...as Notre Dame's season ends in embarrassment

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...as Notre Dame's season ends in embarrassment

From Comcast SportsNetMIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) -- Manti Te'o stood perfectly still as he took a long look at one of the giant video screens in Sun Life Stadium, studying the replay of an Alabama touchdown.It was a pose that Notre Dame repeated way, way too often in the BCS title game.Te'o -- the senior linebacker who was widely considered the nation's top defensive player this season -- was a non-factor early in Monday's national championship, and that foreshadowed how the rest of the night went for the Fighting Irish. Overmatched from the opening possession, Notre Dame allowed season highs in points and yardage, simply unable to stop the Crimson Tide.Final score: Alabama 42, Notre Dame 14.And yes, it was that one-sided of a game, one that even had Irish coach Brian Kelly cracking a joke at his own expense in a televised halftime interview."All Alabama," Kelly said at the time. "I mean, we can't tackle them right now. And who knows why? They're big and physical -- I guess I do know why."Anyone who was watching knew why."Obviously we wish the night could have ended in a different way," Te'o said, "but the season, the year, my career here, I've been truly blessed to be at Notre Dame and I'll forever be proud to say that I'm a Notre Dame Fighting Irish, regardless of what happened tonight."The lowlights were stacked high by the time this game was over. Te'o missed a couple of tackles early, something he hardly ever did this season. By halftime, when it was 28-0, the Irish had already given up more points than they had in any game this season, the previous high being 26 in a triple-overtime win over Pittsburgh. The most yards Notre Dame gave up this season was 379; Alabama cracked the 500 mark early in the fourth quarter.Alabama finished with 529 yards, converted 8 of 13 third downs, got five touchdowns in five trips to the red zone and became the first team since Stanford in 2009 to score at least 42 points against the Irish."We just needed to execute better," safety Zeke Motta said. "It was just a matter of execution and playing the right way."Maybe the play that will be most replayed of all was the one where Eddie Lacy essentially tackled Danny Spond.The significance?Well, Lacy was the Alabama ballcarrier at the time, holding the football with one arm and sending Spond -- one of Notre Dame's top linebackers -- sprawling with the other as he rumbled past for an extra yard or two."Pretty darn good football team, but not good enough," Kelly said, assessing his team as Alabama's crimson-and-white-confetti-filled victory celebration was wrapping up on the field. "So it's clear what we need to do in the offseason."Bigger, stronger, faster. By night's end, it couldn't be argued that the Crimson Tide held all those titles.It's why Alabama will fly home Tuesday with its third national title trophy from the last four seasons, no longer a budding dynasty -- but an established one."It's a tough way to go out," tight end Tyler Eifert said. "We laid it all on the line, but at the end of the day, Bama was the better team."Notre Dame arrived at the title game on the cusp of what would have been a fantasy scenario, that of being unranked at the start of the season and the undisputed champions at the end of the campaign.After one play, it looked as if it might happen when Lacy was stopped after a 1-yard gain, wrapped up just over the line of scrimmage.One play later, Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron connected with Kevin Norwood for 29 yards, placing a pass between two Notre Dame defenders.Such was the theme the rest of the night. Even when Notre Dame had its moments, they didn't last long. Lacy ran in from 20 yards to cap that first Alabama drive, the Tide stretched the lead to 21-0 after one play of the second quarter, and the outcome was never in doubt.Some of the lower-bowl seats at Sun Life were being resold for as much as 10,000 in the days before the game. The majority of those seats were empty long before the finish, those fans for whatever reason deciding they didn't need to see yet another Alabama coronation.Notre Dame didn't have the luxury those early departees did. The Irish had to watch until the bitter end, and Te'o -- even though his college days are done -- wants his team to remember what happened."The best thing about this experience is it creates fire, it creates fuel, for both the guys staying here and the guys leaving," Te'o said. "Everybody here tonight will be better because of it."

Chris Coghlan understands his role with Cubs is different this time around

Chris Coghlan understands his role with Cubs is different this time around

At one point in the middle of last season, the Cubs were on a 12-game winning streak with Chris Coghlan hitting third in the lineup...while playing second base.

It's hard to see that scenario playing out again in 2016 for a lot of reasons.

After getting traded back to Chicago earlier this month, the 31-year-old outfielder came to a different Cubs team than the one he played a major contributing role with in 2015.

Coghlan was penciled in at fifth in Friday's Cubs lineup and has generally been playing against right-handed pitchers since he was acquired, akin to his role last season.

But what about when Jorge Soler returns? And when Dexter Fowler gets off the disabled list, the Cubs will still want to find time for Albert Almora Jr. and Matt Szczur and have $184 million man Jason Heyward patrolling right field.

Plus, Kris Bryant has played a lot of corner outfield already this season and his presence out there allows Javier Baez and Tommy La Stella (who is also currently on the DL) to man third base.

Simply put: Coghlan will be hard-pressed to reach 500 plate appearances again this season.

"I think my role is different. I've accepted that," Coghlan said. "Last year, I felt like if it was a righty, I'd start every day and do the platoon thing. Here, there's just so much talent and different roles that I don't think mine's maybe as definitive as last year's was. 

"I would probably say I'm even more accepting of that. 'Cause I feel to go from where I went and then to come here and get another opportunity. When you're on a team that plans on winning the World Series vs. a team that hopes you go to the playoffs, it's two totally different things.

"To get back on that and be around it, you're like, 'Man, I have a chance legitimately to win a World Series. I'll do whatever I can to win a World Series.' And that's kinda the attitude that I have. 

"I think it's different for people if you're not trying to win a World Series and you're not one of those teams, then you probably want a bigger role. But when you have a legitimate shot, there's a reason why there's only 25 that are allowed and there are only certain roles. I'm excited for this opportunity, however big or small it may be."

Coghlan only got 12 plate appearances in the postseason with the Cubs last year, collecting a lone single in the process.

It's understandable the former National League Rookie of the Year (2009) would want to play more after overcoming a lot of adversity in his career with injuries and posting a .793 OPS with 25 homers in 273 games with the Cubs from 2014-15.

But he also got his first taste of the playoffs last year and just moved from a last-place Oakland A's team to a squad that has a World Series or bust mentality.

Coghlan sees a different Cubs team than the one that got hot in the final two months of 2015 and wound up winning 97 games and two playoff series.

"When I came over here, I just realized, man, you've seen guys have more time," Coghlan said. "You see some growth and you see so much depth that you just feel like it's a matter of — this isn't an arrogant comment — playing within ourselves. 

"When you're on that level of talent and then you have everybody as close as they are, you feel like you're only competing for one thing and that's to win the World Series.

"...To watch it and to be a part of it, you're just like, 'Man, if we stay within ourselves and execute and stay healthy, we're gonna be fine.' And I think that's kinda more the attitude vs. maybe last year, it wasn't until the end where we kinda found our identity and our belief.

"Early on [last season], it was like, 'Man, we're fighting mano y mano and we need to have something break through.' Now, I think it's just about us executing. We execute and we got a shot to beat anybody in baseball."

NBA Free Agency: Where will Joakim Noah end up playing in 2016?

NBA Free Agency: Where will Joakim Noah end up playing in 2016?

Despite appearing in just 29 games and registering the worst statistical season of his eight-year NBA career in 2015-16, Bulls center Joakim Noah will be in high free agent demand this summer.

According to Mitch Lawrence of the Sporting News, the Washington Wizards are prepared to offer Noah a maximum contract, which would start at $28 million and reach an estimated $120 million across four seasons.

Noah, who is expected to move on from the Bulls, is also being pursued by the New York Knicks, Minnesota Timberwolves and Milwaukee Bucks.

The Knicks interest in the two-time All-Star and 2014 Defensive Player of the Year is a no-brainer with Derrick Rose now in New York and Noah having spent his teenage years in the Big Apple, starring for Brooklyn's Poly Prep. 

Noah, the ninth overall pick of the Bulls in 2007, is coming off shoulder surgery that cut his season short last January.

The 31-year-old Noah has averaged 9.3 points, 9.4 rebounds and 1.4 blocks in 572 games across eight seasons with the Bulls.

Injury Report: Chicago baseball keeping the disabled list active

Injury Report: Chicago baseball keeping the disabled list active

Each week, CSNChicago.com takes a look at the injury report from both the Cubs and White Sox, presented by Service King.

WHITE SOX

The White Sox placed Zach Putnam on the 15-day disabled list with ulnar neuritis in his right elbow. Manager Robin Ventura said it is not the same injury the pitcher had been dealing with for the past few weeks.
 
Justin Morneau remains on the disabled list as he recovers from left elbow primary flexor surgery. The new White Sox first baseman could begin his minor rehab assignment in July and possibly return after the All-Star break.
 
Austin Jackson is still recovering from a torn meniscus. The outfielder underwent successful surgery last Wednesday.

CUBS

The banged-up Cubs continue to have to fight through adveristy, putting Dexter Fowler on the disabled list this week with a hamstring injury.

It is the third hamstring issue this month for the Cubs, as Fowler joins Tommy La Stella and Jorge Soler on the shelf. Fowler has been a vital cog to the Cubs' offense as a leadoff with a .398 on-base percentage. 

La Stella is said to be due back before Soler and the left-handed hitting infielder could go on a rehab stint as soon as next week, meaning he should be back and able to make an impact before the All-Star Break. La Stella has posted an .871 OPS this season in 90 plate appearances.

The Cubs are still taking things slow with Soler, playing the conservative approach wtih the oft-injured young outfielder. He currently has no timetable to return.

The Cubs also placed Clayton Richard on the disabled list, but the team won't likely miss his 7.30 ERA or 2.189 WHIP.

The Cubs signed veteran pitcher Joe Nathan to help provide some potential relief down the line as he rehabs from Tommy John surgery. The 41-year-old made his first appearance Thursday with Double-A Tennessee, striking out two batters in a perfect inning while tossing 17 pitches.