Yahoo Sports AM: The NCAA prophets of doom were wrong

👋 Good morning! Imagine traveling back to the 90s and telling people that, in the future, they'd be watching NFL games on Amazon. "Huh? The book website's gonna be a TV?"

— Kendall Baker (email), Jeff Tracy (email)

Let's sports...


🏀 WNBA blowouts: The top-seeded Aces crushed the Sky, 87-59, and the third-seeded Sun dominated the Lynx, 90-60, on Night 1 of the WNBA playoffs.

💉 The Biogenesis Files: In 2013, Biogenesis outed some of America's biggest athletes as PED users. 10 years later, ESPN has obtained more than 1,400 pages of confidential DEA documents that provide more details — and names.

⚾️ Braves clinch: The Braves beat the Phillies, 4-1, on Wednesday to clinch their sixth straight NL East title. This is Atlanta's 23rd division title in the divisional era (since 1969), the most of any team.

⚽️ Spain strike called off: Players in Liga F, Spain's women’s soccer league, have called off their strike after reaching a deal to increase their minimum wage.

🤝 Pickleball merger: Major League Pickleball and the PPA Tour have agreed to merge, with the new entity backed by a private equity-led $50 million investment.

See what else is trending on Yahoo Sports.

Colorado fans packed the stadium during their home opener against Nebraska. (Nick Tre. Smith/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Colorado fans packed the stadium during their home opener against Nebraska. (Nick Tre. Smith/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)


Athletic directors, commissioners, NCAA lawyers, old coaches and establishment media claimed NIL and the transfer portal would ruin college football and push fans away. Wrong then. Wrong now. Maybe next year, Yahoo's Dan Wetzel writes...

Some 8.8 million people tuned into ESPN to watch Texas-Alabama last week, the most-viewed Saturday game on the network since 2014. It just barely edged out the 8.7 million who watched Nebraska-Colorado on Fox.

  • Overall, 21 college football games have already drawn two million or more viewers. By this point last season, the total was 18, per SportsMediaWatch. So... is next year the year that fans tune out because of the "disaster" that is NIL, or the "wild, wild west" of the transfer portal?

  • Asking for a friend... or at least the whiny coaches, fear-mongering conference commissioners, absurd NCAA attorneys and lockstep establishment media personalities who told us, repeatedly, that by now everything would be ruined forever.

Reality check: To the surprise of no one capable of critical thinking, college football hasn't grown less popular because players can make a few bucks and have gained a measure of control over their careers. If anything, it's more popular. Stadiums are packed. Television ratings are up.

  • What about competitive balance? Recall that even if you could stomach the idea that Caleb Williams might appear in a Dr. Pepper commercial... then all NIL would mean is that the rich would get richer?

  • Well, you can't get much richer than the SEC, which is 3-6 against Power Five teams. ... The once-forgotten Pac-12, meanwhile, is 21-4 overall and has eight ranked teams. A big reason: It starts 10 transfer quarterbacks. That is talent dispersing.

Leveling the playing field: If anything, the era of NIL and the transfer portal are leveling the playing field a little — at least at the top of the sport. It even extends to high school recruiting, where non-traditional powers can focus their NIL dollars and attention on a single player.

  • Consider that currently 34 of the top 40 recruits in the Class of 2024 are verbally committed to 19 different programs, on pace for the most in at least a decade. Again, slightly more talent dispersion, not less and certainly not far less, as predicted.

  • Just about everything the establishment claimed would happen hasn't happened. It was the same when they opposed athlete stipends, academic awards or just about any other advancement.

The irony: Actually, the biggest threat to the tradition of college football is conference realignment. Athletic directors and commissioners — who secretly tamper with and then transfer entire athletic departments in pursuit of more money — can't blame that on the players.

They said it… Remember, it was then-NCAA president Mark Emmert who testified that NIL would turn college athletics "into minor league sports, and we know that in the U.S., minor league sports aren't very successful either for fan support or the fan experience."

  • It was NCAA lawyer Dan Waxman who argued to the Supreme Court that "the cost of labor" was a "differentiating feature" for college sports and if players made any money interest would decrease.

  • And there is always former Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany, who opined that the Division III model would "be more consistent with the Big Ten's philosophy" if something like NIL came along. Soon after that, Delany received a $20 million bonus for negotiating a TV deal.

The kicker: The complaining continues. The Washington lobbying remains. The howls about how the sport has/is/will be ruined are still as loud as ever. It doesn't appear many actual fans are still listening. They are too busy watching the games.

Read/share: Full story on Yahoo Sports

Damian Lillard sits out a game in March after the Trail Blazers shut him down for the season. (Soobum Im/Getty Images)
Damian Lillard sits out a game in March after the Trail Blazers shut him down for the season. (Soobum Im/Getty Images)


The NBA began cracking down on load management earlier this year when it introduced a new rule requiring players to play in at least 65 games to be eligible for year-end awards. Now, the league has gone one step further, Jeff writes.

What's new: NBA owners on Wednesday voted on stricter rules and more substantial fines for teams who rest "star" players — those who have either made an All-Star or All-NBA team in the past three seasons — who are otherwise healthy.

  • Rules: Teams can't rest multiple star players in the same game, nor any star in a nationally-televised or in-season tournament game. Resting stars must be in the arena and visible to fans, and teams can't shut down stars for extended periods of time.

  • Fines: $100,000 for the first violation, $250,000 for the second and $1.25 million for the third. Additional violations incur a fine $1 million greater than the previous one.

  • Exceptions: Players over 35 at the start of the season, or those with at least 34,000 career minutes or 1,000 career games, can sit out one game of a back-to-back — but the league must be notified a week ahead.

Who does this affect? 49 players on 26 teams are currently considered "stars" heading into the 2023-24 season.

  • Warriors: Steph Curry, Draymond Green, Andrew Wiggins, Chris Paul

  • Timberwolves: Anthony Edwards, Karl-Anthony Towns, Rudy Gobert, Mike Conley

  • Bulls: DeMar DeRozan, Zach LaVine, Nikola Vučević

  • Bucks: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jrue Holiday, Khris Middleton

  • Suns: Kevin Durant, Devin Booker, Bradley Beal

  • Cavaliers: Donovan Mitchell, Jarrett Allen, Darius Garland

  • Hawks: Trae Young, Dejounte Murray

  • Celtics: Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown

  • Mavericks: Luka Dončić, Kyrie Irving

  • Clippers: Kawhi Leonard, Paul George

  • Lakers: LeBron James, Anthony Davis

  • Grizzlies: Ja Morant, Jaren Jackson Jr.

  • Heat: Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo

  • 76ers: Joel Embiid, James Harden

  • Kings: Domantas Sabonis, De'Aaron Fox

Teams with one star: Nikola Jokić (Nuggets), Damian Lillard (Trail Blazers), Zion Williamson (Pelicans), Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (Thunder), Julius Randle (Knicks), Pascal Siakam (Raptors), Ben Simmons (Nets), LaMelo Ball (Hornets), Fred VanVleet (Rockets), Tyrese Haliburton (Pacers), Lauri Markkanen (Jazz)

Teams with no stars: Wizards, Pistons, Magic, Spurs

Ruoning Yin, the record-breaking fifth woman to reach world No. 1 this year. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Ruoning Yin, the record-breaking fifth woman to reach world No. 1 this year. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)


For the first time in the history of the Women's World Golf Rankings, five different players have been ranked No. 1 this season, Jeff writes.

  • 🇳🇿 Lydia Ko, 26 (Nov. 28, 2022-Apr. 23, 2023): Last year's Tour champion entered the season on top and the Kiwi stayed there for five months.

  • 🇺🇸 Nelly Korda, 25 (Apr. 24-May 21; July 31-Aug. 13): Six top-six finishes by the end of April vaulted her to No. 1 before a back injury sidelined her for a month.

  • 🇰🇷 Jin Young Ko, 28 (May 22-July 30): The South Korean has spent 163 weeks at No. 1 across five different stints, both all-time records.

  • 🇺🇸 Lilia Vu, 25 (Aug. 14-Sep. 10): The first American since 1999 to win multiple majors in one year is also one of just two women with three wins this year.

  • 🇨🇳 Ruoning Yin, 20 (Sep. 11-present): The new No. 1 as of this week is just the second Chinese woman to hold the top spot.

Looking ahead: There are 10 events left this season, starting with next week's Solheim Cup in Spain (women's version of the Ryder Cup).

Tyreek Hill scores one of his two Week 1 touchdowns. (Harry How/Getty Images)
Tyreek Hill scores one of his two Week 1 touchdowns. (Harry How/Getty Images)


With Week 2 kicking off tonight, here's a look at the Yahoo Fantasy points leaders through Week 1 based on Yahoo's default scoring (0.5 points per reception).

  1. Tyreek Hill, WR (Dolphins): 11 Rec, 215 Rec Yds, 2 Rec TD (39.0 fantasy points)

  2. Cowboys Defense: 7 Sack, 2 Int, 1 Fum Rec, 0 points allowed (37.0)

  3. Brandon Aiyuk, WR (49ers): 8 Rec, 129 Rec Yds, 2 Rec TD (28.90)

  4. Tua Tagovailoa, QB (Dolphins): 466 Pass Yds, 3 Pass TD, 1 Int (28.14)

  5. Aaron Jones, RB (Packers): 41 Rush Yds, Rush TD, 2 Rec, 86 Rec Yds, Rec TD (25.70)

  6. Mac Jones, QB (Patriots): 316 Pass Yds, 3 Pass TD, 1 Int (25.14)

  7. Jakobi Meyers, WR (Raiders): 9 Rec, 81 Rec Yds, 2 Rec TD (24.60)

  8. Christian McCaffrey, RB (49ers): 152 Rush Yds, Rush TD, 3 Rec, 17 Rec Yds (24.40)

  9. Austin Ekeler, RB (Chargers): 117 Rush Yds, Rush TD, 4 Rec, 47 Rec Yds (24.40)

  10. Jordan Love, QB (Packers): 245 Pass Yds, 3 Pass TD (23.0)

Full list: Top Week 1 performers

Bo could mash. (Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
Bo could mash. (Focus on Sport/Getty Images)


37 years ago today, 23-year-old Bo Jackson hit his first career home run — a 475-foot bomb that remains the third-longest ever hit at the Royals' Kaufmann Stadium, Jeff writes.

Brief but brilliant: Jackson pulled double duty from 1987-1990, hitting 107 homers for the Royals and scoring 18 touchdowns for the Raiders. Unfortunately, a brutal hip injury in the 1991 NFL playoffs ended his football career, and by 1994 he'd retired from baseball, too.

More on this day:

  • ⚾️ 1994: MLB owners voted to cancel the rest of the season amid the players' strike, the first time a major North American league lost its entire postseason due to a labor dispute.

  • 🏈 2010: Reggie Bush* forfeited his Heisman Trophy in the wake of an investigation into impermissible benefits that had already led to USC's 2005 national championship being vacated.

*In the news: Bush sued the NCAA for defamation last month, which could potentially pave the way for him to recover his Heisman Trophy.

(Cooper Neill/Getty Images)
(Cooper Neill/Getty Images)


The Eagles (-6.5) host the Vikings tonight (8:15pm ET, Prime) in the first of 16 "Thursday Night Football" games streaming exclusively on Prime Video* this season.

More to watch:

*New this year: Amazon has added multiple AI-driven features, including blitz predictions and context for when it makes sense to go for it on fourth down.

(Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
(Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)


Four active MLB pitchers rank in the top 25 on the all-time MLB strikeouts list.

  • Question: Can you name all four?

  • Hint: All four have been teammates with at least one of the other three.

Answer at the bottom.


Wait… WHAT?!

More from Landon:

"Yes, it worked. The commissioner dominated the league for years, mostly finishing first, but always finishing in the Top 3. There was no prize money … That's how addicted [he] was. We played in the league for fun."

"This was in 2000/2001. There was no social media… We were scattered across seven states. Most had never met in person. The commissioner would replace the 'dead' owners with a new owner… but the new owner was just [him] under a fake name."

"About 10 years later I get a call from a good friend who was a member of the league… The commissioner, unprompted, admitted to the whole thing in a league meeting. He suspended himself from postseason play and gave away the title of commissioner."


Trivia answer: No. 11 Max Scherzer, Rangers (3,367 strikeouts); No. 13 Justin Verlander, Astros (3,324); No. 20 Zack Greinke, Royals (2,966); No. 21 Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers (2,930)

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