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#pounditThursday, June 30, 2022

Stories by Forrest Lee:

Jon Gruden reportedly a candidate for Houston Texans coaching job

Jon GrudenWhenever a head coaching vacancy in college football or the NFL stirs speculation, Jon Gruden is frequently tossed into the mix. Despite the endless rumors though that have tailed Gruden, who last coached at Tampa Bay before being canned in 2008, he hasn’t budged from his broadcasting perch as an analyst on Monday Night Football.

Cabin fever?

“I haven’t lost a game in 3½ years. But no, I would like to give coaching one more try,” Gruden said in October during a speaking engagement in Ocala, Fla.

That comment didn’t raise as many eyebrows as ESPN’s John Clayton floating Gruden’s name at the top of a list of candidates to replace Gary Kubiak, who was dismissed earlier this week by the Texans. The respected Clayton has to know something, no?

Gruden hasn’t spoken publicly about Houston, but with Clayton mentioning his name, the subject could come up when Monday Night Football airs.

It might be another case of much to do about nothing. Still, the rumors never seem to cease. USC AD Pat Haden might have inadvertly fueled them during an interview Wednesday on “The Dan Patrick Show.”

“I talked with Jon a while back,” Haden said when Patrick asked if he had spoken to Gruden about the Trojans’ head coaching job, which went to Steve Sarkisian. “Yeah, he wants to coach in the pros. If he’s going to coach, he’s going to be a pro coach.”

Since Gruden fancies himself as a quarterback guru, no one needs a mentor more than the basket case known as Matt Schaub. Or maybe Gruden salivates at the thought of grooming a young gun like Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater or Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel, expected to be among the first QBs taken in the NFL Draft, while rebuilding the Texans back to respectability.

Or maybe it’s another tease. It won’t be the first time. Probably not the last either.

Could Mack Brown step down at Texas?

Mack Brown TexasThe eyes (and ears) of Texas will be focused again on Texas coach Mack Brown this weekend.

Brown’s Longhorns visit Baylor on Saturday. Although the game could produce the Big 12 champion, Brown’s future as Texas coach will be one of the bigger storylines playing out.

A “high-ranking Texas official” told that no decision has been made on Brown’s future. Still, the season-long speculation, which has included rumors of Nick Saban replacing Brown, increases as the Longhorns cap their regular-season campaign against the ninth-ranked Bears.

“It’s up in the air,” a source told SI’s Pete Thamel regarding Brown’s future. “My thought is he’ll probably do the right thing for himself and Texas and step down. But coaches have something in their DNA that don’t normally let them do that. How many times have you seen it? With [Joe] Paterno or [Bobby] Bowden? People forget Darrell Royal was 5-5-1 in his last season.”

The late Royal, though, was a god at Texas. Brown hasn’t reached that rarefied air despite guiding the ‘Horns to the 2005 BCS national championship after stunning USC and the 2009 title game before falling to Alabama. Brown, who hasn’t made any public comments regarding his future, is under contract until 2020 at $5.4 million per season. When rumors about Nick Saban having interest in the Texas job arose, Brown’s agent threatened legal action against anyone trying to force out his client. But the years left on Brown’s contract mean little since the wealthy Longhorns’ program could provide him a generous buyout. Brown is expected to meet at some point to discuss his future with recently-hired athletic director Steve Patterson and school president Bill Powers.

A win over Baylor would put Patterson in an awkward position, particularly if Oklahoma State loses to Oklahoma on Saturday, giving the conference championship to the Longhorns. After opening the season 1-2, Brown has led Texas (8-3) to wins in seven of its past eight games, including a dominating 36-20 upset of Oklahoma on Oct. 12. He fired defensive coordinator Manny Diaz after losing to BYU in the second game of the season. The Longhorns bounced back, a Nov. 16 loss to Oklahoma State being the only blemish during their last eight games.

Still, as much as many Longhorn die-hards continue to call for Brown’s head, it would be a difficult scenario for Patterson to deliver it if the 62-year-old coach wins out and decides he wants to return. Brown also carries considerable weight with Powers, who probably would nix any attempt by Patterson to relieve the coach of his duties. But Brown also could be weary of critics calling for his dismissal or for him to step down. Or, as some have suggested, Brown should “do the right thing.”

LeBron James has a problem with his new Nike LeBron 11 shoes

LeBron James mediaLeBron James apparently isn’t a fan yet of the latest version of his own Nike shoes.

“I could wear them, but they don’t feel as great as I want them to feel,” James told on Thursday. “So we’re redefining them, and I feel like this next round is going to be perfect.”

James apparently is uncomfortable with the fit of the shoes, the LeBron 11, which are cut lower than previous designs. He has worn the sneakers in only two games so far, according to Before Thursday night’s blowout loss to the Chicago Bulls, James addressed the shoe situation.

“I just want to be able to wear them,” James said, according to “It has been a frustrating process. But obviously, I know that Nike wants to do what’s best. They’re not going to put me out there in harm’s way. So we’re redefining the shoe to fit what’s best for my foot.”

Despite James’ indifference, sales of the LeBron 11, which retail for more than $200, are up 18 percent compared to sales of his LeBron X at this time last year, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Curtis Granderson signs four-year deal worth $60 million with New York Mets

curtis-grandersonOutfielder Curtis Granderson and the New York Mets agreed today on a four-year deal worth $60 million, according to published reports.

Injuries limited Granderson to only seven home runs and 15 RBIs in 61 games and 214 at-bats last season with the New York Yankees, but his two prior seasons were his best. In 2012, Granderson hit a career-high 43 home runs and drove in 106 RBIs. He drove in a career-high 119 runs with 41 home runs in 2011. He also scored 136 runs in 2011, tops in his 10-year career. Granderson, 32, spent the past four seasons with the Yankees after playing the previous six with the Detroit Tigers.

His departure means the Yankees have lost two high-profile players in one day. Former second baseman Robinson Cano inked a deal with the Seattle Mariners on Friday.

Boise State’s Chris Petersen named new head coach at Washington

Chris PetersenChris Petersen is the new head football coach at Washington, the school announced today.

Petersen replaces Steve Sarkisian, who left earlier this week to become the head coach at USC. Petersen also was a candidate for the USC job.

“On behalf of the University of Washington and the entire Husky Nation, I am proud to welcome Chris Petersen as our new head football coach,” Washington athletic director Scott Woodward said in a statement on the school’s website. “Coach Petersen’s success and record are extraordinary, but even more impressive is the man himself. His integrity, work ethic and character make him an outstanding fit and leader of our student-athletes at UW. We are thrilled and proud to call Coach Petersen a Husky.”

Petersen compiled a 92-12 mark in eight seasons at Boise State, leading the Broncos to two unbeaten campaigns in 2006 and 2009. Boise State was 8-4 this season. One of those defeats was a 38-6 setback to Washington in the season opener.

Terms of his new deal were not announced.

Yankees reportedly won’t go over $200 million for Robinson Cano

Robinson Cano YankeesRobinson Cano and the New York Yankees remain worlds apart in an attempt to secure a new deal for the All-Star second baseman, according to Yahoo! Sports Jeff Passan.

Negotiations between the two parties have gone nowhere, with the difference of opinions hitting a tune of almost $100 million.

For Cano and the Yankees, it’s obviously a huge gap. Passan says Yankees sources swear they won’t go over $200 million for Cano. Instead, they’re offering around $160 million over seven years, both Passan and Newsday’s Marc Carig report. Initially, Cano’s representatives, which include rap mogul Jay-Z, supposedly led off with an asking price of 10 years at $300 million, but they have since dropped that demand to nine years for $252 million.

Still, it’s difficult to believe Cano and company will agree to anything less than $200 million unless he inks a short-term deal with the Yankees. And that creates a major gap in serious negotiations between the two, possibly increasing the possibility Cano will go elsewhere. The problem is, who can afford to pay Cano more than the Yankees? The Angels are not looking to spend money, the Red Sox are set at second with Dustin Pedroia, and the Dodgers have signed second baseman Alexander Guerrero. The Mets may have interest in Cano, but would they be willing to spend what he is looking for? Recent history suggests they wouldn’t.

It seems that Cano is hitting the market at an unfortunate time and may not end up with the contract he is seeking.

Metta World Peace, Kenyon Martin reportedly had ‘heated’ argument

Metta-World-Peace-KnicksLosers of nine in a row, the New York Knicks are showing more fight in-house than they are on the court.

Metta World Peace and Kenyon Martin engaged in a “heated” discussion during a workout prior to Sunday’s loss to the New Orleans Pelicans, according to ESPN New York. No word on what ignited the argument but the Knicks’ recent woes probably helped fuel it.

New York, which has dropped eight of nine at Madison Square Garden, is tied with the Milwaukee Bucks for the worst record in the Eastern Conference. Only the Utah Jazz, with a 3-15 mark, reeks more.

Things might be looking up though. The Knicks clash with the struggling Nets in Brooklyn on Thursday. Maybe World Peace or Martin will take out their frustrations on Kevin Garnett.

But think about how intense that dust-up must have been. Metta and K-Mart are two of the craziest guys in the NBA. Knowing some of the things each of them have done, can you imagine what a fight between the two of them would look like?

H/T Pro Basketball Talk

Would Jim Mora consider leaving UCLA for Washington job?

Jim Mora UCLANow that Jim Mora’s “dream job” at Washington is open, would he consider leaving UCLA to take it if the Huskies came calling?

Before Mora was fired as head coach of the Atlanta Falcons in 2006, he said during an interview with Seattle radio station KJR that he wouldn’t hesitate taking the head coaching position at the University of Washington, if it were available. At the time, Ty Willingham was the Huskies’ head coach.

“Well, I really have a lot of respect for Ty, and I know he’ll do a great job,” Mora said in the interview with KJR. “But if he ever decides to move on, and get in the NFL, or, you know, go back to Notre Dame or whatever, if that job’s open, you’ll find me at the friggin’ head of the line, with my résumé in hand, ready to take that job.”

Mora, a UW alum, later said he was joking, but the damage was done. He recently said that that comment cost him his job with the Falcons. Saying he would ditch the Falcons job even if he were in a playoff run probably didn’t help his image in Atlanta.

“Now, I want to see Ty succeed, and I want to see that program succeed,” Mora told hosts Softy Mahler and Hugh Millen. “But if he decides at some point that he’s ready to move on and they want me, I will be there. I don’t care if we’re in the middle of a playoff run, I’m packing my stuff and coming back to Seattle.”

That’s how Mora felt about the Washington job in 2006. As you can tell, it was his dream job.

Mora was a walk-on player at Washington, and his father was a coach under legendary Huskies coach Don James. He grew up in the Pacific Northwest and has long expressed his affinity for the area. The Washington program has nicer and newer facilities than UCLA — they just completed $280 million worth of renovations to Husky Stadium — and it has a winning tradition. They also don’t have quite as difficult of a rival to compete with as UCLA, so there is a lot of appeal to that job, particularly for Mora.

Mora has done some impressive work at UCLA in his two seasons. He has turned around the program, beaten USC twice, and commanded respect within the conference. He also is flipping the town in terms of recruiting. But he has expressed dissatisfaction with UCLA’s facilities, particularly the practice field on campus that isn’t even 100 yards in length. It wasn’t until September that UCLA announced plans for a $50 million new practice facility. With that project possibly years away from completion, Mora may not want to wait.

With things heating up for him in Westwood, would he want to move to the job that many thought was his dream position? The timing of the job opening is poor for him; why leave when he just got UCLA rolling? Then again, if he wants his ideal position in his hometown, there might not be a better chance to take it.

Also, keep in mind the way Mora was talking after beating USC on Saturday:


Ed Orgeron resigns, reportedly ‘outraged’ over Steve Sarkisian hire

Ed Orgeron USCWith USC naming Steve Sarkisian as its new head coach today, the move is already having a domino effect in L.A. coaching circles.

Ed Orgeron, who led the Trojans to a 6-2 record as interim coach after taking over for Lane Kiffin, reportedly was outraged by USC athletic director Pat Haden’s decision and resigned, according to ESPN’s Brett McMurphy.

Orgeron immediately becomes a hot candidate for several jobs, particularly in the Pac-12. Washington would be at the top of the list. The Huskies could also try to woo UW alum and current UCLA head coach Jim Mora as their pick? Or maybe Mora adds more heat to the UCLA-USC rivalry by hiring Orgeron to his staff at UCLA?

Kobe Bryant could return Friday

Kobe BryantKobe Bryant could make his much-anticipated return Friday when the Los Angeles Lakers visit the Sacramento Kings. Though Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni continued to preach caution, he said Bryant could play if his body responds well to practice this week. The Lakers, who don’t play until Friday, will practice Tuesday through Thursday.

“We’ll see Tuesday and go from there,” D’Antoni said Sunday before the Lakers lost 114-108 to the Portland Trail Blazers. “Three days of practice, then we’ll evaluate him. It might happen; it might not. The only way we will be able to evaluate is to let these three days go by and check him out.”

Bryant hasn’t played since tearing his Achilles last April. Despite that, the Lakers felt confident enough to sign him to a two-year, $48.5-million extension last week. Bryant didn’t speak with the media Sunday night.

If not Friday, Bryant could return when the Lakers host the Toronto Raptors on Sunday at Staples Center.

Point guard Steve Nash is also expected to practice with the team Tuesday. Nash has missed the past 10 games due to nerve root irritation in his back.

With Jordan Farmar, one of the team’s most productive players this season, having suffered a moderate hamstring injury in the first quarter of Sunday’s loss, Nash’s return becomes more urgent.