Thursday, October 24, 2013

Report: Matt Williams the favorite to land Washington Nationals manager job

The Nationals hope to announce their sixth manager in team history by November, and former Giants third baseman Matt Williams could be the guy, according to an report.

Williams has a relationship with Washington GM Mike Rizzo, who was the scouting director with Arizona when Williams played third base for the world championship 2001 team.

If the Nationals go with Williams, the report indicates that the team will ask Randy Knorr, who also interviewed for the head coaching position, to remain as bench coach.

Former manager Davey Johnson retired following a disappointing 2013 season, and, in addition to Williams and Knorr, the team has interviewed Brad Ausmus, DeMarlo Hale and Trent Jewett to replace him. Cal Ripken, Jr., Dusty Baker and Dave Martinez have all been implicated as options, but none have been interviewed.

Williams, 47, spent 10 of his 17 MLB seasons with the San Francisco Giants, amassing 247 of his 378 career home runs in a Giants uniform.

Notre Dame will be without Louis Nix against Air Force

The Notre Dame defense will be without a big part of their defensive line.

Defensive tackle Louis Nix suffered a shoulder injury last week against USC and hasn't practiced this week. He won't be playing in this Saturday's game versus Air Force.

Head coach Brian Kelly says it's knee tendinitis that will be keeping Nix on the sidelines. Nonetheless, the Fighting Irish will miss the big man's presence. Even though Air Force is 1-6, the Falcons average around 54 carries a game using the triple option.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

"It Girl" of the week: Stephania Bella

The Just Sports & Just Us "It Girl" of the week is Stephania Bella.

Clemson's Tajh Boyd denies gambling rumors

The Clemson Tigers had a miserable weekend. The Tigers suffered a 51-14 loss to the Florida State Seminoles and to top it off there were rumors that quarterback Tajh Boyd owed more than $80,000 in gambling debts.

Serious allegations to derail a season. Of course the story came out before the biggest game of the season.

 Just before kickoff against FSU Saturday night, published a story alleging Tajh Boyd owed more than $80,000 worth of gambling debt to bookies.

The site says Boyd bet on NFL games and a college football game. It's a story both Swinney and Boyd deny.

"He said just, 'No way, coach,'" said Swinney. "It's just disappointing. We live in a world where things like that happen, you know, and again, I have no reason to think he would lie to me."

"It was kind of shocking to me as well, but I guess stuff like that happens sometimes said Boyd of the report. 

“I don't really know where that came from,” Boyd said, according to The State. “When I heard it, it was pretty shocking. That being built on top of the loss made it a rough little weekend.”

There better be some truth to the rumor because Boyd's mother told that the family was considering legal action against the source of the story.

“These reports are totally false,” Carla Boyd said. “Please leave my son alone.” 

Both Dabo Swinney and Clemson athletic director Dan Radakovich (whose compliance office looked into the matter over the weekend as part of its due diligence) said there was nothing to the reports.

As a fan I hope there is no truth to the story.

Charlie Manuel expresses interest in managing Detroit Tigers

The Detroit Tigers manager job is an attractive one right now.  The team is coming off it's third straight appearance in the American League Championship Series and have made two World Series appearances (2006, 2012).

There have been a lot of names thrown out there and there should be no shortage of managers currently on the sideline that would like to take the Tigers job.

Former Cleveland Indians and Philadelphia Phillies manager Charlie Manuel has 'expressed his interest' in taking over the Tigers gig that Jim Leyland recently stepped down from. Leyland said he didn't have much left in the tank but Manuel, who is 70, says he still has the fire during an interview with Detroit Sports 105.1.

 "My agent will definitely call some teams and feel them out," Manuel said. "He talks to me before he does it. He chats with me regular."

"Condition-wise, I feel tremendous," Manuel said. "I've still got the fire. I've got a full tank. I'm still very much in the game."

Manuel managed the Indians from 2000-2002 and won the AL Central in 2001. He managed the Phillies from 2004-2013, winning a World Series title in 2008, reaching the World Series again in 2009 losing to the New York Yankees.

Manuel won 780 games in Philadelphia, including five consecutive National League East titles from 2007-2011.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Eric Wedge and Dusty Baker interested in Detroit Tigers managerial opening

With Jim Leyland stepping down as manager of the Detroit Tigers speculation has begun on who'll take over for the American League Central champions.

There might be two guys interested in the job. Former Cincinnati Reds skipper Dusty Baker and former Seattle Mariners manager Eric Wedge.

Wedge stated that he would love the opportunity to manage the Tigers. Baker said that he would be flattered to manage the Tigers.

“If the Tigers have interest in me, I would love the opportunity,” Wedge said today. 

“I’ve always respected Dave Dombrowski and what Dave has accomplished,” Baker said. “I have the ultimate respect and friendship for Jim Leyland. I’d be flattered and honored to be given such an opportunity.”

Wedge resigned from his post in Seattle due to philosophical differences with the front office. Wedge wanted a win now approach while the front office felt the team should build with young players. Baker was fired from the Reds for his team practically collapsing late in the season and for sticking up for a coach the team wanted to fire.

The Tigers would also like a manager that is driven to win now. The team is clearly in a win now mode and is looking to win it's first World Series since 1984. The Tigers came up short in 2006 and 2012.

I don't know if Baker or Wedge are viewed as bonafide candidates, but I'm sure their names will be thrown in the mix.

If I had my choice I'd pick Wedge since Baker has a bad track record with overworking pitchers (Kerry Wood, Mark Prior).

This is the problem with fans wanting Leyland gone. No one seems to be thrilled with the possible list of candidates and can't name anyone to take over the reins of a possible championship team.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Savon Goodman leaving UNLV basketball program

After a tumultuous off-season which included a season long suspension, UNLV forward Savon Goodman has decided to leave the UNLV basketball program.

Goodman was suspended for his involvement in a May burglary in which he stole Nike sneakers, $500 cash and almost $900 worth of video games from a friend's apartment.

UNLV coach Dave Rice said that Goodman would remain a part of the program while he was suspended. I suppose that was pending the outcome of a November preliminary hearing. Misdemeanor conspiracy and felony burglary and grand larceny charges that could get him up to 15 years in a Nevada prison.

“I have enjoyed my time at UNLV and am thankful for the support of the fans, my teammates and coaches since I have been here,” Goodman said in a statement issued by the university. “However, I have felt a lot of pressure the last few months. I feel it is best for me to leave the program at this time. Even though I am from Philadelphia, I will always think of Las Vegas as another home.”

Goodman was a sophomore and averaged 3.6 points and 2.4 rebounds as a freshman. With the deaprtures of NBA top overall draft pick Anthony Bennett and Mike Moser to Oregon, Goodman would've assumed a bigger role this season.

“I respect Savon's decision and will always be here to support him,” coach Rice said in a statement. “I wish him all the best.”

It will be interesting to see if he ends up anywhere else on he college scene if he happens to beat the rap in this case.

NFL VP trying to get Ndamukong Suh's attention

The man who hands out fines for the NFL admits he's trying to get Ndamukong Suh's attention.

Suh was fined for a second time this season on Wednesday, $31,500 for striking Cleveland Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden with his helmet.

NFL vice president of operations Merton Hanks said Friday in a spot on “Total Access” on NFL Network that he wanted to get Suh’s attention with the fine but didn’t think the hit was worthy of larger punishment.

“The fine amount is more than the minimum because he is a repeat offender and I wanted to get Ndamukong Suh’s attention in this regard,” Hanks said. “I’ve got to help him course correct.”

Hanks was asked why Suh didn't get a suspension for the hit. Hanks said it wasn't an "egregious play".

“In the big scheme of things, it’s not an egregious play,” Hanks said. “It is a violation, that’s why he was fined.”  

The way I see it, Suh will always be watched closely. Anytime he lays a hard hit on an opponent he's going to be scrutinized. Suh says he isn't going to change his game, but that comment will do nothing but warrant a close look by the NFL.

On the other hand you would think Hanks would cut Suh a little bit of slack since he was known as a big hitter when he played.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Blazers rookie C.J. McCollum out six weeks with a broken foot

The Trail Blazers announced Wednesday rookie guard C.J. McCollum will miss at least six weeks after undergoing a non-operative ultrasound procedure to repair a fractured bone in his foot done by the same physician that treated Stephen Curry’s ankles prior to the 2012-2013 season, Dr. Robert Anderson.

McCollum will miss six weeks and will then be reevaluated.

McCollum, a 6-4 guard from Lehigh, was drafted 10th by the Blazers in this year's draft and leading into the draft there were questions about a fractured bone in his foot he suffered in January.

More than likely he'll still travel with the team.

Former NFL star Irving Fryar convicted on conspiracy charges

Former NFL Pro Bowl wide receiver and Philadelphia Eagle Irving Fryar was indicted today on charges that he, along with his mother, conspired to steal more than $690,000.

Acting New Jersey Attorney General John J. Hoffman announced that Fryar, 51, and his mother Allene McGhee, 72, were indicted by a state grand jury on second-degree charges of conspiracy and theft by deception.

Fryar -- who played for the Patriots, Dolphins, Eagles and Redskins from 1984-2000 -- was more than solid with New England, making between 54 and 88 catches every season from 1990-97. His 851 career receptions ranks 18th on the all-time list, and his 12,785 career receiving yards ranks 15th.

Fryar also was the coach of the Robbinsville High (New Jersey) football team

According to the Attorney General’s office, Fryar and McGhee conspired to steal more than $690,000 by having McGhee fraudulently obtain five home equity loans on her home within a six-day period.

“This is not a case in which Mr. Fryar and his mother simply omitted or misstated information on loan applications,” acting attorney general John Hoffman said in a statement. “This indictment alleges that they engaged in an elaborate criminal scheme that was designed to defraud these banks of hundreds of thousands of dollars. It is disappointing that someone with an illustrious career in professional sports who now is a minister and coach in the community is charged with this crime, but he must face justice like anyone else.”

This is a hard fall for someone who seemingly put his past behind him and gave his life to the lord.

New York Giants sign Peyton Hillis

The New York Giants are desperate for a running back. Peyton Hillis wants to resurrect his career. Today Hillis and the Giants made their marriage official.

Hillis was signed Wednesday after a five man tryout. The Giants are hoping he can be as productive as he was when he rushed for 1,177 yards in 2010 for the Cleveland Browns. Hillis is hoping that he gets a chance to show that he still has something left after stints in Cleveland, Kansas City, and Tampa Bay.

 "I firmly believe I never had too much of an opportunity after I left Cleveland," Hillis said. "I was behind Jamaal Charles at Kansas City. I didn't get too much playing time. I felt when I got in I did well. And then I was in Tampa and never really got to touch the field because of Doug Martin. He's pretty good."

The Giants currently have Brandon Jacobs as their feature back and seventh round pick Michael Cox on the roster. David Wilson is also there but he won't be available for another three weeks.

Hillis views this as a second chance of sorts. He knows he won't be featured but with the Giants woes in the backfield he could have his number called quite a bit this Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings.

 "I'm coming in with an open heart and open mind," Hillis said, "and I'm looking to do whatever the coaching staff needs me to do to help this team win."

Monday, October 14, 2013

MAC announces the Bahamas Bowl will debut in 2014

The Bahamas will be getting ready for some MAC-tion.

The Mid-American Conference officially announced the creation of the Bahamas Bowl. The Bahamas Bowl will feature teams from five different conferences over its first six years. Those conferences will be the MAC, Mountain West, American Athletic, Conference USA and the Sun Belt.

“The Mid-American Conference is proud to partner in the creation of the Bahamas Bowl beginning with the 2014 season and to feature the only bowl game outside of the United States,” said MAC commissioner John Steinbrecher. “This will truly be a one-of-its-kind bowl experience for our student-athletes, coaches and fans. The Thomas A. Robinson Stadium will be a wonderful host venue and the accommodations with the Atlantis Resort will certainly be a destination to reward our football programs.”

“It’s symbolic of the growth of this conference in terms of the quality of what’s on the field and what people in the industry think of what our teams are capable of,” Steinbrecher said. “Each year, our student athletes and our coaches continue to grind and grind to build this organization, so it’s really been a collective effort of all involved to get us to this point.”

The MAC will play in the first two years, facing an AAC team in 2014, and a C-USA team in 2015. Few other details have been released, other than the location of the bowl. It will be played annually in Thomas A. Robinson Stadium, a multipurpose stadium, primarily used for world football matches, with  capacity of up to 30,000. The stadium is located in Nassau, Bahamas.

As if college football needed another bowl game. This will be a logistical nightmare for athletic directors and SID's. Furthermore, the schools will probably lose money since more than likely they won't be able to sell enough ticket packages to their fan bases because most won't be able to afford it.  

I'm sure the players will have a lot of fun on their "play-cation"

"It Girl" of the week: Tehmeena Afzal

This week's "It Girl" is Tehmeena Afzal.

Giants' David Wilson won't have season ending neck surgery

New York Giants running back David Wilson injured his neck in week 5 this season and many feared that he would be out for the rest of the season.

A report has surfaced that Wilson won't need season ending neck surgery and could possibly be back this season.

Dr. Robert Watkins, a spinal surgeon in Los Angeles, says that Wilson won't have to undergo surgery for his neck. Although Wilson was optimistic about playing in Week 7,reports say the tailback still is expected to miss three to four weeks with the injury.

That's great news for Wilson and his career as he doesn't have any spinal issues which could've ended his playing days.

Meanwhile the Giants will forge ahead with Brandon Jacobs as their feature back. Reports say the team will work out former Madden cover boy Peyton Hillis.

With the Giants being 0-6 and on the verge of a lost season I don't know if Wilson should be in such a hurry to come back.

Panthers' Greg Hardy thinks he can beat LeBron James in a game of 1-on-1

You don't hear too many athletes in any sport talk about how they could beat LeBron James in a game of 1-on-1. But not many of them are Carolina Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy. The man with the mouth that roars.

This offseason Hardy set a goal of 50 sacks. Never mind the fact that it took Michael Strahan a full season to break the record at 22.5 sacks. And it took a gift from Brett Favre to do that. Hardy told the Carolina Observer that he would beat James in a game of  1-on-1.

Hardy once played basketball at Ole Miss so he's not lacking skills. It's just that James' game is on a much higher plateau but that doesn't stop Hardy from predicting a victory over King James.

"How should I answer this question? I would dominate that dude," Hardy said. "Hands down, guaranteed win. And that's my favorite player."

"Everyone says he can go to the NFL and play defensive end, who says I cant go to the NBA?"

"I'm not saying I would beast him, but I would definitely win," Hardy said. "I got a good shot, I got good handles, I got good size. I feel that we match up pretty well. I was a defensive player in college."

"Yeah, it would be a tight game. I'm not saying I would dominate him," Hardy said. "That was a joke. I feel like I'd definitely win. I think there's a game there. I don't think that I'm trash and I don't think that he's trash. I think it'd be two dominant athletes playing and I'd come out on top."

Hardy is listed at 6-4 and 290 pounds. James comes in at 6-8 and 250.

Advantage James. Hardy would try to muscle him up but James is too quick and athletic for Hardy to keep up with him. But it would be fun to watch.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Rich Rodriguez lets out some steam about violations at Michigan

Arizona head football coach Rich Rodriguez still has Michigan on his mind.

Rodriguez had plenty to say when asked about NCAA violations against him during his 3-year tenure in Ann Arbor. During an interview with Seth Davis, Rodriguez called the violations that occurred on his watch at Michigan a "bunch of BS".

"I get mad when I think about that, to me -- and I don't mind saying it -- I thought it was a bunch of BS," Rodriguez said. "We got in trouble for, in the offseason, a strength coach putting a rubber ball on a stick for a get-off thing when (players) did their running. A rubber ball on a stick.

"Now think about that, I could have put a hat on a stick -- that was something I got in trouble for."

"Another thing we got in trouble for was letting some of the interns, or quality control guys, sit in the room while we watched film," Rodriguez added. "Not add any input, just sit there and learn -- young coaches wanting to be coaches -- and that's a violation.

"There's schools now that are hiring ex-NFL coaches and scouts to do that full-time for them. Yet I got a violation because of that."

Rodriguez was fired by Michigan after the 2010 season, following three turbulent years. He went 15-22 with the Wolverines and the program was cited for five major rules violations by the NCAA during his tenure. The program was placed on probation for three years.

Among the rules violations the NCAA Committee on Infractions found that Rodriguez “failed to monitor the duties and activities of the quality control staff members, the former graduate assistant coach and a student assistant coach, and the time limits for athletically related activities.”

In my opinion Rodriguez acts like he has an axe to grind when it comes to Michigan.

I'm probably one of the few that feel Rodriguez got a raw deal at Michigan. Fans and boosters wanted nothing to do with the guy and he was cut at the knees anytime he wanted something. Honestly, don't you think Michigan would've found a way to get Demar Dorsey on campus if Lloyd Carr was still around?

Otherwise, Rodriguez really needs to let it go. He talks about Michigan every time someone shoves a mic in his face. It's time to move on a try winning some games at Arizona.

Report: Federov coming out of retirement to play for KHL team

Reports from Russia say that former Detroit Red Wings star Sergei Federov will come out of retirement to play for his KHL team.

According to Pavel Lysenkov of Russia’s Sovietsky Sport, Fedorov will play Friday. Federov is the general manager for CSKA Moscow and has apparently signed himself to a one year contract. The team is currently 5-3-0-7 and is in seventh place in the KHL West.

Federov was named general manager in 2012 after he retired.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

'It Girl' of the week: Lily Figuera

The 'It Girl' of the week is Lily Figuera.

Documentary: Millen didn't want to draft Mike Williams

Back in 2005 the Detroit Lions had their sights set on drafting DeMarcus Ware with the 10th puck of the NFL Draft. Of course everyone knows they ended up with Mike Williams, which gave the Lions their third consecutive first round receiver.

Williams flamed out in Detroit and Ware is a seven time Pro Bowler with the Dallas Cowboys.

In a documentary titled “A Football Life: Matt Millen”, Millen's son Matthew says that Millen didn't want to draft Williams but was talked into it by other members of the organization.

Matthew Millen, Matt’s oldest son, said that he was in the Lions’ war rooms in 2002-08 and heard the exchange that swayed Millen’s mind.

“The Mike Williams draft, I got really mad at him because we had talked all up to that point about, ‘DeMarcus Ware is a stud. He’s going to be a great pass rusher, he would fit our scheme, and he’d be the guy that I’d take,’” Matthew Millen said. “It gets to pick 10, and there’s DeMarcus Ware, so I’m thinking, ‘All right, we got our guy.’ And then all of a sudden, there’s chatter from some other people in the room that, ‘You know what, if we got this wide receiver and paired him with Roy Williams and some of the other weapons we have, we’d be a really potent offense.’ And I can see his mind starting to change.”

“I’m like, ‘Great, the buffoon just picked another wide receiver,’” Matthew Millen said. “That’s what everyone’s going to think.”

Matthew was correct about his assumptions. Lions fans were pissed and the media got the last laugh on the Lions.

In the end it sounds as if Millen is throwing someone else under the bus instead of admitting to his mistakes.

Reggie Bush says Lions preparing to be without Calvin Johnson this week

Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson missed practice which opened up speculation whether he would play Sunday against the Cleveland Browns.

Reggie Bush isn't so sure. Bush isn't holding out hope on seeing Johnson in uniform on Sunday. Bush says the team is prepping for Sunday's game as if Johnson won't be playing.

"Yeah, that's what we have to do," Bush said. "He didn't practice today, so that's what we have to do. We have to prepare as if he's not going to play."

The offense struggled in last week's 22-9 loss to the Green Bay Packers. Bush is hoping that his teammates can raise their game and bounce back from last week's lackluster showing.

"We knew what was at stake last week, so now, our sense of urgency has to go up, as a unit," Bush said. "Everybody has to step. We all have to do a little bit more this week. Our focus has to go up a little bit more. Our sense of urgency has to go up a little bit more."

Easier said than done. Cleveland is no Green Bay but the Lions must make more big plays in all facets of the game if they hope to pull out a win with or without number 81 on the field.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Kentucky's Alex Poythress wants to go 40-0

Last year Kentucky's basketball team had the highest rated recruiting class and a few holdovers from the national title team from the year before. The end result was an appearance in the NIT, which ended in a loss to Robert Morris.

This season Kentucky has what most call the best recruiting class of all time. Expectations are high or the Wildcats. Despite the youth and returning members from last year, many think the 'Cats will win the national championship once again.

Sophomore forwards Alex Poythress isn't backing down from the hype. He's aiming high and not just national championship high. He's talking about going 40-0.

“If we put our mind to it, once everybody gels, I say we can do anything. The sky is the limit for this team, so why not aim at 40-0? We might as well try to do it, right?

“Why not? What's stopping us? The only thing stopping us is us this year, so we might as well try to do it.”

What's stopping Kentucky is the schedule. The Wildcats have their annual Bluegrass rivalry with defending national champion Louisville. Also games against North Carolina (Chapel Hill), Baylor (might as well be a road game) and Michigan State, Boise State and Providence will provide the team with some good competition. Throw in the SEC slate and Kentucky will be challenged game in and game out.

No doubt the Wildcats will be very good. Might even be great. But they'll have to be on their game every night if they want to go undefeated. They'll have a target on their backs and will get everyone's best shot.      

Minnesota player says Michigan's Devin Gardner "panics a lot"

The Michigan-Minnesota game is shaping up to be just another game. The teams do play for the Little Brown Jug but generally there's not too much excitement that surrounds this game. The rivalry has been fairly one side as the Wolverines have won 20 of the past 21 games. That hasn't stopped the Golden Gophers from feeling confident about themselves.

Despite being a 20 point underdog the Golden Gophers feel they have as good of a shot as anyone to knock off the unbeaten Wolverines. After narrow wins over Akron and Connecticut they feel the Wolverines are ripe for the pickings.

“Just the fact they almost lost to Akron, they’re human,” Gophers defensive tackle Ra’Shede Hageman said. “You know what I mean? Everybody praises them to be elite, and I just feel like they’re a regular football team. You just have to come with your A-game, but that’s how you approach every game.”

To add a little spice to the game, Minnesota safety Cedric Thompson told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner 'panics a lot' when he gets pressured.

“I think he kind of just panics a lot,” Thompson said. “I think that when he scrambles, he kind of just throws the ball.”

I'm sure those words will make it back to Ann Arbor. Hopefully for the Wolverines it'll be a little incentive to bring their best this Saturday. If not they could find themselves on the wrong end of the scoreboard.