NCAA

O'Brien downplays national coach of the year talk

O'Brien downplays national coach of the year talk

He took control at Penn State in the midst of the bleakest days in its history. After four straight wins proved the Nittany Lions program could thrive in the face of scandal, coach Bill O'Brien has thrust himself into contention as an early frontrunner for national coach of the year.

Just don't tell O'Brien.

After a shaky start to his tenure - a 24-14 loss at home to Ohio - O'Brien has earned praise for the turnaround and the way he has handled the fallout of the Jerry Sandusky scandal. Sandusky, maintaining his innocence, was sentenced Tuesday to at least 30 years in prison.

O'Brien was busy at work 11 miles down the road from the courtroom, far removed from Sandusky's sentence in Bellefonte, Pa., in the child sexual abuse scandal that brought shame to Penn State and led to former coach Joe Paterno's downfall.

O'Brien has led the Nittany Lions to a 4-2 record, including four straight victories and an upset over previously unbeaten Northwestern. The win was a huge confidence boost going into the off week and propelled O'Brien into the race for coach of the year honors. Only six games into the season, and with the brunt of conference play ahead, O'Brien refused to consider the idea that he'd be in the thick of the race with stalwarts like Ohio State's Urban Meyer, Alabama's Nick Saban and Kansas State's Bill Snyder, who have their teams nestled in the top 10.

``We have Murderer's Row coming up here, starting with Iowa,'' O'Brien said. ``There's a lot of great coaches in this country. I've only coached six games in my whole career. That's the farthest thing from my mind.''

O'Brien has tried to keep a ``business as usual'' approach for the Nittany Lions as they prepare for an Oct. 20 game at Iowa (3-2). Then comes the big one - Oct. 27 at Beaver Stadium - against the Buckeyes that could have voters ready to hand O'Brien the coaching award at midfield if Penn State pulls off the upset.

Either way, he's in the conversation because he quickly made Penn State competitive in a season many expected they'd be reeling following the scandal and sanctions that gutted the program. O'Brien had to face open season on his entire roster after the NCAA penalties were announced making his top priority not scouting reports or practice schedules, but simply keeping the Nittany Lions intact.

A reduction in scholarships and a four-year postseason ban are among the sanctions, so potentially crippling that some critics - some of the same ones pushing O'Brien for top coaching honors - have suggested they were worse than shutting down football entirely for at least a season.

O'Brien never believed it. He knew that playing a full slate was always a better alternative than sitting on the sidelines, even when they were 0-2.

So far, he's right, even as the pressure never lets up.

``It's kind of like drinking water from a fire hose,'' O'Brien said. ``Something happens new every day. You have to budget your time and do the best that you can. We have a great staff here, a veteran staff that has done an excellent job of coaching these kids, and that really helps when you're a brand new head coach.

``It helps to have a great staff.''

The sordid Sandusky case has caused such grief for the program over the last 11 months, that not even a winning record and victories over nationally ranked teams could begin to make a dent on the black cloud that hovers over campus. Don't forget, O'Brien might not even have a full roster until 2020.

But while tough times certainly loom in Happy Valley, for this week, for the now, there is every reason for the Nittany Lions to feel good about the season's first two months.

And as much he downplays his impact, O'Brien can take credit for the solid start.

``I knew that we had a really tough, resilient group of players and a good coaching staff,'' he said. ``It had nothing to do with me. It's about the players and coaching staff here doing a good job of coming together and playing well.''

St. Joseph's vs. Richmond Basketball: TV Channel, Live Stream How to Watch

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St. Joseph's vs. Richmond Basketball: TV Channel, Live Stream How to Watch

After a disappointing 7-11 start to the 2018-19 men's college basketball season, the Richmond Spiders hope to snap a two-game losing streak when they travel to the City of Brotherly Love on Wednesday night to take on the St. Joseph's Hawks at Hagan Arena.

The Spiders hope to start off their Three-Saint-Strech on the right foot against St. Joseph's prior to heading back home to host St. Bonaventure (1/23) before their road trip to take on Saint Louis (1/30). Richmond Head Coach Chris Mooney is aiming to lead his club to their third straight victory at Hagan Arena.

St. Joseph's vs. Richmond will tip off at 7:00 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Washington Plus.

St. Joseph's Hawks vs. Richmond Spiders How to Watch

What: St. Joseph's Hawks vs. Richmond Spiders
Where: Hagan Arena, St. Joseph's University. Philadelphia, PA.
When: 7:00 p.m. ET
TV Channel: NBC Sports Washington Plus (Channel Finder, Daily TV listings)
Radio: (99.5 FM; 950 AM)


St. Joseph's Hawks vs. Richmond Spiders Preview

Conference: Atlantic-10
Record: St. Joseph's (8-10, 1-5), Richmond (7-11,1-4)
Last Game: 68-57 Loss vs. Saint Louis, 1/18 (St. Joseph's), 75-62 Loss at Davidson, 1/19 (Richmond)
Leading Scorers: Charlie Brown Jr., 18.9 ppg (St. Joseph's), Grant Golden, 17.7ppg (Richmond)


 

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Bruce Allen does not know why Redskins would expect suspension for Reuben Foster

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Bruce Allen does not know why Redskins would expect suspension for Reuben Foster

MOBILE, Ala. — Florida authorities dropped domestic violence charges against Reuben Foster earlier this month, and for Redskins team president Bruce Allen, that should mean no NFL suspension.

Allen said as much when speaking with reporters on Tuesday at the Senior Bowl. 

"The league is still finishing their investigation of it," Allen said. "I don't know why we would expect a suspension, but we'll let the league finish up."

There is precedent for an NFL suspension regardless of legal action. Recent examples include a three-game suspension for Jameis Winston and a six-game suspension for Ezekiel Elliott.

The Cowboys tried to fight Elliott's suspension in the courts, but eventually, the NFL won. Winston and the Bucs did not appeal his suspension. 

Neither Winston or Elliott were ever charged with a crime, but the accusations against both included salacious details and possible sexual assault, and the NFL did not relent in their rulings. 

For Foster, in the last calendar year he has been arrested twice for separate incidents of domestic violence. The first case fell apart when testimony was recanted, and in the second case, charges were dropped. The 49ers released him after the second incident, and Washington swooped in to claim the linebacker off waivers. 

Throughout this process, the Redskins have maintained that Foster would not play for the organization if he was deemed guilty of any wrongdoing.

"Let me be clear, Reuben will have to go through numerous steps including the full legal process, an investigation and potential discipline from the NFL, as well as meetings with counselors associated with the team before he will ever have the opportunity to wear the Burgundy and Gold as a player," Redskins VP of Personnel Doug Williams said in a November statement.

Allen said that the team conducted its own investigation then and expected Foster to be cleared. Now, Allen expects Foster to stay out of trouble. 

"We hold our players to a very high standard at the Redskins," the team president said. "We ask for a commitment that goes beyond the 60 minutes of a football game. Reuben understands what he has to do, and he's been doing it every day."

As a rookie in 2017, Foster played in 10 games and registered 72 tackles.

In 2018, Foster started the season on a suspension for a drug violation before playing six games. He logged 29 tackles but his year was cut short for injuries before landing on the commissioner's exempt list once the arrest in Florida happened. 

A first-round pick out of Alabama in 2017, Foster will be lined up with a number of his former college teammates on the Redskins. 

Assuming he gets through the offseason without any trouble, when Foster hits the field for Washington, he could be a major asset

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