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Good morning! Godspeed, Ron Washington.
While You Were Sleeping: A narrow reminder of the NBA’s shifting hierarchy
One of the best games of the new NBA season happened late last night in Denver, a 108-105 Nuggets win over the Warriors that pushed the defending champions to 8-1. Two thoughts:
- Did we really think Denver would fall off? Probably not, but there isn’t a scintilla of title hangover in this group. Their only loss this year: Minnesota, who’s quietly been incredible thus far. Denver still feels inevitable.
- I really like this Warriors team with Chris Paul. It definitely looks weird, but the basketball makes sense when you put savants like Paul and Steph Curry together. They’re 6-3, but if they can stay healthy, expect a top-four seed in the West.
Pastimes: Some hilarious NFL QB trivia
Remembering Guys is a favorite hobby of the sports internet. Not merely a trivia game, it’s a soothing, unending discussion of obscure athletes who weave together the fabric of our fandom. Sure, everyone remembers Drew Brees, but do you remember who caught his first NFL touchdown pass? Chargers tight end Freddie Jones. So on and so forth.
The 2023 NFL season is shaping up to be a Remembering Guys Hall of Fame entry, spurred by yesterday’s news that Giants quarterback Tommy DeVito will start Sunday, with both Daniel Jones and Tyrod Taylor injured. Let me explain:
- DeVito is already the 10th rookie quarterback to start a game this year, the most rookie starters we’ve seen in a season since 1950. It’s only Week 10! Bonkers.
- Let’s zoom out further: Not even counting DeVito, 46 quarterbacks have started a game this year, 14 of whom did not begin this year as a starter. The number rises to 15 when DeVito starts this weekend.
- I dare you, without cheating, to name the colleges for these QBs who have started a game in 2023: DeVito, Tyson Bagent, Aidan O’Connell, Clayton Tune and Jaren Hall. We’ll run answers tomorrow for the good-hearted among you.
What’s also true: NFL QBs are getting younger — a lot younger — by average, as the older generation of signal callers slowly washes out after some astonishing longevity (Brees, Tom Brady, Eli Manning, etc.). Even before injuries to Aaron Rodgers and others, this year’s Week 1 starting quarterbacks were the youngest in league history since 1957.
The product is still compelling. The Raiders looked great with O’Connell, and the up-and-down Bagent is one of the better stories in the NFL. So file those names away. We’ll have some fun remembering them one day.
News to Know
Angels pick Washington
Ron Washington is the new Los Angeles Angels manager, the team announced yesterday, making the 71-year-old the club’s fourth skipper in five years. Washington took Rangers teams to consecutive World Series as manager in 2010 and 2011 and won one as Braves third base coach in 2021. His task: rejuvenating a deeply cursed franchise.
Michigan ruling could come today
Michigan officially filed a response to the Big Ten’s formal notice of disciplinary action, setting up a possible announcement of any penalties. Per our report, league sources have indicated a likely suspension of head coach Jim Harbaugh, which would be his second of the season. See the full dossier here, and we’ll have more on possible endgames in the next section.
NCAA suspends two for gambling
Iowa defensive tackle Noah Shannon and Iowa State tight end DeShawn Hanika will not continue playing this season, the NCAA ruled yesterday, upholding a rule that players who gamble on teams at their school must sit out a season. Both players bet on basketball games involving their schools. Read all the details (and fallout) here.
Feedback Loop: Bye, Jim?
Six months ago, Jim Harbaugh’s eventual return to the NFL was a meme. Oh, did Harbaugh flirt with another NFL gig? Shocker. Around and around we went, each offseason, while Harbaugh simultaneously built one of the best programs in college football.
Now, everything is uncertain. Does Harbaugh jump to the NFL because of impending penalties for the Wolverines’ allegedly sprawling sign-stealing scheme? Does the NFL even want him? It all remains unclear, which is why I was particularly fascinated to see yesterday’s Pulse Poll results.
- A slim majority of you think he’s heading back to the pros, and I tend to agree. We forget how good an NFL coach he was: 44-19-1 in four seasons with the 49ers. He was arguably the NFL’s best coach during his first three years, going 36-11 and coming close to winning a Super Bowl.
- There will be plenty of job opportunities. The Raiders already need a new coach. The Bears, Commanders, Buccaneers, Chargers and — gasp — Patriots could have openings at year’s end, too. Imagine Harbaugh returning to California and inheriting Justin Herbert.
Or … he could dig in. Michigan has understandably taken a very defensive stance throughout this saga, and it would surprise no one if, barring monumental penalties, they endure and run it all back, Harbaugh included.
I can’t wait to see how this plays out. Thanks as always for voting.
Watch This Game
NFL: Panthers at Bears
8:15 p.m. ET on Prime Video
This could’ve been a battle for No. 1 pick positioning, except Chicago already has Carolina’s pick. Justin Fields still isn’t ready to play, so it’ll be Tyson Bagent for the fourth straight game.
NBA: Bucks at Pacers
7 p.m. ET on NBA TV
Indiana has a real chance to be a fun NBA surprise this year. Beat Milwaukee, and the campaign will become louder.
Chad Graff writes a curious story today: Why has the Bill Belichick coaching tree produced zero great NFL head coaches? It’s an interesting premise, made even more conspicuous by no one really wanting to talk about it. Worth your time today.
Our NFL staff made bold predictions for each team the rest of the season. Earning some love: Kyler Murray (understandable) and Matt Eberflus (surprising).
James Edwards III, Kelly Iko and Jason Jones graded this year’s NBA City Edition jerseys. My review: Meh.
Chris Johnston empties the notebook on what he’s hearing about potential Patrick Kane landing spots. Keep an eye on this.
Brittany Ghiroli has a thoughtful piece on the post-Craig Counsell haze in baseball circles. People are conflicted about the “managerial Hunger Games.”
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(Photo: Steve Marcus/Getty Images)