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Need a one-stop shop to catch up on the top sports stories big and small? Time Out For Sports airs Mondays on WFAE's "All Things Considered" and has what you need to know about everything from Charlotte-area high school football highlights to the latest updates on the Carolina Panthers.

Is Sam Darnold the Panthers' backup plan, the Carolina 10 and the hot dog straw

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Now that Baker Mayfield is the starting QB for the Panthers, what is the backup plan?

We are entering the most exciting sports season, and I have writer’s block. Maybe it's just all of the excitement. Speaking of blocks, as in trade block, I don’t expect to see Sam Darnold on the trade block anytime soon even though Baker Mayfield was named the starting QB for the season for the Carolina Panthers. Unless the coaching staff really believes in P.J. Walker as the backup signal caller, it would be wise for Matt Rhule and company to keep Darnold around.

Hurricanes sign Stastny to a one-year deal

The Carolina Hurricanes signed forward Paul Stastny to a one-year, $1.5 million contract earlier this week, according to Don Waddell, the team's president and general manager.

"Paul is an extremely reliable veteran who has been effective at both ends of the ice for his entire career," said Waddell. "He adds even more experience and leadership to our forward group, and we are excited to have him in Carolina."

Stastny, 36, scored 45 points in 71 games for the Winnipeg Jets in 2021–22 (21 goals, 24 assists). The 6'0", 193-pound forward finished second in plus/minus (+14), fifth on the team in goals, and tied for fifth in power-play goals with four. In 1,072 career NHL games with Colorado, St. Louis, Winnipeg, and Vegas, Stastny has amassed 800 points (284g, 516a), surpassing the 40-point threshold in 12 of his 16 seasons.

The move became necessary after the team lost recently acquired forward Max Pacioretty for six months due to a ruptured Achilles.

An always special four-bagger

I don’t care at what level, an inside-the-park homerun is always special. And, it was no different for White Sox farmhand Mark Payton, as he raced around the bases for his 18th home run of the season, an inside-the-park job for the Triple-A Charlotte Knights on Sunday.

Introducing the Top 10

I’m unveiling a new addition to the column this week. Every week, I will have a Top 10 list having something to do with sports. This week, with the help of this article from ESPN (subscription required), I rank the ten Division I football programs in the Carolinas.

  1. Clemson — Let’s be honest, I didn’t need ESPN’s help figuring that one out.
  2. NC State — The Wolfpack are loaded and are my pick to win the ACC, which means the kiss of death for NC State fans.
  3. Wake Forest — Quarterback Sam Hartman is out indefinitely but I flipped a coin…twice.
  4. North Carolina — Unfortunate coin flip losers. That said, I do believe that the Tar Heels do have more questions at QB than Wake Forest (but I am a big Mack Brown fan).
  5. Appalachian State — Remember that time in 2007 when App State beat No. 5 Michigan, 34-32? I do. Michigan ended up going 9-4 that year and their coach Lloyd Carr resigned at the end of the season. App State went 13-2 and won the FCS Championship that year.
  6. Coastal Carolina — I don’t think that the Chanticleers will be sneaking up on anybody this season but you never know.
  7. South Carolina — Put South Carolina in the ACC and they are probably higher up on this list (see all ACC teams ahead of them), but being the lone Carolina team in the big, bad SEC drops them low on this list due to their projected won/loss total for the season.
  8. East Carolina — ECU football’s biggest win happened back in the 1991 Peach Bowl against NC State. That is how little I have to say about ECU Pirate football this season. Apologies, Pirates fans.
  9. Duke — Only a few months until hoops season.
  10. Charlotte — Well, at least the 49ers cracked the list.

The Absurdity of sports: hot dog straws, NIL at Hooters and 'what's in a name?'

Each week, I think to myself, “what happens if nothing absurd is out there?” Then I forget how we live in the digital age.

I’m a fan of beer. I’m a fan of hot dogs (if you’ve ever met me, you could take one look at me and tell). And, I’m a fan of multitasking. But this New York Yankees fan might have taken multitasking to a whole new level with his hot dog straw.

According to a report from ESPN, Hooters disclosed this week that it has signed 51 offensive linemen from college football teams throughout the nation to name, image and likeness contracts.

The restaurant is now in contact with athletes from Auburn, LSU, Oklahoma, Miami, Georgia Tech, Missouri, Texas A&M, Vanderbilt, Florida Atlantic, and USF after announcing that it preferred to sign offensive line units rather than single athletes.

It looks like Golden Corral dropped the ball on a very marketable moment.

Lastly, the South Carolina Gamecocks' live rooster mascot will need a new name due to legal reasons. What it boils down to is that the arrangement enabling the use of the Sir Big Spur moniker with the original proprietors has ended. As a result, the local paper The State offered up a few suggestions for a new nickname and ran a poll. The overwhelming winner: Cock Commander, by 69%. I can’t believe I went to journalism school to type that sentence.

Other sports headlines:

Thanks for reading. Until the next Time Out For Sports Overtime.

Robb Crocker is a digital editor with WFAE. Originally from New Jersey, Robb grew up in the Washington, D.C. area. He graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University, where majored in print and broadcast journalism and also studied English and creative writing. He earned a Master's degree in Communication from Rutgers University and is currently a Ph.D. candidate at VCU's Media, Art & Text program. He is a veteran news/sports reporter and digital editor with stints at the Washington Post, Hanley Wood magazines, Richmond.com, WTVR CBS 6 and WRIC ABC 8. He has also produced the Writing Our Way Out podcast.