Cubs

A new contract extension for Nick Saban

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A new contract extension for Nick Saban

From Comcast SportsNet
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) -- Alabama coach Nick Saban said he received overtures for other jobs after claiming the second national title in three years. Instead of bolting, he has received a raise and contract extension worth 5.62 million a year that he said represents his intention to finish his career in Tuscaloosa. "From my standpoint, the acceptance of this extension represents our commitment ... to the University of Alabama for the rest of our career," Saban said. "We made that decision after the season when other people were interested." The university's board of trustees approved a two-year extension for Saban on Monday that will run through Jan. 31, 2020. He'll receive 5.32 million in 2012 with a 50,000 raise next year and 100,000 annually after that. Under the deal, he'll make 5.97 million in 2019. Saban will make nearly 45 million over eight years in base salary (245,000) and what Alabama calls "talent fees." The contract represents a 500,000 raise in talent fees plus longevity pay and the built-in raises. The former Miami Dolphins coach declined to say who made the overtures. "It doesn't really matter," Saban said. "We wanted to stay at Alabama. We're staying at Alabama and we're not interested in going anyplace else. We weren't interested in going anyplace else at the end of the season, so it really doesn't matter." Saban remains among college football's highest paid coaches, along with Mack Brown of Texas (5.2 million) and Oklahoma's Bob Stoops (4.875 million), dwarfing the eye-catching eight-year, 32 million deal he received after leaving the Miami Dolphins. He made at least 5.170 million last year in salary, talent fee and bonuses, including 400,000 for winning the national title. The new deal represents a 500,000 raise to his talent fee, plus longevity pay, which totals 5 million over the duration, and a 5 million life insurance policy. The Tide is 48-6 over the past four seasons. Saban has restored the program to the point that a 10-3 title follow-up in 2010 was viewed as a big disappointment. He has had Alabama at its best in the biggest games, particularly the powerhouse defense. The Tide claimed the 2009 title with a 37-21 win over Texas and blanked LSU 21-0 in New Orleans for the national championship two years later. Before his arrival, Alabama hadn't won a national title since the 1992 season. The deal states that if he's fired without cause he gets the lesser amount between four years of pay or the balance of his contract. Saban said he "really wasn't involved in the negotiations." "To me, this all happened a long time ago right after the (LSU) game," said Saban, whose agent is Jimmy Sexton. "I really think they sort of decide what they want to do and you decide if it's good enough and it's certainly good enough for me." His coaching staff was rewarded, too. The trustees' compensation committee also approved a 100,000 raise for defensive coordinator Kirby Smart, up to 950,000. New offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier will make 590,000. Both have three-year deals. Smart is the only assistant coach who doesn't owe a 20 percent buyout if he leaves early, but will owe 72,000 if he leaves for any position other than head coach. He also got a 100,000 raise in January 2011. New outside linebackers coach Lance Thompson will make 355,000 in a two-year deal. The assistant coaches will receive 4 percent bonuses for an appearance in the SEC championship game, 8 percent for a bowl game, 12 percent for one of the SEC's top 5 bowl tie-ins and 16 percent for a BCS game. "I think there's a very competitive market out there when it comes to assistant coaches," Saban said. "I think it's imperative that we keep continuity and that we had the opportunity to be competitive salary-wise with other schools who are trying to hire our coaches. "It doesn't really matter what my opinion is or anyone else's opinion. The market is what it is, and if we're not willing to pay that to the best people that we have, they're not going to be here." Most of the other assistant coaches got raises and one-year extensions through Feb. 28, 2014: -- Bobby Williams, who coaches tight ends and special teams, received a 35,000 raise, to 350,000. -- Strength and conditioning coach Scott Cochran got a raise from 310,000-325,000. -- Defensive line coach Chris Rumph goes from 288,750 to 310,000 -- Running backs coach Burton Burns got a 10,000 hike, up to 290,000. -- Receivers coach Mike Groh's pay went up from 250,000 to 280,000. -- Secondary coach Jeremy Pruitt is now making 260,000, up from 225,000. Offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland was the only on-the-field assistant to not get a raise. Saban said that was related to his alleged involvement in rules violations while with the University of Miami. Saban has said the university uncovered no compliance "red flags" on either Stoutland or director of football operations Joe Pannunzio from their tenures at Miami. Both former Hurricanes coaches were named in a report alleging that they steered recruits to a jailed booster who says he supplied Miami players with prostitutes, cars and other gifts over the past decade. "As a university, we make decisions to do things because we think it's the right thing to do," Saban said. "In the future, I think Jeff Stoutland deserves to get a raise based on the merit of the work that he's done here, but I also think that it wouldn't be smart on our part of ignore other things that have happened."

Cubs get more encouraging news on Jon Lester

Cubs get more encouraging news on Jon Lester

The news on Brandon Morrow might not be so positive, but the Cubs did receive very good reports on their injured ace this weekend.

Jon Lester threw a simulated game against a couple of his Cubs teammates Saturday morning at Wrigley Field, tossing 45 pitches in total. In between "innings" of the sim game, Lester was also working out on the side in an effort to ramp up the intensity and simulate more of a game feel to see how his injured left hamstring will respond.

Lester initially went on the injured list two weeks ago after he was removed in the third inning of the Cubs' home opener on April 8, when he hurt his hamstring running the bases.

"[The sim game went] really well," Joe Maddon said Saturday morning. "I thought he looked very good. Pretty amazing where he's at already. ... Did not hold back at all, so it's very encouraging."

Maddon also said he thought Lester's stuff looked good from where he was watching behind the catcher and pointed out that the Cubs ace was "hypercritical of himself," indicating that Lester's focus was on competing and making good pitches instead of worrying about his hamstring or any physical limitations.

The Cubs don't have a next step mapped out for Lester just yet, as they will see how the 35-year-old feels Sunday after the "rigorous" activity Saturday.

There is currently no timetable for his return, but Maddon didn't rule out the possibility that Lester would be able to pitch sometime in the coming week.

The Cubs rotation has looked very good since Lester went down — combining for a 0.96 ERA in the last 7 games before Yu Darvish struggled early in Saturday's tilt with the Diamondbacks.

Tyler Chatwood gets the ball for the Cubs Sunday to close out the series against Arizona and then the team has Jose Quintana and Cole Hamels lined up for the first two games of the series against the Dodgers when they come to town Tuesday night. 

The Cubs won't need a fifth starter in the rotation again until next Saturday, April 27, so that could be a date to circle for a possible Lester return if all continues to go well in the veteran's recovery.

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Cubs shut down Brandon Morrow after setback

Cubs shut down Brandon Morrow after setback

Brandon Morrow will not be ready to join the Cubs bullpen in the near future.

It was expected the closer would miss at least the first month of the season after recovering from November elbow surgery, but now the Cubs say Morrow has suffered a setback and they're shutting down the 34-year-old pitcher.

Morrow threw a bullpen at the Cubs' complex in Arizona earlier in the week and experienced some of the same issues in his arm after.

"The bounceback after the last time out wasn't as good, so we gotta back off him once again and just slow things down," Joe Maddon said Saturday morning. "It's just where he's at. It's not unlike what had been going on earlier.

"It was all trending very well and this last time, just not as good. So we have to pay attention to what he's saying."

Morrow will not pick up a baseball for a little while, though the Cubs didn't specify exactly how long that would be. This obviously pushes Morrow's timeline back significantly and raises serious questions about his status moving forward this season.

He has not appeared in a game since July 15 last year, hitting the shelf with what was classified as a biceps issue initially and then later revealed as a bone bruise. The surgery in November was a debridement procedure similar to what Yu Darvish underwent in September for his own bone bruise.

The Cubs have been very conservative with Morrow throughout his entire recovery, especially given his long injury history. 

Yet even with that conservative approach, nine months away from game action to let the injury recover and the procedure on his elbow to clean things up, Morrow is still experiencing similar issues to what he went through in the second half of last year. As he tried to come back and join the Cubs' pennant race last August and September, Morrow also struggled bouncing back after throwing sessions.

It will be a bit until the Cubs have any sort of definitive timeline on Morrow, but in the meantime, they'll continue piecing together a bullpen that has found its footing lately after a brutal stretch to begin the season. 

The Cubs also have some reinforcements on the way soon in the form of veterans Xavier Cedeno and Tony Barnette, who both signed free-agent deals with the team over the winter. Cedeno, a 32-year-old lefty, is throwing another rehab game in Double-A Tennessee Saturday while Barnette — a 35-year-old righty — is expected to make his first rehab appearance with Triple-A Iowa Sunday.

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