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#pounditFriday, January 28, 2022

Stories by Dan Benton:

Tyrann Mathieu had classy response to close win over Chargers

Tyrann Mathieu

You never know quite what you’re going to get out of Tyrann Mathieu at any given moment. We’ve seen The Honey Badger kicked off the LSU squad, get in the face of Tom Brady and disparage his hometown fans. We’ve also seen him dedicate time to feeding those in need.

Following an electric game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Chargers on Thursday night — a game won by the Chiefs — we saw a subdued Mathieu tip his cap to the Chargers.

Mathieu hit Twitter in complimentary fashion, praising Los Angeles for heading in the right direction.

In addition to his nod toward the Chargers, Mathieu also singled out their quarterback, Justin Herbert.

The Chargers may have fallen on Thursday night, but there’s no denying they are in good hands with Herbert and headed in the right direction. They have the look of an early-exit playoff team right now, but the foundation is being built. Everyone can see that, including Mathieu.

The Chargers and Chiefs have played twice this season, splitting those games. Los Angeles previously picked up a 30-24 victory in Week 3 before losing 34-28 in overtime on Monday night.

Don’t be surprised if Mathieu and the Chiefs meet Herbert and the Chargers one more time this season.

Image: Jan 27, 2020; Miami, FL, USA; Kansas City Chiefs strong safety Tyrann Mathieu is interviewed during Super Bowl LIV Opening Night at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Clint Frazier claims he had mental health issues with Yankees

Clint Frazier

Clint Frazier was a highly-touted prospect with equally high expectations during his time with the New York Yankees. However, the results were mixed and Frazier never ascended to the level many anticipated.

Frazier was released in late November and later signed with the Chicago Cubs. That change has breathed new life into him and now Frazier is opening up about some of his past struggles.

During an appearance on Barstool’s Short Porch podcast, Frazier revealed that he suffered mental health issues during his time with the Yankees. It impacted him both on and off the field.

“I never understood the whole mental health stuff until like recently,” said Frazier, via Yahoo! Sports. “When you go through something for so long, and you just feel the same way every single day, it’s really hard to move forward. And the way that I was feeling was affecting my quality of life. I was severely symptomatic with some of these past issues that I was having. I was like, ‘We gotta pick the pace up. I need help. I need serious [expletive] help.’

“I needed to separate baseball and my health because, like I said, it was about quality of life at this point. I was severely struggling with this stuff. … It just drug out because we didn’t have the diagnosis.”

Despite the issues, which manifested in different ways, Frazier admits he never brought it to the Yankees’ attention.

“They weren’t aware, that was on me. I was fighting for my life,” Frazier said. “And I fizzled out. I was trying to continue to play. So I didn’t tell them. And then I showed up to spring training and started to feel better, and then it kind of, like, came back, because I had an instance where I bumped the wall again. I went into the whole season feeling that exact way.”

Frazier added that he doesn’t have an issue with many Yankees — including general manager Brian Cashman — but envisions sharing a few words when the Cubs visit the Bronx in 2022.

“Yeah, there’s a lot of conversation that need to be had in person, and there’s a couple people that are very deserving of conversations that I would like to have in person, especially whenever I’m there. I’m not calling nobody, I’m not doing it over text,” Frazier said. “There are some things that I am going to say. And I don’t know who it’s going to be, it just depends on who it is because there’s some things that I want to address now and some things that are very like damaging to my career-type things that were said after I was released that were making it exponentially harder for me to sign on with a team.”

The Yankees will host the Cubs for a three-game series in June.

Mark Few has harsh comments about Maryland fans

Mark Few

Gonzaga men’s basketball coach Mark Few has some thoughts on Mark Turgeon’s recent resignation and Maryland fans aren’t going to like it.

Asked specifically about Turgeon stepping down, which ended his 11-year run with the Terps, Few blamed it on Maryland fans. Point blank, period.

“That fanbase made it so miserable that it wasn’t worth it anymore. The toll it was taking on him and his family. And then I think you could see that effect, it was even taking a toll on his team,” Few said, via 247 Sports.

Few, who is close friends with Turgeon, undoubtedly has some additional insight. And he’s not the only one to feel this way.

“I don’t believe a college team should ever be booed. Not at home. You know on the road, I get it. But you should never boo college kids at home. I got a real problem with that. But the word fan is short for fanatic, so there you have it,” Few added.

Turgeon led Maryland to five NCAA Tournaments (would have been six had the 2020 tournament not been cancelled), but only went 5-5 in March Madness games. The Terps were also 3-6 in the Big Ten Tournament under Turgeon, reaching the semifinals just once.

Does that warrant cheering and support? It may not warrant booing at home, but the records and accomplishments certainly aren’t anything worth celebrating.

It’s admirable that Few would stand up for his friend, but Turgeon wasn’t receiving any unfair treatment. Fans are passionate — fanatical — and they let their voices to be heard. Don’t want to hear booing? Then win.

Frank Vogel shares his new policy for Lakers

Frank Vogel

The Los Angeles Lakers are scrambling to get things right and that led head coach Frank Vogel to institute a new policy. And it’s a simple one at that.

“The open man is more talented than any individual on our squad,” Vogel told reporters on Friday, via the Los Angeles Times.

There is one variable, however. And it comes in the form of a four-time NBA MVP.

“Except for maybe LeBron James,” Vogel said with a smile. “I think Bron’s mentioned that.”

Of course James mentioned that. There was no chance he’d let that comment slide with some clarification.

Off in the distance, Russell Westbrook, Anthony Davis and Carmelo Anthony could be heard whispering, “And me!” “And me!” “And me!” Probably.

But all jokes aside, the new approach seemed to work for Los Angeles. At least for one night.

James scored 33 points and turned the ball over just twice in a 116-95 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder. Westbrook, unselfishly, posted just eight points to go along with nine rebounds and seven assists. Melo added seven off the bench and Davis? Well, he didn’t play due to a sore knee.

It was a step in the right direction for the Lakers, who are back above .500.

“Really proud of our group for taking the lessons of last night’s game, where we failed to make the simple play, to see the open man in front of us and try not to force things to certain guys,” Vogel added. “We really bought into that morning film session and tried to have it carry over into tonight’s game. We moved the ball beautifully. And as a result, the shot quality was high and we had a great shooting night from the perimeter. Really proud of our guys.”

Now Los Angeles needs to string some positive nights together. They’ll get a crack at that on Sunday night when they host the Orlando Magic.

Penny Hardaway has harsh comment after latest Memphis loss

Penny Hardaway on the sidelines

Memphis dropped their fourth consecutive game on Friday night, falling to Murray State, 74-72. It was a loss — and now a streak — that doesn’t sit well with head coach Penny Hardaway.

“I’ve gone through plenty of adversity in my life,” Hardaway said after the game, via The Athletic. “This is a low point for me besides my knee surgeries.

“Never saw this coming and I feel like it’s happening for a reason. Until we all bond together, this type of stuff can happen. Other teams to me seem closer. They’re having fun. They’re making plays. We’ll get there.”

Memphis was having fun and making plays not too long ago. They opened with a 5-0 record this season and were ranked No. 12 in the country. Then came losses to Iowa State, Georgia, Ole Miss and, of course, Murray State.

Hardaway now believes he is to blame for the recent struggles.

“Bad coaching, that’s all I can say on tonight’s game,” Hardaway added. “This game is on me totally. No players. It’s strictly on me.”

Things get no easier for Hardaway or the Tigers from here. Their next two games come against No. 9 Alabama and No. 13 Tennessee. After that, they’ll tip-off against Alabama State and then open conference play.

If Hardaway can’t get himself and the locker-room veterans in order, the wheels could completely come off down in Memphis.

Photo: Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Jalen Ramsey goes viral after sharing dog’s bad haircut

Jalen Ramsey

We’ve all had the misfortune of getting a less than stellar haircut and sometimes that extends to those around us — even our pets. Just ask Los Angeles Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey.

Earlier this week, Ramsey brought his bernedoodle mix to the groomer for a trim and cleanup. The result? Well, let’s just say it’s not what Ramsey or his dog, LG, were expecting.

After returning home from the groomers, Ramsey posted a picture of his poor pup to Twitter. The dog is seen wearing a hoodie to cover up what Ramsey believes is a travesty. At first glance, it really doesn’t seem that bad.

When you compare that picture to a previous picture of the dog however, it becomes apparent why the Rams cornerback finds the whole situation humorous.

Ramsey isn’t kidding. It genuinely does not even look like the same dog. Poor LG.

“He don’t even feel the same, either,” Ramsey wrote in a later tweet. “His whole swag off. I feel bad for him.”

Luckily, hair grows back and sooner rather than later, everything will return to normal. But for Ramsey, LG and the rest of their family, this viral moment will be forever immortalized through pictures and social media.

And the groomer? Ramsey says this haircut is going to be on the house.

NCAA bans fake slide after viral Kenny Pickett touchdown

Kenny Pickett fakes a slide

During a 45-21 ACC Championship Game victory over Wake Forest, Pittsburgh quarterback Kenny Pickett used a fake slide to stop Demon Deacon defenders in their tracks. After they froze, Pickett picked up his feet and scampered into the end zone.

“I just kind of started slowing down and pulling up and getting ready to slide, and I just kind of saw their body language and they just pulled up as well,” Pickett told reporters after the game. “I’ve never done that before. Just kind of kept going after I initially started to slide.”

The 58-yard run immediately went viral. It also called into question the rules that protect quarterbacks and how Pickett had manipulated them to his advantage.

It was a savvy decision based on the rules. It was also undeniably unfair.

Now, the NCAA has decided it will never happen again. National Coordinator of Officials, Steve Shaw, announced on Thursday that game officials are to interpret fake slides as a player surrendering himself. All such plays will be ruled dead and are not subject to review.

“Any time a ball carrier begins, simulates, or fakes a feet-first slide, the ball should be declared dead by the on field officials at that point,” Shaw said in a public memo. “The intent of the rule is player safety, and the objective is to give a ball carrier an option to end the play by sliding feet first and to avoid contact. To allow the ball carrier to fake a slide would compromise the defense that is being instructed to let up when the ball carrier slides feet first. A fake slide will not be considered reviewable under Rule 12-3-3 — Dead Ball and Loose Ball.”

The rule change may not help Wake Forest, but it will prevent similar issues in the future.

Lincoln Riley has message for Oklahoma fans sore about his move

Lincoln Riley at a press conference

The University of Oklahoma, Sooners players and their legions of fans are not exactly thrilled with Lincoln Riley. And why would they be following his abrupt departure to USC?

Things have gotten so sour that Senator Bill Coleman of Ponca City even proposed a bill this week that would rename a desolate section of State Highway 325 to the “Lincoln Riley Highway.”

“I felt the State of Oklahoma needed an appropriate goodbye to this former head coach whose sudden departure left many in shock, including a team of young, dedicated college players,” Coleman said in a news release. “I found the tiniest section of our most desolate of highways to pay tribute to Coach Riley’s exit from Oklahoma football and the state. This is only fitting as this is the last three inches one sees before leaving our great state heading west.”

Riley has heard it all and he’s seen it all. It hasn’t stopped him from poaching recruits from Oklahoma, but he remains hopeful that someday bygones will be bygones.

“I hope time will heal that, I really do,” Riley said during an appearance on The Rich Eisen Show. “I understand they’re disappointed that we left. [There’s] a lot of love for that place. Me and my family poured our heart and soul into that place for seven years. Loved every second of it. Had a tremendous run of championships, success on and off the field. We’ve got nothing but love.

“These things, when you leave a university, they either fire you or you leave on your own accord and neither one of them are easy and we understand it. Our love for that place will never go away. We certainly hope as time goes on, the time over there will be remembered fondly and everybody will remember all the great success we had together.”

Riley’s plea will undoubtedly fall on deaf ears. At least for now.

Interim Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops has said he didn’t take Riley’s exit personally and fans shouldn’t, either. That, of course, is easier said than done despite Riley going 55-10 over five seasons with the Sooners, winning four Big 12 championships and advancing to the College Football Playoffs three times.

They say time heals all wounds, but Riley bailing may take a few extra years to get over for some.

Photo: Jul 14, 2021; Arlington, TX, USA; Oklahoma Sooners head coach Lincoln Riley speaks to the media during Big 12 media days at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports