Capitals

Florida hires former Kentucky coach Joker Phillips

Florida hires former Kentucky coach Joker Phillips

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) It didn't take Joker Phillips long to find another job.

The former Kentucky head coach landed at No. 4 Florida on Monday, joining the Gators as receivers coach and recruiting coordinator.

Florida coach Will Muschamp said Phillips will begin work Friday.

``His background as a head coach and the number of years he has coached wide receivers will be a tremendous asset to our coaching staff and players,'' Muschamp said in a statement. ``Joker is obviously very familiar with the Southeastern Conference and has always done a great job in recruiting. Obviously, I had a number of experiences with Joker both on and off the field, as our paths have crossed often, but I've been really impressed with Joker Phillips as a man during this hiring process.''

Kentucky fired Phillips on Nov. 4. He went 13-24 in three seasons at Kentucky, including 0-8 in SEC play this year.

Phillips played at Kentucky (1981-84) and was on the football staff from 1988 to 1996. He returned to his alma mater as offensive coordinator in 2003, and then became the second black coach in SEC history in 2010.

His resume also includes stops at South Carolina (2002), Notre Dame (2001), Minnesota (1999-2000) and Cincinnati (1997-98). He coached receivers at each of those schools, working with Ron Johnson, Javin Hunter, David Givens, Keenan Burton, Steve Johnson, Dicky Lyons, Jr. and Derek Abney.

``I'm thrilled to become part of the Gator family,'' Phillips said in a statement. ``I'm looking forward to the opportunity to compete and win at the highest level. I believe in coach Muschamp's philosophy, and what he has done in his short time here at Florida is phenomenal. I'm looking forward to contributing to the long-term vision that he has for this program. In addition, it will be very rewarding to be involved in the hands-on development of the players I will coach.''

Former receivers coach Aubrey Hill left Florida in early August amid an NCAA investigation that involved his coaching tenure at Miami. Muschamp promoted graduate assistant Bush Hamdan to receivers coach, but said last week that he planned to hire someone to fill the position full time.

The Gators (11-1) surely need some help, too.

Tight end Jordan Reed leads Florida with 44 receptions for 552 yards. Receivers Quinton Dunbar (31-306, 4 TDs) and Frankie Hammond Jr. (20-273, 3 TDs) have been mostly inconsistent, while Andre Debose and Latroy Pittman have been non-factors.

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Capitals are the class of the Metropolitan Division for fifth year in a row

Capitals are the class of the Metropolitan Division for fifth year in a row

You know what’s fun? Winning Metropolitan Division titles. 

No, it’s not as good as the big prize. The Capitals will never top their 2018 Stanley Cup championship. But winning a competitive division against their biggest rivals five years in a row? Pretty, pretty good. 

Washington took its fifth in a row officially on Tuesday when the NHL announced that the regular season had concluded thanks to the ongoing coronavirus. The Capitals just outlasted the Philadelphia Flyers with 90 standings points to 89. The difference over 69 games? One extra Caps game going into overtime for a single point. 

Credit to the Flyers for making a late run. No one was playing better in the NHL than Philadelphia just before the season was halted. Whether that carries over into the Stanley Cup Playoffs remains to be seen. 

But the Capitals should take pride in that streak. It’s hard to do in an age of parity. They play in a division where the Pittsburgh Penguins won two Stanley Cups in the previous four seasons. The two teams slugged it out three times in the second round. That’s the luck of the draw, and so four straight division titles -- and two Presidents’ Trophies -- meant just one Cup for Washington. 

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It’s also rare to dominate a division the way the Capitals have for five years. The Anaheim Ducks won the Pacific Division title every year from 2013 to 2017. Prior to that, the Detroit Red Wings won the Central Division an astounding eight times from 2001 to 2009. It doesn’t get you a championship -- Washington won the expired Southeast Division from 2008 to 2011 -- but it does mean you played great hockey year after year.

And to do it in the reconstituted Patrick Division, where long-time rivals like the Penguins, Flyers, Rangers, Islanders and Devils joined with newer rivals Carolina and Columbus, makes it even sweeter. Add another banner to the rafters at Capital One Arena. The Caps are the class of the Metropolitan Division yet again. 

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Nationals will not lay off full-time business or baseball employees amid coronavirus pandemic

Nationals will not lay off full-time business or baseball employees amid coronavirus pandemic

The Washington Nationals decided to use “partial furloughs” to keep their baseball and business employees at work through the end of their contracts or the calendar year.

The road map works like this:

All full-time business and baseball employees will receive a reduction in pay and hours ranging from 10 to 30 percent. If the employee’s contract runs to the end of baseball season -- typically Oct. 31 -- then these parameters apply from now until then. If the employee is not on contract, these reductions persist until Dec. 31.

No full-time employee is being laid off because of the economic impact from coronavirus.

An example: If a person works a 40-hour week, and has the 10 percent reduction in pay and hours, they are down to a 36-hour week at 10 percent pay cut.

The reduction scale slides. The highest-paid employees, like Mike Rizzo, are taking the largest reduction in pay. Then on down the line.

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The Nationals deciding to do this now allows their staff to know what the future holds as opposed to wondering month-to-month what decision the organization will make in regard to their job status.

Major League Baseball organizations remain uneasy about their financial future in 2020 since the season has stalled. The league and its team owners are in the midst of negotiations with the MLBPA while attempting to find a safe, revenue-satisfactory path back to the field.

Meanwhile, teams across the league are assessing their non-player finances, and the approach varies. For instance, the Anaheim Angels decided last week to furlough some non-playing employees.

In Washington, no full-time employee will be laid off because of this salary adjustment.

USA Today was first to report the Nationals’ overall decision.

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