Yahoo Sports AM: The changing of the guard

In today's edition: A bonkers Belichick-Saban-Carroll stat, the NBA in Paris, the year of the senior in men's college hoops, "Behind the Lens" with Getty Images, and more.

We hope you enjoy this edition of Yahoo Sports AM, our daily newsletter that keeps you up to date on all things sports. Sign up here to get it delivered to your inbox every weekday morning.

🚨 Headlines

🏀 Thunder 139, Trail Blazers 77: OKC beat Portland by 62 points on Thursday, tied for the fifth-largest rout in NBA history.

🏈 FSU penalized: The NCAA is levying significant penalties on Florida State football for NIL-related recruiting violations. Among them: The program must disassociate from its NIL collective for one season.

🏒 Nine straight wins: The Panthers and Oilers both won in overtime on Thursday to extending their NHL-best nine-game winning streaks.

⚾️ Stroman to the Bronx: The Yankees got some much-needed rotation help on Thursday, landing Marcus Stroman on a two-year, $37 million deal.

🏈 The changing of the guard

Bill Belichick and Robert Kraft during Thursday's press conference. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Bill Belichick and Robert Kraft during Thursday's press conference. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

I could write a whole newsletter about Bill Belichick's tenure in New England, which ended Thursday.

  • ‌I could do the same for Nick Saban's time at Alabama. Or for Pete Carroll's USC years and the "Legion of Boom."

  • But for now, I'll just share a single stat that sums up the outsized impact those three have had on football this century.

Stat of the day: Since 2000, there have been 24 Super Bowls and 24 college football title games. Belichick, Saban and Carroll have coached in 22 of those games (46%) and won 15 of them (31%).

From Yahoo Sports…

Bill Belichick finally succumbed to the NFL's mean. Defying it so long is what made him a legend (Dan Wetzel)

In 2015, when Bill Belichick was at the height of his powers, the Patriots won 19 out of 25 times. The odds of such a thing, the Boston Globe computed, was 0.0073, or less than three quarters of 1%. There was no secret, of course. It was luck and, to briefly get into the mathematical weeds, actually not that improbable (more like a 20% possibility). It just seemed that Belichick had figured something out that no one else had.

No country for old coaches (Jay Busbee)

The departures of Belichick (age 71), Saban (72) and Carroll (72) don't just represent the end of an era in their respective towns. They also likely mark the end of coaches remaining in the profession until well into their 70s. The ever-changing nature of the game, impatient ownership/fans/boosters and astronomical paychecks will all combine to move coaches from the sideline to the recliner at an ever-faster pace.

🇫🇷 Mitchell leads Cavs in Paris

(Mustafa Yalcin/Anadolu via Getty Images)
(Mustafa Yalcin/Anadolu via Getty Images)

Donovan Mitchell had himself a day in Paris, scoring a season-high 45 points to lead the Cavaliers past the Nets, 111-102, in the NBA's third regular-season game in the French capital.

The French connection: With Victor Wembanyama headlining a record French presence in the NBA this season, and with Paris hosting the 2024 Olympics, the French market has become more important to the league.

  • NBA League Pass subscriptions are up 26% in France and the NBA App has seen a 68% increase in average weekly viewers, per the league.

  • Commissioner Adam Silver said the NBA plans to be back in Paris next year, possibly for two games this time. And Wembanyama's Spurs are expected to be one of the teams, per The Athletic ($).

The NBA's global growth: When Michael Jordan's Bulls played in Paris in 1997, there were 29 international players in the NBA. This season? 125 from 40 different countries, representing nearly a third of the league.

🏀 The year of the senior

Reigning Wooden Award recipient Zach Edey is a favorite to win again. (Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
Reigning Wooden Award recipient Zach Edey is a favorite to win again. (Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

It's the year of the senior in men's college basketball, and the list of the best players in the country proves it.

Wooden watchlist: 19 of the 25 players on the Wooden Award midseason watchlist are seniors, by far the most compared to recent seasons.

  • Max Abmas, G (Texas)

  • Armando Bacot, F/C (UNC)

  • L.J. Cryer, G (Houston)

  • R.J. Davis, G (UNC)

  • Hunter Dickinson, C (Kansas)

  • Zach Edey, C (Purdue)

  • P.J. Hall, C (Clemson)

  • David Jones, F (Memphis)

  • Dalton Knecht, G (Tennessee)

  • Tyler Kolek, G (Marquette)

  • Jaedon LeDee, F (SDSU)

  • Caleb Love, G (Arizona)

  • Kevin McCullar Jr., G (Kansas)

  • Tristen Newton, G (UConn)

  • Antonio Reeves, G (Kentucky)

  • Baylor Scheierman, G (Creighton)

  • Mark Sears, G (Alabama)

  • Isaiah Stevens, G (Colorado State)

  • Tyson Walker, G (Michigan State)

The other six contenders: FAU junior guard Johnell Davis, Colorado junior guard K.J. Simpson, Texas A&M junior guard Wade Taylor IV, Duke sophomore center Kyle Filipowski, Kentucky freshman guard Reed Sheppard and Baylor freshman guard Ja'Kobe Walter.

By comparison: There were 11 seniors on last season's Wooden Award midseason watchlist, five in 2022, and eight in 2021, 2020 and 2019.

In related news… Iowa senior Caitlin Clark headlines the women's watchlist.

📸 Behind the lens: PBR at Madison Square Garden

(Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
(Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

Each week, we go “Behind the Lens” with Getty Images to get the backstory on the best photographs in sports.

This week's photos: The Professional Bull Riders tour returned to Madison Square Garden last weekend for the sixth stop on the 2024 circuit. The arena made quite the transition for the event, which required 1.5 million pounds of dirt.

Behind the lens: I spoke with Getty Images photographer Sarah Stier about what it was like shooting this event. Take it away, Sarah...

(Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
(Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

I grew up in an area surrounded by farms, and a weekend activity for many people was going to the rodeo. So this was a really fun event for me personally, and the crowd of New Yorkers — who rarely get to see bull riding in person — provided an electric atmosphere.

(Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
(Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

Like any sport, you are looking for peak action and moments of emotion, but the environment of bull riding lends itself to storytelling. I like little details that I can find — spurs of a boot, a tattered Bible that an athlete has probably read through over and over each time he competes, or even the dust swirling in the air that muddies the arena lights.

⚽️ AFCON team nicknames, ranked

Vendors in the Ivory Coast sell kits of the participating nations. (Issouf Sanogo/AFP via Getty Images)
Vendors in the Ivory Coast sell kits of the participating nations. (Issouf Sanogo/AFP via Getty Images)

The 34th Africa Cup of Nations begins Saturday in the Ivory Coast, with 24 teams fighting for continental supremacy in the biennial tournament, Jeff writes.

Team nicknames, ranked: Morocco, coming off a stunning run to the World Cup semifinals at Qatar 2022, are the top-ranked nation in the field in terms of their on-field product (world No. 13). But where does their Atlas Lions nickname land?

  1. Cameroon: Indomitable Lions

  2. Equatorial Guinea: National Thunder

  3. Zambia: Copper Bullets

  4. South Africa: Bafana Bafana

  5. Tunisia: Eagles of Carthage

  6. Ghana: Black Stars

  7. Algeria: Desert Foxes

  8. Senegal: Lions of Teranga

  9. Ivory Coast: Les Éléphants

  10. Mozambique: Mambas

  11. Nigeria: Super Eagles

  12. Guinea Bissau: African Wild Dogs

  13. Egypt: Pharaohs

  14. Morocco: Atlas Lions

  15. Namibia: Brave Warriors

  16. Tanzania: Kilimanjaro Stars

  17. Cape Verde: Blue Sharks

  18. The Gambia: Scorpions

  19. DR Congo: Leopards

  20. Burkina Faso: Stallions

  21. Angola: Sable Antelopes

  22. Mauritania: Almoravids

  23. Mali: Eagles

  24. Guinea: National Elephants

Tournament preview: A crowded field of contenders

📆 Jan. 12, 1969: The first (official) Super Bowl

Joe Namath drops back to pass during Super Bowl III. (Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
Joe Namath drops back to pass during Super Bowl III. (Focus on Sport/Getty Images)

55 years ago today, the Jets beat the heavily-favored Colts, 16-7, in Super Bowl III — the first matchup between the AFC and NFC champions to officially be called the Super Bowl, Jeff writes.

A historic upset: New York's win as an 18-point underdog, guaranteed the day before by future Hall of Fame QB Joe Namath, remains the biggest Super Bowl upset ever.

More on this day:

  • 🏀 1992: Troy State beat DeVry, 258-141*, in the highest-scoring NCAA basketball game ever.

  • 🏈 2015: Ohio State beat Oregon, 42-20, in the inaugural CFP title game.

*Or was it 253-141? SB Nation's Jon Bois dove into this game and found, by his own count, that Troy State scored “only” 253 points. The discrepancy, he believes, stems from human error by the scorekeeper who counted a dunk that came after play was blown dead, as well as a three-pointer that simply never happened.

📺 Watchlist: Super Wild Card Weekend

(Yahoo Sports)
(Yahoo Sports)

We won't be back in your inboxes until Tuesday due to the holiday weekend, so we've got you covered below with all the best games from Friday-Monday.

The NFL playoffs kick off this weekend with the Wild Card Round, as 12 teams begin their Super Bowl quest while the Ravens and 49ers enjoy their byes, Jeff writes.

  • Browns (-2) at Texans (Sat. 4:30pm ET, NBC): Joe Flacco, whose nine-year gap between playoff starts is the second-longest ever, is 5-0 on wild card weekend.

  • Dolphins (+4.5) at Chiefs (Sat. 8:15pm, Peacock): This is the first NFL playoff game to be exclusively streamed. That's right, folks: they're putting Taylor Swift behind a paywall.

  • Steelers (+10) at Bills (Sun. 1pm, CBS): These two teams have met in the playoffs three times (Divisional Round in 1974, 1993 and 1996). Each time, the winner made the Super Bowl.

  • Packers (+7) at Cowboys (Sun. 4:30pm, Fox): Mike McCarthy faces the team that fired him (and the coach who replaced him) in one of the NFL's most common playoff matchups*.

  • Rams (+3) at Lions (Sun. 8:15pm, NBC): Detroit's long-suffering fans should bring plenty of energy to this battle of former No. 1 picks — who were traded for each other — in Matthew Stafford and Jared Goff.

  • Eagles (-3) at Buccaneers (Mon. 8:15pm, ESPN/ABC): Philly will look to channel the team that started 10-1, not the one that finished 1-5. Tampa will look to channel the team that finished 5-1, not the one that started 4-7.

More to watch:

  • 🎾 Australian Open: Days 1-2 (Sun-Mon, ESPN/ESPN2)

  • 🏀 NBA: Kings at 76ers (Fri. 7:30pm, ESPN); Pelicans at Nuggets (Fri. 10pm, ESPN); Warriors at Bucks (Sat. 8pm, NBA); **Thunder at Lakers (Mon. 10:30pm, NBA)

  • 🏀 NCAAM: No. 5 Tennessee at Georgia (Sat. 12pm, ESPN2); Syracuse at No. 7 UNC (Sat. 12pm, ESPN); No. 9 Oklahoma at No. 3 Kansas (Sat. 2pm, ESPN+); No. 2 Houston at TCU (Sat. 6pm, ESPN); Georgetown at No. 4 UConn (Sun. 12pm, Fox)

  • 🏀 NCAAW: No. 10 Texas at No. 12 Kansas State (Sat. 2pm, ESPNU); No. 14 Indiana at No. 3 Iowa (Sat. 8pm, Fox); No. 11 Virginia Tech at No. 21 FSU (Sun. 1pm, ESPN); No. 8 Stanford at No. 5 Colorado (Sun. 2pm, Pac-12); No. 2 UCLA at No. 9 USC (Sun. 5pm, Pac-12)

  • ⚽️ Premier League: Newcastle vs. Man City (Sat. 12:30pm, NBC); Man United vs. Tottenham (Sun. 11:30am, Peacock)

  • 🏒 NHL: Rangers at Capitals (Sat. 1pm, ABC); Avalanche at Maple Leafs (Sat. 7pm, NHL)

  • ⛳️ PGA: Sony Open (Fri-Sun, ESPN+/Peacock/Golf/NBC)

  • 🏈 CFB: Hula Bowl (Sat. 12pm, CBSSN) … Annual All-Star Game featuring top senior prospects.

*Tied at the top: This will be the ninth playoff meeting between the Cowboys and Packers, tied with Cowboys-49ers, Cowboys-Rams and Packers-49ers for the most ever between two teams.

💵 Coach trivia

(Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
(Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Bill Belichick was the highest-paid coach in U.S. sports by average annual contract value ($20 million annually).

  • Question: With Belichick out in New England, who replaces him atop the list at $18 million annually?

  • Hint: He's only been with his current team for one season.

Answer at the bottom.

🥶 The coldest NFL playoff games

Packer fans during the 1967 NFL Championship Game at Lambeau Field. (Bettmann Archive/Getty Images)
Packer fans during the 1967 NFL Championship Game at Lambeau Field. (Bettmann Archive/Getty Images)

Saturday's Chiefs-Dolphins game in Kansas City could be one of the coldest games in NFL history, with a projected low of -6 degrees Fahrenheit, Jeff writes.

The frozen four: If this game does creep into negative numbers, it will join just four other playoff games ever contested in sub-zero temperatures.

  • 1967 NFL Championship (-13 degrees): The Packers beat the Cowboys, 21-17, at Lambeau Field in the Ice Bowl.

  • 1981 AFC Championship (-9 degrees): The Bengals beat the Chargers, 27-7, at home in the Freezer Bowl.

  • 2015 NFC Wild Card (-6 degrees): The Seahawks beat the Vikings, 10-9, during one of the rare seasons that Minnesota played home games outdoors.

  • 2007 NFC Championship (-3 degrees): The Giants beat the Packers, 23-20, at Lambeau in a game best remembered for Tom Coughlin's frozen face.

What to watch: A Chiefs victory would be Patrick Mahomes' 10th home playoff win, tying him with Joe Montana and Peyton Manning for the second-most in NFL history behind Tom Brady's 21.

Trivia answer: Sean Payton

We hope you enjoyed this edition of Yahoo Sports AM, our daily newsletter that keeps you up to date on all things sports. Sign up here to get it delivered to your inbox every weekday morning.