Today in sports: NFL owners approve the sale of the Jacksonsville Jaguars, former hot young coaching candidate Turner Gill is now coaching for Jerry Falwel, and the Indianapolis Colts will fire coach Jim Caldwell if he fails a complicated and pointless test.
- The Los Angeles Lakers aren't happy about the NBA putting the kibosh on their deal to acquire point guard Chris Paul for no good reason, and then signing off on a trade sending the former New Orleans Hornets star to the crosstown Clippers. Sources say Lakers executives were "privately fuming" on Wednesday morning when the Clippers deal went through. On Thursday, General manager Mitch Kupchak declined to fume publicly or comment on the team's response, but on Monday, when reports of the possible trade first began to leak, he assured everyone the club "did the best we can to express our displeasure," probably by talking loudly into the phone, sighing on conference calls, and being unduly curt in texts and emails. [Los Angeles Times]
- NFL owners have unanimously approved Illinois auto parts tycoon Shahid Khan’s $760 million acquisition of the Jacksonville Jaguars. The NFL is delighted to have Khan as an owner, since former owner Wayne Weaver alienated local fans and let the team languish, and also because he didn't need a financial adviser to make the deal happen. In fact, as The Wall Street Journal points out, the entire transaction was "a rare event for the sports industry – a franchise sale that took place without either side using a financial adviser." Hoping this might be a trend, the NFL has "set up something of a transaction consulting operation led by Eric Grubman," a former Goldman Sachs banker. The Journal explains that most of the time when a franchise gets sold, "an owner retains an investment banker, who handles the sale by fielding offers from other investment bankers retained by potential buyers." Grubman wants the new process to be more like joining a sorority comprised of extremely rich elderly men. Under Grubman's model, "potential buyers introduce themselves to the league and spend a period of time proving they have the financial wherewithal to buy a team and don’t have any skeletons in their closets." This cuts out the middle-man, but the downside is that the original owner will never know what he could have commanded in the open market. [The Wall Street Journal]
- Less than three weeks after being fired as head football coach at the University of Kansas after only two seasons, Turner Gill has agreed to become the next coach at Liberty University, the Evangelical college in Virginia founded by Jerry Falwell. In a statement, Jerry Falwell, Jr. praised Gill's "strong and sincere" Christian faith and said tthe coach and the school are "made for each other." Coaching at Liberty, a Football Championship Subdivision (read: Division I-AA) program, wasn't the future people were predicting for Gill in 2008, the year he led the University of Buffalo to their first ever bowl victory. Gill's success at Buffalo -- which had won just ten games in eight seasons at the Division-I level prior to Gill's arrival in 2005 -- prompted Auburn and Syracuse to interview him for their vacant coaching positions. He was also on the shortlist for open jobs at Mississippi State and New Mexico. And he was one of two finalists for the head coaching position at the University of Nebraska, where he played quarterback, coming in fourth in the 1983 Heisman Trophy voting, and later worked as an assistant coach for 13 years. And now he's at Liberty. [College Football Talk]
- The NFL has announced new broadcasting deals with Fox, CBS, and NBC that will kick in starting in 2014. According to The New York Times, the networks will "pay an average of about $3 billion a year, more than 50 percent higher than their current deals." Currently, football represents "a substantial annual loss" on NBC's balance sheet, but NBC Universal boss Steve Burke seemed confident they'd come close to break-even under the terms of the new pact, which contains "enhancements" like the broadcast rights to a third game on Thanksgiving night and "rights that will lead to the creation of an archival program and a Sunday morning pregame show on Versus, which will soon be renamed the NBC Sports Network." Burke admits the league told him "it could get more money for Sunday Night Football from cable networks like Fox’s FX, or TNT, a part of Turner Sports." Turner may yet end up with a slate of games, since the league is said to be weighing whether to sell "eight early-season Thursday night games to a cable network," a deal The Times believes has the potential to be worth "several hundreds of million dollars annually for the league." FX is also said to be interested in the eight-game package. [The New York Times]
- Sources tell NFL Network reporter Jason La Canfora that if the Indianapolis Colts finish the season 0-16, the team will fire head coach Jim Caldwell. Caldwell led the Colts to the Super Bowl in his first season back in 2009, and it seemed at least plausible he could have used the year-long absence of quarterback Peyton Manning to hang on to his job even if the team went winless. What's odd is that source says "unequivocally" that the Colts must win one of their last three games for Caldwell to keep his job. If you reread the report enough, it seems to suggest Caldwell will be fine if the Colts win one, even if they look horrendous in the process. That's strange, since coaches are usually judged at a macro level, not on wins and losses in the final three games of a lost season. But it does add an exciting Japanese game show element to an otherwise dreary season for the Colts. [NFL.com]