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Rice playing Air Force in 10th Armed Forces Bowl

Rice playing Air Force in 10th Armed Forces Bowl

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) - The Armed Forces Bowl is going back to its first home for its 10th game, featuring two teams that used to be coached by Ken Hatfield.

Air Force (6-6) is playing in the Armed Forces Bowl for the fourth time, and will face Rice (6-6) on Dec. 29 at TCU's completely redone stadium.

After being played the last two years on the SMU campus, the Armed Forces Bowl is returning to Fort Worth. The stadium on the TCU campus has undergone a $164 million rebuild since the bowl - which debuted in 2003 - was last played there in 2009.

``They do such a super job of creating different opportunities and experiences for your guys that it actually seems like quite a while since we have been there,'' Air Force coach Troy Calhoun said. ``So we are excited. Great food; great, great hospitality and I look forward to playing in a terrific venue with the upgrades that have been made there too.''

Air Force accepted an invitation to return to Fort Worth right after getting its sixth victory, a 21-7 win over Hawaii on Nov. 16. It is their school-record sixth consecutive season with a bowl game.

The only team other than Air Force and three-time participant Houston with multiple Armed Force Bowl appearances is Tulsa with two. Rice is in the bowl for the first time.

The Falcons lost to California in 2007, then split consecutive matchups against Houston, losing in 2008 before a 47-20 win in 2009. Both losses were by six points.

Rice got its spot in the Armed Forces Bowl when Tulsa won the Conference USA championship game on Saturday, sending the Golden Hurricane to the Liberty Bowl as the league's representative. That put the Owls in Fort Worth instead of the New Orleans Bowl.

The Owls have a four-game winning streak, averaging 41 points a game in that stretch, and won five of their last six games. This is their third bowl game since a postseason drought from 1961 to 2006.

``We were a good football team. We were competitive in every game,'' coach David Bailiff said. ``Very resilient group of young men that showed up, even when we back ourselves into the corner and knew we had to win out to become bowl eligible.''

Hatfield's first head coaching job was at Air Force from 1979-83, and he won bowl games each of his last two seasons. He then went to Arkansas and Clemson, then was at Rice from 1994-2005.

Bailiff was asked who was going to win to have Hatfield as an honorary coach.

``We want him to be there and it wouldn't even matter really what sideline he's on,'' the current Rice coach said. ``He's just one of the greatest guys that's ever been in the business, and you know, we are just hopeful that he can come to the game.''

Calhoun had similar flattering things to say about Hatfield, and credited him with doing ``an awful lot to rejuvenate'' the Air Force program with those two bowl victories three decades ago.

Before taking over in 2007 as head coach at Air Force, where he was a quarterback and started his coaching career in the late 1980s, Calhoun was offensive coordinator for one season with the NFL's Texans in Houston - home of Rice.

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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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