Howdy, I’m your host, Houston Mitchell. Let’s get right to the news.
J. Brady McCollough on the Pac-12: Larry Scott and the Pac-12 executive committee have mutually agreed to part ways a year before the end of his contract, the league announced Wednesday night.
Scott’s last day as commissioner will be June 30, closing the door on a turbulent 11-year tenure marred by increasing struggles to compete on a national level in football and men’s basketball and the conference’s inability to keep up with its Power Five peers in annual revenues — which became an issue in part because of timing and in part because of the Pac-12 Networks never reaching mass distribution.
The decision for Scott to move on comes at a crucial time for the league, which will be negotiating new media rights deals in the coming years as its current agreements with Fox and ESPN expire in 2023-24. One big question — whether Scott would be negotiating for the conference’s financial future a second time — is now answered.
“We appreciate Larry’s pioneering efforts in growing the conference by adding new competitive university programs and accelerating the Pac-12 to television network parity with the other conferences,” Oregon President Michael Schill, one of three members of the league executive committee, said in a statement.
“At one point, our television agreement was the most lucrative in the nation and the debut of the Pac-12 Network helped deliver our championship brand to U.S. and global markets on traditional and digital platforms. That said, the intercollegiate athletics marketplace doesn’t remain static and now is a good time to bring in a new leader who will help us develop our go-forward strategy.”
The Pac-12 will begin a national search for Scott’s replacement, and the plan is for the new commissioner to be in place before Scott departs, so he can help with the transition.
“This moment, when college athletics are moving in a new direction and with the conference soon commencing the next round of media negotiations, it seems the right time to make a change,” Scott said in a statement. “It is important that the conference be able to put in place the person who will negotiate and carry out that next agreement.”
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PHILIP RIVERS RETIRES
Jeff Miller on the NFL: Chargers owner Dean Spanos called Philip Rivers “the consummate professional” … “the ultimate gamer” and one of “the dadgum best quarterbacks” ever.
Rivers, who spent the first 16 years of his career with the Chargers, announced his retirement Wednesday after completing a 17th NFL season with Indianapolis.
Spanos also labeled Rivers “the heart and soul of the Chargers organization for so many years” in a statement released by the team.
Rivers and the Chargers parted ways a year ago following a 5-11 season in which the veteran quarterback struggled with turnovers. He is the franchise’s all-time leader in nearly every significant career passing category.
“That man helped me jump-start my career,” said running back Austin Ekeler, who made the Chargers as an undrafted rookie in 2017. “I owe a lot of my success to Philip. He’s definitely always going to be a legend in my book, definitely always thank him for what he did for me.”
Rivers played his final three Chargers seasons in Los Angeles after the franchise relocated from San Diego. The Chargers finished 26-22 during that stretch and made the playoffs in 2018.
Andrew Greif on the Clippers: Having watched his team give up at least 122 points in eight consecutive games, Sacramento coach Luke Walton set a small goal for his team before tipoff inside Staples Center.
“I’ll settle for anything under 120 right now,” Walton said.
He got his wish Wednesday against the Clippers. It still didn’t help.
Behind Paul George’s 19 points and 12 assists, and Kawhi Leonard’s 32 points, six steals and five assists the Clippers used another dominant third quarter to pull away for a 115-96 victory.
Coming into this season, coach Tyronn Lue and his staff wanted to maximize their best players’ talents. In practice that meant “putting the ball in PG and Kawhi’s hands and kind of force-feeding them to let them make plays,” Lue said. Both have responded with career-high assist percentages, a trend that continued against the Kings when George matched his career-high of 12 assists for the first time in eight years. The Clippers scored 31 points — including seven three-pointers — off of his passes.
The Clippers have built their winning streak on the strength of transforming into the NBA’s most dangerous team after halftime. During their last five third quarters, they’ve outscored opponents by a combined 56 points. The Kings have been victimized twice: Their league-worst defense was outscored by 21 last week before seeing their five-point halftime deficit Wednesday balloon to 20 entering the final quarter.
The common thread throughout has been shooting: During their last five third quarters, the Clippers have made 26 of their 48 three-pointers, including four makes on seven shots from deep Wednesday.
Gary Klein on the Rams: After playing 15 seasons in the NFL, Rams left tackle Andrew Whitworth knows a potential leader when he sees one.
Running back Cam Akers fits the profile.
“He’s one to get excited about moving forward,” Whitworth said. “He’s going to be a guy who’s not only going to be a good football player, but I would imagine Cam Akers is going to be a leader of this football team very quickly.”
Akers, who just completed his rookie season, was a bright spot for a Rams team that finished 10-6 and advanced to the divisional round of the NFC playoffs before losing to the Green Bay Packers.
Now Akers, 21, is regarded as one of the main building blocks as coach Sean McVay and general manager Les Snead evaluate the roster and plot their strategy for free agency and the NFL draft.
Akers — who rushed for 846 yards and scored five touchdowns in 15 games, including the playoffs — said he was ready to be a leader.
“If that’s what the team need me to be, I’m definitely fit for the role and I’m looking forward to taking it on,” he said.
Joel Eriksson Ek had a goal and an assist, including the game-winning score early in the third period, and the Minnesota Wild capped a successful season-opening road trip with a 3-2 victory over the Ducks.
Eriksson Ek ripped a quick wrist shot past Ryan Miller’s glove side off a pass from Jordan Greenway 1:53 into the third for his second goal of the season.
Ryan Hartman and Nick Bonino also scored for Minnesota, which has won three of its first four games. Kaapo Kahkonen made 22 saves.
Nicolas Deslauriers and Cam Fowler scored for the Ducks, and Miller stopped 29 shots.
THIS DATE IN SPORTS
1921 — Kenesaw Mountain Landis takes office as baseball’s commissioner.
1947 — Carl Hubbell, Frank Frisch, Mickey Cochrane, and Lefty Grove are elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.
1953 — Dizzy Dean and Al Simmons are elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. The baseball writers pass over Joe DiMaggio in his first year of eligibility.
1954 — For the first time in NBA All-Star history, an overtime period is needed. Boston’s Bob Cousy scores 10 points in the overtime to give the East a 98-93 victory and Cousy the MVP honors.
1958 — Bob Pettit of St. Louis becomes the first member of the losing team to win the NBA All-Star MVP award, scoring 28 points and grabbing 26 rebounds, even though the East beats the West 130-118.
1969 — Roy Campanella and Stan Musial are elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.
1979 — Terry Bradshaw throws four touchdown passes to lead the Pittsburgh Steelers to their third Super Bowl win, a 35-31 victory over the Dallas Cowboys. Bradshaw, the game’s MVP, completes 17 of 30 passes for 318 yards.
1990 — John McEnroe becomes the first player thrown out of the Australian Open. McEnroe’s tantrum comes while leading Mike Pernfors 6-1, 4-6, 7-5, 2-4.
1996 — Karrie Webb becomes the second quickest winner in LPGA Tour history winning the HealthSouth Inaugural at Walt Disney World. Webb, in her second LPGA start, beat Jane Geddes and Martha Nause on the fourth hole of a playoff. Webb finished second in her first LPGA start a week earlier in the Chrysler-Plymouth Tournament of Champions.
2005 — Four-time Olympic champion Ole Einar Bjoerndalen wins his 49th career World Cup biathlon, breaking the record for career victories. Bjoerndalen edges fellow Norwegian Frode Andresen in the 10-kilometer sprint event to pass former cross country great Bjorn Daehlie at 48 career wins.
2007 — Lovie Smith becomes the first black head coach to make it to the Super Bowl when his Chicago Bears win the NFC championship. Tony Dungy joins him when his Indianapolis Colts take the AFC title.
2009 — New Jersey Institute of Technology ends its 51-game losing streak, getting 26 points from Jheryl Wilson in a 61-51 victory over Bryant. NJIT had not won since it defeated Longwood on Feb. 19, 2007.
2010 — Lakers guard Kobe Bryant becomes the 15th player in NBA history to reach 25,000 career points and the youngest to hit the milestone. Bryant finishes with 31 points in the Lakers’ 93-87 loss at Cleveland.
2012 — Notre Dame upsets No. 1 Syracuse 67-58 and hands the Orange their first loss after 20 straight victories. It’s the eighth time Notre Dame has beaten a No. 1 team — that ties for fourth-most all-time.
2017 — Adam Hadwin shoots a 13-under 59 in the CareerBuilder Challenge for the ninth sub-60 round in PGA Tour history and the second in 10 days. The 29-year-old Canadian reaches 13 under with a 7-foot birdie putt on the par-4 17th and makes a 3-footer from just off the green for par on the 18th at La Quinta Country Club.
Kobe Bryant scores his 25,000th point. Watch it here.