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LSU, Brian Kelly agree to 10-year contract worth at least $95M

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LSU, Brian Kelly agree to 10-year contract worth at least $95M

LSU formally announced the hiring of Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly on Tuesday and said they have agreed to a 10-year contract worth $95 million plus incentives.

The hiring of Kelly — who has led Notre Dame for the past 12 seasons and eclipsed Knute Rockne for career victories with the storied Fighting Irish — came together on Monday night in yet another blockbuster coaching move in college football.

“Brian Kelly is the epitome of a winner,” LSU athletic director Scott Woodward said. “He has built and sustained success at every program he’s led, from multiple undefeated regular seasons and National Coach of the Year honors to (Division II) national titles and College Football Playoff berths. His credentials and consistency speak for themselves.”

Kelly replaces Ed Orgeron, a Louisiana native who won a national title at LSU just two seasons ago with Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Joe Burrow leading the Tigers to a 15-0 record. Orgeron has gone 11-11 since and agreed in October to a $17 million buyout that would have him step down at the end of this season.

Orgeron coached his final game last Saturday, when the Tigers upset then-No. 14 Texas A&M to finish the regular season 6-6.

Like Orgeron, Kelly is 60 but the similarities more or less end there. Orgeron is a Cajun raised in the shadow of shrimp trawlers on the Bayou Lafourche southwest of New Orleans. He was raised on LSU football and idolized the Tigers stars of the past.

Kelly came from an Irish-Catholic family in the Boston area and is bound to be far more familiar with using nut crackers to pick the meat our of a lobster claw than with sucking seasoned juices from the heads of boiled crawfish.

But he has recruited in Louisiana, where LSU gets much of its elite home-grown talent. In recent history, Louisiana has produced as much NFL talent per capita as any state.

“I could not be more excited to join a program with the commitment to excellence, rich traditions, and unrivaled pride and passion of LSU football,” Kelly said. “I am fully committed to recruiting, developing, and graduating elite student-athletes, winning championships, and working together with our administration to make Louisiana proud.

“Our potential is unlimited,” Kelly added. “I cannot wait to call Baton Rouge home.”

LSU scheduled a flight for Kelly to Baton Rouge on Tuesday, inviting fans to greet the coach at the airport, and set Kelly’s introductory media conference for Wednesday.

Kelly is 113-40 as a head coach, including a current run of five straight double-digit victory seasons.

No previous Notre Dame coach has left the Irish, winners of eight AP national championships, to take a job at another school since the AP poll started in 1936. Rockne’s successor, Hunk Anderson, went from Notre Dame to North Carolina State after going 3-5-1 in 1933.

Notre Dame (11-1) remains in contention to reach the College Football Playoff for the third time in the last four years.

LSU paid Orgeron nearly $9 million this season, making him among the highest paid coaches in college football along with Alabama’s Nick Saban, Clemson’s Dabo Swinney, Texas A&M’s Jimbo Fisher and, in the past month, Mel Tucker of Michigan State and James Franklin at Penn State. That list certainly now includes USC’s Lincoln Riley, who bolted Oklahoma over the weekend in the other big coaching move this week.

Orgeron was due to make an average of $7 million over the length of his six-year that ran through 2025. Kelly’s full salary at Notre Dame, a private school, is unknown but it was believed to be more than $5 million per year.

While Kelly has no personal ties to the South, neither did two of the past three national-title winning coaches at LSU. Les Miles, who won a title in the 2007 season, was a Michigan man who coached at Oklahoma State before replacing Saban in Baton Rouge. Saban, who won the BCS championship in the 2003 season, is a West Virginia native who came to LSU from Michigan State.

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Man convicted of murder in 1991 Grand Junction pipe bombings seeks new trial

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Man convicted of murder in 1991 Grand Junction pipe bombings seeks new trial

James Genrich is serving a life sentence at the Arkansas Valley Correctional Facility. (Colorado Department of Corrections)

Nearly three decades after James Genrich was convicted of planting a series of pipe bombs in Grand Junction that killed two people and terrorized the community for months, the now-59-year-old returned to court Monday to argue that the guilty verdict was based on bogus evidence and should be overturned.

Attorneys for Genrich, who is serving life in prison for first-degree murder, argued in Mesa County District Court that the prosecution’s most critical piece of evidence in the case — an expert’s opinion that tools Genrich owned made marks on the bombs — was flawed, and that Genrich should be granted a new trial.

“That might have been enough to convict Mr. Genrich 30 years ago… but it is not enough today,” said Tania Brief, an attorney with the Innocence Project, a nonprofit organization dedicated to exonerating wrongly convicted people.

During Genrich’s 1993 jury trial in Greeley, an expert for the prosecution matched tool marks on the bombs to three tools owned by Genrich, and told the jury that the marks on the bombs must have been made by Genrich’s tools. The expert said his analysis excluded the use of any other tools.

But a 2009 report by the National Academy of Sciences cast doubt on the expert’s methods, finding that the practice of tool-mark analysis was not scientifically validated and could lead to incorrect conclusions.

The tool marks were the only physical evidence tying Genrich to the crimes, and his conviction was controversial from the beginning. The case against him involved prosecutorial misconduct, tactics by law enforcement that a judge called “reprehensible” and a contempt-of-court charge for the prosecution’s tool-mark expert because he refused to turn over evidence to the defense despite court orders.

Mesa County District Attorney Dan Rubinstein said Monday he believes the tool-mark analysis that tied Genrich to the bombings was accurate.

“I stand by the conviction, and I stand by the reliability of the tool-mark evidence,” he said. “The experts that we have consulted with and intend to call at the hearing, we believe will support that this is reliable.”

The Colorado Court of Appeals in 2019 found that Genrich was entitled to a hearing to determine whether he should be given a new trial because of the potentially flawed tool-mark evidence. The hearing, which began Monday, is expected to last through Wednesday. District Court Judge Richard Gurley then has several weeks in which decide whether Genrich should be given a new trial.

Genrich has maintained his innocence since the 1991 attacks. Then 28, Genrich was living in downtown Grand Junction and working at the Two Rivers Convention Center when a bomb went off in the center’s parking garage on Feb. 14, 1991. A man was injured but no one was killed in that bombing.

1643052205 533 Man convicted of murder in 1991 Grand Junction pipe bombings

Associated Press file photo

In this February 1992 file photo, James Genrich, 29, heads in to the Mesa County Courthouse to be arraigned on three counts of first-degree murder and other charges in conjunction with three pipe bombings. A Mesa County grand jury indicted Genrich on 10 counts.

In April 1991, a family got into their van in Grand Junction to go shopping and a bomb under a wheel well exploded, killing 12-year-old Maria Delores Gonzales. Just weeks later, in June, Henry Ruble, 43, and his wife were driving home from dinner in downtown Grand Junction when they spotted a strange object in the restaurant parking lot. Ruble picked it up and died when it exploded.

Investigators at the time faced immense public pressure to identify the bomber, and Genrich became a top suspect when he went to a bookstore after the three bombings and asked for a book that included instructions on bomb-making. Prosecutors relied heavily on circumstantial evidence to build the case, including notes Genrich wrote that were found in his apartment in which he expressed a desire to kill women and said he might harm “innocents.”

Genrich had been seen in some of the areas where the 1991 bombs detonated, and lived within walking distance of two sites. He’d studied electronics, and investigators found two fuses in his apartment that were the same type as those used in one of the bombs.

Investigators did not find any gunpowder, schematics or bomb-making tools in Genrich’s apartment. They did seize some of his tools, which the expert later matched to marks on an unexploded bomb that had been discovered in Grand Junction in 1989.

However, Genrich lived in Phoenix in 1989 and was at work in a bookstore there when the first bomb was placed in Grand Junction. (During the trial, prosecutors suggested he may have worked with an accomplice, but never named anyone.) Additionally, a white vehicle was seen at each of the 1991 bombings, and Genrich did not own or have access to a vehicle.

A witness also testified that he saw a “Spanish-looking man” handling one of the bombs; Genrich is white.

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Omar Kelly: Is Dolphins’ coaching vacancy attractive when compared to other openings?

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Omar Kelly: Is Dolphins’ coaching vacancy attractive when compared to other openings?

It is critically important to have an awareness of where you stack up with your competition, especially when competing for the same job — or in the Miami Dolphins’ case, prospective coaches.

One-fourth of the teams in the league are searching for a new coach, and according to numerous people with insight on this NFL job market, the Dolphins have what is viewed as a “middle of the pack” opening when it comes to the eight vacant head coaching positions.

To be clear, there are pros and cons to the New York Giants, Minnesota Vikings, Las Vegas Raiders, Jacksonville Jaguars, Houston Texans, Denver Broncos and Dolphins’ head coach openings.

Some of teams (Broncos) might come with an unstable ownership or leadership group situation.

A handful (Texans, Raiders and Vikings) feature expensive, but top-shelf quarterbacks. Others (Jaguars, Dolphins, Bears) possess young quarterbacks who have upside, but need some refining.

A few (Giants, Raiders, Bears and Vikings) will come with new general managers. Some (Dolphins, Jaguars, Broncos) feature GM’s that will likely be on the hot seat if the new coaching staff doesn’t produce wins immediately.

While the Dolphins are in a destination location, and have an owner in Steve Ross who will spare no expense to improve his organization and team, concerns have been raised about the selling points of the Miami vacancy.

With Ross’ age (81), and impending divorce, there are concerns about when he’ll eventually transfer ownership to New York businessman Bruce Beal Jr., who has the right of first option to purchase the franchise.

Also, the perceived lack of stability that general manager Chris Grier has in his post as the team’s top football executive has turned some prospective candidates in this cycle off.

According to a source, the concern is that Grier, who is once again part of the Dolphins’ search committee, could be replaced in a year or two, and then a new general manager could want to pick their own head coach.

Ross has said he prefers to hire first-time head coaches and typically wants his coaches to be on the younger side, which might explain why former Philadelphia Eagles coach Doug Pederson (53) and former Indianapolis Colts and Detroit Lions coach Jim Caldwell (67) are in the mix for other openings, but seemingly not Miami’s.

Also, the organization’s supposed commitment to Tua Tagovailoa as the team’s starting quarterback, and face of the franchise could be problematic because it would force the hand of the next head coach.

“The Giants didn’t go into their process telling teams Daniel Jones is their guy,” said a candidate who spoke to multiple teams about openings this cycle. “They asked, ‘What would your plan be at quarterback?’ ”

At this point, it is unclear what Ross and Grier’s private stance on Tagovailoa is. But publicly the team has expressed a desire to build around the 2020 first-round pick, and that could lead to a prospective coach moving another team ahead of Miami on their list.

The biggest concern the Dolphins could face in the coming days is whether their top candidate — whether it’s Buffalo offensive and defensive coordinators Brian Daboll and Leslie Frazier, San Francisco offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel, Dallas offensive or defensive coordinators Kellen Moore and Dan Quinn, Los Angeles Rams assistant head coach Thomas Brown and Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator Vance Joseph — would pick the Dolphins over another job.

Another factor entering the equation in this search is Ross’ push for improving diversity in the NFL’s positions of power.

A year ago the Dolphins were one of two franchise’s that had a minority at general manager and head coach, accompanied by Washington, which has Martin Mayhew as general manager and Ron Rivera as coach.

Ross is one of the league’s biggest advocates for diversity, which gives Joseph, Frazier and Brown a legit shot to replace Flores, if they interview well and provide an impressive presentation that outlines their four-year plan to turn the Dolphins into a perennial winner.

For Joseph, who spent one season with the Dolphins as Adam Gase’s defensive coordinator before becoming Denver’s head coach (12-21 record in two seasons), and Frazier, who coached Minnesota to a 21-32 record in his four seasons, the top concern for Miami has to be who will handle the offense and who will develop the quarterback for these defensive-minded coaches.

That was one of the factors in Miami’s decision to move on from Flores, and it could be the main factor in determining who replaces him.

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Stillwater’s first snow-sculpting contest draws frosty artists worldwide

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Stillwater’s first snow-sculpting contest draws frosty artists worldwide

A team of Canadians has chipped and hacked their way into record books — as the winners of Stillwater’s first international snow-sculpting contest.

“It was incredible,” said Chamber of Commerce director Robin Anthony on Monday. Anthony said the World Snow Sculpting Championship attracted 40,000 people this the weekend.

The winning team created a sculpture of a family riding on a hobby horse, one of many 10-foot-tall creations that turned Lowell Park into a Nordic sculpture garden.

The winner, Team JetSet from Canada, consists of Jessie Armand, Carlos Migue Ramirz Pereyra and Christopher Power. Second place went to Team Pichincha of Ecuador, and the Space Cowboys of Minnesota won third place.

In the inaugural event, three-member teams from around the world competed, including teams from Turkey and Germany. The teams had three days to complete their entries, which will remain available for viewing this week — as long as they don’t melt.
The chamber’s Anthony was delighted with the turnout.

“All the restaurants and bars were full,” she said.

The chamber signed a contract to host the event for three years. Anthony is looking forward to next year, when international travel restrictions should be lifted. Then, she said, there should be teams from 12 countries competing.

She said the sculptures will increase interest in another event — the city’s Fire & Ice Winter Social, this Friday and Saturday.

Anthony predicted that this year’s attendance would be far more than last year’s, when  winter events were hampered by COVID restrictions. She said that at the 2021 Fire & Ice, only 250 people could be allowed in Lowell Park at one time.

IF YOU GO
For information about hours and events in Stillwater’s Fire & Ice Winter Social, visit events.discoverstillwater.com.

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