Te'o thrilled to play for national championship

948757.png

Te'o thrilled to play for national championship

LOS ANGELES -- Through Notre Dame's 12-0 run, Manti Te'o's been more than the team's defensive leader on the field; more than a Heisman candidate; more than one of the team's record holders.

He's been the face of the resurgence of a storied football program that has accomplished things the right way, and tonight was no exception.

Te'o kicked off the evening running to shake the hand of injured USC quarterback Matt Barkley and congratulate him on his successes prior to the start of Saturday's game at the Coliseum.

From that moment on, it was another night of making history for Notre Dame, as the Fighting Irish earned a trip to the BCS Championship in Florida.

"It's a blessing," Te'o said after exiting the team's locker room celebration. "I can't believe it and I'm just really happy."

Te'o's performance Saturday only added to his legend at Notre Dame. Although the first half of Saturday's matchup was dominated by Notre Dame's offense, Te'o entered the second half with strength and determination, never slowing down as time on the clock continued to wind down.

He recorded his 100th tackle this year, joining Bob Crable as just the second Notre Dame player to record 100 or more in three straight seasons. His seventh interception is now the most by any FBS linebacker since 2000.

But despite his own personal statistics, Te'o's focus remains on the team as a whole and their final game of the season.

"I wanted to go to the National Championship, and now I am," Te'o said. "If I win the Heisman Trophy, that's going to be great and it's going to be a great honor for my family, but if I don't, I'm just glad we're going to Miami.

"Our team had a dream and we put in the work to make sure that the dream comes true. Now we have to go to work and prepare ourselves for the National Championship."

But when it comes to getting the recognition he deserves, the Notre Dame brass believes Te'o has everything it takes to win the Heisman.

"If a guy like Manti Te'o's not going to win the Heisman, they should just make it an offensive award," coach Brian Kelly said. "Just give it to the offensive player every year and let's just cut to the chase. He is the backbone of a 12-0 football team that has proven itself each and every week. He's showed it tonight with another key interception and a great play in the end zone on Marqise Lee to save another touchdown.

"If the Heisman Trophy is what it is, I don't know how Manti Te'o is left out of that conversation."

Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick agreed:

"I can't find somebody who matches a leading player, a leader of a team who matches the values of the team he represents as well as Manti Te'o. He is the perfect guy to lead the resurrection of this program."

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Bulls welcome Cavaliers to town

stl.jpg

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Bulls welcome Cavaliers to town

In the latest installment of the SportsTalk Live Podcast, the panel previews the Bulls' matchup against the Cavaliers. 

Luke Stuckmeyer is joined by Mark Carman (WGN Radio), David Schuster (670 The Score) and Kendall Gill to break down the keys to a Bulls win. Later, Vincent Goodwill (CSNChicago.com) joins Luke to discuss the team's progress. 

Finally, LeBron James pays off his World Series bet and the entire media world is there to see it. 

Check out the SportsTalk Live Podcast below: 

White Sox agree to one-year deals with Brett Lawrie, Avisail Garcia

White Sox agree to one-year deals with Brett Lawrie, Avisail Garcia

Brett Lawrie and Avisail Garcia will both return to the White Sox in 2017.

The team announced it reached deals with both players shortly before Friday’s 7 p.m. CST nontender deadline. Lawrie will earn $3.5 million next season and Garcia received a one-year deal for $3 million.

The club didn’t tender a contract to right-handed pitcher Blake Smith, which leaves its 40-man roster at 38.

Acquired last December for a pair of minor leaguers, Lawrie hit .248/.310/.413 with 12 home runs, 22 doubles and 36 RBIs in 94 games before he suffered a season-ending injury.

Lawrie produced 0.9 f-WAR when he suffered what then-manager Robin Ventura described a “tricky” injury on July 21. Despite numerous tests and a lengthy rehab, Lawrie never returned to the field and was frustrated by the experience. Last month, Lawrie tweeted that he believes the cause of his injury was wearing orthotics for the first time in his career.

He was projected to earn $5.1 million, according to MLBTraderumors.com and earned $4.125 million in 2016.

Garcia hit .245/.307/.385 with 12 homers and 51 RBIs in 453 plate appearances over 120 games. The projected salary for Garcia, arb-eligible for the first time, was $3.4 million.

The team also offered contracts to Miguel Gonzalez and Todd Frazier, who are eligible for free agency in 2018, first baseman Jose Abreu and relievers Dan Jennings, Zach Putnam and Jake Petricka, among others.

The White Sox have until mid-January to reach an agreement with their arbitration-eligible players. If they haven’t, both sides submit figures for arbitration cases, which are then heard throughout February.