Cavaliers Report: Moving on from Mike London


Cavaliers Report: Moving on from Mike London

Virginia 4-8, (3-5) in the ACC

Replacing Mike London: After six seasons as the head coach of the Cavaliers, Mike London resigned on Sunday. London was universally loved by his players and was a very good recruiter, but that never translated to on field success as Virginia went only 27-46 during his tenure. He led the Cavaliers to only one bowl appearance in 2011 and went 0-6 against in-state rival Virginia Tech. That's just not good enough for a Power 5 program.

Though London was given an extension at the end of last season, his fate was really sealed when the 2014 team failed to reach a bowl. That was the best team he had since 2011. With the loss of players like running backs Kevin Parks and Khalek Shepherd and their three best pass rushers from last season Max Valles, Henry Coley and Eli Harold, it was hard to see how this team could have a better season than last year's squad. If that was the expectation, London did not stand a chance.

Here are some potential candidates who could replace London.

The Virginia job offers coaches a Power 5 job in a winnable division, but it also carries certain challenges that other jobs do not. There is a certain standard to which coaches are expected to adhere to when it comes to academics and discipline. If Virginia could find a coach to win eight games every year while graduating most of its players and without any major disciplinary or NCAA issues, I think most Cavalier fans would accept that. That makes the job a little different from others. Finding a new coach, therefore, is about finding the right fit, not just the best candidate available.

According to one report, Mark Richt is set to interview for the job. If athletics director Craig Littlepage can get Richt, that wouldn't be a home run, it would be a grand slam.

Not only was Richt a great coach at Georgia, but the strict discipline with which he ran the program would fall in line with the type of coach UVa is looking for. He was run out of town for winning 9 games a year and dismissing players with discipline issues. That made him persona non grata in the SEC, it would make him the perfect fit at UVa.

The problem for Virginia is that Richt is arguably the best coach on the market and there will be a lot of schools trying to get him. Just how UVa stacks up comparatively to those other programs in Richt's eyes remains to be seen.

In the news

Four Virginia players named to 2015 All-ACC teams: Linebacker Micah Kiser and safety Quin Blanding were named to the first team defense in the All-ACC team selections released on Monday. Both players led the conference in tackles with 117 and 115 respectively. In addition, receiver Canaan Severin was named to the second team offense and running back Taquan Mizzell was named to the third team offense. Ross Burbank, David Dean and Nicholas Conte were named as honorable mentions.

Canady to Senior Bowl: Cornerback Maurice Canady has accepted an invitation to play in this year's Senior Bowl. He had 39 tackles on the season and six pass breakups. He also had a punt return for a touchdown.

RELATED: Maryland Search: Richt says 'about five' schools reached out

Last week's game: 23-20 loss to Virginia Tech

Read the recap of this game here.

The Hoos and Hokies traded punches in a back-and-forth battle, but once again Virginia fell just short of reclaiming the Commonwealth Cup. The first half of this game was hard to watch as both teams were held out of the end zone, but the game broke open in the second half with both teams trading touchdowns. After taking a 23-20 lead late, Virginia Tech sealed the deal when Matt Johns was hit on a throw and intercepted by Chuck Clark.

This game was Virginia's for the taking, but every time the Cavaliers tried to take control, Virginia Tech was able to answer right back. Up 6-3 late in the first half, a failed fake punt gave Virginia Tech the ball in UVa territory and set up the tying field goal. When Albert Reid finally broke free for a 57-yard touchdown run in the third quarter, the Hokies answered back with a 71-yard catch and run by Ryan Malleck. A touchdown grab by Canaan Severin was matched by an Isaiah Ford touchdown on the next drive.

After shutting the Virginia Tech offense down all game long, Virginia suddenly couldn't hang on to take control of the game.

Season review

Offensive MVP: Taquan Mizzell

The offense became completely dependent on Taquan "Smoke" Mizzell in the latter half of the season as he was called upon to establish both the rush and pass attack. Not only did he lead the team in rushing yards, he also led in receptions. The plan going into the season was for T.J. Thorpe to spread the field and allow more room for Canaan Severin. That didn't work. An early-season injury kept Thorpe out the first three games and when he did return, he still was not able to draw away defenders as mush as hoped. Instead, the team began using short passes to Mizzell to try to open up deeper passes. The team's offensive struggles are more of a reflection on the team's lack of weapons than on Mizzell.

Defensive MVP: Michah Kiser

With the loss of their three best pass rushers from last season, someone needed to step up in the pass rush and Micah Kiser did. He led the team with 7.5 sacks on the season. He also led the conference in tackles with 117. In a season in which Virginia struggled to generate any turnovers at all, Kiser also had a forced fumble against a North Carolina team that was very good at protecting the football.

Best win: 42-34 win over Duke

The Syracuse win was thrilling, but considering how bad Syracuse is, its hard to put that win as the team's best of the year. The win over Duke was the most complete game of the season. A late surge by the Blue Devils made it close, but for three quarters the Cavaliers dominated against a pretty good Duke team.

Worst loss: 34-27 loss to Notre Dame

Unfortunately there's no shortage of candidates for this one. The Boise State loss was a complete beat down by a team that didn't turn out to be as good as the Boise State teams of the past, but there was nothing more deflating than the way Virginia lost to Notre Dame. Just ask this guy. A coach and a program in desperate need of a signature win came tantalizingly against the Irish. No one in Charlottesville would have cared that it came against Notre Dame's backup quarterback. Instead, it didn't come at all as Will Fuller got behind the defense for a late touchdown to steal it away from the Hoos.

Coach prediction: Mike Sanford

It's hard to see Virginia somehow managing to snag the best coach on the market in Richt, especially with the Miami job open. Virginia would be a much better fit than Miami, but a call from one's alma mater can be hard to ignore. Besides Richt, Sanford looks to be the best fit and, considering he was born in Virginia, I think there could be some interest. I also believe, however, that Sanford has higher aspirations and as the offensive coordinator at Notre Dame, there's no need to reach for a job like UVa if he doesn't want it. He can afford to wait for the right job to come along. If he's not interested, then we are looking at someone like Greg Schiano who would beg a solid hire even if he's an unpopular one. If Mack Brown emerges as a serious candidate, then things have really gone bad in the coaching search, but I don't expect them to get that far or that desperate.

MORE VIRGINIA NEWS: Virginia knocks off Ohio State 64-58

Rick Horrow's Sports Business Podcast March 12: The business of the NCAA Tournament

Rick Horrow's Sports Business Podcast March 12: The business of the NCAA Tournament

with Jamie Swimmer & Jesse Leeds Grant

Podcast edited by Tanner Simkins

  1. From top seed Virginia to final picks Arizona State and Syracuse, it feels as though everyone involved in March Madness is on the bubble this year. As noted by the AP and elsewhere, college basketball is in trouble. When the brackets were revealed on Selection Sunday, Kansas, Villanova, and Xavier joined Virginia as Number 1 seeds. But those teams, along with the other 64 contenders, will play against the backdrop of an NCAA investigation in which bribes and payoffs made bigger headlines than no-look passes and buzzer beaters. The tourney begins Tuesday with play-in games featuring UCLA and St. Bonaventure, then kicks into full swing Thursday and Friday at eight regional sites around the U.S. Shortly after the April 2 championship game in San Antonio, a commission led by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will likely deliver recommendations from an investigation triggered by an FBI probe that led to charges last fall against coaches, agents, shoe company employees, and others. No fewer than 12 tournament teams have been named by either the FBI or media investigations that allege coaches and others have directed payments and improper benefits to recruits and players – breaking rules that define both the NCAA and the "student-athletes" who created the $1.06 billion in revenue the NCAA earned in its 2017 fiscal year.
  2. In all, the NCAA landed nearly $1.1 billion in annual revenue during the 2017 fiscal year, according to an audited financial statement released by the association last Wednesday. According to USA Today, that number marks the first time in NCAA history that it has surpassed the $1 billion threshold, with the statement also showing more than $956 million in expenses in the 2017 fiscal year alongside $105 million in profit. The rise in revenue came as a result of increases from TV and marketing fees in addition to investment income and increased revenue from championship events, according to the report. Television rights packages with tournament broadcast partners CBS and Turner accounted for more than $800 million of its revenue. That $800 million figure and the $8 billion the networks have agreed to pay to broadcast the tourney through 2032 also gives March Madness announcers some incentive to not mention the FBI investigation during courtside broadcasts.
  3. As the NCAA tournament prepares to tip off this week, the NBA is likewise "preparing to get involved again with elite high school basketball players," according to ESPN and other sources. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and "several of his top advisers have been engaged in listening tours and information-gathering missions with an array of stakeholders for months." That has included formal meetings with the NBPA about "adjusting the so-called 'one-and-done' age-limit rule." A plan is "expected to include the NBA starting relationships with elite teenagers while they are in high school." It would ultimately "open an alternate path to the NBA besides playing in college and a way 18-year-olds could earn a meaningful salary.” Another benefit of the new NBA plan? It would undoubtedly cut down on the under the table payments and improper benefits being alleged in the current FBI investigation of NCAA coaches and players, as the top-tier recruits who stand to receive such compensation will likely forego college altogether, returning the college basketball environment to the “amateurs.”
  4. During this year’s tournament, NCAA March Madness Live will offer fans multiple ways to engage with live coverage for all 67 games of the 2018 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship. March Madness Live will run across 16 platforms this year – the most in the product’s history. In addition, the digital platform will introduce a new Fast Break feature offering continuous live streaming coverage throughout the first round of the NCAA Tournament, presented by AT&T and Lowe’s. The offering will include live streaming whip-around coverage of every tournament game during the first two full days of tournament action, switching from game-to-game with live look-ins, quick turnaround highlights, and commentary on behalf of all the games. NCAA March Madness Live will also continue to offer select NCAA Tournament games in virtual reality this year. Every year, as the dollar signs get bigger, the digital stakes get higher. And what happens around the digital brackets often slides over to other sports. The Madness spreads.
  5. With March Madness upon us, the personal finance website WalletHub has released its NCAA Tournament Stats and Facts infographic as well as its report on 2018’s Best Cities for College Basketball Fans. To find 2018’s top spots for NCAA hoops, WalletHub crunched the numbers on more than 280 U.S. cities using nine key metrics. They range from the number of teams per city and the winning percentage of each to stadium capacity and social-media engagement. The survey identified the best cities for college basketball fans as #1 Chapel Hill, NC; #2 Lawrence, KS; #3 Los Angeles, CA; #4 Durham, NC; and #5 Lexington, KY. WalletHub also noted that the $8.98 million salary paid to college basketball’s highest paid coach, Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski, compared very favorably to the $1.4 million combined for Duke’s president and the North Carolina governor, and that the difference between the average NBA rookie’s salary ($2.36 million) and a D1 men’s basketball scholarship for a year ($130,000) is a factor of 18x. Get those brackets filled out before Thursday, and let the unofficial U.S. hoops holiday begin.
  6. This year’s NCAA March Madness Music Festival – presented by the NCAA, Turner Live Events, and official NCAA Corporate Champions AT&T, Coca-Cola and Capital One – will take place at Hemisfair in San Antonio as part of this year’s NCAA Final Four celebration. The three-day free music festival features Maroon 5 and Imagine Dragons, and additional performers will be announced in the coming weeks. The festival opens on March 30 with the AT&T Block Party, while Imagine Dragons take the stage on March 31 as the Coca-Cola Music headliner. Maroon 5 then headlines the Capital One JamFest on April 1. Even with a mega sporting event as big as March Madness and its crowning Final Four weekend, organizers and sponsors alike are ever-cognizant of the need to keep fans entertained with wall-to-wall shoulder programming, even when the on-court attraction is as good as its going to get all year.
  7. Woods-stock is back. Tiger Woods moved to 149th in the Official World Ranking, up from 388, and won $572,000 in prize money with his (tied for) second place finish in the Valspar Championship. And when it comes to picking up a check, according to GolfWorld there's no state he'd rather be in than Florida. Woods has now earned $20,553,868 in the Sunshine State, or slightly more than 20% of the $100 million he's made in the U.S. Ohio ($16,335,145) ranks second on the list and California comes in third ($16,057,684), followed by Georgia (those four green jackets help) at $13,372,311. After three PGA starts so far this season and plenty of fist pumps and power shots that remind golf fans of the Woods of old, it feels like this might be the year that Woods can finally bring his magic back to the sport. Golf fans seem to agree, as ticket prices have skyrocketed in recent days for those who want to watch Tiger compete in the Masters for just the second time since 2013. According to, the average price of a single-day ticket at Augusta this year is a whopping $2,948.42 on secondary markets. Compare that to $2,592.91 for last year’s Masters. A renewed Tiger Mania has effectively increased the price of entry at Augusta National by 20%. And we’re still four weeks, and several tourneys, away.
  8. Jimmy Pitaro beat out at least five internal candidates to become ESPN’s eighth and newest president. Pitaro, who headed up Disney’s consumer products and interactive media group since 2016, will report directly to Disney Chair and CEO Bob Iger. Pitaro replaces John Skipper, who resigned in December citing a substance abuse problem. Former ESPN President George Bodenheimer took over as interim president for a 90-day period while Iger interviewed for a permanent replacement. Iger picked Pitaro over internal candidates including ESPN Exec VP/Affiliate Sales and Marketing Justin Connolly, Exec VP/Content Connor Schell, Exec VP/Programming and Scheduling Burke Magnus, Exec VP/International Russell Wolff, and others. Iger was reportedly swayed that Pitaro’s background in digital media, sports, and consumer products would be a good fit for a sports media company trying to navigate a new media world. One of the first tasks on Pitaro's to-do list will be overseeing the launch of ESPN+, coming later this spring. He will also need to focus on looming sports rights renewals: ESPN’s MLB and NFL deals end in 2021.
  9. Need data to prove that the U.S. is in fact the biggest international sports market? Here’s some more food for thought for new ESPN honcho Jimmy Pitaro. According to a newly-released global industry survey, the worldwide sports media rights market is valued at $49.5 billion. American sports rights holders take in 36% ($18 billion) of that total, with the NFL ($7.3 billion), NBA ($3.9 billion) and MLB ($3.4 billion) regarded as three of the four most valuable sports media properties in the world. The English Premier League ($4.5 billion) is the only non-U.S. based sports media property generating more than $3 billion per year in revenue. For reference purposes, the Champions League, La Liga and Serie A bring in $2.2 billion, $1.9 billion, and $1.5 billion, respectively. Major shifts in sports consumer preferences and tastes, as well as the NFL’s recent troubles, will likely cause Pitaro to more closely evaluate opportunities outside of U.S. borders for ESPN.
  10. Here’s even more food for ESPN thought: mass audience reach, long believed to be an assumed advantage of the largest TV networks, is proving to be a myth. In 2018, marketers and agency executives at all levels are rating Facebook, Amazon, and Google/YouTube as more valuable at delivering on that goal than broadcasting and lead cable network groups. The trio’s market dominance is being driven by their ability to share detailed metrics against specific KPIs identified by marketers and their agencies. A new survey of over 1,200 U.S. brand marketers and agency executives, conducted by Jack Myers Tomorrow Today for Media Village, revealed that 80% of respondents rated the three online companies as very valuable for reach delivery, compared to 61% who rated the four leading broadcast networks as valuable. While ESPN was not named in the survey, the continuing mass migration to social and digital media is the impetus behind sports networks’ large-scale investment in proprietary social/digital platforms, and a major reason the Twitters and Facebooks of our world can now land Big Four sports media rights – a notion that would have been laughable even a handful of years ago.
  11. And in that vein, just examined how Instagram "conquered the NBA." While soccer "still reigns supreme worldwide, the NBA is Instagram’s shining star domestically." The NBA’s official account "has 27 million followers -- nearly doubling the NFL’s 10.9 million and MLB’s 4 million combined -- and totaled a whopping 3.7 billion video views on the platform last year." LeBron James "leads all U.S. athletes with 35.7 million followers, dwarfing Tom Brady’s 3.9 million." And the Warriors "lead all team accounts with 8 million followers." As new basketball stars and NBA prospects arise during the NCAA tournament, it will be instructive to see how many new Instagram followers they gain alongside points, assists, and rebounds.
  12. Churchill Downs, Inc. has announced it will acquire casinos in Pennsylvania and Mississippi, as it prepares to capitalize on legalized sports betting. The company will buy the Presque Isle Downs & Casino in Erie, PA (for $178.9 million) and the Lady Luck Casino in Vicksburg, Mississippi (for $50.6 million), from current owner Eldorado Resorts. Both Pennsylvania and Mississippi have passed sports betting legislation that would change their laws, should the U.S. Supreme Court rule in favor. Churchill Downs also owns brick-and-mortar casinos in Illinois, Kentucky, and Louisiana -- three other states actively working towards sports betting legalization. While Presque Isle Downs & Casino is among the lowest revenue-generating casinos in Pennsylvania, it is a significant acquisition for Churchill Downs. Pennsylvania recently legalized online gambling and the law passed covers mobile wagering on sporting events when permitted by federal law. While land-based casinos are profitable, mobile sports betting really has Churchill Downs excited. TwinSpires, the company’s online horse betting platform, accounted for $256.7 million in 2017 revenue. You can assume the company will look to quickly turn their database of users betting on the ponies into mainstream sports gamblers.
  13. In Miami, the new MLS ownership group inches closer to its stadium site. According to the Miami Herald, David Beckham and Jorge Mas met this week with Miami City Manager Emilio Gonzalez about building an MLS stadium on the city-owned Melreese Country Club, "floating a 180-acre alternative" near Miami International Airport. Mas and his brother Jose have discussed with Gonzalez "how the Melreese park could mesh with the Mas ambitions for a sprawling soccer complex." Gonzalez is entertaining the "possibility of renting at least a sizable portion of Miami’s largest park and a public 18-hole golf course to a for-profit soccer stadium and commercial complex." Miami has always been a hotbed of public-private investment – much of which has deserved a raised eyebrow or two – and the new proposed mixed-use soccer stadium is only the most recent footnote in that grand tradition.
  14. The NHL and NHLPA, in conjunction with Live Nation, announced dates, local start times, locations and ticketing information for the 2018 NHL Global Series and the 2018 NHL Global Series Challenge. In January, the NHL announced that the Edmonton Oilers, Florida Panthers, New Jersey Devils, and Winnipeg Jets will play regular-season games in Europe as part of the slate. The Oilers and Devils will play their 2018-2019 season-opening game against each other in Gothenburg, Sweden on October 6, while the Panthers and Jets will face off in a pair of regular-season games in Helsinki, Finland on November 1-2. Prior to the New Jersey-Edmonton season-opening matchup, the Devils and Oilers will complete their training camps in Europe and will each play in an exhibition match as part of the 2018 NHL Global Series Challenge. Even though we didn’t get to see NHL players complete in the Olympics this year, the Global Series Challenge gives hockey fans around the world a taste of the NHL – and allows the league, rather than the IOC, to control the schedule and the accompanying revenue.
  15. Elsewhere in Olympic-land, the IOC has laid out an overview of 25 recommendations from its Gender Equality Review Project, in a move to “focus on changing the conversation about women in sport holistically – from participation to representation and decision-making.” According to Cynopsis Sports, the recommendations cover five key areas – sport, portrayal, funding, governance, and human resources.  “We are certain that, through the implementation of the 25 IOC Gender Equality Recommendations, we as the Olympic Movement – athletes, officials, commissions, federations and executives – can take real steps to enact effective change together,” said IOC President Thomas Bach. “It is not just the right thing to do. It is in the interest of us all – the fans, the families, and every girl and woman who has been able to fully realize her dreams through athletic participation.” A fitting way for the IOC to celebrate last week’s International Women’s Day, and the rest of March, which is Women’s History Month.





Tech Top 5


  1. Levy Restaurants tests robot cooks in sport venues. Levy Restaurants, in collaboration with California technology startup Miso Robotics, is developing a robotic chef capable of cooking in commercial kitchens such as sports venues. The artificial kitchen assistant, named Flippy in its initial pilot testing, is an industrial robotic arm that uses a combination of cameras, artificial intelligence, thermal scanners, and lasers to know when to turn burgers and remove them from the grill, complete deep-frying cycles, or chop vegetables. The robotic arm is capable of instantly receiving digital orders, starting food on a grill or fryer, monitoring precise food temperatures during cooking, removing that food, and then alerting humans when it’s time to finish and serve items. The robot can even change spatulas from one for raw food to one for cooked food to ensure compliance with safety regulations. “We’ve essentially built a third hand for overworked chefs,” said David Zito, Miso Robotics co-founder and chief executive. The technology is set to debut this summer at Dodger Stadium, at a popular food stand at the ballpark offering fried chicken. That installation will be followed by one at L.A.’s Staples Center this fall, and a broader rollout over the next two years across Levy’s portfolio of sports and entertainment clients.
  2. Social media features NCAA March Madness selection show. Ahead of this year’s 2018 NCAA March Madness Selection Show, Turner Sports and CBS Sports produced a special four-hour Social Madness social media preshow, running exclusively on official March Madness handles across YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook along with and Bleacher Report. March Madness Selection Countdown will showcase fan-created content from schools and teams that have earned automatic bids to this year’s 2018 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship via conference championships, in addition to those seeking at-large bids. The key for the joint CBS-Turner tournament has always been to evolve and innovate all aspects of how it is broadcast, beginning with moving the tournament to four different channels in 2011 and expanding regularly to different online and social platforms. The more aggressive move to social in 2018 represents the next generation of March Madness Selection Show expansion.
  3. Real Madrid launches VR channel.  Fans of Real Madrid will now be able to watch Cristiano Ronaldo score goals and give exciting locker room speeches in virtual reality on their TVs thanks to a partnership between La Liga and Dream VR, which creates a dedicated channel for VR content watchable on mobile devices. The channel will allow Real Madrid fans around the world to access exclusive videos from the club, including 360-degree content. Dream VR developed the new channel through its own application, which can be accessed via iOS and Android mobile devices and various virtual reality platforms. The Dream VR app is also available through Samsung Smart TV and Apple TV platforms, with plans to extend their reach to other sports teams in the near future. Real Madrid's commitment to this new initiative, which launched last Monday and will offer new content each month, is set to enable the club's millions of followers throughout the world to enjoy exclusive 360° content.
  4. Kevin Durant joins wearable technology company as investor. Whoop, the wearable company that partnered with the NFL Players Association last year to track player strain and recovery, has secured a $25 million Series C funding round led by UAE71 Capital with participation from the NFLPA, Kevin Durant via the Durant Company, and NBA Commissioner Emeritus David Stern. "In the process of fundraising you meet people and get introduced to one another," Whoop co-founder and CEO Will Ahmed said when asked how he met UAE71. “They’ve worked with other products in the past and we were excited by their point of view of expanding internationally.” Founded out of the Harvard iLab in 2012, Whoop uses the wristbands to track data about an athlete's sleep schedule, "strain" during workouts, and recovery afterwards. The company has now raised about $50 million in total. Whoop wristbands have been approved for in-game use by Major League Baseball, and the company is working toward similar arrangements with the NFL and the NBA.
  5. Rep The Squad jersey rental adds MLB jerseys. Rep the Squad announced the addition of MLB jerseys to its marketplace, as well as a new trade-in program that aims to reduce the amount of counterfeit items. The Seattle-based jersey rental service now offers Seattle Mariners and Detroit Tigers jerseys, with more MLB teams to be added later this year. Rep the Squad uses a Netflix-like model, charging customers $19.95 per month to receive selected jerseys in the mail, one at a time. When you’re done wearing one, you can return it and receive a different jersey as long as you maintain your subscription. The company launched last year with NFL jerseys, and added NBA jerseys in November. It aims to attract new customers by offering membership discounts for used jerseys fans already own, including counterfeit items. After signing up for the trade-in program, members will receive a free subscription for one month after sending in their old jersey. Rep the Squad has raised $2.5 million from top venture capital firms, along with current and former pro athletes such as Doug Baldwin, Golden Tate, Russell Okung, and Edgar Martinez.




Power of Sports 5

  1. Tom Brady gets a buzz cut for charity and raises $6.5 million. New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady just got a buzz cut for a cancer research institute. Brady was the mystery guest at last Thursday's "Saving by Shaving" annual fundraiser for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. Brady showed off his new look on Instagram after his long, brown hair was shaved down with a razor. Granite Telecommunications holds the event at its headquarters in Quincy, Massachusetts. The company pledged to give over $5 million to the cancer institute if 1,000 people shaved their heads or beards. Granite Telecomm says 1,200 people participated this year, and it will contribute $6.5 million for its fifth annual event. "It's great to see you guys out here. I know you're doing great work and I know we are going to continue to do the same," Brady told the crowd. Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker stood beside Brady. "It's a great statement about him as well as a great statement about how much people appreciate the chance to do this on behalf of such a great cause," Baker said. Saving by Shaving has raised close to $15 million in four years.
  2. Rich Eisen runs 40-yard dash for charity. Every year, Rich Eisen steps onto the starting block at the NFL Combine and runs a 40-yard dash, with the NFL Network anchor using the platform to benefit St. Jude Children's Hospital. This marks the 14th consecutive year that Eisen has run a televised 40. He posted his best time in 2016, when he ran a 5.94. That’s the second time in all these years that Eisen has managed to get below six seconds. This raises money for a wonderful cause, St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. St. Jude’s provides treatment and care to children with cancer and other life-threatening diseases, and they never turn away a patient based on their ability to pay. Families do not receive any bill from St. Jude’s when their child receives treatment there. The NFL Network will contribute $25,000 this year to St. Jude’s on behalf of Run Rich Run. AT&T Audience Network, Courtyard by Marriott, and Under Armour also pledged $25,000 each to St. Jude’s as part of this initiative, for a total of $100,000. “I’m touched and honored by the chance to do anything on behalf of St. Jude and the terrific partners of Run Rich Run who support it,” Eisen said, “If only any of that could make me run faster.”
  3. Washington Capitals support TAPS. Courage Caps, the Washington Capitals’ team-issued branded hats and T-shirts, went on sale last week, in partnership with Monumental Sports & Entertainment Foundation and the Washington Capitals. This season's Courage Caps campaign is sponsored by Telos Corporation, with 100% of the proceeds benefiting the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS). For the seventh-consecutive season, TAPS is the beneficiary of Courage Caps. TAPS is a nonprofit organization that provides comfort and care for anyone grieving the death of someone who died while serving in the military. Funds raised will help TAPS provide peer-based emotional support, regional seminars for adults, good grief camps for children, casework assistance, grief and trauma resources, and a 24/7 resource and information helpline for bereaved military families. To launch the 2017-18 campaign, Caps players John Carlson, Taylor ChorneyMatt NiskanenBrooks Orpik, and T.J. Oshie hosted nearly 150 children and adults who have found healing through TAPS for a skating party at Kettler Capitals Iceplex on February 10.
  4. Houston Texans announce #TexansCare Volunteer Day. The Houston Texans announced their annual #TexansCare Volunteer Day. The annual event will be held this year on April 28 and offers Texans fans the opportunity to volunteer around the city of Houston alongside the Texans Cheerleaders, TORO, Texans staff, and their favorite Texans players. This year, the Texans will offer volunteer support at the YMCA of Greater Houston and Boys & Girls Club of Greater Houston. Volunteers at the Houston Texans YMCA will participate in projects such as mulching, pressure washing, building structures, and assembling kits for families affected by Hurricane Harvey. These projects will create a fresh look for the space where children learn and grow, and assist in strengthening the community. Volunteers at the Boys & Girls Club - Havard location will help with the upkeep of this facility. The projects for this site consist of repainting outdoor areas, landscaping, deep cleaning, and repairing equipment. Completing these projects will provide the Boys & Girls Club with much-needed services and will encourage participation in club activities by area youth.
  5. Former NFL punter to play in charity game for 9/11 victims. The Washington Wild Things, an independent minor league baseball team in Pennsylvania, announced that former NFL punter Pat McAfee will play in a Wild Things game this season as part of a promotion that benefits a veterans' charity. The 30-year-old McAfee retired after the 2016 NFL season to join media company Barstool Sports, which announced the promotion for the June 21 Wild Things game. According to a team release, McAfee will be in the starting lineup, playing right field for Washington before batting and coaching first base in his pro baseball debut against the Traverse City Beach Bums. Fans attending the game also will receive a free T-shirt, with $1 draft beer available. The Wild Things said half of all proceeds from the game will benefit the "It's About the Warrior Foundation," a post-9/11 veterans organization that assists and empowers all Tri-State area post-9/11 veterans and their families via various programs. "I'm very grateful that the Washington Wild Things are willing to have a great time with some promotion while raising money for an incredible cause," McAfee said. "(One-dollar) pints, a free T-shirt and a chance that I die from getting hit by a pitch from a professional pitcher is quite a recipe for an incredible time."

UMBC's NCAA Tournament hopes end vs. Kansas State, but its Cinderella run was unforgettable


UMBC's NCAA Tournament hopes end vs. Kansas State, but its Cinderella run was unforgettable

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — UMBC's improbable run through the NCAA Tournament was brief. The statement the Retrievers made and their place in history is forever.

For one weekend in March, the tiny commuter school from Baltimore known for its academics and championship-winning chess team captured the hearts of the college basketball world and beyond. UMBC became the first No. 16 seed to knock off a No. 1 in March Madness, a victory over Virginia that made the Retrievers the ultimate Cinderella.

The fairytale came to an end Sunday night in a 50-43 loss to No. 9 Kansas State -- heartbreaking because it was a game UMBC could have won, but still satisfying because the Retrievers touched so many people by accomplishing what many thought was impossible.

"We put our name on the map. We gave hope to teams that come to the tournament with lower seeds," said senior guard K.J. Maura. "I think we gave hope to guys that are not even that tall like me. People that feel like they are underdogs in their life, I think we gave hope to everything they want to do in life."


Stephen Curry noticed the team and sent UMBC the sneakers the team wore against Kansas State. The Golden State Warriors had his Curry 5s, which are in limited release, and other swag sent to the team. U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams declared the Retrievers "Surgeon General approved" and posted a photo of himself on Facebook wearing a sweatshirt from his alma mater.

NFL quarterback Aaron Rodgers tweeted to UMBC guard Joe Sherburne, who claims to be Rodgers' biggest fan. And for a team addicted to the video game "Fortnite," their dreams were made when Ninja, a popular gamer who recently played against rapper Drake and JuJu Smith-Schuster of the Pittsburgh Steelers, FaceTimed with the team early Sunday.

"They play with passion, they play with heart, they play together," coach Ryan Odom said. "We do things together for one another, and obviously when you have a big win like that (over Virginia) and it's so shocking, you know, people love to see that. They love to see the upset.

"And our guys handled it with grace and understood the circumstances. They weren't pounding their chests or anything. They expected to be here and expected to compete."

When UMBC returned to the locker room following its ouster, Odom had written just one word on the whiteboard. The Retrievers needed a buzzer-beating 3 against Vermont to win their conference title and make the NCAA Tournament, but they showed up believing they could beat Virginia, and the same about Kansas State.


So Odom simply penned "Proud" on the board for his players.

"Just very proud of these kids and what they've been able to do as the representatives that they are for our university," Odom said. "Just captured our country and beyond, to be honest, from a sporting perspective and it's really, really neat to see."

Sherburne said Odom relayed stories from friends who had texted or called from outside the country to rave about UMBC. Near tears after an 0-for-9 shooting night, Sherburne found consolation in the joy UMBC brought to so many.

"From when we beat Vermont until the last two hours were the greatest time of my life," Sherburne said. "What we did, everyone in here, it's the greatest time of our lives."

Odom arrived at UMBC two years ago and inherited a team accustomed to losing. He told them he was going to get them to .500 that first year; they thought he was joking. But slowly the culture changed and the Retrievers did everything Odom told them they could accomplish.

And then some.

"When I got here, first we were a four-win team that year, and then the next year we went on to win seven games," said graduate student Jairus Lyles. "Then Coach Odom and his staff came in, we won 21 games and this year we had a tremendous season."

Odom doesn't know how far the UMBC program can grow. Those four letters are now synonymous with the biggest upset in college basketball history, but it's a long way from becoming a basketball school.

"UMBC is a unique place -- lot of high achieving kids on campus," Odom said. "We want guys that want to be great from a basketball perspective and want to play after college. But, at the same time, we want folks that are highly motivated academically that want to do great things past basketball. Because the air goes out of the ball at some point for everybody."