Sports Losses Devastate, Scandals Persist

On the heels of the Penn State sexual abuse scandal, Syracuse University is now dealing with similar allegations. Oklahoma State is mourning the death of two of its women's college basketball coaches, and the NBA appears to have reached a stalemate that will last the rest of the season. Guest host Linda Wertheimer talks with ESPN's Howard Bryant.

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LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

Time now for sports.

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WERTHEIMER: An upset in college football, Iowa State upset number two-ranked Oklahoma State in double overtime. That's a major shuffle for the BCS. And the NBA appears to have reached a stalemate. But some say NBA owners and players may have another go at reaching an agreement.

Joining us from member station WFCR in Amherst, Massachusetts is Howard Bryant, senior writer for ESPN.com and ESPN The Magazine.

Thank you for joining us, Howard.

HOWARD BRYANT: Good morning, Linda. How are you?

WERTHEIMER: I'm good. Let's start with college football. Oklahoma State lost to Iowa State last night, 37-31. So what does this mean for the bowl games?

BRYANT: Well, it means that the computers instead of the players are going to decide what's going to happen. It would have been easy had Oklahoma State run the table because you had two undefeated teams. You have LSU at number one and you would have had Oklahoma State at number two. Therefore, undefeated one versus undefeated number two is a no-brainer.

But now, with Oklahoma State losing, you've got the battle of the one loss teams. Is Alabama going to be the team that challenges LSU? Or is Oregon going to be the one, or maybe even Oklahoma? And so, I think its great news for Oregon. I think you're going to see if Oregon can beat USC tonight. And if they end up closing out their games, I think you're going to see a rematch of the earlier game in September when LSU and Oregon went at it and LSU won.

WERTHEIMER: Now, as you know, Oklahoma State suffered a devastating real loss this week when the women's basketball coach and the assistant coach were killed in a plane crash. The pilot was a former Oklahoma state senator. He and his wife also died in that crash.

BRYANT: And it is a terrible, terrible tragedy taking place, especially because this is the second time in 10 years that Oklahoma State community has suffered a horrible plane crash, where they lost 10 members of their basketball team. And I was completely surprised that Oklahoma State played the football game. And I can't say for certain obviously but clearly that had to be on the minds of the community, had to be on minds of the players.

And I was really, really surprised that they even played the football game last night out of respect. And also, just for your mental comfort. It's a terrible thing and when I heard the story yesterday, I was immediately thinking about the basketball team years ago. I think that's a lot for one school and one community to endure.

WERTHEIMER: Howard, let's jump to the pro-sports world, which seems dominated by contract talks these days. We had an NFL lockout this summer. The NBA lockout is dragging along. But things are looking up for Major League Baseball.

BRYANT: Oh, baseball is great. It's amazing that the sport that actually was the standard bearer for labor problems, they're going to go again, for the second time in a decade, and not have a strike or a lockout. It looks like they're going to ratify a new labor agreement this week and there'll be plenty baseball with a different playoff scenario, and a little more interleague play.

Basketball is a different story. Basketball, both sides are locked in and I think that the commissioner, David Stern, was completely inappropriate last week when he referred to the upcoming negotiations - or lack thereof - as a nuclear winter. Let's not be too dramatic here. That's a little much. But the fact is...

WERTHEIMER: Is it true that they may get another shot?

BRYANT: Well, I think they have no choice. I think they would be doing everyone a complete disservice for people who love basketball. And for season ticketholders, as well, to just say okay we're going to stop negotiating. No matter what proclamations take place right now, they should be negotiating around the clock or at least weekly until they come up with an agreement. I mean to just say no right now is ridiculous.

WERTHEIMER: Howard Bryant is a senior writer, ESPN.com and ESPN The Magazine. Howard, thank you.

BRYANT: My pleasure.

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WERTHEIMER: You're listening to WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News.

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