Match made in heaven crumbles

The Bengals are in need of a pick-me-up today, and since the Naval Academy already played this weekend the Browns will have to suffice. Another installment of the so-called “Battle of Ohio” kicks off at 1 p.m. in Cincinnati, but there’s no reason to think Cleveland will put up much of a fight. The Browns might have to settle for outscoring the Queen City’s other team, the Reds. The game is sold out, too, which means we won’t be able to avoid watching.

The Big Ten’s dream of adding Notre Dame to its league roster is over. By joining the Atlantic Coast Conference in all sports but football, the Fighting Irish have stubbornly maintained their gridiron independence and guaranteed more brutal road trips for years to come. That volleyball trek to Clemson, S.C., will be a season highlight.

The ACC was willing to bend for Notre Dame; the proud Big Ten bends to no one (although it breaks pretty much every time it takes the field against other BCS football programs). In the end, I guess the geographic, cultural and academic similarities between Notre Dame and the Big Ten weren’t enough. Another setback for common sense.

The funniest thing I saw last week on Twitter came from Doug Lesmerises, who covers the Ohio State Buckeyes for the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Lesmerises offered this nugget after it was announced that Notre Dame was joining the ACC: “Big Ten should offer same deal to Indiana. Take Hoosiers in everything, especially basketball, but only 5 football games instead of 8.”

Bob Castellini probably fired off a few expletives when he saw the Reds’ 2013 schedule, which was released last week. Cincinnati plays the most home games in April and September, 16 each. That likely will hurt attendance because baseball fans aren’t big on 45-degree weather (April) or hauling the family to games once school starts (September). Reds home games scheduled for the other four months of the season: May, 11; June, 13; July 10; August, 15.

The NHL’s labor contract expired several hours before you picked up today’s newspaper. It’s always news when a major pro sports league partakes in labor fisticuffs, but Ohio isn’t a hockey hotbed. But we should care. Why? The NHL All-Star Game is scheduled to be played Jan. 27 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus. How could we live without that no-contact exhibition?

Mark Nov. 13 on your calendars, college basketball junkies. That’s the day ESPN will dazzle us with its annual 24-hour hoops marathon. Four Atlantic 10 schools will participate, highlighted by the 4 p.m. Butler at Xavier tussle. In a shameful sellout to television, the matchup will not count as a conference game. Or maybe Butler isn’t officially joining the A-10 until Nov. 14.

My two September baseball wishes are that the Yankees miss the playoffs and the Pirates make the postseason (or at least finish .500). I’m not putting money on either scenario.

Contact this reporter at (937) 225-2163 or email brian.kollars@coxinc.com

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