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Arkansas Razorbacks’ top coaching targets

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We haven’t reached mid-November yet and there’s already two major coaching vacancies in college football

Arkansas followed Florida State’s lead on Sunday after deciding to fire head coach Chad Morris after 1.5 seasons at the program, citing a downward trajectory and overall lack of relevance nationally as one of the SEC’s mid-tier programs.

“Absolutely. I am the guy. There’s no question,” Morris said Saturday, before he was terminated than 24 hours later. “I knew that this was going to take some time. I knew this was going to be a process of recruiting and developing and building, especially in this conference. I knew the strains that take place weekly in this conference and the depth that it needs to be successful.

“Right now, we don’t have that.”

Next man up, right?

CBS Sports college football insider Dennis Dodd released a list of candidates on Sunday, head coaches who would likely jump at the opportunity at joining the SEC. A few notable names not included on the Razorbacks’ potential list? Clemson coordinators Brent Venables, Tony Elliott and Jeff Scott.

It appears Arkansas won’t go the assistant coach route with intentions on securing a guy who can reverse the program’s fate.

Here are the seven coaches Dodd includes on his search board for the Razorbacks:





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Watch NBC Sports BetCast for live betting analysis during Sixers vs. Pelicans

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On Wednesday night, just minutes after arriving in Boston at the team’s hotel, Sixers guard Josh Richardson hopped in a car and made his way to Reebok Headquarters about 20 minutes east of Boston Commons.

Richardson was getting ready to surprise eight kids from TAPS (Tragedy Assistance Program For Survivors), designed to help families grieving the loss of loved ones who died while serving in our Armed Forces. What the kids didn’t know is that Richardson was gifting them a $500 shopping spree.

Decked out in the not-yet-released Reebok Answer Heart Over Hypes (which Richardson will also gift each kid), Richardson smiled from ear to ear as he stood up in front of the families, with sincerity.

“I’m really excited to meet everyone, talk with you guys and learn about you.”

He wasn’t kidding.

Over the next few hours, Richardson roamed the store, intimately interacting with each of the families, learning about their life stories.

There was Kensington Kirk, who lost her father, SGT Joshua Kirk, US Navy, on Oct. 3, 2009.

She took the dog tags of her father off her neck, and handed them to Richardson.

Photo credit: Serena Winters

There was eight-year-old, Lucca Hamel, who lost his father CPO Bryan Hamel, while serving in the US Navy just last year.

Lucca’s mom couldn’t believe how comfortable her son looked while talking to an NBA star.

“I’m going to be so cool, when I go to school, mom!” Lucca shouted out to his mom, Jenna. “I think I’m going to be definitely the luckiest kid in my grade.”

There were 16-year-olds Keegan Ollis and Joshua Harrington, who both lost their fathers while serving in the Army, PFC Nathaniel Ollis, and SGT Kyle Harrington, respectively.  

Thirteen-year-old Loralei O’Brien lost her father, SPC Gregg O’Brien, Army, in May of 2014.

And yet her smile lit up the room when talking to Richardson, especially when making sure he approved of her new shoes.

“She got some purple and black shoes that are super fresh,” Richardson said with a smile.

There was 16-year-old Grace Walsh, who lost her sister, PFC Keely Ree Walsh, US Navy, and 12-year old Jarred Jarbeau, who lost his uncle, SGT Michael Weidermann, Army, on Oct. 31, 2006.

“I’m trying to empathize with kids and families, but it’s tough to do when you’ve never experienced any of it,” Richardson said of knowing that every kid has lost a family member very close to them. “It’s not just a parent, a girl in here lost her sister, and she’s in school to be a welder now. She’s going to be certified in three areas of welding! I can’t imagine losing a parent or a sibling, but these families are super strong. It’s hard to think about.”

There were also a couple of familiar faces. Richardson flew out 14-year-old Elijah Byrd, and his mom, Jessica, who have built a friendship with Josh this season through the Walk in My Shoes program.

“That’s my boy!” Richardson. “I figure if I’m going to do something I better bring them out too!”

Richardson also talked with each kid about their different interests. Kensington, for example, told Richardson that she was going to be dissecting a cows’ eyeball in her seventh grade class the following day! So Richardson, who started college as a pre-med student, told her about that one time he touched a brain in college.

“I remember when I was a kid, the few times that I got to meet college athletes in Oklahoma City, it was something you never forget. I’m trying to give these kids a cool experience,” Richardson said.

Photo credit: Serena Winters

After Richardson checked everyone out at the register (yes, Richardson also acted as the cashier!) Lucca ran over to Richardson one last time and held his hand high for a handshake.

“Josh, thank you so much for doing this.”

“Of course, lil bro. Of course.”

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‘Richard Jewell’ Review: The Wrong Man

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On July 27, 1996, a homemade bomb exploded at Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta, the host city for that year’s Summer Olympics. Two people died and 100 were hurt in the attack. It was carried out by an anti-abortion militant named Eric Rudolph, though he was not arrested until 2003, after he had bombed two women’s health clinics and a gay bar and spent five years as a fugitive in the woods of Appalachia.

Rudolph’s name is mentioned near the end of “Richard Jewell,” Clint Eastwood’s new film about the aftermath of the Atlanta bombing. The movie, based on a Vanity Fair article by Marie Brenner, isn’t about the bomber, but rather about the security guard who found a backpack full of explosives and shrapnel under a bench and sounded the alarm. Nonetheless, the specter of domestic right-wing terrorism haunts the movie, an unseen and unnamed evil tearing at the bright fabric of American optimism.

Eastwood, in nearly half a century as a major filmmaker and even longer as an axiom of popular culture, has chronicled the fraying of that cloth, and also plucked at a thread or two. “Richard Jewell,” with a screenplay by Billy Ray, is one of his more obviously political films, though not always in obvious ways. In spite of some efforts to interpret it as a veiled pro-Trump polemic, the film doesn’t track neatly with our current ideological agitations. The political fractures Eastwood exposes are more elemental than even the most ferocious partisanship. This is a morality tale — in a good way, mostly — about the vulnerability of the individual citizen in the face of state power and about the fate of a private person menaced by the machinery of publicity.

We first meet Jewell about 10 years before the bombing, in a local office of the Small Business Administration, pushing a cart full of office supplies. That’s where he meets Watson Bryant (Sam Rockwell), an irascible lawyer who will become his champion later on. Jewell is polite, hard-working and prone to surprising, unsolicited acts of generosity. He keeps Bryant’s desk drawer stocked with Snickers bars. At Centennial Olympic Park in 1996, he hands out soft drinks to co-workers, police officers and other thirsty people.

There might be something a little peculiar about him. Eastwood, Ray and Hauser (who is nothing short of brilliant) cleverly invite the audience to judge Jewell the way his tormentors eventually will: on the basis of prejudices we might not even admit to ourselves. He’s overweight. He lives with his mother, Bobi (Kathy Bates). He has a habit of taking things too seriously — like his job as a campus police officer at a small liberal-arts college — and of trying a little too hard to fit in. He treats members of the Atlanta Police Department and the F.B.I. like his professional peers, and seems blind to their condescension. “I’m law enforcement too” he says to the agents who are investigating him as a potential terrorist, with an earnestness that is both comical and pathetic.

Most movies, if they bothered with someone like Jewell at all, would make fun of him or relegate him to a sidekick role. Eastwood, instead, makes the radical decision to respect him as he is, and to show how easily both his everyday shortcomings and his honesty and decency are distorted and exploited by the predators who descend on him at what should be his moment of glory.

That isn’t so unusual in Hollywood, but what’s worse is that Eastwood and Ray subject Scruggs — depicted as a newsroom mean girl with nothing but scorn for her female colleagues — to a type of profiling analogous to what Jewel endured. Assuming that an ambitious woman journalist must be sleeping with her sources isn’t all that different from assuming that a fat man who lives with his mother must have planted a bomb.

In that respect, then, “Richard Jewell” undermines its own argument. But it happens to be a pretty strong argument, and one that takes Eastwood in some surprising directions. I would not have expected to see a heartfelt defense of Miranda rights in a movie directed by the former Dirty Harry, or a critique of F.B.I. overreach from the maker of a sympathetic J. Edgar Hoover biopic. I don’t think this is simply a matter of adapting to the political winds of the moment, now that distrust of the F.B.I., long a staple of the left, seems to have shifted rightward. Eastwood has always had a stubborn libertarian streak, and a fascination with law enforcement that, like Jewell’s, is shadowed by ambivalence and outright disillusionment.

The shadows are what linger from this flawed, fascinating movie. As usual with Eastwood, it is shot (by Yves Bélanger) and edited (by Joel Cox) in a clean, blunt, matter-of-fact style. The story moves in a straight line, gathering momentum and suspense even as it lingers over odd, everyday moments. It doesn’t feel especially complicated or textured until it’s almost finished: Like Jewell himself, you may struggle to comprehend the implications of what is happening, and to grasp the stakes.

“Richard Jewell” is a rebuke to institutional arrogance and a defense of individual dignity, sometimes clumsy in its finger-pointing but mostly shrewd and sensitive in its effort to understand its protagonist and what happened to him. The political implications of his ordeal are interesting to contemplate, but its essential nature is clear enough. He was bullied.

Richard Jewell

Rated R. Terrorist violence and state power. Running time: 2 hours 9 minutes.



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N.F.L. Week 15 Predictions: Our Picks Against the Spread

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It is hard to match the standard set by last week’s action, but with the Titans and the Texans battling it out for A.F.C. South superiority, and the Bills and the Steelers facing off in a defensive grudge match, there should be plenty of fun ahead.

Here is a look at N.F.L. Week 15, with all picks made against the point spread.

Last week’s record: 11-4-1

Overall record: 112-93-3

Texans at Titans, 1 p.m., CBS

Line: Titans -3 | Total: 50

The footsteps have been loud. When Tennessee running back Derrick Henry is involved, that tends to be the case. But the Texans (8-5) have been feeling the heat at the top of the A.F.C. South quite a bit in recent weeks from the Titans (8-5). The division’s day of reckoning has come.

Consider where both teams stood after Week 6: Houston, thanks to the sensational play of quarterback Deshaun Watson, was 4-2 and had just won a road game against Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs. Tennessee was 2-4, having lost every bit of momentum from a big win over Cleveland in Week 1.

That week, the Titans did something outrageous. They benched quarterback Marcus Mariota, once pegged as the face of the franchise, and replaced him with Ryan Tannehill, who couldn’t cut it in Miami. It seemed like a desperation move designed to punish Mariota for poor play rather than one to help the team.

It appears there was more to it than that. In the seven games since, the Titans are 6-1, and Tannehill has been a huge reason. In those seven starts, he has thrown for an average of 264 yards a game with a passer rating of 121.7. He has thrown 15 touchdown passes against just four interceptions and he has shown some athleticism, rushing for 143 yards and three scores. He even turned one of his interceptions into a highlight for himself when he delivered a bone-crunching tackle to a 290-pound ball carrier in a win over the Raiders last week.

Even compared with the rest of the hot streak, the Titans offense has kicked into a noticeably higher gear over the last four weeks. The team’s 37-year-old offensive coordinator, Arthur Smith, previously better known for being the son of FedEx founder Fred Smith, has figured out how to combine Tannehill’s efficient passing with Henry’s explosive running style. The result? The Titans have averaged 37.5 points in four straight cakewalks. Along the way, Tennessee has chased down the Texans in the standings.

The Titans have momentum and are playing at home, so a win seems highly likely. This game will not decide the division outright, as the teams face off again in Week 17 in Houston, but to grab the division lead even for a week, and to keep pace with the other teams in the hunt for the wild card, would continue an incredible run for Tennessee. Pick: Titans -3

Bills at Steelers, 8:20 p.m., NBC

Line: Steelers -2 | Total: 36.5

It may not have the wow factor of matchups between two great offenses, but a face off between the Bills (9-4) and the Steelers (8-5) should have thrills of a different nature thanks to the strengths of two top-tier defensive teams, both used to having their defenses carry the burden.

Pittsburgh is currently hanging on to the second wild-card spot in the A.F.C. by just a tiebreaker, and the Steelers would improve their chances of making the playoffs to 90 percent with a win, according to The Upshot, while their chances would plummet to 39 percent with a loss. That certainly gives them more motivation than the Bills, who have greater than a 90 percent chance of earning a wild-card berth either way.

It will likely come down to which offense can find a way to score a few touchdowns, and it is hard to look at both teams and not come away with the impression that the Bills simply have more scoring options. Pick: Bills +2

Broncos at Chiefs, 1 p.m., CBS

Line: Chiefs -10 | Total: 46

Having grown up in Kansas City as a fan of the Chiefs (9-4), Drew Lock, the new starting quarterback of the Broncos (5-8), was asked about the rooting interests of his friends and family. In doing so, he looked back with nostalgia — at the career of Patrick Mahomes.

“When I was a senior in college, that was that year he won,” Lock told reporters of Mahomes having won the N.F.L.’s Most Valuable Player Award. Lock quickly laughed off the statement after realizing he was referring to last season.

Bears at Packers, 1 p.m., Fox

Line: Packers -4 | Total: 40.5

The calls for Mitchell Trubisky’s benching have seemingly ceased during a three-game win streak in which Chicago’s quarterback has completed 70 percent of his passes and averaged 286.7 passing yards. It is not that he has beaten any good teams — no, the Cowboys are not good — but even solid performances against bad teams are a step in the right direction. Unfortunately for the Bears (7-6), that hot streak may hit a snag against the Packers (10-3), a team gunning for a first-round bye, and one that is always happy to beat Chicago. Pick: Packers -4

Patriots at Bengals, 1 p.m., CBS

Line: Patriots -9.5 | Total: 40.5

For an idea of how bad New England’s offense has been recently, the Patriots (10-3) have scored the same or fewer points than the Bengals (1-12) in each of the last three weeks. There was some notable improvement for New England toward the end of last week’s loss to Kansas City, but that only mitigates so much. Tom Brady is keeping things light enough that he posted a joke to Instagram about Coach Bill Belichick’s famous “We’re on to Cincinnati” news conference, but his team has to be somewhere near panicking. That level of doubt is typically what suddenly powers Brady to another surge of greatness — and that is certainly on the table for this week’s game — but with the way New England’s offense has been playing, a nearly 10-point spread on the road is irresponsible. Pick: Bengals +9.5

Vikings at Chargers, 4:05 p.m., CBS

Line: Vikings -2.5 | Total: 45

With the Vikings (9-4), we know what we’re going to get: some solid offensive production both from the run and the pass, and a defense that does not live up to Vikings squads from previous years. The Chargers (5-8), meanwhile, are an enigma. Philip Rivers and Co. went out and crushed the Jaguars last week in such convincing fashion that the team’s perplexing losses over the previous three games seem unforgivable. If Rivers can stave off interceptions, and Los Angeles can commit to attacking Minnesota with Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler, this could easily be an upset. Pick: Chargers +2.5

Eagles at Redskins, 1 p.m., Fox

Line: Eagles -4.5 | Total: 40

At the time of Carson Wentz’s knee injury in 2017, he was leading the N.F.L. in the percentage of his throws that resulted in touchdowns, and was the top quarterback in ESPN’s total quarterback rating statistic. He was a leading candidate for the Most Valuable Player Award and he was 11-2 as a starter.

Since watching his teammates win the 2018 Super Bowl without him, Wentz’s numbers have dropped across the board, and he has gone just 11-13 as a starter. More important, the Eagles (6-7) are likely to miss the playoffs this season, as they currently have a 39 percent chance of winning the woeful N.F.C. East and less than a 1 percent chance of earning a wild-card spot. After needing overtime to beat the Giants on Monday night, Philadelphia can’t even afford to take the Redskins (3-10) for granted. Pick: Redskins +4.5





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