The traditional signing day Wednesday merely padded Oregon's already stellar recruiting class, the best in school history.,GETTING DEFENSIVE: Washington capped its recruiting class by landing two of the top defensive players on the West Coast.,Washington had seemed to be the favorite for Heimuli for most of the recruiting period, but his Menlo-Atherton team advancing to the state title game in California impacted his ability to make a decision in time for the December signing period.,The abrupt departure of new offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury after 34 days shook up the Trojans' recruiting class and led to the departure of receiver commit Bru McCoy, who spurned USC for Texas.,The day had an international flavor with the Utes bringing in 6-foot-7 offensive lineman Bamidele Olaseni, a native of London who played last year for Garden City Community College in Kansas, and fellow 6-foot-7 offensive lineman Luke Felix-Fualalo, a former rugby player in Australia who played last year for prep powerhouse Mater Dei in California.

While Michel still has elements of his game that require development — he caught just seven passes this season — I’d imagine most Patriots fans are comfortable in saying that he’ll have a better career than Maroney, who played just 49 regular season games over five seasons in the NFL.,It seems largely forgotten, probably because we think of the 2007 Patriots as the most prolific passing offense we’ll ever witness, but Maroney was perhaps the star of the teams’ last playoff meeting, in that season’s AFC Championship game.,He set career highs for rushing attempts (94) and receptions (87), which may be one reason why the Patriots seemed to de-emphasize him over the final month of the season; he didn’t have more than 10 touches in any of the last four games.,They ranked eighth in the league this season at 117.1 yards per game.,But McDaniels deserves genuine praise for much that he has done — the approach to the 10-point fourth-quarter comeback in the Super Bowl win over the Seahawks, the patience and poise in pulling off the 25-point comeback against the Falcons, the creativity in the rally from two touchdowns down against the Ravens in the AFC Championship Game in the 2014 season, and much smaller well-designed victories along the way as well.

Two years to the day after McVay became the youngest head coach in modern NFL history, he will attempt to earn his first playoff victory Saturday night when the Rams (13-3) host the Dallas Cowboys (11-6) for a trip to the NFC championship game.,LaFleur was on McVay's staff with the Rams last year, while Kingsbury is a good friend and like-minded offensive innovator.,Two of McVay's current assistant coaches — Rams quarterbacks coach Zac Taylor and passing game coordinator Shane Waldron — also landed recent interviews for head coaching jobs.,LaFleur was a longtime quarterbacks coach until McVay hired him as his offensive coordinator in 2017.,Kingsbury is coming off three consecutive losing seasons as the head coach at Texas Tech, but he improbably landed right next to McVay in the NFC West as the Arizona Cardinals' head coach.

Does it matter to most residents of Oregon, Washington, California, Arizona, Utah and Colorado whether their states' major college football programs match those in Alabama or Ohio dollar for dollar and victory for victory?,OK, more links: The O’s James Crepea takes a deep dive into Oregon’s 7-6 victory over Michigan State in the Redbox Bowl, the good, the bad, the encouraging and the discouraging.,Vince Grippi for the Spokesman-Review: Washington’s loss shows the Pac-12 just doesn’t measure up against college football’s elite level.,Joey Kaufman of the Los Angeles Daily News: Washington’s loss to Ohio State is one more Pac-12 disappointment.,Washington wilts in a Rose Bowl loss to Ohio State, leaving the Huskies with bigger questions.

Have the USC and UCLA football and basketball teams ever been collectively worse?The Sparks won the citys most recent title in 2016, but that coach is gone.,Yasiel Puig needed to be traded, but he also deserves a nice farewell, and heres hoping he hears it on his first game back with the Cincinnati Reds.For USC football, gritNow that Clay Helton has kept his job and addressed his offense with the hiring of noted passing guru Kliff Kingsbury, there is a bigger hurdle to clear, one that can only come from within.Its time for the program to get tough again.That attitude must start with Helton, who, even in these turbulent times, has remained the Nicest Man on the Planet.,The infamously dour coach often acted like a grump, and sometimes it seemed like his players werent having much fun.Kelly doesnt seem interested in selling the city on UCLA football beyond coaching its team, and thats too bad.,Theyre good enough, if only they can stay upright for long enough.For UCLA basketball, coachingMaybe Steve Alford can turn this surprising mess of an early season into a Sweet 16 appearance like hes done before with far less talented teams.But if he cant, heres guessing Bruin athletic officials, who showed their deep pockets with Chip Kelly, are going to pay for somebody who can.UCLA guard Kris Wilkes (13) drives to the basket against USC guard Shaqquan Aaron on March 3.,For LAFC, repeatThis towns newest sports franchise did everything right in its first year, including opening a sparkling new stadium and building a passionate new fan base.They need to just keep doing it, and maybe this time, throw in a playoff win?For the Galaxy, Zlatan IbrahimovicThats more than enough, thank you.For this column, an endingHappy holidays!

He learned this from his father, Tim, the former high school football coach and decorated Vietnam War veteran, and his mother, Sally, the government teacher and town mom who was running about 10 miles a day before cancer took her.Pushing 40, Kingsbury says he wants a family that exists outside of football too.,Dave Campbells Texas Football magazine summed up their plight thusly:Portrait of former New Braunfels High School football coach Tim Kingsbury at the school in New Braunfels, Texas.Pity poor New Braunfels, Tim says from memory.The whole town freaked out, he continues.,She got her first teaching job at New Braunfels High, so Tim followed.The head coach there, Jim Streety, heard Tim had a football background and asked him if he wanted to help coach the middle school.,Tim and Sallys boys, Klint and Kliff, spent most of their time up at the high school, sharing their parents with kids from all over New Braunfels, a charming river burg nestled in Texas sprawling Hill Country along Interstate 35 between Austin and San Antonio, then a town of about 20,000.,He played with a fire that did not have to be coached out of him.Portrait of former New Braunfels High School football coach Tim Kingsbury at the school.Tim picks up the tale with the state quarterfinal game against San Antonio power MacArthur, which had handed the Unicorns their only defeat.They get ahead of us 14-0 at the half, Tim says, and the kids are all in the locker room, and the only thing I say to them as they come inTim is suddenly all choked up again.We got them right where we want them!