Wednesday, November 30, 2022
World Cup Action!
If you haven't been following along at home, let me tell you-- the World Cup has been pretty interesting (especially if you are a fan of 0-0 ties).
The first round is a round-robin within groups of four teams. The US was in a group with Iran, England and Wales (yes, they put two parts of the UK together in one group). Through three games, the US only gave up one goal, in a 1-1 draw with Wales. They then tied England in a 0-0 classic, and made it through to the next round by beating Iran 1-0 yesterday. Highlights here:
Monday, November 28, 2022
At the cinema!
IPLawGuy, who is usually at the cutting edge of culture, tipped me off to the upcoming film "Cocaine Bear." He called me from Interstate 66 from his unrestored 1970 Plymouth Barracuda, which has has made into a "convertible" by removing the top with a reciprocating saw, so it was a little hard to hear, but apparently this film is about a bear that goes on a murderous rampage after, well, ingesting a LOT of cocaine. It's a true story.
It's the same hackneyed story we've all heard before: Narcotics trafficker jumps out of a plane with a faulty parachute and dies. However, he threw a satchel full of cocaine out of the plane first. and a bear ate it. Then the bear stayed up all night.
I, for one, am tired of bears being portrayed as drug-crazed psychopaths who will just eat an entire suitcase full of cocaine and go on deadly rampages. The truth is that most bears about now are hibernating in a nice den with a lot of snacks and some blankets.
Sure, that makes for a boring movie. But isn't it time for some realism in our films?
Sunday, November 27, 2022
Sunday Reflection: Victory!
Those of you who know me will know that I thrive on the change of seasons. Here in Minnesota we are turning towards 3-5 months of real winter, which means we are going to need our famous snowplows like Betty Whiteout (pictured above).
One marker of the season is the annual Michigan-Ohio State game, which I got to watch with my dad, a lifelong Michigan fan (even though he didn't go there; he went to Cornell). It was a great game and Michigan won 45-23, which qualifies as a shellacking for them-- though really it was a pretty close game most of the way. I loved seeing Michigan win, in part because Ohio State is the locus of evil, but mostly because they don't do that a lot in this game.
After the game, which was in Columbus, the Wolverines looked pretty happy even though they were in hostile territory. The season isn't over-- they will have at least two more games, the league championship and then a bowl game-- but this was a huge threshold crossed.
People cared a lot about the outcome, which of course doesn't mean anything at all except for the importance we attach to it. Many of us just decide to care a lot about this weird game played between college students, and thus it becomes important.
Not that it's a bad thing. It's good to care about things, of course, to believe in them and hope for an outcome.
One appeal of sports, I think, is that we know so clearly the outcome we desire-- for our team to win! The rest of life isn't like that. If you ask most people what they want the outcome of their life to be, you probably will get a puzzled look or a request for some time to think about it. Oddly, we tend not to define that very often.
Some people, of course, will say they want the outcome of being rich or of being happy. Neither one is very deep, of course, or lasting.
So what is it, the outcome you want?
Saturday, November 26, 2022
People who follow soccer closely often say that many of the "most exciting" matches end up as a 0-0 tie. I'm not sure I buy it, but they probably know more than I do. Anyways, there are the "highlights," most of which are guys shooting the ball into the stands:
Friday, November 25, 2022
Haiku Friday: What are you thankful for?
I hope you had a great Thanksgiving-- it was a great one here with my parents and other family gobbling up a great meal.
So this is a fair question: what are you thankful for? Let's haiku about that this week. Here, I will go first:
So many people
Have shown me kindness, even
Now it is your turn! Just use the 5/7/5 syllable pattern and have some fun!
Thursday, November 24, 2022
This is the 17th Thanksgiving since I started this blog. And every year, one way or another, I say the same thing: that this is my favorite holiday.
I love the simple theology of it-- gratitude. That's something that turns us towards joy and humility, and those are both very good things.
I love the things that define it: gathering with the people we love, cooking and eating together, a long walk on a short day.
I love the fact that somehow no marketer has found a way to commercialize it beyond the traditional foods we eat.
I love you all, and the fact that for 17 years now I have been able to write pretty much whatever I want, confident that someone will read it.
Wednesday, November 23, 2022
My point yesterday-- that hate is taught-- wasn't exactly original. Among other places it was well-articulated in the musical "South Pacific":
Tuesday, November 22, 2022
The cost of hate
On Saturday, a man full of hatred who had been taught that drag shows were evil killed 5 people and injured 17 by shooting up the Club Q in Colorado Springs.
There is a lot wrong with this. But the fact that young people are taught to hate is one we need to take note of.
If you watch Fox News for a couple days, you are likely to see stories about drag shows or transgendered people that describe them as some kind of threat to our society. Words like "awful" and "despicable," and "disgusting" are used to describe them. I know this because I actually do watch Fox News (or listen to it on satellite radio). It's bizarre-- our nation faces serious challenges, but drag shows are not one of them.
Teaching hate is reprehensible. At some point, people need to wake up to that.
Monday, November 21, 2022
Poems of the outdoors
My Dad wrote a haiku that is so true. The picture above shows why I would do this-- there is no light like that coming from those you love. Here is his poem:
Mark would go outdoors
and look in at the warmth of
our Christmas dinner.
Christine wrote, too:
Morning, late autumn,
Trees stand bare against the sky
Early light, sun rise.
As did Desiree:
Outside the classroom
Through my window, I see where
I wish I could be.
And the Medievalist:
Long absent cool air,
And floods the space around me,
Take off my jacket.
I loved this one from Craig:
Gather morning press,
Moon and stars in late fall sky
Light the dark driveway.
And we got an intriguing anonymous entry:
The dying sun at far
The shining star staring at her beauty
Talked to her with compassion.
Sunday, November 20, 2022
Sunday Reflection: Truer than true
When my dad paints someone, he doesn't really paint all of them-- there are parts of them that kind of disappear into the whole. And yet... even without every detail played out, you can have a real sense of who that person is. In fact, it could be that this allows you to even better understand the person-- what my dad calls it being "truer than true."
In our society, sometimes we seem to expect to know everything about someone-- that it should be online, that they should have every detail sketched out, and we don't trust them until we have that (if, even then, we do). There is probably a cost to that, part of it being that we don't ever get to what is truer than true about that person.
Perfect can be the enemy of love-- or at least a distraction. (1 Corinthians 13).
And for some, that same instinct-- that everything has to be explained-- is the barrier to faith. If there is an unanswered question, it all falls apart. And at what cost! Because there, of all places, we need to look towards what is truer than true.
Saturday, November 19, 2022
It's got a vibe
Friday, November 18, 2022
Haiku Friday: Outdoors
A few nights ago I was driving home through the three inches of fresh snow we have here in Minnesota. It was stunningly beautiful. I parked and walked a bit in a neighborhood I didn't know (Minneapolis is like that-- you can just happen upon a lovely place). I didn't miss summer. But I remember it well.
Let's haiku about the outdoors; a broad category, but that makes it all the better!
Here, I will go first:
The low light at dusk
Draws me outside to soak up
Now it is your turn! Just use the 5/7/5 syllable pattern, and have some fun.
Thursday, November 17, 2022
The End (?) of US News Law School Rankings
For decades, the US News rankings have had an outsized impact on law schools-- students and others treated the rankings like they really meant something, and that favored some schools over others for not-so-valid reasons.
I have taught at two law schools. One is a much better school, with far stronger instructors and sense of community. The other, no so much-- but that one was ranked far higher. I knew it was backwards.
Meanwhile, my own alma mater has been #1 in the rankings since I was there. BUT... now it will all come apart, and Yale Law-- which has everything to gain from the rankings-- led the way. Yesterday, they announced they were pulling out of the rankings, and Harvard Law quickly made the same decision. It's hard to see that rankings will mean much with the top schools pulling out.
It took them long enough! I called for Yale to drop out in 2013.
Here is how Yale Law Dean Heather Gerken explained it:
For three decades, U.S. News & World Report, a for-profit magazine, has ranked the educational quality of law schools across the country. Since the very beginning, Yale Law School has taken the top spot every year. Yet, that distinction is not one that we advertise or use as a lodestar to chart our course. In fact, in recent years, we have invested significant energy and capital in important initiatives that make our law school a better place but perversely work to lower our scores. That’s because the U.S. News rankings are profoundly flawed — they disincentivize programs that support public interest careers, champion need-based aid, and welcome working-class students into the profession. We have reached a point where the rankings process is undermining the core commitments of the legal profession. As a result, we will no longer participate.
It’s entirely understandable that many schools feel compelled to adhere to a commercial magazine’s preferences, as the rankings are taken seriously by applicants, employers, and alumni. But rankings are useful only when they follow sound methodology and confine their metrics to what the data can reasonably capture — factors I’ve described in my own research on election administration. Over the years, however, U.S. News has refused to meet those conditions despite repeated calls from law school deans to change. Instead, the magazine continues to take data — much of it supplied by the law schools solely to U.S. News — and applies a misguided formula that discourages law schools from doing what is best for legal education. While I sincerely believe that U.S. News operates with the best of intentions, it faces a nearly impossible task, ranking 192 law schools with a small set of one-size-fits-all metrics that cannot provide an accurate picture of such varied institutions. Its approach not only fails to advance the legal profession, but stands squarely in the way of progress.
One of the most troubling aspects of the U.S. News rankings is that it discourages law schools from providing critical support for students seeking public interest careers and devalues graduates pursuing advanced degrees. Because service is a touchstone of our profession, Yale Law School is proud to award many more public interest fellowships per student than any of our peers. These fellowships have enabled some of our finest students to serve their communities and the nation on our dime. Even though our fellowships are highly selective and pay comparable salaries to outside fellowships, U.S. News appears to discount these invaluable opportunities to such an extent that these graduates are effectively classified as unemployed. When it comes to brilliant students training themselves for a scholarly life or a wide-ranging career by pursuing coveted Ph.D. and master’s degrees, U.S. News does the same. Both of these tracks are a venerable tradition at Yale Law School, and these career choices should be valued and encouraged throughout legal education.
In addition, the rankings exclude a crucial form of support for public interest careers — loan forgiveness programs — when calculating student debt loads. Loan forgiveness programs matter enormously to students interested in service, as they partially or entirely forgive the debts of students taking low-paying public interest jobs. But the rankings exclude them when calculating debt even though they can entirely erase a student’s loans. In short, when law schools devote resources to encouraging students to pursue public interest careers, U.S. News mischaracterizes them as low-employment schools with high debt loads. That backward approach discourages law schools throughout the country from supporting students who dream of a service career.
The U.S. News rankings also discourage law schools from admitting and providing aid to students with enormous promise who may come from modest means. Today, 20% of a law school’s overall ranking is median LSAT/GRE scores and GPAs. While academic scores are an important tool, they don’t always capture the full measure of an applicant. This heavily weighted metric imposes tremendous pressure on schools to overlook promising students, especially those who cannot afford expensive test preparation courses. It also pushes schools to use financial aid to recruit high-scoring students. As a result, millions of dollars of scholarship money now go to students with the highest scores, not the greatest need. At a moment when concerns about economic equity stand at the center of our national dialogue, only two law schools in the country continue to give aid based entirely on need — Harvard and Yale. Just this year, Yale Law School doubled down on that commitment, launching a tuition-free scholarship for students who come from families below the poverty line. These students overcame nearly insurmountable odds to get to Yale, and their stories are nothing short of inspiring. Regrettably, U.S. News has made it difficult for other law schools to eliminate the financial barriers that deter talented minds from joining our profession.
Finally, the way U.S. News accounts for student debt further undercuts the efforts of law schools to recruit the most capable students into the profession. To its credit, U.S. News has recognized that debt can deter excellent students from becoming lawyers and has tried to help by giving weight to a metric that rests on the average debt of graduating students and the percentage of students who graduate with debt. Yet a metric based on debt alone can backfire, incentivizing schools to admit students with the means to pay tuition over students with substantial financial need. A far better measure is how much financial aid a law school provides to its students, rewarding schools that admit students from low-income backgrounds and support them along the way. That crucial measure receives inadequate weight in the rankings.
The people most harmed by this ill-conceived system are applicants who aspire to public service work and those from low-income backgrounds. They’re trying to make a sensible choice about their future, and law schools want to do right by them. Unfortunately, the rankings system has made it increasingly difficult for law schools to provide robust support for students who serve their communities, to admit students from low-income backgrounds, and to target financial aid to the students most in need. Although we will not submit data to U.S. News going forward, each year Yale Law School will provide prospective students with data in a public, transparent, and useful form to ensure they have the information they need to decide which law school is right for them.
Leaders in legal education should do everything they can to ensure students of all backgrounds have the support and resources they need to enter our profession and contribute to society. Granting exclusive access to a flawed commercial rankings system is counterproductive to the mission of this profession and the core values of Yale Law School. While I do not take this decision lightly, now is the time for us to walk away from the rankings in order to pursue our own path forward as we work to advance legal education.
Wednesday, November 16, 2022
So... it looks like Donald Trump is running for president again, to the surprise of very few people. There were some weird parts of the very long announcement. At the start, as music plays, he just kind of stands there and slowly rotates from side to side. Then, at the start of his talk, he says that at the end of his four-year administration the nation was "at its pinnacle" and that "everybody was doing great." But... what I remember of the end of his administration was a nation racked by a pandemic and skyrocketing crime, while the economy teetered and insurrectionists stormed the United States Capitol.
What will it mean? Here are some preliminary thoughts:
1) The press will probably once again cover everything Trump does as news-- and he will make sure that they do by ratcheting up outrageousness until it gets attention.
2) It makes it more likely that President Biden with run for re-election... and I wish that he wouldn't.
3) It will divide Republicans, at least until it is clear that his supporters are still a critical mass in the party (or doesn't).
4) Pundits will say nothing was learned from the 2022 elections by Republicans, and Democrats will rub their hands in happiness.
5) But... 2016 still haunts the landscape, and only fools would underestimate Trump's appeal once he has press attention.
Tuesday, November 15, 2022
The Next Project
One big election we had here was for the Hennepin County Attorney. Hennepin County includes Minneapolis and many suburbs, and is the most populous in the state. The new County Attorney will be Mary Moriarty, who will do a great job.
Yesterday she announced that Cedrick Frazier and I will lead her transition. Cedrick is member of the Minnesota House of Representatives and attorney, and I look forward to working with him.
So, yeah, I'll be busy.
Monday, November 14, 2022
Wow! None of the haiku on the topic of "What's in your fridge" included the line "Refrigerator," which has exactly 5 syllables. Good work!
We had this from Christine:
The shelves of our fridge
Where condiments go to die
A drawer full of cheese.
And one from Jill Scoggins:
I married a guy
from Louisiana who
cooks. Rice. Rice. Rice. Rice.
And Desiree never disappoints:
In back of the fridge,
Salsa, salsa, green and red.
Save it for Christmas?
Sunday, November 13, 2022
Sunday Reflection: Voting
Like many of you, I voted on Tuesday. Though I appreciate the need to allow early voting, I like to do it in person, in part because I find it to be a moving and emotional experience, this little bit of agency in creating our world, and I like to do it among my neighbors.
This year there was a table of earnest looking young people sitting at the tables where you check in and get your ballot, in place of the senior citizens I usually find there. It was great to see them there-- they were not only voting but helping others to do so! That's a good sign.
I walk the ballot over to a booth and fill in the little bubbles. Then I check to make sure I filled in the right bubbles. Then I color in any tiny blank spot in my bubbles. Then I walk the ballot over to the machine that counts the votes. Then I walk outside into the cold air and breathe deeply.
There are people I know who don't vote because they don't think it matters-- it almost never happens that an election is decided by one vote, right?
Sure... but that's not how I feel.
I love going into the forest. It's full of trees and in a truly wild place it seems to go on forever. No one tree makes it a forest or beautiful.
But I still want to be a tree, to be a part of the beauty of that forest.
Being the most important voter-- the one that makes the difference in an election all by myself-- is a strange goal for those of us who believe in a God that makes a forest, and six billion of us.
Saturday, November 12, 2022
Why is it that lots of jurisdictions get voting done in a day, and others take days and days? I understand that if there are lots of mail-in ballots that might be more of a challenge, but the disparity often is within states that have uniform rules, and some counties get it done while others languish.
Friday, November 11, 2022
Haiku Friday: What's in your fridge?
It's coming up on Thanksgiving-- time to make room in your fridge! It's that time of year when you find out what has been in there for a while. Let's haiku about that this week! Here, I will go first:
Fridge has a theme song:
It's "How old is that yogurt?"
I don't want to know.
Now it is your turn! Just use the 5/7/5 syllable pattern, and have some fun!
Thursday, November 10, 2022
Political Mayhem Thursday: IPLawguy's Take
IPLawGuy is one of the more astute political observers I know. Over the last 40 years, I have learned a lot from him. He was a Reagan Republican who worked for John McCain for 6 years, but who has drifted from the Republican party of late-- or, I should say, the Republican party moved away from him over the past decade. His comments yesterday were intriguing, so I am reposting them here:
I am only bummed, not crushed, by the results. I had figured that Texas and Florida were lost causes, but I had really hoped Tim Ryan could take out bona fide phony JD Vance in Ohio. Ryan was one of the smarter Democrats who actually made it a point to address the issues that voters cared about.
Its hard to break the narrative, but the exit interviews I've seen confirm my belief that the most decisive issue was the selfish one: inflation in general and gas prices in particular. The other big one - crime. And for some reason, too many Americans have bought into the ideas that crime is rampant.
Tragically, the Gun issue is not going to switch votes. Opinions and votes are set in stone. Same deal with abortion
As much as I would like to think "democracy" matters, the undecided voters and hard to motivate voters are not going to be excited by that. If they were, they wouldn't be undecided or hard to motivate.
Let me just say this about Texas. I don't live there, didn't see ANY of the advertising, etc. But I DO NOT GET why the entire campaign wasn't about the failed power grid.
Uvalde and other mass shootings were tragic. I am furious about the gun issue. But.....being pro gun control is NOT A WINNING ISSUE IN TEXAS!!
Maybe Beto focused on the Grid, but the national press focused on his liberal positions and charm.
Also. Wisconsin. I DO NOT GET the appeal of Ron Johnson.
Again, I do not live there etc., but Barnes let himself get painted as some sort of commie. His record and past statements were millstones he could not shake. This seems like a HUGE missed opportunity.
I agree with all of this-- especially the part about Ron Johnson. It just baffles me that anyone looks at him and hears what he says and thinks "That's my guy!"
Wednesday, November 09, 2022
Political Mayhem Wednesday
I was up way too late watching election results come in, and even went over to a victory party for a minute. The results (that we have so far, anyways) are... mixed. Some notes:
-- The "red wave" was shallower than predicted. Instead of a 60ish-seat shift in the US House, we are looking at about a third of that... but that is enough to change the majority in that chamber, which means Republicans can set the agenda there.
-- In general, election deniers underperformed. Kari Lake, apparently headed to defeat in the Arizona gubernatorial race, was already denying the legitimacy of that race.
-- Republicans did very well in Florida. Not sure what to make of that.
-- Here in Minnesota, reformer Mary Moriarty won by a lot in the race for Hennepin County Attorney, and Tim Walz won by 16% in keeping his seat as Governor. I supported both of them, so I'm glad. It looks like the AG race, though, will be very close.
Tuesday, November 08, 2022
Earlier this week...
I had a piece about crime in the Waco Trib on Sunday. You can read that here. Even better than my piece was the awesome cartoon they got to go with it:
Monday, November 07, 2022
Good takes on the Halloween that was, all! It is always good to hear from Craig A.:
Not fan, Halloween
Love, however, being candy bag man
for young granddaughters!
No neighbors, long drive
Buy the candy we enjoy
No beggars ever.
Desiree visited (and I want to know more about the "science gang"):
Science gang loves sweets,
So dressed as PE teachers.
As did the Scroogey Medievalist:
The Halloween Scrooge!
I hate all costumes and stuff,
Give me the Reeses!
An anonymous entry:
Few trick or treaters
We will eat Snicker Bars for
Many months to come.
And another (quite true) one from Christine:
People hoping for
Fentanyl laced Skittles were
Sunday, November 06, 2022
The Hard Road to Mercy
On Thursday night, I went out to Arizona State to speak on a panel about the First Step Act, the 2018 law that enacted some modest prison and sentencing reforms. The legislation is often touted as a victory of bipartisan collaboration, which it was-- it ended up being supported by Bernie Sanders and Mike Lee, among a broad array of Senators.
But something else was going on, too, which is too rarely recognized. It mattered who supported it, but absent their usual voice was the institutional opponent of reform, the Department of Justice. Usually, the DOJ reflexively opposes anything that hints of change that might favor defendants or take away any bit of power from the Department. (Rachel Barkow and I analyzed that dynamic here, if you are interested).
What happened, in short, is that the President of the United States was at war with his own Attorney General (who heads the Department of Justice). Donald Trump was furious that AG Jeff Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation of Robert Mueller, and the two men weren't speaking to each other. Usually, the DOJ is the sole advisor to the President on matters of criminal law, but for that period in 2018 that advisor was absent. I actually went to a meeting at the White House on criminal law a few months before the First Step Act was signed, and was shocked that among the 20 or so people in attendance, no one was there from the DOJ.
But... we're all like that, aren't we?
So many times I have seen a person flourish once the negative person in their life is gone, a kid transformed in the absence of a bully.
I wonder, sometimes, if I have been that negative force. If I have, my faith compels that I stop.
Saturday, November 05, 2022
Coming up Tuesday...
Friday, November 04, 2022
Haiku: Halloween Recap
How was your Halloween? If you think about it, it's really a strange holiday, devoted to scary things and candy and related things. But it is memorable! So let's haiku about that this week. Here, I will go first:
Old Mister Scary
Got him in 1990
Now it is your turn! Just use the 5/7/5 syllable pattern and have some fun!
Thursday, November 03, 2022
PMT: The Bear We Choose
This is the last Thursday before the midterm elections, so there are some things to discuss!
First of all, this is not the "most important election of our lifetimes." There is no way it can be important that 2016, when we elected Trump, opening the floodgates to all sorts of strange and sad things, including an insurrection at the Capitol (hard as that still is to believe).
But it is important. According to 538, it's looking very likely that the US House will switch to the Republicans and slightly probably that the Senate will flip the same way. And, of course, in a state like Minnesota we have a bunch of races that will be very consequential, including the AG, the Governor, the Secretary of State, and a bunch of county attorneys. I'd like to list what won't happen and what will happen-- good and bad-- if the Republicans sweep the House and Senate and a bunch of these key state races:
What won't happen:
1) Inflation won't be affected. It is driven by things other than legislation and the actions of governors. It will go up for a while and then go down no matter who wins.
2) Gas prices won't be affected. See # 1.
3) Crime won't be affected. Policing is the key here (along with the social fabric), and police chiefs are not elected. And even at that, we don't know much about what makes crime go up or down-- though a huge public health crisis like the pandemic is a likely driver. That means that over the next year crime will go down no matter who wins.
4) The world won't end. We'll be fine, at least for two more years.
What will happen:
1) There will be divided government, which means big spending bills will be hard to get through. And in terms of the deficit, that's good.
2) There will be a lot of House committee investigations into Hunter Biden. Sigh.
3) It will be less likely that Joe Biden will run for re-election, and that would be very good. I think the experience will just get much less pleasant (which is saying something given the current state of affairs).
4) There are going to be a lot more Marjorie Taylor Greene-types in the House. Not good.
5) Perhaps most importantly, there will be many more people in power who are willing to undermine the integrity of elections. And that is very very very bad.
Wednesday, November 02, 2022
The problem of throwaway furniture
I was shocked to read just how much furniture we are buying for short-term use-- the kind from IKEA or Wayfair that is built to last for five years or so. According to the New York Times, this kind of "fast furniture" is one reason we are tossing 12 million tons of furniture every year.
Sure, I've been to IKEA-- my favorite part is the set-up of a tiny apartment of 400 or 600 square feet, imagining if I could be happy in that kind of small space. But much of the furniture I use has been around for a while. I have one blue love seat that I bought from the lobby of my gym (it was going under) that is super-solid and looks exactly the same as when I bought it in 1996. There is another blue loveseat which came from my parents' basement and my mother had refinished that has been in constant use for 30 years and probably had a good 70 before that. It's perfect. In front of it as a Danish modern coffee table from my parent's pre-children era that is kinda beaten up (and bears a saw mark on one side), but it's just right in front of the fireplace.
We do throw too much away, a decision made when we buy something shoddy made of pressboard. Of course, often there are not other choices that people can afford. But we can do better with re-using what we have, I suspect.
Tuesday, November 01, 2022
College Football's future
Over at the Washington Post, Rick Reilly is being cranky about conference readjustment in college football (ie, UCLA and USC to the Big 10, Texas and Oklahoma to the SEC, etc...). It's pretty customary to complain about all that-- change is hard.
But the truth is that most of the real rivalries are continuing, because pairs of schools that are rivals (ie, Texas and Oklahoma or UCLA and USC) are moving together. In some instances, it is the movement that is making the old rivalries come alive again (ie, Texas v. Texas A & M, both of which will be in the SEC soon).
Here's a move nobody really noticed, though...
A few years ago the school I teach at, St. Thomas, got thrown out of the Division III league that contains most of the little Minnesota schools and decided to skip Division II altogether and go straight to Division I-- a move made possible only by a waiver of NCAA rules.
Now their football teams play in the Pioneer League, a non-scholarship grouping that is in Division I-AA (now known as the FCS). Having jumped two divisions, you would expect them to be terrible, but somehow they aren't. In fact, they are 7-1 overall and 5-0 in the conference, where they hold first place solo. Not sure how they pulled that off!