August 8, 2022

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The Sports Report: Why the Rams signed linebacker Bobby Wagner

Howdy, I’m your host, Houston Mitchell. Let’s get right to the news.

USC and UCLA are leaving the Pac-12 for the Big Ten Conference, a shocking move that transforms the college sports landscape.

The schools are moving in 2024, and the Midwestern migration will include all sports except beach volleyball, men’s volleyball and men’s and women’s water polo.

USC and UCLA officially announced the news on Thursday afternoon after the Big Ten accepted the programs.

With the Big Ten and Southeastern Conferences lapping the Pac-12 in revenue and football success during the last decade, USC in recent years has been continuously evaluating its options for future conference alignment, even considering joining rival Notre Dame as an independent. Texas’ and Oklahoma’s move from the Big 12 to the SEC in July 2021 made it clear momentous changes were already afoot and accelerated the Trojans’ push to secure themselves a seat at the leadership table for whatever is to come during a tumultuous time in college athletics.

USC’s math eventually added up to a move to the Big Ten, a calculated decision that — coming on the heels of the stunning hiring of head football coach Lincoln Riley in late November — furthers the message that the Trojans are committed to returning to their traditional stature as national title contenders.

That was the promise made by Mike Bohn when he was hired as USC’s athletic director in November 2019. Bohn was well aware at the time of the issues facing the conference, which made several missteps during the course of then-commissioner Larry Scott’s turbulent 11-year tenure.

USC and UCLA have been flagship members of the West Coast’s power conference for nearly a century. Their departure to the Chicago-based Big Ten signifies a death blow to the notion of the Pac-12 as a competitive, top-level football conference and serves to bolster the Big Ten in its efforts to keep up with the SEC, which last summer grew to 16 schools with the Longhorns and Sooners. The Trojans and Bruins joining will boost the Big Ten to 16, too.

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The End of USC and UCLA after dark: 7 things to know about the Big Ten move

‘What the heck?’ High school recruits react to UCLA and USC moving to Big Ten

Breaking down the numbers behind USC and UCLA’s Big Ten travel costs

Full coverage: USC, UCLA leaving Pac-12 to join Big Ten

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LAKERS

From Dan Woike and Broderick Turner: The opening minutes of NBA free agency began like an unkinked hose, transactions spraying everywhere as soon as the 3 p.m. PDT start Thursday arrived.

While the Lakers would soon be involved, signing four new players to the team, rumors of reengaged trade talks with the Brooklyn Nets clearly became the dominant way the organization could be reshaped.

Talks about trading for All-Star guard Kyrie Irving reignited Thursday, according to sources familiar with the matter not authorized to speak publicly. Irving opted into the final year of his deal Monday with the Lakers in the commanding lead to acquire Irving should they choose to try to trade Russell Westbrook in a deal.

Brooklyn star forward Kevin Durant informed team ownership that he’d like to be traded, sources confirmed, signaling a disastrous end to an era that showed so much promise after Irving and Durant chose the Nets in free agency in 2019. The team, besieged by injuries and Irving’s refusal to get vaccinated, never made it past the second round of the postseason despite adding James Harden during the 2020-21 season.

The Lakers, despite some initial speculation, are not seen as a viable destination for Durant, who is sure to command a massive trade package.

Durant’s desire to leave gave the Lakers a second chance to acquire Irving, a seven-time All-Star, with the team’s two biggest stars in favor of the move. LeBron James has already won with Irving in Cleveland, and Anthony Davis, a tight James ally, is supportive, according to people familiar with the situation.

The Lakers added a trio of former first-round draft picks in the first hour of free agency by getting deals done with Lonnie Walker IV, Troy Brown Jr. and Damian Jones on Thursday afternoon before snapping up Juan Toscano-Anderson from the NBA champion Warriors later in the day.

CLIPPERS

From Andrew Greif: As free agency opened Thursday across the NBA against the backdrop of Kevin Durant’s league-altering trade demand from Brooklyn, the Clippers stayed steady, quickly agreeing to deals to bring back two of their own in wings Nicolas Batum and Amir Coffey, while losing backup center Isaiah Hartenstein to New York on a two-year contract worth $16.7 million, a person familiar with the terms who is not authorized to speak publicly confirmed.

Still in progress was the expected addition of point guard John Wall, who had signaled his intent to sign after having his contract bought out in Houston days earlier. Wall thanked the Rockets on Twitter less than an hour before free agency began, even though the team’s intent to rebuild had exiled him from the NBA for 14 months.

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Kevin Durant requests a trade from the Brooklyn Nets

DODGERS

From Mike DiGiovanna: Few Dodgers batters swooned in June more dramatically than Justin Turner, who hit .209 with no homers and eight RBIs in his first 24 games of the month, but that didn’t shake manager Dave Roberts’ confidence in the veteran third baseman.

Roberts kept plugging Turner into the middle of the order because of his ability to produce in the clutch, citing Turner’s 38 RBIs, fourth-most on the team, and .286 average with runners in scoring position entering Thursday night.

That faith was rewarded in the opener of a four-game series against the National League West-rival San Diego Padres when Turner hit two home runs, including a tiebreaking two-run shot in the seventh inning, to lead the Dodgers to a 3-1 victory before a sellout crowd of 53,094 in Chavez Ravine.

Turner followed a one-out walk to Max Muncy in the seventh by driving a 1-and-1 cut-fastball from Padres ace Joe Musgrove over the right-center field wall for his 13th career multi-homer game and a 3-1 lead.

Dodgers left-hander Justin Bruihl, right-hander Evan Phillips and left-hander Alex Vesia combined for 3 1/3 scoreless, one-hit innings in relief of starter Mitch White, and closer Craig Kimbrel struck out two of three in a perfect ninth for his 14th save.

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THIS DATE IN SPORTS

1859 — Amherst defeats Williams 73-32 in the first intercollegiate baseball game. The game is played by Massachusetts Rules, a wide-open form of the sport commonly known as roundball and Amherst wins by reaching the pre-established score of 65 runs. Amherst exceeds 65-run limit during a 10-run 26th inning.

1903 — Maurice Garin wins the first stage of the first Tour de France bicycle race. Garin finishes 55 seconds ahead of Emile Pagie. The first stage, from Paris to Lyon, is 467 kilometers long, and takes 17 hours and 45 minutes, riding both day and night. Only 37 riders of 60 are able to complete the day’s race.

1920 — Suzanne Lenglen of France becomes the first player to win three Wimbledon titles in one year, taking the singles, doubles and mixed doubles.

1932 — Helen Moody wins her fifth women’s singles title in six years at Wimbledon, defeating Helen Jacobs 6-3, 6-1.

1938 — Don Budge defeats Henry Austin 6-1, 6-0, 6-3 to win the men’s singles title and sweep the singles, doubles and mixed doubles titles at Wimbledon for the second straight year.

1951 — Bob Feller of the Cleveland Indians pitches his third career no-hitter, beating the Detroit Tigers 2-1.

1951 — Beverly Hanson wins the Eastern Open by three strokes over Babe Zaharias in her first start on the LPGA Tour. Hanson is the only golfer to win a tournament in her first pro start.

1961 — Mickey Wright beats defending champion Betsy Rawls by six strokes to win the U.S. Women’s Open.

1977 — Britain’s Virginia Wade wins the singles title on the 100th anniversary of Wimbledon, defeating Betty Stove 4-6, 6-3, 6-1.

1990 — Cathy Johnston completes a wire-to-wire performance, beating Patty Sheehan by two strokes to win the LPGA du Maurier Classic.

1995 — The NBA locks out its players at 12:01 a.m., the first work stoppage in league history.

2007 — Cristie Kerr wins the U.S. Women’s Open by making only two bogeys over her final 45 holes. Kerr finishes at 5-under 279 for her 10th career victory.

2011 — The NBA locks out its players, a long-expected move putting the 2011-12 season in jeopardy.

2012 — Spain wins its third straight major soccer title, beating Italy 4-0 in the European Championship final in Kiev, Ukraine. The Spanish, who won the Euro 2008 title and World Cup title in 2010, posts the largest score in a Euro final.

2012 — Tiger Woods wins the AT&T National at Congressional in Bethesda, Md. for the 74th win of his career. That moves him past Jack Nicklaus into second place on the tour list, eight short of Sam Snead.

2018 — Park Sung-hyun wins the PGA Women’s Championship at Kemper Lakes Golf Course in a playoff with Nasa Hataoka and Ryu So-yeon.

2018 — David Toms wins the Men’ US Senior Open at Broadmoor Golf Course by one stroke over Miguel Angel Jimenez, Jerry Kelly and Tim Petrovic.

Compiled by the Associated Press

And finally

Mickey Mantle takes on Willie Mays in “Home Run Derby.” Watch and listen here.

Until next time…

That concludes today’s newsletter. If you have any feedback, ideas for improvement or things you’d like to see, email me at [email protected], and follow me on Twitter at @latimeshouston. To get this newsletter in your inbox, click here.