Fun Fact of the Day: Duke basketball’s famed Coach K is going to be out the next 4 weeks to recover from back surgery. This is not good news for Duke. The last time Coach K was out with back problems was also the last time the Blue Devils missed the NCAA tournament, back in 1995.
Welcome to 2017, Goalposters! Phew, we made it! Here’s what you missed in the wonderful world of sports this holiday season.
Goodbye 2016. Hello playoffs. While you were sleeping in on New Years Day, NFL teams played their last games of the regular season. Now, the playoff picture is finally complete. Check the bracket below to see if your favorite team made the cut. (Psst—hey you! Don’t understand what the NFL playoffs are all about? Read the basics here.)
Black Monday. No, it isn’t a shopping day. It’s the day after the last game of the regular season, when NFL teams fire their disappointing head coaches. This year there were a whole bunch of casualties, including a few that didn’t even make it to through the whole season. Here are the big moves you need to know about:
- A Chip off the old chopping block. After closing the season with a pathetic 2-14 record, the San Francisco 49ers fired head coach Chip Kelly and GM Trent Baalke. A revolving door. Believe it or not, the 49ers used to be perennial playoff contenders. They made it to 3 consecutive NFC championship games from 2011-2013 under head coach Jim Harbaugh. Then Harbaugh and the team’s bigwigs couldn’t get along so they “mutually” parted ways. In the 2 seasons since he’s been gone, the team has struggled and head coaches haven’t been given much of a fighting chance; the 49ers hired and fired Jim Tomsula and Chip Kelly after one season each.
- Retirement does a body good. After leading the Denver Broncos to a Super Bowl victory just last year, 55-year-old head coach Gary Kubiak announced that he’s retiring from football. He’s finally decided to get some R&R, after struggling from stress-related health problems, including a mini-stroke in 2014 and a complex migraine condition earlier this season.
- Head coaches wanted. The 49ers and Broncos aren’t the only teams in the market for new head coaches. The Buffalo Bills, Jacksonville Jaguars, Los Angeles Rams, and San Diego Chargers all fired their coaches within the past 2 weeks.
Another awkward exit. After blowout wins in the semifinals, #1 Alabama and #2 Clemson will be facing off in the National Championship game next Monday night. But guess who won’t be there? Alabama’s former offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin. Last month, Kiffin accepted a head-coaching gig at Florida Atlantic University for next season, but he was still expected to finish up his duties at Alabama through the end of season. Then, surprise! Yesterday, Alabama’s head coach Nick Saban announced that Kiffin would be leaving before the National Championship game. Even though Saban said it was a “mutual” decision, when is it ever really mutual? Over the past couple of weeks, Kiffin was starting to become a major distraction to the team, including showing up late to meetings and missing the team bus, telling reporters that he didn’t have any fond memories of Alabama just Saban’s “ass-chewings”, and making questionable playcalls during Alabama’s semifinal game. This is marks yet another awkward job exit for Kiffin, who was famously fired at the airport by USC, set off riots at Tennessee when he quit after only one season, and was publicly called a liar when he was fired by the Oakland Raiders’ owner.
Coming up roses. Last night, USC beat Penn State 52-49 in the highest scoring Rose Bowl in the game’s 103-year history. USC managed an epic comeback from 14 points behind in the 4th quarter, thanks to a couple of impressive drives by freshman QB Sam Darnold and a game-winning final field goal.
Rousey retirement? Last weekend, Amanda Nunes defended her bantamweight championship title by beating Ronda Rousey in just 48 seconds. So much for Rousey’s triumphant return. Rousey used to be the most dominant women’s fighter on the planet, including winning 6 consecutive title defenses. Then last year, in a surprise upset, she lost the first match of her MMA career to Holly Holm. She spent the past year rehabbing and training for her return, but now, after this crushing defeat, everyone is wondering if she’s planning to retire.
Seen and Heard
Love-All. Over the holidays, tennis superstar Serena William got the best present of all. She got engaged to Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian. Congrats to the happy couple!