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Bowden back in hospital for virus-related testing

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Florida State coaching great Bobby Bowden, 90, was admitted to the hospital on Tuesday as he undergoes treatment for COVID-19.

Bowden’s wife, Ann, told the Tallahassee Democrat her husband was taken by ambulance to Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare because of fatigue and was scheduled to undergo tests.

“I feel sure he’s going to be OK,” she said. “I am very positive. I am not an alarmist. He hasn’t been getting around much at all due to his leg; it has been pretty painful. He sleeps much of the day.”

Bowden had been released from the same facility just last week after undergoing treatment for a leg infection.

Bowden told the Democrat on Monday he had not exhibited any symptoms associated with COVID-19 after being informed Sunday that he had tested positive.

Also Tuesday, Florida State said university president John Thrasher has tested positive for the virus, and he is isolating at home with his wife, who also has tested positive.

The university said Thrasher received his test result on Tuesday after his wife, Jean, was tested due to unrelated medical treatment. The statement said both are feeling well. Thrasher had attended Saturday’s football game against Jacksonville State.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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Timing a surprise, but Brian Flores sets up Tua Tagovailoa for success

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It’s Tua Time in Miami, and the immediate question is why now? It was well known that 2020 first-round pick Tua Tagovailoa would eventually become the Miami Dolphins‘ starting quarterback, but coming off back-to-back blowout wins does not seem like an ideal time to switch things up.

Most would have been fine with Tagovailoa sitting for longer, or even all of the NFL season, and learning behind veteran quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, who had been playing very good football through six weeks. But after taking a step back, this move makes a lot more sense.

The way Dolphins coach Brian Flores has handled a difficult quarterback situation shows his plan will set Tagovailoa up for success, even if it isn’t exactly how I would have mapped it. The timing of the decision comes as a surprise, but Flores’ process has seemingly always had the rookie QB as his top priority. Flores has watched Tagovailoa in practice and if he deems him ready to start now, then the move might be well-timed.

Patience is rare among NFL teams when it comes to playing rookie quarterbacks. Flores resisted the pressure to play Tagovailoa heading into the Dolphins’ season opener at New England. And that same pressure was ratcheted up even higher when Fitzpatrick hit a rough patch and the Dolphins fell to 1-3. Add on, there was early success from rookie quarterbacks, including Cincinnati’s Joe Burrow and Los Angeles ChargersJustin Herbert.

But still, Flores resisted to cave to any outside pressure.

The second-year head coach, seemingly one of Fitzpatrick’s biggest fans, preached patience to the Dolphins fan base and promised he would not be rushed into starting Tagovailoa. He treated this decision as if he were the father and the quarterbacks were his sons, so in the safest scenario — up 24-0 late in the fourth quarter against the NFL-worst New York Jets in Week 6 — Flores let Tagovailoa get his feet wet by inserting him into the game. Tagovailoa had five plays, two throws and a moment he’ll remember forever.

Then, when everyone felt Fitzpatrick was most secure in his starting job, Flores made the move to Tagovailoa. This wasn’t a spur-of-the-moment decision, either.

“Expect the unexpected from coach Flo,” one team source told ESPN.

One player told ESPN he was surprised by the move, but noted Tagovailoa keeps improving and he makes one or two “wow” highlight plays in practice every week.

The biggest thing to know about the Dolphins’ move is that it’s more about Tagovailoa’s development than Fitzpatrick’s play.

Fitzpatrick did nothing to lose his job. In fact, Fitzpatrick’s play would give every reason to believe he strengthened his grip on it. He ranks seventh in the NFL in QBR and he’s the most beloved player in the Dolphins’ locker room.

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Jeff Saturday expresses surprise at the Dolphins’ decision to start Tua Tagovailoa for their next game, and Stephen A. Smith weighs in on the move.

But everything about the 2020 season was about preparing for life with Tagovailoa as the starter and finding the ideal moment to make that transition. Although it’s a blow for Fitzpatrick to be benched while playing his best football of the season, Flores’ QB plan has never really been about him in the grand scheme of things. It has always been about Tagovailoa.

It will be 351 days since Tagovailoa’s scary, career-threatening hip injury when he makes his first pro start on Nov. 1 against the Los Angeles Rams (1 p.m. ET, Fox). Don’t underestimate the impact that anniversary has on the decision to start him.

Another important factor to consider is the Dolphins are entering their Week 7 bye, which gives Tagovailoa two weeks to prepare. It’s worth wondering if Miami’s plan was always to start Tagovailoa after the bye week, which was initially scheduled for Week 11 before schedule changes happened because of the coronavirus affecting other teams.

The Dolphins’ move is reminiscent of the 2004 New York Giants benching Kurt Warner, who was playing well and had led his team to a 5-4 record in the first half of the season, for rookie Eli Manning.

The Manning-led Giants struggled, going 1-6 the rest of the way and missing the playoffs. Manning threw more interceptions than touchdowns, but the experience was invaluable. Manning led the Giants to the playoffs each of the next four seasons, including two NFC East titles and a Super Bowl championship.

It’s possible and maybe even likely the Dolphins’ offense takes a step back initially with Tagovailoa leading it. Miami has two rookies, right guard Solomon Kindley and right tackle Robert Hunt, protecting Tagovailoa’s blindside. Although the offensive line is much improved through six games, Fitzpatrick did a lot to cover up its faults. Tagovailoa’s timing will have to be on point and fast for him to avoid getting hit often.

Another impact on how this transition has played out? The Dolphins are ecstatic to have Fitzpatrick in the fold to show Tagovailoa the way. Fitzpatrick will support him and teach him, and that’s a rare trait in today’s NFL. That dynamic between the experienced QB and the rookie has had a big impact on how this has all played out.

Flores believes this is the right time for Tagovailoa and it makes more sense. The Dolphins (3-3) are in the thick of the playoff race and it will be invaluable to get their rookie QB the experience he needs. This is a franchise in a rebuild with promises to prioritize the long-term over the short-term outlook.

Tagovailoa is the Dolphins’ most talented quarterback and biggest star since Pro Football Hall of Famer Dan Marino — and this is before he has even started a game.

Tua Time begins in a bit of a surprising way, but early indications are the rookie quarterback is set up for success.

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UM stay in place order won’t impact athletics

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The Washtenew County Health Department issued a stay in place order Tuesday for University of Michigan undergraduate students beginning immediately due to a rise in COVID-19 cases, but the order will not impact athletic activity at this time.

The Michigan football team travels to Minnesota for its season opener Saturday. Despite the stay in place order ending on Nov. 3, the health department stated any students who are associated with intercollegiate varsity sports may attend practices and competitions.

The order says athletic medical staff must be present during the entire process and “Actively supervises the team’s COVID-19 mitigation activities during the practice, has the authority to suspend the practice if he or she believes COVID-19 mitigation practices require that result, and testing is conducted per governing athletic organizations’ (i.e. Big 10) policies.”

As of Monday, Washtenaw County — where the University of Michigan is located — has had 4,229 confirmed cases of COVID-19, and there have been more than 1,000 confirmed cases among students at the Ann Arbor campus since the start of the fall semester.

The health department says there is current evidence the activity has been driven by social gatherings on campus. Prior to students moving in to Michigan’s campus, the university accounted for 2% of the total Washtenaw County cases. At the time of the order, university-related cases were 61% of the county’s cases.

The Michigan athletic department updated its testing numbers last Friday, reporting 1,559 tests were conducted on student-athletes, coaches and staff from Oct. 10 to Oct. 16 with 11 positive test results.

The athletic department has conducted a total of 11,889 tests, and has had 104 positive tests. Wolverines coach Jim Harbaugh told reporters Monday that there are currently no players that will be held out Saturday due to COVID-19 protocols.

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Khabib: Only want St-Pierre bout after Gaethje

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UFC lightweight champ Khabib Nurmagomedov said Tuesday that Georges St-Pierre is the only person he’d be motivated to fight after Saturday’s bout against interim champ Justin Gaethje.

“I really become excited when I think about Georges St-Pierre,” Nurmagomedov said on ESPN’s First Take. “I don’t know if he wants to fight with me or not, can he make weight — 155 or not — but this fight makes me excited, honestly.

“And I think me vs. Georges is going to be very, very big fight. Like big fight for fans, big fight for pay-per-view, big fight for analytics, for everybody. This is only fight in UFC, after Gaethje, that makes me very excited.”

Nurmagomedov (28-0) will be favored when he puts his perfect record on the line against Gaethje (22-2) in the main event of UFC 254 in Abu Dhabi.

There has been speculation that Nurmagomedov’s next opponent would be the winner of the proposed bout between Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier on Jan. 23. Nurmagomedov submitted Poirier in the third round on Sept. 7, 2019, and he submitted McGregor in the fourth round on Oct. 6, 2018.

“I finished both of them, and finished in dominant position, a dominant performance,” Nurmagomedov said. “And I’m not interested in both of those guys, because I need something new. I need new blood, new energy. Justin Gaethje gives me new motivation. He’s the real deal. Right now, he’s interim champ, he’s very tough guy.

“If I think about both, Dustin and Conor, they don’t give me good energy, they don’t give me motivation. Fight for what? For my legacy? I already put these guys on my list. I already beat them. Everything is finished with these guys.”

Nurmagomedov said a couple more fights will be “great for my legacy,” and his father, Abdulmanap, who died in July of heart problems complicated by the coronavirus, had suggested his son retire with a 30-0 record.

St-Pierre, who’s one of the greatest fighters in MMA history, has flirted with the idea of coming out of retirement, but only to face Nurmagomedov.

“If I come back, it would be for one fight,” St-Pierre told ESPN on Oct. 7. “And I need to take, for me, the biggest fish. And the one — for me, I believe — the top guy right now, the name is Khabib.

“As a fighter, the most exciting thing is to take the guy who seems invincible, unbeatable. He has the aura of invincibility. But it’s also the scariest thing to do.”

St-Pierre, who hasn’t fought since beating Michael Bisping on Nov. 4, 2017, isn’t sure about dropping down to 155 pounds for the first time. He fought most of his career at 170 pounds.

UFC president Dana White has expressed an openness to granting Nurmagomedov’s wish about fighting GSP.

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