Capitals

BCS officials say Notre Dame an attractive option

201210280006004105239-p2.jpeg

BCS officials say Notre Dame an attractive option

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) Some BCS officials are almost as giddy about the prospect of Notre Dame playing in one of their bowls games as Fighting Irish fans are.

``I tend to think right now, there's a lot to be played, but I don't see how they could avoid being in a BCS game somewhere,'' Fiesta Bowl executive director Robert Shelton said. ``They have four games left. Anything can happen, but they're looking so strong. Even if they only win two of those, certainly if they win three or four, they will be in a BCS game.''

The fourth-ranked Fighting Irish (8-0) are third in the BCS standings heading into their game against Pittsburgh (4-4) on Saturday, where they are 16.5-point favorites. They likely will be favored against Boston College (2-6) and Wake Forest (4-4) before the season finale at Southern California (6-2).

Officials with the Fiesta, Rose, Orange and Sugar bowls all say they will consider the Irish under the right circumstances, primarily that they meet the minimum requirements of nine victories and being among the top 14 teams in the final BCS standings. Notre Dame would prefer not being an at-large team, hoping instead to finish in the top two and earn a shot at the school's first national championship since 1988 in the BCS title game Jan. 7 in Miami.

Irish players say it would be hard to believe they wouldn't get a shot if they remain undefeated. If it happens, though, they say they would have to accept it.

``I can't do anything about it,'' linebacker Carlo Calabrese said. ``I just have to go out and perform in whatever bowl game we're in.''

Coach Brian Kelly said he's not paying attention to all the BCS possibilities, saying he's leaving that to others. Kelly, who narrowly missed qualifying for the national championship game while at Cincinnati in 2009, said he doesn't plan to try to lobby for the Irish.

``I got out of politics once. I'm not getting back in it,'' he said.

Shelton made it clear that the Fiesta Bowl, where the Irish played following the 2000 and 2005 seasons, would love to host them again.

``There are a number of schools that have national followings but none of them really to the extent of Notre Dame. There are a lot of Notre Dame lovers here in the valley and probably some of those who would vote against Notre Dame, too. But that shows you have a national brand,'' he said.

Kevin Ash, chief administrative officer of the Rose Bowl, said its first choice is always to pit a Big Ten team against a Pac-12 team. But he said if Oregon ends up going to the national championship game and another Pac-12 team isn't eligible, the Irish would be an attractive choice in part because of its history. Knute Rockne guided a Notre Dame squad that featured the Four Horsemen to a 27-10 victory over Pop Warner and Stanford in 1925, the only bowl game the Irish played in until 1970.

``There's a lot of lore for the Rose Bowl game and Notre Dame is part of that. So they're already part of our family. They're a very celebrated team with a large fan following and they're playing great football again,'' Ash said.

Sugar Bowl spokesman John Sudsbury wasn't quite as effusive, but said the bowl committee would ``look very close at them'' if Notre Dame is eligible. Sudbury said a team with a storied past like Notre Dame's wouldn't necessarily have an advantage.

``Sometimes we like a team that is making a new name for itself or hasn't been in our bowl before,'' Sudsbury said. ``It can help them. It's definitely a factor that we look at. But I'm not saying that would give them weight over somebody that doesn't have the same history.''

Orange Bowl spokesman Larry Wahl said because his bowl has the last pick this year he doesn't believe the Irish would still be available. Asked whether he thought a two-loss Notre Dame team could be attractive, Wahl said: ``Who knows? There could be a lot of two-loss teams.''

``There's so much football that's yet to be played that you just don't know what's going to happen,'' he said.

Quick Links

How the Caps upset the Lightning to win the conference championship

usatsi_10841700.jpg
USA TODAY Sports

How the Caps upset the Lightning to win the conference championship

It wasn't supposed to happen.

The Capitals celebrated too hard after beating the Pittsburgh Penguins in the second round. The Tampa Bay Lightning had been here before. Tampa Bay's roster was deeper. Their goalie was hotter. They had home ice advantage. They had easily won their first two series. Nicklas Backstrom was still injured. Washington wouldn't be able to stop the Lightning's power play.

Here's how the Capitals were able to shock the hockey world and upset the Lightning.

For all of those reasons, many did not even give the Caps a chance. Washington overcame every obstacle in their way and was, for the most part, the better team through seven games defeating Tampa Bay to win the Eastern Conference for just the second time in franchise history.

The Capitals showed in their second-round win over the Penguins that these weren't the "same old Caps." They continued to prove that in the conference final when they stunned the Lightning to win Game 1 and Game 2 both on the road.

Here's how the Capitals were able to shock the hockey world and upset the Lightning.

When Washington lost the next three, many thought that meant the real Lightning had awoken, but it was the Caps who rose to the occasion in Game 6 and Game 7 where they face elimination as they completely dominated Tampa Bay by a combined score of 7-0.

The Caps now advance to take on the Vegas Golden Knights in the Stanley Cup Final. The Knights have lost only three games this entire postseason and will hope to carry that momentum with them into Game 1.

If there is one thing this Washington team has proven, however, it's that you should never count them out.

Here's how the Capitals were able to shock the hockey world and upset the Lightning.

Quick Links

Need to Know: Redskins' Jay Gruden and Alex Smith from the podium

gruden_otas_ap.png
Associated Press

Need to Know: Redskins' Jay Gruden and Alex Smith from the podium

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, May 24, 64 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.  

What Jay Gruden and Alex Smith had to say from the podium

After yesterday’s OTA practice, Alex Smith and Jay Gruden took the podium. Here are some of their quotes and my comments on them:

Smith was asked about getting together with his new teammates:

So I think every guy these last two days has enjoyed just getting back out there and losing yourself in the game, right? To be limited, it does make you miss it, and I think it makes you appreciate it, so that’s been nice. 

Comment: This is a guy who loves football and everything that goes with it. Smith would start playing games tomorrow if they were scheduled.

Gruden was asked how Smith has looked in these first two days of OTAs:

He’s got good command of the offense already. Great command in the huddle. He’s just getting a feel for the receivers, the players around him, how we call things, but overall, the first two days, I would say I’m very pleased with his quick progression and learning. I knew that wouldn’t be an issue with as much as he’s played in a similar-style system.

Comment: It did seem that Smith was in sync with his receivers, Jamison Crowder in particular. He and Paul Richardson connected on a deep pass after giving each other a look at the line of scrimmage. The encouraging thing is that he is coming from a similar offensive system, so the learning curve should not be too long. 

Smith had a great analogy when asked about similarities to the offenses he has run:

Both from West Coast worlds, so it’s kind of like they are all Latin-based languages, you know, but they are not the same. There are some similarities, structure of the playbook, of how we call things, things like that. There are a lot of similarities but it’s not the same language. I guess that’s the best analogy I can make

Comment: If terminology is the biggest obstacle for Smith to overcome it will be a smooth transition for him. 

Gruden was impressed with the running backs. 

“I’ll tell you what, just today in general, you could see the competition. You could see Rob Kelley step up. Samaje Perine’s had a couple big days. Byron Marshall, I mean, he had a couple great routes today. He’s running the ball between the tackles. [Kapri] Bibbs had some big runs yesterday. Obviously, Derrius Guice has come in here and fueled the fire a little bit.

Comment: I think that the Redskins are going to have to release some good running backs. Rob Kelly never really earned the nickname “Fat Rob” but he looked particularly lean and quick running the ball. He wants nothing to do with being on the roster bubble. Marshall moved quickly and showed his speed. Although Gruden wouldn’t say it, Guice clearly was the best of the bunch; his ability to change direction while maintaining his speed will serve him well. It must be noted that they are not in pads and not getting tackled so more definitive opinions will have to wait until we are in Richmond for a few days. 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCS and on Instagram @RichTandler

Tandler on Twitter

Timeline  

Days until:

—Minicamp (6/12) 19
—Training camp starts (7/26) 64
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 78

The Redskins last played a game 144 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 108 days. 

In case you missed it