Big Ten starting times up for debate

2011-04-23T23:15:00Z 2011-04-23T23:18:38Z Big Ten starting times up for debateDon Doxsie The Quad-City Times
April 23, 2011 11:15 pm  • 

If you're one of those Big Ten football fans who despised the frequent 11 a.m. starting times for games, take heart. They might be a thing of the past.

Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany reportedly is lobbying hard in negotiations with the television networks to do away with them. If Delany has his way, all Big Ten games next season will start at either noon, 3:30 p.m. or 7 p.m.

Many fans objected to the 11 a.m. starts because they cut down on pregame tailgating time and made it difficult for fans who lived several hours away to get to games on time.

The noon starts will help that a little. But on the flip side, those 3:30 p.m. games aren't going to be over until 7 p.m. or so. More games are going to finish after the sun goes down. In November or possibly even October, it's going to be pretty chilly at the end of those games.

How is this for a suggestion? Go back to the old days - before the networks called the shots - and start every game at 1 p.m.?

o o o

Rumor has it that former Iowa running back Brandon Wegher, pictured below, is checking out the possibility of playing for NAIA power Morningside.

Wegher has walked out on two major college programs in the past eight months - he deserted Oklahoma last month - for "personal reasons." But I'm guessing Morningside still will give him a shot. It will be interesting to see how long it lasts.

o o o

The college sports landscape began to look a little stranger this week with the news that the University of Massachusetts will begin competing in football only in the Mid-American Conference, a league that used to be tightly concentrated into four central states.

UMass will need to make some 974-mile voyages to play at Northern Illinois, but that's nowhere near the longest conference road trip in Division I.

Penn State will be making 1,071-mile treks to Nebraska in the Big Ten and it's a 1,510-mile jaunt from Boston College to Miami in the ACC.

And when TCU joins the Big East in 2012, it will be a mere 1,733 miles from conference rival Connecticut.

o o o

Absurd story of the week: Some historians are suggesting there is evidence the Chicago White Sox (aka Black Sox) threw the 1919 World Series after hearing that the Cubs did the same thing the year before.

Sox fans will find a way to blame just about anything on the Cubs.

o o o

Distance running legend Grete Waitz, who died last week after a lengthy battle with cancer, is almost certainly the greatest female distance runner never to run the Quad-City Times Bix 7.

But Waitz, who won nine New York City Marathons, at least was a spectator at the Bix 7 once, in 1993. She arrived several days before the Bix, helped promote the race and even though she didn't run, sounded very much like the event's press agent afterward.

"This morning, I realized what this race is all about," she said in a postrace interview. "I woke up at about 6:30, and it was raining. I looked outside, and there were people setting up chairs and sitting with umbrellas waiting for the race to start. I couldn't believe it.

"This race has personality. The whole area is geared up for it and everybody knows what's going on and is excited. To me, that is what this race is about how the community really gets behind it. You don't see that anywhere else."

Waitz vowed to come back and run the Bix the following year, but never did.

o o o

Eleven years ago, while visiting Kenya to do a series of stories on distance runners from that country, we spent an afternoon at Sin'gore Girls Secondary School in the small village of Iten. The school's running coach showed us around and pointed out a couple of proteges who he thought had a chance to someday achieve something in the running world. One of them was a tiny 14-year-old named Sharon Cherop, who already was logging 170 kilometers (about 105 miles) a week.

I never heard the name again until Monday when she finished third in the Boston Marathon.

o o o

My most enduring memory of Iten, Kenya: The town had a crude, red dirt running track a few miles up the hill from the town that was generously named Kamariny Stadium.

Runners had to chase away a herd of grazing cattle before they could use the track.

Even then, you had to watch where you ran because the cattle invariably left behind physical evidence of its presence.

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