Today in sports: Penn State's new football coach Bill O'Brien's contract is online in its entirety, why the return of gloomy Gus Carmelo Anthony might not spell the end of Linsanity, and hockey players have discovered yet another wildly dangerous tactic.
Penn State has posted online the entire contract of new football coach Bill O'Brien, and after reading through it, you wonder why this isn't standard operating procedure at all state universities, not just ones trying to usher in a new era of transparency. The contract's syntax is captivating, a mix of legalese and old-time football sentiment. Of the ten duties outlined for O'Brien at the start of the document, number eight is the most straightforward, and in its simplicity, it captures the most fundamental responsibility of an amateur football coach: "Teaching the mechanics and techniques of football to team members, coaching student-athletes, overseeing daily practices, analyzing and instructing student-athletes in areas of deficiency." There are also juicy tidbits tucked away: O'Brien's base salary each year is $950,000, but the "University shall pay or arrange for others to pay to Coach as additional compensation One Million [a year]...if, and only if, Coach participates, at the direction of the Director, in (1) University-sponsored radio and television programs relating to the Football Program and (2) a reasonable number of public appearances." At the end of his contract, which runs through January 2017, O'Brien will also receive a $350,000 bonus due to the school's licensing deal with Nike. One part that doesn't quite make sense: O'Brien's annual bonus structure. Under the terms of the deal, winning Penn State's division in the Big 10 will result in a bonus worth of 5 percent of his base salary. Winning the Big Ten Championship game gets him 8 percent of his base salary, while qualifying for a post-season bowl game gets him an 11 percent bump. Winning the BCS championship game, however, will only result in a 9 percent bonus. And the payout is capped at $200,000, so even if he qualifies for all of them, he won't receive the full payout. Then again, the school is giving him a $5,000 stipend to buy a new car. [Penn State University via ESPN.com]
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell will be earning close to $20 million a year in 2018, the final year of his newly-signed contract extension. Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Roddy White, for one, thinks the commissioner is overpaid. "How the hell," White tweeted, "can u pay a man this much money that can't run tackle or catch?" We'd point out that Johnny Depp has had this kind of arrangement for years and that MLB commissioner Bud Selig -- who is no Roger Goodell, from a changing-the-sport-for-the-better standpoint -- already makes $20 million. And White signed a six-year, $50 million contract extension back in 2009, so he's doing pretty well. To be fair, White's assessment of the NFL's business model -- "The NFL is not a company, it's a non-profit organization that makes a lot of profit" -- is without a doubt our favorite tweet of the New Year. [PFT]
New York sports fans are starting to get vaguely queasy thinking about what will happen to their resurgent Knicks when star forward Carmelo Anthony returns from injury and starts playing alongside Jeremy Lin. Anthony has a reputation as a "ball stopper" -- a player (usually a very good one) who slows down the flow of the game, kills fast breaks, and stops the ball from being circulated in the halfcourt offense, usually because when he gets the ball, he's looking to score. Ian Thomsen, at least, advises Knicks fans to remain calm. He predicts that "instead of fighting the progress of the Knicks, Anthony is likely to embrace it and become better than ever." This isn't wishful thinking on his part: it happened to Celtics swingman Paul Pierce. Like Anthony, Pierce was viewed as a "sulking, self-indulgent ball-stopper with an array of teamwork skills he didn't care to use" until 2007, when veterans Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen were sent to Boston in offseason trades. At 30, Pierce was already a "a fully formed star who helped [Boston] win in a variety of ways." With the burden of greatness on him, he excelled. Anthony's 27 now, the age things usually start clicking for supremely talented NBA players who haven't won anything worth winning. "The whole point of Sam Smith's book, The Jordan Rules," Thomsen notes, "was that Michael Jordan had been too selfish to win before he learned to share the ball and earn his first championship at age 28." And he didn't have Jeremy Lin. [SI.com]
China's vice president Xi Jinping is in the United States this week and he's a big fan of the Los Angeles Lakers, but even he knows the Clippers are the best NBA team in Los Angeles this season. Sources tell The Wall Street Journal that arrangements are being made for Xi to see the Lakers play the Phoenix Suns in Los Angeles this Friday, possibly -- possibly -- in the company of Joe Biden. Sources said that during a recent visit by Timothy Geithner to China, Xi told the Treasury Secretary that he wanted to go to a Clippers game during his U.S. jaunt, but the scheduling didn't work out. [The Wall Street Journal]
Blocking slap shots has grown increasingly popular in the NHL "despite the inherent danger of standing in front of a flying, frozen disk of vulcanized rubber, and even though players are more keenly aware of the effects of concussions." As a tactic for non-goalies, it's becoming an institution. Players point to rule changes following the 2004-2005 lockout cracking down on holding as the reason for the rise of defenders hopping into shooting lanes and facing the consequences. Naturally, the tactic is being greeted with new uniform technology, including Kevlar skate attachments. Not everyone is up on the latest trauma-absorbing padding. When asked if he wore any extra padding, New York Rangers center Brian Boyle replied: "No, I don’t, but it might be something I go ahead and do in the summertime. I probably should, to be honest with you." [The New York Times]