White Sox

Irish coaching shuffle pays off for secondary

971669.png

Irish coaching shuffle pays off for secondary

Among the plenty of feel-good stories about Notre Dame's championship run is one that hasn't been covered too heavily: All those coaching shifts and additions that happened last winter wound up paying off for the undefeated Irish.

After last season, offensive coordinator Charley Molnar, offensive line coach Ed Warinner and running backs coach Tim Hinton left the program. Chuck Martin was moved from safeties coach to offensive coordinator while Tony Alford shifted from wide receivers to running backs, filling those two holes internally. Veteran position coaches Harry Hiestand and Bob Elliott were brought on to coach Notre Dame's offensive line and safeties, respectively, to round out the staff.

Specifically, the addition of Elliott has been key in guiding the growth of Notre Dame's safeties. That's not to say the other coaching shifts haven't been beneficial -- Zack Martin said a key reason for his 2013 return was getting to play another year under Hiestand, while Everett Golson has been appreciative of his offensive coordinator's tough love.

And Matthias Farley, a greenhorn safety, credited Elliott for steering him through a sharp learning curve.

"It's been monumental in my growth, because coach Elliott has taken time out his days, after practice, his down time in between coaching meetings he'll sit and watch practice film with me after each and every practice he'll critique it and see areas I need to improve on, on and off the field," Farley said. "It's been a huge asset to have him in my corner."

Farley was a player Elliott figured would fit in on special teams when he first evaluated him in the spring. But when Jamoris Slaughter was lost for the season in Week 3, Farley had to step in, and he's done a solid job alongside Zeke Motta since.

Elliott wasn't some unfamiliar face, though. He coached defensive coordinator Bob Diaco and cornerbacks coach Kerry Cooks during each's playing days at Iowa, and brought to Notre Dame 33 seasons of coaching knowledge.

"He's somebody that has a great deal of experience as a coordinator on the BCS level, incredible amount of experience, and he doesn't have an ego," coach Brian Kelly said. "He wants to just fit into the staff dynamics. For us, that's one of our key ingredients to success is to have a staff that puts their egos aside and really works on the development of their players. He's done an incredible job."

While Notre Dame's secondary looked like a major weakness heading into the season, it's grown into a solid group -- even if three of its four starters didn't play much of their current positions in high school. Farley, who was recruited to Notre Dame as a wide receiver, and Bennett Jackson, a high school receiver as well, gave plenty of credit to Elliott and Cooks for their development in 2012.

"A lot of credit needs to go to the coaches and how they've developed us," Farley said. " I have confidence in the fact we can do the roles that are asked of us. Bennett, KeiVarae (Russell) are very athletic, very talented but to also have great coaching behind them is a great combination."

"We would not be where we are without those coaches developing those players to the level they are today," Kelly added.

Potential first-ballot guy and Blackout Game hero Jim Thome headlines group of former White Sox on this year's Hall of Fame ballot

1120_jim_thome.jpg
AP

Potential first-ballot guy and Blackout Game hero Jim Thome headlines group of former White Sox on this year's Hall of Fame ballot

White Sox fans have seen a couple of their team's all-time greats go into the Hall of Fame in recent years, with Frank Thomas inducted in 2014 and Tim Raines inducted earlier this year.

Six former White Sox are on this year's Hall of Fame ballot, even if only a couple of them made a big impact on the South Side.

Jim Thome is on the ballot for the first time. While more famously a member of those great Cleveland Indians teams of the 1990s, Thome spent four seasons in a White Sox uniform, playing in 529 games and belting 134 of his 612 career home runs with the South Siders.

A Peoria native currently working as a member of the organization, Thome was a beloved part of four White Sox teams, including the last one to reach the postseason in 2008. He smacked a solo homer to drive in the lone run in the legendary Blackout Game, a 1-0 win over the Minnesota Twins that gave the White Sox the American League Central crown in the 163rd game of the 2008 regular season.

Thome ranks second in White Sox history in slugging percentage and OPS, trailing only Thomas in both categories. He's No. 7 on the franchise leaderboard in on-base percentage and No. 13 on the home run list.

Given that he ranks eighth on baseball's all-time home run list, Thome could very well be a first-ballot Hall of Famer.

Also on this year's ballot is Carlos Lee, a power-hitting outfielder who spent the first six seasons of his major league career with the White Sox. El Caballo hit 152 homers and drove in 552 runs in 880 games with the White Sox, finishing 18th in AL MVP voting in 2003 after he slashed .291/.331/.499 with 31 homers. His numbers were even better in 2004, his final season with the White Sox.

Lee ranks ninth on the team's all-time home run list and 11th on the franchise leaderboard in slugging percentage.

Lee did an awful lot of damage in six seasons with the Houston Astros, as well, and earned three All-Star nods in his post-Sox career.

Four others to play for the White Sox are on this year's ballot. Sammy Sosa, more noteworthy for what he did with the Cubs, spent parts of three seasons on the South Side. Omar Vizquel, another Indians great like Thome, played for the White Sox in 2010 and 2011. Orlando Hudson played in 51 games for the White Sox in 2012. And Manny Ramirez, the legendary Indians and Red Sox slugger, played 24 games with the White Sox in 2010.

In order to qualify for election into the Hall of Fame, a player must appear on 75 of ballots submitted by voters.

After critical missed field goal, Bears waive Connor Barth and sign former Chiefs kicker Cairo Santos

1120_cairo_santos.jpg
USA TODAY

After critical missed field goal, Bears waive Connor Barth and sign former Chiefs kicker Cairo Santos

After Connor Barth's critical missed field-goal try in Sunday's loss to the Detroit Lions, the Bears moved on to a new option at kicker.

The team announced Monday afternoon that it waived Barth and signed former Kansas City Chiefs kicker Cairo Santos.

Santos, a Tulane product who the Bears met with just last week, spent parts of the past four seasons with the Chiefs, including three games earlier this season. Santos has made 89 of his 105 field-goal attempts in his career and 125 of his 130 extra-point tries.

Santos was waived by the Chiefs earlier this season after being placed on injured reserve with a groin injury. He was a perfect 3-for-3 on field goals and a perfect 6-for-6 on extra points in the three games he played with the Chiefs earlier this season.

Barth's accuracy was a problem throughout his season and a half with the Bears, but perhaps no miss was bigger than what happened Sunday. After Mitch Trubisky drove the Bears into position for a game-tying field goal, Barth's 46-yard attempt with eight seconds left was far right, and the Bears lost the game 27-24.

In two seasons with the Bears, Barth missed 10 field-goal tries in 26 games. He was 11-for-16 so far in 2017 after going 18-for-23 in 2016.