Mask Up, Coach
During the NBA bubble, NBA coaches were not required to wear a mask while coaching because everyone was tested daily and not allowed to leave the Disney campus. That’s not the case as the 2020–21 season gets underway; all staff is required to wear a mask at all times.
“It’s not just a game-night rule. The league, with limited exceptions, also will require coaches to wear masks ‘at all times’ inside their team facility, while traveling and during practices.”
And if you don’t, CJ McCollum will find you.
NFL Coaching Carousel
Five NFL teams changed coaches last winter. Entering Week 14, three teams have already made a move while several others could follow in the coming weeks as Black Monday looms. As the league navigates the final month of the most bizarre season in NFL history, it’s unclear if the COVID-19 pandemic will alter this year’s coaching carousel, including firings, hirings, interviews, and staff turnovers.
SI’s Conor Orr reported on Friday the first-round of coaching interviews will be held virtually before in-person interviews are allowed on Jan. 4, which means a “heightened focus on the challenge of making someone’s in-person energy translate over a laptop.” The process could favor younger, more technologically savvy candidates who can deliver multimedia supplementation. And many of those candidates could come from an assistant pool that was entirely overlooked during last year’s carousel.
Only one current NFL offensive or defensive coordinator was hired to be a head coach (Kevin Stefanski), while one college coach was hired (Matt Rhule), along with a special teams coordinator (Joe Judge) and two former NFL head coaches (Mike McCarthy and Ron Rivera). That left coordinators like Robert Saleh, Eric Bienemy, and Brian Daboll on the market for the three current vacancies (Lions, Falcons, and Texans), and potentially several more, including the Bears, Chargers, and Jaguars. The Bears are reportedly planning to clean house, moving on from head coach Matt Nagy and general manager Ryan Pace.
On Wednesday, the Big Ten eliminated the six-game requirement to qualify for the conference championship. In doing so, the conference cited a “competitive analysis which determined that Ohio State would have advanced to the Big Ten Football Championship Game based on its undefeated record and head-to-head victory over Indiana regardless of a win or loss against Michigan.”
The decision itself is, obviously, the big news because it gives Ohio State an opportunity to strengthen its résumé before the final College Football Playoff Rankings are revealed. Indiana’s statement, however, can’t be overlooked because it’s a masterclass in delusion.
“Coach Allen and I are proud of this team and the success we have had so far this season,” said Hoosiers’ athletics director Scott Dolson. “We are one of only two teams in the country with three Top-25 victories and have matched a program record for Big Ten wins.”
Indiana’s six wins: Penn State, Rutgers, Michigan, Michigan State, Maryland, and Wisconsin, none of whom are ranked in the Week 14 Playoff Rankings. Dolson appears to be counting wins over teams who were ranked in the AP Top 25 at the time of the win, a list that includes Penn State and Michigan, who were ranked No. 8 and No. 23, respectively, at the time.
Indiana is touting “Top-25” wins over Penn State and Michigan, who are a combined 4–9 this season, and are, presumably, miles away from the playoff committee’s Top-25 discussion. The Hoosiers’ list also includes Wisconsin, though the Badgers, No. 16 in the Playoff Rankings at the time of the Dec. 5 loss, are also not ranked. While none of this matters in the real picture and doesn’t cloud a fantastic season from the Hoosiers, it’s another amusing attempt by a college football program to tout inflated accomplishments.
Odds & Ends
Utah State players are boycotting this weekend’s game against Colorado State after comments from the university president … The Chiefs are HEAVY favorites in updated Super Bowl odds … Arizona State made a mockery of Arizona on Friday night in Tucson … Jimmy Trainia dropped an awesome SI Media Podcast last week … NBA Free Agency: Biggest Contracts, Trades, and more … You can hear everything at NBA games without fans … New video shows how close the Rockets were to drafting Giannis.
Mountain West Weirdness
Follow me on Twitter, check out my podcast, and bookmark this page to see previous editions of Hot Clicks and find the newest edition every day. Visit our Extra Mustard page throughout each day for more offbeat sports stories.