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Monday, June 1, 2020

Stories by Grey Papke:

Jason Whitlock out at FOX Sports

Jason Whitlock

Jason Whitlock’s time at FOX Sports is over.

Whitlock, one of the most notable personalities on FS1, was unable to come to a new agreement with the network after his contract expired Sunday, according to Ryan Glasspiegel and Bobby Burack of Outkick the Coverage. Whitlock was not on in his usual role as co-host of “Speak For Yourself,” and has been removed from the show’s Twitter avatar.

According to Andrew Marchand of the New York Post, Whitlock is considering launching his own direct-to-consumer platform akin to Bill Simmons’ “The Ringer.”

Whitlock had been with FS1 since 2016 as the only continuous host of “Speak For Yourself.” Neither side was commenting on his apparent departure.

Well-known for his controversial opinions, Whitlock has a history of bashing his former employers after parting ways with them. We’ll see if he has anything to publicly say about FS1 in the days to come.

Report: MLB to offer players pro-rated salaries for shorter season

Rob Manfred

Major League Baseball owners are willing to grant a major concession to players in negotiations about playing the season — but there’s a major caveat.

According to Jeff Passan of ESPN, MLB plans to propose a shorter season but would be willing to pay players a pro-rated share of their salaries as part of the agreement. However, the proposal includes a significantly shorter season than any previous plan.

Owners willing to offer pro-rated salaries is a major step, but a 50-game season is far shorter than any other proposal so far. In fact, it’s less than half of what the MLBPA last proposed. There will be a worry that a season that short can’t give an accurate portrayal of which teams are good and which aren’t. After all, the eventual World Series winning Washington Nationals were just 19-31 through 50 games in 2019.

It remains to be seen if this will be acceptable to players, or if it’s at least enough to bring them to the table for negotiations. At the very least, the owners have included something that should at least get the MLBPA’s attention.

Former Auburn football coach Pat Dye dies at 80

Pat Dye

College Football Hall of Famer Pat Dye has died at the age of 80.

Dye passed away from complications of kidney and liver failure, according to Lee County coroner Bill Harris. Dye tested positive for the coronavirus as well, but his son said he had been asymptomatic, according to Mark Schlabach of ESPN.

Dye spent 12 years at Auburn, where he posted a 99-39-4 record as head coach. He also served as the school’s athletic director and helped elevate the Auburn brand nationally by bringing in players such as Bo Jackson.

One of Dye’s most notable contributions to Auburn was turning the Iron Bowl into a home-and-home series instead of playing it at a neutral site in Birmingham. The first Iron Bowl at Auburn was played in 1989, an upset win for the Tigers. Dye’s impact was such that the playing field at Jordan-Hare Stadium is named after him.

The three-time SEC Coach of the Year played college football at Georgia. He also had coaching stops at East Carolina and Wyoming during his career.

Clemson WR Justyn Ross out for season due to congenital fusion

Justyn Ross catch

The Clemson Tigers, a preseason title contender, have suffered a major blow very early in their 2020 campaign.

Star receiver Justyn Ross will miss the entire season after x-rays discovered a congenital fusion, meaning he was born with vertebrae fused together.

Ross caught eight touchdowns for the Tigers last season. As a freshman in 2018, he topped the 1,000-yard mark, and looked like a big-time player immediately after setting foot on campus.

There is a real possibility Ross has played his last game for Clemson. If his recovery goes well, he may ultimately choose to enter the 2021 NFL Draft instead of returning to school.

Brian Shaw will reportedly coach G League select team

The select G League team of elite NBA prospects has its coach.

According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, former Denver Nuggets head coach Brian Shaw has agreed to become head coach of the new G League select team, which will feature top prospects who elect to skip college.

Shaw was a longtime NBA player who won three titles with the Los Angeles Lakers. He also served as an assistant coach for the franchise in two separate stints. The 54-year-old’s only head coaching experience came in Denver, where he went 56-85 over parts of two seasons.

The select team is set to play in the Los Angeles area and include some big young stars. Shaw will be tasked with nurturing these players and preparing them for an NBA career.

Report: Josina Anderson leaves ESPN

Longtime ESPN personality Josina Anderson has reportedly left the network.

According to Andrew Marchand of the New York Post, Anderson and ESPN have parted ways after nine years. The departure is not related to any economic or staffing cuts, but Anderson’s contract was expiring this summer.

Anderson was an NFL reporter and insider for ESPN and regularly appeared on programs such as “NFL Live.” According to Marchand, her role will be filled by ESPN’s other various NFL insiders and reporters.

There is no word on where Anderson will go next, though her departure does not come as a surprise. She had connections inside the NFL world, and notably managed to land a sit-down interview with Antonio Brown earlier this year that made headlines.

Nationals will continue paying minor leaguers full stipend after player objections

Washington Nationals

The Washington Nationals have backed away from a plan to cut minor leaguers’ weekly stipend after the team’s MLB roster publicly called out the decision.

Nationals ownership had originally intended to drop the weekly pay for minor leaguers from $400 to $300. This prompted Washington reliever Sean Doolittle to publicly announce that he and his fellow major leaguers would chip in to cover the lost income. That seems to have prompted a reversal in course from the top.

It’s worth noting that, while the full stipend has been restored, Nationals minor leaguers have still not received any assurances that they will be paid beyond the end of June.

Whether it changes things or not, owners who cut or eliminate minor league pay are getting some pretty bad PR while saving a minimal amount of money. That happened to the Oakland A’s as well, though unlike the Nationals, they haven’t rethought their policy in light of the bad publicity.

Ex-Patriot thinks Brian Flores will not play Tua Tagovailoa as rookie

Tua Tagovailoa

Many are interested in whether Tua Tagovailoa will get the chance to play as a rookie. One former New England Patriot familiar with coach Brian Flores’ methods doesn’t think you should get your hopes up.

Rob Ninkovich, now an ESPN analyst, said on Monday’s edition of “Get Up!” that he does not foresee Flores risking Tagovailoa’s confidence by playing him in 2020.

“I was with Brian Flores for eight years,” Ninkovich said, via Nick Kosko of 247 Sports. “I would not start him right now, immediately. I was with B-Flo for eight years. He’s a very smart coach, a very smart man. He’s not going to try and push him into a position too quickly. If you are forced into a spot where potentially his hip isn’t 100 percent, you want him to be 100 percent healthy. The game of football is very mental. Confidence goes a long way. If you’re pushed out there too soon and you lose a little bit of that vital confidence, it can affect you. I would think Brian Flores has a great plan in place. He’s going to use a veteran quarterback, and hopefully Tua can learn from the veteran quarterback in Ryan Fitzpatrick.”

Indications are that Fitzpatrick will open the season as Miami’s starting quarterback. We’ve heard that the Dolphins might be open to going to Tagovailoa sooner rather than later. Ninkovich seems to think this would be out of character for Flores, but circumstances change.