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USC AD takes subtle shot at his own conference

USC Trojans athletic director Lynn Swann doesn’t believe the program can only rely on the Pac-12 schedule to get noticed.

Partially blaming — or at least inferring — coastal bias, Swann believes a tough non-conference schedule is a must.

“Because of time zones, people on the East Coast aren’t really seeing us,” Swann said in a Q&A with The Orange County Register. “We have to play a tougher schedule. If the voters are going to look at four teams to be in the top four, the Pac-12 playing the Pac-12 won’t get it by itself.”

That appears to be a subtle shot at his own conference, but it could have simply been Swann stating that the league is too weak or overlooked to afford a program like USC the luxury of playing cupcakes in the non-conference.

“We have to schedule teams and we have to have that very competitive schedule to be able to get that look,” Swann said. “And we’ve got to win those games. So it’s important to have Texas on the schedule. It’s important that Notre Dame is playing well and we play them and we beat them along the way.”

This, obviously, makes sense. Winning games happens to be important. Beating teams that are supposedly good is even more important.

For Swann, this comes down to how he thinks the Selection Committee will view resumes.

“The committee who’s going to vote on this is going to look at strength of schedule. They’re going to look at how you win games,” Swann explained. “They’re going to look at a lot of factors. They’re going to look at the competition inside your conference, outside your conference, all those kind of things. It won’t ever be just one thing.”


Anyway, the biggest take here is the possibility that Swann thinks the Pac-12 is either overlooked, underrated, or simply not good enough to warrant easy non-conference dockets.

Anthony Davis may be reconsidering his stance on possible early exit from Pelicans

New Orleans Pelicans power forward Anthony Davis believes his team could have been an NBA Finals contender had teammate DeMarcus Cousins avoided suffered a season-ending Achilles tendon tear last month.

“We could have gone through the playoffs. No one could really stop us as bigs. We go to the Finals if we went,” Davis told ESPN’s Rachel Nichols in an interview over All-Star weekend. “[Teammate Rajon Rondo] reminds us of it: ‘You guys are the two best bigs. I know what it takes to win championships; we got it.'”

During the same interview, Davis reflected on the possibility of spending his best playing years on a non-contender rather than requesting a trade.

“It makes you think. I’m not going to lie, it makes you think because you wonder if you’re following in that same path. “But then again, you be like, This year could be the year. You don’t know. “So you just got to take it year-by-year and just see. See where the team is going, what direction they want to go to, and just see where their head is.”

Cousins suffered the injury on Jan. 26 during a win over the first-place Houston Rockets. Since then, however, the Pelicans have lost five of their last 10 games.

New Orleans currently has a 31-26 overall record and rank eighth in the Western Conference with 25 games remaining in the 2017-18 season.


Nick Saban building a literal foundation for lengthy stay in Alabama

Alabama Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban, noted for being good at his job, is literally building a foundation for a lengthy stay in the state.

According to report from Kelvin Reynolds of WBRC in Tuscaloosa, Saban is building yet another home in Tuscaloosa. Not for his family, but for another.

Saban’s foundation, Nick’s Kids, with the help of Habitat for Humanity, is attempting to fund a project to build a home for a local family.

“From a fan’s perspective and from this perspective, it’s just overwhelming,” said Donna Smith, whose family is the recipient of the latest house and is two months from moving in. “It’s just amazing this happens. It’s such a blessing for families. I know it’s definitely a blessing.”

Saban often gets blasted for being a bit of a curmudgeon, but this is obviously a neat and charitable move. Moreover, if you want to go full speculation mode, this is the sort of move a person makes when s/he plans on sticking around an area for a lengthy period of time.

Jokes — bad ones — aside, it is always awesome to see people with money and power use it to help others. The Alabama football program has a very communal vibe to it, and it’s great to see Saban playing into it.

Rebuilding Pac-12 power fills out its staff with latest steal of a hire

Marshall offensive line coach Alex Mirabal has reportedly accepted the same position at Oregon, sources told the Herald-Dispatch.

Mirabal still needs to clear a background check by the university before the move becomes official, according to the report.

The 47-year-old assistant joined Marshall’s staff in Feb. 2013 and helped improve the Herd win 10 games during his first season, as well as a Conference USA title in 2014.

Mirabal’s offensive line ranked fourth in sacks allowed among FBS teams last season, which included giving up only 11 in 13 games, despite playing three freshmen.

The assistant will be reunited with new Oregon head coach Mario Cristobal, who he worked alongside at FIU from 2007-12. Mirabal will become the Ducks’ 10th assistant coach, which is permitted by a new NCAA assistant rule that took effect on Jan. 9.

With his departure, Marshall has now lost three assistant coaches within a span of three months.

Goodyear has no explanation for Kyle Busch’s issues in the Daytona 500

Kyle Busch’s quest to win his first Daytona 500 didn’t last long thanks to multiple tire issues.

Busch blew a left rear tire early in the race, and shortly after he blew another tire that put him several laps behind.

Goodyear’s Greg Stucker isn’t sure why Busch had nearly identical issues, and he said it wasn’t a puncture or a manufacturer problem.

“They were pretty much identical [issues],” Stucker said via ESPN. We see nothing else like that up and down pit road. We have guys with twice as many laps on tires. … It’s not obvious to us that there was any sort of cut or anything else. It didn’t look like a tire rub. It didn’t have that appearance. It just looked like the tire was getting overworked. We just need to understand what could contribute to that.”

Related: Here’s how Danica Patrick’s NASCAR career came to an end at Daytona

Busch’s crew chief, Adam Stevens, said it wasn’t an issue he could control. But the team didn’t have any tire issues for the remainder of the race, so they still are searching for answers.

Goodyear, however, is planning to take the tires to examine them to see if they can determine the problem.

It will be intriguing to monitor whether the issues linger into Sunday’s race at Atlanta and throughout the rest of the year.

WWE Hall of Famer was apparently backstage at Raw, but here’s why he didn’t appear

Diamond Dallas Page was apparently backstage at Monday Night Raw, but he wasn’t there to appear in an onscreen role.

In an Instagram post by Corey Graves, he showed DDP, Sean Mooney and Bayley pictured in front of Macho Man gear and a video of the Hall of Famer playing on the television behind them.

Graves aptly included the caption, “Dig it. #bts #comingsoon.”

Randy Savage played an instrumental part in DDP’s career, suggesting the rising WCW star to be taken to the top with wins over the Macho Man:

DDP would win the WCW World Heavyweight championship three times during his career.

The expected collection is on unreleased matches from Savage’s 1986-1995 run.

Fox makes a decision on controversial feature of their NASCAR broadcasts

FOX unveiled its new ticker for its NASCAR broadcasts, and it was met with plenty of criticism after its initial debut.

Thanks for taking up 1/3 of my television screen and trying to fix something that wasn’t an issue. Make the dumb thing horizontal at the top or bottom. — Benjamin Truex Jr (@BenLindemulder) February 20, 2018 Nope. Don’t like the new Fox nascar ticker. If you’re gonna do that you need to frame everything differently. WTF is this mess. I can’t see a thing?!!!! — Dallas Davis (@KrazeeDD) February 18, 2018

Related: NASCAR’s new rule already ruined a driver’s day at Daytona

@brentdewar There are no words for how much I hate this ticker. Distracting, unnecessary and annoying besides losing 1/4th of the screen. FOX/NASCAR will also lose a viewer if they keep this mess. I can not believe most fans are in favor of this. — Judy Thornhill (@JudyThornhill) February 18, 2018 @fox_nascar put the ticker back on top. Everyone bought widescreen TV s for a reason. — D J Junk (@Danial2448) February 11, 2018

FOX made a few changes to it, and they made it more translucent during the Daytona 500. But fans hoping for a change to a horizontal ticker are out of luck, according to Adam Stern of the Sports Business Journal.

.@FOXSports execs said on Sunday that they plan to stick with the new vertical ticker during NASCAR coverage and think that people who initially don't like it will adjust/enjoy it in time. — Fox did alter the ticker slightly after its initial debut by making it more translucent. — Adam Stern (@A_S12) February 20, 2018

FOX is banking on fans getting used to the graphic, and most will probably grow accustomed to it over time. Fans usually don’t like change when it comes to a broadcast, but it’s possible the criticism dies down as the season continues.

It probably wasn’t the best idea to have the vertical ticker since it takes up so much room. It worked better horizontally, but the more translucent version of the ticker works a little better.

Perhaps FOX will change it back next season if the criticism continues, but fans will have to get used to it for now.

WWE Smackdown Live (2/20/18): Preview, live updates, results and more

Smackdown Live broadcasts live Tuesday night, February 20, 2018 on the USA Network at 8 p.m. ET.

The No. 1 contender for the Usos Smackdown Tag Team championship will be decided when Chad Gable and Shelton Benjamin face off against the New Day.

Also expected on the show:

  • Charlotte Flair, Naomi and Becky Lynch will battle the Riott Squad in a 6-woman tag match
  • AJ Styles discusses the upcoming Fatal 5-Way championship match at Fastlane
WWE SmackDown Live results leading up to Fastlane: WWE Smackdown Live results: (2/13/18) WWE SmackDown Live results: (2/6/2018) WWE SmackDown Live results: (1/30/2018) WWE Royal Rumble 2018 results: Ronda Rousey debuts, WrestleMania main event set, historic returns and wins

Former ESPN analyst Danny Kanell makes an ambitious statement on Lamar Jackson

Danny Kanell believes former Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson is capable of playing quarterback at the professional level.

In fact, the former ESPN analyst went as far as to call him the second coming of former Pro Bowler Michael Vick.

“If I was in the second-round and Lamar Jackson is still on the board, I would snatch him up in a hurry,” Kanell told CBS Sports. “He is the next Mike Vick. He is Michael Vick 2.0. We’ve seen him light up the college football world when he won the Heisman Trophy two years ago. His play was actually better than his Heisman Trophy season this past year for Louisville, but unfortunately his team didn’t have as much success so he was knocked a little bit. “He is definitely a project. He’s got to tighten things up a little bit mechanically. He’s got to improve his accuracy. But just from a sheer playmaking standpoint, he is a one-man highlight machine who can generate offense with literally nothing around him. I think the upside for him is huge. If you got him in the second-round I think it would be well worth the risk.” Jackson threw for 3,660 yards, 27 touchdowns and 10 interceptions on 254 of 430 passing, while also recording 1,601 yards and 18 touchdowns on 232 rushing attempts. During his Heisman Trophy-winning sophomore campaign, he threw for 3,543 yards, 30 touchdowns and nine interceptions, while rushing for 1,571 yards and 21 touchdowns on 260 attempts. Many have debated whether Jackson can match that success at the professional level, including former NFL GM Bill Polian, who suggested he switch positions to wide receiver during an appearance on Golic and Wingo this week. I’m tired — Brandon Howard (@bhoward_81) February 19, 2018 However, Kanell apparently doesn’t seem too worried about the former Heisman Winner’s chances and believes he will be a steal if he happens to fall past the first-round.
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