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Bill Belichick might be getting left out, plus South Carolina’s big night

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Good morning! Bad day for my Tigers. Sheesh.

While You Were Sleeping: Still No. 1

Last night was an example of something women’s college basketball does extremely well right now, arguably better than its male counterpart: stage a high-stakes, thrilling regular-season game. And buddy, did the matchup deliver: 

  • No. 1 South Carolina moved to 18-0 with a massive 76-70 win over defending champion No. 9 LSU on the road. It showcased the Gamecocks’ grit and depth.
  • LSU led for the most of the game, but things turned when star Angel Reese fouled out with four minutes left, Tigers up two. The Gamecocks ended the game on an 11-3 run. 

The sellout crowd looked electric, and South Carolina was good enough to pierce LSU’s 29-game home winning streak. As Sabreena Merchant wrote in our recap: It was a banner night for the sport

  • Also, late breaking news: Novak Djokovic is done at the Australian Open after a shocking loss to No. 4 seed Jannik Sinner. It’s the first time Djokovic has ever lost an Australian Open final or semifinal match.

NFL Coaching Carousel: Is the GOAT really getting left out?

We had another busy day on the carousel, with two hires somehow overshadowed by the guys still unemployed. Quickly: 

  • Rams defensive coordinator Raheem Morris is the new head coach in Atlanta, where he served as interim head coach in 2020. Morris is still young — just 47 — but brings some sour experience with him (a 17-31 record). Meanwhile, Carolina hired Buccaneers offensive coordinator Dave Canales — who has just one year of coordinating experience — as head coach. It’s a big bet that Canales, who helped Baker Mayfield produce an elite year, will be the solve for woebegone No. 1 overall pick Bryce Young.
  • The hires mean two jobs, Seattle and Washington, remain open, and it seems neither Bill Belichick nor Pete Carroll is under consideration for either. Belichick interviewed for the Falcons job twice to no avail. The recent results are bad, but it will be supremely weird to have an NFL season without Belichick on a sideline.

News to Know

Unseld out
The Washington Wizards are moving Wes Unseld Jr. from the bench to the front office after the team’s 7-36 start to the season, an unsurprising move for a team that honestly doesn’t get enough attention for being awful this year. (Thanks to the 5-39 Detroit Pistons.) Plenty of time to search for Unseld’s replacement now.

More college gambling strife
Patriots wide receiver Kayshon Boutte was arrested in Louisiana yesterday on suspicion of illegal underage bets allegedly made in 2022 and 2023, some of which would’ve occurred when he played for LSU. The details in here are wild. It is unclear if any further punishment is coming for either Boutte or the school.

Fangio lands in Philly
News we expected: Vic Fangio is the new defensive coordinator in Philadelphia, providing a possible lifeline for Eagles coach Nick Sirianni next season. One of the most respected defensive coordinators in football, Fangio takes over a unit that went from elite to subpar in a year’s time.

More news

Three Questions: How did it go so wrong for Juwan Howard?

It all felt so perfect. Michigan, a men’s college basketball’s powerhouse, hiring a beloved former player to take over as coach. This was a marriage of modern success and program lore. 

Five years later, Michigan is 7-12, a mix of internal strife and on-court malaise. The Wolverines suffered the worst loss of Howard’s tenure Tuesday night, a 99-67 defeat against No. 2 Purdue. There have been ugly fights, extended absences and weird PR moves. Howard’s job is in serious jeopardy

I went to Brendan Quinn, ace college basketball writer, for more context on Howard’s downfall: 

Let’s get right to it: How did Michigan (Michigan!) slide this far?
Brendan: Simply put, the roster has bled more talent than it’s added. Ask yourself how many players on this roster would realistically start on a majority of Big Ten teams. Little talent has been replenished or developed, all while losing early entries to the pros and one big one to the transfer portal (Hunter Dickinson to Kansas). A lethal combination.

You wrote last week about Juwan Howard’s job situation. Things have only gotten worse since. He has to be out after this season, right? If not earlier?
Brendan: If this thing careens to a 3-17 finish in the Big Ten, the administration might not have a choice, but I still believe it is AD Warde Manuel’s preference to retain Howard and give him an opportunity to reboot the program. If there is to be an ending this calendar year, the better question might be if Howard opts to walk away, but you have to realize that would run counter to every fiber of competitiveness that makes up his composition.

You’ve mentioned Michigan’s struggles with adding transfers due to academic issues. If that’s a hurdle, how does a program like that rebound quickly in today’s landscape?
Brendan: Target players you’re positive will get through admissions. And, I think more importantly, maybe seek younger up-transfers who don’t have as much baggage on the transcript and can get in and spend multiple years as foundational pieces.

It comes at such an inopportune time, too, as the football program celebrates a national championship. Talk about literally raining on a local parade.

Watch This Game

Soccer: Tottenham Hotspur vs. Manchester City
3 p.m. ET on ESPN+
Both of these teams live in the top of the EPL table but face off in a huge FA Cup matchup here. Perfect Friday afternoon viewing.

NHL: Golden Knights at Rangers
7 p.m. ET on ESPN
Two top-eight NHL squads in a great cross-country matchup? Sign me up.

Pulse Picks

Steve Spagnuolo is one of the more fascinating characters in football. In the public eye, he was at one point the NFL’s best defensive mind. Then … he wasn’t. Now he’s back, rebuilding a once-moribund Kansas City defense into an elite group. Nate Taylor has a great story this morning on how “Spags” did it. The man loves to blitz. 

Remember that Kevin Durant game-winner from Monday? It reminded some former Bulls players of a singular Michael Jordan shot. Fun story. 

I loved this from Zack Meisel, who wrote about how the Guardians’ season opener will coincide with a total eclipse of the sun

Twenty-year-old Nick Dunlap is turning pro after all. Brody Miller writes about golf’s coming year of youth

Mark Lazerus has a must-read column on the Hockey Canada situation: The hockey world can no longer hide from its past.

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(Photo: Rich Barnes/Getty Images)

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