Actual News to Report As NFL Nears Trade Deadline

Actual News to Report As NFL Nears Trade Deadline

The days and hours leading up to the NFL trade deadline typically have not been very exciting through the years, but multiple teams have already tested the waters in 2011, and the Eagles could be next.

Last week the Seahawks traded LB Aaron Curry -- their fourth overall pick in the 2009 draft -- to Oakland, while in just the past 24 hours the Raiders have also acquired QB Carson Palmer from Cincinnati, and the Broncos shipped Brandon Lloyd to St. Louis. We're very curious how that will impact the Pro Bowl receiver's fantasy numbers, btw.

So far the Eagles have stayed out of the fray, but there are reports indicating some type of deal could get done before 4 p.m. today.

Naturally, Asante Samuel is on the block. Many thought he could become collateral damage following the off-season additions of Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Nnamdi Asomugha, but he survived the summer and continues to man his left corner. Samuel is owed a lot of money over the upcoming two seasons, and likely will want a new contract to boot.

However, there should be no rush to ship him away. DRC hasn't exactly been lighting the world on fire so far, and the picks that would come back in the exchange should still be on the table this spring. Samuel takes a lot of criticism due to his style of play, but he is without question one of the top cornerbacks in the game, and if the Birds are serious about making a run, they need to keep him for the time being.

Juqua Parker could also be on his way out, as Brandon Graham is finally expected to return from off-season microfracture surgery. The Eagles entered the season with five ends on the roster, but with Graham eligible to return from the Physically Unable to Perform list after Week 6, it's created a bit of a logjam.

Parker is the oldest member of the group, and will be a free agent at the end of the season, so we wouldn't expect to see him back anyway. The front office invested a ton in Graham, trading up to number 13 overall last season, so they probably feel compelled to get him on the field and see if he can return to his promising form.

Though rare, the Eagles are no stranger to deadline deals. In 2009, the defense struggled to replace Stewart Bradley at middle linebacker after he went out with an ACL during training camp. They sent Brandon Gibson, a rookie wide receiver from the sixth round, and a late pick to the Rams for LB Will Witherspoon. Witherspoon only made a couple starts at MIKE, briefly becoming part of the linebacker carousel before jumping outside.

Citing a large base salary in 2010, the team opted to dump Witherspoon after the season in a veteran house-cleaning project. Gibson has yet to materialize as anything more than a replacement level player, so the organization didn't really lose in the deal, but it is a good reminder of why mid-season trades in the NFL are both difficult and unusual.

Baylor introduces Matt Rhule as head coach with campus celebration

Baylor introduces Matt Rhule as head coach with campus celebration

WACO, Texas -- Matt Rhule views his new job at Baylor as a calling, and with the passion of a pastor delivered a message of moving forward with the Bears.

The son of a minister and football coach, Rhule was formally introduced Wednesday as coach at the world's largest private Baptist university, and a Big 12 Conference program that has dealt with the fallout of a scandal.

"When the call came to come here, we came," Rhule said, talking for more than 15 minutes after being introduced to a crowd about 2,000 Baylor supporters. "And we came because we have one purpose ... to develop and work with these young people. I'm here to coach football, and I'm here to be the best partner that I can for Baylor."

The 41-year-old Rhule got a seven-year contract from Baylor after back-to-back 10-win seasons at Temple, where he spent 10 of the past 11 seasons. On the same day he was introduced in Waco, Rhule ran full-page ad in the Philadelphia Inquirer thanking Temple University, Owls fans and the city of Philadelphia.

His immediate task at Baylor is to start recruiting since the Bears, already with a depleted roster, have only one player verbally committed for signing day in February. There are only days before a quiet period in recruiting starts Monday.

"Kids are reaching out left and right, they want to come to Baylor," Rhule said after the formal introduction. "They just needed some answers first."

After a search with many rumored candidates, athletic director Mack Rhoades said Rhule, who the AD knew from his days at Houston and in the same conference with Temple, was the "only person we offered the job to."

Rhoades, who became Baylor's AD in August, said he texted Rhule after Temple beat Navy last weekend to congratulate him on winning the American Athletic Conference title. They later met, and Rhoades said it took only about 30 minutes before he knew in his gut, his heart and his mind that he had found the Bears new coach.

"This is a strong leader," Rhoades said. "This is somebody with great vision who's going to demand excellence, demand accountability. I love the toughness. So it was all of those things wrapped up."

Acting head coach Jim Grobe got a standing ovation when he was introduced.

Grobe and his staff, assistants retained from former coach Art Briles' staff, will coach the Bears (6-6) when they take on Boise State in the Cactus Bowl on Dec. 27, the same day Temple plays Wake Forest in the Military Bowl.

Rhule becomes the full-time replacement for two-time Big 12 champion coach Briles, who was dismissed after a scathing report over the university's handling of sexual assault complaints, including some against football players.

An investigation by the Pepper Hamilton law firm determined that the school mishandled assault claims for years. The firm's report in May led to the immediate suspension of Briles, who had eight years left on his contract and reached an undisclosed settlement with the school a month later.

A former Penn State linebacker (1994-97) under Joe Paterno, Rhule said the possibility of NCAA sanctions for Baylor weren't even an issue for him.

"Just having lived through that at my alma mater, you never know what has to happen, what's going to happen," Rhule said. "I think I just trust our leadership and say, whatever happens, these kids need a good coach. I think I can be that coach for them."

Rhule, a professed Christian, was wearing a newly purchased green tie for the introduction that Baylor called a campus celebration.

The football team sat in section near the raised podium where Rhule spoke.

As for putting together a coaching staff, Rhule said he had about 480 text messages within two hours after his hiring had been announced. He said he hadn't had a chance to meet yet with the current Baylor assistants, and didn't rule out the possibility of some being retained.

NCAA president Mark Emmert 'pleased' to see Penn State thriving again

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Associated Press

NCAA president Mark Emmert 'pleased' to see Penn State thriving again

NEW YORK -- NCAA President Mark Emmert says he is pleased to see how well Penn State's football team has bounced back from the sanctions the program received in 2012 after the Sandusky scandal.

No. 5 Penn State (11-2) is having its best season since Jerry Sandusky, a longtime assistant of late Nittany Lions coach Joe Paterno, was arrested in 2011 for sexually abusing boys. The Nittany Lions won their last nine games and the Big Ten title.

"I think it's terrific," said Emmert, who spoke at an intercollegiate athletics forum sponsored by Learfield Communications on Wednesday in Manhattan.

"I think what Penn State went through is an awful situation and it's still playing out sadly. But the football program is still Penn State and they showed it and they did really well. The university has done an amazing job to put in place all of the things their board wanted and our board wanted."

The NCAA went outside its usual process to sanction Penn State in 2012. The school was hit with massive scholarship limitations and a four-year bowl ban, along with fines. The school also agreed to enact dozens of reforms recommended in a report by former FBI director Louis Freeh on the scandal.

The original scholarship and postseason penalties were eventually rolled back. Emmert said he was pleased the roll back helped Penn State recover more quickly, and that NCAA sanctions are not meant to cripple an athletic program.

"I've always said and always believed that Penn State first and foremost is a great university ... and secondly it's got wonderful sports traditions. How could you not be pleased that they're playing good football again? That's very good stuff," he said.

Emmert covered numerous topics in a 30-minute question-and-answer session, and after he spoke with group of reporters for 15 more minutes.

-- He declined to weigh in on whether the College Football Playoff selection committee made the right decision with the four teams it chose to compete for the national championship, but he did say he would prefer an eight-team playoff that would include automatic bids for the Power Five conference champions.

"I think a conference championship ought to count for something. I think how you determine your champion is up to somebody else," Emmert said. "I'd like to see all five of the conference champions get in the playoff."

The NCAA has no authority over the College Football Playoff.

"That's why we live in America. Everybody can have an opinion," Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany joked, when asked about Emmert's comments. "He doesn't have a vote, though."

-- Emmert said he would like to see the new NCAA football oversight committee better define the purpose of bowl games. There are 40 and some spots are given to teams with sub.-500 records. The NCAA does not run bowl games. It does have a sanctioning process, but mostly it lets conferences decide whether they want to put on games.

"What do we, the membership of intercollegiate athletics, want bowl games to be?" Emmert said. "Are they a 13th game that's an exhibition game? Are they a reward for having won something? We have teams in now that can get into a bowl game having won two or three of their conferences games."

-- The NCAA pulled its championship events out of North Carolina in September because of a state law that limits anti-discrimination protections for LGBT people. The decision was later criticized by Notre Dame President Rev. John Jenkins in an Wall Street Journal op-ed. Jenkins said the NCAA should not be a moral arbiter.

"He and I have chatted a lot about that issue, and obviously I disagree and obviously, more importantly the board of governors disagreed," Emmert said.
The NCAA will choose sites for future championship events in April and part of that is a "fairly complex process," Emmert said, of looking at the local and state laws of potential host locations.

"One of the considerations we have now as we make those decisions, as the sport committees make decisions about where they go, is going to be LGBT rights," he said. "I think and hope and believe, maybe wishfully, that North Carolina will modify their position because citizens want that."

-- Emmert said the Big 12 deciding not to expand was a "good thing for college sports."

"I think the last round was very disruptive. It had a negative impact on so many schools, even personal relationships. It was hard and I'm glad we didn't have to go through that again. Even on a smaller scale," Emmert said.