Capitals

USC hoping to extend dominance over Irish

USC hoping to extend dominance over Irish

LOS ANGELES (AP) The Jeweled Shillelagh has been spending an awful lot of time in Hollywood over the past decade.

Southern California has won nine of its last 10 meetings with Notre Dame in one of college football's best intersectional rivalries. The Trojans won a record eight straight over the Irish before a narrow loss in 2009, falling one dropped touchdown pass short of a perfect 10-year stretch with the bejeweled trophy.

USC's dominance is one reason many of the current players don't have a full grasp of more than 85 years of history between the schools. The Trojans have been on top for most of their youths, winning in everything from blowouts to the famed ``Bush Push'' game of 2005.

``It's not a great rivalry right now,'' Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said. ``We haven't won enough games. They've had the upper hand on this. We need to make this a rivalry.''

The top-ranked Irish have that chance Saturday at the Coliseum. Notre Dame (11-0) needs a win to advance to the BCS title game, while the Trojans (7-4) have been reduced to spoilers after starting the year at No. 1.

That's a change from the rivalry's recent history dominated by the Trojans, whose incredibly successful run under coach Pete Carroll has been dampened by NCAA sanctions while Kelly revitalized the inconsistent Irish. The USC-Notre Dame rivalry carries more weight for alumni and former players than the current stars in uniform.

``We try to work on that, (but) I don't think that's natural to them,'' USC coach Lane Kiffin said. ``But that's what we live in nowadays. We're dealing with 17- to 21-year-old kids, and for whatever reason, they don't come in here understanding that, so we work on that.''

In fact, Kiffin welcomes Notre Dame's success under Kelly, believing it's the only way to make his players understand what's special about the matchup.

``That will naturally change it,'' Kiffin said. ``I'm sure as these kids grew up with the whatever it was, eight straight (wins for USC), I'm sure they weren't watching the same type of games that 20 years ago, kids were watching. That would definitely change it, but it's our part to make sure we're up there, too.''

The series, which dates to 1926 when Knute Rockne first brought Notre Dame to the West Coast, has been dominated by one team for long stretches in the past half-century or so. Notre Dame went unbeaten in 13 straight meetings from 1983-95, and USC lost only twice from 1967-82.

With Notre Dame two wins away from its first national title since 1988, the Coliseum is an ideal setting for a memorable win. Although the rivalry was one-sided in recent years, it produced several memorable moments - most of them less regrettable than USC receiver Ronald Johnson's horrific drop of a sure touchdown pass with 1:17 to play on a rainy night in Los Angeles two years ago.

The Bush Push game might have been the most entertaining, with a back-and-forth game culminating in Reggie Bush's push of quarterback Matt Leinart into the end zone in the final seconds of No. 1 USC's 34-31 victory over the green-jerseyed Irish. Even Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis agreed Bush had simply been trying to win, even if he strayed onto the gray edge of the rule book.

Although the current players don't know everything about the schools' history, they've written a bit of their own already. USC senior safety T.J. McDonald cites the Trojans' 31-17 victory at Notre Dame last season among the best memories of his college career, still savoring the South Bend silence a year later.

Kelly hopes the Irish start making their own memories Saturday.

``We need to win some more football games against a great opponent in USC,'' Kelly said. ``Our guys know that. I don't have to tell them that. They've been around. They were here last year when we got beat. We want to make this a rivalry. We're going to have to play great football against a really good football team.''

Quick Links

7 things to know about Capitals head coaching candidate Todd Reirden

capture_reirden.png
USA TODAY Sports

7 things to know about Capitals head coaching candidate Todd Reirden

For now, Todd Reirden appears to be the frontrunner to be the new head coach of the Washington Capitals. But who is he? 

Here are some things to know about the head coaching candidate:

Reirden spent the last four seasons with Washington on Barry Trotz's staff

Should Reirden be hired, he would bring a measure of familiarity with him few teams get after a coaching change. Reirden was hired by Trotz in 2014 when Trotz was putting together his staff. He was brought in to coach the team's defense and immediately improved the blue line.

In the year prior to Reirden's hiring, the Caps allowed 2.74 goals per game, good for only 21st in the NHL. Here is what the defense has done in Reirden's four years in charge of the defense:

2014-15: 2.43 goals against per game, 7th in the NHL
2015-16: 2.33 goals against per game, 2nd in the NHL
2016-17: 2.16 goals against per game, 1st in the NHL
2017-18: 2.90 goals against per game, 16th in the NHL

In those four seasons combined, Washington allowed 2.45 goals per game, lower than every team in the NHL but one. He was also in charge of the team's lethal power play.

Reirden has been a head coach before

While he may never have been a head coach in the NHL, Reirden does have some head coaching experience.

Reirden was promoted to head coach of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in 2009 when Dan Bylsma was promoted to head coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins. While head coach, Reirden led the team to a 55-43-8 record.

Reirden came to Washington from the Penguins

Reirden joined the Penguins organization in 2008 as an assistant coach with their AHL affiliate and took over as head coach later that season. He joined the Penguins' playoff staff during the 2009 Cup run. He was promoted to a full-time assistant coach under with the NHL team under Bylsma in 2010 and was there for four years until Byslma was fired. Reirden was not initially fired, but was allowed to seek other opportunities. When he was officially fired, the Capitals hired him the same day.

Reirden had a lot to do with Matt Niskanen signing with the Caps

Reirden was hired by the Caps on June 25, 2014. On July 1, Matt Niskanen signed with Washington.

Reirden and Niskanen developed a strong relationship while in Pittsburgh. Niskanen dealt with confidence issues after getting traded from Dallas to Pittsburgh in 2011. Under Reirden's tutelage, Niskanen developed into a top-pair defenseman. Niskanen's agent said at the time it was "no secret" that Reirden and Niskanen had bonded while both were in Pittsburgh.

Brooks Orpik also signed with the Caps as a free agent that year, the second defenseman from Pittsburgh to sign in Washington showing the level of respect they felt for Reirden.

Reirden nearly became the head coach of Calgary

Reirden interviewed for the head coaching job in Calgary in 2016 and was considered a finalist for the position before eventually losing out Glen Gulutzan.

Gulutzan was fired by Calgary after the 2017-18 season and is now an assistant coach in Edmonton while Reirden is the frontrunner to become the head coach for the defending Stanley Cup champions. Sounds like things worked out for Reirden.

The Caps have been grooming Reirden to be a head coach

Reirden was promoted to associate coach in August 2016 after Calgary had passed on him. Since then, the Caps have not allowed him to interview with other teams for head coaching positions. The implication was clear, this was someone the team wanted to keep.

"You know I think we’ve been grooming him to be a head coach whether for us or someone else," Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan Monday.

Reiden played in 183 career NHL games

Reirden was a defenseman drafted in the 12th round by the New Jersey Devils in 1990. After playing four years at Bowling Green, Reirden went pro with several seasons in the ECHL, IHL and AHL. He made his NHL debut with the Edmonton Oilers in the 1998-99 season. Reirden would also play with the St. Louis Blues, Atlanta Thrashers and Phoenix Coyotes. 

For his NHL career, Reirden scored 11 goals and 46 points in 183 games.

MORE CAPITALS COVERAGE:

Quick Links

With Barry Trotz out, Jay Gruden is now your longest-tenured major head coach in D.C.

gruden_smile.jpg
USA TODAY Sports

With Barry Trotz out, Jay Gruden is now your longest-tenured major head coach in D.C.

Jay Gruden is many things, including honest, witty, one of the greatest Arena League quarterbacks in the history of the universe and, as of June 18, the longest-tenured head coach of a major D.C. sports team.

With the Capitals and Barry Trotz parting ways, Gruden is now officially the area's most experienced boss (while Gruden was actually hired a few months before Trotz back in 2014, they both have led their teams through four seasons up to this point, which is the number that matters here).

Scott Brooks, meanwhile, has overseen the Wizards for two campaigns, while Nats manager Dave Martinez is in the middle of his first year at the helm.

This designation will pair nicely with the fact that Gruden will also be the first 'Skins headman to hold his job into a fifth season in the Dan Snyder era. You don't need to make plans to visit his statue yet, of course, but this is some uncharted territory the 51-year-old is currently hanging out in.

Now, his overall record of 28-35-1 certainly needs work, or else he'll be in danger of handing the longest-tenured distinction over to Brooks. However, Gruden does deserve credit for bringing an amount of stability to the Burgundy and Gold, a franchise that is usually as stable as Metro's Wi-Fi connection.

So, with all due respect to DC United's Ben Olsen, the Kastles' Murphy Jensen and whatever legend is in charge of your kid's dynastic flag football team, when you think of the man who's been roaming the sidelines longer than anyone else in D.C., be sure to think of this man and only this man:

MORE REDSKINS NEWS