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Washington's New State COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate to Include WSU Coach Nick Rolovich

Washington's New State COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate to Include WSU Coach Nick Rolovich

Gov. Inslee announced that education employees have until Oct. 18 to be fully vaccinated as a condition of employment.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announced COVID-19 vaccination requirements for workers in the state's K-12 schools, colleges and universities on Wednesday.

Early learning and K-12 educators in public, private and charter schools, school staff, coaches, bus drivers, school volunteers and employees working in school facilities and universities will have until Oct. 18 to be fully vaccinated as a condition of employment, according to a statement from Inslee's office. 

The governor's new mandate—one that does not impact students, regardless of age—would also include WSU football coach Nick Rolovich, who did not attend the Pac-12 media day after deciding to not receive the COVID-19 vaccination. The league required those who planned on attending the event to show proof of vaccination. 

“I have elected not to receive a COVID-19 vaccine for reasons which will remain private," Rolovich's statement read. "While I have made my own decision, I respect that every individual—including our coaches, staff and student-athletes—can make his or her own decision regarding the COVID-19 vaccine. I will not comment further on my decision.”

The Cougars athletic department released a statement in response to Inslee's mandate.

"We applaud the efforts of Governor Inslee to protect the health and safety of the people of Washington," the statement read. "Washington State athletics, including staff, coaches and student-athletes will continue to follow all campus, local, state, Pac-12 and NCAA guidelines related to health and safety surrounding COVID-19 and we will work to ensure the mandates in the Governor's Proclamation are followed."

Inslee also expanded Washington's statewide indoor mask mandate to include everyone—including those already vaccinated. It will begin on Aug. 23. 

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Woman Concludes Testimony in Trevor Bauer Hearing: ‘What Happened Was Not Consensual’

Woman Concludes Testimony in Trevor Bauer Hearing: ‘What Happened Was Not Consensual’

The woman seeking a five-year restraining order against the pitcher said she knew she'd be "slut-shamed, but it was worth it for me to get protection."

Editor’s note: This story contains graphic accounts of domestic violence, threats and sexual assault. If you or someone you know is a survivor of sexual assault or domestic violence, contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 or the Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.

The 27-year-old San Diego woman seeking a five-year restraining order against Trevor Bauer told the judge Wednesday that she knew she would be "slut-shamed" for filing the ex parte restraining order against the Dodgers pitcher. 

"Rough sex doesn't mean a concussion," she said, per The Insider. "It felt good to see that I wasn't getting slut-shamed right off the bat—that people could see it for what it was."

In a statement released June 29, Bauer's agent Jon Fetterolf said, "Mr. Bauer had a brief and wholly consensual sexual relationship initiated by [the woman] beginning in April 2021. We have messages that show [the woman] repeatedly asking for 'rough' sexual encounters involving requests to be 'choked out' and slapped in the face." He added the woman drove to Bauer's residence and proceeded to "dictate what she wanted from him sexually and he did what was asked."

The woman spent 12 hours on the stand over the first three days of the hearing to lay out her reasoning for seeking the protection order.

"I did not consent to bruising all over my body and going to the hospital," she said Wednesday, "and having things done to me while I was unconscious." 

The California woman alleges the pitcher choked her unconscious and penetrated her anally without consent in April. A similar incident allegedly happened again in May, when the woman said Bauer choked her unconscious and was repeatedly punching her in the head when she regained consciousness. She ended up in the hospital with severe trauma.

She filed a domestic violence ex parte restraining order against Bauer on June 28, and a few days later, Bauer was put on administrative leave that has continuously been extended. Now, the hearing concerning the protection order is determining whether the restraining order should be extended to the full five years allowed under state law.

The cross-examination by Bauer's attorney, Shawn Holley, picked up where it left off on Tuesday, meticulously examining Instagram direct messages and text messages. At one point, Holley asked the woman why she felt she needed the order when he had made no contact with her in almost a month by the time it was filed. 

"That was what worried me," the woman replied. Bauer had been checking in on her the days following the second incident. Holley then asked, "Did you have some reason to believe he was going to come to your house 130 miles away?"

"Yes, I did," she said. 

Before leaving the stand, the woman returned to the matter of consent.

“What happened was not consensual,” the woman testified, per the Los Angeles Times. “If they were going to put out their side of the story, it was fair to me to show that it was far beyond [consensual] choking.

“I knew I would be slut-shamed, but it was worth it for me to get protection from Trevor Bauer.”

This is not the first potential restraining order Bauer has faced. An Ohio woman, who alleged that he punched and choked her without consent while they were having sex, requested a temporary order against him in June 2020, per The Washington Post. It came out of an ex parte proceeding, and she did so because of threatening messages he had allegedly sent her.

"I don't feel like spending time in jail for killing someone," one message read, according to The Post. "And that's what would happen if I saw you again."

The Ohio woman later voluntarily dropped the order against Bauer.

The Dodgers pitcher is slated to be the last witness to be called by his accuser. That testimony is set to take place Thursday morning. Bauer plans to invoke the Fifth Amendment, per his attorney, but Judge Dianna Gould-Saltman said she will give her decision on the matter in the morning. 

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Mailbag: Do You Really Need a Mobile Quarterback to Win in the NFL?

Mailbag: Do You Really Need a Mobile Quarterback to Win in the NFL?

Why great athletes are given more time to develop as QBs. Plus, many more questions.

FLORIDA — The second leg of my training-camp swing is much shorter than the first, and we’re off to flying start. So from Jacksonville to Tampa, here we go …

Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports

From Rob O’Neill (@oneillr1): Thoughts on the “You need a mobile QB to win” in the NFL line? Looking back to 2000, I see one true mobile QB to win a Super Bowl (Mahomes), everyone else has been a traditional pocket passer.

Rob, this is a fantastic question, thanks for asking it. It’s something I’ve been talking about on radio and TV, and digging around on, for a while. And the idea I’ve been tossing around on this is quarterbacks have a finite time to cement themselves with their drafting teams, and it’s never been harder for a player at that position to adjust to the NFL that quickly, thanks to the simplification of college offenses, and complexity and speed of NFL defenses.

The evidence we’ve laid out in a good number of previous mailbags shows that, really, Year 3 is the big one for first-round quarterbacks. After that season, teams have to decide on their quarterbacks’ fifth-year options, and whether to extend them early. Evidence shows that, really, by then most teams have made up their minds, which gives guys that long to prove themselves.

Now, let’s look at the guys who’ve really broken out within that window. Since the 2011 CBA went in to create this construct, five quarterbacks have won Offensive Rookie of the Year: Cam Newton, Robert Griffin III, Dak Prescott, Kyler Murray and Justin Herbert. And in that timeframe, six quarterbacks on rookie deals have gotten MVP votes: Newton, Mahomes and Lamar Jackson won it; Josh Allen finished second last year, Carson Wentz finished third in 2017 and Prescott finished sixth as a rookie in 2016.

That’s 10 quarterbacks accounted for there. What do they all have in common? Every single one of them is an excellent athlete, and not just for the position. My feeling is that matters with the degree of difficulty racheted up on every quarterback, because these guys have the ability to make things right even when they go wrong—their athleticism becomes their personal escape hatch—and allow for their coaches to be more creative in easing the transition for college to pro (with scheme stuff defenses might not be ready for).

That doesn’t mean a more traditional pocket passer can’t make it anymore. Jared Goff got to a Super Bowl. Derek Carr’s been pretty good for seven seasons as the Raiders’ starter. I just think for guys like that, you really have to thread the needle to make it work—they have to learn faster than the great athletes at the position, because the great athletes at the position can create production in different ways, which buys them more time to develop.

Along these lines, it’ll be fascinating to see what happens with the two Alabama quarterbacks in the AFC East over the next few years—Tua Tagovailoa in Miami and Mac Jones in New England. To succeed, I think Tagovailoa needs to play, stylistically, like Drew Brees, and Jones needs to play like the Patriots’ quarterback from a couple of years ago. And I just think it’s harder to make it that way in the NFL than it used to be.

From Joe Morgan (@joe_morgan): Why hasn’t Urban named Trevor Lawrence QB1?

I promise we’ve got more on this coming, but the root of it is pretty simple—every inch of Urban Meyer’s program is centered on competition. And if he’s trying to tell guys like Marvin Jones, Brandon Linder, Josh Allen and Myles Jack that they have to continue to earn their spots, then he can’t exempt a rookie from that, no matter what sort of generational talent that rookie is.

The other thing here, I think, is that Gardner Minshew’s fighting his tail off to win the job, and Minshew’s very well-respected in the Jaguars’ locker room. So it absolutely makes sense to give Minshew every chance to shock the world and beat out Lawrence, even if, just rationally, it’s highly unlikely that happens.

I will say this—seeing Lawrence throw in person on Tuesday and then talking to people there afterward only confirmed everything I’ve heard on him for the last couple of years. So this isn’t about Lawrence’s having any sort of problem or anything like that. More so, it’s out of respect for the process that Meyer’s trying to put all the Jaguars through. And to be clear, I really don’t think it’s part of an effort to boost Minshew’s trade value.

Trevor Ruszkowski/USA TODAY Sports

From Steve Cardenas (@Steve_Cardenas): Any chance of a QB controversy in Indy if Jacob Eason plays well and Wentz struggles when healthy?

Steve, I hesitated to answer this at all (no disrespect to you)—because the Colts felt really, really good about where Carson Wentz was when his injury happened.

In fact, I was there the next day, and here’s what GM Chris Ballard had to say: “You know how you walk out on the field and you can feel a player? I remember Quenton Nelson coming out and I could feel Quenton. You can feel Carson. You can feel the power in his body. There’s nothing he can’t do athletically, or at the quarterback position, that all the great ones can do. That’s what’s got us really excited about him.”

So I do think they felt good about him. And like I said, I considered that part of it. But Wentz didn’t play well last year, and it didn’t take long for injury issues to surface (whether the past is directly related to what happened with his foot or not), and so it’s probably a fair question to ask in the context of the possibility that Wentz misses time, or how the Colts’ 2022 draft-pick situation will be affected by his playing time (if Wentz plays 75% of the snaps, or 70% and Indy makes the playoffs, the Eagles get a first; if he doesn’t, it’s a second).

And right now, I’d tell you that I’m not totally sure the Colts would go with Eason over Sam Ehlinger at this point. Yes, Eason looked good in the team’s preseason opener. But there’s a reason why Ehlinger started to take first-team reps in practice from Eason, and my sense is it relates back to how quickly, and correctly, he sees the field after the snap. Ehlinger doesn’t have the arm talent Eason does. But if they trust him more to manage the game?

I still think it’d probably be Eason. But that I’m not totally sure should be an indicator that he’s not exactly about to unseat Wentz.

From Jeff (@1975Rams): Which “big names” are currently teetering on the roster bubble across the league? Appreciate your work day-in day-out.

From Irfan (@Irfannzo): Is Jimmy G willing to take a pay cut, and for example instead of making 27 mill, he makes 10 mill in order to stay with SF, whereas were he to test the open market, he might not even get 9 mill?

Irfan, the Niners won’t do that to Jimmy Garoppolo if he’s their starter, and I actually doubt they would even if he’s not. He’s been a good soldier throughout, and his number for 2021 (he’s owed $24.1 million in base salary and $800,000 in per-game roster bonuses) is far from outrageous. And the idea of having a first-round pick and an expensive veteran on the roster together is something John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan took to owner Jed York and got approval on before they even made the trade to get the third pick in the draft.

“That’s first and foremost,” Lynch told me after the draft. “Really that started crystallizing when we decided to make that trade. We want to make this trade, but we also have another ask. Jed was like, ‘Alright do it if you think that’s the right thing.’ I learned long ago that you don’t go to someone and say ‘Hey we do this, what about this, this and this?’ You need to have done all the homework. So we worked with [EVP of football operations] Paraag [Marathe] and made sure we could fit it in the cap. We said ‘Hey, this is our dream scenario, can we do this?’ So by the time we brought it to Jed, we had all the answers.

“But still that’s a big decision for an owner. And he backed it 100% because he wants to win. We felt that gave us the best chance to win. I think people sometimes get cynical and say why didn’t you commit 100% to that? Because you never know what’s going to happen. If someone came here and said, ‘We’ll give you six ones for John, Kyle,’ I’d tell you Kyle should trade me. And Jed should trade us both. But yeah, we were committed to that being the best thing for this situation.”

That approach is, of course, about giving Kyle Shanahan and the coaching staff the flexibility to redshirt Trey Lance. But it’s more than just that. It’s also about having depth—the Niners were stung by their lack of it at quarterback in two of the last three years. And so to properly serve what they feel like is a championship roster, they wanted to be as fortified as they could be at the game’s most important position, so if Garoppolo goes down again, or Lance’s involvement in the run game catches up with him, they’ll have answers.

Even if those answers are expensive.

From Matt Stamper (@Mattstamper1234): Curious your ranking of rookie QBs through the first preseason games. Fields seemed the best, Lance had one good play but did not impress after. Thoughts?

Matt, just a quick rundown on the five

• Trevor Lawrence’s talent was very obvious. Everything looks easy for him. The nitpick, which he voiced himself, is that he held the ball for a little too long. The Jags’ line could’ve been better too.

• Zach Wilson, to me, was probably the most level combination of comfortable within the offense, with some plays that really popped. But what the coaches liked most was his willingness to manage play-calls—evidenced by a throwaway on the game’s second series and a checkdown to Tyler Kroft on third-and-14, eschewing the big play for the right one.

• Trey Lance’s big plays were bigger than anyone else’s—and it was good to see the staff letting him throw out of his own end zone, and of course make a pretty tough throw on the 80-yard touchdown to Trent Sherfield. But his first preseason game wasn’t perfect. He was afflicted by a slew of drops and also took a few sacks he shouldn’t have.

• Justin Fields got off to an uneven start, and the big takeaway is he didn’t let it shake him at all. He was good in the two-minute offense at the end of the half, led 77- and 70-yard touchdown drives in the third quarter, and was in control in the pocket and out of it. One big thing—he mostly ran to throw, keeping his eyes downfield on scramble plays.

• Mac Jones ran a very clean, Patriots-looking operation. The amount they put him in empty—on five of his 19 pass attempts—was a really good sign on how New England OC Josh McDaniels trusts him to adjust on the fly. In such situations, the quarterback is responsible for taking care of the extra rusher.

From Eric Perrmann (@EPerrmann): If the Bengals can be average on O-line in 2021, what prevents them from being a playoff contender in the AFC?

Eric, it’ll take more than just the offensive line, but the line is, of course, a good place to start. The Bengals feel good about tackles Jonah Williams and Riley Reiff, but they still have to sort through their options both experienced (Xavier Su’a-Filo, Quinton Spain) and less so with more upside (Michael Jordan, Jackson Carman). They get that shored up, they’ll run the ball better and be able to do a whole lot more to protect Joe Burrow.

But just as important is seeing improvement on the defensive side, and the speed at which the remade group has been playing at in camp is encouraging. Between Trae Waynes, Chidobe Awuzie, Mike Hilton, Vonn Bell and a real rising star in Jessie Bates, the secondary is chock full of experience, with players who have played in winning programs. And the expectation is getting D.J. Reader back and flipping out Carl Lawson for Trey Hendrickson should give the team a little more juice up front.

Now, will it all come together at once? That’s a tougher question to answer.

But if it does, and the Bengals’ offensive line coalesces, I don’t think Joe Burrow’s getting this group to nine or 10 wins if out of the question.

Charles LeClaire/USA Today Sports

From CNLNGS (@SnakeI1818): Legit floor and ceiling for the Browns (no injuries) - go Bucks

Snakel, the ceiling is Baker Mayfield’s taking another step forward, Odell Beckham Jr.’s becoming what he once was and the linebacker situation’s sorting itself out. If all of that happens, I wouldn’t be shocked if this is a 13–4 team. The floor, I think, is if Mayfield’s ascension stalls, the Browns can’t run the way they did a year ago and the front seven of the defense doesn’t come around like they expect it to. Even then … I think they’ll be around .500.

I don’t want to jinx all my friends in Cleveland. But this feels like a very different time there.

From Nathan Sestito (@Nathan25Thomas): Patriots next coach after Bill Belichick retires??

Nathan, I have three candidates for you. The first is the obvious one: offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. His availability would be, of course, contingent on McDaniels’s not landing a head coaching job somewhere else. And I think he’s in an interesting spot right now to pump life back into his stock. If he can get Cam Newton turned around or get Mac Jones really going, I think he’s in the mix for jobs in January (as he should be).

My second candidate is Bill O’Brien, and yes I know things didn’t end great in Houston. But the Krafts really like him and, had Belichick left a couple of years ago when things weren’t great in the Patriots building, I believe O’Brien (then embroiled in a tug of war with then Texans GM Rick Smith) would have been a short-lister in Foxboro. And now he’s part of Nick Saban’s Coaches Revival Program. So I could see his going back home.

The third one is a little out of leftfield: Ohio State coach Ryan Day. Day’s a New England native. And to be clear, I don’t believe he has an interest in leaving Columbus any time soon. But NFL people think a lot of him and if, a few years down the line, New England were among his suitors, I can see where it might be hard for him to say no.

From Matt L (@cogator06): Are Miami fans overreacting about the offensive line?

No, Matt. The Dolphins have made a massive investment in that group. They’ve sunk seven draft picks into the line over the three years that Brian Flores and Chris Grier have been running the show. Austin Jackson, Liam Eichenberg, Michael Deiter, and Robert Hunt were all top-100 picks, and three of the four (all but Deiter) were picked before the midpoint of the second round. Meanwhile, over that period, they paid right tackle Jesse Davis and the since-traded Ereck Flowers.

They’ve also had three different offensive line coaches in three years and are still unsettled on who to play where, in part because of that upheaval.

Bottom line: It’s fair to expect results now. They traded away arguably the best left tackle in football (who just turned 27) two summers ago. They’ve had plenty of time to build it back up. Grier and Flores have done a really nice job with the team through three offseasons. But shaky offensive lines have sunk otherwise solid teams in the past. So progress is definitely needed here.

From DJ (@The_Sandman_OC): Do you see Justin Herbert taking an MVP-caliber leap this year with that reloaded and revamped offense? I predict top five in yards and TDs with 11 wins.

D.J., 100%. I love the revamped offensive line with left tackle Rashawn Slater and center Corey Linsley as centerpieces (and do not sleep on guard Matt Feiler), the sheer size that Mike Williams, Keenan Allen and Jared Cook bring is going to be a problem, and there’s a really solid sleeper of a rookie receiver there in Josh Palmer who will likely be a factor as well.

Combine that with a real logical approach to creating the right environment for Herbert from new coach Brandon Staley, and I think there’s a good chance the QB is a problem for everyone in 2021.

And sure, MVP sounds a little far-fetched. But consider that Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson won it in their second years, and Carson Wentz might’ve done the same if he hadn’t torn his ACL in December 2017, and it’s not that wild to consider that Herbert’s trajectory could play out similarly. Maybe I’m a little over the top on him. We’ll see.

From Major Hawk (@MajorHawk1962): In view of the market-setting Jamal Adams contract do you have any insight as to why Joe Douglas couldn't come to terms with Marcus Maye?

Major, I think it’s pretty simple—there was a basic disagreement in value. The Jets believed he was worth what his leverage would dictate off the franchise tag (set at $10.6 million), and Maye believed he belonged in the upper echelon of safeties (six safeties make $14 million per year or more). And honestly, that they were that far apart, and that Maye’s old teammate pushed the top of the market to $17.5 million per to become the seventh to break the $14 million threshold, tells me it’s going to be tougher to do a deal next year.

I can’t imagine Maye would be giving the Jets any sort of hometown discount at that point. And that means the Jets’ feeling on his value would probably have to change a lot for a deal to be done next March.

From Gary Langlais (@garylanglais): Which camp had the most comfortable bathrooms?

That’s a very personal question.

(But I do have to give the Lions’ equipment staff a huge shoutout for helping me with my laundry, since doing laundry is something that hangs over your head like a dark cloud on the camp trip—for several reasons.)

From Wisconsin Sports Rumen (@WISportsRumen): Did you go to Ohio State?

How’d you know that?

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Report: MLB Proposes $100 Million Salary Floor, Stiffer Luxury Taxes

Report: MLB Proposes $100 Million Salary Floor, Stiffer Luxury Taxes

The league's proposed new economic plan includes a $100 million salary minimum for teams, funded by clubs that surpass a new $180 million luxury tax threshold.

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As the expiration of the current collective bargaining agreement between the league and the Players Association looms this offseason, Major League Baseball made its initial proposal to the MLBPA on Wednesday. The pitch reportedly included a new salary minimum of $100 million for each team, according to Evan Drellich and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. Coupled with that change would be a lowered luxury-tax threshold of $180 million, with a steeper penalty than teams currently pay now.

The current rules have three luxury-tax tiers that include steeper penalties the higher a team's payroll climbs. The first tier takes effect at $210 million, with a 20% tax. The new proposal would reportedly keep the three tiers intact, and add a fourth, lower tier that begins at $180 million with a 25% tax. The penalties would increase from there with each tier.

Though the details are not yet clear, money from teams that are taxed at the $180 million tier would be used to fund teams that spend below the $100 million minimum. There would also, however, presumably be some sort of penalty levied against the teams who fail to reach the $100 million threshold. 

Per Cot's Contracts, seven teams started the year with 40-man roster payrolls below $100 million, which is the metric used for luxury tax purposes: the Pirates ($62.9 million), Cleveland ($63.2M), the Orioles ($76.5M), Brewers ($78.5M), Rays ($83.0M), Mariners ($92.3M) and Tigers ($97.8M).

Though further details are not yet known, Drellich and Rosenthal report that the reaction from the players to this proposal is not expected to be positive. It is expected players want luxury-tax thresholds to be raised, not lowered, to encourage teams to spend more money. Teams are extremely cautious about passing the luxury-tax threshold, treating it almost as if it were a salary cap. MLB is the only North American sport to not have a salary cap, something the players have historically been adamant against incorporating.

The players reportedly made an economic plan proposal in May that included an emphasis on getting more players to arbitration in fewer than three years of service time. Owners would presumably be against such changes. The current CBA is set to expire on Dec. 1.

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Reports: Arsenal Agrees to Full Transfer for Real Madrid's Martin Ødegaard

Reports: Arsenal Agrees to Full Transfer for Real Madrid's Martin Ødegaard

Martin Ødegaard made 20 appearances in all competitions while on loan at Arsenal last season and appears headed for a permanent return.

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In a continued show of role reversal, Arsenal has reportedly agreed to a £30 million ($41.3 million) move for Real Madrid midfielder Martin Ødegaard while the Spanish power winds down another underwhelming transfer window, where it's become more of a seller than a buyer.

The Gunners will know exactly who they're spending their money on after Ødegaard spent the second half of last season on loan at the Emirates Stadium. The Norwegian attacking midfielder made 20 appearances in all competitions for Arsenal, scoring two goals. Ødegaard, 22, originally signed for Real as a 17-year-old prodigy in 2015 but has struggled for playing time in the Spanish capital. 

But the bigger story may be that Real Madrid is on the verge of a second straight summer without spending any money on incoming transfers. After spending $570 million in 2018 and 2019 combined, Los Blancos didn't bring in a single player last season and have only added Bayern Munich's David Alaba on a free transfer this summer (Gareth Bale has also rejoined after his loan to Tottenham expired).

This summer, Real has lost both its starting center backs in Raphaël Varane ($44 million sale to Manchester United) and club legend Sergio Ramos (free transfer to PSG), just one year after making $111.7 million in player sales without spending. 

On Tuesday, newly appointed Real manager Carlo Ancelotti denied rumors linking the club with a return move for Cristiano Ronaldo. But Ancelotti may be running out of options to bolster his squad with less than two weeks before the closure of the summer transfer deadline on Aug. 31.

Meanwhile, Arsenal continues to look for ways to add quality to its side, spending while without completely breaking the bank. The north London side adds Ødegaard after selling midfielder Joe Willock to Newcastle for $32.3 million after his successful loan spell on Tyneside last season.

The Gunners also added the center back Mikel Arteta desperately needed in 23-year-old Brighton defender Ben White ($69.5 million) along with some youth in midfield with Anderlecht's Albert Sambi Lokonga ($19.3 million). 

And The Athletic reports that Arsenal looks set to announce a move for Sheffield United goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale for a fee that could rise to £30 million ($41.3 million). After being named Sheffield United player of the year last season and making England's Euro 2020 squad, Ramsdale is expected to challenge Bernd Leno for the starting spot in goal. Leno struggled in a 2–0 defeat to Brentford to open the season.

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Top 10 Best NBA Duos | The Open Floor Podcast

Top 10 Best NBA Duos | The Open Floor Podcast

Who's got the best pair in the NBA?

On today's episode, Michael and Rohan quickly break down the Eric Bledsoe–Rajon Rondo–Patrick Beverley trade, answer an email from a listener who's particularly down on the Warriors and rank the 10 best duos in the NBA!

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Predicting Lottery Success With Fran Fraschilla

Predicting Lottery Success With Fran Fraschilla

Fran Fraschilla joins The Crossover Pod to discuss NBA Summer League top prospects and more.

Chris Mannix welcomes analyst Fran Fraschilla to break down how well Jalen Green will be this season with the Rockets' young roster, why the Raptors chose Scottie Barnes over Jalen Suggs, Alperen Şengün's impressive Summer League play and Sam Presti's choice to nab Josh Giddey at No. 6.

The following transcript is an excerpt from The Crossover NBA podcast. Listen to the full episode on podcast players everywhere or on SI.com.

Chris Mannix: All right, I want to jump into some Summer League stuff, and I want to start Fran right at the top, with the top three guys. I wrote about this a little bit last week over at SI, where I think five years from now, we're probably going to have a pretty interesting discussion about these top three picks: Cade Cunningham, Jalen Green and Evan Mobley. 

In Cade Cunningham, I see a player that can't miss in a way. I think he's going to be a regular rotation player no matter what. I think he has the potential to be way better than that of course, like an All-Star, All-NBA, all those things. But I don't see how Cade Cunningham is not a pretty high-level starter on your team. The difference I see in Cunningham and Jalen Green is that I think Jalen Green has superstar potential. 

I think Jalen Green is going to be the winner of Rookie of the Year because he's going to put up some incredible numbers this year in Houston. And I think as his body fills out, when you look at the skill set and the shot-making ability and how he gets the basket and all the things you know that are going to improve with him in the years to come, I think he has the highest ceiling out of all three. 

Mobley, to me, is the biggest question mark. I look at Evan Mobley and I see not unique talents—that's probably too strong, but rare talents in a big man, Chris Bosh–like talents in a big man, maybe a better passer than Chris Bosh was at different points in his career. But I don't see a lot of aggressiveness in him, and I wonder if that's going to cost him. Physicality, he's got to get stronger as well. But the mental toughness that I think you need to see from great players, I haven't seen that yet, either in college or at this summer league from Evan Mobley. So give me your take on the top three guys and I'll kind of follow up with you. 

Fran Fraschilla: I agree with everything you said. Now, the thing about Cade Cunningham, and that's a guy I watched very closely because I cover the Big 12, and I know the program really well. And of course, I also have lived in Dallas for many years, and I know Cade from back then. The thing about Cade that I think you have to understand, the reason I think he was the No. 1 pick is he was the safest pick of the guys you mentioned. Plug him in right away, high skill level. But I will say this about Cade that I think people still continue to overlook. His feel for the game and his ability to make his teammates better, I think is going to be his greatest strength in the league. I think it's incumbent upon Troy Weaver, who, by the way, has had two great drafts in my opinion, and they're stockpiling some nice young players. I think Cade Cunningham's greatest strength, Chris, is going to be that when they put more talent around him and free agents decide that that's a destination, that his ability is going to be enhanced. Incredible IQ for the game, great passer, great in pick-and-roll, actually a really good off-ball defender. He just has a knack. He has an "it" factor. 

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Jack Morris Suspended Indefinitely for Racist Remark During Shohei Ohtani At-Bat

Jack Morris Suspended Indefinitely for Racist Remark During Shohei Ohtani At-Bat

Bally Sports Detroit has indefinitely suspended Jack Morris following a racist remark regarding Angels star Shohei Ohtani.

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Bally Sports Detroit announced Wednesday that analyst Jack Morris has been indefinitely suspended from Tigers broadcasts following his racist remark regarding Angels star Shohei Ohtani on Tuesday. 

Morris will also have bias training, and he will be educated on "how he can be a positive influence in a diverse community," per Bally Sports Detroit's release.

During Tuesday's game, Ohtani was on his way to the plate when Morris, a former four-time All-Star in Detroit, was asked what strategy should be used against the dangerous hitter. 

"Be very, very careful," Morris said in a tone that mocked English-speaking Asians.

Morris apologized on air during the ninth inning. It's unclear whether he will return to Detroit broadcasts in 2021 and beyond.

"The Detroit Tigers have immense pride in honoring the diverse cultures that make up our players, coaching staff, front office, fan base and community," the Tigers said in a statement. "We are deeply disappointed by the comments made by Jack Morris during the broadcast last night."

"We fully support Bally Sports Detroit's decision and their on-going commitment to ensure that all personnel are held to the highest standards of personal conduct." 

More MLB Coverage: 

Can the Padres Hold Their Playoff Spot?
Return of Bruised Bombers Bolsters Red-Hot Yankees

The Revival of Joey Votto

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Juventus Signs Euro 2020 Standout Locatelli in Move Worth Up to $44 Million

Juventus Signs Euro 2020 Standout Locatelli in Move Worth Up to $44 Million

The Sassuolo and Italy midfielder arrives in Turin on loan with an obligation to buy for up to $44 million after two seasons.

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Juventus has made its biggest splash of the summer so far with a move for Euro 2020 champion and Italian midfielder Manuel Locatelli. 

The 23-year-old arrives from Sassuolo on a two-year loan with an obligation to buy at the end of the period for a fee that could wind up totaling €37.5 million ($44 million), according to the club's official announcement.

Locatelli starred in midfield for Italy at the Euros this summer, helping lead the Azzurri to an unlikely title. Against Switzerland in the group stage, the former AC Milan academy product was named man of the match for his two-goal performance as Italy became the first team to clinch a spot in the Euro's knockout stage

The deep-lying midfielder, known throughout Serie A for his work rate and quick passing, led the league last year in tackles and completed passes. Locatelli joins a crowded, but talented midfield that features U.S. men's national team star Weston McKennie, Aaron Ramsey, Adrien Rabiot and the injured Arthur among others. 

Sassuolo executive Giovanni Carnevalli previously told Sky Sports in June that Arsenal had made an offer for Locatelli, but Juventus prevailed in the end. Juventus has endured a tumultuous 2021 after failing to win Serie A for the first time in 10 years, which led the club to fire manager and club legend Andrea Pirlo.

Amid rumors of a potential exit for Cristiano Ronaldo as he enters the last season of his contract, Juventus has since re-hired former manager Massimiliano Allegri to return the club to glory. The Bianconeri won five straight Serie A titles and twice finished as Champions League runner-up in Allegri's first stint in Turin.

But while Serie A's giants fail to retain their stars, Juventus appears to be in a buying mood. Following the resignation of manager Antonio Conte, defending Serie A champion Inter Milan has recouped nearly €200 million in selling players (Romelu Lukaku to Chelsea, Achraf Hakimi to PSG) to offset its debts. Inter did bring in Edin Džeko and Denzel Dumfries as more cost-effective replacements.

Meanwhile, AC Milan notably failed to come to terms with star goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma, who was out of contract before signing with PSG. The only incoming Serie A transfer that eclipses Locatelli's fee this summer came Tuesday in Roma's €40 million ($47 million) move for Chelsea forward Tammy Abraham.

More Soccer Coverage: 

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Deshaun Watson's Attorney: FBI Interviewed Texans QB Over Extortion Allegations

Deshaun Watson's Attorney: FBI Interviewed Texans QB Over Extortion Allegations

Rusty Hardin said the FBI contacted his legal team, saying they were "investigating a matter as to whether one of Mr. [Tony] Buzbee's clients had committed extortion."

Rusty Hardin, Deshaun Watson's attorney, said Wednesday his client was interviewed by the FBI in relation to the 22 civil lawsuits alleging sexual misconduct that were filed against the Texans quarterback. 

Hardin said the FBI contacted his legal team in April following public allegations that one of the women suing Watson attempted to extort him. 

"In April, the FBI came to us and told us they were investigating a matter as to whether one of Mr. [Tony] Buzbee's clients had committed extortion in the way they were demanding money from Deshaun or what they would do if they didn't pay it," Hardin said in a news conference. 

Hardin added that Watson has in fact spoken with the FBI. 

Wednesday's press conference came after Buzbee said to League of Justice founder Amy Dash on Friday that the FBI met with him to discuss the Texans' quarterback. Buzbee also said the FBI spoke with several of the plaintiffs. 

"I don't think they're investigating Deshaun," Hardin said in the press conference. "What they're investigating is the allegations Buzbee has made in his lawsuits. I didn't know about that until yesterday, and then I checked it out and it's true. They are."

Vrentas: ‘This Woman Asked Me What I Was Wearing’

It is not public which lawsuit the FBI is investigating, specifically. In March, Hardin said that his law firm has “strong evidence” showing that at least one of the women attempted to blackmail Watson. The blackmail allegedly occurred in January 2021 when someone requested $30,000 in exchange for her “indefinite silence about what she stated was a consensual encounter.”

Hardin added later in the press conference that Watson has not spoken with NFL investigators as of Wednesday, which is not unusual. 

“The NFL regularly tries to not reach out to the defendant and his lawyers until the criminal investigation is over. They want to make sure they don’t interfere with the criminal investigation,” Hardin said. “Whenever the time is appropriate we will fully cooperate.”

Watson is also reportedly facing 10 criminal complaints. Last week, Mark Berman of Fox 26 in Houston tweeted that a Harris County grand jury is investigating whether there is enough evidence to bring criminal charges against Watson. Additionally, Berman reported that the human trafficking section chief for the Harris County District Attorney’s office was sending out subpoenas for the investigation.

More Deshaun Watson Coverage:

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Steve Sarkisian, Luke Fickell and the 25 Most Intriguing College Football Coaches of 2021

Steve Sarkisian, Luke Fickell and the 25 Most Intriguing College Football Coaches of 2021

For various reasons, all eyes will be on these names this fall as another NCAA season gets underway.

The Most Intriguing lists are back. As we continue to preview the college football season, we’ll take a look at the coaches, players and off-field power brokers who will generate the most curiosity and interest in 2021:

Most Intriguing Coaches

1. Steve Sarkisian, Texas. The Longhorns spent nearly $50 million to fire Tom Herman and hire Sark, with the express purpose of him leading the $100 million charge into the Southeastern Conference era (whenever it comes to pass). That’s a lot to throw on the shoulders of a guy with a 46–35 career record who hasn’t been a head coach since 2015. But everything is bigger in Texas, including the gambles. Sark will need some time to build his program but could be afforded little of it. Dangerous underdog Louisiana comes to Austin on Sept. 4 with hopes of making a mockery of Texas’s SEC summer power play.

2. Luke Fickell, Cincinnati. He’s turned down Power 5 opportunities for several years now while rebuilding the Bearcats into the nation’s top Group of 5 program. This season could be the historic breakthrough on behalf of everyone who has been left out of The Club—if they’re good enough, the schedule provides the opportunities. Cincinnati returns four-year starting quarterback Desmond Ridder and most of the key players from the nation’s No. 8 scoring defense. Replacing defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman is important, but Fickell comes with a defensive pedigree of his own, and UC should be fine in that area. Will a guy with a 31–6 record the past three years still be at Cincinnati in 2022?

3. Matt Campbell, Iowa State. He’s the Power 5 version of Fickell, having stayed put at Iowa State for six seasons despite interest from several “destination” programs in recent years. Now he’s looking at the potential payoff season. If Campbell’s loaded squad is good enough to break Oklahoma’s hammerlock on the Big 12 title and make the College Football Playoff, it would be one of the more impressive feats of the 21st century in the sport. This is still a program that has lost 111 more games than it has won. Aside from the tap water, greatness doesn’t come easily in Ames.

Sarkisian comes to Austin after being Alabama's offensive coordinator last season.

Aaron E. Martinez/American-Statesman/USA TODAY Network

4. Jim Harbaugh, Michigan. The man who arrived as the emperor of Ann Arbor six years ago has now seen his clout cut in half contractually. A pay cut, a reduced buyout, a remade staff—all the signs of a make-or-break season are at hand. If he has a quarterback, Harbaugh may have his best team since 2018, or even 2016—but will it be good enough? He still hasn’t beaten Ohio State, and he even lost to rebuilding Michigan State last year. Anything less than 9–3 is beneath Michigan standards, and 9–3 against a schedule that features Washington, Wisconsin, Indiana, Penn State and the Buckeyes will be difficult.

5. Kirby Smart, Georgia. Sooner or later, Smart figures to wrap his hands around the national championship trophy. Is this season too soon? He appears to have his best quarterback in JT Daniels, who finished last season very sharply after a long recovery from a knee injury suffered at USC in 2019. The rest of the offense is talented, although receiver questions continue to arise with the injury to George Pickens and the cloudy status of tight end Arik Gilbert. The defense will never be bad under Smart. His biggest box to check: in-game coaching, and the ability to stop having one meltdown performance every season.

6. Lincoln Riley, Oklahoma. He’s never lost more than two games in a season, but he’s also never run the table in the Big 12 or won a College Football Playoff game. At Oklahoma, the expectations are to check all boxes, as it did under Bud Wilkinson and Barry Switzer and Bob Stoops. Everyone believes Riley is a worthy heir to that throne; he just has to do it. Riley’s defense improved last year, and if both that unit and quarterback Spencer Rattler take another step forward, the Sooners have the tools to (2) beat Kansas State for the first time since 2018; (2) avoid being hammered in the playoff; and (3) potentially win a national title.

7. Scott Frost, Nebraska. He’s Harbaugh with less success to date, the heralded QB alum whose homecoming tenure has been a crashing disappointment. Now add a reported NCAA investigation to the mix. After three straight losing seasons, does Frost need to get above .500 and into a bowl game in 2021? This much we know: He has a new boss—a fellow alum from the Tom Osborne ’90s, but Trev Alberts might be wired more for a bold move that puts his own stamp on the program than any loyalty to a figure from the glory days. The schedule is a mixed bag: three road games in the first five, but also just one vastly superior opponent in the first nine (Oklahoma). Frost’s job standing could go down to the closing gantlet of Ohio State, Wisconsin and Iowa.

8. Chip Kelly, UCLA. Kelly was the mega-hire of late 2017, the guy Florida wanted, the up-tempo savant whose NFL travails were forgiven as soon as he signaled his desire to return to the college game. But like Frost, he’s under-delivered with three straight losing seasons. Kelly should have his best UCLA team this season, built around a more experienced Dorian Thompson-Robinson at quarterback, but the defense must improve after giving up more than 30 points per game in each of Kelly’s seasons. Kelly will get a big chance to change his stumble-out-of-the-gate narrative on Sept. 4, when LSU comes to the Rose Bowl.

9. Nick Saban, Alabama. Where’s the intrigue with the greatest college football coach of all time? It’s in the turnover. While new faces have become standard operating procedure at Bama in recent years, this is an even more pronounced transition year than usual with a new offensive coordinator (Bill O’Brien), new quarterback (Bryce Young) and new stars at running back and receiver and offensive line. Just three starters return on offense. The defense may be a throwback to the classic Saban days of pounding the other team into submission and winning with more of a deliberate approach. Or maybe Saban just plugs in new faces and continues racking up 45-plus points per game for the fourth straight season.

10. Dabo Swinney, Clemson. His transition from aw-shucks good ol’ boy to something of a lightning-rod figure has been interesting to watch. Some of that likely comes with people getting tired of Clemson winning, but it also could be attributable to Swinney’s eyebrow-raising stances on some of the change sweeping through the sport (and society as a whole). Clemson’s six-year CFP streak under Swinney has been built on the shoulders of the two best quarterbacks in school history, Deshaun Watson and Trevor Lawrence. (That, and some extremely nasty defenses.) We’ll see whether Swinney has his next great one in D.J. Uiagalelei, whose early returns have been quite promising. Perhaps more importantly, we’ll see whether he has a championship-caliber offensive line.

11. Kevin Kelley, Presbyterian. The No Punt Guy has come to the college game. Kelley made a name for himself as an Arkansas high school coach who punts only on rare occasions and frequently onside-kicks—precisely the kind of mold-breaking hire a nonscholarship FCS program should take a swing at. Kelley already has done the remarkable, putting Presbyterian on the radar for something other than being routed by Clemson and other FBS opponents in guarantee games. If he has success, copycat coaching styles will follow.

12. Deion Sanders, Jackson State. Sanders—he’s not going to be Coach Prime here—is the other move-the-needle guy at the FCS level. His outside-the-box hiring at Jackson State was a national curiosity, but his first season was partially obscured by the COVID-19 cloud that hovered over it. Greater attention and talent are flowing to Jackson, and also greater controversy—from claiming his belongings were stolen after his first game to walking out of a press conference because he wasn’t referred to as “coach.” The Deion era will not be dull. We’ll see whether it will be successful.

13. Gus Malzahn, UCF. The Knights made the On the Rebound Hire of the Year in Malzahn, shortly after his firing at Auburn. For an AAC program to get a coach in his 50s who played for a national championship within the last decade is a pretty nice coup, and pairing Malzahn’s mind with quarterback Dillon Gabriel could be offensive alchemy. For Malzahn, the challenge is to prove that he’s more than an up-tempo guy whose strategy has become outdated. If this hire pays immediate dividends, the UCF-Cincinnati game Oct. 16 could be one of the biggest in AAC history.

14. Ed Orgeron, LSU. The fall was swift and unceremonious, from an undefeated national championship to a 5–5 hangover that led to a major staff overhaul. Now Orgeron needs a rebound season to prove that he’s more than the sum of Joe Burrow and Joe Brady and the echoes of 2019. At a place where winning is the only thing that matters, an offseason rife with turmoil probably won’t have much of an effect on Orgeron’s approval rating. If his years of successful recruiting mesh with his new coordinators, the Tigers should be back to relevance this fall. If not, we’ll find out the current employment shelf life of a national title.

15. Jamey Chadwell, Coastal Carolina. He was the revelation of the 2020 season, a guy with a lower-level pedigree and a career FBS losing record who suddenly blew up with an 11–0 regular season. After starting the year with four straight wins as an underdog, everyone was talking about Coastal’s teal field, mullets and Chadwell. Coastal held onto Chadwell through the coaching carousel and rewarded him with a new, seven-year deal that pays him an average of more than $1 million a year—certainly a nice reward for the breakthrough season, but not something that is likely to prohibit bigger schools from potential poaching after this season. With 19 starters back, the Chanticleers are a team to watch again.

16. Billy Napier, Louisiana. Napier is the other Sun Belt rising star on the opposite end of the conference from Chadwell. He’s led the Ragin’ Cajuns to a 21–4 record the past two seasons, with the landmark win at Iowa State to open last season as the standout. Napier also had his name in the mix for several jobs this past offseason but stayed put, and has 20 returning starters of his own. Louisiana will get a huge opportunity early (at Texas on Sept. 4) and an enticing game late (at Liberty on Nov. 20), plus the potential of a showdown with Coastal Carolina in the Sun Belt title game.

17. Clay Helton, USC. The ultimate survivor enters his seventh season with a chance to actually thrive. Aided by administrative instability and a failed attempt to hire Urban Meyer, Helton may be able to turn down the temperature of his perpetual hot seat—or it may burn him for good. The Trojans appear to have the talent, experience, coaching staff and schedule for a return to the prominence they haven’t enjoyed since Sam Darnold was in uniform. What Helton has to do is not screw it up, which means cleaning up what has been a mistake-ridden program on game days.

Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports

18. Lane Kiffin, Mississippi. The Eddie Haskell of college football (Google it, kids) earned some off-field credibility this summer, proclaiming that his team is 100% vaccinated—no small feat in a state near the bottom nationally in that department when it comes to the general population. Now we’ll see whether he can earn it on the field, with a team that should be among the most explosive in the nation offensively. The big question will be whether Kiffin cares about stopping opponents, after watching that Ole Miss unit rank 126th out of 127 nationally in total defense last year. If that happens, Kiffin may be lean and mean enough to return the Rebels to the top 25.

19. Herm Edwards, Arizona State. His job security may be hanging by a thread as an investigation into alleged NCAA violations hovers over this season. The charismatic Edwards was an outside-the-box hire with an NFL and broadcasting background, and questions about both his knowledge of NCAA rules and immersion in the day-to-day details of the job have come home to roost. With three assistant coaches suspended, the staff is in a bit of chaos, but the player roster looks good. The Sun Devils return just about every significant contributor on both sides of the ball, led by three-year starting quarterback Jayden Daniels. The schedule is manageable as well.

20. Bret Bielema, Illinois. The big man is back in the Big Ten, after a detour through the SEC and three years on NFL staffs. Bielema brings a strategic identity and a magnetic personality to Champaign, both of which should help in terms of rebuilding an eternally underachieving program. He went 68–24 at Wisconsin and took the Badgers to three straight Rose Bowls—but he also was handed a very good situation replacing Barry Alvarez. The foundation isn’t solid at Illinois, so this may take a while.

21. Tom Allen, Indiana. He’s done the unprecedented, turning Indiana into a football winner and galvanizing a basketball-focused fan base. And he’s had a lot of fun doing it, with an over-the-top enthusiasm. With a 13–7 record the past two seasons and a pretty flush returning roster (provided quarterback Michael Penix Jr.’s surgically repaired knee holds up), Allen has a chance to build something lasting. He has had to deal with some significant staff turnover the past two off-seasons; will that catch up with the Hoosiers?

22. Bryan Harsin, Auburn. Parachuting into the SEC from Boise State is an interesting career move. With a 76–24 career record, Harsin has never come close to a losing season. That’s a streak he’ll need to keep intact if he wants to have a tenure of any length at a place where the boosters are notoriously demanding and involved. He arrives at Auburn when it appears to be well behind Alabama and Texas A&M in the SEC West pecking order, and perhaps others as well. Gus Malzahn hitched his wagon to QB Bo Nix and it didn’t work out well; will Harsin stick with Nix as a junior or be tempted to switch to LSU transfer TJ Finley?

23. Jimmy Lake, Washington. Like Harsin at Boise, Lake has the luxury of following Chris Petersen as the leader of a well-built program. He got off to a solid start last year, going 3–1 in a truncated pandemic season, and could have the team and schedule to win the Pac-12 North this year. The Huskies backslid a bit defensively last year, which is Lake’s specialty. Look for a return to form on that side of the ball. If young quarterback Dylan Morris improves in his second season behind a veteran line and some receiving targets step forward, the pieces are in place.

24. Ryan Day, Ohio State. With a 23–2 record and two College Football Playoff appearances, he’s been everything advertised and more since taking over one of the game’s flagship programs—Urban Meyer without the drama. This year, Day has to break in an inexperienced quarterback and patch a few other holes, particularly on defense. But he has the best wide receivers in the nation and a ton of overall talent at his disposal. Day never got a chance to back up his “hang 100” on Michigan rhetoric last season, but he will this year. He could send Harbaugh to the unemployment line.

25. Jimbo Fisher, Texas A&M. Fisher backed up his big contract last season, narrowly missing the College Football Playoff and helping push Texas to fire Tom Herman. If Fisher can successfully replace the school’s all-time leading passer (Kellen Mond), the rest of the roster is in place for another big season. Circle the home game against Alabama on Oct. 9; it might be the moment the Aggies have been waiting for since hiring Fisher after the 2017 season.

Just missed the list: Jay Norvell, Nevada. Terry Bowden, Louisiana-Monroe. Mack Brown, North Carolina. Brian Kelly, Notre Dame. Shane Beamer, South Carolina. Clark Lea, Vanderbilt. Josh Heupel, Tennessee. Hugh Freeze, Liberty. Lance Leipold, Kansas. Mike Neu, Ball State. Mike Norvell, Florida State. Dan Mullen, Florida. Kyle Whittingham, Utah. Andy Avalos, Boise State, Mike Leach, Mississippi State. 

More College Football Coverage:

• Forty Observations About the College Football Schedule
Pat Forde's Preseason Rankings—Led By You-Know-Who
No. 23 Texas Begins the Steve Sarkisian Era

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Poorly Worded Tweet About the Raiders, Vaccines and Getting Shot Generates Some Great Responses: TRAINA THOUGHTS

Poorly Worded Tweet About the Raiders, Vaccines and Getting Shot Generates Some Great Responses: TRAINA THOUGHTS

What will happen to Las Vegas fans who attend a game, but aren't vaccinated?

1. Oh, Twitter. One minute, you want it to go out of business because it’s such a horrible place and the next minute you see a tweet that makes your day.

NBC’s Los Angeles affiliate covered the breaking news story Tuesday that the Raiders would require fans to be vaccinated to attend games at Las Vegas’s Allegiant Stadium.

However, the @NBCLA social media person who had to promote the story got a little extreme with their headline:

While a ton of people responded with “extreme, but fair,” there were many creative and funny replies to this interestingly worded tweet.

2. Tigers analyst Jack Morris got himself into trouble Tuesday night by using an accent while talking about Shohei Ohtani. Of course, Morris followed this up with the obligatory forced apology.

3. Mets owner Steve Cohen has gotten a lot of attention for being active on Twitter—something we don't see much from owners in sports. This morning, his players probably wished he didn't use the social media service.

4. While I despise the fact that the NFL is going to enforce taunting this season, using a corn and knee emoji for "corny" is pretty corny as well.

5. Kentucky quarterback Will Levis posted this in July, but it's going viral now, and he really deserves to go viral since he did something so gross.

View the original article to see embedded media.

6. The latest SI Media Podcast features two very different guests. First up on the show is WWE superstar Roman Reigns, who talks about everything from how often he showers to the backstory on his controversial SmackDown promo in which he compared John Cena to the missionary position to where a match with The Rock stands.

Following Reigns, SiriusXM and MLB Network host Chris "Mad Dog" Russo joins the podcast to discuss the challenge of talking pandemic during a sports show, terrible fan behavior at games, whether he will slow down anytime soon, the success of Pat McAfee on his "Mad Dog Radio" channel and much more.

You can listen to the podcast below or download it on Apple, Spotify and Stitcher.

You can also watch the SI Media Podcast on YouTube.

7. RANDOM VIDEO OF THE DAY:  On Wednesday morning I saw that it is Malcolm-Jamal Warner’s 51st birthday. I don’t know if you’re allowed to say anything positive about The Cosby Show anymore, but the fact is, if you grew up in the ’80s and you hear the name Malcolm-Jamal Warner, you automatically think of Gordon Gartrelle.

Be sure to catch up on past editions of Traina Thoughts and check out the Sports Illustrated Media Podcast hosted by Jimmy Traina on AppleSpotify or Stitcher. You can also follow Jimmy on Twitter and Instagram.

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Samoa Joe on the Verge of Long-Awaited Return to the Ring at ‘NXT TakeOver 36’

Samoa Joe on the Verge of Long-Awaited Return to the Ring at ‘NXT TakeOver 36’

Sunday’s match against Karrion Kross is a long-awaited homecoming for Samoa Joe.

SI.com’s Week in Wrestling is published every week and provides beneath-the-surface coverage of the business of pro wrestling.

Samoa Joe: “I’m back in NXT, and I’m going to take over”

A central piece of NXT’s past will return Sunday, as Samoa Joe reenters the ring in the main event of NXT TakeOver 36 for a title match against reigning champ Karrion Kross.

This will be Joe’s NXT homecoming, marking his first match there since January 2017. It is also his first match altogether since he worked an eight-man tag on the Feb. 10, 2020, edition of Raw. Shortly after that, he was concussed during a WWE commercial shoot, which occurred just after another concussion. Sunday’s bout is his long-awaited opportunity to step through the ropes again as an active performer.

“My goal has always been to get healthy and get back in the ring,” Joe says. “[Getting cleared], it was a feeling of reassurance and relief. It was very reaffirming. Everything we did, all the therapy, all that work was worth it.”

No stranger to injuries, the 42-year-old Nuufolau Joel Seanoa has a deep understanding of the mental and physical toll of the rehabilitation process. Providing commentary on Raw during his time away from the ring served as an outlet, allowing him to focus on a new purpose that came with its unique share of challenges.

“Sometimes during injury time, you can be your own worst enemy, second-guessing yourself and making yourself sick worrying over things you have no control over,” Joe says. “I have experience dealing with that in the past, which has helped me understand that the mental game of recovery is still as important as the physical game.

“[For me], there was no real process to being taken away from the ring. One day you wake up in the hospital and you’re not in the ring anymore. Coming back, I knew it was going to be a mental battle as well as a physical battle. Commentary gave me something to focus on and put my energy into while I was recovering. I enjoyed my time in the commentary booth. I threw myself so deeply into that because it kept me from driving myself crazy. Only time and healing were going to solve anything, so doing commentary helped me alleviate a little bit of that stress I put on myself.”

A former two-time NXT champ, Joe seeks to become the first to win the title a third time. The story arc pitting himself against Kross was laid out brilliantly, with Joe finally getting his hands on the undefeated champ at TakeOver. Of course, that was derailed when Kross was pulled to Raw earlier this summer, losing his debut in a quick match against Jeff Hardy.

But in the realm of NXT, this is a highly anticipated meeting between two professionals who each bring a ferocious, physical skill set to the craft.

“I’m looking at him, and this match as a blank slate,” Joe says. “Kross is very different from the many people that I’ve faced. He presents a very unique challenge. He’s unlike anyone I’ve ever seen in NXT. It’s going to be something new.”

Separating fact from fiction is often a difficult task in pro wrestling. This is an industry based on the premise of working its audience, so it should come as little surprise that it is filled with misconceptions. The idea that wrestling is still fake somehow remains prevalent, even though this is a profession that takes an immense toll on a person’s body and well-being. Watching Joe’s work, his passion and grit leave no doubt that he fully believes in what he is doing, showcasing a body of work more real than reality.

“This is very real to me,” Joe says. “The hours of training to come back, those are very real. It’s been very real to me for a long time. I can’t wait to get back in the ring and mix it up.”

With increasing rumors that Vince McMahon wants to alter the NXT product, the timing of Joe’s return could not be better. He is a reason to watch every week, with intensely gripping promos and a must-see style in the ring. And he is eager to discuss the ongoing changes in NXT, giving a seasoned veteran’s take on the direction of the product.

“I hope NXT is never the same as it used to be,” Joe says. “I hope NXT is always changing and evolving and experimenting and trying new things. So much has been done in NXT, so many barriers have been crossed and so many new, amazing superstars have been introduced. It’s always been a place for experimentation, it’s always been a place for something new. I hope it continues to be that. I hope it’s never the same old NXT.”

After Joe was released by WWE in April, he could have chosen to work for any wrestling promotion in the world. Yet he chose to return to NXT, trusting the vision of Paul “Triple H” Levesque to oversee the final chapter of his career.

“I’ve established some really good business relationships, and that holds a lot of weight in my book,” Joe says. “Especially in an age where so many indie wrestlers coming up are dealing with crazy, shady promoters here and there, I’m dealing with someone who is consistent in their promises.”

Joe makes it quite clear that he is not back to refute doubters, but rather to return to his passion. A 22-year wrestling veteran, he has spent countless hours in the ring applying his signature submissions and perfecting his presence and delivery. He brings a precise, cerebral approach to his work, and finally getting the chance to step back into the ring for an actual match broadcast across the wrestling world feels to him like he is coming back home.

“I’m coming back for the fans that want to see Samoa Joe,” he says. “I get to do what I love, and that’s perform for the WWE Universe and for fans around the world.

“I have a committed relationship with this industry. I’m back around the energy. It always lifts me up when I’m around it. There are a lot of young, hungry individuals ready to show the world what they’re about, and that kind of enthusiasm is infectious.”

Inside and out of WWE, this weekend has the potential to be one of the most significant stretches in pro wrestling history. Joe is relishing the chance to fill the role of the weekend’s main event, as his match will take place in the twilight hour Sunday evening.

“If you’re going to cap off the greatest wrestling weekend of the summer, you want to do it with the very best at the very end,” Joe says. “You save the dessert until the end for that reason. I’m back in NXT, and I’m going to take over.”

The (online) week in wrestling

  • Will 2021—in AEW—be the next “Summer of Punk”? We will be watching Rampage closely this Friday to see. 
  • Sasha Banks and Bianca Belair were fantastic on SmackDown, but there has been no news out of WWE after the two stars were pulled from live events over the weekend. 
  • John Cena is still throwing his fastball, which he proved again on the microphone this past Friday.
  • Dr. Britt Baker looked like a star (again) in her main-event win on Rampage against Red Velvet.
  • Christian Cage defeated Kenny Omega on Friday on the debut episode of Rampage to win the Impact title, which sets up a rematch at All Out in September with the AEW belt on the line. It is still wild to think that Cage was in WWE earlier this year, and it let him walk.
  • In addition to Cage winning the Impact belt, this was a big week for title changes …
    Shinsuke Nakamura won the Intercontinental title … 

… Hiroshi Tanahashi won the IWGP United States title … 

… and Deonna Purrazzo came away from Triplemanía with even more gold, defeating Faby Apache to win AAA’s Reina de Reinas championship. 

  • Speaking of Triplemanía, Kenny Omega, Andrade, Ric Flair and Konnan shared a memorable moment together in the ring, full of chops and the figure-four leglock. 
  • It is impossible to think of Flair without thinking about Sting. Having found new life in AEW, Sting wrestles in a tag-team match Wednesday night on TNT, his first match on the station since the final Nitro. 
  • The addition of Will Ospreay—along with his IWGP world heavyweight title belt—will add another element to NJPW Strong. 
  • In a weekend full of great wrestling, Beyond Wrestling also has a stacked card for Americanrana. 
  • It’s great to hear that Keith Lee is healthy. 

Jay White retains title at New Japan’s ‘Resurgence’ show, looks to add to his title collection in Impact Wrestling

Jay White again showcased his brilliance this weekend, defeating David Finlay in the co-main event of New Japan Pro-Wrestling’s Resurgence show in Los Angeles.

The leader of Bullet Club, White is the reigning NEVER openweight champion and is hungry to prove more. Already considered one of the best in New Japan, White will not be satisfied until he is considered the best in the world. And his first step to conquering that goal is establishing himself to a wider audience in America.

“It’s basically the hub of pro wrestling,” White says. “On any given night, especially with the current situation between companies, you never really know who may show up or what could happen.”

Over the past month, White has emerged as a force in Impact Wrestling, where he recruited emerging star Chris Bey into the fold as Bullet Club’s newest member. This is an outstanding opportunity for Bey to shine, both in the United States, where Bullet Club has had less of a recent grip, as well as in Japan, which would open up a whole new world of possibility for his future in New Japan’s junior heavyweight division.

“Chris Bey has endless potential,” White says. “He’s young and hungry and not afraid to get his hands dirty.”

White also immediately challenged former New Japan foe Kenny Omega for the title. Omega dropped the belt Friday, to Christian Cage, and a match pitting Cage against White would be a clash of generations.

“It’s new ground,” White says. “It’s fresh, it’s a change, and a chance for me to take over even more.”

Tweet of the Week

In terms of a debut episode, last week’s Rampage was phenomenal—and the Fuego moment was extremely well done.

Justin Barrasso can be reached at JBarrasso@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @JustinBarrasso.

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Report: Rasheed Wallace Joining Penny Hardaway's Memphis Coaching Staff

Report: Rasheed Wallace Joining Penny Hardaway's Memphis Coaching Staff

Former NBA All-Star Rasheed Wallace is set to join Larry Brown on Penny Hardaway's coaching staff at the University of Memphis.

Kirthmon F. Dozier, Detroit Free Press, Detroit Free Press via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Memphis hired four-time NBA All-Star Rasheed Wallace as an assistant coach on Wednesday, according to The Athletic's Shams Charania

Wallace, 46, will join the staff of former NBA All-Star Penny Hardaway, who has served as Memphis's head coach since 2018. Larry Brown, who coached Wallace in Detroit when the Pistons won the 2004 Finals, will also be an assistant with the Tigers in 2021-22. 

The former Pistons and Blazers star played 16 NBA seasons from 1995-2013. He averaged 14.4 points and 6.7 rebounds in his career and, at his peak, was considered one of the game's top power forwards. 

Wallace is perhaps best known for his propensity to earn technical fouls, highlighted by a 41-technical season in 2000-01. Wallace also holds the all-time record for most career technical fouls by a player with 317. Meanwhile,  it wouldn't be surprising if his infamous catchphrase "ball don't lie" is heard from the Memphis bench at some point this season.

Memphis enters the 2021-22 season seeking the program's first NCAA tournament berth since 2014. Hardaway is 63–32 in three seasons at Memphis, which has sent two players to the NBA during his tenure. 

More College Basketball Coverage: 

• Jalen Duren Is College Basketball's First NIL Win
• New G League Ignite Coach Jason Hart on NIL, Pro vs. College
• Report: Big Ten, Pac-12, ACC Discussing Conference Alliance

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A’s Pitcher Chris Bassitt Released From Hospital With Cheek Fracture After Being Hit By Line Drive

A’s Pitcher Chris Bassitt Released From Hospital With Cheek Fracture After Being Hit By Line Drive

A's pitcher Chris Bassitt was struck in the face by a line drive with an exit velocity of 100.1 mph in Tuesday's loss to the White Sox.

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A's pitcher Chris Bassitt was released from the hospital Tuesday night with a cheek fracture after being hit in the face by a line drive, the team announced. 

In a scary incident in the second inning of Oakland's 9-0 loss to the White Sox, Bassitt fell to the ground while clutching his head after he was struck by Brian Goodwin's hit back to the mound, which left the outfielder's bat with an exit velocity of 100.1 mph. 

"[Bassitt] received stitches for two facial lacerations and was diagnosed with a displaced tripod fracture in his right cheek that will require surgery," the club said in a statement. "An exam of his right eye was normal for vision, and no other damage is currently noted in the eye or the orbital bone. In addition, a head CT scan revealed no further injury."

On Wednesday afternoon, Bassitt released his first statement since the incident, thanking both teams and hospital staff for the support he received. 

Before he was carted off the field and transported to the hospital, Bassitt remained on the ground for several minutes as trainers applied pressure to his face. In a postgame press conference, A's manager Bob Melvin said Bassitt remained conscious "the entire time."

According to MLB Network's Tom Heyman, Bassitt will undergo surgery in the next three to five days "after swelling subsides." There is no timetable on his return. 

Bassitt leads the team in wins (12), ERA (3.22) and strikeouts (154) this season. 

More MLB News:
• 
California Woman Shares Her 'Brutal' Fear of Trevor Bauer During Day Two of Hearing
• 
Scorching Yankees About to Get Hotter With Return of Bruised Bombers
• 
Report: Cubs, Reds to Play in 2022 Field of Dreams Game

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The Mailbag Opens, Mac Jones Rules the World, Madness Ensues  | NFL Deep Dive

The Mailbag Opens, Mac Jones Rules the World, Madness Ensues | NFL Deep Dive

Preseason headlines and the weirdest nicknames in the NFL. Plus, the MMQB team is standing by for your questions!

Jenny, Conor and Gary rip open the mailbag one more time before the regular season starts, and everyone is talking about Mac Jones. Or, at least three people are talking about Mac Jones toward the top of the show.

After that, a buffalo wing heat index on everyone’s dark-horse picks, a discussion of what homefield advantage means, whether the Fangio/Staley-style defenses age better than the Seattle-style Cover-3 did, our favorite stats and what non-special-teams positions we could survive playing for a single play in the NFL.

Plus, running down your nickname suggestions as Conor and Gary truly lose it in a moment of—depending on your perspective—anticomedy or noncomedy. And the dramatic reveal of the question very few have been asking: Why were the division-preview shows ordered the way they were?

Have a question for the show? Email themmqb@gmail.com or tweet at Gary, Jenny and Conor.

Listen to The MMQB NFL Podcast
Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Stitcher | Google Podcasts | iHeart

Find recent episodes on SI.com

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Kevin Durant, Draymond Green Blame Steve Kerr, Warriors Management for Breakup

Kevin Durant, Draymond Green Blame Steve Kerr, Warriors Management for Breakup

During a one-on-one interview, Draymond Green and Kevin Durant cleared the air on their infamous on-the-court confrontation and why Durant left the Warriors.

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Kevin Durant and Draymond Green were Warriors teammates from 2016–19, winning two NBA titles in that span. But the two were involved in an infamous altercation during a game with the Clippers in 2018 that many believe led to Durant's eventual departure for the Nets. 

But it's not that simple, according to the former teammates. During a conversation on Green's Bleacher Report show, Chips, the two cleared the air and came to an agreement. They believe coach Steve Kerr and general manager Bob Myers caused the breakup because of the way they handled the spat.

"It wasn't the argument," Durant said on his decision to leave the Warriors. "It was the way that everybody—Steve Kerr—acted like it didn't happen. Bob Myers just tried to just discipline you [Green] and think that would put the mask over everything." 

Durant detailed how he was bothered with the way the team "danced" around the issue and never fully let out everyone's frustrations. Green then detailed his side of things. 

Green said that when the team returned to Oakland from Los Angeles, he was pressured by the higher-ups—who he didn't specifically name—to apologize to Durant. Green said he took issue with this and agreed to speak with Durant, but was clear management could not tell him what to say. They agreed Green would sleep on it and the next morning he would decide if he would apologize or not. 

The next morning, when Green was asked if he would apologize, the power forward was blunt with team leadership. 

"Y'all are about to f--- this up," Green recalled saying. "I said, 'The only person that can make this right is me and K [Durant]. And there is nothing that y'all can do, and y'all are going to f--- this up.' And in my opinion, they f----- it up." 

"I think so too," Durant said. 

Green was suspended for a game and he says he laughed in Myers's face when he was told the news. 

More NBA Coverage: 

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USWNT to Face Paraguay, South Korea in First Post-Olympic Matches, Lloyd’s Farewell

USWNT to Face Paraguay, South Korea in First Post-Olympic Matches, Lloyd’s Farewell

The U.S. will head to the midwest for four matches, including Carli Lloyd's final one in Minnesota.

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The U.S. women’s national team’s itinerary for its first four post-Olympic matches is set, and, as it turns out, Carli Lloyd's last match will take place in Minnesota.

Minnesota United's Allianz Field will stage the second of two friendlies against South Korea in October, which follow a September double-header against Paraguay, U.S. Soccer announced Wednesday. All matches will take place in the Midwest, with the Paraguay matches slated for Sept. 16 and 21 in Cleveland and Cincinnati, respectively. The first South Korea match will be at Sporting Kansas City’s Children’s Mercy Park on Oct. 21 before the Oct. 26 final lap for Lloyd, who announced earlier this week that she will be retiring to conclude her decorated career.

The rosters for the friendlies will be made up of players from the bronze-medal-winning side, and the matches are the last for the team in the U.S. in 2021. There are various homecoming elements of the games, too. Rose Lavelle, for instance, hails from Cincinnati and will get to play in front of her hometown crowd, while coach Vlatko Andonovski returns to his home area of Kansas City, where he previously won two NWSL titles as coach of FCKC.

“These games are important to welcome back our Olympic team to play in front of our home fans, but they are also the first steps towards 2023 World Cup qualifying," Andonovski said in a statement. "We all know we have to be at the top of our game to win at the highest levels, and the dedication of the entire group to that pursuit will never change.”

Should Lloyd play in all four games, she'll conclude her U.S. career with 316 caps. Regardless, she’ll finish with the second-most in international soccer history behind Kristine Lilly’s total of 354. She could feasibly match or pass Lilly for third-most goals all-time in U.S. Soccer history. Lloyd currently has 128 goals, while Lilly posted 130 in her career.

The matches vs. Paraguay, which is ranked 50th in the world according to the most recent FIFA table, will be the first at the senior level between the two sides. The U.S. and South Korea are a bit more familiar with one another, with the USWNT holding a 10-0-3 all-time edge. They last played in Jill Ellis’s final two matches as coach in October 2019, with the U.S. winning one and drawing another. It was Lloyd's goal in the 37th minute of the latter that salvaged the tie.

While this will be Lloyd’s U.S. swan song, it remains to be seen whether any other aging, veteran teammates of hers will follow suit. Megan Rapinoe told ESPN’s Spain and Fitz show this week that she's currently unsure about how she will proceed.

“Just in terms of my whole career, I don’t really know yet. I need to take some time to think about it,” she said. “They always say, ‘You’ll know when you know,’ but it’s not really like that, because you could kind of keep going, and it’s like ‘Aw yeah, you’ve accomplished so much, you'll be fine stepping away.’ But the conversation is always anguished in your mind. Or people just don’t think about it. I’ve been thinking about it a lot.”

Rapinoe, who scored two goals in the bronze-medal game vs. Australia along with Lloyd, did laud her retiring teammate for her longevity and productivity.

“She has so many appearances, so many goals. So many memorable goals as well,” Rapinoe said. “It’s all good and well to score five goals against teams that don’t really matter, but I think Aaron Heifetz, our media relations guy, said that every medal match Carli played in she scored a goal. That's greatness. She’s unbelievable. Showing up in the biggest moments, that’s what you want from your biggest players.”

More Soccer Coverage:

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Fantasy Football ADP: Backup Quarterbacks Breakdown

Fantasy Football ADP: Backup Quarterbacks Breakdown

A closer look at fantasy football's backup quarterbacks draft value, potential, average draft position and outlook for the 2021 NFL season

The 13th quarterback drafted this year in this high-stakes format (4-point passing touchdowns) has an ADP (149) in the middle of the 13th round. There are multiple quarterbacks drafted after Round 14 with a chance to finish with starting fantasy value in the season-long fantasy games.

By cheating the quarterback position, a fantasy owner can gain added depth at running back, wide receiver, and tight end, especially if selecting a quarterback after the 12th round when the player pool at the skill positions starts to dry out. Success comes down to identifying the key player at all positions. Therefore, it makes sense to wait on your first quarterback if you see strength at running back or wide receiver after Round 8.

Pay Attention to Running Quarterbacks

Many leagues award quarterbacks four points for passing touchdowns to lower the scoring edge for the position compared to formats with six-point passing touchdowns. In addition, passing yards typically range from 0.04 to 0.05 at the most popular sites.

ADP Breakdowns
QB1 | QB2 | RB1 & RB2 | RB3 & RB4 | WR1 & WR2 | WR3 & WR4 | TE

A running quarterback back gains his advantage in two ways.

First, each rushing touchdown is worth 1.5 times a passing touchdown. In 2020, Kyler Murray finished with 11 scores on the ground or 66 fantasy points. For another quarterback to match his output in fantasy points via the air (4-points per touchdown), they would need 16.5 passing touchdowns.

His second edge comes in rushing yards. Each rushing yard is worth double a passing yard in 0.05 scoring formats and 2.5 times in leagues that award 0.04 fantasy points.

In the case of Murray, his 819 yards rushing were worth 81.9 fantasy points or 51 yards per week. A pure passing quarterback would need to pass for 2,048 yards to match his scoring in 0.04 leagues and 1,638 in 0.05 scoring systems.

Last year, Cam Newton threw only eight passing touchdowns, but he did run the ball in 12 times. His fantasy points total (144 – equal to 26 passing touchdowns) for scoring matched or beat half of the quarterbacks in the league despite ranking 34th in passing touchdowns.

Top Running Quarterbacks with QB2 Status

Jalen Hurts, Philadelphia Eagles

Tim Heitman/USA TODAY Sports

Hurts gets some knock for his accuracy, but he projects to be a high-volume runner with scoring value on the ground in the red zone. His opportunity in the run game falls in line with Kyler Murray while relying on more power than elite scoring. Lamar Jackson led the NFL in fantasy scoring in 2019 (10th in 2020), but he has never thrown for over 300 yards over 37 starts in the regular season (once on the postseason). Hurts made four starts last year, leading to two games with over 300 yards (338/3 and 342/1). In addition, he averaged 11.5 rushes for 68 yards with three more scores. I was a big fan of him going into the 2020 NFL Draft, and his star will rise this year. His receiver corps projects well, and the Eagles’ offensive line will be much better than last season.

Trey Lance, San Francisco 49ers

When doing my pre-2021 NFL Draft research, I had Lance ranked second at quarterback while predicting he would be an excellent fit for San Fran’s offense. In my initial ranking, I had Jimmy Garoppolo starting with the thought that the 49ers would rotate in Lance on short-yardage downs and at the goal line.

After one preseason game, his arm flashed an 80-yard touchdown, but he did struggle to complete passes (5-for-14 with only 48 more yards).

In 2019 at North Dakota State, Lance proved to be an impact runner (169/1,100/14) while failing to throw an interception in his 16 starts.

For now, I have him seeing three-quarters of the quarterback snaps this season, making him an upside QB2 in fantasy land. However, if he earns the Week 1 start, his stock should rise to a starting fantasy quarterback while filling the role of a breakout player.

Justin Fields, Chicago Bears

Over his final 22 games at Ohio State, Fields averaged close to 10 rushes per game while being active at the goal line (15 touchdowns). His running has more of a chain move feel while showing a high completion rate (68.4). I expect him to win the starting job for the Bears in Week 1, but I don’t expect his ceiling to be as high as Hurts and Lance in his rookie season.

To Be or Not To Be

Deshaun Watson, Houston Texans

Despite being at training camp and doing his prep for the 2021 season, Watson remains on the sidelines, awaiting the news on the future of his playing ability this year. The Texans don’t want to risk getting him hurt as a negative outcome would void the remainder of his contract under the league's personal conduct policy. At some point, he looks like a viable flier, but Watson most likely ends up being a donation pick in fantasy leagues. The next step in the process is the results of a grand jury investigation.

Future Studs

Trevor Lawrence, Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jaguars retooled the leadership of their offense in the offseason, leading to a new head coach, quarterback, and franchise running back. Despite some offensive momentum, only one of their skill players (Travis Etienne) gets selected inside the first 60 picks in PPR leagues. However, Lawrence has receiving talent in the backfield, and his top three wide receivers give him a respectable floor in passing yards in his rookie season. He’ll even chip in with some rushing yards and touchdowns. As a result, his fantasy view will rise once in real game action while remaining a viable QB2 in 2021 with the potential to breakout.

Tua Tagovailoa, Miami Dolphins

After a quiet start to his NFL career over 10 games, Tagovailoa falls into the post-hype model based on his 2021 draft value (204). Miami improved the depth of his receiver corps, and he has a developing pass-catching tight end. His college career was on par with Trevor Lawrence in the passing game. The NFL needs a good lefty quarterback, and Tagovailoa looks to have the tools to push up the rankings in his sophomore season.

Stuck in Neutral

Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings

The presence of an elite running back and a question at WR2 for the Vikings in 2020 led to Cousins being undrafted in most fantasy leagues. However, he finished with a career-high in touchdowns (36), thanks to the emergence of Justin Jefferson. Minnesota finished 22nd in the league in passing attempts (516), forcing Cousins to earn his fantasy keep via touchdowns. He has two excellent wide receivers, and Dalvin Cook will be active in the passing game. He works best as a QB2 with matchup value.

Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons

The Falcons have consistently ranked hear the top of the league in passing attempts, helping Ryan up the fantasy quarterback rankings. He lost Julio Jones to the Titans in the offseason while gaining an upside tight end. The lack of star power at running back hurts Atlanta’s ability to sustain drives and be productive on the ground in the red zone. Ryan also offers minimal stats in the run game. His passing opportunity puts him in the neutral column, but I won’t fight for him on draft day.

Derek Carr, Las Vegas Raiders

Carr will complete many passes, and he has one of the better tight ends in the league. His ceiling looks much higher than Matt Ryan due to the Raiders' potential at running back and the development of Henry Ruggs and Bryan Edwards. His ADP (190) is more than fair for a fantasy owner to use him as a backup. If Ruggs does flash Tyreek Hill skills, he'll be worth his price point.

Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns

The Browns want to play good defense and run the ball. Even with this philosophy, a stable of running backs, and injuries at wideout, Cleveland still had some very high-scoring games in 2020. Mayfield has never passed for over 4,000 yards, and he doesn’t change the game with his legs. More steady than explosive, with most fantasy dreams coming from the idea that Odell Beckham will regain elite status after four down seasons.

QB2 ADP Final Thoughts

They say, “Cheaters never win.” I guess they don’t play fantasy football as the best fantasy owners that fade the quarterback position have an excellent feel for the drop-offs at all positions while waiting to vulture a quarterback that slips too far in drafts.

When deciding on your fantasy quarterback(s) this season, review the receiving options on each NFL roster while also taking in each quarterback's career resume. These two data points should point you in the right direction at quarterback in 2021.


Senior analyst Shawn Childs is a multi-sport, high-stakes fantasy legend with lifetime earnings in the high six-figures. He has been providing in-depth, analytical break downs for years all while helping his subscribers to countless titles and winnings across season-long & DFS. A inaugural inductee of the NFBC Hall of Fame, Shawn can teach you how to prep like a champ!

Follow @Shawn__Childs on Twitter

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Report: Nebraska, Head Coach Scott Frost Under Investigation for NCAA Violations

Report: Nebraska, Head Coach Scott Frost Under Investigation for NCAA Violations

Nebraska head coach Scott Frost is reportedly under investigation for improper use of analysts and consultants during practices and games.

Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

The NCAA is investigating Nebraska and head coach Scott Frost for alleged “improper use of analysts and consultants during practices and games,” according to the Action Network’s Brett McMurphy.

The allegations against Nebraska and Frost date back 12 months, McMurphy reports. The program reportedly improperly used analysts and consultants during special team drills during Nebraska practices, where Jonathan Rutledge worked with players despite not being one of the team's 10 full-time assistants.

“Last year, Frost put Rutledge in charge of the special teams as the senior special teams analyst, even though Rutledge was not one of Nebraska’s 10 full-time on-field assistants,” McMurphy wrote Wednesday. “NCAA rules allow analysts to speak to assistants and the head coach, but analysts may not have direct contact with the players. This includes practices, film room hours and during games.”

“However, the school has significant video footage documenting the impermissible use of analysts and consultants while assistant coaches and Frost were on the field or on the sideline.”

Frost is also accused of reportedly holding unauthorized organized workouts during the COVID-19 crisis last season. It’s unknown whether those allegations are being investigated by the NCAA, per McMurphy.

Frost could reportedly face a suspension for Nebraska’s improper use of analysts. 

The Cornhuskers will kick off their 2021 season on Aug. 28 against Illinois as they look to rebound from a 3–5 campaign last year. 

Nebraska is 12–20 in four seasons under Frost. He previously served as the head coach at UCF, where he tallied 19 wins from 2016-17.

More College Football Coverage: 

Pat Forde's Preseason Rankings—Led By You-Know-Who
No. 23 Texas Begins the Steve Sarkisian Era
Clemson's Uiagalelei to Star in Dr Pepper National Ad Campaign

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