The latest in sports includes: a bearded Brad Pitt defies superstition and appears on the cover of Sports Illustrated, how the University of Texas can set the college sports realignment dominoes in motion, and what west coast viewers saw instead of the incredible finish to yesterday's Bills-Raiders game.
- Brad Pitt will appear on the cover of this week's Sports Illustrated, just in time for the release of his movid adaptation of Moneyball on Friday. Depending on how seriously one takes the Sports Illustrated cover jinx, this is either a publicity coup for a movie that's generating Oscar buzz or a guarantee that Pitt will blow out a knee on the red carpet and the film will come up empty when the Academy Award nominations are announced. Either way, Pitt probably would have been well-served to lose the beard. [Inside Sports Illustrated via Richard Deitsch]
- Any hope that the college sports landscape would avoid consolidating into four 16-school "superconferences" appears lost in the wake of the news over the weekend that Syracuse University and the University of Pittsburgh were leaving the Big East to become the 13th and 14th members of the Atlantic Coast Conference, but the map still won't come into focus until the University of Texas decides its future. According to the Austin American-Statesman, Texas, along with the University of Oklahoma, Texas Tech, and Oklahoma State, are "on the verge" of moving to the Pac-12 conference from the Big 12, and that "any deal [to move to the Pac-12] would allow Texas to retain its lucrative Longhorn Network under the umbrella of the Pac-16, and keep the revenue stream along the same lines of the 20-year LHN deal with ESPN that pays Texas $300 million." If Texas leaves the Big 12, writes ESPN.com's Mark Schlabach, the ACC "might be inclined to grab two more Big East schools: Connecticut and Rutgers." If that happens, Schlabach says, it opens the door the Big-12 to then absorb "the Big East's remaining football-playing schools -- Louisville, Cincinnati, South Florida, TCU (which is set to join the Big East in 2012) and West Virginia -- might be absorbed by what's left of the Big 12" and add "Texas-based schools such as Houston and SMU as well as BYU or Boise State" to get up to 12 teams. Under that scenario, the Big 10 would remain intact. [Austin American Statesman and ESPN]
- Los Angeles viewers didn't get to see the Buffalo Bills complete their wild 38-35 comeback win over the Oakland Raiders yesterday, because CBS cut away from the game with 27 seconds left to take audiences to San Diego Chargers-New England Patriots game, which was just kicking off in Massachusetts. The network is contractually obligated to do this under the terms of its broadcast agreement, but as Deadspin notes, the cut came at the worst possible time, two plays before the Bills scored the go-ahead touchdown, and five plays before the Raiders almost won the game with a last second hail mary. YouTube user dnash16 captured the full agony of the network's mid-comeback cutaway. [Deadspin and YouTube]