Chicago Cubs

Notre Dame ranks No. 5 in first BCS standings

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Notre Dame ranks No. 5 in first BCS standings

The first BCS standings are out, with only four teams ranked ahead of Notre Dame. The Irish are No. 5 in the poll, with only Alabama, surprising Florida (at No. 2), Oregon and Kansas State above them.
"They watch TV, I mean, they see that. There's a sense of pride," coach Brian Kelly said earlier Sunday of how his team views the rankings. "There's no question that when you're talked about and you're putting Notre Dame up there in the top five, there's a sense of pride. I just have to make sure that they understand with that pride comes a greater obligation to do the thing the right way. I think that's how we'll handle it."
It's been six years since Notre Dame was last ranked in the first BCS standings, with the Irish slotting in at No. 8 in mid-October of 2006. That year, Notre Dame ranked as high as No. 5 and finished at No. 11 after a Sugar Bowl loss to LSU.
"We don't have a tie in from a conference standpoint," Kelly explained, "so if we're talking about the postseason, the only thing that we talk about is really the Bowl Championship Series."
In other polls, Notre Dame is No. 5 in both the latest AP and coaches rankings released Sunday morning, the program's highest ranking in either poll since September of 2006.

Ahead of the Irish in the coaches poll are Alabama, Oregon, Kansas State and Florida. The AP poll has Alabama and Oregon in the top two spots, with Florida No. 3 and K-State No. 4.

Both Oklahoma and USC moved into the top 10 of the coaches poll, with OU at No. 7 and the Trojans at No. 9. OU, fresh off a pasting of a hapless Texas defense, is at No. 10 in the AP poll, while USC is No. 11. Notre Dame faces Oklahoma in Norman on Oct. 27 and USC in Los Angeles Nov. 24.
Oklahoma is No. 9 and USC is No. 10 in the BCS standings.

The Irish could have a chance to move up with a win over BYU next week, if for no other reason than Florida plays No. 7 South Carolina and K-State travels to Morgantown to face West Virginia.

Cubs lose Pierce Johnson on waivers

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Cubs lose Pierce Johnson on waivers

The Cubs have parted ways with the first pitcher drafted by Theo Epstein's front office.

The Cubs designated Pierce Johnson for assignment last week when they purchased the contract of Jen-Ho Tseng to make his first MLB start against the New York Mets.

Now Johnson is with a new organization.

The San Francisco Giants claimed Johnson off waivers Wednesday. He was initially selected in the supplemental first round in 2012 with the 43rd pick, 37 spots behind Albert Almora Jr.

Johnson is now 26 and just made his first — and only — big-league appearance May 19 this spring.

In Triple-A Iowa, Johnson had a 4.31 ERA in 43 games, including one start. He struck out 74 batters in 54.1 innings, but also walked 27 batters and had a 1.454 WHIP. 

Johnson spent six years in the Cubs minor-league system, going 29-21 with a 3.24 ERA, 1.305 WHIP and 9.3 K/9, working slightly more than half the time as a starter (74 starts, 56 relief appearances).

With the Cubs taking Johnson off their 40-man roster in mid-September as opposed to promoting him with expanded big-league rosters, it clearly shows he was not a part of their long-term pitching plans.

Why Ben Roethlisberger's perspective on young QBs (like Mitchell Trubisky) is worth keeping in mind

Why Ben Roethlisberger's perspective on young QBs (like Mitchell Trubisky) is worth keeping in mind

If Mitchell Trubisky takes over as the Bears’ starting quarterback this year and has some success, keep Ben Roethlisberger’s perspective in mind: It’ll take a couple of years before he’s solidly established in the NFL. 

Roethlisberger said even after his rookie year — in which he won all 13 regular season games he started — he still was facing defensive looks he hadn’t seen before in Year 2 and 3 as a pro. So saying someone is and will be one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL after a productive first season is, for Roethlisberger, too early. 

“I think it takes a couple years,” Roethlisberger said. “That’s why I’m always slow to send too much praise or anoint the next great quarterback after Year 1. I think people in the media and the 'professionals' in some of these big sports networks are so quick to anoint the next great one or say that they’re going to be great; this, that and the other. Let’s wait and see what happens after two to three years; after defenses understand what you’re bringing; you’re not a surprise anymore. 

“I think it takes a few years until you can really get that title of understanding being great or even good, because you see so many looks. In Year 2 and 3, you’re still seeing looks and can act like a rookie.”

The flip side to this would be not panicking if Trubisky struggles when he eventually becomes the Bears’ starting quarterback. For all the success he had during preseason play, most of it came against backup and third string defenses that hadn’t done much gameplanning for him. Defensive coordinators inevitably will scheme to make things more difficult for a rookie quarterback with normal week of planning, and it may take Trubisky a little while to adjust to seeing things he hasn't before. 

“They’re not going to line up in a 4-3 or a 3-4 base defense, they’re going to throw different looks at you, different blitzes to try and confuse you,” Roethlisberger said. “The confusion between the ears part is really one of the biggest keys to it.”

The “it” Roethlisberger referred to there is success as a rookie. The former 11th overall pick was lucky enough to begin his NFL career with a strong ground game headlined by Hall of Fame running back Jerome Bettis, a balanced receiving corps featuring Hines Ward, Plaxico Burress and Antwaan Randel El and a defense that led the NFL in points allowed (15.7/game). Trubisky, as the Bears’ roster currently stands, won’t be afforded that same level of support. 

Roethlisberger, though, had a chance to meet and work out with Trubisky before the draft (the two quarterbacks share the same agent) and, for what it's worth, came away impressed with 

“I thought he was a tremendous athlete,” Roethlisberger said. “I thought he could throw the ball. I thought when he got out of the pocket and made throws on the run, his improvising. I got to watch some of his college tape. Just really impressed with the athleticism. The ease of throwing the ball; it just looked easy to him when he was on the run, when it wasn’t supposed to be super easy. So I thought that those were the most impressive things that I got to see; obviously not sitting in a meeting room and knowing his smarts or things like that, but just the athleticism.”