Nationals

Cal hires Sonny Dykes as new coach

Cal hires Sonny Dykes as new coach

BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) California hired Louisiana Tech coach Sonny Dykes on Wednesday in hopes that the offensive mastermind can revive a program that struggled in recent years under the fired Jeff Tedford.

Athletic director Sandy Barbour made her biggest hire at Cal just more than two weeks after firing Tedford. Dykes will be formally introduced at an on-campus news conference Thursday.

``Sonny Dykes is one of the brightest offensive minds in the country, running a high-octane style of football, one that I'm certain will allow our student-athletes to thrive and that our community will love on game day,'' Barbour said in a statement. ``However, it was far more than his history of a top-ranked offense and his proven success on the football field that solidified my decision; it was the way he described his responsibility to the University at large and his commitment to creating a climate of comprehensive excellence and success for his student-athletes.''

The 43-year-old Dykes had a 22-15 record with the Bulldogs, improving their win total each year. The Bulldogs averaged 35.9 points and 452.5 yards per game in his tenure.

He takes over a Cal team that went 3-9 this past season and missed a bowl for the second time in three years. Dykes inherits a roster with some talent, most notably heralded quarterback recruit Zach Kline, who did not play as a freshman but is in line to win the starting job next season.

Dykes also will benefit from a facilities upgrade that Tedford helped engineer. Cal opened its remodeled $321 million stadium this past season that is adjacent to a $150 million on-campus High Performance Center.

``Cal offers one of the best combinations of athletics and academics in the country, and a passionate fan base to match,'' Dykes said. ``I'm looking forward bring our exciting and enthusiastic brand of football to Berkeley. Our objectives are numerous. In addition to winning football games, we will strive to develop the total student-athlete in the classroom, on the field of play and in the campus and local communities.''

The Bears will be without standout receiver Keenan Allen, who announced earlier in the day that he will skip his senior season to enter the NFL draft. Allen is Cal's career receiving leader and is expected to be one of the top receivers taken in next April's draft.

Tedford, once known as a quarterback guru for his work with Joey Harrington, Kyle Boller and Aaron Rodgers, struggled in his later years at Cal to find an elite passer. The Bears had a 34-37 record in Tedford's final 5 1/2 years, leading to his dismissal.

Dykes, the son of former Texas Tech coach Spike Dykes, is known as an offensive mastermind, who runs a spread system that he honed as coordinator under Mike Leach at Texas Tech. Dykes later spent three seasons as offensive coordinator at Arizona under Mike Stoops before becoming head coach at Louisiana Tech before the 2010 season. He also coached two years as an assistant at Kentucky.

Dykes coached one of the nation's most prolific offenses at Louisiana Tech this year with the Bulldogs leading the nation with 51.5 points per contest and ranking second with 577.9 yards per game.

They opened 9-1, losing only 59-57 to Texas A&M, and were in position possibly to make it into a BCS bowl. But Louisiana Tech lost the final two games of the regular season to Utah State and San Jose State and now won't even play in any bowl.

La Tech was offered a spot in the Independence Bowl last Saturday but wanted to wait before accepting in case they got a better bid. The Independence Bowl invited Ohio instead and the Bulldogs were left out when Northern Illinois got into the Orange Bowl, knocking Oklahoma out of the BCS.

Oklahoma State (7-5) then filled the Big 12's final spot in the Heart of Dallas Bowl against Purdue, while Iowa State (6-6) landed in the Liberty Bowl to play C-USA champion Tulsa as an at-large pick and the Bulldogs were left out.

``We want to thank him and his family for the past three years and wish them the best in the future,'' Louisiana Tech athletic director Bruce Van De Velde said in a statement. ``We will move meticulously and expeditiously in our search for our next head coach.''

There was no immediate word on the terms of Dykes' contract. Cal still owes Tedford $6.9 million over the final three years of his deal, although Barbour had said the sides were working on a settlement.

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AP College Football Writer Ralph D. Russo contributed to this report.

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Nationals set to bring back Matt Adams

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Nationals set to bring back Matt Adams

The Nationals just checked another box.

They have reached an agreement to bring back first baseman Matt Adams, pending a physical, NBC Sports Washington has confirmed.

The deal is for one year with a mutual option in 2020.

Adams flourished last season with the Nationals when he delivered an .842 OPS with an 118 OPS-plus in 306 at-bats as a part-time player. He was crucial since Ryan Zimmerman spent the middle of the season on the disabled list.

The Nationals later flipped Adams to the St. Louis Cardinals for “cash considerations”, which made him little more than a waiver claim for St. Louis. The Nationals just saved the remainder he was owed on his contract following the Aug. 21 transaction.

Adams, a quiet professional, fit well in the clubhouse. One on-field tear earned him a T-shirt homage to his nickname: “Big City doing Big City things” that several of his teammates wore pregame.

His role will be the same as last season: insurance for Zimmerman, as well as a power left-handed bat off the bench who will receive the occasional start if Zimmerman is healthy.

Adams’ return also enables the Nationals to shop for a true second baseman as opposed to a hybrid player like Marwin Gonzalez. Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo has continually moved the needle from standing pat to hunting for a starting second baseman. For now, a platoon of Wilmer Difo and Howie Kendrick is in place.

The Nationals' largest gap remains in the rotation following the trade of Tanner Roark. They need to find 180 innings in a thin free agent pitching market to replace Roark’s production from the last three seasons.

Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic first reported the agreement with Adams.

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John Wall, Bradley Beal react to Trevor Ariza trade that sent Kelly Oubre and Austin Rivers to Suns

John Wall, Bradley Beal react to Trevor Ariza trade that sent Kelly Oubre and Austin Rivers to Suns

From the front office's perspective, the timing of the Wizards' trade for Trevor Ariza could not have been better. They secured the player they wanted as early as he could be traded, on Dec. 15.

From the players' perspective, the timing could not have been worse. They had just lost a game to the Brooklyn Nets and were in the locker room when reports began surfacing on social media. Those involved, Kelly Oubre Jr. and Austin Rivers, had to address reporters, not knowing where they would be moving to the coming days.

Then, as the trade saga took on new forms, they rode the bus and then on the plane with the Wizards, surrounded by those they would soon call former teammates. Their phones were buzzing with messages from people asking what was going on, when they themselves didn't know.

John Wall has seen plenty over the course of his nine NBA seasons, including Kirk Hinrich getting traded at halftime back in 2011. But he hadn't seen this.

"It was kind of weird and kind of difficult," Wall said. "[We] go into the locker room and we're about to shower and stuff and we don't understand who is about to get traded, who's been traded. It was kind of a tough situation. I give those guys a lot of credit. They handled that stuff like professionals. A lot of guys could have reacted in different ways, which I have seen in the past."

As NBA Twitter did backflips over the absurdity playing out in real time, how the deal was originally supposed to have three teams and it fell through allegedly because of a mixup over which 'Brooks' was getting traded from Memphis, the Wizards were following along, on the bus and with two parties involved sitting nearby. 

"You don't see that a lot. I feel for Kelly and Austin who were put on that trip back here and not knowing what was going on," Bradley Beal said.

Like with most trades, the players offered a mixed reaction with teammates leaving, but help also coming in. They know Ariza well from his days in Washington back in the 2012-13 and 2013-14 seasons and believe he will bring defense and three-point shooting, two things the Wizards currently need.

There was a human element of seeing Oubre and Rivers go, though, that both Wall and Beal felt. Oubre, in particular, had become woven into the fabric of the organization over the past three-plus years. He arrived as a first round pick in 2015 and grew up in their system.

"It is kind of devastating for those guys who came in and tried to give it everything they have," Wall said. "Especially K.O., being here four years, watching him develop from his rookie year not getting any minutes and coming into his own and being an X-factor for our team the last couple of years, it's sad to see him go."

Wall continued to say he wishes both players the best with the Phoenix Suns. The Wizards happen to play Phoenix in a week, on Dec. 22 in Washington.

Ultimately, the trade served a reminder to Wall, Beal and others that the Wizards have some urgency to turn things around. They are in the luxury tax with the sixth-highest payroll in the NBA. An 11-18 record after 29 games just isn't good enough to justify the resources being committed.

Wall explained in detail how he believes money was a consideration.

"The only thing I really can think of from my standpoint is that Trevor makes $15 [million], I think. Austin made [$12.65 million] and Kelly makes [$3.21 million] this year," he said.

"It was a situation where we were in a tough bind. We have three guys that are paid pretty high. And then understanding what Kelly is going to receive or ask for this summer, I don't think we have the money to match it. So, I think that's the reason why we made that trade."

This is the third trade the Wizards have made already this season. All three deals have saved them money, but this one has the highest likelihood to make a difference on the court.

The players are optimistic Ariza can prove the missing piece.

"We needed a change," Beal said. "Hopefully this is the change that sparks some energy out of us, some life out of us, that will get us to play the way we know we're capable of playing."

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