Spring game season is upon us, and the college football programs that didn’t hold their annual glorified practices last weekend are scheduled to put them on this Saturday. It’s a nice way to catch a nap, check in on a quarterback battle, or get a sneak peek at any coaching changes.
Most of the broadcasts feature ex-players and young sideline reporters lobbing softballs at the coaching staff, so it’s tailor-made more for feature stories than those of the hard news variety. That wasn’t the case last week at Clemson, where coach Dabo Swinney dialed up ESPN to opine on the current state of college football, saying it needs a “complete blowup.”
The guy who said he’s against anything that “devalues education” (as opposed to valuing a free workforce) also said his “transfer portal is right there in that locker room.” He went on to say that adding talent through the portal sends the wrong message to the kids he recruited and that he’s not doing his job if he has to add transfers for any reason other than to fill a gap in the roster.
The reaction from fans and media was a predictable mix of perplexity and “this fucking guy.” Clemson, a program that competed with and actually prevailed over Alabama in recent years, won 10 games last year, as well. However, they were in the bottom half of the country in points per game, didn’t win their conference (or division), and DJ Uiagalelei, the heir to Trevor Lawerence, looks more like a starting QB at a university to be transferred to later than a guy who will retain his role over freshman Cade Klubnik.
As previously mentioned before, these spring games are essentially to boost PR and impress recruits. The rules and play calling are largely skewed to highlight talent, so if a guy has a performance worthy of a headline like, “Takeaways from Clemson spring game: D.J. Uiagalelei same shaky starter” — it’s cause for concern if his underwhelming play last year wasn’t already.
Klubnik was a five-star recruit and very well could be the next Tiger under center to lead the team to the playoff and possibly a national title. He threw the spring game-winning touchdown, and that was only possible because Uiagalelei threw a fourth-quarter pick to provide him the opportunity.
So maybe this year, if the Tigers aren’t on schedule to upend reigning ACC champion Pitt, Swinney will make the move to a 19-year-old kid who has yet to play a down of college football. Ideally, that decision is made before Clemson loses enough games to knock them out of not only the College Football Playoff but also the conference title game.
Or… they could’ve addressed the glaring weak spot on their extremely talented roster with one of the many, very capable and very experienced quarterbacks who utilized the transfer portal after last season. Fellow Deadspin co-worker Carron Phillips wrote about the portal’s effect on the college basketball landscape and how the path to a title is laden with transfers. That same ideology was already a part of college football, and it’s only expanding as movement has eased.
It’s beyond insane that Swinney is seemingly ignoring instances like Lincoln Riley winning a Heisman with Texas Tech transfer Baker Mayfield or taking Alabama transfer Jalen Hurts and turning him into a second round pick. Both happened before the portal became a thing, and it’s not like Russell Wilson wasn’t a standout graduate transfer at Wisconsin over a decade ago.
Eschewing the transfer portal because you don’t like the rule is like a National League baseball team choosing to send their pitcher up to the plate even though the DH is now legal. “Hustling backward” is the phrase that comes to mind, and it’s something coaches in any sport won’t do.
Crimson Tide coach and inspiration for Skynet Nick Saban has already adapted to the new technology and is using it to create T-1000s. If college football restructures like Swinney predicts it will, with “40 or 50 teams and a commissioner and here are the rules,” the transfer portal will damn sure be one of those carryover rules.
I remember reading one of those kids sports books that doubles as a vessel for morals in fifth grade, and the premise of it was this talented basketball player couldn’t take the next step because he refused to use pump fakes because he hated lying and viewed a pump fake as a lie. Even as a 10-year-old child, I remember reading that and thinking it was one of the dumbest thought processes I’ve ever read. It’s probably why the author was stuck writing throw-away children’s books instead of the next great American novel.
If Swinney wants to forgo an advantage that’s been within the rules of the game because his Swinney Sense is going off, he’s going to end up coaching fifth grade football because it’s the only pure form of football left. Well, that and because Clemson will have fired him long ago.
Chelsea FC: Brilliant Badiashile leading way for new signings as Thiago Silva partnership blossoms
His promising early form at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea will hope, hint at better times to come through their new signings.
The arrival of French centre-back Badiashile at the start of last month kick-started a record January spending spree of more than £300m.
After Chelsea were sent spiralling into crisis with defeats by Manchester City and Fulham, Badiashile made his debut in a 1-0 win over Crystal Palace.
After the Blues claimed a further two clean sheets in 0-0 draws away at Liverpool and at home to Fulham, he is building an impressive partnership with Thiago Silva.
Badiashile was one of five new signings to feature in Friday’s 0-0 draw with Fulham. He started alongside £106.8m Enzo Fernandez, who started well but faded over 90 minutes, £89.5m Mykhailo Mudryk, who struggled over 45 minutes while carrying a cold, and £30m Noni Madueke, who was bright after being brought on at half-time.
“What a waste of money” was the regular chant from the Fulham fans in the away end.
That felt harsh in Badiashile’s case. With his size and speed, he looks like a perfect partner for 38-year-old veteran Silva.
In addition, he showed the ability to play brilliantly out of Fulham’s well-drilled press and he coped in his duels against Aleksandar Mitrovic.
There is still adaption to be done, as Graham Potter barked instructions about his positioning in relation to Silva.
However, using French to communicate with the former Paris Saint-Germain captain, Badiashile has helped steady the ship in the absence of the injured Wesley Fofana, and with Kalidou Koulibaly out of form.
While still only averaging just 1.05 goals per game in the Premier League, Chelsea will draw more than they win unless their new midfielders and forwards step up.
Arriving in the weeks after Badiashile, the likes of Fernandez, Joao Felix, Mudryk and Madueke have not had as much time to adapt to their surroundings.
With Chelsea still in 10th place and increasingly falling behind in the race to qualify for Europe, they must follow Badiashile’s lead and hit the ground running before time runs out.
Reporter’s notebook: Jesse Marsch’s Leeds side showed encouraging signs at times but lack of points cost him his job | Football News
Jesse Marsch was approaching his one-year anniversary as Leeds United head coach before the decision was taken on Monday to relieve him of his duties.
The defeat to Nottingham Forest a day earlier had been the final straw for the Leeds board, who were all aligned in the view that a change was necessary after almost three months without a Premier League win.
The recent statistics paint a grim picture for Leeds. Seven Premier League games without a win and just two wins in the last 17 league games. And against Forest, although they dominated in the first half and created the better chances, a worrying pattern had started to develop which had become a huge concern for fans. Leeds were producing performances with lots of positives, but not enough points.
There is little doubt that a large proportion of the fan base had lost patience with Marsch, and they made their frustrations clear at the full-time whistle on Sunday with calls for a change of head coach.
What is very evident is that Leeds have not kicked on this season. At times there have been really promising signs, but the fans and the board at Leeds wanted more. Marsch will feel that with time he could have delivered more, but he was also realistic enough to know that he was walking a tightrope.
I got to know Jesse well during his 12 months at Elland Road and it was abundantly clear he cared passionately about the club. He understood what it meant to be head coach of Leeds United and what the club meant to the city and the fans. And he has to be given great credit for keeping Leeds in the Premier League last season.
Although it hasn’t worked out for Marsch this season, there is a strong argument to suggest that the next Leeds boss will be in a great position to move the club forward.
Patrick Bamford and Luis Sinisterra are now fit, and the January additions should make the starting line-up stronger. The club has also invested heavily in young players and one of those, Willy Gnonto, has emerged as one of the shining lights of the season.
Those factors have created an expectation that Leeds are better than their current league position, and that means a reluctance to accept another season fighting to avoid the drop. It also means that there are reasons to be optimistic about the future.
The process of finding a replacement for Marsch is already underway and Leeds hope to make a swift appointment. A move for Marcelo Bielsa is highly unlikely, but West Brom boss Carlos Corberan, who worked under Bielsa, is a candidate, while Ange Postecoglou at Celtic has also been linked.
It is also worth noting Leeds have a track record of leftfield appointments, so as they work through their list of targets, there is a good chance that a candidate emerges that could surprise everybody.
In the meantime, Michael Skubala, Paco Gallardo and Chris Armas will take training at Thorp Arch, and will be in the dugout for Wednesday’s Premier League fixture against Manchester United at Old Trafford.
February 8: Manchester United (A) – kick-off 8pm
February 12: Manchester United (H) – kick-off 2pm, live on Sky Sports
February 18: Everton (A) – kick-off 3pm
February 25: Southampton (H) – kick-off 3pm
March 4: Chelsea (A) – kick-off 3pm
March 11: Brighton (H) – kick-off 3pm
March 18: Wolves (A) – kick-off 3pm
Tom Brady in his underwear is taking over Twitter
It’s Super Bowl week, and if you thought Tom Brady was going to let this week go by without being all up in your timeline…well. Just a week after announcing he’s retiring from football (you’ll never convince me he didn’t play an extra year just to stick it to Adam Schefter), Tom Brady has dropped his first thirst trap on Twitter. Or, attempted thirst trap. Actually, IS this a thirst trap?
As will many things Tom Brady, the attempt to be cool and edgy just winds up being sterile, boring, and kinda sad. A beige man in a beige room in beige underwear with a “pleass clap” look on his face.
And because OF COURSE:
Yes, Tom. We all knew the plug as coming. I’m not sure what color “heather crimson” is supposed to be, but I believe this is what we used to call “puce,” which… meh. The fact that there is something called the “Brady Boxer Brief” is enough to make me want to stick my head in the oven, because you know there are guys in New England burning up the internet right now to wear the same undies as their hero. And even more so because no amount of refusing to mask during COVID, vouching for Antonio Brown, stumping for Donald Trump, or getting a PPP loan during a nationwide pandemic is enough to get people to stop buying what this guy is selling. He’s even gotten to Jane Fonda, for crying out loud.
Of course, this entire thing was set up by Brady’s own brand:
So…whatever. It’s Super Bowl week and everyone is talking about Tom Brady, which is exactly how he wants it to be.
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