Texas starts legislating trend

Updated: April 6, 2005, 4:45 PM ET
By Ivan Maisel | ESPN.com

A Texas state senator recently introduced legislation that would prevent state universities from participating in postseason football unless it is in a national playoff.

The legislation will become law only if four other states from a group of a dozen pass similar legislation. The group of states includes Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina and Washington.

From here, it looks as if the Texas legislators don't think much of the chances of Ohio State or Tennessee. Their legislatures don't count.

The North Dakota Senate passed a resolution that baseball should reinstate Roger Maris as the single-season home run champion. For a generation, Maris fans complained about the asterisk. Now, they want it back?

'Tis the season for April foolery; however, the above examples are true. In an era when our public servants have many pressing concerns -- education, safety, medical care -- and fewer dollars with which to solve them, these legislators have focused instead on sports.

It's just so touching. It's enough to make a grown man cry, all right.

President Bush regularly welcomes national championship teams to the White House, and heaven knows that the courts have seen their share of athletes. Not to be outdone, legislatures are ready to insert themselves in the national sports debate. Can it be too long before we hear about the following?

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ALBANY, N.Y. -- New York state senator Dwayne Shays introduced legislation barring state universities from participating in postseason basketball unless the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament are eliminated and the NCAA allows the polls to determine the Sweet Sixteen.

"It works so well in football," Shays said.

Shays, a Syracuse graduate, claimed he had written the legislation before his alma mater lost to Vermont in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. "No, this is a long-term cause. I have believed this for years."

Since 1991, in fact, the year that second-seeded Syracuse lost to Richmond in the opening round of the NCAAs. Shays' bill will take effect if any two states from among Arizona, South Carolina, and Iowa also pass the bill. The other No. 2 seeds to lose in the opening round are Arizona, South Carolina and Iowa State.

LONDON -- The House of Lords debated legislation that would call for sanctions against the United States if Colin Montgomerie is not included in the field for the 69th Masters.

Montgomerie, who has participated in 12 Masters, has fallen out of the world golf top 50.

"We think the Augusta National Golf Club is confused," said Sir Rodney Steelshaft, who spoke for the legislation. "We understand that the club does not allow women, but Mrs. Doubtfire was just a nickname, and a rather poor one at that."

The bill would impose taxes on American imports, as well as demand that the Royal & Ancient limit American participation in the Open Championship to Arnold Palmer, Casey Martin, and former Pirates pitcher Rick Rhoden, the top golfer on the U.S. Celebrity Tour.

SACRAMENTO -- California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is considering asking the U.S. Circuit Court for a temporary restraining order that would ban the NBA playoffs from beginning unless the Los Angeles Lakers are included.

The Lakers, who won three consecutive championships from 2001-2003, are 6½ games out of eighth place in the Western Conference, and have only 11 to play.

"The Lakers have earned it," Schwarzenegger said. "Maybe not this year, but look at their history. Where would we be as a society if we turned our back on history?"

AUSTIN -- Texas state senator Harley Derailer has introduced a bill that would provide $40 million annually to move the Tour de France to the Texas hill country for the next five years. Derailer said the legislation would allow Lance Armstrong to continue his winning streak in the world's most famous cycling event on more friendly turf.

"I'll tell you one thing," Derailer said. "We need to bring ol' Lance home. France ain't gonna mind. It's not like they aren't already tired of us."

Under Derailer's bill, the color of the leader's jersey would change from yellow to burnt orange.

"Yellow just isn't a man's color," Derailer said. "Hook 'em, Lance."

ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- The Maryland House Select Committee on Baseball has requested that the career home-run record be restored to the state's most famous native son, Babe Ruth.

The Sultan of Swat, who hit 714 home runs before retiring in 1935, held the record until Hank Aaron passed him in April, 1974. Aaron retired the following year with 755 home runs, and remains in first place.

"Fair is fair," committee chair Eugene Crabbs said. "Nothing against Aaron, but he played eight seasons against the Mets before they won the Series. That wasn't any more major-league pitching than if you or I had been out there."

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Florida governor Jeb Bush promised to sign into law a bill that declared the University of Miami the 2002 national college football champions.

The Hurricanes appeared to have beaten Ohio State, 24-17, in the first overtime of the 2003 Fiesta Bowl. However, a penalty flag thrown while Lynn Swann was interviewing coach Larry Coker on the midfield podium resulted in a pass interference call against the Hurricanes.

The Buckeyes, given a second chance, scored the tying touchdown, and went on to win, 31-24, in the second overtime.

If the BCS does not turn over the crystal football to Miami by May 1, the state of Florida will ban Ohio State from playing in any of its five bowl games, and ask the federal courts for injunctive relief, up to and including a demand that Ohio State re-enroll Maurice Clarett.

"If it means taking Clarett back, we'll give 'em the football," incoming Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith said. "It's just a piece of glass."

Ivan Maisel is a senior writer with ESPN.com. He can be reached at ivan.maisel@espn3.com.

Ivan Maisel | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com

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