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Bama, ND defensive chiefs hot coaching commodities

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Bama, ND defensive chiefs hot coaching commodities

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart wants to be a head coach someday. It's just that there's no immediate rush.

The same might be said of top-ranked Notre Dame's defensive mastermind, Bob Diaco. Both he and Smart have drawn interest from schools for top jobs, which is to be expected. Their defenses are perhaps the nation's best, and have helped steer both teams into Monday night's BCS championship game.

The 37-year-old Smart interviewed with the second-ranked Crimson Tide's in-state rival, Auburn, and seems to be mentioned annually as a head coaching candidate for other programs the past few years.

``It's not like I wake up every day trying to leave Alabama,'' Smart said Friday in his first public comments since meeting with Auburn officials. ``I have the best non-head coaching job in the country, period, because I've got a great administration, we've got a great facility. I want to be where I can win and I know you can win at Alabama. I think that's so important.''

Diaco was a candidate at Boston College, among other schools.

Neither ultimately landed the jobs but they're already in enviable positions working for coaching mentors at top programs. Diaco has been Brian Kelly's defensive coordinator since 2009, their final season at Cincinnati.

Smart, who makes $950,000 a year, has been with defensive wizard Nick Saban during his entire six-year run at Alabama after one season under him at LSU and the NFL's Miami Dolphins.

``I have become who I've become as a coach from working for coach Saban,'' Smart said.

Tide linebacker Nico Johnson thinks his position coach would make a good head man.

``He's pretty much like coach Saban,'' Johnson said. ``He holds everybody to a standard and holds himself to a standard. He gets down on himself sometimes. He feels like he didn't put us in the best situation. The Texas A&M game ate him up more than any other loss we've had.

``As a person and as a coach, he's something special.''

Saban and Smart have routinely had defenses ranked among the nation's best during their tenure in Tuscaloosa, with a steady stream of NFL-caliber players. The Tide defense is No. 1 in yards allowed this season.

Again, what's the hurry to leave?

``I don't worry about where I'm going to be in three years or 10 years,'' Smart said. ``I think if you win, that takes care of itself, and I'm not in such a hurry to run off and do anything that I don't have a pressing issue. If I was 47, I might feel differently. But the most important thing to me right now is winning championships and developing young men into better players and better people.''

Smart said he shares Saban's aversion to hypothetical situations when asked if he hopes to replace Saban at Alabama. He said Saban has supported him when other suitors approached him.

``I think Alabama is a special, special place, and it's obviously a great place to coach,'' Smart said. ``But as far as anything outside of that, I'm just worried about this game and being successful at Alabama.''

Diaco also works for a former defensive coordinator, since Kelly had stints in that position at lower level Assumption and Grand Valley State.

Notre Dame is a private school and doesn't release salary information, but Diaco was promoted to assistant head coach before this season. Then he became the first Fighting Irish assistant to win the Broyles Award after directing the nation's top scoring defense.

``The selection committee is all basically Hall of Fame coaches, guys that we really point toward to say, `Hey, someday I'd just love to be like that guy,''' Diaco said. ``So it's a great, great honor, one that I don't take lightly at all. I've talked about it with my family. I've talked about it with my wife through this grind of years from stop to stop and place to place.

``It's just a great honor as it relates to a job well done in service.''

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3 things to watch as the Nationals try to even the series with Colorado

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3 things to watch as the Nationals try to even the series with Colorado

Here are three things to watch for as the Nationals try to even the series in Colorado: 

1. Brian Dozier's slow start to 2019 seems to be in the rearview mirror. The second baseman hit his third long-ball in four games Monday night inside Coors Field. 

2. How long will Anthony Rendon be held out of the lineup? The third baseman is nursing his left elbow after being hit by a Jose Urena pitch Saturday in Miami. 

3. One of the MLB's best closers remains unsigned 20+ games into the season. Craig Kimbrel could very well help solve an NL East division-wide problem

Coming Up:

Tuesday, 4/23: Nationals @ Rockies, 8:40 p.m. ET, Coors Field

Wednesday, 4/24: Nationals @ Rockies, 3:10 p.m. ET, Coors Field

Friday, 4/26: Padres @ Nationals, 7:05 p.m. ET, Nationals Park

Download the MyTeams app for even more Nationals content, and check out the latest episode of the Racing Presidents podcast below.

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A frustrating Game 6 loss, but Caps can't dwell on the negative

A frustrating Game 6 loss, but Caps can't dwell on the negative

RALEIGH — By the end of the night the frustration was evident. Three times the Capitals have played at PNC Arena during this Stanley Cup playoffs first-round series and three times they have left the ice stick-smashingly angry. 

Capitals coach Todd Reirden screamed at the officials. Alex Ovechkin earned a game misconduct after a mock wave following a late penalty call. By then the Carolina Hurricanes had already assured there would be one final game in this closer-than-expected series with a 5-2 win. Now both teams face elimination with Game 7 looming Wednesday at Capital One Arena. 

Washington’s anger was understandable. Alex Ovechkin apparently poked home the game-tying goal with 9:26 remaining. But while the Capitals celebrated, referee Kyle Rehman blew his whistle. In his view, Ovechkin had shoved Carolina goalie Petr Mrazek’s pads to force the puck into the net. 

The NHL Situation Room in Toronto upheld that call on the ice after the Capitals tied it. Just 1:24 later, ex-Capitals forward Justin Williams stuck a dagger in the heart of his old team with a deflected goal to give the Hurricanes a 4-2 lead.

"I don't think anyone expected it to be easy,” defenseman Brooks Orpik said. “They played well all series. We were up 2-0 and we were probably fortunate to be up 2-0 and we've been good on home ice and now we have a Game 7 and it is probably good that we have home ice."

There were other issues on Monday. Dmitry Orlov was whistled for embellishment in the second period that denied Washington a power play. Carolina tied the game 2-2 at 1:56 of the second period when referees – in the Capitals’ view – missed an obvious slash by Sebastian Aho on defenseman Jonas Siegenthaler behind the net. His attempted clear was flubbed and Aho found Teuvo Teravainen alone in front for an easy goal.

None of it matters now. The Capitals didn’t play well enough to win anyway, especially in a ragged second period that ominously looked like the 5-0 Hurricanes win in Game 3. Reirden himself admitted that Carolina earned the breaks it got. Goalie Braden Holtby was especially critical of his team for not building on a dominant 6-0 win at home in Game 5 on Saturday. 

“I don’t know. I thought we played pretty well to come out and we just faded,” Holtby said. “I’m not sure why. At this point it doesn’t matter. It’s over with and it’s down to one game.”

The challenge will be leaving all of that negativity in the PNC Arena locker room. One player walked away and said to no one in particular “No goal….what a call.” The sarcasm dripped. But it can’t follow the Capitals back home to Washington. This group of players has plenty of experience putting bad playoff losses behind them. 

If anything carries over into Game 7, however, they could be in trouble. Those days are thought to be long over after last spring’s Cup. And maybe they are. But the Capitals will have to forget about what happened in Raleigh. They have one last chance. It can't be clouded by what happened here.  

"It's over. Again, right now nothing you can do,” Ovechkin said. “After fight, you can't do anything. It was a good battle. Good for them, they win Game 6, and you know, Game 7 is going to be much interesting. We know how to play that. Pressure on both teams, but it's a good chance for us to beat them at home." 

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