Manning, Colts: Where do they go from here?

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Manning, Colts: Where do they go from here?

From Comcast SportsNet
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Jim Irsay has big plans for the Colts' future. He just hasn't worked through the details yet. Two weeks after overhauling the front office, Indianapolis took the next big step in its major housecleaning project Tuesday -- firing coach Jim Caldwell after three seasons. "This (search) is something that's going to start immediately and I really think we're going to get a coach that's going to lead us going into the future, and I think it's a bright future," Irsay said Tuesday. "It's tough to change and go forward, we've had such excellence and greatness here over such a long period of time and that's what I expect us to do again." Irsay is following the same plan he installed after the 1997 season. Back then, a season-ending loss on the road allowed the 3-13 Colts to clinch the No. 1 overall draft pick. The next day, Irsay fired the general manager and the head coach and eventually changed quarterbacks. It could happen again with a little more deliberation. The day after losing at Jacksonville to post their worst record (2-14) in two decades and wrap up this year's No. 1 pick, Irsay fired team vice chairman Bill Polian and his son, Chris, the Colts' general manager. Last week, Irsay hired 39-year-old Ryan Grigson as the replacement for the Polians. Since then, Grigson and Irsay have been in almost constant meetings debating the future of the coaching staff. On Monday, Caldwell and former Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo met in Indianapolis about the Colts' defensive coordinator job. Most took it as an indication Caldwell would be retained. That was still the conventional wisdom Tuesday. Eventually, Irsay and Grigson proved the pundits wrong. Irsay said he told Caldwell of the decision at about 2 p.m., shortly before the team confirmed the firing. "We've talked about where we want to be more balanced," Irsay said. "We want to be excellent on defense and more consistent, and I think that's something that we're looking at as part of the vision. I don't think the guy has to be offensive or defensive or anything like that. It's a heavy lifting process right now." It's unclear where the Colts will turn next. Yes, Grigson acknowledged, he has a short list of candidates. Not surprisingly, he didn't say who was on the list, which could include names such as Packers offensive coordinator Joe Philbin, Eagles offensive coordinator Mary Mornhinweg and perhaps Spagnuolo. Neither Grigson nor Irsay provided a timeline for the hire. "We want leadership. Leadership is important," Grigson said after making his first big decision in charge of an NFL team. "We want strong leadership, and we want someone who shares his vision in this new era of Colts football. We want the best man and the best leader and the man that gives us the best way to go." One thing they did agree on: The future didn't include Caldwell After winning his first 14 games, an NFL record for a rookie head coach, and becoming only the fifth first-year coach to take his team to the Super Bowl, Caldwell did a masterful job guiding the injury-plagued Colts through a thicket of injuries and back to the playoffs in 2010. But those successes all came with Peyton Manning, who led the Colts to a league-record 115 regular-season wins in the previous decade and a record-tying nine straight playoff appearances. This year, with Manning out the entire season, the Colts lost their first 13 games. Among players and coaches, Caldwell was universally well-liked. The list included Manning, who won all four of his record-setting MVP Awards with Caldwell on Indy's staff, as well as perennial Pro Bowl center Jeff Saturday. "I think coach Caldwell has done a very good job. He has gotten the most out of his players, and we play hard for him each and every week," Saturday said before the season finale. "We haven't necessarily played well, we've made mistakes and done things, but they have, oftentimes, been things that we've talked about in coaching meetings." Outsiders often saw it another way. Fans frequently complained about Caldwell's game management, and some critics referred to Caldwell as a "puppet" of the Polians. Many never forgave Caldwell for pulling the plug on a perfect season in a Game 15 loss to the Jets in 2009 and pointed to the midseason firing of defensive coordinator Larry Coyer and the long delay in replacing Curtis Painter with Dan Orlvosky at quarterback as decisions that should have come much earlier. Irsay and Grigson did not characterize Caldwell's 1,099-day tenure the same way as fans. But with Grigson already searching for a new coach and presumably preparing to take Andrew Luck with the No. 1 pick, the questions now turn to Manning, who had his third neck surgery in 19 months on Sept. 8. The Colts still are not saying much about Manning's recovery, and Grigson has not yet spoken with Manning, who is owed a 28 million bonus in early March. "We're not even there with anything regarding Peyton Manning just yet," Grigson said. "We have to know about his medical stuff, first. There's so many things there." Caldwell ended his Colts' tenure 26-22 overall with one AFC title, two division crowns and one bleak season that has left him unemployed just three years after replacing close friend Tony Dungy, the first black coach to hoist the Lombardi Trophy. "This was a difficult decision," Irsay said. "I wanted to make sure we took all the time we needed to make sure it was the right decision. ... And just like 14 years, ago, it's a big change for the franchise and at the same time, there's players, coaches, many people on the staff that will go into the new day and get on with the work of 2012."

Here it is: Big Ten releases 2016-17 men's basketball schedule

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Here it is: Big Ten releases 2016-17 men's basketball schedule

Big Ten football is just a week away. But it's never too early to start thinking about hoops.

The conference announced the 2016-17 league schedule Thursday afternoon. Games begin on Dec. 27, and the last day of conference play is March 5, 2017.

The Big Ten Tournament shifts to Washington, D.C., this season, with games being played from March 8 through March 12.

Here's a look at the entire Big Ten basketball schedule for the 2016-17 season.

Dec. 27

Illinois at Maryland
Michigan State at Minnesota
Northwestern at Penn State
Rutgers at Wisconsin

Dec. 28

Iowa at Purdue
Nebraska at Indiana

Dec. 30

Northwestern at Michigan State

Jan. 1, 2017

Michigan at Iowa
Minnesota at Purdue
Nebraska at Maryland
Ohio State at Illinois
Penn State at Rutgers

Jan. 3

Wisconsin at Indiana

Jan. 4

Penn State at Michigan
Rutgers at Michigan State

Jan. 5

Iowa at Nebraska
Minnesota at Northwestern
Purdue at Ohio State

Jan. 7

Illinois at Indiana
Maryland at Michigan
Michigan State vs. Penn State (in Philadelphia)

Jan. 8

Northwestern at Nebraska
Ohio State at Minnesota
Rutgers at Iowa
Wisconsin at Purdue

Jan. 10

Indiana at Maryland

Jan. 11

Michigan at Illinois
Minnesota at Michigan State

Jan. 12

Northwestern at Rutgers
Ohio State at Wisconsin
Purdue at Iowa

Jan. 14

Maryland at Illinois
Minnesota at Penn State
Nebraska at Michigan

Jan. 15

Iowa at Northwestern
Michigan State at Ohio State
Rutgers at Indiana

Jan. 17

Illinois at Purdue
Michigan at Wisconsin

Jan. 18

Indiana at Penn State
Ohio State at Nebraska

Jan. 19

Maryland at Iowa

Jan. 21

Illinois at Michigan
Michigan State at Indiana
Nebraska at Rutgers
Penn State at Purdue
Wisconsin at Minnesota

Jan. 22

Northwestern at Ohio State

Jan. 24

Penn State at Wisconsin
Purdue at Michigan State
Rutgers at Maryland

Jan. 25

Iowa at Illinois
Minnesota at Ohio State

Jan. 26

Indiana at Michigan
Nebraska at Northwestern

Jan. 28

Illinois at Penn State
Maryland at Minnesota
Ohio State at Iowa
Wisconsin vs. Rutgers (in New York City)

Jan. 29

Indiana at Northwestern
Michigan at Michigan State
Purdue at Nebraska

Jan. 31

Iowa at Rutgers
Maryland at Ohio State
Wisconsin at Illinois

Feb. 1

Northwestern at Purdue
Penn State at Indiana

Feb. 2

Michigan State at Nebraska

Feb. 4

Minnesota at Illinois
Ohio State at Michigan
Purdue at Maryland
Rutgers at Penn State

Feb. 5

Indiana at Wisconsin
Nebraska at Iowa

Feb. 7

Illinois at Northwestern
Maryland at Penn State
Michigan State at Michigan

Feb. 8

Iowa at Minnesota
Rutgers at Ohio State

Feb. 9

Purdue at Indiana
Wisconsin at Nebraska

Feb. 11

Iowa at Michigan State
Minnesota at Rutgers
Ohio State at Maryland
Penn State at Illinois

Feb. 12

Michigan at Indiana
Northwestern at Wisconsin

Feb. 14

Ohio State at Michigan State
Penn State at Nebraska
Rutgers at Purdue

Feb. 15

Indiana at Minnesota
Maryland at Northwestern

Feb. 16

Wisconsin at Michigan

Feb. 18

Illinois at Iowa
Michigan State at Purdue
Rutgers at Northwestern

Feb. 18 or 19

Nebraska at Ohio State

Feb. 19

Maryland at Wisconsin
Michigan at Minnesota

Feb. 21

Indiana at Iowa
Northwestern at Illinois
Purdue at Penn State

Feb. 22

Michigan at Rutgers
Minnesota at Maryland

Feb. 23

Nebraska at Michigan State
Wisconsin at Ohio State

Feb. 25

Iowa at Maryland
Purdue at Michigan

Feb. 25 or 26

Northwestern at Indiana
Penn State at Minnesota
Wisconsin at Michigan State

Feb. 26

Illinois at Nebraska

Feb. 28

Indiana at Purdue
Maryland at Rutgers
Ohio State at Penn State

March 1

Michigan at Northwestern
Michigan State at Illinois

March 2

Iowa at Wisconsin
Nebraska at Minnesota

March 4

Illinois at Rutgers
Indiana at Ohio State

March 4 or 5

Purdue at Northwestern

March 5

Michigan at Nebraska
Michigan State at Maryland
Minnesota at Wisconsin
Penn State at Iowa

March 8 through March 12

Big Ten Tournament (in Washington, D.C.)

Jonathan Toews named Team Canada alternate captain for World Cup of Hockey

Jonathan Toews named Team Canada alternate captain for World Cup of Hockey

Jonathan Toews was named alternate captain of Team Canada on Thursday for the upcoming World Cup of Hockey.

Sidney Crosby was named Team Canada’s captain. Crosby, who claimed his second Stanley Cup in June, was also Team Canada’s captain en route to the gold medal at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games.

[SHOP: Buy a Jonathan Toews jersey]

Toews, who has been the Blackhawks’ captain since the 2008-09 season, was also alternate captain of Canada’s 2014 Olympic squad. Shea Weber of the Montreal Canadiens will serve as Team Canada’s other alternate captain.

Notre Dame sorting through safety options after Max Redfield's dismissal

Notre Dame sorting through safety options after Max Redfield's dismissal

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Brian Kelly had to chuckle a bit when asked what he could tell a larger-than-normal media contingent about Devin Studstill, the true freshman and presumptive favorite to replace Max Redfield at free safety Sept. 4 against Texas. 

“We’ll have a true freshman on the road playing against a talented team,” Kelly said with a bit of a laugh that, given the circumstances, sounded a bit nervous.

No matter how confident Notre Dame players and coaches are in Studstill, there’s still that unknown part of leaning on a safety who will play his first college football game in front of an exected sellout crowd of about 100,000 people in primetime at Darrell K. Royal Stadium in Austin. 

Kelly described Studstill as a “natural” as the Florida native took first-team reps away from Redfield during spring practice. Linebacker and captain James Onwualu said Studstill’s transition back into the first-team defense has “gone smoothly” with only a handful of practices left until Notre Dame heads to Austin. 

“He was here in the spring, which helped a lot,” Onwualu. “He came in ready to work from Day 1 and you gotta respect that. He’s been working his craft, working his game and there’s not much of a drop-off. He’s got a lot to learn. He’s still young, obviously, so (we) try to push some knowledge on him and continue to talk the game and show him as many looks (as possible).”

Kelly used “talented” and “confident” to describe Studstill this time around. But it won’t be just him at free safety, Kelly cautioned. 

“I think we’ll have to play a few guys at that position,” Kelly said. “I don’t think he’s going to go out there and take every snap.”

At the top of that list: sixth-year graduate student Avery Sebastian, who broke a bone in his foot in Week 1 against Texas last year and missed the rest of the season. The 5-foot-10, 200 pound Cal transfer, who also missed nearly all of the 2013 season with an injury, started six games for the Golden Bears from 2011-2014. 

In exchange for the experience Sebastian brings to the position, Notre Dame would slide a guy who’s more of an in-the-box strong safety over to free safety. The other options at free safety are freshman Jalen Elliott, a former four-star recruit, and sophomore Nicco Fertitta, who saw action on special teams last year. 

Kelly said there haven’t been any conversations about moving an offensive player to free safety to manufacture more depth.

“We feel like we’ve got enough back there that we’ll be solid,” Kelly said. 

Notre Dame’s defense is peppered with first-time starters, which creates plenty of unknowns heading into the 2016 season. In losing Redfield, a player who Kelly said was starting to put everything together after a few inconsistent seasons, another question mark was added to VanGorder’s defense. 

That doesn’t mean that Studstill and whoever else is back at free safety are destined to fail. Maybe Studstill and/or Elliott clears their first-year hurdles and is a solid player and Sebastian winds up being a reliable option there, too. 

But Notre Dame’s defense very likely was going to be better off with Redfield as a starting safety. 

“Max was an outstanding player, and he was having a great, great camp,” Kelly said. “He had a great spring. He’s athletic, he’s fast. So you’re taking a really good player off your defense. But we’ll be able to plug in a guy there that I think will get the job done for us.”