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Texas Tech's Kingsbury gets rousing reception

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Texas Tech's Kingsbury gets rousing reception

LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) Kliff Kingsbury is finally back where it feels like home.

Kingsbury was formally introduced Friday as the new head coach at Texas Tech, where he starred as the quarterback of some of Mike Leach's high-flying offenses. The former offensive coordinator at Houston and, most recently, Texas A&M, said those jobs were purely business.

``But being here now, this is personal to me,'' said Kingsbury. ``This is where I want to be. This is a place that's helped shape me as a man. It's given me so much.''

Kingsbury, a mentor to Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel this year and the first in a string of record-setting Red Raiders quarterbacks, was hired Wednesday to succeed Tommy Tuberville, who left unexpectedly for Cincinnati less than a week ago after logging three losing Big 12 seasons in West Texas.

The 33-year-old Kingsbury has never been a head coach. He's the youngest head coach of a BCS school and the second-youngest in the Football Bowl Subdivision behind Toledo's Matt Campbell.

Kingsbury has a four-year deal that averages $2 million a year - not bad for a guy who just five years ago was making less than $30,000 a year as a quality control assistant at Houston.

He promised a ``young and energetic'' coaching staff and has already gotten Eric Morris, a former Red Raiders receiver who coached with Leach this season at Washington State, and Kevin Curtis, a former safety, to sign on.

This is all wonderful news to the Texas Tech faithful who have watched the program stumble in the aftermath of Leach's 2009 firing and Tuberville's struggles. On Friday, it was clear Kingsbury's hire was a home-run decision by athletic director Kirby Hocutt.

``I don't have any doubt about that because he brings a level of enthusiasm and excitement'' fans want for the program, said Rick Dykes, who was offensive coordinator under his father, former Red Raiders coach Spike Dykes, and recruited Kingsbury in 1998.

During his time under Leach's pass-happy offense, Kingsbury helped engineer wins over Oklahoma, Texas A&M and Texas. He led the Red Raiders to a 38-28 win over the Sooners as a redshirt freshman in his first start, throwing for three TDs and running for a fourth. In 2002, Kingsbury's final home game saw him throw for 473 yards and six touchdowns to outlast the Longhorns 42-38.

On Friday, Kingsbury wasn't ready to reveal what sort of offense fans will see. He said the program is ``not broken'' despite back-to-back seasons where the Red Raiders slid down the stretch. This year, they lost four of their last five games and in 2011 they dropped five straight to close the season for the program's first losing season since 1992.

``I'm more of a walking-type guy, not a talking-type guy, so I'll let you all see that in the fall,'' he said. ``But it's going to be an exciting brand of football.''

There's little doubt about what kind of offense the Red Raiders will run Kingsbury has been part of some of the most prolific offenses in the country the past few years. His offenses spread the field and moved quickly, favoring a fast tempo that is all the rage.

Kingsbury followed Kevin Sumlin to A&M from Houston, where he mentored quarterback Case Keenum and the 2011 Cougars led the nation in total offense, passing offense and scoring. This year, Texas A&M is third in the nation in total offense at 552 yards per game heading into the Cotton Bowl against Oklahoma.

Kingsbury found it a ``little poetic,'' that Friday's weather was classic West Texas - plenty of wind. Tuberville frequently complained about the often-breezy conditions. None of that from Kingsbury, a Texas native from New Braunfels, not far from Austin.

``I'm going on record that I actually enjoy the wind,'' he said. ``You'll never hear me complain about it.''

Then, near the end of his remarks, Kingsbury got fans riled up when he turned to Hocutt to ask a question.

``I was going to see if there's any way possible we can get Cincinnati on the schedule next year?'' he said, bringing a roar from the crowd.

One fan who's watched the Red Raiders since he was about 7 gave up his season tickets the year after Leach's firing. Jimmie Gowens, who said he might change his mind now, thinks Kingsbury's hiring will reunite the fan base.

``I think people have finally realized that Leach isn't coming back,'' said Gowens, a retired postal worker. Kingsbury is ``going to have to produce within a few years, but I think he will be given a better chance than Tuberville.''

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How Dwayne Haskins beat Joe Burrow for the starting QB job at Ohio State

How Dwayne Haskins beat Joe Burrow for the starting QB job at Ohio State

Joe Burrow is arguably coming off the greatest single-season ever by a college football quarterback.

The LSU signal-caller finished the 2019 season a Heisman Trophy winner and a National Champion with a perfect 15-0 record. The 23-year-old broke numerous SEC and college football records with his 5,671 passing yards, 60 passing touchdowns, and just six interceptions.

Burrow, the presumed No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, only ended up at LSU because he did not win the starting QB job at Ohio State. After three years in the program and a recent Buckeye graduate at the time, Burrow announced his intentions to transfer from Ohio State shortly after spring ball ended in 2018.

During that spring, the Buckeyes had an open quarterback competition, and current Redskins quarterback Dwayne Haskins beat out Burrow for the job. So, how did that happen?

Ohio State beat reporter Bill Rabinowitz joined the latest Redskins Talk podcast to explain how.

Rabinowitz explained that the competition between Haskins and Burrow started long before the spring of 2018. During the 2017 season, Burrow was the backup over Haskins at first, but broke his hand earlier in the season. Haskins became the backup in his place. Haskins, a redshirt freshman at the time, was forced into action against Michigan after longtime starter J.T. Barrett injured his knee in the third quarter.

Haskins rallied the Buckeyes to a victory over their rival Wolverines on the road, which gave him a significant leg up over Burrow in the battle entering spring ball.

"It was an open competition, but we all basically know that Burrow was going to have to knock out the champ," Rabinowitz said. "If you go into Ann Arbor and rally the Buckeyes to win there, that's a huge thing on your résumé."

Rabinowitz explained that the two quarterbacks were practically even during spring ball; neither one stood out above the other. But with Burrow set to graduate in three years, there was no reason for him to stay if he wasn't the starter. He earned the right to explore his options and chose to head south to LSU.

"Urban Meyer and Ryan Day, the offensive coordinator at the time, had seen what Haskins did in a game, and watched those two in practice," Rabinowitz said. "There wasn't a lot of separation. They wanted both to stay, but Burrow earned the right to move on. There were no hard feelings. It was a completely understandable move by all sides. This was a win-win."

The following fall, Haskins rewarded both Meyer and Day for naming him the starter, leading Ohio State to a 13-1 record and a Rose Bowl victory. Haskins finished third in Heisman Trophy voting and set multiple Ohio State single-season passing records in the process. Additionally, he shattered Drew Brees' Big Ten single-season passing touchdowns record (Brees had 39, Haskins finished with 50).

In Burrow's first year with LSU in 2018, he finished with just under 2,900 passing yards, 16 passing touchdowns, and five interceptions. That's a solid season, but nothing spectacular, especially when comparing it to Haskins' 2018 campaign.

"Last year, in 2018, when you asked which quarterback would you rather have, there were no Ohio State fans who said 'I wish Burrow were here instead of Haskins,'" Rabinowitz said. 

"I don't think anyone, not even Joe Burrow, could have envisioned what he did at LSU," he continued. "It's only because Burrow went off this year, had a year for the ages [that we're having this discussion]."

The one thing that surprised Ohio State with Haskins was not his production in 2018, but his decision to leave for the NFL after just one season as the starter. When Burrow transferred in 2018, he had already graduated. Haskins was just a redshirt sophomore at the time and had two years of eligibility remaining following the 2018 season.

But the combination of Haskins' incredible season with a weak quarterback class had the Ohio State passer shoot up draft boards towards the end of the 2018 season.

"[Ohio State] expected him to have two years, maybe even three," Rabinowitz said. "It wasn't until midseason, maybe even the later part of the season, where they were like, 'Oh my god, this guy might leave.'"

Haskins left, and the Redskins selected him No. 15 overall. Justin Fields, the No. 1 quarterback recruit from the 2018 class, transferred from Georgia to Ohio State days later, and led the Buckeyes to the College Football Playoff in 2019. So, this situation also seemed to be a win-win for both sides.

"So I think the fans, the contrarians who wanted Burrow [over Haskins], they'd be looking for a quarterback next year," Rabinowitz said. "[Ohio State] doesn't have to. Ohio State has Justin Fields, who's going to be a Heisman frontrunner next year."

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Bradley Beal passing Wes Unseld on Wizards' scoring list a reminder of his place among franchise greats

Bradley Beal passing Wes Unseld on Wizards' scoring list a reminder of his place among franchise greats

WASHINGTON -- John Wall, Bradley Beal, Wes Unseld. That's how the Wizards' all-time scoring list reads from No.'s three through five after Monday's Wizards win over the Pistons, as Beal moved into sole possession of fourth place with a good chance of passing Wall before the season is over.

Unseld remains the most accomplished player in Wizards/Bullets franchise history as an NBA champion, 1977-78 Finals MVP, 1968-69 league MVP and rookie of the year plus a Hall of Fame induction. But Beal passing him is another reminder he already has a place among Wizards and Bullets luminaries.

"That's an honor because that list is full of greats, true Wizards and Bullets legends. To be a part of that is an honor," Beal said. 

Within the context of Wizards franchise history, Beal has already separated himself as one of the best to ever suit up. In addition to being fourth in points, he is the all-time leader in three-pointers, sixth in assists, seventh in steals and 10th in win shares. He also has the single-season record for threes. That's not bad for a guy who is 26 years old. 

The Wizards/Bullets franchise, of course, doesn't have the same historic success as others like the Celtics and Lakers, but it has been around for 59 seasons. During that time 444 different players have appeared in a game for them.

The franchise goes all the way back to 1962 when they were known as the Chicago Packers. Along the way, there have been more losses (2597) than wins (2142), but many All-Stars and decorated players have come through.

Continuing to make his mark on the Wizards/Bullets franchise seems to be genuinely important to Beal. During his halftime interview with NBC Sports Washington's Chris Miller, he mentioned the team's Baltimore days when discussing the Unseld feat. Back when he signed his contract extension in October, he explained the decision partly in terms of creating a legacy in Washington and taking the franchise to places it hasn't been in a long time.

On Monday, he alluded to those goals again.

"I never would have dreamt of that or thought of that coming here. To still be here is an honor, too. I'm just taking it in full stride. I've still got a lot more basketball to play, so who knows where I'll end up," he said.

Beal is well on his way to being widely known as one of the best players in Wizards/Bullets history. If he plays many more years in Washington and doesn't leave on bad terms, he will likely have his jersey retired someday.

But in order to reach the true top tier of Wizards/Bullets greats, he will have to lead them to some playoff success. Getting to the conference finals, where Washington hasn't been since the 1970s, would certainly stand out.

Still, if you were putting together a roster of the best players in Wizards/Bullets history, he would already be included.

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