Nationals

10 coaches who could be bracing for bad news

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10 coaches who could be bracing for bad news

The first firing of the college football season came Sunday. Idaho let go of Robb Akey in a move that was not unexpected.

With a little more than a month to go, there are other axes to fall. It's safe to say Arkansas will not be signing up for another year of the John L. Smith experience.

Here are 10 more coaches who could be bracing for bad news.

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- Gene Chizik, Auburn

Two years removed from a national championship, Chizik is in trouble. No team had ever started a season 1-6 two years after finishing No. 1 in the AP poll - until the Tigers. It'll cost $7.5 million for Auburn to buyout Chizik as of Dec. 1, but if the Iron Bowl gets really ugly, money might not be an issue. ``I'm the head coach at Auburn,'' Chizik said. ``It's really not about me. It's about everybody else, and everybody else's expectations. I don't take that lightly. I feel a very, very high sense of responsibility.''

- Jeff Tedford, California

The Bears' 21-3 loss to archrival Stanford at their newly remodeled stadium (cost: $321 million) felt like the final blow. Tedford has been at Cal for 11 years and won 82 games. He'll leave the program in far better shape than when he arrived, but it has slipped over the past few years.

- Frank Spaziani, Boston College

The Eagles have been moving backward in four years under the former longtime BC assistant. Boston College was 4-8 last year and is 1-6 this season, with its only victory coming against Maine. This seems a more a matter of when then if.

- Joker Phillips, Kentucky

Phillips is only in his third season as Rich Brooks' successor, but each season has gotten worse. The Wildcats (1-7) have been hammered by injuries, but they are staring at a winless SEC season, and even at a basketball school, that's hard abide.

- Derek Dooley, Tennessee

Dooley took over a program in disarray, following Lane Kiffin's one-and-done in Knoxville. The Vols have improved, but there have been no big wins. Dooley is 0-14 against ranked opponents. A $5 million buyout might not stand in the way of AD Dave Hart, who did not hire Dooley.

- David Bailiff, Rice

Bailiff has had one winning season in six at Rice since taking over for Todd Graham, and is 2-6 this season, 0-4 in Conference USA. It's a tough place to win, but other than that 10-3 season in 2008, Bailiff is 15-41.

- Mike Price, UTEP

Price is 66 years old, so retirement might be on his mind anyway. The Miners are 2-6, 1-3 in C-USA, and haven't finished over .500 since his second season in El Paso, Texas, which was 2005.

- Dan Enos, Central Michigan

The former Michigan State quarterback is only in his third season at CMU, but this is a program that grew accustomed to being a Mid-American Conference contender under Brian Kelly and Butch Jones. Enos has only eight victories. The Chippewas are 2-5 overall and 0-3 in the league this season, though they did beat Iowa.

- Bobby Hauck, UNLV

Another guy only in his third season, but even at places such as UNLV, patience is thin these days. Hauck reached three national title games at Montana, so clearly he knows how to coach. But the Rebels are 1-7 and have won only five games total under Hauck.

- Doug Marrone, Syracuse

There is no doubt Syracuse is better off now than when Marrone took over four years ago, and sitting at 3-4 (2-1 in the Big East), he might not even need to get to a bowl game to be safe. But the school is moving to the ACC next season and if the Orange finish poorly, it might be tough to bring a coach already on shaky ground along for the ride.

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HEISMAN WATCH

Look for Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron and Oregon running back Kenjon Barner to start generating some Heisman buzz in the coming weeks.

Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein has emerged as the front-runner for the award after accounting for seven touchdowns in a blowout of West Virginia on Saturday.

Behind Klein though, there is plenty of room for challengers to emerge now that Geno Smith's star has dimmed and Braxton Miller is coming off a poor game in which he was injured.

McCarron and Barner are set to surge, with high-profile games coming up.

Alabama's next three opponents are No. 13 Mississippi State, No. 6 LSU and No. 22 Texas A&M. McCarron is already tops in the country in passer rating with 16 touchdowns and no interceptions.

He won't put up gaudy, Big 12-like stats, but he's more than just a `game manager.'

As for Barner, spectacular teammate D'Anthony Thomas gets a lot of attention for the Ducks, but he is the engine of their prolific offense. The senior is 10th in the nation in rushing (124 yards per game) and has scored 13 touchdowns.

With games against No. 10 Southern California, No. 19 Stanford and No. 7 Oregon State still to come, the guy who spent the last three years backing up 2010 Heisman finalist LaMichael James could earn a trip to New York for himself.

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QUICK HITS

- Duke (6-2) became bowl-eligible for the first time since 1994 by beating North Carolina on Saturday (talk about a double-bonus for the Blue Devils). Put David Cutcliffe, the former Mississippi coach who was run out of Oxford after only one losing season in six years, on the short list of coach of the year candidates. The ACC Coastal Division-leading Blue Devils are at No. 11 Florida State, which leads the Atlantic Division.

- It's best not to get too worked up over college football's positional awards. Lots of deserving players always get overlooked. The Butkus Award, however, made a particularly egregious mistake Monday by leaving Khaseem Greene of Rutgers off its list of 12 semifinalists for top linebacker. Greene has not just been one of the best linebackers in the country, he's got a case for best overall defensive player.

- Michigan's defense, led by linebacker Jake Ryan, has quietly become one of the best in the country. The Wolverines rank 10th in yards allowed per game (285.3) and 13th in yard per play (4.46).

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LAST WORD

``I'm 73 years old. I hardly remember what happened yesterday, let alone 1998.'' Kansas State coach Bill Snyder when asked Monday to compare his current team to the one that came within a victory of playing in the BCS title game.

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AP Sports Writer John Zenor in Auburn, Ala., contributed.

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Follow Ralph D. Russo at www.Twitter.com/ralphdrussoap

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Rain knocks out another Phillies-Nationals game

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USA TODAY Sports Images

Rain knocks out another Phillies-Nationals game

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals and Phillies are 2-for-2.

Tuesday night's game was postponed following a two-hour rain delay. Monday's game was postponed after a three-hour rain delay.

Tuesday's game will be made up as part of a split day-night doubleheader Sept. 24 at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m., bumping a four-game series to a five-game series. The Nationals and Phillies are scheduled to also play a split day-night doubleheader Wednesday.

The day was not without news. Nationals ace Max Scherzer broke his nose in batting practice when a ball bounced off his bat and struck him in the face. Scherzer was attempting to bunt at the time.

Scherzer's injury and the multiple postponements throw the Nationals' pitching plans into disarray. They're not sure if Scherzer will pitch as expected Wednesday. It appears Austin Voth, who was scratched from his Thursday start for Triple-A Fresno, will be available to pitch in one of the Wednesday games -- should they be played. More rain is expected Wednesday.

The Nationals will bump Patrick Corbin, who was slated to pitch again Tuesday, into a Wednesday spot. Wednesday's other starter is TBA. It could be Scherzer if he is ready. It could be Erick Fedde, and Voth could be used in the bullpen as the 26th man. That would provide Scherzer a chance to pitch Thursday and Strasburg on Friday against Atlanta. 

Or, Scherzer could be provided more time off. There's a lot to sort out once again thanks to the rain.

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Source: Wizards will have competition with teams like Lakers, Clippers for restricted free agent Bobby Portis

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USA Today

Source: Wizards will have competition with teams like Lakers, Clippers for restricted free agent Bobby Portis

This summer is shaping up to be lucrative for NBA free agents and big man Bobby Portis is well-positioned to cash in. After spending the final three months of the 2018-19 season with the Wizards, Portis is already seeing a healthy market develop ahead of the June 30 start of the league's negotiating period, NBC Sports Washington has learned.

The Wizards are likely to first extend a qualifying offer on June 30 to make him a restricted free agent. According to Spotrac.com, it will be about $3.6 million and that will give the Wizards the right to match an offer sheet from another franchise.

But teams are already indicating they want Portis, who is just 24 and coming off a season in which he averaged a career-high 14.2 points and 8.1 rebounds in 50 games. That market includes 5-10 teams and could grow once free agency opens.

Portis is expected to draw interest from the Lakers, Clippers, Jazz, Bucks, Magic and Knicks among others, NBC Sports Washington has learned.

Despite restricted free agency, Portis has a few things working for him. For one, there are a lot of teams with cap room. Spending won't reach 2016 levels, when the new CBA spiked the salary cap, but there will a lot of money to go around.

Also, guys in Portis' tier will only be helped if the top free agent options continue to dwindle. Klay Thompson looks more likely than ever to stay in Golden State after tearing his ACL. Winning a title could increase the odds Kawhi Leonard re-signs in Toronto, according to reports. And Kevin Durant's torn Achilles has thrown a wrench into the plans of teams with the most money to spend.

There is also the possibility Kemba Walker stays in Charlotte. And Kyrie Irving signing with Brooklyn, if it happens, would leave others exploring backup plans.

Portis isn't directly competing with any of those players, but could benefit if the top options are off the market. His name will only move up the list if that is the case.

Portis also has a unique selling point going for him. He shot 39.3 percent from three this past season and held a 40.3 percent clip to close the year in his 28 games with the Wizards. Three-point shooting is more valuable than ever and he brings that to the table at 6-foot-10.

Portis, who averaged 3.8 three-point attempts per game this past season, was one of only six players 6-10 or taller to shoot at least 39 percent on 3.5 attempts or more (min. 50 G). 

The question for Portis will be whether he gets the money he wants. He turned down an extension with the Chicago Bulls last fall just hours before the deadline to sign one. According to the Chicago Tribune, the deal was worth about $50 million and he wants to be paid in the range of $16 million annually. His asking price was partly why the Bulls traded him to the Wizards in February.

Even if the Wizards clear money, and they are expected to free up some by declining Jabari Parker's $20 million team option by the June 29 deadline, Portis could price himself out of Washington. It might not even take $16 million per year for that to happen.

The Wizards are set to operate through free agency with interim team president Tommy Sheppard at the helm, as the Washington Post reported on Tuesday. Sheppard making the call increases Portis' odds of staying, but that doesn't mean the price will match for both sides.

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