USA Publications (Multi Sports)

 

Latest News & Results

 

Lightning forward Tyler Motte day-to-day after taking blocked shot

Lightning forward Tyler Motte day-to-day after taking blocked shot

13/04/2024, USA, Multi Sports, USA Publications, Article # 31729653

TAMPA — Forward Tyler Motte, who has been an instrumental part of the Lightning’s penalty kill success, is day-to-day with a lower body injury, coach Jon Cooper said following Friday morning’s practice.

Motte, who left Thursday’s 3-2 shootout loss to Ottawa in the second period after taking a slap shot off his right foot/ankle area, didn’t skate Friday and isn’t expected to play in the Lightning’s road game Saturday against the Capitals.

The injury to Motte, who walked out of Amalie Arena on Friday morning with a slight limp, isn’t expected to prevent him from being available for the beginning of the playoffs, expected to start a week from Saturday.

With a postseason berth clinched and just three games remaining in the regular season, the Lightning could give Motte extra time to recover.

Motte was a late-offseason free-agent signing, inking a one-year, $800,000 contract in September. He has been a valuable addition, playing the wing on the fourth line and occasionally filling in at center on the third line.

He’s paired with Luke Glendening, another veteran offseason signing, to become one of the Lightning’s penalty killing forward pair. The Lightning’s PK ranks fifth in the league with a 83.2% success rate and is 49-for-53 (94.2%) over Tampa Bay’s last 17 games.

Two of Motte’s six goals this season were game-winning scores, and his 97 hits rank sixth on the team despite missing 10 games due to injury earlier in the season.

Motte’s absence likely means more PK time for center Nick Paul, who has been the fifth forward when the Lightning are shorthanded.

Next

Lightning at Capitals

When: Saturday, 5:30

TV: Bally Sports Florida



https://www.orlandosentinel.com/2024/04/12/tampa-bay-lightning-forward-tyler-motte-injury-blocked-shot-ottawa-senators-nhl/
Broncos mock draft: What happens if Denver aggressively pursues franchise quarterback?

Broncos mock draft: What happens if Denver aggressively pursues franchise quarterback?

13/04/2024, USA, Multi Sports, USA Publications, Article # 31729595

It’s hard to envision what the future holds for the Broncos until they find an answer for the most important position on the football field.

The franchise has been doing its due diligence in evaluating this year’s class of quarterbacks. Broncos general manager George Paton attended North Carolina QB Drake Maye’s pro day. Head coach Sean Payton, who believes it’s “realistic” for Denver to trade up, said the team held a private workout for Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy after his pro day. Meanwhile, Washington’s Michael Penix Jr. took a top-30 visit to the Broncos facility.

Payton will do whatever it takes to get the player he desires, even if that means trading up in the draft. In this latest mock draft, we examine what happens if the Broncos get aggressive in their quest to land their next franchise quarterback.

First Round (No. 4 via Cardinals)

Denver trades: No. 12, No. 76, 2025 first- and second-round pick 

Denver receives: No. 4

QB J.J. McCarthy, Michigan 

Denver goes all-in to answer the biggest question on the team. McCarthy, a five-star prep recruit, is Michigan’s career program leader in interception rate (1.54), completion percentage (67.6%) and passer rating (160.5). He can hit targets in tight windows and is effective in making off-balance throws. He recorded 44 touchdowns and nine interceptions over the last two seasons while leading the Wolverines to a national title.

“He has a quick mind (and) release,” NFL draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah said. “Just everything he does is real smooth. I wrote in my notes that he never gets bored with completions. Some other guys in his class get in trouble for big-play hunting. If you are going to get him check-downs or completions, he is just going to.”

Fourth Round (No. 121 via Dolphins)

CB Elijah Jones, Boston College 

After making their big trade, the Broncos wait until Day 3 to make their second pick. Jones has length and quality ball skills. In 2023, he had five interceptions and eight passes defended in nine games. He allowed 13 catches for 194 yards and one touchdown on 40 targets, according to Pro Football Focus. Jones is lean and won’t provide much support in the run game. But the Broncos could value Jones’ turnover production, especially after releasing safety Justin Simmons.

Fifth Round (No. 136 via Panthers through Browns)

EDGE Jalyx Hunt, Houston Christian 

Hunt comes from a small school but has potential with loads of speed and athleticism. During Hunt’s two-year stint at Houston Christian, he had 58 tackles (20.5 for loss) and 13.5 sacks. He can also drop back in coverage if needed, as he was a defensive back before becoming an edge rusher. A source told The Denver Post that the team brought Hunt in for a top-30 visit on April 5, so the interest is there.

Fifth Round (No. 145 via Jets)

TE Jaheim Bell, Florida State

Bell spent three seasons at South Carolina before transferring to Florida State. In his lone season with the Seminoles, he caught 39 passes for 503 yards and two touchdowns in 13 games. He had 87 receiving yards against Syracuse — the most by an FSU tight end since 2014. Bell can line up anywhere on the field and is a talented runner after the catch. He averaged 9.2 yards after the catch during his college career, according to Pro Football Focus.

Fifth Round (No. 147)

OT Javon Foster, Missouri 

Denver has added three offensive linemen through free agency, but that might not stop the team from adding another in the draft. Foster, a three-year starter at Missouri, has good size and was solid in pass protection. He was among a handful of players who stood out during the Senior Bowl in February. He could be a swing tackle for the Broncos as a rookie with a larger role in the future.

Sixth Round (No. 203 via Texans through Browns)

RB Cody Schrader, Missouri 

Schrader has an interesting story. He spent four seasons at Truman State, a Division II school, before walking on at Missouri in 2022 and playing in 13 games (11 starts). In 2023, Schrader was named first-team All-SEC by the Associated Press after he rushed for 1,627 yards and 14 touchdowns. He rushed for 205 yards against Tennessee, 112 against Georgia and 114 in a loss to LSU.

Sixth Round (No. 207 via 49ers)

DT Marcus Harris, Auburn 

After signing run-stopper Malcolm Roach, the Broncos continue to add depth up front by drafting Harris, a two-year starter at Auburn. Harris might lack arm length, but he makes up for it with his athleticism and motor. He had 40 tackles (11 for loss) and seven sacks in 2023. He could be a rotational player for the Broncos.

Want more Broncos news? Sign up for the Broncos Insider to get all our NFL analysis.



https://www.denverpost.com/2024/04/12/broncos-mock-draft-quarterback-trade/
Chris Perkins: Dolphins shouldn’t give Tua an extension, and certainly not superstar money

Chris Perkins: Dolphins shouldn’t give Tua an extension, and certainly not superstar money

13/04/2024, USA, Multi Sports, USA Publications, Article # 31729534

I’ve said this numerous times: the Miami Dolphins can win a Super Bowl with Tua.

There’s no doubt in my mind about that.

The bigger question is whether the Dolphins can win a Super Bowl with quarterback Tua Tagovailoa commanding, say, $30 million or more per year against the salary cap.

I’m not certain on that one.

This is the dilemma facing the Dolphins every day of the offseason.

His contract extension talks, Tagovailoa told us Thursday night from his third annual “Luau with Tua” at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, are ongoing.

“Just letting my agent deal with that and talk to the team about that,” Tagovailoa said. “For me, my focus is, when OTAs come, go to OTAs, show up and be the best teammate I can be.”

Tagovailoa is a legit Pro Bowl player and all-around good guy. 

I like him. I respect him.

He’s also never won a playoff game and remains an injury risk.

So what’s the magic (salary cap) number for Tagovailoa for the 2024 season, the number that allows Miami to build around him so it remains in Super Bowl contention?

What’s Tagovailoa’s magic (salary cap) number for the next few seasons?

In the Dolphins’ world, the Tagovailoa contract extension is where the 2024 salary cap becomes real.

This, for the Dolphins, is that time, after you’ve restructured all the contracts and written all the checks that allow you to manipulate the numbers, that the 2024 salary cap becomes finite and limiting.

I’ve said I’d have Tagovailoa play this season on his fifth-year option and not give him the extension right now. I’d wait until after the season.

If Tagovailoa and the Dolphins don’t agree to a contract extension, Tagovailoa, the No. 5 pick of the 2020 draft, will play this season on his fifth-year option salary of $23.1 million with the same figure counting against the salary cap.

That’s a bargain. 

It would allow the Dolphins to add talent and build around Tagovailoa.

But, speaking broadly, Tagovailoa playing the 2024 season on his fifth-year option leaves both sides exposed to huge risks.

For the Dolphins, one more good season from Tagovailoa (Pro Bowl berth, playoff appearance, staying healthy, etc.) and his contract extension soars even higher.

For Tua, one more injury, and a few more missed games due to injury (hamstring, knee, or, gasp, concussion), and lots of guaranteed money likely disappears.

Tagovailoa was impressive Thursday night.

It had nothing to do with his obvious weight loss, a topic he artfully sidestepped when asked.

It had to do with his overall comfort and composure.

Tagovailoa, married, a father of two kids, and entering his fifth NFL season, seems complete, content and stable in many ways.

That’s a good thing.

For the Dolphins, it means they can move ahead while comfortably knowing Tagovailoa’s strengths (accuracy, anticipation, timing, vision) and weaknesses (mobility, agility, improvisation).

To me, the Dolphins need to proceed with rarely-seen prudence and caution when it comes to Tagovailoa’s extension.

What I mean is that they can’t insult Tagovailoa, but they also can’t follow the market.

Quarterbacks are chewing up so much of the salary cap it seems the NFL might have to implement an NBA amnesty-style market correction sometime soon.

I exaggerate.

But common sense must take over at some point or the Super Bowl dream becomes untenable for many teams with good, not great, quarterbacks.

Some of these quarterback salary cap hits are absolutely crazy.

Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes will count $37 million against the Chiefs’ salary cap this season. That’s reasonable. Heck, let’s be honest, that’s bargain basement.

The New York Giants’ Daniel Jones will count $47 million against the salary cap this season. That’s unreasonable.

Dallas’ Dak Prescott will count $55 million against the Cowboys’ salary cap this season. That’s highly unreasonable.

Cleveland’s DeShaun Watson will count $63 million against the Browns’ salary cap this season. That’s absolute madness.

And the numbers are going up at an unsettling rate.

New flash: 80% of these quarterbacks aren’t worth the money they’re getting.

These guys aren’t that good.

Tagovailoa is a high-quality quarterback, but he needs help.

He does well helping himself in the offseason.

Last year, it was jiu-jitsu to help learn how to fall in hopes of avoiding concussions.

Perhaps his current weight loss hints at the need for mobility and agility.

Whatever the case, Tagovailoa needs on-field help, such as from a turnover-producing defense or a security blanket-style No. 3 receiver.

If the Dolphins award Tagovailoa a contract extension this offseason, here’s hoping they leave sufficient space under the salary cap so that they can build around him for the next couple of years.

I don’t usually root for the organization over the player.

But when it comes to a Tagovailoa contract extension, at this point, a team-friendly deal is best for everyone.



https://www.orlandosentinel.com/2024/04/12/chris-perkins-dolphins-shouldnt-give-tua-an-extension-and-certainly-not-superstar-money/
Hurricanes hosting on-campus spring game Saturday, looking to boost recruiting and see players ‘co

Hurricanes hosting on-campus spring game Saturday, looking to boost recruiting and see players ‘co

13/04/2024, USA, Multi Sports, USA Publications, Article # 31729533

CORAL GABLES — Who says the Miami Hurricanes don’t have an on-campus stadium?

Miami is hosting its annual spring football game on Saturday, but instead of a spring jamboree at Chase Stadium in Fort Lauderdale or a home game at Hard Rock Stadium, the Hurricanes will play the game in front of a small crowd at Cobb Stadium, the UM soccer and track stadium next to the Hecht Athletic Center that normally seats just 500 people.

Although the Hurricanes are adding additional seating for Saturday’s exhibition and expect to bring capacity close to 5,000, the event will not be open to every fan who wants to buy tickets. Instead, the crowd will mainly be player and staff guests, recruits, donors and other exclusive invitees. ACC Network Extra, an online-only extension of the ACC Network, will broadcast the game, which begins at 4 p.m.

Still, players are excited to end spring practice on a high note in front of those attending.

“I’m really excited to be out there with the team, actually,” freshman linebacker Bobby Pruitt said. “See the vibe and the feeling to be on the football field with the full team in full (uniforms). I’m really excited for that, and (to) see how (we) react to adversity when we play against each other, how we move around and how we bounce around the field.”

Holding the game on campus is expected to be a boon for Miami’s staff when it comes to recruiting. Last year, the Hurricanes picked up a commitment from four-star wide receiver Chance Robinson at the spring game, and the staff will be able to spend the whole day showing prospective players around campus instead of having them travel to an off-campus stadium.

The Hurricanes have six commits in the 2025 class, recently adding four-star tight end Luka Gilbert. UM’s staff expects about 50 recruits to attend Saturday’s game.

“We’ve had a real steady and strong influx of talent coming in because it’s important that people come in and see what we do and how we do it,” coach Mario Cristobal said. “It would be no different than the different stops that we were at. . . . We just try to always dial up, I would say, the intensity and the passion and the energy behind it. The spring game will be no different.”

The spring game’s format will be similar to last year’s. The Hurricanes will play with live tackling in the first half and move to “thudding” or simulated tackling in the second half, Cristobal said. The playbook will be vanilla, Cristobal said, so as not to give away any clues to UM’s opponents this year.

“It’s still playing ball,” Cristobal said. “We’re still live but just not going to the ground. When you go into a spring game — especially all these spring games that are nationally televised — you just can’t do all the stuff that you’ve been doing this spring. That wouldn’t be the right thing to do. But you want to see guys play with great fundamentals, great technique. You want to see them compete and really try hard to win every single one of their one-on-ones, all their battles, and to continue building the DNA, to continue just elevating the standards for our culture. At the end of the day, I think we’re starting to understand that standards are actions. They’re not words or slogans or T-shirts.”

Miami is also hosting alumni this weekend and is honoring former UM stars Andre Johnson and Devin Hester, who are Class of 2024 inductees in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, former Hurricanes coach Mark Richt and donor Carol Soffer at an alumni dinner Friday night.

“It’s important for our players to see that, to understand how important gratitude is as well as be around the people that got the University of Miami going and what it means to be a Hurricane,” Cristobal said. “Michael Irvin will be speaking to the team (Friday), and (he is) obviously a great example of what hard work is all about.”



https://www.orlandosentinel.com/2024/04/12/um-spring-game-preview/
Dramatic duel for elite Winter Springs and Windermere weightlifters ended in stunning fashion

Dramatic duel for elite Winter Springs and Windermere weightlifters ended in stunning fashion

13/04/2024, USA, Multi Sports, USA Publications, Article # 31729535

Two-time state champ Andres Giron won’t be able to make it a three-peat in next week’s FHSAA Class 3A boys weightlifting championship meet.

In a stunning turn of events, the Windermere High School senior failed to make a successful clean-and-jerk lift at last week’s Region 2 meet and bombed out of title contention.

Giron, Florida’s weightlifter of the year as a junior, lost it all because he made a daring all-or-nothing bid to top Orlando area rival Kody Taylor of Winter Springs at the regional level. Taylor exceeded Giron’s lifts for the 183-pound weight class in regular season and district meets, setting the stage for what was expected to be a dramatic matchup between state favorites who developed a friendship as they kept track of each other’s performances.

Taylor took the regional lead by lifting a career-best 260 pounds in the Snatch phase, 5 pounds better than Giron managed.

In his attempt to trump Taylor, Giron asked for a massive 330 pounds to be placed on the bar for his go-in clean-and-jerk lift. His hope was to make that on his first attempt and then pump 340 and 350 on his two final lifts to pave the way for victories in the Olympic style and Traditional titles.

It didn’t happen.

Giron tried 330 three times. Three times he lifted the bar from the floor to his shoulders but was unable to hoist the weight over his head to complete the jerk technique.

“I felt confident going with 330 after smoking 315 in the back room in warmups,” Giron said in a phone interview several days after the meet at Freedom High School. “My thinking was ‘Go big or I might go home’. Unfortunately, not everything went as planned.”

Windermere weightlifter Andres Giron seeks FHSAA championship and citizenship

It was Taylor’s turn to dominate. He powered up 300, 315 and 330 on his three clean-and-jerk lifts and finished with a 330 bench press. Taylor claimed region titles with a 660 total in the Traditional competition (bench and clean and jerk) and 590 in the Olympic style (snatch and clean and jerk). Both are the best for 3A this season.

As Giron stepped onto the platform and reached down to grasp the bar for his third and final clean-and jerk-attempt with a hushed crowd of teammates, coaches, lifters and spectators looking on, Taylor could be heard saying, “Come on Andres. … You got this.”

When Giron failed, he walked — head down — off the platform and out the gymnasium door at Freedom.

“I feel so bad. He’s always been my bud and competitor,” Taylor said moments later. “He’s a senior and he’s worked so hard.”

Giron’s achievements during the past three seasons, including placing in national meets, spurred Taylor.

“I watched crazy lifts Andres was posting [on social media]. It gave me major motivation to get stronger.”

A year ago Giron swept state titles in the 169 weight class, totaling 660 in Traditional and 580 in Olympic. Taylor, in the same weight division, took third in both with totals of 620 and 525.

While Giron struggled with hamstring and shoulder injuries this season, Taylor overcame October tendinitis in both knees to excel.

“I’m all the way back. I feel 100% now,” Taylor said.

Giron hopes Taylor takes home the state titles.

“It was two of the best in the sport going at it,” Giron said of the region meet. “I respect Kody entirely as an athlete and as a friend. I’m just rooting for him now. If all goes well, he will be the state champ for sure.”

Giron is moving on. His application to UCF was accepted and he plans to commute for college and continue to train in weightlifting while studying engineering.

Meanwhile, Taylor’s qualifying totals are 50 pounds better than any other state qualifier in his weight class. A Winter Springs teammate, Luke Deal, was second in Olympic qualifying with a 540 region mark.

Taylor hopes to go at least 10 pounds higher for all three lifts at the April 19 state meet at RP Funding Center in Lakeland.

“Winning at state would be amazing,” Taylor said. “It’s been my goal.”

Windermere High's Andres Giron lifts during the Class 3A Region 2 boys weightlifting meet at Freedom High School in Orlando on Wednesday, April 3, 2024. (Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel)
Two-time state champion Andres Giron of Windermere High failed to advance to the state meet from this regional qualifier last week. (Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel)

Varsity content editor Buddy Collings can be reached by email at bcollings@orlandosentinel.com.



https://www.orlandosentinel.com/2024/04/12/weightlifting-fhsaa-andre-giron-kody-taylor/
USF football on-campus stadium gets groundbreaking date

USF football on-campus stadium gets groundbreaking date

13/04/2024, USA, Multi Sports, USA Publications, Article # 31729413

USF football has scheduled a groundbreaking date for the Bulls’ on-campus stadium: homecoming week of this fall.

That centers on USF’s Oct. 19 home game against UAB at Raymond James Stadium.

The Bulls have been in the design stage for the $340 million, 35,000-seat building that will be just north of the current practice facilities. This week, USF selected the team of construction companies that will manage the project: Manhattan Construction Company, H.J. Russell & Company and DuCon, LLC. Populous has been the architecture firm.

The stadium is scheduled to open for the 2027 season, but USF officials have said the operations center for football and women’s lacrosse will open a year earlier.

The Bulls have been discussing an on-campus football stadium since before the school held its first classes. But board of trustees chairperson Will Weatherford started a renewed push in September 2021.

The project comes during a period of major upheaval across college athletics. The Bulls have lagged behind in facilities. The stadium and sign of investment could be critical if USF hopes to move from the mid-major American Athletic Conference to one of the four remaining power leagues: the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten or SEC

USF made Thursday’s announcement as it prepares for Saturday’s spring game at Corbett Stadium.

 



https://www.orlandosentinel.com/2024/04/12/usf-bulls-football-stadium-aac-big12-acc-bigten/
In death, 3 decades after his trial verdict, O.J. Simpson still reflects America’s racial divides

In death, 3 decades after his trial verdict, O.J. Simpson still reflects America’s racial divides

13/04/2024, USA, Multi Sports, USA Publications, Article # 31729536

By GRAHAM LEE BREWER and AARON MORRISON (Associated Press)

For many people old enough to remember O.J. Simpson’s murder trial, his 1995 exoneration was a defining moment in their understanding of race, policing and justice. Nearly three decades later, it still reflects the different realities of white and Black Americans.

Some people recall watching their Black co-workers and classmates erupting in jubilation at perceived retribution over institutional racism. Others remember their white counterparts shocked over what many felt was overwhelming evidence of guilt. Both reactions reflected different experiences with a criminal justice system that continues to disproportionately punish Black Americans.

Simpson, who died Wednesday, remains a symbol of racial divisions in American society because he is a reminder of how deeply the inequities are felt, even as newer figures have come to symbolize the struggles around racism, policing and justice.

“It wasn’t really about O.J. Simpson the man. It was about the rest of the society and how we responded to him,” said Justin Hansford, a Howard University law professor.

Simpson died of prostate cancer in Las Vegas, his family announced Thursday. He was 76.

His death comes just a few months before the 30th anniversary of the 1994 killings of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ron Goldman. Much like the trial, the public’s reaction to the verdict was largely shaped by race.

Today, criminal justice reforms that address racial inequities are less divisive. But that has been replaced by backlash against diversity, equity and inclusion programs, bans of books that address systemic racism, and restrictions around Black history lessons in public schools.

“The hard part is we’re going to keep cycling through this until we learn from our past,” said University of Pennsylvania sociologist and Africana Studies professor Camille Charles. “But there are people who don’t want us to learn from our past.”

During the trial, African Americans were four times as likely to presume Simpson was innocent or being set up by the police, said UCLA Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Darnell Hunt, who at the time was a young sociologist writing a book about the different ways Black and white Americans saw the trial.

“The case was about two different views of reality or two different takes on the reality of race in America at that point in history,” he said.

Simpson’s trial came on the heels of the 1992 acquittal of police officers in the beating of Rodney King in Los Angeles, which was caught on video and exposed America’s deep trauma over police brutality. For many African Americans in 1995, Simpson’s acquittal represented a rebuke of institutional racism in the justice system. But many white Americans believed Simpson and his defense team played the race card to get away with the killings.

The difference could also be seen in the ways Black media outlets covered the trial compared to mainstream publications, Hunt said. Those outlets tended to raise questions about whether the justice system was really fair in terms of “what might be called the Black experience,” he said.

Polling in the last decade shows most people still believe Simpson committed the killings, including most African Americans, but the racial and historical dynamics at play in the trial made it about more than the deaths.

Hansford, the Howard University law professor who is Black and was 12 years old at the time of the Simpson verdict, said he remembers the differences in white and Black reactions even in liberal environments like Silver Spring, Maryland, the Washington suburb where he grew up.

“When he was acquitted, all the Black students celebrated and ran into the hallways, jumping up and down,” he said. “And the white teachers were crying.”

One of Hansford’s white teachers said something about Simpson that he didn’t agree with, and when he responded, the teacher rebuked him.

“It was one of the worst ways a teacher has ever talked to me,” Hansford said. “The O.J. Simpson trial created a situation where people were dug into their sides.”

The racial turmoil embedded in the court case was at the center of the 2016 Oscar-winning documentary “OJ: Made in America.” Instead of focusing on the killings and the evidence presented at trial, director Ezra Edelman placed the crimes within the context of the Civil Rights struggle, from which Simpson was largely insulated by the warm embrace of the white mainstream.

“All O.J. had to do to get recognized is to run a football,” Edelman told the AP in 2016. “And almost concurrent to that you have a community of people whose only way to get recognized is to burn their community down during the (1965 Watts) riots. Those were the two tracks I was trying to home in on, knowing that they will intersect 30 years later.”

Simpson had married a white woman in a nation that had historically punished Black men who dared to explore mixed-race relationships. But Simpson also was a former football star, a wealthy Hollywood actor and brand spokesman whose money and privilege distinguished him from impoverished Black men that the criminal justice system punished.

“I’m not Black, I’m O.J.,” he liked to tell friends.

He had been admired as a one-of-a-kind celebrity whose transgressions, including a pattern of spousal abuse, were overlooked as incompatible with his All-American persona.

“He actually seemed to go to quite a bit of trouble to distance himself from Black folks,” but the Black support for him wasn’t about that, said Charles, the University of Pennsylvania sociologist. “I think it was about seeing the system work the way we were told it was supposed to.”

Even as systemic racism in criminal justice systems remains an issue, Charles thinks Black Americans have grown less likely to believe in a famous defendant’s innocence as a show of race solidarity.

“The one thing that has changed is that you didn’t see the same kind of getting behind (R&B singer) R. Kelly or Bill Cosby,” Charles said.

“There was much more open conflict about them, and many more Black people were willing to say publicly, ‘Nah, he did that.’ I think it also could represent a better understanding of celebrity and wealth,” she said.

___

Graham Lee Brewer reported from Oklahoma City, and Aaron Morrison from New York. They are members of AP’s Race and Ethnicity team.



https://www.orlandosentinel.com/2024/04/12/in-death-3-decades-after-his-trial-verdict-o-j-simpson-still-reflects-americas-racial-divides/
In death, O.J. Simpson and his trial verdict still reflect America’s racial divides

In death, O.J. Simpson and his trial verdict still reflect America’s racial divides

13/04/2024, USA, Multi Sports, USA Publications, Article # 31729352

By GRAHAM LEE BREWER and AARON MORRISON (Associated Press)

For many people old enough to remember O.J. Simpson’s murder trial, his 1995 exoneration was a defining moment in their understanding of race, policing and justice. Nearly three decades later, it still reflects the different realities of white and Black Americans.

Some people recall watching their Black co-workers and classmates erupting in jubilation at perceived retribution over institutional racism. Others remember their white counterparts shocked over what many felt was overwhelming evidence of guilt. Both reactions reflected different experiences with a criminal justice system that continues to disproportionately punish Black Americans.

Simpson, who died Wednesday, remains a symbol of racial divisions in American society because he is a reminder of how deeply the inequities are felt, even as newer figures have come to symbolize the struggles around racism, policing and justice.

“It wasn’t really about O.J. Simpson the man. It was about the rest of the society and how we responded to him,” said Justin Hansford, a Howard University law professor.

Simpson died of prostate cancer in Las Vegas, his family announced Thursday. He was 76.

His death comes just a few months before the 30th anniversary of the 1994 killings of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ron Goldman. Much like the trial, the public’s reaction to the verdict was largely shaped by race.

Today, criminal justice reforms that address racial inequities are less divisive. But that has been replaced by backlash against diversity, equity and inclusion programs, bans of books that address systemic racism, and restrictions around Black history lessons in public schools.

“The hard part is we’re going to keep cycling through this until we learn from our past,” said University of Pennsylvania sociologist and Africana Studies professor Camille Charles. “But there are people who don’t want us to learn from our past.”

During the trial, African Americans were four times as likely to presume Simpson was innocent or being set up by the police, said UCLA Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Darnell Hunt, who at the time was a young sociologist writing a book about the different ways Black and white Americans saw the trial.

“The case was about two different views of reality or two different takes on the reality of race in America at that point in history,” he said.

Simpson’s trial came on the heels of the 1992 acquittal of police officers in the beating of Rodney King in Los Angeles, which was caught on video and exposed America’s deep trauma over police brutality. For many African Americans in 1995, Simpson’s acquittal represented a rebuke of institutional racism in the justice system. But many white Americans believed Simpson and his defense team played the race card to get away with murder.

The difference could also be seen in the ways Black media outlets covered the trial compared to mainstream publications, Hunt said. Those outlets tended to raise questions about whether the justice system was really fair in terms of “what might be called the Black experience,” he said.

Polling in the last decade shows most people still believe Simpson committed the murders, including most African Americans, but the racial and historical dynamics at play in the trial made it about more than the murders.

Hansford, the Howard University law professor who is Black and was 12 years old at the time of the Simpson verdict, said he remembers the differences in white and Black reactions even in liberal environments like Silver Spring, Maryland, the Washington suburb where he grew up.

“When he was acquitted, all the Black students celebrated and ran into the hallways, jumping up and down,” he said. “And the white teachers were crying.”

One of Hansford’s white teachers said something about Simpson that he didn’t agree with, and when he responded, the teacher rebuked him.

“It was one of the worst ways a teacher has ever talked to me,” Hansford said. “The O.J. Simpson trial created a situation where people were dug into their sides.”

The racial turmoil embedded in the court case was at the center of the 2016 Oscar-winning documentary “OJ: Made in America.” Instead of focusing on the murders and the evidence presented at trial, director Ezra Edelman placed the crimes within the context of the Civil Rights struggle, from which Simpson was largely insulated by the warm embrace of the white mainstream.

“All O.J. had to do to get recognized is to run a football,” Edelman told the AP in 2016. “And almost concurrent to that you have a community of people whose only way to get recognized is to burn their community down during the (1965 Watts) riots. Those were the two tracks I was trying to home in on, knowing that they will intersect 30 years later.”

Simpson had married a white woman in a nation that had historically punished Black men who dared to explore mixed-race relationships. But Simpson also was a former football star, a wealthy Hollywood actor and brand spokesman whose money and privilege distinguished him from impoverished Black men that the criminal justice system punished.

“I’m not Black, I’m O.J.,” he liked to tell friends.

He had been admired as a one-of-a-kind celebrity whose transgressions, including a pattern of spousal abuse, were overlooked as incompatible with his All-American persona.

“He actually seemed to go to quite a bit of trouble to distance himself from Black folks,” but the Black support for him wasn’t about that, said Charles, the University of Pennsylvania sociologist. “I think it was about seeing the system work the way we were told it was supposed to.”

Even as systemic racism in criminal justice systems remains an issue, Charles thinks Black Americans have grown less likely to believe in a famous defendant’s innocence as a show of race solidarity.

“The one thing that has changed is that you didn’t see the same kind of getting behind (R&B singer) R. Kelly or Bill Cosby,” Charles said.

“There was much more open conflict about them, and many more Black people were willing to say publicly, ‘Nah, he did that.’ I think it also could represent a better understanding of celebrity and wealth,” she said.

___

Graham Lee Brewer reported from Oklahoma City, and Aaron Morrison from New York. They are members of AP’s Race and Ethnicity team.



https://www.orlandosentinel.com/2024/04/12/in-death-o-j-simpson-and-his-trial-verdict-still-reflect-americas-racial-divides/
Kentucky hires BYU’s Mark Pope as men’s basketball coach to replace John Calipari

Kentucky hires BYU’s Mark Pope as men’s basketball coach to replace John Calipari

13/04/2024, USA, Multi Sports, USA Publications, Article # 31729537

By GARY B. GRAVES (AP Sports Writer)

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — Initially off the radar among Kentucky’s coaching targets, Mark Pope is now entrusted with maintaining the program’s gold standard.

Makes sense, since he helped do so as a player.

Kentucky hired the BYU coach to guide its men’s basketball program, bringing home a captain of the Wildcats’ 1996 national championship team to succeed John Calipari.

The school announced the 51-year-old Pope’s hiring in a release Friday morning but did not mention any contract details. He will be introduced at a later date, the release said.

Pope replaces Calipari, a Hall of Famer who took Kentucky to its eighth NCAA title in 2012 among four Final Four appearances in 15 years. Kentucky hasn’t returned there since going 38-1 in 2015. Calipari stepped down on Tuesday and was introduced as Arkansas coach the next day.

Pope was 110-52 in five seasons with the Cougars and went 23-11 in their first season in the Big 12 Conference. BYU is also coming off a second NCAA Tournament appearance in four years under Pope.

He was 77-56 before that in four seasons at Utah Valley and guided the Wolverines to consecutive runner-up finishes in the Western Athletic Conference his final two years. They reached the CBI quarterfinals both times.

Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhart cited Pope’s impressive 187-108 career record as a head coach and keen knowledge of the program’s meaning to the state. The AD also praised Pope’s “dynamic” up-tempo offense and tough defense and called him an innovator.

“He is a strong recruiter with international ties and a person of integrity,” Barnhart said. “He fully embraces our high expectations and standards and I know that as our fans get reacquainted with Mark, they will be eager to join him on what promises to be an exciting ride.”

Pope said he understands the expectations of taking over college basketball’s winningest program and the high expectations that come with it.

“It’s the definition of blueblood program where hanging a banner is the expectation ever year,” Pope said. “Equally as important, UK changed my life forever as a human being. The love and passion I have for this program, this University and the people of the Commonwealth goes to the depth of my soul.”

Pope’s hiring is highly surprising considering the higher-profile coaches mentioned as Kentucky’s top candidates. But Baylor’s Scott Drew and UConn’s Dan Hurley, both of whom have led schools to NCAA titles, turned down offers on Thursday. Chicago Bulls coach Billy Donovan, a Kentucky assistant on that championship team before guiding Florida to consecutive NCAA titles, restated his commitment to the NBA club.

Pope faces his biggest task in returning his alma mater to national title contention after two first-round exits the past three seasons under Calipari. Kentucky’s last deep NCAA Tournament came in 2019, when the team lost to SEC rival Auburn in the Elite Eight.

Saint John’s coach Rick Pitino, a Hall of Famer who led Kentucky back from NCAA sanctions to that 1996 title, believes the school found the right candidate, saying Pope “will go on to greatness.”

“You have one of the premier young coaches in the game. Relish it because he will do you proud,” Pitino said in a video posted to social media. “I know I sit here today in Saint John’s and I couldn’t be any more proud than to see Mark Pope lead the Kentucky Wildcats to another championship. He’ll get it done. He’s got the right stock.”

Pope’s initial mission is rebuilding a roster that has already lost guard Rob Dillingham and 7-foot-1 Aaron Bradshaw to the NBA draft and Adou Thiero to the transfer portal. Several other players appear likely to follow Calipari to Arkansas, while several All-American signees have re-opened their commitments.

However it settles for Kentucky, Pope’s offensive philosophy mirrors the high-octane approach that helped the Wildcats rank second nationally at 89 points per game last season.

BYU wasn’t far behind, averaging 81.4 points to lead the Big 12 and rank 22nd nationally. The Cougars were third with 11.1 made 3-pointers and 18.5 assists, and sixth with a 1.73 assist-to-turnover ratio. They ranked as high as 12th in the AP Top 25 on Jan. 1 after going 12-1 in nonconference action and winning the Vegas Showdown.

Defensively, BYU tied for 104th of 351 Division I teams at nearly 70 points allowed per game and ranked 26th with 39.5 rebounds.

BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe thanked Pope in a post on X and said he “left the program in a position of strength moving forward.”

As a player, Pope led Kentucky with 6.3 rebounds per game during the 1994-95 season and was named to the Southeastern Conference All-Tournament team along with MVP Antoine Walker.

Pope played in the NBA from 1998-2005 with the Indiana Pacers, Milwaukee Bucks and Denver Nuggets.

___

AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-basketball-poll and https://apnews.com/hub/college-basketball



https://www.orlandosentinel.com/2024/04/12/kentucky-hires-byus-mark-pope-as-mens-basketball-coach-to-replace-john-calipari/
loading