope Classic, first round, noon, Golf Channel:


The 52nd go-around in the five-day event in the desert under the Bob Hope name (and without a title sponsor) is “the beginning of some very, very successful years,” says new event chairman Larry Thiel. It could start with getting a field that has some players at least in the top 30. We’re back to La Quinta’s Palmer and Nicklaus PGA West courses, plus the La Quinta Country Club and Silver Rock (with that 625-yard 12th hole). Wayne Gretzky, Sugar Ray Leonard, Bo Jackson and Kurt Russell have the most star power in the field, leading the list of celebs that butt their way inamong the 384 amateurs that will fill in with the 128 pros. And again, mysteriously, no George Lopez.

NBA: Lakers at Dallas, 6 p.m., Channel 9, ESPN:

i-94480263965db616ba425f199142cfbb-Jeannie Buss talks to Mark Cuban.jpg

If Mark Cuban sends his personal limo to pick up Phil Jackson from the Lakers’ team hotel, will he accept? The teams meet three times in the regular season, all in the second half.

NBA: Clippers vs. Minnesota, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., Prime:

With foresight 20-20, Blake Griffin and Kevin Love stand to each post 20-20 nights. Everyone else, clear out.


College basketball: UCLA vs. Cal, Pauley Pavilion, 7:30 p.m., Prime; USC vs. Stanford, Galen Center, 7:30 p.m., USCTrojans.com:

The Trojans’ Nikola Vucevic (10.1) and Alex Stephenson (8.8) are the top two leading rebounders per game in the conference. The Bruins’ Tyler Honeycutt (7.9) and Reeves Nelson (7.8) are Nos. 4 and 5. In between? Cal’s Markhuri Sanders-Frison (8.3).


NBA: Clippers at Portland, 7:30 p.m., TNT:

The last visit to Portland in early December for a nine-point loss, but the Blazers’ Brandon Roy hasn’t played in nearly a month because of season-ending knee surgery.

NHL: Kings vs. Phoenix, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., FSN:

The front-end of a home-and-home against the Coyotes leaves little room for error.

NHL: Ducks at Toronto, 4 p.m., Prime:

Will the Ducks be allowed to start slapping shots at former teammate J.S. Giguere, or will he still be nursing that nagging groin injury?


NBA: Lakers at Denver, 7:30 p.m., ESPN, Channel 9:

If the Carmelo Anthony drama isn’t sorted out by this point, does it matter? It can’t be good for George Karl’s health. TNT’s Kenny Smith: “I think Denver has already been hurt. I don’t think there is anything else that can happen that’s going to make the morale of the team go down (further).” When TNT reporter David Aldridge asked Anthony after a Nuggets’ 28-point win over Miami last week why he hasn’t stated his desire to be traded or to remain in Denver, Anthony replied: “You want me to get booed some more?”



Motocross: AMA Monster Energy Supercross series, 7 p.m., Dodger Stadium:

The motorcycle tour that likes to chew up MLB parks in the off season — it started at Angel Stadium earlier this month, hit Chase Field in Phoenix last week and will go to Oakland and back to Anaheim later — makes its debut at Dodger Stadium. It’s strange to see not just a track on the field, but note that the tickets are priced so that pavilion and box seats are the same, and loge level strip that would go from first to third base is actually more expensive.

NHL: Kings at Phoenix, 5 p.m., FSW:

As promised the second of two in a row against the Coyotes. Got any better ideas on how to speed up the season series?

NHL: Ducks at Montreal, 4 p.m., Prime:

This is the Ducks’ fourth game in a row against teams from Canada. In the past, that wouldn’t be so unusual.

NBA: Clippers vs. Golden State, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., Prime:

The third meeting between the two in the last 13 days, and we’re still not sure how Ryan Gomes and Ike Diogu are racking up as many Clipper minutes as they have.


College basketball: UCLA vs. Stanford, Pauley Pavilion, 11 a.m., Channel 2; USC vs. Cal, Galen Center, 8 p.m., FSW:

You’ve got to get up pretty early in the day to fight off attacking Cardinals for some national TV exposure. Meanwhile, will the Trojans stay awake for their later-night affair?

College basketball: Cal State Northridge vs. Cal Poly, 1 p.m., Prime:

Lenny Daniel, with 18 points and 13 rebounds last week against Cal State Fullerton, has 17 double-doubles in his two-year Matadors career.

College basketball: Loyola Marymount at Pepperdine, 7 p.m.:

The teams each won their home meetings last season, but since 2000-01, the Waves have a 19-3 head-to-head record against the rivals from Westchester, and that’s with four different head coaches. Tom Asbury is 3-1 over the last two seasons against LMU, and 9-4 during his previous six-year run as the head coach from ’88-’94.



NFL playoffs: NFC championship: Green Bay at Chicago, noon, Channel 11:

They’ve played 181 previous times over the last 90 years, but it’s their first meeting in a game that decides who goes to the Super Bowl. They’ve played 181 previous times over the last 90 years, but it’s their first meeting in a game that decides who goes to the Super Bowl. The two teams split their two games against each other this year, with the Bears winning at home in Week 3, 20-17, as the Packers’ had a team-record 18 penalties.

NFL playoffs: AFC championship: N.Y. Jets at Pittsburgh, 3:30 p.m., Channel 2:


The Jets’ reality show rolls on, putting its best feet forward. Back on Dec. 19, Mark Sanchez directed a 22-17 win at Pittsburgh as Ben Roethlisberger drove the Steelers from their own 8 to New York’s 10 in the final 2:08, only to throw incomplete on the final two plays. Maybe it didn’t matter so much to the Steelers, who were told by the NFL nearly an hour after the game ended that they secured a playoff spot via a series of complicated strength-of-schedule tiebreakers.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Our 72-step program to whipping past the fatties who take up space at the local gym


It’s a matter of which thing you’d rather stare down more.

Seventy-two weather-beaten concrete steps, right on the beach, connecting Point A to Point Be Afraid.

Or the fatties on the too-few Stairmaster machines at the local fitness center, while stuck in a line of too-tight Spandex.

Bless those gadgets with the LED panels, arrow buttons to change the speed and padded rails to act as a crutch for those who with a fear of heights, balance or actual stairs. But when there’s another “Sorry, Out of Order” sign taped to them, or germy gym rats who won’t adhere to the 30-minute rule, the rules change.

That’s it. No more shuffling in and amongst the other January resolutionists who lose the battle of time and money trying to use machine-made muscle builders.

We’re taking it outside. Welcome to our new 72-step program.

i-c1fd0f4e8248dac9d1edc7dca7902863-esplanade to pv.jpg

While we hesitate to reveal the location of our new workout facility – where the winter sun beats down on Avenue C off the Redondo Beach Esplanade – it’s really not that much of a secret. This beast stands out in broad daylight like a sadistic slip-n-slide, smiling wide to show all its teeth like a hungry land shark.

It must have been constructed way back when for far more utilitarian purposes. But anyone trying to lug fold-up chairs, strollers and umbrellas between the station wagon parked at the pigeon-stained coin meters down to the ocean waves below immediately see how impractical it was. Add to that a 45-degree slope that clearly adds to the degree of difficulty.

Instead of watching this feat of civil engineering go to waste, we choose it to reduce our waist line, through our own two feet.

There are enough other famously-known converted public workout staircases that exist free of charge around Southern California just like this. But thanks to Google searches that uncover their GPS location and five-star reviews, they’re harder to keep on the down low.

The stairs along 4th Street in Santa Monica have become “super crowded – dang!” and parking is “a bear.” Even those hidden in Rustic Canyon are maxed out by Type-A social climbers.

Echo Park’s switchbacks that lead to views of Elysian Park and downtown L.A. literally take your breath away – that, and the 423 steps that go with it.

Pacific Palisades, Griffith Park and the Hollywood Bowl aren’t off the beaten paths. Drake Stadium on the UCLA campus may get more foot traffic up and down its bleachers than on the track itself.

Sand Dune Park in Manhattan Beach, where the workout fiends include college and pro athletes, is an entirely other beast to master, when the local neighbors allow it to be open. That steep wall of finely machismo crushed rock simply grinds your soul as well as the soles of your feet. We’re not that stupid.

We’d even consider the ultimatum of those famous stairs in Silver Lake where Laurel and Hardy once lugged a piano up in “The Music Box” if we thought it wasn’t something of a tourist trap. Some day we will run them, and count the steps in the process.

This test of will we finally settled on was one we ignored too much in the past. It kept calling us back, taunting us to try it. Then spitting us out on previous attempts.

So we meet again.

This makes far too much sense for a sensory overload, beginning with all the fresh sea air to breathe. Run it later in the later in the afternoon, you end up witnessing some of the most miraculous views of a Southern California sunset that any God could create.
This is the place where heaven meets a hell of a physical challenge. Not in some four-sided, closed-in adult Gymboree.


There are a few limitations are to work around – joggers on cell phones, bikers on cell phones, amateur photographers using their cell phones to take pictures, and kids breaking loose like drunken midgets from parents on their cell phones.

But stay focused. Head down. Mind power locked in. Sprint up, counting by 10s. Easy walk back down. Lunge up two at a time, counting by fives. A slog jog back. Sidestep shuffle up, counting by twos.

Cry in pain. Repeat.

Weigh your options. This catechistic climb wins every time. Free and easy. Well, at least free.

And then, at the end of the day, it’s just a short run over to Pacific Coast Highway, at El Burrito Jr., for a post-workout tamale.

Step right up. You deserve it.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

It’s out of the question: A pause for college football’s end-of-year hotflash


The afterburners of Auburn’s college football championship run have smoldered into a pile of Phoenix ashes, and the degrading All-Star game rituals, impersonal NFL pro camps and head coach cash grabs at the expense of their unpaid players are on the horizon. So what’s the bitter BCS aftertaste we’re left with before we refocus on college basketball’s march to more mayhem?

How many unnecessary hot flashes do we have to suffer during the sport’s latest menopausal cycle? In going through another big change and watching the Pac-10 take the early lead in acting like a bunch of pack rats, hording as many mom-and-popgun programs as possible to stretch its time-zone muscle and boost its own TV network Q-rating framework, does everyone really pad their financial portfolio as a result? Or will the bottom line be that everyone ends up fat and unhappy, with expanding-rear-ended fans confused as to which team is in which gluttonous conference, and watching the game collapse under its own girth?

Because four schools in the SEC have claimed the last five national championships, is that such a skewed-up thing? Would you be saying the same thing if it were five Pac-10 schools?


How much can Ohio State’s Terrell Pryor get in the open market for a Sugar Bowl championship ring?

Which icky coach (Idaho’s Robb Akey?) went against the rules of the USA Today Coaches’ Poll and gave his first-place vote to Texas Christian instead of automatically tabbing Auburn (like the other 56 did), making the Tigers’ championship non-unanimous? And can you blame ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit voting TCS No. 4 on his final AP ballot, with one-loss Oregon and Stanford ahead of ’em?

How would USC have done against Oklahoma State in the Alamo Bowl, and would more than 5,000 Trojan fans have been compelled to fly to San Antonio to witness it?
Was Norm Chow really the problem?

Do players from Miami of Ohio really wear GoDaddy.com Bowl title T-shirts?

Fair or unfairly, will Auburn’s Nick Fairley fare as well as another BCS title-game hero like JaMarcus Russell? Will Cecil Newton be his agent, too?

And when does the BCS Title Game finally come up with a real bowl name? Like, the 36 Days To Prepare Bowl?

== If Jessica Alba and Rhianna end up getting the prime camera time at more Clippers than Lakers games each season – whether or not LeBron James is also in the building — would that signify a significant shift in star power?

== What was it again that LeBron tweeted about karma?

== Knowing that the Seahawks already poop-bombed the Bears on Week 6 in Chicago, sacking Jay Cutler six times in the process and holding them to 0-for-12 on third-down efficiency in sunny and 61-degree weather, how do Pete Carroll’s Starbuckers react now to a prognosis of cloudy, possible snow and sub-20 temps (and a wind chill of 10)?

== Logging more complaints: What’s the benefit of seeing the court through the trees again on the new Oregon home basketball floor? Or is it a case that the varnish still hasn’t dried in the middle?

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email