December 10, 2015 

By PETE IACOBELLI 

Associated Press 

 

Deshaun Watson rarely panics, not as a high school star in Georgia watching his mother fight cancer or as Clemson's quarterback working to come back from knee surgery.

 

Calm and confident without being flashy, Watson’s style led the Tigers to their first undefeated season since 1981 - and a chance to accomplish much more.

 

Watson’s mother, Deann, says her son has always been steady and on task, more concerned with solving problems than worrying about them. “That’s never changed with him,” she said.

 

Watson was the one, Deann said, who brought home the Habitat for Humanity flier that helped the family leave public housing for a home of their own. Deshaun Watson did not collapse with his mother’s diagnosis. Instead, he dived into research to make sure it was not “death cancer” as he called it.

 

It wasn’t. Deann Watson went through radiation and chemotherapy and is currently free of the disease, her son said.

 

Deshaun Watson has brought that to the field this season, the best player on the country’s No. 1 team, and a Heisman Trophy finalist.

 

“That’s just the type of person I am,” the sophomore says. “I never really flinch or panic under pressure. I just know what the situation is and where we need to go.”

 

Right now, that’s to the top of the college football world.

 

Watson showed flashes of his talent with 14 touchdown passes and two interceptions in his injury-shortened freshman season. He had surgery to repair a torn ACL last December and entered this season dragging the injury-prone label alongside his Heisman potential.

 

Watson brushed both aside. His season took flight in rain-soaked Death Valley as he led the Tigers to a 24-22 win over Notre Dame that shot Clemson (13-0) into the playoff conversation. Watson has not slowed down since. He led the Tigers to eight straight wins since then with over 500 yards of offense to finish the regular season. He's thrown for 3,223 yards and 27 touchdowns. He’s run for 756 yards – he’s gone past 100 yards rushing in three of Clemson’s final four regular-season games – with another nine scores.

 

Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said Watson gives the Tigers an edge that no one else in college football has – the best player in the country.

 

“Look at any championship team and most have a great quarterback and a great leader,” Swinney said. “He’s special.”

 

Watson always felt that if he played solidly and the team was successful, individual honors would follow. Last week, he won the ACC’s player of the year and now makes his first trip to New York, where either he or running backs Derrick Henry of Alabama or Christian McCaffrey will be awarded the Heisman on Saturday night.

 

Win or lose, count on Watson to bring the same, steady approach when Clemson returns to practice for its national semifinal game against No. 4 Oklahoma on Dec. 31 in Miami.

 

“It’s a team thing around here,” Watson said. “That’s what we focus on.”

 

HEISMAN-DEFINING MOMENT: In the regular-season finale, Clemson saw its 18-point lead over South Carolina dwindle to 28-25 in the fourth quarter. It was third-and-7 at the Gamecocks’ 33. After a time out, Watson came through with a 24-yard completion through traffic to set up a first-and-goal. Three plays later, he finished off the drive with his fourth TD of the game.

 

BEST GAME: Criticized for not throwing long much the first half of the season, Watson answered with a 34-17 victory over Boston College on Oct. 17. The Eagles came into the contest with the country’s No. 1 overall defense, yet Watson passed for a season high 420 yards, including TD passes of 51 yards to Artavis Scott and 21 yards to Zac Brooks.

 

Watson also ran for a touchdown in a game that lifted him back onto the Heisman radar after a sluggish start.

 

WORST GAME: Watson’s worst game came against Louisville on Sept. 17. After two easy wins over Wofford and Appalachian State, Watson and the Tigers went on the road for a Thursday night showcase expected to display their skills. Instead, Watson threw two interceptions, but Clemson held on for a 20-17 win.

 

PRO POSPECTS: Watson is locked into college for one more season as a 6-foot-2, 210 pound sophomore. ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay said Watson would be a third-day pick if eligible this season and should see improvement with more time in college.

Category: Sports

December 03, 2015

 

City News Service 

 

National Football League team owners met this week in Dallas to discuss, among other issues, whether to move the San Diego Chargers or another team to the Los Angeles area. No final decisions on relocation were made at the gathering, in which the L.A. relocation effort was one of several topics on the agenda. However, ESPN reported that the owners could move the application period for teams wanting to relocate from the traditional Jan. 1-Feb. 15 window to March or even May, which could prevent a team from setting up shop in a new city for the 2016 season.

 

Other reports said the owners could firm up plans for a special meeting next month in Houston, where a vote on relocation could be taken. The owners of the Chargers, Oakland Raiders and St. Louis Rams have all expressed interest in moving to Los Angeles. The Chargers have been asking for a replacement for aging Qualcomm Stadium for nearly 15 years and have acquired land in Carson in Los Angeles County where they could build a facility perhaps in concert with the Raiders.

 

The city and county of San Diego have proposed building a stadium in Mission Valley, but there have been no negotiations with the team since June because of a dispute over the way an environmental study was conducted. While no substantial plan has been put forth to keep the Raiders in Oakland, officials in St. Louis and the state of Missouri are trying to keep the Rams from leaving. NFL executives have described that plan as being further along the process than what’s been offered by San Diego.

 

Rams owner Stan Kroenke, who met with St. Louis officials on November 30 to get clarification on their proposal, wants to build a stadium for his team in Inglewood, near Los Angeles International Airport. It will be up to the owners to decide which team, if any, will go to Los Angeles — which has been without an NFL franchise for more than 20 years. The meeting took place one day after the city of San Diego released its response to concerns league executives had with a term sheet for a Mission Valley stadium project proposed by the city and county two months ago.

 

Among other things, the response from city/county consultant Chris Melvin told the NFL that a public vote on a proposed stadium project would be likely to pass thanks to Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s strong approval ratings, as long as it included the backing of regional leaders and the Chargers. Among other matters raised by the NFL, Melvin wrote that any litigation involving an environmental study for a proposed stadium site near existing Qualcomm Stadium would be resolved by the end of next year, that the city and county have strong credit ratings, and that any impact of a separate initiative that could shift a stadium project to downtown would be mitigated if the Chargers were in opposition.

 

The NFL also expressed concerns about a lack of financial details in the term sheet. Melvin wrote that the intention was to negotiate the specifics, but he did provide a framework regarding rent, ticket surcharges and parking fees.

Category: Sports

December 03, 2015 

By Beth Harris 

ASSOCIATED PRESS 

 

Dave Roberts will be hired as manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers, a person familiar with the decision told The Associated Press.

 

The person spoke on the condition of anonymity Sunday night because the team hasn’t announced the move that is expected Monday.

 

Roberts is a former Dodgers outfielder who will be the first minority manager in the storied franchise's history. His father is black and his mother is Japanese. The 43-year-old most recently served as bench coach of the San Diego Padres since 2011.

 

Roberts played for the Dodgers from 2002-04 during his 10-year big league career. He also played for Cleveland, Boston, San Diego and San Francisco during his career that ended in 2008.

 

Roberts was a career .266 hitter with 243 steals.

 

He will succeed Don Mattingly, who mutually parted ways with the team last month after five years that included winning three consecutive NL West titles but never reaching the World Series. A week later, Mattingly signed a four-year contract to manage the Miami Marlins.

 

One of the favorites to replace Mattingly was Gabe Kapler, the club's farm director. He played with Tampa Bay when Andrew Fried­man, the Dodgers’ president of baseball operations, was that club's general manager.

 

The franchise also interviewed Dodgers bench coach Tim Wallach and third base coach Ron Roenicke, who has since joined the rival Angels. Others interviewed included Kirk Gibson, a hero in the Dodgers’ 1988 World Series championship; Nebraska baseball coach Darin Erstad; former Padres manager Bud Black; and Cubs bench coach Dave Martinez.

 

Roberts is perhaps best known for his stolen base in the 2004 AL playoffs that sparked the Red Sox to an elusive World Series championship.

 

In the AL Championship Series, Boston was three outs from being swept by the New York Yankees. Roberts pinch-ran after Kevin Millar drew a leadoff walk from Mariano Rivera. Roberts stole second and scored on Bill Mueller's single.

 

Boston won 6-4 in 12 innings, then became the first team in major league history to overcome a 3-0 deficit and win a postseason series. Roberts did not play as the Red Sox swept St. Louis for their first championship since 1918, but will always be beloved in Boston because of that one play.

 

In 2011, Roberts survived a bout with Hodgkin's lymphoma.

 

Roberts was born in Okinawa, Japan, where his father served with the U.S. Marines.

 

The Dodgers last won the World Series in 1988. They lost 3-2 to the New York Mets in a decisive Game 5 of the NL Division Series this season, having made the postseason in three straight years for the first time in franchise history.

Category: Sports

November 26, 2015

 

LAWT News Service 

Mike Garrett will become the executive director for athletics at Cal State LA, the University announced last Friday during a packed and emotional gathering of alumni and friends.

 

Garrett oversaw athletics at the University of Southern California for 17 years. Most recently, he served as athletic director at Langston University in Oklahoma. He was a standout athlete at Roosevelt High School and USC, where he won the Heisman Trophy, and in the National Football League. He was also drafted three times by Major League Baseball teams.

 

“Mike Garrett is the perfect person to guide Cal State LA athletics to a new era of excellence,” Cal State LA President William A. Covino told students, faculty, staff and community members who had gathered to welcome back the Eastside legend. “He reflects in so many ways the ideals we hope to realize in our athletic program.”

 

Cal State LA fields 11 teams in NCAA Division II. Garrett’s goal is to help student athletes achieve excellence on the playing field, in the classroom and in the community.

 

“I’m coming home to a place that reflects who I am. I’m an Eastside kid who took everything good from this community with me to help me achieve everything I was able to in life – not just in football,” Garrett said. “This a chance for me to give something back.”

 

Garrett, stood at a podium next to the Physical Education building, where he was flanked by student athletes. The crowd that had filled the area included some of Garrett’s childhood friends, as well his football coach at Roosevelt High and his Little League coach at Evergreen Park in Boyle Heights. Several of his friends are University alumni.

 

Also on hand was Garrett’s sister, Geraldine Garrett Hurley, who is a Cal State LA alumna.

 

“It’s great to be a Golden Eagle,” Garret said, donning a black and gold Cal State LA baseball cap. His voice was filled with emotion as he talked about growing up on the Eastside and the people who helped shape his life. “It’s great to be back home.”

 

Raised in East Los Angeles and the Boyle Heights neighborhood near Cal State LA, Garrett grew up playing sports at local parks. As a teenager, he and his friends visited the ­campus regularly and knew it well.

 

“We used to go to Cal State LA to play basketball,” Garrett recalled, adding that he frequented the library after graduating from high school. “I just stayed there and studied every night.”

 

At USC, Garrett’s illustrious football career continued. He played running back and in 1965 won the Heisman Trophy. During his eight seasons in the NFL, Garrett was a running back for the Kansas City Chiefs and won a World Championship ring with the team in Super Bowl IV. He later played with the San Diego Chargers. After his sports career ended, Garrett earned a law degree and became a leader in business and college athletics.

 

USC won 23 national championships while Garrett was athletic director. Under his leadership, the university’s fundraising efforts led to the construction of the state-of-the-art Galen Center.

 

The decision to hire Garrett comes as the University marked the start of the new academic year with the unveiling of a new brand, a fresh commitment to pushing boundaries, and the highest student enrollment in its history. Washington Monthly has named Cal State LA among the top ten master's universities in the nation.

 

Garrett said he was attracted by Cal State LA’s renewed energy under Covino, and his familiarity with the University. 

 

“All I want to do is win and graduate student athletes who will do good things in life.” Garrett said.

 

Garrett will guide the Golden Eagles athletic program as it continues to build on a legacy that includes 19 Olympic medals. He takes the helm from longtime athletic director Daniel Bridges, who will retire in December.

 

“We are pushing the boundaries of expectations and possibilities at Cal State LA, in academics and public service,” Covino said. “A first-rate athletics program is part of that equation, contributing to the atmosphere of all-around excellence we are creating.”

Category: Sports

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