Out From the Oven | Jan. 10

Usually, this space is taken up by fantasy football advice. Was it good advice? Sometimes. But now that that season is over, it is time to be LeBron James and take my talents elsewhere. So instead, here are some hot takes on the big topics in the world of sports news.

Wolves change for the better

Last weekend, Timberwolves head coach Tom Thibodeau was fired. He was the head coach and president of basketball operations for about two and a half seasons, and, even though he led the team to its first playoff appearance since 2004, has been considered a failure. As head coach and president, Thibs had the final say on roster decisions. This led to him signing many players he used to coach in Chicago, such as Taj Gibson, Jimmy Butler, Derrick Rose and Luol Deng. The Jimmy Butler experiment crashed and burned, and Thibodeau’s basketball philosophies failed to produce consistent success, and he was let go as a result.

As a Wolves fan myself, I’m glad to see a change. I’ve always felt that a devastating injury is always around the corner when Thibodeau refuses to rest the starting five. The Timberwolves starting lineup averaged far more court time than the rest of the league last season, with each starter averaging at least 33 minutes per game. A new head coach signing could bring a new hope to a fan base that has been relentlessly tortured since the creation of the franchise in 1989. The current favorite candidates for head coach are former Bulls head coach Fred Hoiberg and Timberwolves interim head coach Ryan Saunders.

NFL kicking chaos continues

It seems like the NFL can’t go one week without ruining a kicker’s life for one week at a time. The Bears fell to the Eagles Sunday night after Bears kicker Cody Parkey hit both the field goal post and the crossbar on a missed 43-yard field goal attempt. Later review showed that the kick was actually tipped by the Eagles. It wasn’t the league’s first kicking blunder this year, and it might not even be the last, but it has been the most important so far.

While it’s easy to say that the quarterback is the hardest position to play in the NFL, I think the kicker makes a solid case. Both positions are frequently put into pressure situations, but the starting quarterback usually has more job security than the starting kicker. Most starting quarterbacks are linked to expensive contracts or high draft capital, whereas kickers are expendable. Look no further than Daniel Carlson for an example of that this season. Although Parkey’s mistake will live on in infamy, he will move on and kick again in the NFL.

Clemson stuns Alabama in title game

In FBS news, the Clemson Tigers capped off their perfect season with a win over the Alabama Crimson Tide Monday night. The first quarter ended with Clemson leading 14-13 and showed promise of a close game, but that would quickly change. Alabama would be held to just three points for the remainder of the game. The Crimson Tide suffered a crushing 44-16 loss, and Clemson was awarded their second title in three years. It was the largest point differential in the title game’s history, surpassing Ohio State’s 42-20 victory over Oregon in 2015.

Clemson’s 15-0 season was the first since Penn’s in 1897, which sounds surprising initially. It all adds up when you consider that until the College Football Playoff was created, teams weren’t playing 15 games. However, there have been opportunities for the coveted 15-0 season recently. Since the creation of the playoff, five 13-0 teams have competed. This just happened to be the year that one of them won it all. I don’t expect this Clemson team to be an anomaly. It’s likely there will be another 15-0 team in the near future.

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