From Comcast SportsNetChip Kelly is staying at Oregon.Two people with knowledge of the decision confirmed Sunday night that Kelly is passing up a chance to coach in the NFL to remain with the Ducks. One person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because Oregon and Kelly haven't formally announced the decision, while the other person wasn't authorized to reveal Kelly's plans. The decision was first reported by ESPN.Kelly had lengthy interviews this weekend with the Cleveland Browns and Philadelphia Eagles, and also talked to the Buffalo Bills. Last year, he had talks with Tampa Bay.The 49-year-old coach earned a base salary of 2.8 million this past season last at Oregon and has five years left on his contract. The No. 5 Ducks, known for the innovative offense that Kelly devised, beat Kansas State in the Fiesta Bowl on Thursday night to finish the season 12-1.Kelly is 46-7 in four years at Oregon and the Ducks have been to four straight BCS bowl games -- including a bid for the national championship against Auburn two seasons ago -- and won three Pac-12 championships. He originally came to the Ducks in 2007 as offensive coordinator under Mike Bellotti. Before that, he was offensive coordinator at New Hampshire.Earlier Sunday, a person familiar with Cleveland's coaching search said the team passed on Kelly after he was indecisive about making the leap to the NFL. The Browns nearly had a deal with Kelly two days ago, but they've moved on to other candidates, said the person who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the search.The buyout for Kelly's contract with Oregon is 3.5 million.Kelly's decision to stay at Oregon came as a surprise after months of speculation that this season was his last with the Ducks. It appeared that offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich was the leading candidate to replace him.Ducks fans at the Fiesta Bowl made their feelings clear by chanting "We want Chip!" during the victory celebration.Nikeco-founder and Oregon mega-booster Phil Knight proclaimed to a reporter following the game: "I was one of em."Kelly himself said about the NFL interest: "I'll listen and we'll see."But at the same time, he acknowledged a love for Oregon."It's a special place with special people. They accepted me six years ago when I was at New Hampshire. Not many people knew about me," Kelly said. "Gave me an opportunity to come here. It really means a lot."In staying with Oregon, Kelly will still have to deal with fallout from an NCAA investigation into the school's use of recruiting services.The inquiry is the result of reports that surfaced in 2011 concerning payments Oregon made to two such services, including a 25,000 check sent to Willie Lyles and Houston-based Complete Scouting Services in 2010. Lyles had a relationship with a player who committed to Oregon.Last month, Yahoo Sports reported that Oregon is headed toward a hearing with the NCAA committee on infractions because the two sides couldn't come to an agreement on appropriate sanctions. Yahoo cited two unidentified sources.Earlier this year, Oregon requested a summary disposition in the case. The school presented a report to the infractions committee outlining violations the school believed occurred and appropriate sanctions. But that request was apparently turned down.The NCAA does not comment on ongoing investigations."We've cooperated fully with them. If they want to talk to us again, we'll continue to cooperate fully," Kelly said following the Fiesta Bowl. "I feel confident in the situation."Kelly explained that he stayed at Oregon following the interest from Tampa Back because he had "unfinished business" with the Ducks. The team was ranked No. 1 and appeared headed for another shot at the national championship until a 17-14 loss to Stanford on Nov. 17.
As the Cactus League shuttered its doors and Cubs players scattered across the country – some headed home, others stayed in Arizona —Tommy Hottovy stepped into uncharted territory.
Hottovy has been the Cubs pitching coach since December of 2018, so he’s guided his pitchers through offseasons before. But going from ramping up in Spring Training to not knowing when Major League Baseball would return? No one had a play book for that.
“Our philosophy was be over-ready and not try to play catchup,” starting pitcher Tyler Chatwood said. “So, luckily we were able to do that.”
Fast forward to Sunday, Day 3 of Cubs Summer Camp. By the end of the holiday weekend, four of the Cubs’ five presumptive starters had thrown at least two innings in an intrasquad scrimmage and four relievers had also gotten time on the mound.
“It’s just a testament to the work those guys put in over the process,” Hottovy said.
During the shutdown, Hottovy held regular meetings with the pitchers via video conference. They bounced ideas off each other and discussed their overall approach.
“We had so many resources between Tommy, Rossy (manager David Ross), the whole coaching staff staying in touch with us the whole time,” right-hander Kyle Hendricks said. “And then other players. So, we really did it as a group.”
Out of those conversations, Hottovy learned that many of the pitchers wanted arm strength to be a focus during the break.
“Not just pitch-count wise,” Hottovy said, “but to feel that their arm was in the right throwing shape.”
So, he incorporated that into the pitchers’ throwing programs.
Each pitchers’ program was catered to the resources and facilities he had access to, as well as his own goals. But before ramping up for Summer Camp, most of the starting pitchers were throwing one bullpen session early in the week and a simulated game later in the week. As the season got closer, they added a second bullpen.
“The reason I liked getting to those two bullpens,” Hottovy said, “was because now you kind of start simulating what it’s like to be on a five-game rotation.”
By the time they entered camp, many of the starting pitchers were already throwing multiple-inning simulation games. By Day 2 of camp, the Cubs were ready for a short intrasquad game. Hendricks threw three innings, and Yu Darvish threw two.
“Both of them had actually thrown more pitches in a simulated outing prior to coming here,” Hottovy said, “but we wanted to back that off a little bit, obviously knowing that the intensity was going to go up. They’re back on the field with players behind them facing more of our lineup, more of our hitters.”
On Sunday, the Cubs stretched an intrasquad out to five-innings. Chatwood and Alec Mills started, and Dan Winkler, Duane Underwood, Rex Brothers and James Norwood all pitched in relief.
“Everything’s based off pitching,” Ross said and then laughed. “We give the pitchers a hard time all the time; the pitchers kind of dictate how long the day’s going to go because these guys have got to get their pitch counts up.”
With less than three weeks until the season opener, Hottovy’s job still doesn’t return to normal. Instead of setting a schedule based on the order of the pitching rotation, he’s “front-loading” the starters. He also is preparing some relivers to throw extended innings.
“Right now, in my mind we have seven opening day starters,” he said, “…You can’t space them out too much in my opinion just because you can’t take that chance.”
If you're a diehard Bears fan or a fan of Mitch Trubisky, you may want to skip this one. It isn't pretty.
Sports Illustrated recently published the NFL's 10 biggest what-ifs of the last decade, and Ryan Pace's decision to draft Trubisky over Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson made the cut.
Look, this isn't earth-shattering stuff. Bears fans have assimilated to life after the 2017 draft and the painful reality that Chicago had an opportunity to select either Mahomes or Watson. It's obvious that that decision changed the fate of the Bears (for the worse), while the Chiefs are defending Super Bowl champions and the Texans are poised to always be in the mix despite the blunders by the coaching staff and shell of a front office.
But this is the Bears. And they're a popular target this offseason for reasons beyond comprehension. What in the world did this team do to offend football media so hard? But I digress.
At least SI is somewhat reasonable with the way things could've played out for Mahomes and Watson had they been picked by the Bears. It's easy (and somewhat foolish) to assume their careers would've taken the same path in Chicago that it has in Kansas City and Houston. In fact, Trubisky's had the most challenging start to his career. He's the only one of the three who's on his second head coach, and if we're being honest, Allen Robinson is the only legitimate (and proven) starting-caliber receiver he's had at his disposal.
If the Bears had taken Mahomes, and still fired John Fox after his rookie year, and still hired Andy Reid protege Matt Nagy, would the team find the same level of success? If Mahomes was not given the chance to sit his rookie season behind Alex Smith and smooth out the rough patches in his game, would he emerge as the same firebrand? If Watson was a Bear, without the comically high catch radius of DeAndre Hopkins and a foundationally sound offense (Trivia Question: Who led the Bears in receiving yards in 2017? Kendall Wright with 614!), what would’ve become of him?
There are some basic facts that can't be ignored, however. Trubisky has proven to be the least talented of the three from pure quarterbacking standpoint after three years in the league. He doesn't have the natural ability to make the kind of 'wow' plays that Watson routinely does and his arm is a full tier (or more) below Mahomes'. Trubisky certainly has physical traits consistent with a quality starting quarterback, but his mental processing is way behind Mahomes and Watson at this point, and we've entered that scary territory where it's worth questioning whether he's capable of growth in that part of his game.
If the Bears picked Mahomes or Watson, they'd be better equipped to make a Super Bowl run sometime in the not-too-distant future. But they didn't. And guess what? They're still good enough to make that SuperBowl run, assuming Trubisky (or Nick Foles) plays their best football in 2020.