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Saturday, December 10, 2016


Lane Kiffin reportedly believed Houston job was his


Houston has officially named its next head football coach, and many of us were shocked to learn that the job did not go to Lane Kiffin. You have to wonder if Kiffin is just as stunned.

Dan Wolken of USA Today reported on Thursday that Houston was finalizing plans to hire Kiffin, pending the approval of school president Renu Khator. The report left open the possibility that Khator and/or contract negotiations could compromise the deal. On Friday, the Cougars announced that they have promoted offensive coordinator Major Applewhite to head coach.

Now that Houston has made its decision, the part of Wolken’s report that sticks out is when his source claimed “Kiffin has been operating as if he will become the next Houston coach as of Wednesday night.” If that is true, the Alabama offensive coordinator must have been misled. Wolken told Larry Brown Sports on Friday that Kiffin did, in fact, believe the job was his.

A number of things could have happened to make the deal fall through. Perhaps some boosters and people within the program wanted Kiffin but were overruled. Or, the decision to hire Applewhite could have had something to do with the rumblings we heard about Houston wanting its next head coach to have a massive buyout in his contract. Maybe Kiffin wasn’t willing to agree to that, as it would potentially limit his ability to jump from Houston to a bigger program down the road.

Whatever the case, it became clear that something was amiss when Houston’s athletic director sent this cryptic tweet on Thursday. There is likely a lot more to the story that we will never hear.

Houston hires Major Applewhite as next head coach


Houston has reached a decision on who will be the school’s next head football coach, and it is not Lane Kiffin.

The Cougars announced on Friday that offensive coordinator Major Applewhite has been promoted to head coach.

The announcement came roughly 24 hours after a report claimed Houston had decided on Kiffin, who was supposedly operating as if he had already gotten the job.

Applewhite, a former star quarterback at Texas, is just 38. He has been credited with being the reason for much of Houston’s offensive success over the past two years, and the university and its boosters clearly believe he can lead the team.

While Kiffin was a finalist with the job along with defensive coordinator and interim head coach Todd Orlando, the report about Kiffin landing the job was clearly premature. Houston’s athletic director indicated as much when he sent this clever tweet on Thursday.

John Harbaugh stands by claim that Patriots broke rules in 2015 playoff game


It has been nearly two years since the New England Patriots beat the Baltimore Ravens in a playoff game thanks in part to a loophole in the NFL rule book, and John Harbaugh still has not completely moved on.

While speaking to reporters on Thursday, Harbaugh was asked about the Patriots exploiting the rules regarding eligible and ineligible receivers. He didn’t exactly ignore the question.

“I believe what I believe, and I think it’s all been proven to be right,” Harbaugh said, per Ben Volin of the Boston Globe. “The point was, you had an ineligible receiver that wasn’t identified … and the official had no way to identify that for the defense. They had never addressed that before.”

On the play in question, Patriots running back Shane Vereen declared himself ineligible but lined up outside the tackle box. Tight end Michael Hoomanawanui became the fifth eligible receiver, though he was lined up like an offensive lineman. Vereen never passed the line of scrimmage and the Patriots threw pop passes to Hoomanawanui, confusing the Ravens.

Though referee Bill Vinovich clearly said over his microphone that Vereen was ineligible and even added “don’t cover 34,” Harbaugh was furious. The NFL later changed the rule and now requires all ineligible players to line up inside the tackle box.

At the time, however, the play was perfectly legal. Harbaugh’s only argument seems to be that it was unfair because it had never been done before. Of course, as Volin notes, Harbaugh had no problem using a similar play to his advantage last season.

So, uh, check out the #Ravens first TD yesterday. Watch the TE at the bottom and the slot WR at the top

A video posted by Ben Volin (@benvolin) on

And what about a few weeks ago, when the Ravens instructed all of their players to commit holding penalties in order to run out the clock at the end of the game? Some would argue Harbaugh was exploiting a loophole then. You can see a video of the play here.

At the end of the day, Harbaugh is angry that he was outsmarted. The fact that he still takes time to address the play two years later further proves that.

Alvin Gentry: ‘I really don’t give a s— about my job status’


The New Orleans Pelicans have lost four straight games and are one of the worst teams in basketball. Typically when that is the case, the team’s head coach is not on solid ground.

But that is the last thing on Alvin Gentry’s mind.

After the Pelicans lost at home to the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday night, Gentry cut off a reporter who asked about his job status.

“I really don’t give a s— about my job status,” Gentry said. “I’m gonna work hard and I’m gonna coach until the day they tell me I’m not the coach here anymore. I don’t ever worry about that. That’s not anything I ever spend five seconds worrying about. My worry is how do I get the guys in the locker room to play at the level I want them to. That’s where all my effort goes.”

Aside from Anthony Davis, who just may be the MVP of the league, the guys in Gentry’s locker room are not playing at a high level. And based on what Gentry said about Davis recently, we know he thinks incredibly highly of the superstar.

The Pelicans were swept in the first round of the playoffs two years ago, and that cost former head coach Monty Williams his job. The team won 30 games in its first year under Gentry and could be even worse off this season. He knows he could be getting the axe if things don’t turn around in a hurry.

Draymond Green, Kevin Durant laughed at Jazz coach for not surrendering

Draymond Green

The Utah Jazz fought to the finish in their loss to the mighty Golden State Warriors on Thursday night, and Draymond Green and Kevin Durant mocked them for it.

With his team down by double-digits late in the game, Jazz head coach Quin Snyder called three timeouts in the last 1:05 in an attempt to get his team to rally back. Durant ended up getting a technical foul for arguing a call during the last 10 seconds, and he and Green were seen chuckling shortly thereafter.

But they weren’t laughing about Durant getting T’ed up.

“We were laughing that Quin Snyder kept calling timeouts,” Green said. “Hey bro, you’re down 10 with six seconds left. It’s kind of over, my man. Let’s go, have a good dinner, just chill. That’s what we were laughing at.”

We’d say Green wasn’t trying to sound arrogant, but how else can you interpret that?

Even if the Jazz had virtually no chance of coming back, there’s nothing wrong with practicing late-game strategy and playing until the final whistle. Green, who has been up to his usual antics already this season, probably should have kept the details of his and Durant’s conversation to himself.

Derrick Johnson out for season with ruptured Achilles’ tendon

Derrick Johnson

The Kansas City Chiefs had some bad news that counterbalanced the positive feelings following their win on Thursday night against the Oakland Raiders.

Chiefs head coach Andy Reid announced after the game that linebacker Derrick Johnson suffered a ruptured Achilles’ tendon during the game, which will end his season.

Johnson went down on a non-contact play, as his tendon gave out on him as he tried to push off and chase down a play.

Johnson has been in this situation before; he ruptured his right Achilles’ tendon in 2014. This time it’s his left that went out on him.

The 34-year-old linebacker had been dealing with a sore left Achilles according to NBC’s Cris Collinsworth. He entered Thursday with 89 tackles, a sack and an interception on the season. Just as Kansas City’s defense was getting healthy with Justin Houston back, now they have another major loss.

Willie Taggart going to Hawaii to recruit Tua Tagovailoa

Willie Taggart

Willie Taggart’s first move as head coach of Oregon is a bold one.

Taggart headed to Hawaii on a recruiting trip to visit a prized quarterback, as 247 Sports reported. The player he is going to see is Tua Tagovailoa, who is rated by 247 Sports as the top dual-threat quarterback in the class of 2017.

Tagovailoa attends the same high school where Marcus Mariota went, so there is a Hawaii connection to Oregon thanks to the former Heisman Trophy winner. But Tagovailoa is committed to Alabama and happy with his decision, according to his father.

“He’s locked in to where he feels like he doesn’t need to visit anywhere,” Galu Tagovailoa told SEC Country. “With this new coach that’s on board at Oregon, I like his style, but I honestly don’t think he’s going to persuade Tua at all.”

Taggart is on the recruiting trip ostensibly to recruit Tagovailoa’s cousin, who is a 3-star recruit. But Taggart asked to speak with Tua as well.

The family appreciated how Taggart made it a top priority to visit Tua. And Taggart is also making a statement with his recruiting trip, and that is he’s going to have Oregon competing for the best recruits in the country no matter what.

Andy Reid loses questionable challenge less than three minutes into game

Andy Reid Kool-Aid

It didn’t take long for Andy Reid to use one of his challenges during Thursday’s game against the Raiders and it was one that surely raised a few eyebrows

On Oakland’s second possession of the game, Derek Carr completed a short pass to Amari Cooper for a five yard gain as he was heading toward the sideline, which gave Oakland a first down. The ruling on the field was a catch. However, Reid was apparently not so sure and tossed his challenge flag for the officials to take a further look.

Here’s a screenshot of Cooper getting getting both feet in bounds.

The ruling on the field stood and the Chiefs were charged their first timeout with 12:41 left in the first quarter. Reid obviously thought it was worth a second look. Others did not.

Reid will probably have to answer a few questions about that one after the game.

Travis Kelce trolls Marquette King with pony celebration

Travis Kelce pony

You know you’ve made it as a punter when you have big-time position players mocking you. That’s exactly what happened on Thursday night.

Tyreek Hill returned a punt 78 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter Thursday to give the Chiefs a 21-3 lead over the Raiders. After the score, Travis Kelce trolled Oakland punter Marquette King by doing the pony celebration:

I think this means that King has officially arrived. After all, taking a line from Reggie Jackson, they don’t troll nobodies. And you have to love the way King responded with a nod and smile as if to say, “OK, it’s on.”

Alex Smith was fired up by Jack Del Rio criticism

Alex Smith

Alex Smith started off “Thursday Night Football” against the Raiders pretty hot, and there apparently is good reason for that.

According to the NBC announcing team of Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth, Smith entered the game against the Oakland Raiders with a chip on his shoulder over Jack Del Rio’s comments following the last game between the teams.

After the Chiefs beat the Raiders 26-10 in October, Del Rio gave some backhanded compliments to Smith.

“Good football player, (a) little underrated,” Del Rio said of Smith. “If he’s got to rely on throwing the ball, it’s really not his strong suit. But if you allow them to run the ball, do some of their gimmicky things, then he comes to life. That’s what they were able to do today.”

Del Rio saying Smith can’t really rely on throwing the ball bothered the QB. When Collinsworth and Michaels asked Smith about it during their meeting in the days before the game, the Chiefs QB had a strong reaction.

“We were talking to him and he got a little fired up about that,”Collinsworth noted. “[Smith] said, ‘that’s kind of making excuses for a loss. We won that game big and in a physical way. It was disrespectful to our team, it was disrespectful for me.’ And you could tell Alex Smith was a little fired up walking out the door.”

Collinsworth went on about Smith.

“He also said, ‘I noticed Jack Del Rio threw a touchdown pass to a tackle in the next game, so gimmicky goes around a little bit.'”

And what do you know? Smith came out throwing in the first half Thursday and was 11 of 16 for 202 yards and a long touchdown pass at the time Collinsworth made his comments.

Maybe Del Rio saying what he said wasn’t the smartest thing he’s done.

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