Capitals

Monday's Sports in Brief

Monday's Sports in Brief

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) In what must be an increasingly frustrating scene for the rest of college football, another season ended with Alabama coach Nick Saban and his players frolicking in the middle of a confetti-strewn field. Eddie Lacy ran all over Notre Dame, AJ McCarron turned in another dazzling performance through the air, and the Tide defense shut down the Fighting Irish until it was no longer in doubt.

The result was a 42-14 blowout in the BCS title game Monday night, not only making Alabama a back-to-back champion, but a full-fledged dynasty with three crowns in four years.

Despite the dazzling numbers by McCarron - 20 of 28 for 264 yards - he was denied a second straight offensive MVP award in the title game. That went to Lacy, who finished with 140 yards rushing on 20 carries and scored two TDs. Not a bad finish for the junior, who surely helped his status in the NFL draft should he decide to turn pro.

The Crimson Tide wrapped up its ninth Associated Press national title, breaking a tie with Notre Dame for the most by any school and gaining a measure of redemption for a bitter loss to the Irish almost four decades ago: the epic 1973 Sugar Bowl in which Ara Parseghian's team edged Bear Bryant's powerhouse 24-23.

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) - Alabama is No. 1 at being No. 1.

The Crimson Tide (13-1) was voted national champion by The Associated Press for the ninth time, more than any other program in college football, after routing Notre Dame 42-14 on Monday night.

Notre Dame, No. 1 coming into the BCS championship, dropped to No. 4.

The Tide received all 59 of the first-place votes in the final media poll of the season and will be a candidate to start next season No. 1

Oregon (12-1) finished second, matching its best final ranking from 2001. Ohio State (12-0), the only undefeated team in major college football but banned from the postseason because of NCAA sanctions, was third. Georgia and Texas A&M tied for fifth to cap another banner season for the Southeastern Conference.

PRO FOOTBALL

ASHBURN, Va. (AP) - It doesn't sound good for Robert Griffin III.

An injury that sidelines RG3 well into next season is a very real possibility - or at least it seemed that way after coach Mike Shanahan described the results of tests on the rookie's right knee.

Shanahan said the results prompted the team to send Griffin to Florida on Tuesday to see renowned orthopedist James Andrews for more examinations, essentially a second opinion that will decide the team's fate for the 2013 season.

``There is a concern,'' Shanahan said. ``That's why he's going to see him.''

Griffin tore his ACL while playing for Baylor in 2009, and Shanahan said that old injury caused Griffin's latest MRI to prove inconclusive and produce ``differences of opinion'' in those who have looked at it.

ASHBURN, Va. (AP) - Pete Carroll says the ``field'' in FedEx Field is ``horrible.''

Mike Shanahan doesn't go that far, but he agrees the grass isn't always greener at the Washington Redskins stadium.

The playing surface was a mess when Seattle Seahawks beat the Redskins on Sunday in the NFC wild card playoffs. There were plenty of bare sports, and dirt was flying with many of the steps taken between the hash marks. Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III and Seattle defensive end Chris Clemons left the game with knee injuries.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Andy Reid was introduced as the new coach of the Kansas City Chiefs one week after he was fired following 14 mostly successful seasons in Philadelphia.

The 54-year-old Reid was joined by Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt, team president Mark Donovan and several other executives at a packed news conference at Arrowhead Stadium.

He takes over for Romeo Crennel, who went 2-14 in his first full season as coach. Crennel was fired last Monday, the same day that Reid was dismissed following his tenure in Philadelphia that included 130 wins, six division titles and an appearance in the Super Bowl.

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Colts offensive coordinator Bruce Arians returned to Indianapolis on Monday night after being released from a Baltimore hospital following a 36-hour stay for an undisclosed illness.

Team owner Jim Irsay told The Associated Press in a text message that Arians was accompanied by two team doctors, had been medicated and appeared to be on the mend.

``He was in good spirits (and) is trending (in) right direction,'' Irsay wrote.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - The Philadelphia Eagles received permission to interview Cincinnati offensive coordinator Jay Gruden for their coaching vacancy.

Gruden, the younger brother of Jon Gruden, just finished his second season with the Bengals.

NEW YORK (AP) - Matt Cavanaugh will not return as the New York Jets' quarterbacks coach after four seasons with the team.

Cavanaugh's contract was due to expire in a few weeks and he was told he would not be part of Rex Ryan's staff next season. Cavanaugh was responsible for the development of Mark Sanchez, who took a step back in his fourth season and was benched late in the year.

PRO HOCKEY

The NHL appears headed toward a 48-game season for the second time in two decades.

``I think 48 is most likely at this point, unless the players can expedite their ratification process,'' NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly wrote in an email Monday to The Associated Press.

The NHL shortened its 82-game slate to 48 games for the 1994-95 season after a 103-day lockout. A 301-day lockout in 2004-05 made the NHL the first major North American professional sports league to lose an entire season.

When the framework of a new collective bargaining agreement was agreed to Sunday morning - after 16 hours of negotiations - there was some talk of having a 50-game season start later this month.

The NHL and the players' association are working on a memorandum of understanding, which could be completed soon, then voted on by owners and players. The league has circulated a memo to teams telling them to be ready to play by Jan. 19, the date the shortened season is expected to start.

PRO BASKETBALL

Head coach Scott Skiles and the Milwaukee Bucks have decided to part ways after just over four seasons together, ending a working relationship that seemed to have been teetering on the brink for quite some time.

The decision came two days after the Bucks lost their fourth straight game to fall to 16-16 on the season, a person with knowledge of the move told The Associated Press. The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the move has not been announced. USA Today first reported the parting.

SOCCER

ZURICH (AP) - Lionel Messi became the first four-time winner of the FIFA Player of the Year award after shattering the world record with 91 goals last year for Barcelona and Argentina.

The 25-year-old won for the fourth straight time, beating Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo and Barcelona teammate Andres Iniesta in voting announced Monday. His 91 goals topped Gerd Mueller's mark of 85 for Bayern Munich and Germany in 1972.

Abby Wambach became the first American to win FIFA Women's Player of the Year since Mia Hamm in 2001 and 2002. Pia Sundhage was voted top women's coach after leading Wambach and the U.S. team to the gold medal at last summer's London Olympics.

TEN

SYDNEY (AP) - Former champion Li Na advanced to the second round of the Sydney International with a 7-6 (2), 7-5 win over Christina McHale on Monday, and Sam Stosur extended her miserable start to 2013 with another first-round loss.

HOBART, Australia (AP) - Top-seeded Hsieh Su-wei lost to former doubles partner Peng Shuai of China 6-2, 6-7 (4), 7-6 (4) in the first round of the Hobart International on Monday.

AUTO RACING

NAZCA, Peru (AP) - Defending champion Stephane Peterhansel was back in front of the Dakar Rally in the Peruvian dunes a day after officials rubbed out his stage two win and overall lead.

Peterhansel finished third on the third stage from Pisco to Nazca and it was good enough to lead overall from stage winner Nasser Al-Attiyah. The Qatari started the day seventh and rose to second by cutting four minutes off Peterhansel's lead to trail by 6 minutes, 33 seconds.

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Brooks Orpik's time in Washington may not be over after all

Brooks Orpik's time in Washington may not be over after all

Friday's trade with the Colorado Avalanche seemed to mark the end of Brooks Orpik's time with the Washington Capitals. But that may not actually be the case.

Trading away Orpik also meant trading away his $5.5 million cap hit. That is not an insignificant amount of money especially for a team trying to re-sign defenseman John Carlson to a big-money contract.

But Orpik will not be playing out the final year of his contract in Colorado. The Avalanche placed Orpik on unconditional waivers Saturday for the purpose of a buyout, according to Sportsnet's Chris Johnston.

CapFriendly has the details of the buyout. The Avalanche will pay Orpik $3 million and take a cap hit of $2.5 million in the 2018-19 season and $1.5 million in the 2019-20 season.

So why would Colorado agree to take Orpik just to buy him out and take on dead cap space? Because by acquiring him, it lowered the cost of the Grubauer trade.

What this means for Brooks Orpik is that he will become a free agent, free to sign with anyone for the upcoming season. Including Washington.

For a 37-year-old defenseman who does not boast great mobility or speed, a $5.5 million cap hit was a bit too steep for the Caps who were very close to the cap ceiling last season and who need that extra money to re-sign their free agents. But the team did value Orpik's leadership and that could be especially important as young defensemen Madison Bowey and Christian Djoos continue developing plus prospects Jonas Siegenthaler, Lucas Johansen and Connor Hobbs all try to work themselves into contention for a spot on the NHL roster.

If Orpik does return, it will be a masterstroke for general manager Brian MacLellan. MacLellan freed up a lot of cap space to re-sign Carlson without having to buy out Orpik's contract, but could still possibly keep him on the roster at a much-reduced cost.

After a strong playoff performance, there may be other teams vying for Orpik's services next season. Getting traded to get bought out likely isn't a good feeling, but considering he just won a Stanley Cup in Washington, the defensive guru Todd Reirden is expected to be promoted to head coach and that re-signing with the Caps would mean not moving his family for what could very possibly and will very likely be the last contract of his NHL career, there are a lot of reasons why it would make sense for both the team and the player if Orpik stayed with the Caps.

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Need to Know: Tandler's Take—Jay Gruden know the pressure is on him in 2018

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Need to Know: Tandler's Take—Jay Gruden know the pressure is on him in 2018

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, June 24, 32 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.  

The heat is on Jay Gruden

Jay Gruden knows that his Redskins need to win in 2018.

“This isn’t a two- or three-year process,” he said last week. “This is a one-year process and we have got to win right away.” 

Jay Gruden gave this answer to a question about Alex Smith, but his words should resonate with the whole team. He’s right. This is no longer a rebuilding team. It’s time for this team to get it together and make a playoff run. 

That puts the pressure on Gruden. 

This is his fifth year as coach of the Redskins. He is well beyond the point where he can credibly point a finger of blame at his predecessor for any problems that are lingering. Only five players who were around in 2013, Mike Shanahan’s last year in Washington. It’s Gruden’s show now. 

His tenure is now the longest for a Redskins head coach since Norv Turner made it nearly seven years, from 1994 through 13 games into the 2000 season. His 49-59-1 run with the Redskins spanned three owners in Jack Kent Cooke, John Kent Cooke, and Dan Snyder. 

It should be noted that Turner’s third and fourth years at the helm closely resembled Gruden’s past two years. Turner’s team went 9-7 in 1996 and 8-7-1 the next year, narrowly missing the playoffs both years. That looks a lot like Gruden’s 8-7-1 and 7-9 records over the past two years. 

Gruden does not want this year’s team to resemble the 1998 Redskins. Turner’s fifth team started out 0-7 before winning four of their last five to finish 6-10. 

Turner kept his job in part because of the team’s uncertain ownership situation after the elder Cooke passed away in 1997. Gruden will not have a similar set of circumstances to help him out if he needs a lifeline in January. 

Gruden wants his fifth year to turn out more like Turner’s sixth season. That team went 10-6, topped the NFC East standings and won a playoff game. 

To get there, he needs a lot of his decisions to go right. While the trade for Smith was not his call, every indication is that he was on board with it. 

Last year, it was his decision to say no, thanks to Wade Phillips, who wanted to be his defensive coordinator and promote Greg Manusky into the job. The results were mixed as the Redskins were sixth in pass defense DVOA but 29thagainst the run. It was viewed as a marginal improvement on defense but the unit still seeme to be more of a liability than an asset. 

This year, the Redskins re-signed inside linebackers Zach Brown and Mason Foster and added defensive lineman Daron Payne with their first-round pick after spending their first-round pick on DE Jonathan Allen in 2017. There will be no excuses for Manusky and, by extension, Gruden if the defense does not improve. 

Joe Barry, Manusky’s predecessor who also was hired by Gruden when Phillips was an option, was out after two years of failing to significantly improve the defense. Any reasonable analysis would have to conclude that Barry did not get an infusion of talent anywhere approaching what Manusky has received in his two seasons. Manusky is getting a second year but he probably won’t get a third if the defense is still considered to be an impediment to the team’s progress. 

And if Manusky has to go, you have to wonder if Gruden will get a chance to hire a third defensive coordinator. 

I’m not sure if there is a certain number of games that the Redskins have to win for Gruden to return in 2019. It feels like he would not survive a 6-10 season or maybe not even another 7-9 finish. On the other end of the spectrum, making the playoffs and winning a game when they get there would certainly punch his ticket for a sixth season. 

Anything in between would leave Gruden in some jeopardy and the call would come down to the vague “moving in the right direction” criteria. 

There are some holes on this team, to be sure. But every team has some and the ones that are well coached figure out how to overcome them. The pressure will be on Gruden to best utilize their strengths and minimize any damage brought about by the weaker points. 

From his statement, it’s apparent that he is well aware of that. 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCSand on Instagram @RichTandler

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I put out a tweet correcting the Super Bowl ring count to two.

Timeline  

Days until:

—Training camp starts (7/26) 32
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 46
—Roster cut to 53 (9/1) 60

The Redskins last played a game 175 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 77 days. 

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