NCAA

In new role, Brandon opens Bills coaching search

In new role, Brandon opens Bills coaching search

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) With the Buffalo Bills hierarchy settled, it's on with the coaching search.

``As soon as we get off this podium, we go to work,'' Bills CEO Russ Brandon said Tuesday, shortly after being promoted to team president. ``We're heading out of here and starting that process.''

First stop: Arizona.

That was the destination of a plane Brandon, general manager Buddy Nix and several other key front-office members had boarded to immediately begin the process of finding a coach.

Though the team, on its website, didn't divulge any details beyond Brandon's travel plans, Arizona is home to three potential candidates: Cardinals defensive coordinator Ray Horton as well as former Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt and his assistant Russ Grimm, who had both been fired a day earlier.

It was a busy and eventful start to the new year for the Bills, after closing 2012 by firing coach Chan Gailey following three losing seasons.

Brandon's promotion gives him full control of the franchise's day-to-day operations. Nix has been retained. And assistant GM Doug Whaley's star is rising. Whaley will be involved in the coaching search, an indication that he continues to be groomed as Nix's eventual successor.

Brandon will now report directly to team owner Ralph Wilson, after assuming the title previously held by the 94-year-old owner. The transfer of power was made Monday, when Brandon met with Wilson at the owner's home in suburban Detroit.

``It was a rather emotional visit,'' Brandon said. ``He told me he was passing the torch to me to run the franchise in totality. He has granted me full authority to run the franchise with zero restrictions and zero limitations.''

The Bills are in the midst of their fifth coaching search since 2001. They're coming off their second consecutive 6-10 season and extended the NFL's longest playoff drought to 13 years. Over that stretch, Buffalo only once had a winning record - 9-7 in 2004.

Wilson, the franchise's founder, has only once before given up the title of president. That was in 2001, when he hired Tom Donahoe to also serve as general manager. Donahoe was fired after the 2005 season, at which point Wilson took back the title and said he had no plan to ever give it up again.

``These past 13 years have been very difficult on our fans, and we have not produced the type of winning that they deserve,'' Wilson said in a statement ``We want our team to be one that our fans are proud of. I believe that Russ has the unique abilities to assemble and lead the talent we will need to get the job done.''

Brandon said the coaching search will be ``exhaustive'' in his attempt to revive a once-proud franchise who's brand and relevancy he described as ``tarnished.''

``We haven't won enough games. And that's on us,'' Brandon said. ``And we're going to change it. We need to change it. And I will go to the end of the earth to make sure that we change it.''

Nix will report directly to Brandon, while maintaining authority over football operations.

Nix declined to be pinned down on the what he's looking for in a coaching candidate, saying: ``This time, I think it's wide open.''

That's a switch from three years ago, when Nix narrowed his parameters on hiring someone with previous head-coaching experience and an offensive background.

On other issues, Nix called it ``an organizational'' decision to fire Gailey. Nix backtracked on the unconditional support he voiced toward Gailey in November by saying: ``Things change, and it changed some with us. We kind of collapsed at the end. That made a difference.''

As for starting quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick's future, Nix said that will be left up to the next coach.

Brandon completed his 16th season with the Bills, and has been serving as the team's chief operating officer since 2008.

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Virginia snaps 3-game losing streak with 63-58 win over Georgia Tech

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USA Today Sports Images

Virginia snaps 3-game losing streak with 63-58 win over Georgia Tech

ATLANTA (AP) -- Jay Huff and Mamadi Diakite scored 17 points apiece as defending national champion Virginia snapped a three-game losing streak with a 63-58 win over Georgia Tech on Saturday night.

The Cavaliers (12-5, 4-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) finally regained their winning touch after dropping out of The Associated Press ranking for the first time since November 2017.

Georgia Tech (8-10, 3-5) lost its fourth straight home game. The Yellow Jackets haven't won at McCamish Pavilion since a Dec. 4 victory over Nebraska. 

Diakite's dunk with 14:47 remaining gave Virginia its biggest lead, 43-29.

The Cavaliers were still up 48-37 with just over 10 minutes to go when Georgia Tech suddenly came to life offensively.

The Yellow Jackets scored on four of five possessions, stringing together a 9-0 run that cut Virginia's edge to 48-46.

That was as close as Georgia Tech would get.

Huff, a 7-foot-1 center, knocked down a 3-pointer from the top of the key to thwart Georgia Tech's momentum. A few minutes later, he swished another open jumper to make it 55-48. 

Georgia Tech got a basket and a defensive stop, but Braxton Key swooped on for an offensive rebound to give the Cavaliers a second chance. With just over 2 minutes to go, Diakite was left open on the wing for a jumper that made it 57-50, effectively finishing off the Yellow Jackets.

Jose Alvarado paced Georgia Tech with 20 points.

Virginia led 33-25 at halftime, taking advantage of the home team's sloppy play. The Yellow Jackets hit 11 of 18 shots (61.1%) but turned it over 13 times, wasting far too many possessions against the defensive-minded Cavaliers.

BIG PICTURE

Virginia: The Cavaliers picked up a desperately needed victory to avoid their longest losing streak since a four-game skid from Feb. 12-20, 2017. While still a far cry from their national championship squad, Virginia showed some offensive efficiency to go along with its always-tenacious defense. Key chipped in with 10 points. 

Georgia Tech: This is shaping up to be another disappointing season, raising more doubts about whether coach Josh Pastner can turn around a program that is approaching a decade since its last NCAA Tournament appearance. The Yellow Jackets continue to show flashes of promise, but Pastner has been unable to develop any sort of consistency in his fourth season. 

UP NEXT

Virginia: Returns home to play North Carolina State on Monday night. 

Georgia Tech: Hits the road for the first of two meetings against No. 11 Louisville. The teams will meet again in Atlanta on March 7, the final game of the regular season. 

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Capitals hosting Rock The Rink skate and watch parties around DMV

Capitals hosting Rock The Rink skate and watch parties around DMV

The Capitals may not be participating in Stadium Series this year, but the team is embracing outdoor hockey around Washington for spirited game day fun.

The Caps are hosting Rock The Rink skates at The Wharf, Penatgon Row, Rockville Town Square and The Avenue at White Marsh on select game days from January to March 2020. Fans attending these events can wear Capitals jerseys or gear to get either $5 off admission or free skate rentals.

The Wharf

Jan. 18 at 1 p.m., Jan. 31 at 6 p.m., and Feb 17. at 1 p.m.

Transit Pier will boast a Capitals-paneled ice rink with an ice resurfacer, trivia contests, giveaways, along with a DJ. The Capitals Campire will also boast Adirondack chairs around a fire to roast marshmallows for smores in front of a 14-foot jumbotron screen to watch the Capitals games. 

Pentagon Row

Feb. 27 at 7 p.m. and March 9 at 6 p.m.

These skates will feature Slapshot, giveaways, a DJ and Capitals-centic specials at local restaurants. The Caps games will also be on at surrounding bars. 

The Avenue at White March

Feb. 7 at 6 p.m.

This event will feature Slapshot, giveaways, a DJ and Capitals-centic specials at local restaurants.

Rockville Town Square

Jan. 31 at 5:30 p.m. and March 5 at 6 p.m.

In addition to the above fun, Rockville native and Capitals hockey ambassador Haley Skarupa will be there on Jan. 31. You can watch the Capitals game at local bars as well. 

Fans attending these events or using local outdoor rinks this season are encouraged to post about it on social media by tagging @capitals and using the hashtag #RockTheRink to enter themselves for a chance to win prizes.

Caps slept through the first 40 minutes, they did not give Holtby much help though he was bad in his own right and Vrana sure did show something with the game-winning goal.

As for no penalties...not so much.

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