Capitals

No. 4 Florida, No. 22 Louisville in Sugar Bowl

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No. 4 Florida, No. 22 Louisville in Sugar Bowl

NEW ORLEANS (AP) Now that Charlie Strong has his Louisville Cardinals in a BCS bowl, of course fate would have it that his team's opponent is Florida, a program with which he won a pair of national titles.

Sugar Bowl officials announced on Sunday night that this season's game will pit the Cardinals of the Big East against the Gators of the Southeastern Conference on Jan. 2.

``It's a program of excellence and I really enjoyed my time there,'' said Strong, who was the Gators' defensive coordinator from 2003-2009. ``I watch that program every week.

``I'm just happy for this program to get to a BCS bowl game. I don't know if it really matters who we play,'' Strong added. ``I'm just so happy for our players.''

Despite finishing behind Georgia in the Southeastern Conference East Division, No. 4 Florida (11-1, 7-1 SEC) got the Sugar Bowl bid because the winner of Saturday's SEC title game, Alabama, is headed to the BCS championship, while Georgia, which beat Florida and won the SEC East, was left with two losses after falling to the Crimson Tide and had a lower BCS ranking than the one-loss Gators.

While critics of the bowl system argued Georgia deserved a bowl on par with that of a Florida team they beat, Gators coach Will Muschamp hardly sounded sympathetic to that point of view.

``We started the season understanding the rules of engagement,'' he said. ``These are the rules we started the year with and so be it.''

Muschamp added that the Gators were ``jacked-up'' to be in the Sugar Bowl, despite the disappointment still felt from their lone loss to Georgia in their annual meeting in Jacksonville, a result which snuffed out their hopes of contenting for a BCS title.

``We had our opportunity in Jacksonville and didn't quite get it done to get into the national championship game, but we're going to play in the Sugar Bowl to represent our conference,'' Muschamp said. ``We have great motivation for this game regardless of the circumstances.''

No. 22 Louisville (10-2, 5-2 Big East) finished in a tie for Big East championship but earned its invitation to a BCS bowl thanks to having the highest BCS ranking of any team in the league. The Cardinals opened the season 9-0 before falling to Syracuse and Connecticut, but then beat Rutgers to lock up their league's BCS bid.

This will be Florida's ninth appearance in the Sugar Bowl. The Gators have won three of their previous eight appearances, including a 51-24 win over Cincinnati in the 2010 game. The Gators won a national title in the Sugar Bowl with a 52-20 victory over Florida State following the 1996 season.

Louisville will be playing in its first Sugar Bowl, making the Cardinals the fourth first-time participant in the game in the past six years.

Louisville and Florida have met twice before, with the Gators winning both in 1980 and 1992.

Florida won this year primarily with a rushing attack which averaged nearly 195 yards per game and was led by Mike Gillislee, and a highly rated defense that allowed only 12.9 points per game, the third-lowest average in the country.

Louisville rode a passing offense led by sophomore quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, which averaged nearly 296 yards per game. Bridgewater was beat up by the end of the season, but tough enough to play a crucial part-time role against Rutgers with a broken wrist and sore ankle. Strong now hopes that with a few weeks rest, Bridgewater will be in much better condition by the time his team lines up against the Gators.

``Our medical staff did an unbelievable job to get him ready for the Rutgers game, so now they have enough time,'' Strong said. ``We've got to be smart on how we handle it.''

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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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