NCAA

Iron Bowl QBs at very different stages of careers

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Iron Bowl QBs at very different stages of careers

Jonathan Wallace was still in high school with no clue he'd wind up playing for Auburn when AJ McCarron was leading Alabama to a national title.

Now, the Tigers' freshman quarterback is set to start in the first Iron Bowl he's ever attended Saturday against the second-ranked Crimson Tide and one of the nation's best defenses - in front of some 102,000 mostly hostile fans.

``It's a pretty good position to be in, I would say,'' Wallace said. ``It's really a blessing. I'm very excited. I can't wait.''

McCarron is in a pretty good position, too.

He has the Tide (10-1, 6-1 Southeastern Conference) two wins away from a return trip to the national title game, where he was MVP last season.

The two quarterbacks are at very different stages of their careers leading teams having even more disparate seasons. Wallace has three career starts and none on the road for the Tigers (3-8, 0-7).

McCarron has started 24 games, winning 22 of them, and has 36 career touchdown passes compared to Wallace's four. He just set Alabama's single-season record with passing touchdown No. 21 last weekend against Western Carolina, a week after his school mark of 291 passes without an interception ended.

McCarron is one of five finalists for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award given to the nation's top junior or senior quarterback.

``I think everything with their offense starts with their offensive line,'' Auburn coach Gene Chizik said. ``I think it's an extremely talented, well-coached offensive line. I think for a quarterback there's great comfort in that, but he's been very, very efficient. He's very good at protecting the football. McCarron has done everything that I think you do in games to win.''

McCarron is third nationally in passing efficiency, completing 66.8 percent of his passes for 2,291 yards with two interceptions.

Wallace's ride has been unpredictable. He was bound for Central Florida until Auburn offered the player from nearby Central-Phenix City a scholarship on the eve of national signing day.

He took over the offense after both Clint Moseley and Kiehl Frazier struggled, but hasn't started in an unfriendly environment yet.

``Jonathan is one of these guys that's mature beyond his years,'' Chizik said. ``But it's going to be a different environment. A kid that grows up this close to Auburn and growing up in this state knowing what this game is and what this game means, it will be different for him. My gut is to say that he'll handle it wise beyond his years. He'll know that it's a different deal. He'll be excited about it, but he'll handle it well.''

Wallace was primarily used as the Wildcat quarterback and had only attempted one pass before taking over in the second half of a blowout loss to Texas A&M. Now, he'll be the third freshman quarterback to start for the Tigers in an Iron Bowl.

Gabe Gross, a baseball star who eventually went on to spend seven years in the major league, started the 1998 game after coach Terry Bowden had already left the team during a 3-8 season. The Tigers lost 31-17.

Ken Hobby started the 1981 game against the fourth-ranked Tide, and lost 28-17.

Wallace hasn't reached 200 yards passing in a game yet but has also thrown just two interceptions.

``He's done a really good job of managing the game for them,'' Alabama coach Nick Saban said. ``That's a good thing to me. Don't take that the wrong way. He's done a good job of throwing the football. He is doing all the quarterback runs that they do.

``And he's athletic enough to do it and makes good decisions about it. ``

Wallace now faces a defense that yields the nation's fewest points and is second in yards allowed.

``I'm seeing everything you can imagine that a defense can run,'' Wallace, who was coached in high school by three-time Alabama All-American linebacker Woodrow Lowe, said. ``They have an NFL-type defense. They bring everything. They do a lot of things. It's going to be kind of like Georgia, maybe a little more. Other than that, it's just one of those things where you've just got to take it a play at a time.''

Wallace gets more designed runs of the two quarterbacks, but McCarron has shown an ability to escape the rush. He even scrambled for 24 yards against Western Carolina in his longest run of the season.

Saban made it clear before the play was even over that's not his role - especially in blowout wins.

``He told me he was screaming for me to get out of bounds the whole time,'' McCarron said. ``And I kept going. I came off after we scored on that long drive, came over and he met me. I knew what he was about to say, so I said, `I just wanted to show you who was the real athlete out of us two.' He started laughing and just walked away, couldn't do anything but smile.''

Oral Roberts at Richmond College Basketball: Date, Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, How to Watch

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Oral Roberts at Richmond College Basketball: Date, Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, How to Watch

Winners of two straight, Richmond plays host to Oral Roberts to try and get a third consecutive victory.

The Golden Eagles, on the other hand, have lost three in a row and will be looking to get back to winning ways when they visit the Robins Center in Richmond, Va. on Saturday, Dec. 15.

Tip-off is scheduled for 4 p.m ET and will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington Plus.

Oral Roberts at Richmond How to Watch

What: Oral Roberts Golden Eagles at Richmond Spiders
Where: Robins Center, Richmond, Va.
When: 4 p.m. ET
TV Channel: NBC Sports Washington Plus (Channel Finder)

Oral Roberts at Richmond Preview

Conference: Summit League (Oral Roberts), A-10 (Richmond)
Record: 3-9 (Oral Roberts), 4-5 (Richmond)
Last Game: 80-64 loss at Missouri 12/7 (Oral Roberts), 82-47 win vs. Coppin State, 12/5 (Richmond)
Leading Scorers: Emmanuel Nzekwesi, 15.1 ppg (Oral Roberts), Grant Golden, 19.9 ppg (Richmond)

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Orioles finally hire Brandon Hyde as new manager

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Orioles finally hire Brandon Hyde as new manager

The Orioles have finally found their man.

After entering the Winter Meetings without having yet hired their new manager, a rarity in this era of baseball, the Orioles announced Friday that they had hired Brandon Hyde to fill the role.

Hyde joins the organization after spending half a decade in Chicago under Joe Maddon, and many years prior with the Marlins. He has a long background in player development, something that was important to new Orioles GM Mike Elias, which makes sense considering the state of the organization and their upcoming rebuilding process.

Hyde is 45, so he’ll have the opportunity to stick in Baltimore for a long time if he finds success, however, Elias defines it, in the next few seasons. Many times, the manager leading a team as it embarks on an organizational rebuild is not the same one who leads them back into contention, but the Orioles front office will certainly hope Hyde is up to both tasks.
 
“After conducting an intensive search, I believe that we have found the ideal leader for the next era of Orioles baseball,” said Mike Elias, Orioles Executive Vice President and General Manager, in a statement released Friday.

“Brandon’s deep background in player development and Major League coaching, most recently helping to shape the Cubs into a World Champion, has thoroughly prepared him for this job and distinguished him throughout our interview process. I look forward to introducing him to our fans next week and to working together with him to build the next great Orioles team.”

Elias was thought to have preferred someone with Major League experience, so as to avoid saddling an up-and-coming manager with multiple 90-plus loss seasons inevitably on the horizon in Baltimore. Hyde technically has experience coaching in the big leagues, though it comes in the form of a single game. The Marlins lost his one game as acting manager 2-1 to the Rays, and Jack McKeon was named interim manager the next day.

Maddon has developed a reputation as a stellar communicator and somebody open to analytics, and it stands to reason that Hyde would follow a similar style of leadership, especially considering how critical those traits are in the eyes of Elias.

Hyde replaces Buck Showalter, a beloved figure in Baltimore after his 8 ½ seasons at the helm brought winning baseball back to a city desperate for relevancy. Showalter’s contract was not renewed at the end of this past season, an understandable decision given his age and how long it will be until the franchise is ready to compete again.

Reports swirled about Hyde being named the 20th manager in franchise history as early as Tuesday at the Winter Meetings, though Elias and the front office were quick to emphasize that nothing was official at the time. In the end, Hyde does end up accepting the job, and he’ll be introduced at a press conference Monday.

Nationals bench coach Chip Hale was, along with Hyde, one of six finalists who interviewed for the position, so the Nats won’t be losing a valuable piece of their staff.

The Orioles are in the honeymoon phase of the rebuild, where hope springs eternal and the losses to come haven’t set in yet. Hyde checks all the boxes for what Elias was looking for, and despite his relative inexperience, he’s someone who should excite, if not necessarily inspire, the fanbase in Charm City.

Orioles fans won’t have many exciting acquisitions to cheer on in the near future, but they may have just made one of their most impactful. The O’s finally have their GM-Manager combination set for the foreseeable future, and they’ll hope to experience as much success and more as the previous regime.