The Philadelphia Flyers fired coach Alain Vigneault on Monday following eight straight losses, two shy of matching a team record of 10 in a row, and with the franchise far from ending a 47-year Stanley Cup drought. The Flyers have been one of NHL’s biggest flops of the season. Their latest loss was a 7-1 defeat by Tampa Bay on Sunday night that sealed Vigneault’s fate. Assistant coach Michel Therrien also was fired. Mike Yeo was named interim coach. “Right now, we’ve lost our way,” Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher said. The Flyers are 8-10-4 and in seventh place in the Metropolitan Division. Vigneault went 147-74-54 with the Flyers and missed the playoffs last season. Vigneault lasted just two-plus seasons in Philadelphia and never could lead the Flyers in the right direction this year after a promising first season in which he led them to the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference in the NHL’s restart bubble. Vigneault had led the New York Rangers and Vancouver Canucks to the Stanley Cup Final and was trying to do the same in Philadelphia, where the Flyers haven’t won it all since consecutive championships in 1974 and 1975.
Winnipeg’s Neal Pionk banned two games
Winnipeg defenseman Neal Pionk was suspended two games for a knee-on-knee hit on Toronto’s Rasmus Sandin in the third period of the Jets’ 6-3 victory on Sunday. After the hit on Sandin, Maple Leafs center Jason Spezza drove his left knee into the face of Pionk, who was stickless and on his knees trying to clear a puck. Spezza has been offered an in-person hearing with NHL, and likely will be suspended.
Holy Cross names Kit Hughes as its AD
Holy Cross named Christopher “Kit” Hughes as its new director of athletics, the school announced Monday. Hughes, 42, currently serves as the deputy athletic director at Bowling Green. “I look forward to working side-by-side with our talented student-athletes, coaches, and staff as we relentlessly pursue excellence in all areas of the Holy Cross experience,” said Hughes, who will start in January. Hughes replaces Marcus Blossom, who left Holy Cross in September after two years to become athletic director at Creighton. A Boston native, Hughes played lacrosse at Bowdoin before receiving his master’s degree at Boston College, where he worked as an intern in the compliance office and then became a graduate assistant for the football program under coach Tom O’Brien. When O’Brien left BC for North Carolina State in 2006, he took Hughes with him as an administrator, launching his career in administration. Hughes spent seven years at North Carolina State before being named senior associate athletics director at Bowling Green in 2014 and deputy athletic director in 2020.
Three QBs, one DE named Heisman finalists
Alabama sophomore quarterback Bryce Young, Ohio State redshirt freshman quarterback C.J. Stroud, Pittsburgh redshirt senior quarterback Kenny Pickett and Michigan senior defensive end Aidan Hutchinson were named finalists for the Heisman Trophy, to be awarded Saturday in New York. Quarterbacks dominated the winners’ list for the past two decades. Only three players from other positions have won the award since 2000, all from Alabama: running back Mark Ingram in 2009, running back Derrick Henry in 2015 and, in 2020, wide receiver Devonta Smith. No Alabama quarterback has won the award. Smith was the first wide receiver to win since Michigan’s Desmond Howard in 1991.
Miami fires Manny Diaz, hires Oregon’s Mario Cristobal
Mario Cristobal is leaving Oregon and returning to Miami, accepting an offer to become head coach at his alma mater, where he won two national championships as a player. He let the Ducks know of the decision Monday, his team meeting in Oregon nearly simultaneous with Miami announcing the firing of coach Manny Diaz after three seasons. “My family and I are excited to return home to the University of Miami,” said Cristobal, who was finalizing terms on a 10-year, $80-million deal, by far the richest the Hurricanes have ever given a coach. Diaz, in comparison, made around $4 million annually. Cristobal’s hiring was one of two major signings Miami has pursued in recent days. A person with knowledge of the school’s plans told The Associated Press Miami expects to complete the hiring of Dan Radakovich as athletic director this week. Radakovich has been AD at Clemson but started his career in sports administration 40 years ago at Miami, where he got one of his degrees. Cristobal was 35-13 at Oregon, with two Pac-12 titles and a Rose Bowl victory on his resume . . . Colorado State hired the first Black head football coach in program history, bringing in Nevada’s Jay Norvell to take over for Steve Addazio, the former Boston College head coach who was fired last Thursday after two tumultuous seasons in Fort Collins, Colo. Norvell, 58, a former standout defensive back at Iowa, is coming off a season in which he guided the Wolf Pack to an 8-4 record and a spot in the Quick Lane Bowl against Western Michigan on Dec. 27 in Detroit. An offensive innovator, Norvell has led his team to bowl games in four of the five seasons he’s been at Nevada. He’s 33-26 since being hired by the Wolf Pack on Dec. 9, 2016. That includes a 2-1 mark against fellow Mountain West member Colorado State. The Wolf Pack beat Colorado State 52-10 on Nov. 27 in a game where Addazio was ejected. It would prove to be Addazio’s final contest with the Rams . . . Every Texas Longhorns offensive lineman on scholarship will get $50,000 annually for use of their name, image and likeness to support charitable causes, Horns with Heart, a new nonprofit entity announced. The nonprofit said “The Pancake Factory” would start in August 2022, and be capped at $800,000 annually, which would cover 16 scholarship linemen. The organization said it hopes to expand the program to other football position groups and Longhorns athletes in the future.
Purdue men poll vault to No. 1
The Purdue Boilermakers were a unanimous No. 1 in the Associated Press Top 25 men’s college basketball poll, moving up from No. 2 last week. Reigning national champion Baylor moved up to No. 2, with Duke, UCLA and Gonzaga rounding out the top five. Purdue (8-0, 1-0 Big Ten) reached No. 2 in consecutive seasons under Gene Keady from 1986-88 and matched its previous high last week, receiving nine first-place votes from a 61-person media panel. The Boilermakers routed Florida State last week and opened Big Ten play with a 77-70 win over Iowa on Friday, sliding into the top spot after previous No. 1 Duke lost to an unranked Ohio State squad that is now No. 21. Until this week, Purdue had the second-most appearances in the AP poll — 379 weeks — for a school that had never been ranked No. 1 (Maryland, 434 weeks) . . . In the women’s top 25, South Carolina remained a unanimous No. 1, garnering all 30 votes from a national media panel. North Carolina State was second, breaking a tie with UConn. Stanford and Baylor rounded out the top five. Tennessee was back in the top 10 for the first time in nearly three years, moving up two spots to No. 9.
Everton fans stage walkout
A section of Everton fans left their seats after the 27th minute of the English Premier League match against Arsenal on Monday to signal their unhappiness at the board amid the club’s 27th season without a trophy. Some of the fans were seen making their way toward the exits inside Goodison Park in Liverpool, England, as play continued, with the match at 0-0. Everton headed into the game in 16th place and having failed to win any of its previous eight games in the league, the worst run of any team.