Report: SEC moving toward 10-game, conference-only schedule
The move reportedly was approved by a majority of the conference’s athletic directors.While the Pac-12 and Big Ten announced earlier in the month that they were playing conference-only schedules for college football, the SEC and ACC said they would wait until later in the month to make decisions. The ACC announced on Wednesday it would be playing an 11-game schedule with 10 conference games.
The Alabama Crimson Tide are once again providing their football players with a locker room that would make NFL teams jealous. © John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports
While the SEC remains concerned regarding the chances for football this fall, that didn’t stop Alabama from showing its players the upgraded locker room. As some of the top student-athletes in the country toured the facility, they were shocked at the insane amenities inside the locker room.
NFL opt-out deadline likely to be delayed?
The initial August 3 deadline for NFL players to decide whether or not to opt out of the 2020 season is likely to be pushed back due to delays in formalizing the league’s CBA adjustments. © Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports NFL players will have a few extra days to make their decision on the 2020 season. According to ESPN’s Dan Graziano, the opt-out deadline is meant to be seven days after the league’s COVID-19 protocols are finalized by both the NFL and NFLPA. That has not actually happened yet as of Wednesday night, meaning at this point the deadline won’t come any earlier than August 6.
© John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports
Just a few years ago, an individual locker with a padded chair and increased spacing were viewed as a luxury. Now Alabama is taking things to the next level with luxurious recliners, upscale carpeting, jaw-dropping space and so much more.
The upgrades to the facilities are remarkable and will certainly provide a boost for Nick Saban when he is out on the recruiting trail.
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One Phillies coach, one clubhouse staffer test positive for COVID-19
The plan had been for the Phillies to resume play on Saturday. Whether that is now in jeopardy isn’t known. The organization has already dealt with some infections earlier this year, but managed to avoid further spread within the club.This is worrisome news on several levels. First and foremost, it’s concerning to see two more individuals in the game carrying this disease. Hopefully they’ll both make a swift and full recovery.Beyond that, it’s obviously concerning to see that spread (presumably) occurred between the teams.
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Related slideshow: The key storyline for every top 25 college football team (Provided by Yardbarker)
The key storyline for every top 25 college football team
Hopefully the 2020 college football season can be as close to normal as we can possibly have it, as we usher in a new era. College football is coming off a year that saw a different national champion than the usual Alabama-Clemson duo and a lot of questions surrounding programs across the country. Sure, the big dogs are still out there, but there are a lot of teams on the doorstep waiting to break out as LSU did when it came out of nowhere to dominate a tough schedule and a great foursome of playoff teams to win the title. There also are many exciting players, and with any of them experiencing a hot streak like Joe Burrow had last season, who knows what could happen in December and January?Here is a look at the key storyline for every top 25 college football team.
1 - Clemson Tigers
Clemson is the presumptive favorite to win it all in 2020, which makes its storyline pretty much the same it has been for the past five years: Can the Tigers meet their lofty expectations? They return arguably the nation's best quarterback (Trevor Lawrence) and running back (Travis Etienne) and what may be the best defensive line in the country. Of course the last time we saw the Tigers was the first time they lost with Lawrence. Last season, Clemson ran through the ACC, but the league will be a bit tougher to deal with this time around. Just like last year, it won't be about if Clemson wins but how dominant the win is.
2 - Alabama Crimson Tide
Last year was the first time since the College Football Playoff was instituted that Alabama wasn't a part of it. Some of that was due to Tua Tagovailoa's injury that forced him to miss the end of the season. With Tua gone, the Tide's main concern is his replacement. Mac Jones did a nice job taking over down the stretch last season and should get the nod heading into the season. If he struggles, freshman sensation Bryce Young will be right there to take the reins. Look for Nick Saban to revert back to his roots with a punishing run game, as that offensive line and stable of running backs are lethal.
3 - Ohio State Buckeyes
Like any of the elite programs, Ohio State typically deals with having to replace great talent on a yearly basis. This season is no different but will be more of a story in Jim Day's second season at the helm in Columbus. A lot of impact talent on the defensive side of the ball —Chase Young, Jeff Okudah, Damon Arnette, Malik Harrison and DaVon Hamilton — are off to the NFL, (three of them first-round picks), and Day will have to find guys who can step into those roles and fill those voids. The secondary — a strength last season — will be the most vulnerable with Shaun Wade the only returning starter.
5 - Oklahoma Sooners
Let's be clear: All eyes will be on Spencer Rattler this fall. For the past three years, Lincoln Riley has turned transfers Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray into Heisman Trophy winners and rode Jalen Hurts to the College Football Playoff. This year Riley will develop his own recruit into being the next great Sooners quarterback. Rattler played sparingly last season but has the skill set to succeed in OU's system. After an amazing run at that position over the last few years, the focus will be on the new guy.
6 - Florida Gators
The Gators offensive line will be the difference between Florida sticking to the rebuilding plan or taking the leap back to SEC East champions. The offensive line is experienced — three starters return — but struggled last season with creating a run game and protecting the quarterback. The unit allowed 25 sacks in 2019, and the Gators averaged just 3.8 yards per carry during the conference season. Can the line be steady against a schedule that includes Georgia and LSU as the toughest tests?
7 - Georgia Bulldogs
Jamie Newman will be the focus this season, after seeing guys like Justin Fields and Jacob Eason transfer out of Athens because of Jake Fromm's ascension to the job three years ago. Fromm left for the NFL, and now the Dawgs look to Wake Forest transfer Newman to get them back into the Playoff in a much improved SEC East. Last season Newman connected on 61 percent of his passes for 2,868 yards, 26 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. The SEC is a whole different ballgame than the ACC, with Alabama, Auburn and Florida on the schedule.
8 - LSU Tigers
For the first time in the College Football Playoff era, the defending champ isn't among the favorites to get back. The 2019-2020 season was historic in Baton Rouge and while LSU isn't going to fall off a cliff, the Tigers do have a ton of holes to fill this year. The hangover will be big in 2020 as Joe Burrow and his 60 TD passes are now in the NFL as well as five first-round picks and 14 drafted overall. That is a lot, and with LSU facing Texas, Florida, Alabama, Auburn and Texas A&M this season, there is no way a rebuild will duplicate last year's magic. No one could have predicted what happened at LSU, so Ed Orgeron could have another surprise up his sleeve. More than likely, however, a lot of teams will be looking for some payback.
9 - Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Trust is always a thing with Notre Dame's program over the last decade. We see the Irish rise and then when the lights are brightest, they let us down. They have a new offensive coordinator in Tommy Rees who, at 28, is just six years older than his starting quarterback, Ian Book. Notre Dame is good and Book is a dark horse Heisman contender but everyone is going to focus on two games this season — against Wisconsin in Atlanta on Oct. 3 and hosting Clemson on Nov. 7. Last year's big games saw Notre Dame valiantly lose at Georgia and get waxed by Michigan. Can we trust the Irish this season?
11 - Oregon Ducks
Justin Herbert is gone, and there will be some development needed on offense (though tackle Penei Sewell is an elite talent), so the Ducks defense will need to carry the load. Defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux, an outstanding playmaker on the defensive front, is back. The secondary has Jevon Holland, Deommodore Lenoir and Thomas Graham, and two of the top incoming freshmen, Justin Flowe and Noah Sewell, will take over at linebacker. Last season Oregon found it could win games using a physical approach with a tough running game, and the defense should be even better in 2020. With a new quarterback, the smash-mouth style of play will likely carry the Ducks offense for a while, but it may not be the high-flying Quack Attack we've been used to.
12 - Auburn Tigers
Replacing that unbelievable defensive line will be quite the task. Derrick Brown, Nick Coe and Marlon Davidson are all gone, but a couple of seniors ("Big Kat" Bryant and Daquan Newkirk) hopefully can step in and produce admirably alongside holdover Tyrone Truesdell. Gus Malzahn also brought in junior college transfers Deandre Butler and Marquis Burks to add depth to the line, which allows defensive coordinator Kevin Steele to rotate guys and keep players fresh. Auburn returns just seven starters total, and no spring practice toughens the learning curve, plus another brutal schedule (Alabama, Georgia, LSU, Texas A&M, North Carolina) makes the Tigers' task even more daunting. Going against teams with some big time offensive minds means Auburn's defense needs to quickly find its groove.
13 - Texas A&M Aggies
Can A&M take the next step? Since joining the SEC, the Aggies have finished about fifth place in the SEC West just once in eight seasons. Senior quarterback Kellen Mond has seemingly been at College Station forever, and Jimbo Fisher has stocked the roster with some solid recruiting classes. Can Mond, a dual threat, be consistent enough to use all that talent around him. Now is the time to make a move. The beginning of the season should be a bit of breeze, but the back end is brutal with trips to Auburn, South Carolina and Alabama along with the finale against LSU at home. Mond, one of the most experienced signal-callers in the SEC, needs to be solid if A&M is going to be a serious contender.
12 - Texas Longhorns
Two years ago, Texas spanked Georgia in the Sugar Bowl and everyone thought that the Longhorns were back and ready to reclaim their position as a perennial title contender. Then last year's 8-5 season put a damper on that. Was that just a blip on the radar, or is this the reality that the Horns find themselves in? Head coach Tom Herman overhauled his coaching staff with two new coordinators and several other assistants. Former Rutgers head coach Chris Ash takes over a defense that was getting lit up at times. Herman has made some desperate moves, and it seems as if he is sitting squarely on the hot seat. If Texas can't make a run toward a Big 12 title this year, then that seat will be scorching.
15 - Oklahoma State Cowboys
When you think of Oklahoma State in 2020, you will think of Heisman candidate Chuba Hubbard and head coach Mike Gundy. Let's start on the field where Hubbard was outstanding last season with 2,094 rushing yards and 21 touchdowns and enters this season as the top choice of a non-quarterback for the Heisman. Gundy has taken the Cowboys to 14 straight games and is one of the more interesting men in his profession. All that took a back seat in June when Hubbard publicly called out his coach for a variety of issues that have made Gundy a cult hero of sorts to the fan base but has bothered his players and had Hubbard openly questioning his commitment to the program. All of this has put Gundy's relationship with his players at the forefront of what the 2020 season will look like. Oklahoma State is talented and can make a run at a Big 12 title, but how this relationship strengthens or weakens will go a long way into determining how far the Cowboys will go.
17 - USC Trojans
The storyline for USC this season will be Clay Helton's job security. New athletic director Mike Bohn backed Helton when he took the job, but a Holiday Bowl drubbing from Iowa has made the seat hot again. The coaching staff was overhauled, and the hope is the team will be mentally and physically tougher. Tentatively opening up against Alabama may not be ideal with so much change and the pandemic limiting practice time. The Trojans also must travel to Stanford and Utah are scheduled to play Washington and Notre Dame at the Coliseum. A bad start to the season could force a midseason change.
18 - Iowa State Cyclones
There have been 18 championship games in Big 12 history, and Iowa State hasn't played in any of them. Matt Campbell went into Ames and turned around a program that was winning two or three games a year. After a pair of 8-5 seasons, the Cyclones slipped to 7-6 capped off by an ugly loss to Notre Dame. Iowa State returns one of the top quarterbacks in the country in Brock Purdy and one of the league's best defenses. With everything in place, will Iowa State make the next step and finally reach the conference title game? Time could be fleeting with Purdy possibly NFL bound and Campbell a hot candidate for bigger jobs.
19 - North Carolina Tar Heels
What a turnaround for the Tar Heels. After winning just five games over two seasons, the Heels stunned everyone by going 7-6, with all of their losses coming down to the wire. Quarterback Sam Howell set a freshman record for touchdown passes, and a couple of great recruiting classes have replenished the roster. Many laughed at both Mack Brown and North Carolina when the two agreed to work together again after 22 years apart, but now the Heels are viewed as one of the country's rising programs. Howell is arguably the second-best quarterback in the ACC and is on the Heisman and NFL radars. What (almost) 69-year-old Brown has done in a little over a year has been remarkable, and given his recruiting prowess it seems like this is a program that will contend for an ACC crown...possibly this year.
20 - Michigan Wolverines
Beat Ohio State. It is that simple. This is a good, but not great, Wolverines squad. There is a lot of talent but also a lot of turnover on their roster, so they aren't expected to contend for a playoff spot. Add in the fact that the schedule is brutal (Wisconsin, Penn State at home, Michigan State, Minnesota and Ohio State on the road), and this is viewed as a transition season in Ann Arbor. That doesn't bode well for a fan base that has already been weary of a Jim Harbaugh era that has yet to see either a playoff berth or a win over their hated rivals. With loftier goals likely off the table, there would be nothing better than to beat the Buckeyes at their place to end the season. Keeping them under 50 would be a start.
21 - Cincinnati Bearcats
Cincinnati's defense is fantastic and has the Bearcats on the cusp of reaching a New Year's Six bowl game. Head coach Luke Fickell, a defensive mind, will have 10 starters back for a squad that allowed less than 21 points per game last year. The Bearcats could be 10-0 heading into a showdown with UCF in Orlando with a spot in the AAC title game on the line. Also, remember that the AAC ditched the divisional format with UConn's departure and will have the top two seeds competing in the conference championship game, which could lead to them facing off again two weeks later.
22 - UCF Knights
And here is UCF. Josh Heupel will have another robust offense led by Dillon Gabriel, who set the school record for passing yards in a season. Gabriel was a godsend last year, replacing McKenzie Milton who suffered a gruesome injury in 2018. And 2019 only seemed like a down season because of all the success the program enjoyed in previous years. But the Knights lost their three games by a total of seven points. This team has the ability to go on another undefeated run and get back to a New Year's Six game.
23 - Arizona State Sun Devils
As I mentioned with North Carolina and Mack Brown, many found Arizona State hiring Herm Edwards two years ago as laughable and nothing but a publicity stunt. While Edwards hasn't made dramatic improvements record-wise, he has set up the program as a difference maker in an open Pac-12 South. Edwards held his spring practice early this season, and it paid off since it happened before the pandemic shutdowns. What is also noteworthy is his new coordinators. He hired Zak Hill away from Boise State to be the offensive coordinator and hired Marvin Lewis and Antonio Pierce to be co-defensive coordinators — yes, the same Marvin Lewis who spent 16 years as the Cincinnati Bengals head coach and the same Pierce who played for the Redskins and Giants in his nine-year NFL career and worked with Edwards at ESPN. There is a lot of star power on that Sun Devils sideline.
24 - Iowa Hawkeyes
The storyline for Iowa could be things happening off the field and not on it. Head strength and conditioning coach Chris Doyle left the program after numerous players complained about mistreatment. That has opened dialogue about other issues in Kirk Ferentz's program that has led to multiple statements from him as well as a council of former players created with a goal to enact changes in the culture of the football program. On the field this is the usual Iowa tough-minded team that will be breaking in a new quarterback in Spencer Petras, but a bright light is shining on the Hawkeyes this season.
25 - Boise State Broncos
If the Broncos want to win another Mountain West title and reach a New Year's Six game, then they will need to fix their lines — both of them. The defensive line must replace all four positions (including Curtis Weaver), while the offensive line returns just left tackle John Ojukwu. With limited practice time, it will be tough to not only slot these positions but to also have them cohesive when the season starts. That could prove problematic with a tentative road trip to Air Force in their second game and possible home game against Florida State the following week.
NHL has had zero positive COVID-19 tests since teams entered the bubble .
Just one day before players return to the ice for meaningful games, there is some good news from off the ice: There have been zero positive tests for COVID-19 since teams entered the bubble cities in Edmonton and Toronto last weekend. © Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports The NHL hasn't recorded any positive COVID-19 tests within the past week. Testing has ramped up over the past few days as Dreger notes that 1,500 tests are being conducted on a daily basis. If that number seems high, it’s not just the players for each team who are being tested, but other team officials and executives are as well.