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After all the drama, Chip Kelly is leaving Oregon

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After all the drama, Chip Kelly is leaving Oregon

Oregon faces a future without Chip Kelly after all.

The team's enigmatic coach of four years surprised the Ducks with an early morning phone call Wednesday to say he was leaving to become head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles, just a little more than a week after he told Oregon he was staying.

Oregon responded by assuming the ``Next Man In'' philosophy that Kelly had always preached at Oregon for replacing key players.

Kelly had barely boarded a flight for Philadelphia when the Ducks swung the search for his replacement into gear. A job posting for ``Head Football Coach'' appeared within hours on the university's website.

``We're here moving forward. We're not going to worry about what happened. He made a decision that was best for him and we wish him well,'' athletic director Rob Mullens said. ``He's been great for Oregon football and we're moving on.''

Mullens said Wednesday that he had already been contacted by search firms, although he had not heard from any individual candidates outside the program.

He set no timeline for replacing Kelly, except to say the Ducks will ``move as fast as we can'' - much like the team's warp-speed offense under Kelly.

``We had already done a lot of groundwork, we had already started the process, knowing that Chip was going to be talking to the Eagles, Bills and Browns. We had geared up our process. We had obviously shut it down, but it's easy to click right back on.''

A person close to the team who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the coaching search is ongoing told The Associated Press early Wednesday that offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich was still considered the ``frontrunner.'' Under Oregon state law, the school must also interview at least one qualified minority candidate for the job.

Mullens acknowledged there were internal candidates, but there was no ``leader in the clubhouse.''

``The expectation for this program has shifted,'' Mullens said. ``We want to win Pac-12 championships. We want to win BCS bowls.''

Kelly set the bar high.

Kelly was 46-7 in four years as head coach at Oregon. The Ducks have been to four straight BCS bowl games - including a bid for the national championship against Auburn in 2011 - and have won three Pac-12 championships.

He originally came to the Ducks in 2007 as offensive coordinator under head coach Mike Bellotti. Kelly was selected to be Bellotti's successor before Bellotti left the job.

Oregon finished last season 12-1. The team was ranked No. 1 and appeared headed for another shot at the national championship until a 17-14 overtime loss to Stanford on Nov. 17. The Ducks wound up No. 2 in the final AP poll after beating Kansas State in the Fiesta Bowl early this month.

The Ducks will likely move forward with hiring a coach quickly, because signing day for football recruits is on Feb. 6.

Shortly after the move was announced, several potential recruits went to Twitter to express their surprise, including Nico Falah, an offensive tackle from Bellflower, Calif., who wrote: ``Chip Kelly left?!?! He was at my house 2 days ago.''

Following Oregon's Fiesta Bowl victory, Kelly flirted with three NFL teams: Philadelphia, Cleveland and Buffalo. But after a wild weekend of interviews amid rumors and speculation, Kelly told the Ducks he was staying put.

But just nine days later, Kelly called Mullens to tell him he'd changed his mind.

KEZI-TV of Eugene caught Kelly at the Eugene airport as he prepared to leave for Philadelphia.

``It took so long to make it just because the people here are special. The challenge obviously is exciting for me, but it's an exciting time (and) it's a sad time - saying goodbye to people you love and respect, and I wanted to make sure I talked to my players and did it in the right fashion and talked to our staff,'' Kelly told the television station. ``I feel like I did.''

Oregon's new coach will undoubtedly face possible 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 connection with a player who committed to Oregon.

Oregon had requested a summary disposition in the case and presented a report to the NCAA infractions committee outlining violations the school believed occurred and appropriate sanctions. But last month Yahoo Sports reported that Oregon is headed toward a hearing with the committee because the two sides couldn't reach an agreement.

The NCAA does not comment on ongoing investigations. The hearing could come as early as this spring.

But on the field, the Ducks appear sound. The team will return two of its most dynamic players next season: redshirt freshman quarterback Marcus Mariota, and speedy sophomore running back De'Anthony Thomas, who ran for a 94-yard touchdown on the opening kickoff of the Fiesta Bowl.

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Check out the names on the Wizards' Summer League training camp roster

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Check out the names on the Wizards' Summer League training camp roster

NBA Summer League is right around the corner. While the Washington Wizards continue a search for a new president, they do have one thing pinned down: the Summer League training camp roster.

The Wizards open Summer League play in Las Vegas on Saturday, July 6, when they take on No. 1 draft pick Zion Williamson and the New Orleans Pelicans.

Mini camp begins Tuesday and runs through Thursday. Players will participate in a two-hour practice each day.

Here is the training camp roster:

Noah Allen, G/F, Hawaii (Capital City Go-Go)
Armoni Brooke, G, Houston
Elijah Brown, G/F, Oregon (Grand Rapids Drive)
Troy Brown Jr., F, Oregon (Washington Wizards)
Dontay Caruthers, G, Buffalo
Troy Caupain Jr., G, Cincinnati (Orlando Magic)
Corey Davis, G, Houston
Dikembe Dixson, F, UIC (Capital City Go-Go)
Kellen Dunham, G, Butler (Capital City Go-Go)
John Egbunu, C, Florida
Rui Hachimura, F, Gonzaga
Vince Hunter, F, UTEP (AEK Athens Greece)
Garrison Mathews, G, Lipscomb
Tarik Phillip, G, Ukraine (Petrol Limpija Ukraine)
Admiral Schofield, F, Tennessee
James Thompson IV, F/C, Eastern Michigan
Jeff Withey, C, Kansas (Lavrio B.C. Greece)
Tony Wroten, G, Washington (BC Kalev-Cramo Estonia)

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Free Agency Bracket: Noel Acciari vs. Marcus Kruger

Free Agency Bracket: Noel Acciari vs. Marcus Kruger

It is almost time for NHL free agency to begin, and the Capitals certainly have needs to fill and a limited budget. Who would be the best fit? Who would be the best free agent target for Washington to pursue? That’s what NBC Sports Washington wants to find out!

Our experts got together and made a bracket of the 16 best free agent fits. The bracket is divided into four regions: Third line forward, fourth line forward, depth defenseman and Caps’ free agent. Now we want you to tell us who you want to see rocking the red next year!

Every weekday we will match two free agents up against one another and present a case for each player. Then you get to vote and decide who advances!

Check out today’s matchup:

Region: Fourth line forwards

Noel Acciari vs. Marcus Kruger

 

2018-19 stats

 

Noel Acciari (27 years old):72 games played with the Boston Bruins, 6 goals, 8 assists, 14 points, 12:59 TOI

 

Playoffs: 19 games played with the Boston Bruins, 2 goals, 2 assists, 4 points, 13:10 TOI

 

Marcus Kruger (29 years old): 74 games played with the Chicago Blackhawks, 4 goals, 8 assists, 12 points, 10:25 TOI

 

Playoffs: None

 

Hockey-Graph contract projections

 

Noel Acciari: 2 years, $1,180,934 cap hit

 

Marcus Kruger: 1 year, $861,030 cap hit

 

The case for Noel Acciari

Plays a lot bigger than his 5-foot-10, 205-pound frame. A perfect fit at right wing on the fourth line for Washington. The native New Englander, who played at Providence, is a home-grown Bruin and might not want to leave home, but Boston also might not have the cap space to give an obvious fourth-line player a decent raise. The Capitals might not, either, but for now, they really only have to add in RFA Jakub Vrana’s new contract and figure out what they’re going to do with RFA Andre Burakovsky. 

 

Acciari is renowned for his character and toughness. He was a college captain for Providence and helped the Friars win an NCAA title in 2015. There’s never been a shot he’s unwilling to block. Acciari sustained a broken sternum in the second round against Columbus and a blocked shot with his right foot in Game 7 of the Cup Final left him in a walking boot.  

 

Acciari’s offensive upside is limited, but he did have 10 goals in 2017-18. He was a key player for the Bruins in the past two Stanley Cup playoffs and chipped in two goals in this year’s playoff run that came within a game of a championship. Acciari would help on Washington’s penalty kill, too. In 111:52 he was only on the ice for 11 power-play goals against. Only two Boston forwards were on the ice more short-handed.  

 

The case for Marcus Kruger

 

A different skill set here for the smaller Kruger (6-foot, 186 pounds). Don’t expect even double-digit goals from him, either. But Kruger will likely cost less than $1 million and can be a valuable penalty killer, where Washington needs help. That’s huge for a team that is now dealing with an $81.5 million salary cap, which is $1.5 million less than expected. Add in the overage bonus for defenseman Brooks Orpik from last season and you’re in trouble at just over $80 million.   

 

Kruger played seven seasons with the Chicago Blackhawks and one disappointing one with the Carolina Hurricanes. Kruger has plenty of Stanley Cup experience, too, playing for Chicago’s 2013 and 2015 Cup winners. He has 87 postseason games and a triple-overtime game-winner in the Western Conference Final to his name in 2015 in Game 2 of that series against Anaheim. 

 

A defensive specialist, only two Blackhawks forwards played more short-handed minutes than Kruger (132:46) last season. There is risk here. Kruger was traded to Carolina in 2017-18, but was placed on waivers after 48 games and spent the rest of the season in the AHL before being traded to Arizona and then back to Chicago. But part of that stemmed from how much he was making on a $3.08 million cap hit. At a bargain-basement price, Kruger is more palatable. 

 

Who’s your pick? Vote here.

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