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Dale Earnhardt Jr’s team gets good news ahead of the race in Atlanta

JR Motorsports driver Tyler Reddick is fresh off winning at Daytona in the Xfinity series. After winning such a huge race, a sponsorship deal might seem like an afterthought, but in today’s NASCAR, even the smallest deal is gold.

Beginning this week in Atlanta, Reddick will be sponsored by Nationwide Children’s Hospital for five races, according to NBCSports. Nationwide has a long relationship with team owner Dale Earnhardt Jr.

“I know how important Nationwide Children’s Hospital is to Dale and Amy (Earnhardt), Kelley and everyone at JR Motorsports,” Reddick said in a press release. “I’m proud to be supporting their cause and it’s been eye-opening to learn about the tremendous work they do for children and their families across the country. I’m looking forward to visiting the hospital and meeting their Patient Champions.”

Related: Good news keeps on coming for Bubba Wallace after solid outing at Daytona 500

College football expert gives Jimbo Fisher an ultimatum after huge $75 million contract

Jimbo Fisher has a lot to live up to after jumping from Florida State to Texas A&M at the end of the 2017 college football season. Not only does Fisher have to justify making the jump from a program like Florida State, but he also has to live up to the 10-year, $75 million contract that those at Texas A&M decided to give him.

Sports Illustrated’s Bruce Feldman is very aware of those expectations, and makes a very good point on Fisher’s future: what happens if he has a similar arc to Harbaugh at Michigan, where the hype is high, but the results turn out to be slightly below where the dollar signs say they should be.

Via WJOX-FM:

“What I’m curious about is if the expectations are going to be higher for Jimbo Fisher because they’re paying him $75 million dollars guaranteed. He has won a national title [at Florida State]. The question I have would be what would be considered fulfilling that? At what point do you get to this Jim Harbaugh point we seem to be at with Michigan where if you do not get to the playoff? Is it three years? Is it four years? Where are we on this? That’s the question I would have because, remember, Kevin Sumlin went 11-2 and had a Top 5 season during his first year at A&M and then all of a sudden it was a bunch of eight-win seasons and that clearly wasn’t good enough. I think within at least the first three years, at some point, Jimbo Fisher has to get them within the Top 10, if not the playoff, because they’re paying a ton of money for him.”

Former head coach Kevin Sumlin had Texas A&M set in a spot where the program was winning eight games almost every year, and if Fisher comes in and does that for a couple of years… fans might not be too excited about paying that price tag for a coach for the same ol’ results.

Of course, it might take some time for Fisher to really turn things around, much like Harbaugh has needed at Michigan. It will be a delicate balance for Texas A&M over the next few years, and it will be interesting to see how Fisher — still only 52 years old — builds the program after he was able to win 83 games in eight years at Florida State.

[H/T SEC Country]

WWE superstar says one of the hottest tag teams in wrestling “owe it to themselves” to have run with company

WWE superstar Luke Gallows believes his Bullet Club brethren the Young Bucks — Matt and Nick Jackson — “owe it to themselves” to have a run with the company.

“I hope the Young Bucks come in,” he told reporters via Sky Sports. “I think they’re highly, highly talented and if you want to make your mark in sports entertainment, if you want your name to go down in the annals of sports entertainment history, you absolutely have to come to WWE. “This is the pinnacle. It doesn’t get bigger than this. There’s no bigger worldwide stage than WWE. So I think the Young Bucks owe it to themselves to come out here and thrive.  Japan is a great place to wrestle but WWE is a worldwide platform and you can’t beat that. Their reach is all across the world.”

Gallows, along with fellow former Bullet Club members AJ Styles and Karl Anderson, signed with WWE in January 2016 after several years working with New Japan Pro Wrestling.

The Bucks have established themselves as arguably the most well-known tag team outside the confines of WWE as a self-made marketing machine. The duo has consistently been one of the most popular merchandise sellers on Pro Wrestling Tees, has a working deal with Hot Topic to sell its merchandise and has grown its popularity with its YouTube series, “Being the Elite.”

The Jacksons are also one of the most decorated tag teams in wrestling today, having held numerous titles for several promotions including a record seven reigns as the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champions, three past stints as the ROH World Tag Team Champions and their current reign as the ROH World Six-Man Tag Team Champions alongside fellow Bullet Club member Adam Page.

However, excluding sporadic dark matches and squashes as enhancement talent, the Bucks have never worked for WWE, despite the company’s reported interest in the past. The duo is also signed to Ring of Honor contracts — which allows them to also work for NJPW and other independent promotions — until the end of 2018, which means a jump wouldn’t take place until at least 2019.

Still, given WWE’s recent history of signing and promoting indie talent — AJ Styles, Kevin Owens, Daniel Bryan, CM Punk, etc — as well as its recent signing of cruiserweight wrestlers, the idea of the Bucks making a jump to the company seems like a much more realistic option than in previous years.

NBA Hall of Famer advocates for LeBron James to join Golden State

Isiah Thomas, an NBA Hall of Fame talent, believes LeBron James should join Golden State if not staying in Cleveland.

And we have reached peak, people telling other people what to do.

"If I'm LeBron James, if I don't stay in Cleveland…I go to Golden State. I go and play with Kevin Durant." — @iamisiahthomas pic.twitter.com/NEklPFhYR2 — First Things First (@FTFonFS1) February 20, 2018

Thomas’ post-playing career is notable for only the worst reasons. He’s not exactly the guy to take advice from in this kind of situation.

Not only did he fail while manning the helm for the New York Knicks, but he bought and buried the CBA in just two years. He also unceremoniously coached a season at FIU, going  7–25 and then stepping away from his position. Oh yeah, he was also hired as Team President of the New York Liberty, but mostly because he is buddies with James Dolan.

In 2006, Thomas was again in the news for the wrong reasons. A former female executive filed an employment and harassment lawsuit against The Madison Square Garden Company, naming Thomas was the harasser. The case was then settled for $11.5 million.

As for LeBron James, if he does leave the Cavaliers, he will have plenty of options. He will have his pick of the entire National Basketball Association. My best guess is, though, that he won’t be taking a serial failure’s advice on what to do next.

NFL player finishing medical school, pushing to have “M.D.” on the back of his jersey

Kansas City Chiefs offensive lineman Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, who is on pace to earn his medical degree this offseason, told the Kansas City Star that he intends to become the first player in NFL history to have “M.D.” on his jersey.

“I want to put Duvernay-Tardif M.D. on my jersey,” Duvernay-Tardif said. “I’ve already started a conversation with the league office, and they say that anything is possible.”

Last year, the lineman revealed his goal to become the first active NFL player with a medical degree during a piece for the Players Tribune.

“I’m hoping to become the first NFL player to step on the field with an M.D. in my back pocket — and maybe on the back of my jersey.”

The Canadian-born football player has also kept busy this offseason by contributing to Radio-Canada’s Winter Olympics coverage as a reporter in Pyeongchang.

“It was just a tremendous opportunity,” he told the Kansas City Star. “I’ve always wanted to go to the Olympics.”

There’s no denying that Duvernay-Tardif is quite the renaissance man on and off the gridiron.

Former WWE Champion says he’s still in talks to return to the company

Rey Mysterio, who made a shocking appearance at the Royal Rumble last month, says he’s still in talks with the WWE about a potential return.

During an interview with Inside the Ropes, Mysterio discussed:

“Right now, the conversation is still in the open with WWE so I am hoping that when the time is right and we sit down to talk about the future of Rey Mysterio with WWE, if there is any future with Rey Mysterio, it is going to be good for both parties as much as it will be good for WWE as it will be good for me. I think it is in the best interest for the both of us.”

It must be going pretty good in the conversations, as Mysterio is already eyeing future matches with current WWE talent:

“Man, there are so many strong names that have been around for quite some time. AJ Styles is one of them. I think that AJ and myself would have a pretty nice run together. Finn Balor, I think I would have a pretty good run with Finn. There are a lot of names that are being thrown out there. If I came back, would I be part of the 205 Live division? Heavyweight division? It is just hard to say. I think that whatever the fans want to see, if I do come back, that is what we will give them.”

Between WCW and WWE, Mysterio is one of the most decorated “cruiserweight” wrestlers off all time. Mysterio is a three-time WWE world champion, a two-time Intercontinental Champion, five-time tag team champion, and eight-time cruiserweight champion. Mysterio is also one of the few remaining active wrestlers to have worked for the original ECW, WCW, and WWE.

(H/T Wrestling Inc.)

Four-star RB Mike Drennen has two major rivals as his top schools

Four-star running back Mike Drennen II has a ton of time before he has to make a commitment since he’s in the class of 2020. However, he already has two schools he really likes and said that two rivals are atop his list right now. Here’s what he told 247Sports:

“My top schools right now (not in any order) would be Michigan, Ohio State, I just like Michigan and Ohio State to be honest,” Drennen said.

Drennen also mentioned what he likes about each school. With Ohio State it was running backs coach Tony Alford.

“We’re tight,” Drennen said of Alford. “We’re getting closer. He says they might pull the trigger soon. That would be crazy. It would make a lot of people proud out of my family. I’d be proud. It’s Ohio State.”

His cousin, Jaelen Gill, is also about to land on campus in Columbus so that might help down the road too. The 5-foot-11, 190-pound running back is ranked as the No. 11 recruit at his position and the top recruit in the state of Ohio State according to the 247Sports Composite rankings. He currently has offers from Louisville, Cincinnati, Indiana and Kentucky.

Here are some of his highlights:

Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis makes disparaging comment about former coaching candidate

Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis made a disparaging comment regarding former Tennessee quarterback and current USC offensive coordinator Tee Martin during a profile piece on newly hired head coach Jon Gruden for Sports Illustrated.

When asked if he would have fired former head coach Jack Del Rio had Gruden not been an option, Davis said “I don’t see how I could have. To spend $20 million, and on top of that hire Tee Martin? No.”

Davis opted to fire Jack Del Rio despite having only been one year removed from a 12-4 season and having his franchise quarterback, Derek Carr, spend most of the year battling a back injury.

Gruden, who previously coached the Raiders from 1998-2001 was long assumed to be the Raiders’ only realistic candidate and was officially hired in January. However, the franchise interviewed several others to comply with the NFL’s Rooney rule — which requires teams to interview minority candidates for head coaching and senior football operations vacancies — including Martin and assistant Bobby Johnson.

Martin agreed to a multi-year contract extension from USC in January following his interview with Oakland.

He reportedly interviewed for several notable coaching positions over the past few months, including the head coaching position at his alma matter, Tennessee, where he won a the inaugural BCS national championship as a quarterback in 1998.

The 39-year-old has quickly risen up the ranks as a young assistant with a bright head coaching future, having been named as a Broyles Award semi-finalist in November. USC ranked No. 13 overall among FBS teams in total offense during the 2017 season, which included finishing with an 11-3 (8-1 Pac-12) overall record and Pac-12 championship. Still, it’s obvious that Davis only interviewed the former national champion to comply with the Rooney rule and to publicly admit to doing so while disrespecting him is a classless move.

Minnesota unveils horrendous uniforms in attempt to hype 2018 season

Minnesota unveiled a variety of new uniform combinations on Tuesday with the intention of “embracing the past to create the future.”

LOVE the new “H.Y.P.R.R. ELITE” jerseys we will be wearing this season!! Embracing the past to create our future!! Row the Boat meets Ski-U-Mah!! #RTB #HYPRR #SkiUMah pic.twitter.com/nCtAFbQPS7 — P.J. Fleck (@Coach_Fleck) February 20, 2018

The Gophers will debut three new Nike jerseys (maroon, white and anthracite (gray)), three helmets (maroon, white and shiny/chrome gold) and four pants (maroon, white, gold and anthracite), as well as a variety of different shoes, socks and facemasks that could create more than 100 potential combinations during the 2018 season, the school told TwinCities.com.

The jerseys will include several new additions, including head coach P.J. Fleck’s “Row the Boat” manthra, the school’s “Ski-U-Mah” cheer, a boat and compass in the players’ jersey numbers and bricks to signify former head coach Jerry Kill’s “brick by brick” slogan.

According to TwinCities.com, the uniforms were designed by Nike’s Josh Iverson, who was responsible for the team’s threads worn from 2012-17.

FanBuzz’s Take

Gross.

This is an obvious desperation cry by a team coming off a 5-7 season to build excitement for the upcoming season.

Maybe it’s the cynical Tennessee fan in me coming off five years of Butch Jones, but gimmicky offseason football tactics will not equal wins.

You don’t see Alabama pulling stunts like this because it doesn’t have to. However, a coach entering his second season after finishing sixth in the Big Ten West is much more inclined to not only spew catchphrases, but also put them all over his team’s uniforms.

But let’s ignore the fact that “Row the Boat” itself is hokey. Having a beaver tail shaped like an oar on a helmet or putting bricks, boats and compasses in jersey numbers is terrible itself.

At least the chrome gold helmets look cool. Otherwise everything else just reeks of desperation and looks horrendous.

But it’s not like Minnesota will be on national television in a primetime slot anyway, so it’s unlikely most people outside of the fanbase will see the new uniforms anyway.

Bubba Wallace explains what happened during heated moment with Denny Hamlin after Daytona 500

Video of Bubba Wallace and Denny Hamlin squaring off after the Daytona 500 made the rounds today, and in that video, it was hard to tell exactly what had Hamlin so upset.

@dennyhamlin and @BubbaWallace not too happy with each other after the 500 @NASCARONFOX @espn @NASCARonNBC pic.twitter.com/5uKP9CkWmZ — Ben Black (@ben_black7) February 19, 2018

Hamlin was clearly not thrilled with Wallace, and it is hard to hear what all of what was said.

There was a lot of contact between the two drivers at the end of the Daytona 500, but Wallace says what really got under Hamlin’s skin was comments from a post-race interview.

After crossing the finish line during the race, Hamlin put Wallace into the wall on the front stretch. A clearly perturbed Wallace took a shot at Hamlin in his post-race interview:

“I want to see the replay before I say anything stupid but he may need to take some Adderrall for that one,” he said.

That’s a clear reference to Hamlin’s remarks last week on a BarStool Sports podcast that 70 percent of NASCAR drivers were taking Adderall or some other ADD-type drug. Hamlin later backtracked and said he was joking.

On SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s “The Morning Drive” via NBCSports, Wallace explained that those comments, not the on-track contact, are what really sent Hamlin over the edge.

“I was told I cut his tire as I was doing the interview, and I already had my mind made up about what had happened,’’ Wallace said. “Just got into the heat of the battle. At the end of the day, we’re racing and that’s what you do, you go down and sidedraft the guy through the short chute and try to suck him all the way down and get the run and pull away from him and just felt like he had turned right. That was my opinion. He had thought otherwise. He said there was more footage from in-car that I haven’t seen yet. I’ve been looking for and haven’t seen yet.

“At the garage, he was upset with me over the comments I made about something he was joking about, which shouldn’t have been joked about. All in all, that’s all right. We’re actually texting each other right now, we’re still not happy. I’m OK, he’s not. We’re racers, and we’ll go to Atlanta and be battling each other.

“I told him we’ll be racing together for a long time so I wanted to step out and reach out and clear the air. We’ll see how long it takes to officially clear the air.”

On Wallace’s end, he was just upset that Hamlin prevented him from celebrating with his team by crashing him and sending him to the infield care center.

“I told him I was just pumped up with the way we finished and just hated that I couldn’t go out and celebrate the finish with my guys,” Wallace said. “I really wanted to see them. I had Richard Petty running all over pit road and all over Daytona to the infield care center so that was just a bummer. When you have a good finish, the first thing you want to do is get out and hug your guys and give them all the praise that they deserve.’’

Related: Bubba Wallace can’t keep it together after an emotional Daytona 500

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