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Best of the West College Football Top 25: Oklahoma losing Lincoln Riley is Pac-12’s gain, even if CU Buffs blew best window to beat USC



Best of the West College Football Top 25: Oklahoma losing Lincoln Riley is Pac-12’s gain, even if CU Buffs blew best window to beat USC

Lincoln Riley took the chicken’s path to Troy. Let’s be clear on that, first and foremost.

The now-former Oklahoma football coach saw the SEC writing on the wall, the shadow of an annual showdown with Alabama and Nick Saban, and hopped the first luxury train outta town.

That said, Riley joining USC is the best news to hit the Pac-12 in years. For CU Buffs fans, though … not so much.

The upside: A rising tide at the top of your league lifts all boats. Marquee brands matter. When USC, Oregon and Washington are relevant nationally, the Pac-12 is, too. The Ducks have had to carry the water by themselves for far too long.

With Riley picking up the baton in Los Angeles, that’s about to change. The Big Ten went through a similar revolution a decade ago when Ohio State hired Urban Meyer, creating a domino effect that saw Michigan hire Jim Harbaugh and Penn State grab James Franklin. As a league, you tend to go as your bluebloods go, at least from a perception standpoint.

The flipside: The Pac-12 South has another sheriff, and the Buffs might’ve just seen their best window to beat USC — head-to-head, and on the recruiting front — slip out of their hands. CU is 0-15 all-time against the Trojans, and 0-10 since joining the Pac-12 for the 2011 season.

Not that there haven’t been close games, mind you.  The Buffs infamously had USC on the ropes twice in The Clay Helton Era (2016-2021, R.I.P.). CU had Helton dead to rights in Mel Tucker’s only season at the helm. The Buffs took a 31-21 lead into the final quarter under the lights before the Trojans rallied for 14 unanswered points in a 35-31 victory.

Riley posted a record of 37-4 (.902) against unranked teams from 2017-21 with the Sooners, with two losses coming to Iowa State (’17, ’20) and two to Kansas State (’19, ’20).

More often than not, the man takes care of business. And the business of winning the Pac-12 South just got a lot more complicated for CU.

The Trojans (4-7) and Buffs (4-8) turned up at No. 14 and No. 17, respectively, in the latest Denver Post Best of the West Top 25 College Football Poll.

USC stomped CU 37-14 at Folsom back on Oct. 2. The Buffs put up a 3-4 record after that meeting, while the Men of Troy, who finish the regular season at California (4-7) on Saturday, have gone 1-5 since.

The Post’s Best of the West College Football poll each Monday ranks the top 25 FBS programs from the Front Range to the Pacific Ocean, as culled from the Pac-12, the Mountain West and BYU.

Post columnist Sean Keeler (@SeanKeeler), Post deputy sports editor Matt Schubert (@MattDSchubert) and Post reporter Kyle Fredrickson (@KyleFredrickson) vote on the top 25.

The rest of the latest rankings follow, with in-state teams listed in bold:


School Previous Up next
1. BYU (10-2) *(2) 1 TBA
2. Utah (8-3) 3 vs. Oregon in Pac-12 Championship Game, Fri.
3. Oregon (10-2) *(1) 2 vs. Utah in Pac-12 Championship Game, Fri.
4. San Diego State (11-1) 4 vs. Utah State in MW Championship Game
5. Fresno State (9-3) 5 TBA
6. UCLA (8-4)
7. Air Force (9-3) 6 TBA
▲8. Utah State (9-3) 13 at San Diego State in MW Championship Game
9. Arizona State (8-4) 10 TBA
10. Washington State (7-5) 11 TBA
11. Nevada (8-4) 12 TBA
12. Boise State (7-5) 8 TBA
▼13. Oregon State (7-5) 7 TBA
14. USC (4-7) 16 at California
15. California (4-7) 15 vs. USC
16. Wyoming (6-6) 14 TBA
17. Colorado (4-8) 17
18. Washington (4-8) 19
19. Hawaii (6-7) 21 TBA
20. Stanford (3-9) 20
21. San Jose State (5-7) 18
22. Colorado State (3-9)
23. UNLV (2-10) 23
24. Arizona (1-11) 24
25. New Mexico (3-9) 25

*First-place votes in parenthesis

▲= Biggest climb of the week
▼= Biggest drop of the week
The next Best of the West poll will post Monday, Dec. 6.

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Ex-Chicago Bears star Dan Hampton gets one year probation in Indiana drunken driving case



Ex-Chicago Bears star Dan Hampton gets one year probation in Indiana drunken driving case

An Indiana judge sentenced Bears Hall of Famer Dan Hampton to a year probation and other conditions after he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor drunken driving charge last month.

Hampton, 64, had an open jug of wine in his truck and had a blood alcohol level twice the legal limit when he was stopped by a Winfield police officer Nov. 20, according to charging documents.

Lake Superior Judge Julie Cantrell accepted his plea on Dec. 22, court records show.

“Mr. Hampton deeply regrets the decision that he made on that particular evening, but he’s accepted responsibility for his actions and he’s looking forward to successfully completing all the terms of his probation,” his lawyer Matt Fech said Monday.

He admitted Dec. 21 to Operating a Vehicle While Intoxicated, a class A misdemeanor. In exchange, prosecutors dropped his other pending misdemeanor charges. Hampton would attend a court-ordered substance abuse program, victim impact panel, complete a defensive driving course and an option for 10 days in jail or community service.

An officer pulled Hampton’s black Chevrolet truck over on the 11700 block of Iowa Street just before 7:30 p.m. Nov. 20 as he was driving 68 mph in a 40 mph zone, according to court documents.

Hampton, three miles from his Winfield home, claimed he had five beers at a friend’s house in Lowell, documents said. Later at the hospital, he learned his blood alcohol level was .189. The legal limit in Indiana is .08.

“That’s really high,” he whispered, before an officer took him to jail, documents said. He posted a $2,500 bond on Nov. 23.

Known to fans as “Danimal,” Hampton played as a defensive lineman for the Bears from 1979 to 1990, including the 1985 Super Bowl Championship team and is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He hosts “The Hamp and O’B” show on WGN Radio with former Bears Ed O’Bradovich, Glen Kozlowski and host Mark Carman.

He was originally charged with operation of a vehicle with a specified amount of alcohol in body, a class A misdemeanor, operating while intoxicated endangering a person, both class A misdemeanors, and operating while intoxicated, a class C misdemeanor.

Hampton had previous drunken driving arrests in 2002 in Arkansas, days before he was voted into the NFL Hall of Fame. He served a week in jail and was fined $1,000, according to CNN. He also had past alcohol-related arrests in 1996 and 1997, according to media reports.

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Big voting bill faces defeat as 2 Dems won’t stop filibuster



Sinema, Manchin slammed as Senate begins voting bill debate


WASHINGTON (AP) — Voting legislation that’s a top priority for Democrats and civil rights leaders seemed headed for defeat as the Senate opened Tuesday, a devastating setback enabled by President Joe Biden’s own party as two holdout senators refuse to support rule changes to overcome a Republican filibuster.

The Democratic senators, Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Joe Manchin of West Virginia, face strong criticism from Black leaders and civil rights organizations for failing to take on what the critics call the “Jim Crow filibuster.”

The debate carries echoes of an earlier era when the Senate filibuster was deployed by opponents of civil rights legislation. It comes as Democrats and other voting advocates nationwide warn that Republican-led states are passing laws making it more difficult for Black Americans and others to vote by consolidating polling locations, requiring certain types of identification and ordering other changes.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer acknowledged the current bill’s likely defeat this week. But he said the fight is not over as he heeds advocates’ call to force all senators to go on record with their positions.

“The eyes of the nation will be watching what happens this week,” Schumer said as he opened the session Tuesday.

This is the fifth time the Senate will try to pass voting legislation this Congress.

The Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act combines earlier bills into one package that would make Election Day a national holiday, ensure access to early voting and mail-in ballots — which have become especially popular during the COVID-19 pandemic— and enable the Justice Department to intervene in states with a history of voter interference, among other changes.

Both Manchin and Sinema say they support the package, which has passed the House, but they are unwilling to change the Senate rules to muscle it through that chamber over Republican objections. With a 50-50 split, Democrats have a narrow Senate majority — Vice President Kamala Harris can break a tie — but they lack the 60 votes needed to overcome the GOP filibuster.

Just as they blocked Biden’s broad “Build Back Better” domestic spending package, the two senators are now dashing hopes for the second major part of Biden’s presidential agenda. They are infuriating many of their colleagues and faced a barrage of criticism during Martin Luther King Jr. Day events.

Martin Luther King III, the son of the late civil rights leader, compared Sinema and Manchin to a white moderate his father wrote about during the civil rights battles of the 1950s and 1960s — a person who declared support for the goals of Black voting rights but not the direct actions or demonstrations that ultimately led to passage of landmark legislation.

“History will not remember them kindly,” the younger King said, referring to Sinema and Manchin by name.

Once reluctant to change Senate rules himself, Biden used the King holiday to pressure senators to do just that. But the push from the White House, including Biden’s blistering speech last week in Atlanta comparing opponents to segregationists, is seen as too late, coming as the president ends his first year in office with his popularity sagging.

“It’s time for every elected official in America to make it clear where they stand,” Biden said on the King holiday. “It’s time for every American to stand up. Speak out, be heard. Where do you stand?”

The Senate is launching what could become a weeklong debate, but the outcome is expected to be no different from past failed votes on the legislation. Biden has been unable to persuade Sinema and Manchin to join other Democrats to change the rules to lower the 60-vote threshold. In fact, Sinema upstaged the president last week, reiterating her opposition to the rules changes just before Biden arrived on Capitol Hill to court senators’ votes.

Senators have been working nonstop for weeks on rule changes that could win support from Sinema and Manchin. The two, both moderates, have expressed openness to discussing the ideas, but have not given their backing.

Both Manchin and Sinema have argued that preserving the filibuster rules, requiring a 60-vote majority to pass most legislation, is important for fostering bipartisanship. They also warn of what would happen if Republicans win back majority control, as is distinctly possible this election year.

Critics have also assailed Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, who is leading his party against the voting legislation. The Kentucky senator has argued the legislation is a federal overreach into state-run elections, and he harshly criticized Biden’s speech last week as “unpresidential.”

“We cannot think of a time more defining to the American story than the chapter you are presently writing,” NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson wrote in an open letter to the Senate.

“What country will your children and grandchildren be left with, given the relentless assaults on American freedom and democracy?”

Manchin spokeswoman Sam Runyon said in a statement late Monday: “Senator Manchin believes strongly that every American citizen of legal age has not only the right, but also the responsibility to vote and that right must be protected by law. He continues to work on legislation to protect this right.”

Sinema’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

The voting bill was the Democrats’ top priority this Congress, and the House swiftly approved H.R. 1 only to see it languish in the Senate.

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Sunny skies Tuesday with high temps in the low-50s



Sunny skies Tuesday with high temps in the low-50s

ST. LOUIS- The city of Maryland Heights’ Economic Development Commission meets Tuesday night to discuss a number of local projects, including an update on plans to bring new restaurant life to a former Steak N’ Shake restaurant.

The restaurant, formerly located at 12607 Dorsett, was one of many Steak N’ Shake locations to close in the St. Louis area in 2019, when the company shut down more than half a dozen of them while in search of franchise partners.

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