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Cincinnati hires Tuberville as football coach

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Cincinnati hires Tuberville as football coach

CINCINNATI (AP) Tommy Tuberville wasn't expecting a call from an old acquaintance. A few hours later, he was headed north for a new job.

Tuberville left Texas Tech to become Cincinnati's football coach Saturday, moving away from a Big 12 school to one that has an uncertain future with conference realignment. He left the Red Raiders after three years to coach at a school where his recent predecessors have lasted no longer.

Two hours after Cincinnati's 11th-ranked basketball team won its ninth game of the season, the Bearcats hauled out their Big East trophies and held a pep rally - complete with cheerleaders, band and several hundred fans - for the new coach at midcourt.

``There's always a next step,'' Tuberville said. ``I'm going to get the question: Why did you come to Cincinnati? That's exactly it.''

His quick hiring ended a whirlwind week in Cincinnati, which had won a share of its fourth Big East title in the past five years a week earlier. Coach Butch Jones interviewed at Purdue and Colorado before accepting the job at Tennessee on Friday morning.

Athletics director Whit Babcock had Tuberville - whom he worked with for three years at Auburn - at the top of his list of candidates. Working on two hours of sleep, Babcock called Tuberville on Saturday morning to see if he was interested.

``I was perfectly satisfied,'' Tuberville said. ``I had a great home in Lubbock, Texas. The people of west Texas are great people, they love football. Our football team played hard. ... But there was something when Whit called that I thought, `You know? Let me think about this.'''

Texas Tech athletics director Kirby Hocutt was stunned when Tuberville called to tell him he was leaving.

``The first indication I got was at 10:32 this morning when he called me,'' Hocutt said. ``Tommy and I have talked a number of times since the conclusion of the Baylor game this year, and as recently as yesterday he looked me in the eye and gave me his commitment and dedication to Texas Tech football and leading this program forward.''

Both teams are headed to bowl games with their coaching staffs in flux.

The Bearcats (9-3) held their first practice on Saturday for the Belk Bowl against Duke. Players heard the news while eating lunch after practice.

``We had a real smooth practice,'' senior quarterback Brendon Kay said. ``We knocked the rust off from not practicing for a week. After practice, I was in the locker room and then eating lunch, it came on (television). We said, `Wow, this is real.'''

Tuberville won't coach the Bearcats in their bowl, leaving it up to the staff.

Tuberville went 20-17 in three seasons at Texas Tech, after coaching at Mississippi and Auburn. The Red Raiders (7-5) will play Minnesota in the Meineke Car Care Bowl after missing out on a bowl last season.

By hiring the 58-year-old Tuberville, Cincinnati broke with its recent practice of attracting up-and-coming coaches from smaller conferences. The last three coaches left after three years each - Mark Dantonio came from Ohio State and left for Michigan State; Brian Kelly came from Central Michigan and went to Notre Dame; Jones succeeded Kelly at both Central Michigan and Cincinnati.

Like Kelly and Jones, Tuberville likes a wide-open offense. The Red Raiders ranked second nationally with 361.9 yards passing this season.

His final season at Texas Tech was marred by a sideline outburst. Tuberville lost his temper with graduate assistant Kevin Oliver during a 41-34 win over Kansas.

Tuberville appeared to strike Oliver after the Red Raiders had trouble getting the right players on the field. Tuberville said he grabbed Oliver's headset, but wished he'd handled the situation better.

The Bearcats hope his hiring allows them to end their streak of losing football coaches every few years. He agreed to the framework of a five-year deal, with details still to be worked out.

The university has been disappointed by the Big East's massive exodus and lobbied to get into the Atlantic Coast Conference. Instead, rival Louisville got accepted by the ACC, leaving Cincinnati hoping it could make the move in a few more years.

Tuberville wasn't put off by the conference uncertainty, saying he wants to get the program to the point that ``anybody would be proud to have Cincinnati in whatever conference is out there.

``But we're excited about where we at right now. Things will change and they're going to change every day for the next few years, and everybody knows where it's headed.''

There's also a lot of work to do on the athletic facilities.

During Jones' tenure, Cincinnati expanded its football facility, adding a practice field with a protective bubble for bad weather. The school is trying to figure out how to upgrade 35,000-seat Nippert Stadium, which is the second-oldest playing site in the nation for a college team behind Penn's Franklin Field. Nippert has been in use since 1901.

Despite their Big East success, the Bearcats have played in front of disappointing crowds at Nippert. They drew only 21,171 fans on senior night - their smallest crowd of the season - for a 27-10 win over South Florida this year.

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Associated Press writer Betsy Blaney in Lubbock contributed to this report.

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The Kerrigans are having a baby and, WOW, this is all so very exciting

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@kerrigan91

The Kerrigans are having a baby and, WOW, this is all so very exciting

The Kerrigan family is about to make a big-time addition to its roster.

Ryan and his wife, Jessica, already have two very, VERY, very, very cute bulldogs in their household. 

But on Tuesday, the two announced in separate Instagram posts that Jessica is 18 weeks pregnant and that a third human Kerrigan will arrive in 2019.

"Can I eat dis sign aftur da picturr iz over?" George the bulldog said when reached for comment on the news.

"How did dey gett such a smawl jerzey for da baby alreddy?" Franklin the other bulldog added.

This is all very wonderful.

Come next March, the world is about to get a little precious-er.

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The Caps are a bad faceoff team, here’s what they’re doing about it

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USA Today Sports

The Caps are a bad faceoff team, here’s what they’re doing about it

Tuesday’s practice was a lot like every other for the Caps until the end. After working on the power play, the team gathered at one end of the ice and began working on faceoffs. It was not just the centers, but wingers and defensemen alike got into the action with every win celebrated by loud cheers from teammates.

It should could as no surprise to see faceoffs as a point of emphasis for Washington considering just how much the team has struggled with them in the early season. The Caps rank 30th in the league in faceoff win percentage at only 43.8-percent.

“Yeah, there's little details that can help our game,” Lars Eller told reporters after practice. “The more you have the puck, easier the game is gonna be for you. We have a little more time in between games than usual during the season here, so we have the time to work on something like that, which can be little things that makes the difference.”

The team as a whole watched video on faceoffs prior to practice and then worked as a five-man unit during the drill. The main point of emphasis head coach Todd Reirden wanted to drill into his players was that faceoffs are not simply the responsibility of the centers alone.

“The days of it just being center vs. center and a clean draw being won back are a rarity now so it's important to have all five guys helping, something we watched video on earlier today,” Reirden said.

“You ask any centerman if they have a good group of wingers that can help them out on draws, that makes a huge difference,” Nic Dowd said. “I've been lucky, I have [Devante Smith-Pelly] on my right and I'm a righty so I win all my draws my backhand side so a lot of pucks go his way and he wins a lot of draws for me. That's huge. You have a guy that's sitting over there that's sleeping, you could go easily from five wins to five losses and then that's your night. It makes a big difference.”

Faceoffs were always going to be more of a struggle for the Caps this season with the departure of Jay Beagle who was, by far, the team’s best faceoff man for several years. Whenever the team needed a big draw, Beagle was the player relied upon to win it. With him gone, it is no surprise to see the team struggle.

But the Caps don’t like the idea of keeping possession off a draw just 43.8-percent of the time.

“It's essentially like the ref is creating a 50-50 puck and you snap it back, you get possession, now you're forechecking and it makes a huge difference,” Dowd said. “You play against those top lines, they want to be in the O-zone. Well, if you lose the draw, now you're playing D-zone, you win the draw now you're playing O-zone. So effectively, you've shut down their shift.”

There is a school of thought suggesting that perhaps the importance of winning faceoffs is overrated and a team’s faceoff win percentage is not overly important. Eller himself admitted as much to reporters.

What no one can argue, however, is that while some faceoffs may not matter all that much, there are some that are hugely important in a game. The Caps recognize that. For them, being a strong faceoff team is not necessarily about improving the team’s win percentage, but more about being able to win those critical draws.

“It's something that for the most part the players understand and a neutral zone faceoff with 14 minutes to go in the first period is not nearly as important as one that's 5-on-6 at the end of the game,” Reirden said. “We all know that. It's important to put the right people on those situations and give them the best chance to have success.”

“A center ice draw, I could see where guys could make the argument, well you lose it you still will play hockey and stuff could still happen,” Dowd said. “But I think the game is such a possession game now that any opportunity you can win a 50-50 puck whether that's a faceoff or a board battle, it makes a huge difference.”

 

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