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High expectations produce high turnover in SEC

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High expectations produce high turnover in SEC

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Coaching in the SEC means taking home some of the biggest paychecks in college football - and managing some of the greatest expectations in the sport.

The Southeastern Conference will play for its seventh consecutive national title this year. As the championship total has increased, so has the pressure to win.

Arkansas, Auburn, Kentucky and Tennessee fired their coaches this year. No other league has dismissed more than two coaches thus far.

``This league, it's a different world,'' Tennessee athletic director Dave Hart said.

This marks the first time the SEC's had as many as four coaching changes in one year since 2004. Before then, the last time the SEC had four vacancies in one season was 1961.

Kentucky went out and tapped Florida State defensive coordinator Mark Stoops. He replaces Joker Phillips, who posted a 13-24 record in three years.

Tennessee, Auburn and Arkansas are still looking.

Derek Dooley was let go at Tennessee after he went 15-21 in three seasons. Auburn's Gene Chizik, who owned a 33-19 record in four seasons, was fired just two years after leading the Tigers to a national title. Arkansas announced John L. Smith wouldn't return after he led the Razorbacks to a 4-8 mark in one season as an interim coach in place of Bobby Petrino.

``There seems to be a lot more pressure on winning and winning quickly,'' Vanderbilt athletic director David Williams said. ``I think if you go way back, probably not that far back, people were generally going to give people four, five years. But I don't think that's the case anymore.''

SEC schools aren't alone in that regard.

Jon Embree played for Colorado, but that didn't stop the Buffaloes from firing him after he went 4-21 in two years. Southern Mississippi dumped Ellis Johnson on Tuesday after just one disastrous season, as the Golden Eagles went from 12-2 in 2011 to 0-12 this year.

Former Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer said the college football landscape has changed considerably. He posted a 152-52 record and won one national title in 17 seasons with the Volunteers before getting fired in 2008.

``There's a tremendous amount of financial pressure on athletic directors coming from all directions, from coaches wanting bigger and better facilities, fans wanting more and more wins, and donors wanting more return for their investment,'' he said.

That investment is particularly high in the SEC.

According to the USA Today database of coaching salaries released last week, four of the nation's eight highest-paid coaches this year were from the SEC: Alabama's Nick Saban, LSU's Les Miles, South Carolina's Steve Spurrier and Chizik. And Miles just got a raise. He agreed to a contract extension with LSU on Wednesday that will pay him around $4.3 million annually.

SEC coaches are even paid handsomely to go away.

Auburn, Kentucky and Tennessee are paying a combined $15 million in buyouts just to get rid of their head coaches.

But the big contracts come with big demands.

``It's probably more highlighted in the SEC,'' ESPN analyst and former Oregon coach Mike Bellotti said. ``It's all about money. As coaches' salaries increase, the tolerance for losing decreases. The salaries are higher in the SEC typically - not always, but generally it's one of the highest-paying conferences - and one with the least tolerance level if you don't win.''

That environment could affect what types of coaches are willing to pursue an SEC job.

``You do know the expectations around here at Tennessee, at Auburn and at Arkansas, I think people hiring you are expecting you to compete for a national championship,'' said Gary Danielson, the analyst for SEC games on CBS. ``You don't have to win it every year, but you better be able to compete. So if you're going to leave a cozy job, you'd better know what you're getting into.''

Hart considers that a selling point.

``This is the ultimate challenge, which competitors embrace,'' Hart said. ``This is the ultimate challenge, for a football coach to come into this league. If you're a competitor and you want to prove your worth, come into the Southeastern Conference. Come to the University of Tennessee. You'll get that opportunity.''

Kentucky didn't waste much time filling its vacancy.

Stoops was hired three days after Phillips' tenure officially ended with a 37-17 loss at Tennessee. Although his Florida State defense has allowed the second-fewest yards of any Football Bowl Subdivision team, Stoops has no previous head coaching experience and has never before worked at an SEC school.

Arkansas, Auburn and Tennessee figure to take more time and pursue bigger names with head coaching experience and/or ties to the SEC. Hart called previous head coaching experience ``critically important'' and said he wanted somebody who ``knows the difficulty of climbing the ladder in the SEC and can appreciate and identify what that takes.''

All three current SEC openings are at high-profile programs. Auburn captured a national title just two years ago. Tennessee won the 1998 national championship and collected at least eight wins every year from 1989 to 2004. Arkansas was ranked as high as eighth early this year.

Yet all three programs are coming off losing seasons. Any coach wondering whether to seek one of these jobs may want to heed the advice Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs offered during the news conference announcing Chizik's firing.

``Those that are faint of heart, they need not get in line,'' Jacobs said.

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AP Sports Writers Teresa Walker in Nashville, Tenn., Gary Graves in Lexington, Ky., and Brett Martel in Baton Rouge, La., contributed to this report.

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Why Daniel Jones might make sense if the Redskins truly believe they’re ‘close’

Why Daniel Jones might make sense if the Redskins truly believe they’re ‘close’

Daniel Jones seems unlikely to be the best quarterback in the 2019 rookie class. He also seems unlikely to be a bust.

Given the Redskins' history at the quarterback position, both recent and ancient, Jones’ lack of sexy upside might be his most attractive quality. 

Polarizing might not accurately portray this class of QBs. Divisive might be the better word. 

Kyler Murray ranks as the top prospect, and seems likely to be drafted first overall by the Arizona Cardinals. Still, some teams don’t believe he has the size or commitment to make it as an NFL signal caller.

After Murray there’s even less consensus. 

Dwayne Haskins has a big arm and great size, but only started one year in college and didn’t show much ability to read defenses in the Ohio State offense. Drew Lock makes some 'Wow!' plays, but then he also makes terrible plays. His most consistent traits are arm talent and inconsistency. 

In some order, Murray, Haskins and Lock probably mark the top three rated passers in the 2019 draft. 

Then comes Jones. 

The Duke quarterback does nothing that screams first-round pick. His combine numbers were good and his game film seems good. At the same time, there aren’t any real knocks against him either, other than Jones doesn’t have the super star potential the other three have shown. 

Jones isn’t a sexy pick. He’s not even a PG13 make-out scene pick. 

And that might be just what the Redskins want. 

For months, the Washington front office has repeatedly talked about being “close.” Close to what remains a question, but it must at least mean competing for the NFC East title and winning a playoff game. 

Well, of all the rookie passers, Jones might be the one that presents the least risk. He might not make jaw dropping deep throws or electric moves outside of the pocket, but he probably won’t throw 20-plus interceptions either. 

Last year, the Redskins traded for Alex Smith to run their offense. Smith’s best traits are controlling the football and making the smart, not sexy, play. 

You know what rookie could fit that mold? 

Certainly isn’t Murray. Probably isn’t Lock. And Haskins likely needs to sit a year to learn NFL offenses. 

Jones, however, has been playing in a pro system for years at Duke. He’s been coached by the Manning-Whisperer in David Cutcliffe. 

Veteran NFL personnel executives believe in Jones in a major way. Gil Brandt, a Hall of Fame former Cowboys GM, compared Jones to Peyton Manning. Seriously.

"When you watch him and you go back (20) years and watch Peyton Manning, you are watching the same guy. He's athletic," Brandt said on an SiriusXM pre-draft conference call. "He doesn't have a rocket for an arm, but neither did Peyton. Very smart."

ESPN's Mel Kiper believes Jones will be the best QB in this draft. Former Redskins GM Charley Casserly thinks Jones is the most ready for the NFL of any 2019 passer.

Add all of that up, and the Redskins taking Jones with the 15th overall pick starts to make sense. Then go back and listen to some Jay Gruden quotes, and it makes even more sense. 

Speaking at the NFL League Meetings in Arizona last month, Redskins head coach Jay Gruden explained that he likes winning low-scoring, grinding football games. 

"You try to protect the football and let the strength of your football team carry you through the tough times and hopefully your team or offense or special teams or offense will come through and make a play at a critical time," Gruden said. " It was a great recipe for us early. I like playing that way."

Of the rookie quarterbacks the Redskins might be able to get, Jones could be best suited for that style, especially in 2019. Not every analyst believes in Jones, including NBC Sports' Chris Simms. He doesn't even rate Jones in the top four QBs available this fall.

Regardless of the analysts, the Redskins believe they’re close, and need a quarterback that won’t lose them games. Of the rookie collection, Jones best fits that role.

Just by his risk taking nature, Lock will probably lose some games as a rookie. Maybe throughout his career. Haskins can play but the speed of the NFL will require a major adjustment for his game. Murray is dynamic, but his skill set requires a complete offensive overhaul for whatever team takes him. 

Add any of those three QBs to the Redskins and it’s hard to imagine the team competing for the playoffs in 2019. In the penultimate year of his contract, Gruden needs to compete for the playoffs in 2019. 

Last season, ugly or not, the Redskins legitimately looked on their way to a playoff spot. In Week 10, the team was 6-3. Injuries derailed those plans, but the roadmap was established. 

Even at 6-3, the Redskins hardly played aesthetically pleasing football. It sure as hell wasn't sexy. 

If the Redskins want to recreate that formula, and build on it for the future, Jones might be the best pick. 

In football, in sports, even in life, sometimes the best course of action is to avoid a major mistake and play it safe. 

The Redskins tried to that last year with Smith, but a broken leg disrupted the plan. 

It's entirely possible the Redskins don't take a quarterback in the first round, but if they do, Jones offers the best chance for a mulligan.

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Baltimore Orioles Roundup: Late comeback falls short as Twins complete sweep

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Baltimore Orioles Roundup: Late comeback falls short as Twins complete sweep

After dropping both games of the doubleheader on Saturday, the Orioles comeback bid was just short on Sunday, as they fell 4-3 to the Minnesota Twins.

The loss marked a sweep for the Twins, and the second time the Orioles have been swept in Camden Yards this season.

PLAYER NOTES:

ORIOLES:

Outfielder Dwight Smith, Jr. is not expected to miss time due to injury, according to manager Brandon Hyde. Smith was removed during Sunday's loss with what was considered to be right quad tightness. While he may be held out a couple days, do not expect him to end up on the injured list.

Second baseman Johnathan Villar continues to impress early on in 2019. Villar stole his sixth base of the season (in 23 games) on Sunday, also adding three hits and an RBI during the loss. He continues to be a bright spot for a young Orioles team.

The Orioles defense did not help starting pitcher Dylan Bundy, who gave up four runs (two earned) over six innings on Sunday. In the first inning, Smith Jr. lost a fly ball in the sun that resulted in a three-base error, leading to two runs. Regardless, Bundy moved to 0-3 on the season with a 6.56 ERA, neither of which is very good.

TWINS:

Relief pitcher Taylor Rogers earned his second save of the series -- and third of the season -- on Sunday. Despite allowing a run, he could be emerging as the Twins go-to ninth inning arm, but manager Rocco Baldelli could continue to move forward on a game-by-game basis.

Outfielder Max Kepler missed the entire series against Baltimore with what was described as just an illness. His health is something to keep an eye on moving forward, as Kepler has not played since Thursday.

WHITE SOX:

Outfielder Jon Jay is traveling with the team, but it is unlikely if he will play in any of games in the upcoming series against Baltimore. Jay has yet to play this season after suffering a hip injury late in Spring Training.

Starting pitcher Lucas Giolito also will miss the entire series against Baltimore with a hamstring injury that sent him to the injured list. The right-hander has not had the best start to 2019, as he has a 5.30 ERA through four starts.

INJURIES:

OF Dwight Smith, Jr.: Quadriceps, day-to-day

RP Richard Bleier: Shoulder, 10-Day IL

SP Nate Karns: Arm, 10-Day IL

DH Mark Trumbo: Knee, 60-Day IL

COMING UP:

Monday 4/22: White Sox @ Orioles, 7:05 p.m., Oriole Park at Camden Yards 

Tuesday 4/23: White Sox @ Orioles, 7:05 p.m., Oriole Park at Camden Yards 

Wednesday 4/24: White Sox @ Orioles, 7:05 p.m., Oriole Park at Camden Yards 

Source: Rotoworld

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