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#pounditTuesday, December 7, 2021

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Brian Kelly has interesting comment on Notre Dame’s playoff credentials

Brian Kelly in a suit

Brian Kelly is weighing in on whether his departure should factor into Notre Dame’s case for inclusion in the College Football Playoff.

Kelly appeared on ESPN’s “College GameDay” on Saturday, and one of the questions he was asked was about whether his exit should impact Notre Dame’s playoff chances. The Fighting Irish are 11-1 and have a real shot at inclusion. Kelly’s response indicated that he clearly feels the team should be considered based on their record, and that he shouldn’t factor into it.

It’s worth noting that this is actually a key part of any debate on Notre Dame’s playoff credentials. CFP selection committee chairman Gary Barta indicated that the status of the team’s coach would be a factor when the committee debates which four teams should be included in the field. In other words, it’s plausible that Kelly’s decision to leave for LSU negatively impacts Notre Dame’s playoff chances.

Kelly is very much on the outs among Notre Dame faithful over the manner of his departure. However, he could certainly see a Notre Dame playoff bid as a way of burnishing his reputation and preserving whatever legacy he has left in South Bend. There’s no reason he wouldn’t want it to happen at this point.

Photo: Sep 28, 2019; South Bend, IN, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish head coach Brian Kelly waves to fans as he enters Notre Dame Stadium before the game against the Virginia Cavaliers. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Mario Cristobal likely to take Miami job

Mario Cristobal in an Oregon shirt

The Miami Hurricanes may be the latest team set to tempt a big-name coach away from another program.

Miami is targeting Oregon coach Mario Cristobal to replace current coach Manny Diaz, and high-ranking officials appear to think they will be successful. Hurricanes officials are “optimistic” about bringing Cristobal to Miami, according to Susan Miller Degnan, Barry Jackson, and Michelle Kaufman of the Miami Herald.

In fact, Miami officials are confident enough that the Herald says an announcement on Cristobal is expected before Tuesday.

We heard earlier on Friday that Miami was making a run at Cristobal. The timing of this report is incredibly awkward as well, as Cristobal is set to coach Oregon in the Pac-12 Championship later Friday night. Cristobal also made a trip home to Miami last weekend to be with his ill mother.

Cristobal was all all-conference offensive lineman for Miami from 1989 to 1992, and spent time as an assistant at the school from 2004 to 2006. He’s also a Miami native. It certainly looks like the allure of returning home to coach his alma mater may prove too much for him to resist.

Photo: Nov 23, 2019; Tempe, AZ, USA; Oregon Ducks head coach Mario Cristobal against the Arizona State Sun Devils at Sun Devil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Awesome video shows how much Notre Dame players love their new head coach

Marcus Freeman greeted by players

Notre Dame were understandably upset when Brian Kelly abruptly left to take the head coaching job at LSU this week, but they seem plenty excited to play for Kelly’s replacement.

Marcus Freeman was officially introduced as the 30th head football coach at Notre Dame on Friday. The 35-year-old was promoted from defensive coordinator. Following his press conference, Freeman received a greeting from his players that will give you chills.

The results on the field are all that will matter, but it’s easy to feel like Notre Dame made the right move after seeing that video. Freeman clearly has the respect of players, and there must be a reason for that. The Fighting Irish are also still trying to reach the College Football Playoff. Promoting Freeman should make the transition easier and help quickly erase the sting from Kelly’s departure.

Notre Dame reportedly considered replacing Kelly with a more experienced coach. It appears Freeman was the guy players wanted, and the reception he got on Friday is further proof of that.

Antonio Brown suspended for misrepresenting vaccination status

Antonio Brown smiling

Antonio Brown was recently accused of lying to the NFL about his vaccination status, and the league has determined that the allegations were true.

The NFL announced on Thursday that Brown and two other players — Tampa Bay Buccaneers safety Mike Edwards and free agent wide receiver John Franklin III — have been suspended three games for violating COVID-19 protocols. A joint NFLPA-NFL review determined that the players misrepresented their vaccination status.

Here’s the full press release:

As the release stated, all three players accepted the punishment and will not appeal.

Brown’s former personal chef, Steven Ruiz, claimed last month that Brown purchased a fake vaccination card prior to the season and turned it in to the Bucs and NFL. Brown’s attorney quickly disputed the allegation and said the star receiver is fully vaccinated. Bucs head coach Bruce Arians was also quick to defend Brown.

A follow-up report claimed Brown offered his fake vaccine card hookup to others around the NFL.

Brown has 29 catches for 418 yards and four touchdowns this season. He has not played since Oct. 14 due to an ankle injury.

Photo: 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

Tom Brady reveals what could have made him retire years ago

Tom Brady nods to the crowd

Most people felt that Tom Brady had nothing left to prove about three or four championships ago, but the star quarterback continues to find ways to stay motivated. Had the 2007 New England Patriots completed their perfect season, that might not have been the case.

Episode 4 of the ESPN+ documentary “Man in the Arena,” which will air next week but was previewed by NESN’s Zack Cox, covers the 2007 Patriots. In the episode, Brady makes a surprising revelation about how New England’s loss in Super Bowl XLII shaped his career. Had the Patriots won and completed their 19-0 season, Brady says he may have retired a lot sooner.

“Had we won that game — I don’t know, I’m not a big hypothetical guy — but maybe the desire is a little bit different, if you’re looking at a silver lining,” Brady said. “Maybe the desire to reach that point, maybe I would have been fulfilled — not to stop playing at that time, but I don’t know. Maybe I’d play another seven or eight years, and maybe I’m fulfilled. Maybe not.”

Brady has won seven Super Bowls. His legacy is secure. Even if he wins an eighth, his career will still be viewed the same. He doesn’t need an undefeated season to be considered the greatest quarterback of all time, but it obviously bothers him that he came so close and fell four points short of completing it.

We tend to think Brady would have found other ways to stay driven and kept playing regardless of what happened in 2007. That said, Brady made a comment earlier this year that proved how much the loss in Super Bowl XLII stung him. No matter how many games or championships he wins, he clearly will never get over that one shortcoming.

Photo: Aug 28, 2021; Houston, Texas, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) jogs off the field after a game against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Marcus Freeman to be named Notre Dame head coach

Marcus Freeman before a game

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish moved quickly to replace Brian Kelly, and are staying in-house to do so.

Notre Dame will promote defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman to the head coach position, as reported by Matt Zenitz of On3 Sports, among others.

Multiple reports also indicated that offensive coordinator Tommy Rees has agreed to remain at Notre Dame.

Freeman is in his first season as Notre Dame’s defensive coordinator. He has made a strong impression this season as both a schemer and recruiter. The 35-year-old had previous stints as a defensive coordinator at Purdue and Cincinnati before joining the Fighting Irish. Freeman has a reputation as a rising star in coaching circles, and is considered an excellent recruiter. Kelly is a huge fan of Freeman, and reports suggested he had been trying to get Freeman to join him at LSU.

Freeman gets the job despite rumored interest in other more experienced coaches. It sounds like Freeman was also the preferred choice of Notre Dame’s current players as well.

Photo: Oct 2, 2021; South Bend, Indiana, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish Defensive Coordinator Marcus Freeman enters Notre Dame Stadium before the game against the Cincinnati Bearcats. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Notre Dame players had interesting response to Brian Kelly exit

Brian Kelly in Notre Dame gear

Any fears that head coach Brian Kelly’s departure might destabilize current Notre Dame players appear to be unfounded.

Kelly’s stunning decision to leave the Fighting Irish to take the head coaching position at LSU comes at an incredibly bad time from Notre Dame’s perspective. The team is 11-1, and has a legitimate shot at being one of the four teams selected for the College Football Playoff later in the month. The situation was made even worse by the nature of Kelly’s departure, which culminated in a very brief and awkward speech Wednesday morning.

However, the situation appears to have rallied the Notre Dame players together, according to Matt Fortuna and Pete Sampson of The Athletic. The players grew defiant as the day went on after the speech, and viewed Kelly’s decision to leave as him admitting he did not feel that his current team was good enough to win a national championship.

It’s also said that Notre Dame players had grown tired of Kelly’s more distant approach to dealing with his players. To that end, many had been lobbying for defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman to be named as Kelly’s permanent replacement.

There is no doubt that there are negatives in the situation for Notre Dame. In fact, it’s possible that Kelly’s decision to leave could hurt the team in the eyes of the CFP’s selection committee. It doesn’t seem like there will be problems with the players, though. If anything, they sound more motivated than ever.

Photo: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Leaked video shows Brian Kelly’s awkward farewell speech to Notre Dame players

Brian Kelly in Notre Dame gear

Notre Dame players are understandably feeling burned after Brian Kelly abruptly left the program in the middle of a national championship run, and the coach had to have felt that when he addressed the team for the final time on Tuesday.

A Notre Dame player leaked a video that shows Kelly delivering his farewell speech to his former players. The clip begins with Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick saying a few words and then turning things over to Kelly, who thanked the team and briefly addressed that they found out about his departure via social media. The speech lasted less than four minutes in total.

You can listen to the speech, which is in two parts, below:

“I know we’ve been through this together. I’ve recruited virtually everybody in this room,” Kelly said. “I wanted to be able to tell you face-to-face why we’re at where we’re at. … Many times people look for a reason to blame or if there was a reason for something. There was nothing here but first class in everything that Notre Dame has done for me and my family. I saw my time here as a blessing, working with incredible men on a day-to-day basis. There comes a time when you look in your life for another opportunity. I felt like it was time in my life for another challenge. I saw that opportunity in a very short window and felt it was best for me and my family to pursue a new challenge.”

There seemed to be a lot of tension in the room, which was to be expected. No players said anything or clapped for Kelly after he was finished speaking.

Kelly previously apologized to his players for the way they found out about him taking the LSU job. He did so via a text message, which you can read here.

There’s rarely ever a graceful way for a coach to leave one top program for another. Kelly’s coaching staff seemingly felt left in the dark like his players. Though, Kelly tried to explain on Wednesday how quickly the LSU deal came together.

Brian Kelly reveals when he knew he was taking LSU job

Brian Kelly in a suit

Brian Kelly has faced criticism for leaving people in the dark before he took the job at LSU, but the coach insists that was the result of the deal coming together so quickly.

During a Wednesday appearance on “The Dan Patrick Show,” Kelly claimed it was not until after Notre Dame’s win over Stanford on Saturday that his agent informed him LSU was interested. He said he was actually in California on Monday recruiting on behalf of Notre Dame. His deal with LSU was finalized on the plane ride back to South Bend.

Kelly admitted that his attorney was on the plane with him back from California, which is an indication that he was negotiating with LSU. You can hear more below:

Patrick also asked Kelly if he contacted the recruits he had spoken with on behalf of Notre Dame and asked them if they have interest in playing for LSU. Kelly said “of course not” and seemed offended by the question.

A report on Monday evening said LSU was targeting Kelly as its next head coach. Hours later, the 60-year-old was finalizing his new deal. Kelly admitted that LSU contacted him on Saturday night, so the discussions were obviously ongoing throughout the weekend.

Kelly was accused of ghosting Notre Dame, and one assistant coach was said to be furious that Kelly made him look bad.

High-level coaching departures are always tricky. Kelly probably didn’t want to put everything on hold in case the deal fell through with LSU. Still, Notre Dame players could not have felt good about the text message they received from the coach.

Photo: Sep 28, 2019; South Bend, IN, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish head coach Brian Kelly waves to fans as he enters Notre Dame Stadium before the game against the Virginia Cavaliers. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Report: LeBron James expected to miss at least 10 days with positive COVID test

LeBron James in his Lakers uniform

LeBron James is expected to miss several games for COVID-related reasons, according to a report.

James was placed in health and safety protocols by the Lakers and will not play in the team’s game against the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports that James is expected to miss several games.

Woj’s report makes it seem like James has tested positive but the report was inconclusive; Woj did say that James could be cleared from the protocol if he returns two straight negative PCR tests.

TMZ Sports producer Mike Babcock says James took three COVID tests on Tuesday. The first (lateral flow) was positive, the second (PCR) was negative, and a third test was positive.

As of now, it sounds like James has COVID and will miss at least 10 days.

The Lakers are scheduled to face the Clippers on Dec. 3, Celtics on Dec. 7, Grizzlies on Dec. 9 and Thunder on Dec. 10.

Photo: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports