Cubs

Zook hired as studio analyst for CBS NCAA coverage

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Zook hired as studio analyst for CBS NCAA coverage

Ron Zook is back, but not to coaching.

The former Illinois head coach will join the CBS Sports Network as a studio analyst, along with former Ole Miss and Arkansas coach Houston Nutt, for college football coverage this fall. Zook coached Illinois from 2005-2011 and led the Illini to a 34-51 record, including a 9-4 season and a Rose Bowl bid in 2007.

Zook previously spent three years as the head coach at Florida, with the Gators going 23-14 under him.

Kris Bryant owns St. Louis, pisses off Cardinal Nation

Kris Bryant owns St. Louis, pisses off Cardinal Nation

As far as Cubs fans are concerned, Kris Bryant is saying and doing all the right things in advance of what may be a major bounceback season for the former NL MVP.

Bryant assured everybody his shoulder is feeling great Friday evening and he's shown his standard one-handed finish in offseason workout videos.

He also cracked a couple jokes at his Cubs Convention panel, from serving as a resident "hitting poet" to playing up his wholesome image.

Bryant also managed to piss off Cardinals Nation, much to the delight of Cubs fans.

Bryant was a guest on Ryan Dempster's talk show Friday night at the Sheraton Grand Chicago and the topic of Bryce Harper came up (of course) along with Nelly, whom the two baseball superstars were photographed with over the winter. 

As Harper continues his free agent tour, Nelly apparently tried to pitch the superstar on St. Louis, the hometown of the rapper.

Fans booed when Bryant reminded everybody Nelly is a diehard Cardinals fan.

"Yeah, boo," Bryant said. "He was trying to work the magic on Bryce. Who would want to play in St. Louis? Boring. So boring. 

"I always get asked, 'Where would you like to play? Where would you not like to play?' St. Louis is on the list of places I don't like to play. It is rough."

Cubs fans absolutely loved it, of course, but those comments are not going over well in the shadow of the arch:

Even Cardinals reliever John Brebbia apparently took exception to Bryant's comments, reportedly calling the Cubs slugger a "loser" at their own fan convention over the weekend:

In addition to Brebbia's comment, Yadier Molina weighed in on Instagram, indirectly calling Bryant and Dempster "stupid players" and said they should have more respect:

All stars, elite players and leaders of their teams do not speak bad about any city. There should be respect and you should play and compete with respect... only stupid players and losers make comments like the ones made by bryant and dempster ..
#ceroRespectforthisstupidplayers
#QuevivaStlouis #LOVESTL

Cardinals outfielder Marcell Ozuna responded to Molina's Instagram, saying, "From outside they speak and talk like tiger but at the end they gonna be like little cat."

Daniel Descalso is the only main addition to the Cubs this winter, but he's also a guy who came up with the Cardinals and spent the first 5 years of his career in St. Louis. But now he's on the North Side of the rivalry and when asked Saturday afternoon which fan convention is better - Cubs or Cardinals - Descalso didn't miss a beat and said "this one." (Then again, what else is he supposed to say??)

The NL Central already promised to be one of the most interesting divisions in baseball in 2019. The Cubs-Brewers rivalry (or not, if you ask Cole Hamels) took center stage last year, but Cubs-Cardinals may be getting the fire back if this early trash talk is any indication.

After skating with Blackhawks, when could Corey Crawford return?

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USA TODAY

After skating with Blackhawks, when could Corey Crawford return?

The Blackhawks are in the middle of a five-game losing streak, but there was a positive development at practice on Saturday.

Corey Crawford was on the ice 30 minutes beforehand working with goaltending coach Jimmy Waite, along with Collin Delia and Cam Ward. He has been in concussion protocol since Dec. 16 after smacking the back of his head on the post and leaving in the second period against San Jose.

"Positive that he was out there, but I'm not sure it means a ton," coach Jeremy Colliton said. "Hopefully he continues to feel better."

This wasn't the first time Crawford had been on the ice since the injury, according to a source, which is also great news because it indicates he's responding well to the workouts. But he didn't fully participate with the team in practice, so there are still hurdles that he needs to overcome before getting cleared to play.

The good news is, Crawford hasn't been sidelined very long. It's been only a month, so it shouldn't take him too long to get back into game shape compared to this summer when he was off the ice for more than six months and spent all of training camp getting his conditioning back. Crawford went straight into drills on Saturday, with several teammates getting in on the action to help simulate game-type scenarios.

The Blackhawks host the Washington Capitals on Sunday and then the New York Islanders on Tuesday before going on a nine-day break. The team isn't putting a timeline on his return, but it wouldn't be surprising to see Crawford between the pipes again shortly after they return.

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