Pro Hockey News

Thursday, February 22, 2024

CFP: New 5-7 Format Confirmed Modifying Original Plan

IRVING, Texas – The College Football Playoff (CFP) Board of Managers unanimously revised the qualifying criteria for the 12-team event to now include the five highest-ranked conference champions, plus the next seven highest-ranked teams as determined by the CFP Selection Committee.
“This is a very logical adjustment for the College Football Playoff based on the evolution of our conference structures since the board first adopted this new format in September 2022,” said Dr. Mark Keenum, President of Mississippi State University and Chair of the CFP Board of Managers. “I know this change will also be well received by student-athletes, coaches and fans. We all will be pleased to see this new format come to life on the field this postseason.”
This change modifies the original plan, which called for the bracket each year to include the six highest-ranked conference champions, plus the next six highest-ranked teams.
Under the 12-team playoff format that begins this fall, the four highest-ranked conference champions will be seeded one through four and each will receive a first-round bye, while teams seeded five through 12 will play each other in the first round on the home field of the higher-ranked team. (The team ranked #5 will host #12; team #6 will meet team #11; team #7 will play team #10; and team #8 will meet #9.) The quarterfinals and semifinals will be played in the New Year’s Six bowl games, the national championship game will continue to be at a neutral site. No conference will qualify automatically and there will be no limit on the number of participants from a conference.
Members of the CFP board of managers include Neeli Bendapudi – Big Ten Conference (President, Penn State); Tim Caboni – Conference USA (President, Western Kentucky); Jim Clements – Atlantic Coast Conference (President, Clemson); Michael Fitts – American Athletic Conference (President, Tulane); Gordon Gee – Big 12 Conference (President, West Virginia); Jack Hawkins – Sun Belt Conference (President, Troy); Rev. John Jenkins – President, Notre Dame (Independent); Mark Keenum (chair) – Southeastern Conference (President, Mississippi State); Kirk Schulz – Pacific-12 Conference (President, Washington State); Satish Tripathi – Mid-American Conference (President, Buffalo); and Keith Whitfield – Mountain West Conference (President, UNLV).

NHRA to Honor all military members, veterans, first responders and community heroes

 GAINESVILLE – NHRA announced today a special “NHRA Honors” program that will take place during the 2024 season, beginning with the 55th annual Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals on March 7-10.

The program will honor all military members, veterans, first responders and community heroes and each will be celebrated throughout the race with a special presentation during the first pro qualifying session on Saturday. Introduced at last year’s In-N-Out Burger NHRA Finals, special event-specific NHRA Challenge Coins will be distributed to all service members and first responders at each race and will be available at the following locations:

  • The special VIP red-carpet box office window reserved for service members and first responders
  • Top Eliminator Club check-in
  • Ticket renewal display in the midway
  • Pep Boys All-Star Callout autograph session
  • Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge autograph session
  • Nitro Alley Stage 

The NHRA also urges fans to nominate a deserving service member, veteran, first responder or community hero as the “Community Hero of the Race.” Nominations can be made online at 


Those selected will be recognized during a trackside presentation on Saturday at the national event and will be presented with a custom award as part of a special presentation for the service member, veteran, first responder or community hero of the race.


All active military members and veterans will also be acknowledged during the course of the race weekend.

An “NHRA Honors” t-shirt will also be available for purchase at the NHRA NitroMall, with proceeds going to Veterans Ticket Foundation, a veterans support organization that purchases tickets for active military, veterans and their families. That special shirt debuted at the In-N-Out Burger NHRA Finals to close out 2023 and will be updated quarterly during the 2024 NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Series season.

The 2024 NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Series season opens with a huge spotlight in Gainesville, Mike Salinas (Top Fuel), Matt Hagan (Funny Car), Troy Coughlin Jr. (Pro Stock) and Gaige Herrera (Pro Stock Motorcycle) look for repeat wins at the legendary track. This year’s race will air on FS1, including the Pep Boys Top Fuel All-Star Callout at 7 p.m. ET on Saturday, live coverage on Sunday from 10:30 a.m.-1 p.m., and continuing finals coverage at 9 p.m. ET on Sunday.

The Pep Boys NHRA Top Fuel All-Star Callout is back to open 2024 as well, pitting eight standouts against each other in a unique, big-money specialty race on Saturday, March 9. Local standout Josh Hart won the Callout last year. Action will also take place in the Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, the Congruity NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by LearnEV+ and Flexjet Factory Stock Showdown to open 2024.

Race fans at Gainesville Raceway can enjoy the special pre-race ceremonies for drivers racing for the prestigious Wally on Sunday and the fan favorite SealMaster Track Walk, which benefits the Darrell Gwynn Foundation in Gainesville, as well as a ring ceremony for the 2023 world champs (Doug Kalitta, Hagan, Erica Enders and Herrera) and a flyover from the U.S. Air Force. The final can’t-miss experience of any NHRA event is the winner’s circle celebration on Sunday, where fans are invited to congratulate the event winners.


The Nitro Alley Stage is a huge attraction and the main entertainment hub in the pits, hosting Nitro School, the NHRA Insider Podcast, Shirley Muldowney Q&A and meet and greets. Marching bands will also entertain the crowd each day, including the University of Florida on Sunday. As always, fans get a pit pass to the most powerful and sensory-filled motorsports attraction on the planet. Fans can see their favorite teams in action and servicing their cars, get autographs from their favorite drivers and more. They can also visit NHRA’s Manufacturers Midway, where sponsors and vendors create an exciting atmosphere of interactive displays, merchandise, food and fun.


NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Series qualifying features two rounds at 2 and 4:30 p.m. ET on Friday, March 8, and the final two qualifying rounds on Saturday, March 9 at 12 and 3 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 10:30 a.m. ET on Sunday, March 10.


The first round of the Pep Boys Top Fuel All-Star Callout takes place on Saturday at 1 p.m. ET and the semifinals at 2:45 p.m. The finals are slated for 4:25 p.m.


To purchase tickets to the 2024 Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals, visit Children 12 and under are free in general admission areas with the purchase of an adult ticket. Get your tickets now for the Top Eliminator Club because these will sell out. For more info on NHRA, please visit

Jaguars Announce New Additions To Coaching Staff

JACKSONVILLE – The Jacksonville Jaguars have finalized new additions to the coaching staff for the 2024 season.  New additions and recent promotions include:


Ryan Nielsen

Defensive Coordinator

Kris Richard

Defensive Backs Coach

Matt House

Inside Linebackers Coach

Cory Robinson

Defensive Assistant/Cornerbacks Coach

Jeremy Garrett

Defensive Line Coach

Mike Gray

Assistant Secondary Coach/Defensive Analyst

Mario Jeberaeel

Assistant Outside Linebackers Coach

Jerry Mack

Running Backs Coach

Greg Austin

Assistant Offensive Line Coach

Jamel Mutunga

Offensive Quality Control Coach


Brief bios of the those new to Jacksonville or recently promoted are outlined below. For full bios of the entire coaching staff, media are encouraged to visit the Jaguars PR Media site at (username and password: jaguarsmedia).


Ryan Nielsen begins his first season as the Jaguars defensive coordinator and his eighth season coaching in the NFL. He previously served as defensive coordinator of the Atlanta Falcons (2023) and co-defensive coordinator for the New Orleans Saints (2022). In his lone season with the Falcons, they finished the regular season tied for the second-most forced fumbles in the NFL (18). Atlanta also doubled their sack total from 21 in 2022 to 42 last season. Before Atlanta, Nielsen spent six seasons coaching defense with the Saints. He received his start in coaching as a volunteer assistant at his alma mater, the University of Southern California, in 2002. Nielsen, a Simi Valley, Calif. native started 30 games at defensive tackle at USC from 1998-2001.


Kris Richard will serve as the defensive backs coach for the Jaguars beginning with the 2024 season. Richard has more than 17 years of NFL coaching and playing experience, most recently serving as co-defensive coordinator (alongside Nielsen) and secondary coach for the 2022 New Orleans Saints, who ranked fifth in the NFL in total defense. Originally a third-round pick (85th overall) by Seattle, Richard played in 38 games at cornerback (with one start) for the Seahawks from 2002-04 before playing one season in San Francisco (2005).


Matt House begins his first season in Jacksonville as the inside linebackers coach. House most recently served a two-year stint (2022-23) as the defensive coordinator/linebackers coach with LSU, during which the Tigers led the SEC in total tackles (2023) and was sixth in total defense (2022). Prior to his time at LSU, House served as linebackers coach for the Kansas City Chiefs for three seasons (2019-2021). He was part of a Kansas City organization that won Super Bowl LIV during the 2019 season and played for the Super Bowl title the following year. House spent three seasons (2016-18) at the University of Kentucky, where he coached Jaguars OLB Josh Allen to SEC Defensive Player of the Year and Bronko Nagurski Award honors.


Cory Robinson arrives in Jacksonville as defensive assistant/cornerbacks coach after most recently serving as a defensive analyst at the University of Tennessee. Before Tennessee, Robinson spent three seasons (2020-22) with the New Orleans Saints, serving as assistant defensive backs coach. In 2022, the Saints ranked second in the NFL in passing defense, allowing 184.4 passing yards per game. Robinson helped the Saints register a top 10 defense in each of his three years in New Orleans and Marshon Lattimore earned Pro Bowl nods in 2020 and 2021.


Jeremy Garrett joins the Jaguars as defensive line coach, bringing over a decade of coaching experience to the team, including two years with the Cleveland Browns. Garrett most recently served as the defensive line coach at Auburn in 2023, coaching defensive tackle Marcus Harris to first-team Associated Press All-SEC and Keldric Faulk to All-SEC Freshman recognitions. Auburn’s defense ranked 7th in the SEC in sacks in 2023. Before Auburn, Garrett coached one of the most productive defensive fronts in college football in 2022, as Liberty led the country in tackles for loss and ranked third in sacks. He was a four-year letterwinner at Ole Miss (2004-07), where Nielsen served as his defensive line coach.


Mike Gray is in his first season with the Jaguars as assistant secondary coach/defensive analyst. He served in the same role for the Atlanta Falcons in 2023 alongside Nielsen, working primarily with the secondary. Prior to Atlanta, Gray spent three seasons (2020-22) as co-special teams coordinator/linebackers coach at Gardner-Webb University. Gray played collegiately at Mercer University, finishing his career with 180 total tackles, 10 tackles for loss, three sacks and three interceptions. The Jacksonville, Fla., native (two-time All-County safety at Creekside High School) played both linebacker and safety at Mercer.


Mario Jeberaeel enters his first season as assistant outside linebackers coach for the Jaguars after most recently serving as the special projects – defense coach for the Atlanta Falcons in 2023. In 2022, he was the assistant offensive line coach for the Falcons after serving as a diversity coaching intern/offensive line coach in 2021. Collegiately, Jeberaeel has coached at Abilene Christian University, University of Kansas and Nicholls State University. In 2019, he assisted with the offensive line of the Green Bay Packers as part of the Bill Walsh Minority Internship.


Jerry Mack begins his first season in the NFL as the Jaguars running backs coach after amassing 20 years of collegiate coaching experience. The Memphis native most recently served as running backs coach for the University of Tennessee (2021-23). In 2023, the Vols finished the season as the number one rushing offense in the SEC, following a 2022 campaign in which Tennessee had the top offense in the nation. Mack, a three-time HBCU Coach of the Year, has previous coaching stops at Rice, North Carolina Central and South Alabama, and also completed five NFL coaching internships with the Buffalo Bills (2008), New York Jets (2009, 2010), Houston Texans (2018) and Miami Dolphins (2019).


In his second season with the Jaguars, Greg Austin was promoted to assistant offensive line coach after initially serving as an offensive quality control coach for the 2023 campaign. Austin arrived in Jacksonville after 2022 as the offensive line/run game coordinator with Florida International University. He previously worked with the offensive line at Nebraska from 2018-21, served as the offensive line coach at University of Central Florida from 2016-17 and has prior NFL experience as an assistant offensive line coach for the Philadelphia Eagles from 2013-15.


Jamel Mutunga was hired as an offensive quality control coach for the 2024 season. Mutunga spent the 2023 campaign with the Carolina Panthers as an offensive assistant. Prior to his time in Carolina, he served as offensive assistant in 2022 for the Indianapolis Colts through the inaugural Tony Dungy Diversity Coaching Fellowship. Before starting his NFL coaching career, Mutunga spent two seasons (2020-21) as an offensive assistant at Rutgers University, working primarily with the running backs. While with the Scarlet Knights, Mutunga helped Isiah Pacheco earn All Big-Ten Honorable mention in 2021.



Friday, February 16, 2024

THE PLAYERS Profiles: Rickie Fowler, Collin Morikawa, Tony Finau, Ludvig Aberg

PONTE VEDRA BECAH (Florida Sports Wire) - With four weeks to go until the strongest field in golf reconvenes at TPC Sawgrass, THE PLAYERS Championship sets the stage for the 2024 event by profiling four of the biggest names in the sport who are among the favorites to create their Defining Moment en route to hoisting THE PLAYERS trophy.

Rickie Fowler

In the 2023-24 season, Rickie Fowler returned to the winner’s circle with a victory at the Rocket Mortgage Classic in dramatic fashion, carding a birdie-3 on the first playoff hole to best Adam Hadwin and Collin Morikawa for his sixth PGA TOUR title and first since the 2019 WM Phoenix Open. The 2015 PLAYERS champion had a successful season, notching eight top-10 finishes en route to finishing 16th in the FedExCup. The Florida resident is set to make his 13th consecutive start at THE PLAYERS as he looks to become a multiple-time champion of the event.

Collin Morikawa

Collin Morikawa returns to THE PLAYERS Championship after notching the sixth win of his PGA TOUR career – and first in over two years – at the ZOZO Championship in Japan last October. The 27-year-old is currently 20th in the FedExCup after opening his 2024 season with a T5 at The Sentry and following that up with a T14 effort at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. Morikawa will be making his fourth career start at TPC Sawgrass after recording a career-best T13 in 2023, where he sat in solo-second through 18 holes after an opening 65.

Tony Finau

Tony Finau returned to the winner’s circle twice during the 2022-23 season with victories at the Cadence Bank Houston Open and the Mexican Open at Vidanta, going on to finish 20th in the final FedExCup standings. This season, Finau has made four starts, highlighted by a T6 finish at the Farmers Insurance Open. The Utah native is set to make his eighth appearance at THE PLAYERS as he looks to improve upon his career-best finish of T19 in 2023.


Ludvig Aberg

24-year-old Ludvig Aberg is set to make his tournament debut at THE PLAYERS Championship. The Swedish-born player turned professional following the NCAA Championship in May of 2023, and became the first player to join the TOUR directly out of college by finishing No. 1 in the PGA TOUR University Ranking. He experienced immediate success, winning in his rookie season at the 2023 RSM Classic, becoming the first PGA TOUR University alum to win on TOUR. In addition, Aberg collected three additional top-10 finishes and ended the year representing Team Europe at the Ryder Cup as one of Captain Luke Donald’s six picks. This season he has finished in the top-10 twice in four starts, finishing T9 at the Farmers Insurance Open and solo-second at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.