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#pounditThursday, December 1, 2022

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Willson Contreras reportedly receiving interest from top contender

Sep 7, 2021; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Chicago Cubs catcher Willson Contreras (40) rounds the bases after hitting a solo home run against the Cincinnati Reds during the third inning at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

Free agent catcher Willson Contreras figures to be in demand on the open market, and might have a very attractive option in one particular team.

Contreras has been drawing interest from the Houston Astros, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today. Contreras’ former team, the Chicago Cubs, have subsequently shown interest in ex-Astros catcher Martin Maldonado.

The real headline here is Contreras and a possible fit with the Astros. Houston needs a catcher with Maldonado hitting free agency, and while they could theoretically bring him back, Contreras would certainly be a more complete option. The 30-year-old is a career .256 hitter who comfortably provides 20 home runs per year and has three All-Star appearances to his name.

The Astros clearly intend to reload in defense of their World Series title. They have already added one big-name bat this offseason, and Contreras would give them an incredibly deep lineup that would wear out opposing pitching staffs.

Patrick Mahomes reveals how he cheated on Andy Reid’s pre-draft test

Sep 11, 2022; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) against the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Patrick Mahomes is arguably the best draft pick Andy Reid has ever made, but apparently Matt Nagy deserves some serious credit for helping to bring the Kansas City Chiefs head coach and his star quarterback together.

Mahomes was a guest recently on the “New Heights” podcast with Jason and Travis Kelce. During the appearance, he shared some great stories about the lead-up to the 2017 NFL Draft. That is when Reid and the Chiefs selected Mahomes with the 10th overall pick. Mahomes said Kansas City was where he wanted to be and Nagy, who was Reid’s offensive coordinator at the time, helped get him there.

Mahomes said Nagy really liked him and wanted the Chiefs to draft him. Nagy wanted to make sure Mahomes was as prepared as possible for his meeting with Reid. To ensure that, Nagy got in touch with Mahomes the night before the meeting and told him which plays Reid planned to ask about. That essentially gave Mahomes the answers to the test.

“Matt Nagy, who was the offensive coordinator then, really liked me. So he gave me the plays they were gonna go over the night before,” Mahomes recalled. “Coach Reid’s finding out live here on the ‘New Heights’ podcast. So, of course, I crushed the meeting. I stayed up all night studying those plays.”

Mahomes also said he told the Chiefs that a couple of teams assured him they were going to draft him if he was still on the board at No. 12 or later. That may have inspired Reid to move up the board to No. 10 to take Mahomes.

Of course, Reid is probably glad that Mahomes had inside information before the two met. If that convinced the coach that Mahomes was Kansas City’s quarterback of the future, it all worked out for the best. Chiefs fans probably never realized how much they should thank Nagy.

Chiefs fans, you’ll love this Andy Reid cheeseburger shirt. Reid loves his cheeseburgers, and you can wear it. This makes a perfect gift for you or a friend. You can buy it here.

Arrest warrant issued for Antonio Brown

Oct 14, 2021; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Antonio Brown (81) against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Antonio Brown is in trouble with the law once again.

An arrest warrant for Brown was issued on Thursday in Tampa due to an alleged domestic violence incident.

Brown is wanted on a battery charge that stems from an alleged incident that took place on Nov. 28. A judge on Nov. 29 denied a petition for a temporary risk protection order to prevent Brown from possessing firearms or ammunition if he was considered a threat to himself or others, according to ESPN’s Jenna Laine.

The warrant is only the latest legal issue for Brown, who has had plenty of them over the years. Most recently, the former NFL wide receiver was ordered to pay a huge sum of money over an incident in which he was accused of assaulting a moving truck driver.

College Football Playoff makes major announcement

College Football Playoff expansion has long been viewed as inevitable, and the official change is coming sooner than expected.

The CFP announced on Thursday that a 12-team playoff will be implemented beginning in the 2024-25 season.

“We’re delighted to be moving forward,” College football executive director Bill Hancock said in a press release. “When the board expanded the playoff beginning in 2026 and asked the CFP Management Committee to examine the feasibility of starting the new format earlier, the Management Committee went right to work. More teams and more access mean more excitement for fans, alumni, students and student-athletes. We appreciate the leaders of the six bowl games and the two future national championship game host cities for their cooperation. Everyone realized that this change is in the best interest of college football and pulled together to make it happen.”

The announcement comes less than 24 hours after it was reported that the Rose Bowl has finally gotten on board with playoff expansion. The previous contract under the four-team playoff system ran through 2025 and required the unanimous approval of the six current participating bowls in order to expand early. Rose Bowl officials wanted special accommodations, namely pertaining to their exclusive playing window in the afternoon/evening on New Year’s Day.

There was essentially a handshake agreement that the CFP will work in good faith to address the Rose Bowl’s concerns, though no guarantees were made. Had the Rose Bowl refused to agree to expansion, they would have risked being cut out of the next CFP television deal.

The 12-team playoff field will be made up of the top six conference champions and the next six highest-ranked teams. The top four conference champions will receive a bye in the first round. The four higher seeds that play in the first round will have their choice of hosting the game at their stadium or another site of their choice.

CFP reportedly had message for Rose Bowl about special requests

The front logo of the Rose Bowl stadium in Pasadena, California. Photo Credit: Larry Brown/Larry Brown Sports

The Rose Bowl on Wednesday finally agreed to become a part of the expanded College Football Playoff, but “The Granddaddy of Them All” wants special treatment. Will the CFP be able to make that happen?

The College Football Playoff board of managers voted in September to expand the CFP to 12 teams starting in 2026. The Rose Bowl was the only one of the six bowls that rotate as CFP hosts that resisted the expansion. ESPN’s Pete Thamel reports that after months of negotiations, the CFP gave Rose Bowl officials an ultimatum — get on board or risk being shut out of the next television contract, which begins in 2026.

The Rose Bowl had previously been holding up expansion because it wanted special treatment from the CFP. Namely, they wanted to hold onto their exclusive playing window in the afternoon/evening on New Year’s Day. According to Thamel, CFP officials told Rose Bowl officials that they will make good-faith efforts to accommodate the requests. That would not, however, include the exclusive window for the Rose Bowl that isn’t a part of the CFP.

Nothing could be put into writing because there is no TV contract yet for the expanded CFP format. That means there is essentially a handshake agreement in place between the Rose Bowl and CFP. As Thamel put it, Rose Bowl officials ultimately were aware that “significant special favors” would not be guaranteed if they want to remain a part of the CFP.

Now that the Rose Bowl is no longer standing in the way of expansion, it is possible we could see a 12-team playoff as early as 2024. We have already gotten a glimpse of what a 12-team bracket would look like if it were in place this season.

Bulls coach offers troubling Lonzo Ball injury update

Dec 19, 2021; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Chicago Bulls guard Lonzo Ball (2) brings the ball up court against the Los Angeles Lakers during the first half at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

Lonzo Ball has not played since midway through last season because of a knee injury, and it does not sound like the Chicago Bulls star is particularly close to making his return.

Bulls head coach Billy Donovan was asked on Wednesday about Ball’s ongoing recovery from the multiple surgeries he has had over the past 10 months. Donovan described the process as “really slow.” He also said Ball is still experiencing pain and is not “anywhere close” to being cleared for full basketball activities.

Donovan noted that there have been some improvements with Ball, but that was hardly a positive update.

Ball played in just 35 games for Chicago last season before undergoing meniscus surgery on his left knee. He has suffered multiple setbacks and needed another procedure back in September. The Bulls said at the time that Ball would be re-evaluated in 4-6 weeks. We are now at that six-week mark.

After he underwent his most recent surgery, Ball provided some concerning details about how his rehab was going.

Ball, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, has a history of problems in his left knee. He sprained his MCL in Jan. 2018 and tore his meniscus in the same knee several months later.

Here is what the 12-team College Football Playoff would look like this season

Jan 13, 2020; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; Detailed view of the 2020 College Football Playoff National Championship logo at midfield at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Rose Bowl on Wednesday agreed to become part of the expanded College Football Playoff, which paves the way for a 12-team playoff system to be implemented as early as 2024. As a result, fans and the media are starting to think about what the larger field will look like.

Ross Dellenger of Sports Illustrated shared an image on Twitter of what the College Football Playoff would look like this season if there were 12 teams. The top four conference champions — currently Georgia, Michigan, TCU and USC — would receive a bye in the first round. The rest of the field would consist of the remainder of the six highest-ranked conference champions and the next six highest-ranked teams.

You can see the hypothetical bracket below:

First-round games will be played at the higher-ranked team’s home stadium under the current proposal. That would obviously make for some electric environments, even in a situation where a team like Ohio State is expected to steamroll Tulane.

Critics of the 12-team playoff will say some of the games would wind up being mere formalities, but that is no different from the playoffs in most other sports. Some also think a three-loss team should not have a chance to be crowned a national champion, but how is that any different from an NFL Wild Card team winning the Super Bowl?

The Rose Bowl had previously been holding up CFP expansion as the only one of the six current participating bowls to resist the 12-team format. That is because they want special treatment, and the CFP has said they will work with the Rose Bowl to accommodate one particular request.

Rose Bowl makes big decision about College Football Playoff

The front logo of the Rose Bowl stadium in Pasadena, California. Photo Credit: Larry Brown/Larry Brown Sports

The Rose Bowl was the big obstacle standing in the way of early expansion for the College Football Playoff from four to twelve teams. That obstacle no longer exists.

The Rose Bowl on Wednesday caved and agreed to become a part of the expanded CFP. Their decision paves the way for a 12-team playoff as early as 2024. The previous contract under the four-team playoff system ran through 2025 and required the unanimous approval of the six current participating bowls in order to expand early.

The Rose Bowl had previously been holding up expansion because it wanted special treatment from the CFP. Namely, they wanted to maintain their exclusive playing window in the afternoon/evening on New Year’s Day.

The CFP reportedly told the Rose Bowl they would make a good-faith effort to work with them. However, nothing could be put into writing because there is no TV contract yet.

The decision arose because the CFP had put a deadline of November 2022 for the Rose Bowl to agree or risk being left out of the CFP once the current contract expired.

Now, administrators and the CFP will get to work on trying to make the 12-team playoff a reality for 2024.

Report: Ohio State had interesting request for Rose Bowl

Nov 30, 2019; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Ryan Day before the game against the Michigan Wolverines at Michigan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

Ohio State’s athletic department had an interesting request for the Rose Bowl, according to a report.

Ohio State Rivals site “Dotting the Eyes” reported this week that the Buckeyes requested that the Rose Bowl not select them to participate in their January 2, 2023 bowl game.

The Big Ten and Pac-12 champions are designated to play in the game each year, but things change if one of the conference champions gets selected to participate in the College Football Playoff. In that case, the second-place team is often chosen as a replacement, but the Rose Bowl has the option to take another team.

“If the next-highest ranked team is in a ‘cluster’ of teams, meaning there is another team or teams from the same conference ranked within several spots of each other, the Tournament of Roses will select the team from that cluster that will result in the best possible matchup for the Rose Bowl game,” the Rose Bowl’s website says.

If 12-0 Michigan beats 7-4 Purdue in the Big Ten Championship Game, Michigan would win the conference and go to the College Football Playoff. That would leave Ohio State as the next team up. However, the Buckeyes would prefer that 10-2 Penn State (or another school) take the spot.

Ohio State has played in the Rose Bowl in two of the last four years, while Penn State has not played there since 2016. Buckeyes fans did not sell out their allotment of tickets for last season’s game. Part of the issue is that Ohio State had played in the game recently. The other issue is because of the loss to Michigan, the game is somewhat of a disappointment rather than the reward it typically is for teams.

Additionally, the matchup might feel stale for Ohio State fans especially since they would likely be playing Utah in a rematch of last season’s game, or Washington, in a rematch of the 2018 season’s Rose Bowl. They reportedly would prefer to go to the Orange Bowl, which takes the highest SEC or Big Ten team to face the ACC champion.

Of course, this could all become a moot point if Purdue beats Michigan. If the Boilermakers were to upset the Wolverines, they would head to Pasadena. You could bet that Purdue fans would be thrilled to cheer on their team in their first Rose Bowl since the 2000 season, when Drew Brees was in school.

Ja’Marr Chase reponds to trash talk from Justin Reid

Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase (1) walks for the locker room after the fourth quarter of the NFL Week 3 game between the New York Jets and the Cincinnati Bengals at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., on Sunday, Sept. 25, 2022. Credit: Sam Greene/The Enquirer/USA TODAY NETWORK

Ja’Marr Chase on Wednesday got involved in some of the trash talk coming from Justin Reid.

The 9-2 Kansas City Chiefs are set to visit the 7-4 Cincinnati Bengals in Week 13 on Sunday. The game marks a rematch of last season’s AFC Championship Game, which the Bengals won.

Reid, a safety for Kansas City, said Wednesday that he was going to lock up Bengals receiver Tee Higgins.

Chase, who is expected to return from his hip injury to play in the game, responded via Twitter. He challenged Reid to put his money where his mouth is.

Reid responded and acknowledged he had given the Bengals some bulletin-board material. Chase replied and said “tuna ina (sic) can.”

We’re not sure what that saying means, but we do know the matchup between the top AFC contenders just got a lot more exciting.