John Hackworth's response to Chip Kelly being called longest-tenured head coach in Philly: 'It does piss me off'

John Hackworth's response to Chip Kelly being called longest-tenured head coach in Philly: 'It does piss me off'

Hey, have you heard Chip Kelly is the longest-tenured head coach in Philly?? Of course you have! Everybody, including major national sports outlets, was spouting out that “fact” on Monday after the Flyers fired Peter Laviolette.

Of course, there are some problems with it. In breathless attempts to get their Tweets out, a lot of people didn’t include the word “professional,” meaning college coaches could have been factored in. Also, most people didn’t specify they were talking about the “four major” sports, meaning Philadelphia Union manager John Hackworth was mostly left out of the conversation even though he’s been on the job longer than Kelly. And then, of course, there’s the issue of what constitutes “major” anymore.

If you look at average attendance, for instance, the Union have outdrawn the Sixers in three of the last four seasons. Does that mean they are one of the top four pro teams in Philly? Absolutely not. Does that mean we should maybe consider expanding the definition and saying there are five major professional franchises in Philly? Sure, why not?

After being introduced as the “longest-tenured pro coach in Philadelphia” to start his weekly press conference, Hackworth was asked about the whole thing (however dumb it may seem) and gave a pretty great response, downplaying it from a personal perspective but expressing annoyance that soccer can often be overlooked in this city. Here’s the entire quote:

“The first answer is that I think that it doesn’t matter at all. It’s completely irrelevant, especially with how long [I’ve been the head coach]. It hasn’t been very long. The second answer is that it does piss me off, to be very clear. But it’s not about me. I think it’s incredible that in this day and age, in the world we live in, with how popular our sport is, that in a city that says that it is such a sports town, to say that, ‘Eh, it doesn’t count as one of the top professional sports.' I think that’s crazy.”

Soccer certainly is popular in Philly, given that the Union usually sell out their beautiful 18,500-seat stadium in Chester. (For those saying that Hackworth shouldn’t be included in the longest-tenured coach conversation because the Union don’t play within the city limits, that argument doesn’t hold much water unless you also wouldn’t include the Giants and Cowboys in discussions about New York and Dallas sports.) And the fans are as passionate and critical as any of the city’s others four teams.

At the same time, the level of vitriol from the soccer-haters in the city is often too loud to brush off (see the comments that will invariably show up beneath this story). And perhaps even worse than that for the Union is getting ignored by so many sportswriters and sports talk personalities.

Amobi Okugo, one of Philly’s best young players and a big fan of many other sports, noticed the whole Chip-Kelly-longest-tenured-coach thing on Twitter and was asked about it after practice Wednesday. Here’s what he said:

“It’s crazy. Soccer’s still growing. Maybe if we can make the playoffs and the other teams stay on their downward spiral, we’ll get more recognition. I’m not wishing bad on the other teams but if we make the playoffs and do make a little run, it might get us a little more recognition. In the meantime, we’ve been like the little stepbrother no one cares about. But Philly loves winners. If we win, we’ll start getting some more recognition.”  

Oh, that’s right. The Union are currently closing in on the playoffs with three games left in the regular season. Then, at least, John Hackworth will have the official title as the only pro head coach in town who’s made the playoffs.

Or something like that.

Penn State blasted at home by red-hot George Mason

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Penn State blasted at home by red-hot George Mason

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STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- The cheers reverberating from George Mason's locker room came from players experiencing their hottest streak in years. The quiet from Penn State's mirrored the whimper of the Nittany Lions in the second half as their run was snapped.

Marquise Moore scored 25 points and grabbed 13 rebounds, Otis Livingston added 18 points and the Patriots beat Penn State 85-66 for their sixth straight win and best stretch since 2011-12 on Wednesday.

"It was a great win for our team, really proud of our guys," George Mason coach Dave Paulsen said. "We really, really competed with toughness in the second half, especially I think our second-half defense was really good."

Jalen Jenkins added 15 points for the Patriots (7-3) who snapped Penn State's four-game winning streak.

Penn State led 38-37 after a wild first half that featured 12 lead changes. But the Raiders took control starting with Livingston's 3-pointer that made it 42-40 early in the second. They dominated from there, leading for the remaining 18:58 and outrebounded the Nittany Lions 44-29, outscored them 44-16 in the paint and held a speedy Penn State team to just two fastbreak points.

"We looked young tonight for whatever reason," Penn State coach Patrick Chambers said. "We have to figure that out. We have to play much harder."

Payton Banks led Penn State (6-4) with 21 points. Shep Garner and Lamar Stevens chipped in 13 apiece for the Nittany Lions.

The big picture
George Mason: The Patriots are on a roll and keeping pace in a competitive Atlantic 10 conference that had five teams with six wins entering the night. They seem to have flipped a switch following a 93-65 loss to Houston on Nov. 21 and haven't lost since.

Penn State: The Nittany Lions had been winning despite deficiencies in a few areas while making up for them in others over the last four games. They weren't able to make up for their lack of production in the paint, however.

Guards on the glass
Paulsen was wary of the size advantage Penn State's forwards had heading in. The Patriots didn't start anyone over 6-foot-7 while Penn State boasted a trio of forwards at or taller than that. Paulsen was particularly concerned about 6-foot-9 Mike Watkins who was fresh off his best game where he blocked 12 shots against Wright State.

But the George Mason coach had faith in his guards' ability to attack the net and win those rebounds. Moore entered the game as the country's top rebounding guard with 10 per game and posted his sixth double-double of the season.

"We have some pretty good rebounding guards," Paulsen said. "So you can't do it unless you have really active, rebounding guards."

Veteran responsibility
Penn State's gotten big time contributions from a handful of freshmen and started three as usual. But it was one of the veterans who shouldered blame afterward.

Banks was dejected after the game and pointed the finger at himself. Despite leading the team in points, he wasn't able to help on the glass.

"A lot of it just starts with me right here," Banks said. "I had zero rebounds. We can't rely on Lamar (Miller) and Mike for the scoring load and Julian (Moore). Our guards have to rebound and that's what we lacked this game and it definitely showed on the scoreboard."

Up next
George Mason plays at Penn on Saturday and has three of their final five games in 2016 at home.

Penn State plays Pittsburgh in Newark, New Jersey, on Saturday and has another on the road before closing out 2016 with a pair of games at home, including the Big Ten opener on Dec. 27.

Instant Replay: George Washington 66, Temple 63

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Instant Replay: George Washington 66, Temple 63

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With one second on the shot clock, George Washington forward Tyler Cavanaugh let a three-point shot fly from the corner right in front of his bench.

Cavanaugh’s shot hit the bottom of the net to give the Colonials a three-point lead with 8.2 seconds left. Moments later, Temple redshirt senior swingman Daniel Dingle’s open look at a game-tying shot hit off the back of the rim, and George Washington handed the Owls a 66-63 loss on Wednesday at the Liacouras Center.

Temple (6-3) came into the game on a five-game winning streak but looked sluggish from the start. The Owls scored just five points in the game’s first six minutes, 34 seconds.

Temple went into halftime down, 31-25, and trailed George Washington (6-4) by as many as 15 points in the second half. Senior guard Josh Brown hit two threes late in the second half to bring Temple within six. Dingle hit two more to tie the game at 61-61 with 2:44 left. 

Two Cavanaugh free throws followed by a jumper from Temple sophomore guard Shizz Alston Jr. then tied the game at 63-63 with 39.1 seconds left.

The Owls played the game’s final moments without junior forward Obi Enechionyia, who fouled out with 3:41 left.

Enechionyia cooling off
Enechionyia was held in check for the second game in a row. He scored 12 points and grabbed seven rebounds but made only one basket in the second half.

The junior went 5 of 17 for 12 points against Penn on Saturday. He scored 20-plus points in five of Temple’s first seven games.

Inside the box score
• Colonials guard Jordan Roland came into the game averaging 4.3 points per game. Roland scored 14 points on Wednesday.

• Brown, who played his first game of the season last Wednesday against St. Joe’s, played a season-high 24 minutes. He played a combined 25 minutes in his first two contests.

• George Washington outrebounded Temple, 37-23. The Colonials had 18 turnovers compared to nine for Temple.

Up next
Temple plays DePaul in the Miami Hoophall Invitational on Saturday at 11:30 a.m.