And San Diego has a new head coach too

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And San Diego has a new head coach too

From Comcast SportsNetSAN DIEGO (AP) -- Mike McCoy's interview with San Diego went so well that both sides felt he was a perfect fit to become the Chargers' new coach.McCoy had one thing to do, though, before accepting the Chargers' offer, so it was a good thing Chargers President Dean Spanos' private plane was at his disposal."There was no doubt in my mind when I got back on that plane to go back home," said McCoy, the former Denver Broncos offensive coordinator who was introduced Tuesday as Chargers' new coach. "They wanted to keep me here last night. But I said, I've got to talk to my wife about this before. If I made the decision without talking to my wife, I might get in a little trouble.'"So McCoy flew back to Denver to talk it over with wife Kellie. McCoy, his wife and their two children were back on the same plane Tuesday morning, flying back to San Diego to take the job."Without a doubt we knew this was the place we wanted to be," said McCoy, who signed a four-year contract.McCoy replaces Norv Turner, who was fired along with general manager A.J. Smith after the Chargers finished 7-9 and missed the playoffs for the third straight season.The move comes three days after the top-seeded Broncos were eliminated from the playoffs in a double-overtime home loss to the Baltimore Ravens.The 40-year-old McCoy is the same age as Tom Telesco, who was hired as general manager last week. He interviewed after the Chargers already had talked to Seattle defensive coordinator Gus Bradley, fired head coaches Lovie Smith and Ken Whisenhunt, and Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden."Once he came in and once we saw how good he was, we just felt we had to have him now," Telesco said of McCoy. "We had to get it done or we'd lose him.""He was polished, prepared, had great questions, which I think is big, too, that he had a lot of questions for us," Telesco said. "It's a partnership between the GM and the head coach, through and through. We spend more time with each other during the season than we do with our own family so it's got to be a tight relationship. When he came in, after a little bit of time you could tell he was the right guy for us. We went after him hard."San Diego was scheduled to interview Indianapolis offensive coordinator Bruce Arians on Wednesday. Telesco, previously the Colts' vice president of football operations, called Arians on Tuesday morning and told him the Chargers had hired McCoy."It was a tough phone call," Telesco said. "I have so much respect for Bruce. He's an excellent football coach. He's going to be a great head coach in this league. I was honest with him. I said, There's different situations, different fits, and right now, this is a fit for Mike McCoy.' He understood."McCoy inherits a team that hasn't won a playoff game since after the 2008 season.He thanked all the coaches and players he's worked with over the years for helping him get to this point. He also said he knew just a few minutes into his interview that San Diego was the right place."They all laughed at me when I walked in yesterday with this big ol' bag with all these books and binders and everything," McCoy said. "Well, that's my life's work. We've got a detailed plan that Tom and I are going to put together. ... There's going to be some change. There's a reason for change. And change is good sometimes in organizations. We've just got to make the most of the opportunity we have moving forward."The Broncos have won consecutive AFC West titles. McCoy tutored quarterbacks Kyle Orton and Tim Tebow in 2011, and had Peyton Manning behind center in 2012.McCoy, who interviewed with the Miami Dolphins last year after retooling Denver's offense to the read-option for Tebow at midstream in 2011, burnished his head coaching credentials this season while blending the power formations the Broncos used in leading the league in rushing last year with Tebow and some of the spread formations that Manning ran in Indianapolis."I think he's going to be a great head coach. Very detail-oriented, knows the game, relates with players very well," Broncos wide receiver Brandon Stokley said."Peyton does a lot but Mike is very good at what he does and he did a great job this year, so a lot of credit needs to go to him, also," Stokley said. "I think that's what you need to be a head coach -- you need to be flexible. You need to do whatever you think is the best for your team to win and you know that's what he's done. You saw that last year. Not a lot of offensive coordinators in the NFL like running that kind of offense, but that's what he did and it was successful."McCoy said he was "a bit stubborn" after Tebow was made the starter in 2011, but then realized he needed to change the offense."You take advantage of what your players do best," McCoy said.With the Chargers, McCoy will work with Philip Rivers, who struggled this season in large part because he was under siege behind a shaky offensive line. Rivers was sacked 49 times and committed 22 turnovers, giving him 47 turnovers in two seasons."You go through the disappointment from the season and losing your coach to now having a new GM, new coach, and you get excited and ready to go for this 2013 season," Rivers said."Once I found out that we were bringing him in on Monday, I was hoping he wasn't going to leave again. I'm excited that was the case and I'm looking forward to getting started."Denver swept the Chargers in 2012, including an epic 35-24 victory at San Diego on Oct. 15 when Manning calmly led the Broncos back from a 24-0 halftime deficit.McCoy was a walk-on quarterback at Long Beach State under coach George Allen. After the 49ers dropped football, he transferred to Utah. He signed with the Broncos as a free agent and spent his rookie season on Green Bay's practice squad. He had stops in NFL Europe and with San Francisco, Philadelphia and in the CFL. He began his pro coaching career with Carolina before moving to the Broncos in 2009.McCoy said he learned about detail and preparation from Allen, who coached the Los Angeles Rams and Washington Redskins."He was not a big yeller and screamer, he just expected you to go out there and do your job and execute the system the way it was supposed to be executed," McCoy said.McCoy said he planned to hire an offensive coordinator to call plays. Turner called his own plays. McCoy was non-committal about defensive coordinator John Pagano, saying he planned to evaluate the entire staff.

Still streaking: Fire beat Dallas for fourth straight win

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USA TODAY

Still streaking: Fire beat Dallas for fourth straight win

The tough test the Chicago Fire was supposed to receive Thursday didn’t exactly materialize the way it looked on paper, but the Fire still picked up a fourth straight win.

The Fire were leading after a frantic first 10 minutes and rode out a subdued second half to pick up a 2-1 win against an FC Dallas team, which sat six players who have started a majority of the team’s matches.

Nemanja Nikolic scored his 11th goal of the season, adding to his league lead, and it took less than three minutes to get it. Nikolic redirected Brandon Vincent’s cross from the left into the far post for an early Fire lead. Vincent and Nikolic connected for a similar goal eight days ago against Colorado.

Dallas (5-2-4, 19 points) didn’t take long to respond. In the sixth minute, Joao Meira scuffed a clearance and then Johan Kappelhof’s attempted clearance was blocked right into the path of Roland Lamah who tapped the ball in.

The crazy start continued with David Accam cutting in on his right foot from the left wing and scoring with a shot from outside the box to give the Fire (7-3-3, 24 points) the lead again. The ball skipped under the arms of Dallas goalkeeper Chris Seitz.

After that wild start neither team managed a shot on target until Arturo Alvarez fired a shot at Seitz in the 89th minute. Nikolic had a penalty kick saved in the final minute of added time.

With another game against Houston on Sunday, Dallas manager Oscar Pareja elected to sit a number of regulars. Kellyn Acosta, Walker Zimmerman and leading goal-scorer Maxi Urruti are among Dallas’ best players and were not included in the Dallas matchday roster. Michael Barrios, Maynor Figueroa and Hernan Grana also have started a majority of Dallas’ matches this season and did not start on Thursday. Barrios did enter in the 74th minute.

The Fire now have the second-best record in MLS after finishing a stretch of four games in 13 days with a 4-0 record. The Fire next play June 4 at Orlando.

Jalen Coleman-Lands reportedly transferring away from Illini

Jalen Coleman-Lands reportedly transferring away from Illini

The exodus out of Champaign continues, with Jalen Coleman-Lands reportedly the latest Illinois basketball player to leave the team in the aftermath of this spring's coaching change.

Coleman-Lands, perhaps the highest-rated recruit brought in during the John Grcoe Era, is set to transfer away from the program after two seasons with the Fighting Illini, per a report from Scout.com's Evan Daniels.

As a sophomore this past season, the sharpshooting Coleman-Lands played in all 35 of the team's games and started 15 of them. He averaged eight points a game and shot 38 percent from 3-point range.

Coleman-Lands was a big deal when he was recruited out of the state of Indiana. Landing a highly touted Hoosier has been an historic rarity for the Illini, but Coleman-Lands picked Groce's program over offers from Arizona, Indiana, Memphis, Michigan, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Purdue, UCLA, Vanderbilt and Xavier, among others. He was a four-star recruit and ranked by Rivals as one of the top 40 prospects in the Class of 2015.

While Coleman-Lands was at times electric from behind the arc, he wasn't always consistent, hence his moving in and out of the starting lineup.

Coleman-Lands' departure is the latest in a busy offseason of roster transformation for the Illini, something not too unexpected given the decision to fire Groce after a largely unsuccessful five-year tenure and replace him with Brad Underwood. While Underwood is earning rave reviews from outside critics and has already made a huge recruiting splash in luring Illinois' Mr. Basketball, Mark Smith, to the Illini, it's understandable that players who committed to Groce would want to rethink things.

D.J. Williams preceded Coleman-Lands in transferring out of Champaign. And half of the blockbuster recruiting class Groce assembled prior to his firing — four-star recruits Jeremiah Tilmon and Javon Pickett — opted to play elsewhere. All that on top of the team's three leading scorers from last season — Malcolm Hill, Maverick Morgan and Tracy Abrams — exhausting their eligibility in Groce's final year.

Coleman-Lands' decision means Illinois will return just five scholarship players from last year's roster: Jaylon Tate, Kipper Nichols, Te'Jon Lucas, Leron Black and Michael Finke.

But there are reinforcements coming in Underwood's first season leading the program. Smith will be joined by a pair of freshman guards recruited by Groce: Trent Frazier and Da'Monte Williams. Plus, just Wednesday, the team announced the addition of Wright State graduate transfer Mark Alstork, who averaged 19 points a game last season.

Still, as is often the case with college basketball coaching changes, this is a dramatic evolution of a roster in just a couple of months.

And to top things off, Illinois fans might not even see Coleman-Lands leave the state. Internet chatter in recent days has mentioned that Coleman-Lands could be transferring to DePaul, where his high school coach was recently hired as one of Dave Leitao's assistants.