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#pounditTuesday, January 25, 2022

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Report: LSU has made massive offer to top head coach

Ed Orgeron in a white LSU shirt

LSU is expected to pursue several big names for its head coaching vacancy, and one report claims they have already made a mammoth offer to one of the top coaches in the nation.

Jake Crain, a former college football coach who used to work for Rivals.com, said on his “The JBoy Show” Wednesday that LSU is willing to pay Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley a whopping $96 million over eight years. Crain also said he was told that it is “not likely” that Oklahoma would match the offer.

If that offer does exist, Riley could make himself the highest-paid coach in college football by accepting in. That honor currently belongs to Nick Saban, who will be paid around $10 million by Alabama in 2021. Riley makes around $8 million at Oklahoma.

The Riley-to-LSU rumors have been popping up in different places. Riley was asked about them this week, and he emphatically threw cold water on them.

Crain has coached at programs like South Alabama and a few different community colleges. It’s fair to question his sources, but these types of rumors and reports come up every year. Even if they don’t turn out to be true, coaches often use them as leverage to get bigger contracts from their current employer. Riley could certainly do that with Oklahoma, though he did get a new deal from the Sooners just last year.

If Riley does leave Oklahoma, it will probably be for the NFL. We’ve heard him linked to some huge NFL jobs in the past, and many believe the 38-year-old can be the next Sean McVay.

Photo: Sep 18, 2021; Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA; LSU Tigers head coach Ed Orgeron looks on against Central Michigan Chippewas during the first half at Tiger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

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Brandon Belt makes decision on Giants’ qualifying offer

Brandon Belt captain

“The Captain” has made a decision on his qualifying offer, and he is not about to abandon his first mates.

Brandon Belt is accepting the $18.4 million qualifying offer he received from the San Francisco Giants. The decision will keep him with the team that drafted him in 2009 and the only MLB club for whom he has played. The decision will also allow Belt to continue leading his “seamen.”

Belt, 33, smashed a career-high 29 home runs despite playing in just 97 games last season. He dubbed himself “The Captain” of the Giants and began to lead them with his hot hitting. He carried the team to a 107-win season and the NL West crown.

Belt wanted to return to the Giants and found the $18.4 million price to be fair. That’s more money than the $16 million base salary he earned each of the last four seasons.

Interestingly, Belt is the only MLB player to accept a qualifying offer this offseason. That’s just fine by him and the Giants, especially after they already lost one star.

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Paul George has savage joke about Staples Center’s name change

Paul George in his Clippers uniform

Count Paul George among those who is not a Crypto.com bro.

The LA Clippers star reacted on Tuesday to the impending name change of Staples Center, the team’s current home. The venue will be soon renamed as the Crypto.com Arena as part of a massive rights deal.

“It will be weird,” said George, per Tomer Azarly of ClutchPoints. “I grew up this being Staples and Staples being the place to play and the place to be. It will definitely be weird. It’s the same location, but it’s kind of like stripping the history here by calling it something else.”

Geroge than cracked a savage joke about the name change.

“Good thing we won’t be here too long,” the seven-time All-Star quipped. “We’ll be at our own place, so it is what it is, I guess.”

Indeed, the Clippers will be moving out in 2024 to play at their own arena, the Intuit Dome in Inglewood, Calif. The team recently broke ground on the state-of-the-art arena, and it is already looking pretty fresh and innovative.

Staples Center has housed the Clippers, the Lakers, and the NHL’s Kings since its opening in 1999. It has also been home to the WNBA’s Sparks since 2001. Like George said, the name change will feel strange. But fortunately for the Clippers, they will only have to deal with it for a few years.

Photo: Feb 26, 2020; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Los Angeles Clippers guard Paul George (13) against the Phoenix Suns at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

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Report: Ben Simmons’ trade value lower now than before season

Ben Simmons

The Philadelphia 76ers have maintained that they are in no rush to trade Ben Simmons despite how toxic the situation has become. Teams have been balking at Philly’s asking price since the offseason, and apparently they are even less likely to pay it now.

HoopsHype’s Michael Scotto discussed the Simmons situation on the latest “HoopsHype” podcast. He said NBA executives have told him that the Sixers’ asking price remains “way too high.”

“When I talk to other executives around the league about the situation with the Sixers, nobody feels sorry for (president of basketball operations) Daryl Morey around the league,” Scotto said. “They think his asking price is way too high coming off the playoffs. Teams know Ben Simmons doesn’t want to be there.”

Not only that, but execs feel Simmons has less trade value now than he did during the summer. That’s because the Sixers played extremely well without him before Joel Embiid got hurt.

“I’ve heard this from some executives, too, that when Joel Embiid was healthy and before their recent losing streak, this team was performing well without him. Some executives said to me it further lowered the trade value for Ben,” Scotto said. “When you lose a star player, you typically struggle, but Philadelphia coming out of the gate, was leading the Eastern Conference.”

That makes sense. Teams already knew Simmons was adamant about never playing for the 76ers again. Now they know the Sixers don’t even need the former first overall pick. Philly already had barely any leverage, and now they have even less.

Simmons has been away from the Sixers, and his agent recently blasted the team for supposedly making Simmons’ mental health issues worse. Simmons has spent time practicing with a local college team instead of working out with his own teammates.

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Kyle Kuzma happy to be off Lakers for one big reason

Kyle Kuzma

Kyle Kuzma is now casting spells as a Washington Wizard, and he is happy about the change of scenery for at least one big reason.

The former Los Angeles Lakers forward Kuzma spoke this week on ESPN’s “NBA Today.” During the interview, Kuzma described what he likes about his new role in Washington this season.

“It’s very fun obviously,” he said. “From an individual standpoint, this is kind of what I wanted. An opportunity just to not be in someone’s shadows or have that type of logjam [from] a roster standpoint.

“Being here has been extremely fun,” Kuzma added. “I have the opportunity to come in and lead and use my championship mentality and everything I’ve learned from those two guys out in L.A. [LeBron James and Anthony Davis]. It’s been wonders for my career, and I think people are seeing that now.”

The 27-year-old Kuzma is averaging 14.5 points and 9.1 rebounds a game in a featured role for the 10-3 Wizards this year. He was drafted by the Lakers in 2017 and became an important player for them en route to an NBA title in 2020. But Kuzma never got the chance to truly spread his wings with James and Davis running the show. Towards the end of his time in L.A., Kuzma grew frustrated with his uncertain role in the team’s crowded frontcourt.

The Wizards got Kuzma this past summer as part of the Russell Westbrook trade, and the early returns for their team have been encouraging — so encouraging in fact that Kuzma even got in a shot at the Lakers in a since-deleted social media post last month.

Photo: Jul 10, 2019; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers player Kyle Kuzma arrives on the red carpet at Microsoft Theatre. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

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Will Cam Newton start for Panthers against Washington?

Cam Newton throws before a game

Cam Newton signed with the Carolina Panthers just last week, but the former MVP may already be in line to make his first start of the season.

Matt Rhule indicated to reporters on Wednesday that the plan is for Newton to start in Week 11. The Panthers coach said things are “trending that way” but will have PJ Walker continue to prepare as though he will start.

Newton didn’t start in last week’s convincing win over the Arizona Cardinals, but he played a big role. The Panthers put him in on goal line packages early in the game. Newton rushed for a score and threw a touchdown pass.

Obviously, the plan is for Newton to start eventually. The details of the contract he signed with the team show that they envision him playing a major role. If he’s up to speed, they probably won’t wait any longer.

Photo: Aug 22, 2019; Foxborough, MA, USA; Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) warms up prior to the start of a game against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

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Matthew Stafford’s wife Kelly apologizes for throwing pretzel at 49ers fan

Matthew Stafford and his wife Kelly

Matthew Stafford’s wife Kelly has always been enthusiastic about defending her husband, but it would appear she took things a bit too far during Monday night’s game between the Los Angeles Rams and San Francisco 49ers.

A witness who attended the game at Levi’s Stadium told TMZ that Mrs. Stafford got into a verbal altercation with a fan who was seated behind her. Kelly got so angry that she turned around and threw a pretzel at the man. Security stepped in and escorted Kelly and her family to other seats.

Another fan who witnessed the incident called Stafford out on Instagram. The fan said Kelly should “show some class and support your husband and his new team with grace.” Stafford responded to the comment and called it a “weak moment” for her.

“Girl I knowwwww I’m an idiot,” she wrote. “He was saying a bunch of things that were aggressive towards our crew but zero excuse. I tried to apologize, but in the end I knew I was wrong. Will always stand up for my guy and everyone I love, but obviously needed to do it completely different! I’m embarrassed too! Sorry you had to witness me in my weak moment!”

Apparently this was not another case of mistaken identity. We saw one TV network accidentally misidentify Kelly earlier this year, but she has confirmed she was the pretzel thrower.

Kelly has been outspoken on social media many times about Matthew’s playing career. As far as we know, this is the first time she hurled a concession item at a heckler.

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Jets coach’s comment about Mike White comes back to bite him

Mike White taking the field

New York Jets fans are no longer as high on Mike White as they were after the fourth-year quarterback’s first two NFL starts, and it would appear the same is true for the team. You wouldn’t have known that by listening to head coach Robert Saleh speak earlier in the week.

Saleh defended White against criticism after White’s poor performance against the Buffalo Bills. The coach noted how quickly the notoriously ruthless New York market turned on White.

You can’t blame Saleh for defending his quarterback, but actions speak louder than words. Unless White is dealing with some sort of mystery injury, the Jets tossed him aside just like the fans and media. They’re going with Joe Flacco against the Miami Dolphins on Sunday, as they reportedly feel he will handle Brian Flores’ blitz packages better.

White completed 37 of 45 passes for 405 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions in a shocking win over the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 8. He then started out hot against the Indianapolis Colts the following week by going 7/11 for 95 yards and a touchdown before leaving the game with a hand injury. It’s been all downhill since.

White threw four interceptions in last Sunday’s 45-17 loss to Buffalo. He was benched late after getting the wind knocked out of him, though performance may have been a factor.

We weren’t surprised to see the way Jets fans turned on White, but Saleh essentially did the same by giving White’s job to Flacco in Week 11.

Photo: New York Jets quarterback Mike White (5) runs onto the field for warmups before his first NFL start against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 8 at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, Oct. 31, 2021, in East Rutherford, NJ

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Radio host rips Ben Simmons for practicing with college team

Ben Simmons during a game

Ben Simmons has been staying away from the Philadelphia 76ers while he deals with what he says are mental health issues, but he has still managed to work on his game. Rather than practicing with his team, Simmons has been spotted working out with a college program. One local radio host seems outraged by that.

Howard Eskin of Sports Radio 94 WIP reported on Tuesday that Simmons continues to work out at St Joseph’s University in Philly. In addition to using the school’s facilities, he has also practiced with Hawks players at times. Eskin sarcastically suggested that practicing with college players must help Simmons address his mental illness.

Obviously, Simmons still wants a trade. No one except him knows if he’s telling the truth about his mental health issues, but he has made it clear that he does not want to play for the 76ers anymore.

Simmons’ agent, Rich Paul, recently accused the Sixers of “targeting” his client and trying to force him into playing despite his mental health issues. Paul says the approach has made Simmons’ mental health problems worse.

Simmons has ultimately followed the team’s guidance on a key issue after initially refusing to. However, there have been rumors that the Sixers believe Simmons is simply taking advantage of loopholes in order to avoid being fined.

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Joe Flacco to start for Jets against Dolphins

Joe Flacco in a hoodie

The New York Jets will be starting their third different quarterback of the season on Sunday. This time, it’s Joe Flacco getting the call.

Flacco will start against the Miami Dolphins, ESPN’s Rich Cimini reports. Rookie Zach Wilson is still not 100 percent recovered from his knee injury, and the Jets feel Flacco will handle Miami’s blitzing defense better than Mike White.

https://mobile.twitter.com/RichCimini/status/1460986084918235140

Flacco played a handful of snaps in last week’s blowout loss to the Buffalo Bills after White had the wind knocked out of him. It’s possible White would have been benched for performance anyway, as he threw a whopping four interceptions. Fans were quick to turn on White after crowning him the week before.

Flacco started four games for the Jets last year. He’ll face a tough task against a Dolphins team that is riding high following a big upset win over the Baltimore Ravens.

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