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Tuesday, November 21, 2017

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Urban Meyer likes big butts and he cannot lie

If you want to know how Urban Meyer recruits offensive linemen, go ahead and ask popular 1990s rapper Sir Mix-a-Lot share the Ohio State coach’s secret with you.

The Buckeyes have arguably the best offensive line in college football this year, and that has been a common theme for the team since Urban Meyer arrived on campus in 2012. On Monday, Meyer was asked what types of things he looks for in an offensive guard. We like to picture him giving his response with “Baby Got Back” blaring in the background.

In other words, Meyer likes big butts and he cannot lie.

Meyer has been known to crack a joke from time to time, but he may have just given away one of his most important secrets. If other Big Ten schools suddenly have more talent in the trenches than Ohio State next year, you’ll know why.

Joe Thomas responds to Bill Belichick complaining about playing in Mexico

Joe Thomas Cleveland Browns

The New England Patriots did not appear as though playing in Mexico on Sunday bothered them at all, as they rolled to a 33-8 win over the Oakland Raiders. However, Bill Belichick made it clear that playing in another country presented enormous challenges.

On Monday, Belichick told WEEI that he is not anxious to play another game in Mexico City despite the success his team had.

“Personally, I wouldn’t be in any big rush to do it again,” Belichick said, as transcribed by Mike Reiss of ESPN.com. “It’s a long way to go for a game. There’s a lot in terms of all the logistics of it. They are not used to having an NFL team, so you have to go in there and handle a lot of the logistics. It took a lot of manpower, a lot of hours, a lot of energy out of our organization to do that. We are exhausted from the trip.”

Veteran offensive lineman Joe Thomas believes another NFL team — the Atlanta Falcons — had it much tougher than the Patriots or Raiders this week.

It feels like there has been more talk than ever this year about the imperfections with NFL scheduling. We have already heard numerous concerns about the supposed dangers of playing games on Thursday night, and complaints about international games are nothing new. Unless the NFL is planning to schedule games only on Sundays and in appropriate time zones, don’t expect the talk to fade out anytime soon.

Herschel Walker blasts Marshawn Lynch over national anthem protest in Mexico

Herschel Walker has gone on record as being opposed to NFL players protesting during the national anthem, and the former star running back was even more irritated by what Marshawn Lynch did in Mexico over the weekend.

Prior to the Raiders’ game against the Patriots south of the border, Lynch stood for the Mexican national anthem and sat during “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Walker viewed that as “total disrespect.”

“Marshawn, I was always a fan, but I’ll tell you what — I’ve lost respect,” Walker told TMZ on Monday. “I’ve lost respect because, whether you disagree with Donald Trump or not, to stand for the Mexican national anthem and sit for the American national anthem is total disrespect. I’ve lost respect for you. That’s just not right.”

Trump has said that the NFL should suspend Lynch for the rest of the season, but Walker indicated he feels that is a bit harsh. He did, however, say Roger Goodell needs to do something about anthem protests.

“I don’t know if the NFL should kick him out, but I think it’s time for the commissioner to be the commissioner and take control of what’s going on,” Walker added. “Then you know what you can do? Go to Washington, take everyone with you, I’ll come along with you, and let’s petition everybody in Congress about Black Lives Matter. That’s the only way you’re going to see a change.”

Walker, a known Trump supporter, said recently that he agrees with the president that national anthem protests should be banned in the NFL. You have to wonder if Lynch’s mom will have the same type of comeback for Walker that she had for Trump.

Nick Saban: Iron Bowl is even bigger than outsiders can imagine

Nick Saban

Nick Saban is known for his matter-of-fact attitude and lack of sentimentality during press conferences, but the five-time national champion has no problem stating the importance of the Iron Bowl.

With Alabama set to take on Auburn this weekend, Saban spoke to reporters on Monday about what the annual rivalry game means to him.

Saban spent five seasons as the head coach at LSU at the turn of the century, so he was familiar with how big of a game the Iron Bowl was. This will be his 10th Iron Bowl as the man in charge of the Crimson Tide.

The way Saban reacted when he was asked about the national rankings a few weeks back is more typical of the insight reporters get from him. Iron Bowl week is obviously different from most.

Report: Oregon State has interviewed three coaches for vacancy

Cory Hall

Oregon State is in the market for a new head coach, and they apparently have interviewed a few candidates for the job.

The Portland Tribune’s Kerry Eggers shared plenty of information Sunday about the Beavers’ coaching search. He says current interim head coach Cory Hall, Washington offensive coordinator Jonathan Smith, and Cal offensive coordinator Beau Baldwin have all interviewed for the job. Meanwhile, ESPN’s Kyle Bonagura reports that the school also reached out to UCLA offensive coordinator (and now interim head coach) Jedd Fisch.

Bronco Mendenhall, an Oregon State alum who was a runner-up for the job when Gary Andersen was hired, made it clear on Monday that he will not be leaving Virginia for Corvallis.

“That job came open a number of years ago and there will be rumors that are accurate that I was a finalist or (on) the short list,” Mendenhall said at his weekly news conference. “I was contacted. And so I’ve moved on since then. This is exactly where I want to be. It’s just getting fun. We’re just starting to do some cool stuff. I haven’t seen this to fruition yet or even close and I’m anxious and excited to do that.”

Eggers also says you can forget about names like Les Miles, Dennis Erickson or June Jones, all of whom might have interest in the gig.

Oregon State has fallen to the bottom of the Pac-12 in football. Regularly a factor in the conference under Mike Riley, the Beavers slipped to an awful 7-23 under Andersen and fired him during the season. They need a major turnaround.

Joel Embiid admits he flopped to draw foul

Joel Embiid had an interesting entertaining sequence against the Jazz on Friday that ended with him drawing a technical foul on Jazz rookie Donovan Mitchell.

During Monday’s game, Mitchell drove to the basket for what appeared to be a layup. Embiid had other ideas though as he came over to block the shot, sending Mitchell to the ground. Embiid stared at him and followed that up with a little trash talk. Upon getting to his feet, Mitchell shoved Embiid, who hilariously flopped and fell over. A technical was called on Mitchell and Embiid simulated the official making the call. Embiid then urged the crowd to applaud. It was quite the few seconds indeed. You can watch for yourself below.

After the game, Embiid described what happened in his own words, which included him admitting to flopping.

That was a pretty savvy move by Embiid. He got Mitchell to bite and the official to blow the whistle. Mission accomplished.

LaVar Ball refuses to thank Donald Trump in CNN interview

LaVar Ball

The grudge match between LaVar Ball and President Donald Trump may be hitting new levels.

Ball joined CNN on Monday night for an interview. Sitting in for Don Lemon was Chris Cuomo, and he had no idea what he was in for.

Cuomo tried to grill Ball about Ball’s son, LiAngelo, being arrested along with two other UCLA basketball players for shoplifting while in China on a trip with the basketball team. The three players were eventually released, and the belief is that Trump’s presence in China helped the boys get released without facing charges.

However, while the three players thanked President Trump for helping get them released, father LaVar downplayed Trump’s role in the controversy. The result was Trump calling LaVar out by name on Twitter for not thanking him.

And just like that, LaVar was invited onto CNN to talk about things. And you better believe that LaVar had his gameplan ready. Want to guess what that was? Refusing to say “thank you” to Trump.

Ball insisted that he wouldn’t thank Trump until knowing exactly what the president did on behalf of his son.

“Maybe we was doing some talking with some other people before him,” Ball said, suggesting that Trump’s role in the process was minimal.

Ball rhetorically asked how the three players were released from jail and held at the UCLA team hotel prior to Trump’s involvement as a way of making the point that progress was already being made on the matter.

“If he helped, I would say thanks,” Ball said.

He repeated that he didn’t know how much of a role Trump played in helping his son.

“I’m not going to say nothing I don’t know, I don’t care and I don’t see.”

Now what would lead to a “thank you” from Ball to Trump? An invite to the White House. Yes, Ball might have trolled his way to Pennsylvania Avenue.

Each MLB team’s most important free agent

Jake Arrieta

Pretty much every MLB team will have to deal with the reality that a few of their players are headed to free agency. For many teams, the ability to keep all their players is just not feasible. In some cases, they will be losing role players or guys who were on short-term contracts. Others, though, are watching as franchise players and integral parts of organizations head into the free agent market, possibly for greener pastures.

Here’s a look at one important free agent from each team who played at least some part in their 2017 campaign.

Arizona Diamondbacks — J.D. Martinez, outfielder

He was only a Diamondback for a little over two months, but what an impact Martinez had. He took advantage of the friendly hitting environment to smack 29 home runs in 62 games, powering the Diamondbacks to the NLDS along the way. He’ll probably prove too expensive for Arizona to retain him, and they have bigger needs to fill anyway, but he won’t be easily forgotten. Martinez is said to be seeking a $200 million contract. Arizona will be weaker next season without his power, even if his tenure was a brief one.

Atlanta Braves — R.A. Dickey, pitcher

With only two free agents, Atlanta doesn’t have much to deal with in terms of departures. The team decided not to pick up the 43-year-old pitcher’s option for 2018, and Dickey may be considering retirement. His importance lies in the position he plays; in terms of ERA, he was the Braves’ best starting pitcher at 4.26. The Braves will be searching for someone established to replace him — their pitching disappointed last season, and they may think they have an outside chance of making a run in 2018.

Baltimore Orioles — Chris Tillman, pitcher

(more…)

Bill Snyder tried to hire Jim Leavitt as linebackers coach

Bill Snyder

The saga of Bill Snyder and Jim Leavitt took an odd turn on Monday when Snyder said he tried to hire Leavitt … as his linebackers coach.

Last week, former ESPN college football reporter Brett McMurphy said that Kansas State had a verbal agreement with Leavitt last year to become the head coach in waiting for Snyder. He says Snyder pushed back because he wants his son, Sean, to replace him at K-State.

Leavitt, who last year was the defensive coordinator at Colorado, ended up being hired by Oregon’s Willie Taggart as a defensive coordinator and linebackers coach in December. He is making $1.15 million a year.

So here’s where the interesting twist comes in.

Snyder said at his weekly news conference on Monday that he tried to hire Leavitt as his linebackers coach … in March. That would have been a demotion for Leavitt, and it would have come after he had already signed with Oregon.

Snyder has been at Kansas State since 1989, though he did step away after 2005 before returning in 2009. At 78, he won’t be the coach there forever, which has led the school to consider a replacement plan. Leavitt was an assistant under Snyder and is considered a potential candidate whenever Snyder steps away.

Photo: Alex/Wikimedia

Mets, Tigers reportedly have talked Ian Kinsler trade

Ian Kinsler

The Detroit Tigers are looking to trade Ian Kinsler this offseason, and apparently they have had some talks already.

MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports that the Tigers have talked about a Kinsler trade with the New York Mets.

He also notes that the Angels have had internal talks about trading for Kinsler.

The Angels actually submitted a waiver claim on Kinsler last season.

The 35-year-old second baseman is set to earn $11 million in 2018. That’s a very reasonable price tag for a player of Kinsler’s history. The problem is he’s coming off a season where he hit .236, though he did smack 22 home runs. Still, he’s of little use to the rebuilding Tigers at that price, which is why they’re open to dealing him.

The Angels have a hole at second base as Brandon Phillips was just a short-term rental and is a free agent. The Mets also have a hole at second. They picked up Asdrubal Cabrera’s option, but they could play him at third base too.

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