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Two Mike Leach disciples face off, a Notre Dame reunion and a Sun Belt encore? What to expect in Week 3

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The 2001 Texas Tech football team, led by Mike Leach, was a who’s who of future head coaches — a list that included Kliff Kingsbury, Art Briles, Sonny Dykes, Ruffin McNeill, Greg McMackin and two guys who will go head to head this weekend: Baylor‘s Dave Aranda and Houston‘s Dana Holgorsen.

In a game that was scheduled (*checks watch*), oh, about 45 minutes ago, Aranda and Holgorsen will face off as head coaches for the first time on Saturday, but they go way back. That the two both served on the same staff — Holgorsen as receivers coach and Aranda as a grad assistant — represents the end of the similarities, however.

A quick synopsis:

Approach to football

Aranda: Defensive mastermind
Holgorsen: Air raid guru

Hairstyle

Aranda: Smooth and shaved
Holgorsen: As if hair were made out of wacky, arm-waving inflatable tube men

Personality

Aranda: Subdued, deliberate
Holgorsen: Buys Red Bull by the pallet

Winning moment

Aranda: Last year’s national title (as defensive coordinator at LSU)
Holgorsen: “Let’s go win the f—ing game!”

Of course, that doesn’t mean the matchup lacks familiarity. In fact, Aranda said he has always been immensely impressed by Holgorsen’s energy.

Aranda recounted a story of finding Holgorsen in his office with two TVs playing at the same time. In one hand, Holgorsen had a remote, fast-forwarding through plays on a cut-up of the next week’s opponent. In the other hand, he held another remote, fast-forwarding through the movie “Tombstone” trying to find a quote he really liked.

“The guy that was kind of keeping everything running was Dana,” Aranda said.

And what does Holgorsen remember about working with Aranda at Texas Tech?

“I’ve followed him and watched him, and his success is not surprising,” Holgorsen said. “But I don’t remember a whole lot about him [at Texas Tech], honestly.”

Ah, the life of a grad assistant.

Still, Leach remembers that staff as a truly idyllic meeting of the minds — even if, in the case of Aranda and Holgorsen, there wasn’t a ton of overlap in approach.

“They always got along great,” Leach said. “Just very different personalities. One was all offense, and one was all defense.”

Game day Q&A with Tulane’s Keon Howard

Keon Howard was the starting quarterback at Southern Miss way back in 2017. On Oct. 21 of that year, he won a game vs. Louisiana Tech. Two weeks later, against Tennessee, he was 7-of-22 passing and was benched. He wouldn’t start another game for nearly three years.

Last Saturday, Howard was back at QB, this time for Tulane, leading a fourth-quarter comeback victory over South Alabama.

How big of a comeback story was it? It had been 1,058 days between victories for Howard as a starting QB, the longest stretch between two wins since Damian Williams went 1,380 between two of the three games he won as a starter — first at Mississippi State (2013) and then at Texas State (2017) — according to ESPN Stats & Information research.

Howard is hoping for a little better legacy than that. We talked to him about his return from the abyss and his hopes for Tulane in 2020.

ESPN: You went three years between wins. What was it like to get the opportunity to go out there and have that experience again?

Howard: You really said the key word — opportunity. I’m just taking advantage of the opportunity that was given to me. I’ve been doing this since I was 4 years old. My whole note to myself was to go out and do my job and get a ‘W’ and let it unfold how it is going to unfold.

ESPN: Did you ever wonder if you’d ever get the chance to do this again?

Howard: No. I always try to look at the glass halfway full and keep a positive mindset with everything. I knew my opportunity would come. I just didn’t know when. My favorite Bible verse is, “What I do you do not realize now, but you will understand afterward.” So I just stay faithful and know my opportunity would come, and I’ll be ready when it does.

ESPN: What did the experience over the last three years teach you?

Howard: I think 2020 in general, it’s been a year where you have to be able to take one day at a time because you don’t know what tomorrow will bring. I’m blessed with 24 hours to take advantage of that opportunity.

ESPN: Do you see yourself as a role model for overcoming adversity?

Howard: No doubt. Every time my feet hit the ground, I’m fighting. I’m blessed to fight through adversity. Going through those trials, I hope younger kids, younger quarterbacks, that might look up to me, they’ll see downs and highs and lows and you have to be persistent, stay working, stay dedicated and have a commitment — not just to yourself, but to your teammates to push them and uplift them and just know your time will come. And when it does come, be ready.

ESPN: You wear No. 9 to honor your godfather, Steve McNair. What did he mean in your life?

Howard: He impacted my life in so many ways — mentorship, him and his brothers and the whole McNair family. They took me in when I was in the seventh grade, and they treated me like their own, not just with football and life in general. Seeing how much [Steve] really worked and the preparation time, the lives he impacted around the community. Seeing how many people he truly impacted over the years really means a lot to me, and when I wear that number, it brings pride, but it also brings responsibility to know that his legacy will still live on through me as long as I’m playing.

Will quality of play improve in Week 3?

North Carolina head coach Mack Brown finally got around to checking his phone Saturday night after an ugly but ultimately convincing 31-6 win over Syracuse. Brown had a bunch of texts from some local pals all offering a sort of backhanded congratulations.

“Glad to see you finally showed up at halftime,” one read.

As backhanded compliments go, this one stung — as did the 10 or 15 others, Brown said.

Brown simply wrote back, “1-0, mission accomplished,” but even he was acutely aware that even in a win, there was lots of work left to do.

Such was life for nearly everyone after the Week 2 games, when shoddy play was the norm and the old adage that teams make their biggest progress between the first and second games became less a cliché and more a desperate hope for coaches.

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0:44

North Carolina’s Dazz Newsome drops the punt and it’s recovered by Nolan Cooney for Syracuse.

Take a look at North Carolina, in particular: The Tar Heels missed a field goal. They roughed the punter. They fumbled a punt return that led to a score. They had a punt return called back for an illegal block and allowed Syracuse to return a punt that (luckily for UNC) was also called back for a rather benign blocking penalty. And those were just the special-teams gaffes.

The kicking games around the country were a mess. Never the most reliable of sorts even in a normal week, FBS kickers missed nearly 40% of their field goal tries last week.

And then there was Navy’s Labor Day fiasco, a lethargic walk-through that coach Ken Niumatalolo chalked up to a lack of contact and physicality in camp after coronavirus worries convinced him it was best to hold back.

In the aftermath of UNC’s sloppy play, Brown asked a seemingly strange question of his guys the day after the game: When did you believe — genuinely believe — you’d play this game?

After an offseason of stops and starts and rumors and changes and what-ifs, Brown expected some divergent answers. Instead, there was a pretty clear consensus.

“By and large, these guys were practicing, but in their mind, they weren’t prepared to play a game until 10 days or maybe a week ago,” Brown said.

It’s hard to blame them. At Houston, Holgorsen held a “mock game” last Saturday to get his team ready for Memphis, even as players began hearing rumors of a COVID-19 outbreak at Memphis that would ultimately cancel their game. A few hours later, Houston had a new game scheduled against Baylor, sending grad assistants and team analysts scurrying for film.

“A day later was the first time our players actually believed we were going to play a game,” Holgorsen said. “If Memphis got canceled and I had to practice them another week without a game, I didn’t know how I was going to approach that.”

That kind of chaos creates a direct line to the sloppy play on the field, Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy said.

“It’s just preparation,” Gundy said. “There’s been a level of how physical teams want to prepare and your limitations based on the virus.”

So what does that mean for this week?

Well, kickers will be kickers, so there might be no easy solution for that. The rest is largely some combination of better preparation and a lot of hope.

“You just have to click right into it and go with it,” Aranda said. “We’re fortunate that we got ourselves a really good game, and we have an opportunity to go out and show what we’ve got. I know our guys are excited.”

Charlie Weis Jr. returns to Notre Dame

Yes, Charlie Weis Jr. has thought about how it will feel when he walks into Notre Dame Stadium on Saturday and takes his spot on the visitors sideline. Yes, he might hum the fight song by accident when it starts playing during pregame warm-ups. No, the USF offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach has not let any of that get in the way of preparing the Bulls’ offense for the big challenge ahead.

In fact, Weis Jr. said when he heard that USF was working on a last-minute deal to play Notre Dame, his first thought was, “We’ve got a lot of work to do because they’re really good,” he said with a laugh. But naturally, he and his father, former Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis, have talked about a career coming full circle.

Weis Jr. got his start as a teenager on the Notre Dame sideline with his father, famously wearing a headset and helping. He saw the highs and the lows, and felt the sting when he was a junior in high school and his father was fired. But Notre Dame still holds a special place to him, and there’s more than one reason for that.

“It’s definitely something I thought about and dreamt about, it would be really cool to go back to South Bend, a place that I love, a place that I still call home and get to be in Notre Dame Stadium one more time,” Weis Jr. said. “I was really excited about the opportunity to go there. It’s a very special place to us.”

His sister, Hannah, still lives in South Bend at the group home and neighborhood their parents established for her and others with special needs, Hannah & Friends. Before Notre Dame was even on the schedule, Weis Jr. drove 16 hours each way to go visit her over the summer. Given the COVID-19 restrictions, Weis Jr. was able to see her only through a screened door.

The trip on Saturday, though, will be strictly business. And Weis Jr. is ready for it.

“We’re telling our players this is an awesome experience, it’s a place that’s a bucket list for most people to go to,” Weis Jr. said. “We told them, when you first see it, enjoy the moment, and then once that ball gets kicked off, it’s all about South Florida, it’s all about us and doing our job.” — Andrea Adelson

What to watch for

The Sun Belt’s encore presentation: For a Group of 5 conference, it’s hard to do much better than what the Sun Belt did last week. Louisiana and Arkansas State came up with two of the three biggest upsets in college football. This weekend, the Ragin’ Cajuns take on a Georgia State team that had a lot of question marks coming into 2020 — and could have many of them answered against one of the Sun Belt favorites. Another game to keep an eye on is Appalachian State vs. Marshall. The Thundering Herd return plenty of players from a team that finished 8-5 in 2019. A Mountaineers win would solidify their power at the top of the Sun Belt.

Will Navy be ready for Tulane? The positive for the Midshipmen is that Saturday’s game can’t be worse than their season opener, in which Navy got bounced 55-3 by BYU. Niumatalolo would later announce that the team would go back to normal practice with full contact and 11-on-11 scrimmages. Bluntly, Niumatalolo said, “We’re probably the cleanest team in the country [for COVID-19], but unfortunately, we suck at football right now.”

Tulane, meanwhile, faces a fair amount of turnover from a 2019 season in which it finished 7-6, but the Green Wave won’t be a slouch coming off a close win last Saturday. This week, the team extended head coach Willie Fritz, who led Tulane to its first consecutive bowl appearances, in 2018 and 2019.

Is Louisville‘s offense going to show up again against Miami? It’s easy to overreact to these early games — we do even during a normal college football season. But the Louisville offense we saw in the first half against Western Kentucky was fun to watch, highlighted by Micale Cunningham‘s completions of 63 and 70 yards to Braden Smith and Dez Fitzpatrick, respectively.

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0:35

Covered by three defenders, Dez Fitzpatrick still finds a way to reel in the 70-yard touchdown reception extending Louisville’s lead.

We’re going to get to see the Cardinals’ offense on a bigger stage this weekend when they take on 1-0 Miami (where College GameDay will be stationed). If there’s one thing Miami will try to take advantage of, it will be Louisville’s special teams, which struggled last Saturday. The Hurricanes will also look to see how QB D’Eriq King performs in his first game in conference play. He finished last week’s win over UAB 16-of-24 with 144 yards and a touchdown, but the Hurricanes are expecting more from the transfer from Houston. Louisville will be a good test.

Last-minute cancellations and quarantines: This is going to be an inevitable factor this season for any universities that have decided to play football. Just this week, Arkansas State, coming off an upset win over Kansas State, saw its game against Central Arkansas postponed due to not being able to “assemble a full two-deep depth chart at a specific position group due to player unavailability.”

Other games that were scheduled for this week that are no longer happening include Houston vs. Memphis, Tulsa vs. Oklahoma State, Virginia vs. Virginia Tech and BYU vs. Army.

That we’ve already seen so many delays, cancellations and last-minute additions probably serves as some warning to Big Ten fans eagerly anticipating their league’s return. The new safety protocols call for a one-week hiatus if more than 5% of the team tests positive, and there’s little wiggle room in the eight-game schedule model. Big Ten players spent the past month saying they wanted to play, but now they’ll need to do their part to show they’re better equipped to keep the coronavirus at bay than so many other schools still searching for answers.

Players to watch

Hale: Pitt defensive end Patrick Jones II

The best pass rusher you probably haven’t heard of is about to feast on a brutal offensive line. Jones has NFL draft first-round potential — he racked up 8.5 sacks and 18 QB pressures last year. He’ll be up against Syracuse QB Tommy DeVito, who was sacked seven times in the Orange’s opener and has gone down 51 times since the start of 2019 — eight more than any other QB in the country.

Lyles: Louisiana QB Levi Lewis

The Ragin’ Cajuns are riding high from their win over Iowa State. Lewis played a solid game and now opens up conference play against Georgia State, which has a defense with many questions. Lewis had some big performances in Sun Belt play in 2019 (most notably 354 yards, 4 touchdowns and 1 interception against App State in the conference title game), and there would be no better way to follow up a Power 5 win than by filling the stat sheet to open up conference play.

Under-the-radar game of the week

Hale: SMU at North Texas

Like points? Here’s your game of the week. The over/under for this one is pegged at 70.5 — a full touchdown more than any other game on the docket. SMU QB Shane Buechele struggled in the opener against Texas State, but he remains incredibly dangerous. North Texas’ new starter, Jason Bean, had four touchdowns in his debut against Houston Baptist.

Lyles: App State vs. Marshall

App State had a more difficult time than expected last week with Charlotte and could be in for another challenge this week. The Thundering Herd have an experienced roster and are coming off an 8-5 season, and last week, they blew out Eastern Kentucky 59-0. Quarterback Grant Wells completed 16 of his 23 pass attempts for 307 yards and four touchdowns. Marshall also had a balanced attack on the ground, with Knowledge McDaniel and Brenden Knox combining for 32 carries and 178 yards. In a week with some pretty underwhelming games, this one should be one of the more competitive ones.

Upset picks of the week

It’s probably a little early to anoint us both as geniuses, but both of our upset picks in Week 2 — Louisiana over Iowa State (Lyles) and Coastal Carolina over Kansas (Hale) — proved to be brilliant insights. We’ll try to keep the streak going in Week 3.

Hale: Boston College over Duke

No team has been more overlooked in the ACC this year than BC. Yes, there’s a new coaching staff, but it’s not like Steve Addazio left an empty cupboard, and new head coach Jeff Hafley has gotten positive buzz this offseason. BC has arguably the best offensive line in the ACC, a stellar tailback in David Bailey, some better-than-you-think receivers and a star at linebacker in Max Richardson. More importantly, BC has been eyeing this game for a while, while Duke is fresh off a physical loss to Notre Dame.

Lyles: Marshall over Appalachian State

Marshall is well rested, and the Mountaineers let Charlotte hang around a little bit too long. That could likely be because of the inconsistent offseason due to COVID-19, but I’m willing to take a chance on the Thundering Herd.

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Toronto FC hoping to make MLS Cup run having spent much of 2020 far from home

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On a recent Thursday in Hartford, Conn., Toronto FC goalkeeper Quentin Westberg pondered the dichotomy of wanting to reach MLS Cup on Dec. 12, but also desiring to see his family again. Meanwhile, Jim Liston, the team’s director of sports science, was planning a trip to Lowe’s to buy 15 garbage cans so players could have an ice bath after training. As for manager Greg Vanney, he was fretting about his team’s health and the lack of practice time their schedule was affording.

Such is the life of a team as it attempts to not only navigate its way through the COVID-19 pandemic, but has been forced to do it away from home.

Due to travel restrictions between the U.S. and Canada, TFC — like the league’s other two Canadian teams, Montreal Impact and Vancouver Whitecaps — set up a “home” base in the U.S. for the remainder of the season; Toronto were stationed in Hartford. (Vancouver Whitecaps took roost in Portland, ground-sharing with Timbers, while Montreal Impact split use of New York Red Bulls’ facilities in Harrison, N.J.) This was on top of nearly every team spending nearly a month inside a bubble back in July at the MLS is Back Tournament outside Orlando, Florida.

The Reds spent about seven weeks back in Toronto as they played a series of matches against Canadian teams. In mid-September, the remainder of the regular season — and the temporary move to Hartford — beckoned. The vagabond nature of the campaign is what led Liston to joke that he was willing to discuss “whatever five seasons” the team has been through so far. But for Vanney and the players, the campaign has required a special kind of focus.

“A lot of what we’ve done here, and what we try to preach here is just control the controllables, and don’t get too drawn into the things you can’t,” Vanney told ESPN. “Roll with it, and make the best out of whatever the situation is.”

Stream FC Daily on ESPN+
– 2020 MLS Playoffs: Who’s in, schedule and more
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Toronto has largely succeeded in spite of its odyssey. While there was disappointment at missing out on the Supporters’ Shield to the Philadelphia Union, TFC went 7-3-2 during its Hartford sojourn and finished with the second-best record in the league. But the challenges have still been immense. Simply being out of one’s home environment is difficult enough, but the time spent away from family and loved ones weighs heavy on the psyche, even as Vanney has given players the occasional trip back to Toronto — under quarantine — to reconnect with loved ones.

“It’s just very different, very challenging and emotionally exhausting,” Westberg said of his experience while based in Hartford.

Westberg has arguably had it tougher than most. The TFC goalkeeper is married with four children, including a baby girl who was born in June. For that reason, Westberg and his wife, Ania, made the decision at the end of September that it would be better for her and their kids to head back to his native France so they could be surrounded by family. Westberg called it “the least bad decision,” but there are difficulties nonetheless.

“I’m a very even person, and this year has challenged me a lot,” he said. “I’m still pretty even, but I keep a lot to myself and for sure there’s some difficult days, seeing your family [struggle] from your absence.”

The inability to be home has affected the players and staff in other ways. In Toronto, there are ways of disengaging from the game. Being with friends, loved ones or even in familiar surroundings can be the best medicine in terms of forgetting a bad game or training session. But in Hartford, at the team’s hotel, that escape is nearly impossible even as players try to distract themselves by reading or taking online classes.

“You don’t really unplug,” Westberg said. “You FaceTime family, or this or that, but it’s too short. You’re 100 percent focused on your soccer, and your whole day basically relies on being ready for whatever soccer activity that you have next, whether it’s practice or game. It’s good for your physique, it’s optimal for the way you eat and the way you [train]. But mentally, you’re not as fresh as your body.”

That isn’t to say there are only negatives to the separation. There is also an us-against-the-world mentality that Toronto has adopted, given that their players and personnel are experiencing the season in a way that is vastly different than most other teams. The team staff has done what it can to make their surroundings a home away from home, whether it’s personalizing the locker rooms at Rentschler Field or having hotel staff brand the surroundings in TFC colors. The hotel went so far as to bring in a barista who could consistently give the players their coffee fix. Supporters groups have even sent down banners in a bid to convey the fact that the players are remembered.

The care that TFC takes for players has extended to families back home, with the club supplying meals to loved ones three times a week.

On the logistical side, Liston made sure that one of the gyms used at MLS is Back was brought to TFC’s hotel in Hartford, and he remarked that the food at the hotel is “arguably the best we’ve ever had on the road.”

There have also been efforts to create new routines. Assistant coach Jason Bent, aka DJ Soops, has been in charge of the pregame music selection for the past 18 months — no easy feat for a squad that has a considerable international presence. In Hartford, Bent has set aside Thursday nights to spin music in one area of the hotel. He’ll even go live on Instagram or Twitch for those who prefer to relax in their rooms.

“[We] opened it to players and staff and basically anyone that’s part of our bubble to come relax, listen to music and just enjoy each other’s company,” Bent said. “I enjoy making people happy so if it’s helping everyone even in the slightest, I have no problem arranging the set and spinning.”

For Vanney, the pandemic and operating outside of the team’s home market has meant any number of challenges. He said the team has used three different training facilities in Hartford, with varying field conditions. He recognizes that the trips home are vital for the mental health of his players and staff, but any breaks also mean less time spent on the practice field. The compressed schedule, which at times involved games every three or four days, has had an impact as well. Even the best-laid plans in terms of squad rotation were impacted as minor injuries began popping up.

“We end up with a lot of guys in different positions because they need special kinds of treatment or care to help them get fit and back to health,” Vanney said. “So it ends up being a lot of different things kind of going on all at once, and that’s been the challenge of it.”

Recovery from matches has been complicated by the fact that TFC doesn’t have access to the same level of facilities that it does at home — hence Liston’s emergency trip to Lowe’s to fashion impromptu ice baths for the players. Then there are the different ways the players occupy themselves on the road as compared to home, especially amid the pandemic.

“There’s really no life outside of the hotel,” Liston said. “[At home], you may go walk the dog in the afternoon or go for a walk with your wife or friend or girlfriend or family and you’re out and about. The recommendation [here] is to kind of stay put. So you’ve got a really active population and pro athletes, who we’re asking them to be sedentary the rest of the time, kind of stay in the hotel from a COVID and safety standpoint. That’s not optimal for recovery either.”

There are also the creature comforts of home that are no longer available on the road, which can impact sleep.

“Sleep is the number one tool for recovery, and that’s definitely been a challenge,” Liston said. “We do well-being questionnaires and the scores on quality of sleep, and hours of sleep, just drop.”

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2:00

Tom Barlow and Brian White seal Toronto’s fate in a 2-1 win for New York Red Bulls. Watch MLS on ESPN+.

Another change has been same-day travel, which has drawn mixed reactions from the TFC players and staff. Vanney and Westberg are generally in favor, saying it reminds them of when they each played in France. Flying back the same night also means a training day isn’t lost. Liston has a different perspective in that he prefers arriving the day before, and then leaving the same day.

“I think [same-day travel] makes for a really long day,” he said. “And there’s definitely a negative impact on performance, taking three bus rides and a plane ride before your game. You’re getting home — it can be 12:30, but it could also be 1:30 in the morning, and that’s where you know our well-being scores and sleep hours and quality just disappear. When you have so many games in succession, you can’t make up the sleep.”

With the playoffs set to begin for TFC on Nov. 24, the end is in sight, even as it makes for a complex — and even conflicting — set of emotions.

“This is the tricky part. I miss them a lot,” Westberg said of his family. “But in a way I want to see them as [late] as possible in December, because obviously, there’s this idea that we want to do well in the playoffs and we want to keep going. TFC has a history of setting high standards and high expectations. It’s a heavy load to carry but also an exciting one.”

Win or lose, it’s a season they’ll never forget.

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Bettman: NHL is mulling temporary realignment

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The NHL is considering a temporary realignment of its teams for the 2020-21 season due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, according to commissioner Gary Bettman.

Bettman said Tuesday that restrictions on travel across the Canadian border, as well as “limitations in terms of quarantining when you go from certain states to other states” within the United States, could mean the NHL creates a more regionalized alignment for its upcoming season.

“As it relates to the travel issue, which is obviously the great unknown, we may have to temporarily realign to deal with geography, because having some of our teams travel from Florida to California may not make sense. It may be that we’re better off — particularly if we’re playing a reduced schedule, which we’re contemplating — keeping it geographically centric and more divisional-based; and realigning, again on a temporary basis, to deal with the travel issues,” Bettman said during a 2020 Paley International Council Summit panel with fellow commissioners Adam Silver of the NBA and Rob Manfred of MLB.

The NHL board of governors has a meeting scheduled for Thursday which will provide a progress report and possible recommendations for a season format, based on talks between the league and the NHL Players’ Association. The target date for starting next season remains Jan. 1.

Bettman said the league is considering a few scheduling options for the 2020-21 season. Something that’s off the table: playing the entire season in the kind of bubbles the NHL had in Toronto and Edmonton, Alberta, to complete last season. But Bettman said teams opening in their own arenas is a possibility, along with a modified bubble.

“We are exploring the possibility of playing in our own buildings without fans [or] fans where you can, which is going to be an arena-by-arena issue. But we’re also exploring the possibility of a hub. You’ll come in. You’ll play for 10 to 12 days. You’ll play a bunch of games without traveling. You’ll go back, go home for a week, be with your family. We’ll have our testing protocols and all the other things you need,” he said.

Bettman also indicated that the NHL is exploring “a hybrid, where some teams are in a bubble, some teams play at home and you move in and out.”

The NBA’s board of governors unanimously approved a deal with the players’ union that sets the stage for a season that will open on Dec. 22 and with a reduced schedule of 72 games. Silver said that the commissioners are in communication on COVID-19-related issues, especially the NBA and the NHL, since the two leagues’ teams share arenas and, in some cases, team owners.

Silver said he senses that the NBA will have fans in many of its buildings this season.

“We’re probably going to start one way, where we’re maybe a little bit more conservative than many of the jurisdictions allow,” he said. “What we’ve said to our teams is that we’ll continue to work with public health authorities. Arena issues are different than outdoor stadium issues. There will be certain standards for air filtration and air circulation. There may be a different standard for a suite than there will be for fans spaced in seats.”

Silver said there will be standardized protocols that are consistent from arena to arena, such as proximity between players and fans: “In certain cases, for seats near the floor, we’re going to be putting in testing programs, where fans will certify that they’ve been tested — some within 48 hours, some within day of game.” While Silver supported a continued expansion of the NBA postseason through its play-in tournament, Bettman said that he’s not in favor of expanded playoffs or “playing with the fundamentals of the game.” The NHL had 24 teams in its postseason last summer.

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The Battleground States Where We’ve Seen Some Movement In The Polls

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With apologies to The Raconteurs, the presidential race continues to be “steady as she goes,” with little sign of tightening despite a plethora of new polls. FiveThirtyEight’s presidential forecast gives Joe Biden an 89 in 100 shot at winning the election, while President Trump has just an 11 in 100 chance. This makes Biden the favorite, but still leaves open a narrow path to victory for Trump, for whom a reelection win would be surprising — but not utterly shocking.

At the same time, we also have fewer polls from live-caller surveys, which have historically been more accurate and have shown slightly better numbers for Biden, than polls that use other methodologies, such as polls conducted primarily online or through automated telephone calls. Nevertheless, while the overall picture has shifted only a little in recent days, a few battleground states have seen at least some movement in their polls, which has slightly altered the odds Biden or Trump wins in each of those places.

What election stories need to get more coverage | FiveThirtyEight Politics Podcast

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