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  • 11/25/12--20:08: NFL news and notes
  • Times wires
    Sunday, November 25, 2012

    Around the league

    KEY BEARS INJURED IN WIN OVER VIKINGS

    CHICAGO — The Bears emerged from a big win over the Vikings on Sunday with big worries about key injuries.

    CB Charles Tillman and RB Matt Forte sustained ankle injuries. WR Devin Hester, above, had a concussion, and OL Chris Spencer and G Lance Louis had knee sprains. LB Lance Briggs, the heart of the defense, was hobbled, the only one of the injured who returned to the game. The severity of the injuries was not known.

    This came a week after the Bears lost WR Alshon Jeffery and G Chilo Rachal.

    all wet: Stadium lawn sprinklers briefly showered the Dolphins and Seahawks during the third quarter in Miami, drawing a cheer from fans and causing a delay while players toweled off. Seattle QB Russell Wilson said the Seahawks were unfazed: "I think they're used to the rain.''

    milestones: Colts WR Reggie Wayne broke Cris Carter's NFL record with a 59th straight game with multiple catches. He passed Art Monk and Derrick Mason for 12th in all-time receptions, with 946, and moved into the top 15 for yards receiving, passing Monk and Irving Fryar.. … Rookie WR T.Y. Hilton became the first Colt to score on a punt return and a reception.

    obituary: Ernie "Hands'' Warlick, known for his large hands and a forerunner of the pro era of pass-catching tight ends, died at his home in Williamsville, N.Y., on Saturday after a brief illness. He was 80. Mr. Warlick, a member of the Bills' AFL championship teams in 1964 and '65, was a four-time AFL Pro Bowl selection.

    a fun thought: If the current AFC playoff seedings hold for the next five weeks, the Colts, led by rookie QB Andrew Luck, would play at the Broncos, led by longtime Indy star QB Peyton Manning, in the wild-card round.

    bills: RB C.J. Spiller ran 14 times for 107 yards, his sixth straight game with 100 yards from scrimmage. The streak is the longest by a Bills player since Thurman Thomas in 1992-93.

    chiefs: WR Dexter McCluster (head/neck), a former Largo standout, left a loss to the Broncos.

    jaguars: WR Cecil Shorts set a team record with his fourth reception of at least 50 yards this year, surpassing the one set by Keenan McCardell in 1998 and tied by Jimmy Smith in 1999.

    vikings: Coach Leslie Frazier said he and RB Adrian Peterson would talk about punctuality after Peterson arrived late — about 90 minutes before kickoff — for Sunday's game. "There is something that Adrian and I need to talk about regarding getting to the stadium," he said. … WR/ex-Gator Percy Harvin missed a second straight game with a sprained left ankle.

    Times wires


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  • 11/25/12--20:12: Sports in brief
  • Times wires
    Sunday, November 25, 2012

    Football

    Toronto Tops Calgary in Grey Cup

    TORONTO — Chad Kackert produced 195 all-purpose yards on 28 touches and Ricky Ray passed for two touchdowns as the Toronto Argonauts beat the Calgary Stampeders 35-22 Sunday in the 100th Grey Cup, the Canadian Football League's title game.

    Kackert was named the game's MVP after gaining 133 yards rushing and 62 receiving. Defensive end Ricky Foley was named the game's most outstanding Canadian.

    The Argonauts, who went 9-9 in the regular season, built a 24-6 lead playing in front of a loud home crowd of 53,208 at Rogers Centre. Toronto earned its 16th Grey Cup title and first since 2004.

    Rene Paredes kicked four field goals for Calgary.

    GOLF

    McIlroy caps 12 with Dubai win

    Rory McIlroy made five straight birdies down the stretch to overtake Justin Rose by two strokes and win the Dubai World Championship in the United Arab Emirates, ending a year in which the 23-year-old Northern Irishman won the PGA Championship, and the European and PGA tour money titles.

    The top-ranked McIlroy recovered from early putting woes to shoot 6-under 66 for 23-under 265 total. Rose, who was tied for seventh after three rounds, surged into contention after shooting a course-record 62 that included an eagle and eight birdies.

    "I just wanted to finish the season the way I thought I deserved to finish the season," McIlroy said after holing a birdie on 18. "You know, I played so well throughout the year, and I didn't want to just let it tail off sort of timidly. I wanted to come here and finish in style."

    Soccer

    Chelsea fans want interim out

    Rafa Benitez was greeted with jeers from Chelsea fans, and the Blues posted a 0-0 draw against Manchester City in his first game as interim manager for the Premier League team.

    "My experience in England is that when the fans are singing I don't understand what they say," said Benitez, who managed Liverpool from 2004-10 and is the interim successor to the fired Roberto Di Matteo this season.

    Chelsea fans booed during introductions and chanted, "We don't want you here!" while "Rafa Out" banners appeared in the stadium.

    Obituary: Dave Sexton, who led Chelsea to FA Cup and European Cup Winners' Cup victories in the 1970s, died Saturday. He was 82. No cause of death was given, but a club historian said Mr. Sexton had been suffering from dementia.

    Et cetera

    Baseball: The Dodgers are close to completing a local TV deal with Fox that could be worth between $6 billion and $7 billion over 25 years, deadline.com reported. It would be the largest local broadcast deal in American sports history.

    FIGURE SKATING: Lindsay Davis and Mark Ladwig, who train at Manatee County's Ellenton Ice and Sports Complex, finished sixth among seven pairs at the NHK Trophy event in Sendai, Japan. Russian skaters Vera Bazarova and Yuri Larionov won to secure a place at next month's Grand Prix final.

    Times wires


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    Times wires


    Sunday, November 25, 2012

    LOS ANGELES — Dylan Royer scored 18 and Kyle Odister came off the bench and added 15 points, including the winning free throws, as Cal Poly upset No. 11 UCLA 70-68 on Sunday.

    Chris Eversley had 15 points and 10 rebounds for the Mustangs, who erased an 18-point second-half deficit and earned their first win against UCLA in six tries.

    Down 51-33, Cal Poly went on a 34-14 run, fueled by six 3-pointers. Eversley tipped in a miss for a 67-65 lead, and Cal Poly didn't trail the rest of the way.

    Odister made free throws for a 68-65 lead and a 70-68 edge with 14.2 seconds remaining.

    Jordan Adams missed a 3-point attempt and time expired for the Bruins (4-2), who needed overtime to defeat another Big West opponent, UC Irvine, this month.

    UCLA made only one field goal in the final three minutes, Adams' layup underneath to tie it at 68.

    Freshman guard Shabazz Muhammad led UCLA with 15 points and 10 rebounds in his debut at Pauley Pavilion after being reinstated by the NCAA.

    In other news, UCLA junior guard Tyler Lamb decided to transfer and will leave school at the end of the fall quarter.

    NO. 1 INDIANA 101, BALL ST. 53: Will Sheehey scored 19 for the host Hoosiers (6-0), who posted their largest victory margin in a 21-game series that began in 1934.

    NO. 6 SYRACUSE 87, COLGATE 51: James Southerland scored 18, Michael Carter-Williams had a career-high 13 assists and the host Orange (4-0) beat the Raiders for the 46th straight time in the 165th meeting between the upstate New York foes.

    NO. 15 MICH. ST. 63, LA.-LAFAYETTE 60: The host Spartans (5-1) committed 20 turnovers, 14 in the second half, and barely survived a scare from the Ragin' Cajuns. "I think our guys are going to be great citizens when they get done with basketball because the Christmas season is lasting all year," coach Tom Izzo said. "They're giving gifts away."

    NO. 17 GONZAGA 81, DAVIDSON 67: Elias Harris scored 24 and Kevin Pangos 23 for the Bulldogs (6-0) in the Old Spice Classic championship game in Lake Buena Vista.

    NO. 20 OKLA. ST. 81, PORTLAND ST. 58: Markel Brown scored a season-high 23, Le'Bryan Nash added 20 and the host Cowboys (5-0) cruised in their first game as a ranked team in five years.

    NO. 21 UCONN 73, STONY BROOK 62: Niels Giffey had a career-high 15 points and added eight rebounds for the host Huskies (5-1), who made their last eight 3-pointers and 10 of 22 overall.

    NO. 23 COLORADO 89, AIR FORCE 74: Freshman Josh Scott helped break open a tight game by scoring 13 of his 20 in the second half for the host Buffaloes (5-0), off to their best start since they also opened 5-0 in 1989-90.

    NO. 25 SAN DIEGO ST. 66, USC 60: Jamaal Franklin and James Rahon had 17 points each for the visiting Aztecs (4-1), who closed on a 12-5 run.

    BRYANT 56, B.C. 54: Dyami Starks scored 17, including a tiebreaking driving basket with 1:44 left, and the Bulldogs beat an ACC school for the first time. Bryant, which moved to Division I four years ago, had been 0-5 against the ACC.

    BRANDEIS 78, SALEM ST. 61: Junior guard Gabriel Moton, a former St. Petersburg High standout, had 18 points, eight rebounds and six assists to lead the Division III Judges to the championship of the New England Big Four Challenge in Waltham, Mass.

    NO. 2 LOUISVILLE: Senior center Gorgui Dieng is out indefinitely after he broke his left wrist Friday against Missouri.

    NO. 8 KENTUCKY: Guard Ryan Harrow returned from a weekend absence to practice with the team. Harrow left Wednesday to tend to a family matter in Georgia.


    Associated PressAssociated Press

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    Times wires
    Sunday, November 25, 2012

    EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — So much for that tired arm for Eli Manning, and that offensive slump for the Giants. They got it fixed in a bye week, then routed the Packers 38-10 Sunday night.

    The showcase game was decided early as the Giants outscored the Packers 31-10 in the opening half. Manning reached 200 career touchdown passes, surpassing Phil Simms for No. 1 in franchise history, by throwing for three scores as New York snapped a two-game slide, ended Green Bay's five-game winning streak, and opened a two-game lead in the NFC East. A win at Washington next Monday night would virtually seal a second straight division crown.

    "Play like world champions," coach Tom Coughlin said. "That was the theme of our meetings this week and Saturday."

    The Packers were missing key starters such as linebacker Clay Matthews, defensive back Charles Woodson and receiver Greg Jennings, and it showed as they fell one game behind NFC North leader Chicago. After being manhandled in last season's playoffs by the Giants, the Packers weren't much better. Aaron Rodgers was sacked five times.

    Manning had his first strong game in a month, with 249 yards passing.

    "There was no doubt he was going to come back and play well," Coughlin said. "The rest really helped him. Eli said he felt as if he was coming back for the start of the season. I was very confident he would come back and be Eli."

    Ahmad Bradshaw gained a combined 119 yards. New York struck early with a screen pass to Bradshaw off a fake reverse to Victor Cruz. Bradshaw was caught at the 2, a 59-yard pickup that led to Andre Brown's TD run. Brown later broke his leg; Coughlin did not say which leg.

    Green Bay didn't flinch, with Jordy Nelson getting behind corner Corey Webster in single coverage down the right sideline for a 61-yard touchdown reception.

    The scoring flurry went back in the Giants' favor when Manning hit Rueben Randle in the back of the end zone for a 16-yard touchdown. Manning set it up with a scramble in which he laid his shoulder into cornerback Tramon Williams for a 13-yard gain.

    "It sparked our sideline," Coughlin said. "It would not be the recommended way. To see him do that kind of sent the message to the rest of our team: Whatever you have to do to succeed, do it."


    Associated PressAssociated Press

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    By Marc Topkin, Times Staff Writer
    Monday, November 26, 2012

    ST. PETERSBURG

    For Evan Longoria's new contract to really work out, he will be leading the Rays onto the grass field at a new stadium, in front of packed houses and under championship banners before the deal ends in 2023.

    That stage exists only on the Rays' wish list, but they made an aggressive — and expensive — move announced Monday to make Longoria part of that future, extending his current contract by six years and $100 million.

    With the four years on the previous deal now guaranteed and a 2023 option tacked on, Longoria is signed for 10 years and is guaranteed at least $136.6 million. It's the largest contract in history for any Tampa Bay athlete.

    "This is something,'' Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg said, "where we feel strongly if we're going to bet on somebody, who they are and their performance and everything, he's one of the only guys we could do it with.''

    Longoria, who turned 27 last month, was appreciative of not only the financial reward but also the opportunity to be with the Rays potentially for his entire career.

    "It's the perfect situation for me," he said. "There is nothing about this I regret now nor will I regret. This is the place that I want to be."

    The commitment is substantial and significant for the Rays, who typically operate with one of Major League Baseball's smallest payrolls and finish at or near the bottom in attendance. They also have yet to see any real progress in their much-debated quest for a new stadium before their Tropicana Field agreement expires after the 2027 season.

    Though they will be buoyed in future years by MLB's enriched national TV contracts and a potentially lucrative new local deal, Sternberg said the increases alone don't offset what he termed "an astoundingly big commitment." He acknowledged they will have to make choices on which other players to sign.

    That's where the hope to be in a new stadium comes in, with the accompanying increased revenue.

    "If by the end of this contract we're not, it's not going to work out well," Sternberg said during the news conference at the Trop.

    Asked again later, he said, "If it doesn't get done it doesn't mean we blow up and turn into pumpkins, (but) it could happen."

    There is risk for both sides in such deals, which the Rays have made, to lesser extent, with several other players in an attempt to make them more affordable to keep.

    For the team, the risk is mostly injury to Longoria. The three-time All-Star third baseman missed more than half of last season with a hamstring issue, which required surgery last week. Longoria has played in only 358 of 456 games the past three seasons.

    For Longoria, the risk is primarily the potential that he could have made millions more through free agency. Also, there's risk that his deal is so big the Rays can't afford enough other good players to remain competitive.

    Sternberg said that from a business perspective, the Rays felt the time was right. They first broached the idea, in somewhat general terms, in February. After agreeing to wait until after the season to consummate negotiations, Longoria had eight-plus months to consider, analyze with agent Paul Cohen and discuss with family, friends and other players in similar positions.

    In the end, it wasn't much of a tough decision.

    "There's a lot of win-win for both sides here," Cohen said.

    Longoria likes playing for the Rays, working for his bosses, living in the Tampa Bay area during the season and having a chance to be a true franchise player. He's 27 and has guaranteed himself nearly $150 million in earnings.

    "The free agent market really never enticed me," he said. "Obviously you know guys can maybe get a little more money here or there, but is it really worth it if you're not happy? In my opinion, no. I'm happy here. I've wanted to be here and raise a family here and put roots down."

    And having those roots run strong and deep was important.

    "Kind of from the beginning, I always wanted to be a benchmark player," he said. "They're kind of synonymous with the name of the franchise. We don't really have somebody here, and I kind of wanted to be that guy from the beginning."

    This is Longoria's second long-term deal — both of which have been considered team-friendly. Under the first, signed when he came up to the majors in 2008, he would have been under the Rays' control through 2016, having already made $8 million (plus a $3 million draft bonus) with a guaranteed $6 million in 2013 and team options for 2014-16 worth $30 million.

    The new deal guarantees those options and adds another $100 million guaranteed over six additional seasons (2017-22) plus either a $5 million buyout or a team option for 2023 at $13 million plus incentives. There is also a $1 million signing bonus and a $2 million assignment bonus if he is traded, as there are no no-trade provisions. In April 2018 Longoria will have 10-and-5 rights to refuse any deal.

    "There clearly hasn't been a player since we've been here that's stepped into the shoes like Evan has, and done everything that this franchise has needed to have the success that we had," Sternberg said.

    "We've seen everything that Evan is all about. We're not only going to have a player here for the very long term, somebody we would expect and believe could be a Ray for life, but we also have a person, who without his intangibles that he has as a human being, the way he lives his life, the way he leads by example, the way he goes at it behind the scenes, as well as on the field, we wouldn't be doing this."

    Marc Topkin can be reached at topkin@tampabay.com. Times staff writer Joe Smith contributed to this report.


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    By Rick Stroud, Times Staff Writer
    Monday, November 26, 2012

    TAMPA — The air raids against the Bucs' defense could intensify without starting cornerback Eric Wright.

    The NFL informed Wright on Monday he has been suspended four games for violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing drugs.

    Wright, who signed a five-year, $37.5 million contract with the Bucs in March, apparently lost his appeal of the suspension that was disclosed in reports last month. The suspension begins immediately and will cost Wright $1,812,500 in salary, and ESPN reported that he loses the guarantee on his 2013 salary of $7.5 million. Wright is eligible to return Dec. 24, one day after the Bucs play the St. Louis Rams.

    Wright is the second Bucs cornerback suspended for the non-prescription use of Adderall, a stimulant commonly used to treat ADHD. Cornerback Aqib Talib did not appeal his four-game suspension for Adderall use Oct. 13. With one week remaining on his suspension, the Bucs traded Talib and a seventh-round pick to the New England Patriots for a fourth-round selection in 2013.

    In a statement, Wright expressed surprise the suspension was upheld.

    "This is the result of taking Adderall at the end of July for health issues I was experiencing," Wright said. "I am extremely disappointed that the suspension was upheld at my appeal.

    "I apologize to the Glazer family, general manager Mark Dominik, Coach (Greg) Schiano and the entire Tampa Bay Buccaneers organization, my teammates, our great fans and my family who have stood by me through this entire process. I will continue to prepare myself and look forward to rejoining the team."

    Schiano said he does not believe the problem is widespread in the Bucs locker room. Seattle Seahawks defensive backs Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner reportedly face four-game suspensions for Adderall use and are appealing. Patriots defensive end Jermaine Cunningham was suspended four games Monday for testing positive for a banned performance enhancing drug.

    "Well, you can never be certain about anything," Schiano said. "I'm not one of the players. This is a widespread issue throughout the National Football League right now. It's certainly not Tampa exclusive. So I hope we educate our guys, we talk to them quite a bit. You do your best and then you've got to trust the guys you've brought here. I think that's where Mark and I just keep going back to the same thing, we're going to get guys we believe fit into what we're going to do and then we're going to educate them and coach them and help them grow. It's like raising kids, it's never going to be 100 percent but you do your best."

    In 10 games, Wright recorded 39 tackles, seven passes defensed and one interception he returned 60 yards for a touchdown in Week 2 against the Giants. He had been plagued by an Achilles injury that prevented him from finishing games San Diego and Carolina and left him inactive Sunday against Atlanta.

    Wright's suspension and the trade of Talib leave the Bucs, ranked 32nd and last against the pass, with inexperienced defensive backs to play alongside 16-year veteran safety Ronde Barber. Leonard Johnson, an undrafted free agent from Iowa State, has been starting at Wright's spot at right cornerback. E.J. Biggers, a seventh-round pick in 2009, is starting at Talib's spot at left corner. The Bucs have been using newly acquired LaQuan Lewis and Danny Gorrer.

    The Bucs travel to Denver to face four-time league MVP Peyton Manning on Sunday and have games remaining against the Eagles' Michael Vick, the Saints' Drew Brees and the Falcons' Matt Ryan.

    Schiano said despite the changes at cornerback, he stood behind the decision to trade Talib.

    "I think it probably lends to the confidence we have in our young players, that we felt we could do that and it was the best thing," Schiano said. "Every decision we make is what gives the organization the best chance to win. When we made that decision, that's what we thought was best.''

    Schiano indicated that Wright would be welcomed back Dec. 24 and hopes he can play in the final regular-season game against the Falcons.

    "I hope that he stays in condition so he can come back and participate," Schiano said. "It's the end of the year, there are a lot of variables. But I anticipate he will and that would lead to the next logical thought that we'd get him back because he's a good player."


    Associated PressAssociated Press

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    By Antonya English, Times Staff Writer
    Monday, November 26, 2012

    GAINESVILLE — Will Muschamp says it's time to let it go and move on.

    The Florida coach believes in his heart that the Gators (11-1, 7-1 SEC) are one of the best teams in the nation, and yes, he would love to be playing in Atlanta this weekend for a shot at a national championship berth.

    But that's not happening. Time to deal with reality.

    "We knew the rules of engagement when we started the season," Muschamp said. "I'm not one that's going to sit there and complain about it. It is what it is. We had our opportunity in Jacksonville (vs. Georgia), and we didn't get it done. That's our fault. Nobody else's."

    Muschamp said before the season that anything less than playing in the SEC Championship Game would be considered a failure. Though he has softened on that, he's steadfast in his desire to take the Gators to Atlanta.

    "I've been in that game and there's nothing like it," he said. "You work at a place like Florida to go there. I feel very strongly about that, and that'll never change."

    WAR OF WORDS: Alabama coach Nick Saban is a friend and mentor of Muschamp's, but the two definitely don't agree on who should get a Sugar Bowl invite. Saban said he has a problem with the loser of the SEC title game being left out of the BCS. The Gators are currently No. 4 in the BCS standings behind Notre Dame, Alabama and Georgia. The loser of the SEC title game will have two losses and is expected to fall behind Florida in the BCS rankings. The top four get an automatic invitation, and no more than two teams from one conference are allowed BCS bowl bids. Florida is expected to get a Sugar Bowl invitation.

    "For either one of these teams (Alabama or Georgia) it's not really a great scenario," Saban said. "You play your way into the championship game, which means you're the best team in your division, they're the best team in their division. They played their way into the game by a total body of work for the whole season. It doesn't seem quite right. But it is what it is. … I don't feel good about it for our football team or their football team, either one."

    Muschamp, whose Gators won on the road against Texas A&M, the only team to beat Alabama, didn't take that one lightly.

    "Well, I can switch and go to Atlanta if he doesn't want to go to Atlanta and play the Dawgs," Muschamp said. "Be careful what you ask for, Nick."

    QUINN AN AWARD FINALIST: Florida defensive coordinator Dan Quinn is one of five finalists for the prestigious Broyles Award, presented to the nation's top assistant football coach.

    Led by Quinn, now in his second season, Florida has become one of the premier defenses in the nation. UF ranks third nationally in points allowed (12.9), the lowest in school history since 1964. The defense also ranks third in rushing yards allowed (96.58) and fifth in total yards allowed (282.6). The Gators are first in the nation in pass efficiency defense (91.50) and have forced 29 turnovers, tying for fifth nationally in turnover margin (plus-17). UF has allowed just five passing touchdowns this season, the second-fewest in the nation.

    The other finalists: Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo, Notre Dame defensive coordinator Bob Diaco, Texas A&M offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury and Stanford defensive coordinator Derek Mason.

    INJURY UPDATE: Florida junior LB Jelani Jenkins had surgery Monday morning to repair a broken bone in his foot and will likely miss four to six weeks. Jenkins was injured during Saturday's victory at FSU. He missed 2 1/2 games earlier this season after surgery for a broken thumb. LB Neiron Ball (ankle) is expected to play in the bowl game. QB Jeff Driskel (ankle) is in a boot for precautionary reasons, and OL Jon Harrison also injured his ankle, but both are expected to play. Harrison is also in a boot. Muschamp said DB De'Ante "Pop" Saunders (knee) will not play.

    SOLACE FOR A FRIEND: Muschamp and fired Tennessee coach Derek Dooley are longtime friends who have previously coached on the same staff, so it's no surprise Muschamp feels for Dooley, who was fired last week after going 15-21 and 4-19 in the SEC in three seasons.

    "I'm disappointed for Derek," Muschamp said. "He's a really good coach and great friend. It's part of the profession. At the end of the day it's the bottom line of winning and losing football games. Very disappointed for him."

    Antonya English can be reached at english@tampabay.com.


    WILL VRAGOVIC   |   TimesWILL VRAGOVIC | Times

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    By Stephen F. Holder, Times Staff Writer
    Monday, November 26, 2012

    TAMPA — In a game as close as Sunday's one-point Falcons win over the Bucs, every decision is open to second-guessing.

    Still, Bucs coach Greg Schiano thought his team properly managed the late-game situation that left the offense with only 8 seconds from its 38-yard line.

    Schiano let roughly 40 seconds run off as Atlanta wound the clock down to the 2-minute warning, preserving his three timeouts for after the break.

    "That 2-minute warning is a much different phenomenon than anybody realizes when you go from college to the NFL," said Schiano, formerly the coach at Rutgers. "We spend a ton of time doing scenarios and running them through. I think there's no iron-clad rule like, 'If there's this much time, you do this.' Then you take the football out of it."

    In this case, Schiano trusted his defense to get a stop on third down. But after the Falcons converted for a first down with 1:47 remaining, all the math in the world might not have mattered.

    "It was second and 6," Schiano said. "Now, if you do what you believe you're built to do, which is get them to third down and stop them, now you have plenty of time. But we didn't stop them. That was disappointing. When we did stop them, it didn't leave us much time. In retrospect, would you use it (earlier)? It was (close)."

    The Bucs, perhaps, didn't expect the Falcons to pass on the third down in question (when an incompletion would have stopped the clock). QB Matt Ryan threw to WR Roddy White for an 8-yard gain on third and 5.

    "I wouldn't say surprised, but that's a tough decision," Schiano said. "That's what your head coach gets paid to do. But it was a big throw and a big catch. And our guy (CB LeQuan Lewis) competed. It was just that their guy did a better job than we did on that play."

    LOSING THEIR GRIP: LB Adam Hayward on Monday lamented the many missed opportunities the Bucs felt slipped away.

    Among those, Hayward said, was missed tackles, something the Bucs need to fix before visiting the Broncos on Sunday.

    "Our biggest thing is we weren't tackling … at all," Hayward said. "That whole first half was awful. We were stopping them, but the first guy would miss a tackle, then break for five more and now we're in a bad situation. We need to fix that. That's our No. 1 problem. We fix that and we're not having this conversation."

    Hayward was puzzled because tackling hasn't been a big problem this season.

    "I don't know what it was but we have to fix it. That would have eliminated a lot of things,'' he said. "They would have been in bad situations throughout the whole game. It's frustrating, but we'll fix it. We're here to work."

    MORE TO COME?: WR Vincent Jackson was on the receiving end of a trick play when WR Mike Williams threw him a 28-yard pass. The play caught the Falcons off guard and almost resulted in a touchdown.

    Now that the element of surprise is lost, it's not something to expect anytime soon. But Jackson said other gadget plays are possible.

    "Who knows?" he said. "That's something that now (opponents) will have to adjust for and our coaches are pretty creative. We have some skill players on this team who can do different things. I don't think that will be the last of plays like that.

    "There's plays like that which we put in weeks ago and you just never know the time of the game where it'll come up. We've had that in our back pockets for a few weeks now."

    Times staff writer Joe Smith contributed to this report.


    Associated PressAssociated Press

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    By Tyson Wallerstein, Times Correspondent
    Monday, November 26, 2012

    What's hot: Deep grass flats adjacent to many spoil islands throughout the northern Pinellas intercoastal waterway attract a variety of predatory feeders this time of year. Trout, Spanish mackerel, bluefish, ladyfish and pompano can be caught by properly free-lining a bait with the tide. Wind can dirty exposed areas in a hurry, so try to find cleaner water.

    Tips: Changing weather has made cast-netting pilchards tough, though good bait is still around. Live shrimp paid off huge last week, luring large trout in their usual haunts. Pompano will also track down a live shrimp, and if one is hooked there usually are a few more around. Those hard fighters like the same bottom contour as the big trout.

    Technique: Low-tide days are becoming more common; add a little cloud cover and redfish conditions are ideal. Scanning the smaller mullet tails and the much darker sheepshead tails, you will easily notice the much larger orange redfish tails. Don't waste time casting at mullet or sheepshead as ideal conditions can come and go in a hurry. The best approach is from uptide and upwind. Let the wind help make long casts with a tail-less free-lined shrimp; the scent naturally makes its way to the fish.

    Tyson Wallerstein runs Inshore Fishing Charters in the Clearwater/St. Petersburg area and can be reached at (727) 692-5868 and via email capt.tyson@hotmail.com.


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  • 11/26/12--18:18: Sports in brief
  • Times wires
    Monday, November 26, 2012

    NHL

    MEDIATORS ENTERING TALKS AS PESSIMISM AROUND LOCKOUT GROWS

    WASHINGTON — Federal mediators are entering the stalled NHL labor talks, with the season's first 2½ months already lost because of the lockout.

    George Cohen, director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, said Monday the parties had agreed to use the agency. He assigned three mediators to assist negotiations — deputy director Scot Beckenbaugh, director of mediation services John Sweeney and commissioner Guy Serota.

    "While we have no particular level of expectation going into this process, we welcome a new approach in trying to reach a resolution of the ongoing labor dispute at the earliest possible date," NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said.

    Cohen has worked with the players' associations for Major League Baseball, helping end the 1994-95 strike as an outside counsel, and the NBA. He also mediated during the 2010 negotiations in MLS and 2011 talks in the NFL and NBA, along with this year's dispute between the NFL and its on-field officials.

    Red Wings veteran Todd Bertuzzi expressed little hope that there will be a season. "Not very optimistic," he told the Detroit Free Press. "I see us losing a year."

    The sides have not bargained since Wednesday, when a union proposal for a five-year deal was not greeted warmly.

    OLYMPICS

    IOC head wants longer doping bans

    IOC president Jacques Rogge supports proposals to double the length of doping bans to four years as a way of keeping drug cheats out of the Olympics. The World Anti-Doping Agency plans to raise the penalty from two to four years for serious drug violations in the next version of the global anti-doping code, which comes up for approval next year and goes into effect in 2015. He said the change would be in line with the International Olympic Committee's previous failed attempt to bar any athlete slapped with a ban of more than six months from competing in the subsequent Games.

    SOCCER

    Anti-Semitic chants mar English match

    The English Premier League faced another racism investigation after Sunday's match between Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham United was marred by anti-Semitic abuse by fans. West Ham pledged to impose lifetime bans after some of its supporters were heard making chants about Adolf Hitler and praising Italian club Lazio after an apparent anti-Semitic stabbing of a Tottenham fan on Wednesday in Rome ahead of a Europa League match. Tottenham has traditionally drawn a large number of Jewish fans in London. "I was very disappointed to hear some of the songs yesterday and it was embarrassing," Israeli midfielder Yossi Benayoun, who is on loan at West Ham from Chelsea, wrote on Twitter. The Football Association said it is gathering video evidence from Tottenham.

    MLS: Chicago Fire defender Cory Gibbs, 32, retired after a season-ending knee injury last spring, ending a 12-year career.

    ET CETERA

    BASEBALL: The Red Sox agreed to terms with former Rays outfielder Jonny Gomes on a two-year contract reportedly worth $10 million. … Catcher Eli Whiteside and the Yankees agreed to a one-year deal worth $625,000 in the major leagues and $200,000 in the minors. … Left-hander Tim Byrdak, 39, agreed to a minor-league deal to stay with the Mets. … A full postseason share for the champion Giants was worth a record $377,003, breaking the mark held by the 2006 Cardinals.

    Times wires


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    By Tom Jones, Times Staff Writer
    Monday, November 26, 2012

    Monday was a good day for the Tampa Bay Rays. They signed Evan Longoria, the best player in franchise history, to a deal that could keep him in Tampa Bay through 2023.

    The news, however, was as stunning as it was welcoming.

    The Rays are a franchise that counts pennies, while Longoria is passing up a chance to sell his services to the highest bidder someday on the open market. In the end, both the Rays and Longoria are taking major risks on this $100 million contract extension.

    Here's a look at the risks taken by the Rays and Longoria and whether it's all worth it.

    Three risks for the Rays

    1 Longoria gets hurt

    The Rays are on the hook for $136.6 million over the next 10 years whether Longoria plays 162 games a year or never plays another inning. The worrisome part is that injuries have been a major issue with Longoria throughout his major-league career. He missed 88 games last season with a torn hamstring and, we learned Monday, just had surgery on that hamstring. Since his Rays debut in 2008, Longoria has missed 163 of 800 games with injuries. Don't underestimate the risk the Rays are taking with a player who has yet to prove he is as durable as he is talented.

    2 Longoria doesn't live up the contract

    Alex Rodriguez, Todd Helton, Alfonso Soriano, Vernon Wells, Jason Giambi. All of them signed long-term deals worth at least $100 million, and none were worth those fat paychecks by the end of those contracts.

    Now, the major difference is that Longoria is only 27, much younger and arguably better than when the other players on this list signed their big deals. Still, what will he be like when he's 35 or 36? Maybe Longoria is grossly underpaid today, but will he become obscenely overpaid in the final few years of the contract? The Rays could end up with the same headache the Yankees are experiencing now with A-Rod. Then again, the Yankees can live with overpaying A-Rod. The Rays cannot afford to overpay anyone.

    After five seasons of being one of the best players in baseball when healthy, there's no indication that Longoria will become a mediocre player, but if he does, the Rays will be stuck with him.

    3 They won't be able to afford other players

    When asked how Longoria's contract will affect the Rays' ability to sign other players to big contracts in the future, owner Stuart Sternberg said, "It doesn't help.'' He laughed as he said it, but he wasn't joking.

    Unless the Rays can find greater revenue streams (read: a new ballpark with increased attendance), how can they afford to pay Longoria and, say, Cy Young winner David Price and still have any money left to fill out a major-league roster?

    Three risks for Longoria

    1 He overplays the contract

    Longoria said he wants to overplay the contract, meaning he puts up numbers far exceeding what the Rays will pay him. But how will he feel if he really does overplay his contract? How will he feel seven years from now if he has a couple of MVP awards and World Series rings and he sees players around baseball with inferior talent, fewer accomplishments and bigger bank accounts?

    2 Rays don't surround him with talent

    The Rays have been a contender in each of Longoria's five seasons. They figure to be a contender next season as well. But there could come a day when the Rays, perhaps unable to secure a new stadium, decide to dump payroll like the Marlins just did and leave Longoria surrounded by 24 players who should be in Triple A. Longoria could end up being Ernie Banks, a great player on a bunch of bad teams who never won a World Series.

    3 Longoria is stuck in Tampa Bay

    He might never play in his native California. He might never play in New York. He might never go to where he, along with his model girlfriend, can live the life of a real celebrity and pick up the endorsement deals that New York or L.A. offers.

    Longoria talks about being a "benchmark'' player, someone who spends his entire career with one team like, say, Derek Jeter with the Yankees. But Longoria will never be another Jeter because Tampa Bay is not New York. He will always be a big fish in a small pond.

    Final analysis

    So who is taking the bigger risk, the Rays or Longoria? In the end, it's hard to say someone who is guaranteed $136 million is taking a risk. Ultimately, the Rays are sticking their necks out for one (oft-injured) player.

    But this is how the small-market Rays must do business. They have to gamble that Longoria will stay healthy. They have to gamble that Longoria's next 10 years will be as good as or even better than the past five.

    Actually, the Rays really didn't have a choice. If you can't hold on to your best player ever, what's the point? The real risk was seeing what would have become of baseball in Tampa Bay if Longoria ended up in Yankee pinstripes or Dodger blue.

    Give the Rays credit for being proactive. Give the Rays credit for being creative. Give the Rays credit for being committed. Most of all, give them credit for taking a risk. Without it, there can never be a reward, not with this franchise, anyway.


    JAMES BORCHUCK   |   TimesJAMES BORCHUCK | Times

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    Times staff
    Monday, November 26, 2012

    . TONIGHT

    FSU vs. No. 21 Minnesota

    When/where: 7:15; Tucker Center, Tallahassee

    TV/radio: ESPN2; 1040-AM

    Records: Minnesota 6-1, FSU 4-1

    Notable: The Seminoles head into the 14th annual ACC-Big Ten Challenge on a four-game winning streak, though they struggled to put away North Florida on Wednesday in a 75-67 victory. FSU and Minnesota are meeting in the challenge for the fourth time. … The Gophers bounced back from a loss to Duke by beating then-No. 19 Memphis and Stanford in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament in the Bahamas. They're ranked for the first time since Jan. 31, 2011. … Minnesota point guard Andre Hollins, just named Big Ten player of the week, had 41 points in the win over Memphis, the fourth Gophers player ever to reach 40 and the first since 1971.

    Times staff


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    By Greg Auman, Times Staff Writer
    Monday, November 26, 2012

    DELAND — Stan Heath gambled Monday night at Stetson, holding out point guard Anthony Collins with the hopes of healing the calf injury that has limited him in the first three weeks of the season.

    Without their floor leader, the Bulls were tied with the Hatters with less than four minutes remaining, but they got a clutch 8-0 run and pulled out a 63-54 victory before 1,063 at the Edmunds Center in their first road game of the season.

    "I knew we'd a little bit out of synch, would have to fight for some baskets. I was pleased that our defense came to play," said Heath, whose players got four stops during the big run.

    The Bulls (4-2) got 20 points and nine rebounds from senior Toarlyn Fitzpatrick and a huge spark off the bench from guard Jawanza Poland, who had 19 points and 10 rebounds. Martino Brock, filling in for Collins, had 10 points and seven rebounds with two turnovers in 34 minutes; and walk-on Mike McCloskey had a career-best 11 minutes running the point, with two assists and no turnovers.

    "We knew they were going to make runs. Coach Heath told me as point guard to make sure we stay together the whole time," said Brock, who sat next to Collins on the bench, getting insights from the sophomore.

    The Bulls outrebounded Stetson (2-2) 41-31, improving in a key area where they struggled in the first five games. Stetson played without its top scorer and rebounder, Clearwater's Adam Pegg, who was ejected from the previous game and had to sit out Monday. USF's Victor Rudd had just four points and took only three shots but had nine rebounds.

    Fitzpatrick had four rebounds in the final six minutes, and his three-point play extended USF's lead to five during the run.

    "He's playing like a senior. He wants it, really wants to win," Heath said. "He's showing great leadership out there, doing whatever it takes to help this team win."

    Heath is optimistic Collins will play Friday, when USF plays host to Georgia. After that, the Bulls play at Oklahoma State on Dec. 5, then have 13 days off during exams, allowing Collins more time to regain full strength.


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    By Marc Topkin, Times Staff Writer
    Monday, November 26, 2012

    Longoria has surgery for injured hamstring

    ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays' new $100 million man wasn't at full speed Monday.

    Third baseman Evan Longoria underwent a surgical procedure last week to "clean up" the injured left hamstring that caused him to miss more than half of last season. He said he fully expects to be ready for the mid-February start of spring training.

    "With the time we had there's no doubt that I'd be able to recover and be at 100 percent or close to by (the start of) spring training," he said.

    The procedure, which removed scar tissue, was done Nov. 20 in Texas by hamstring specialist Dr. Daniel Cooper. He has operated on a number of other pro athletes, including Houston Texans receiver Andre Johnson.

    Longoria, who said at the end of the season he wouldn't undergo surgery, went back and forth in the weeks since. After consulting with Cooper and team officials, he decided to have the procedure, thinking that "it's going to be better than ever."

    Marc Topkin, Times staff writer


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    Times wires
    Monday, November 26, 2012

    LAWRENCE, Kan. — Jeff Withey had 16 points, 12 rebounds and a school-record 12 blocks for the second official triple double in Kansas history, and the 10th-ranked Jayhawks held off a furious comeback by San Jose State for a 70-57 victory Monday night.

    Withey scored 10 during a 20-2 run early in the second half. The 7-footer's block of Xavier Jones' shot with 7:43 left in the game gave him the Jayhawks' first triple double since Cole Aldrich in an NCAA Tournament game against Dayton in 2010

    Kansas (5-1) used its big run to take a 60-36 lead with just more than 11 minutes left, but the Spartans answered with an 18-2 run to climb back into it.

    The Jayhawks put it away after Elijah Johnson hit a floater with just more than a minute left for a 66-57 lead, then Withey's rejection of J.D. Brown turned into a run-out that Ben McLemore finished with a windmill dunk with about 30 seconds left.

    James Kinney scored 19 of his 30 in the second half for the Spartans. At one point, the senior guard scored nine within 90 seconds as San Jose State was mounting its second-half charge.

    McLemore finished with 13 points despite missing all seven of his 3-pointers, and Travis Releford also had 13 points for the Jayhawks.

    IU battles UNC tonight

    BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Tom Crean already has one major victory over North Carolina.

    He got Cody Zeller.

    Now Roy Williams must figure out how to defend the recruit that got away to avoid losing again tonight when No.  14 North Carolina visits No. 1 Indiana in the marquee matchup of the ACC-Big Ten Challenge (9:30, ESPN).

    "He's the guy that makes everybody else change their defense and you have to be concerned about him," Williams said. "He gave them a legitimate inside scorer that could foul out the other players. I just think he's a great player, a great player."

    Zeller, considered the best big man in America, will be the center of attention tonight, though Crean has other concerns.

    "They bring some things that we've not seen, and I'm not sure that we've ever seen here," Crean said. "I'm not sure we've ever seen a fast break like there's here at Assembly Hall, and James McAdoo is as good a rebounder on the offensive end as anyone we've seen this year or any other year."

    North Carolina sophomore guard P.J. Hairston won't play because of a sprained left knee. Hairston is third on the team in scoring at 10.8 points.

    NO. 5 LOUISVILLE: Junior center Gorgui Dieng is out four to six weeks with a broken left wrist.

    AP POLL: No. 20 Georgetown, No. 21 Minnesota, No. 22 Illinois and No. 25 New Mexico entered, replacing UCLA (which fell out from 11th), Memphis, Connecticut and Baylor. Indiana remained No. 1, with Duke moving up to second and Michigan third.

    Women

    NO. 7 LOUISVILLE 79, TENN.-MARTIN 61: Shoni Schimmel and Bria Smith scored 16 each for the visiting Cardinals (7-0), who took a 22-6 lead and never trailed.

    AP POLL: Iowa State entered at No. 24, replacing Vanderbilt. Stanford remained No. 1, narrowly ahead of Connecticut.


    Associated PressAssociated Press

    0 0

    Times wires
    Monday, November 26, 2012

    TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — No. 2 Alabama's once-deep receiving corps has been hit by its third big injury.

    The Crimson Tide lost deep threat Kenny Bell to a broken leg against Auburn, marking the third major hit among receivers this season. It has left a thinned-out group facing No. 3 Georgia in Saturday's SEC Championship Game.

    Coach Nick Saban said Monday he's considering playing touted freshman Chris Black, who had shoulder surgery in August, over the final two games. Black is in line for a redshirt season.

    "He's been practicing for three weeks now. Now he's been cleared," Saban said Monday. "So we're going to try to get him some reps because we're getting down to where we only have maybe five guys that have much experience at the position. We still feel good about the guys that we have. We just need to get more guys ready to play so that they can complement each other.

    "You'd like to be able to roll guys in and out at that position."

    The Tide has been able to do that pretty well this season despite the casualties. DeAndrew White started the first five games before a season-ending knee injury against Mississippi.

    Now, Bell has had surgery and is out five or six weeks. Saban said it's up to the team doctors to determine when he can return.

    Bell has a team-high 25.4 yards per catch and has the team's two longest receptions, 85 yards against Florida Atlantic and 57 against Mississippi State.

    The biggest playmaker for quarterback AJ McCarron has clearly been freshman Amari Cooper, easily the team leader with 767 yards and eight touchdowns. He has three 100-yard games in his past six despite being held without a catch against LSU, when he missed the second half with an ankle injury.

    "The one you notice is Cooper, obviously," Georgia coach Mark Richt said. "He's the leading receiver. He's definitely the go-to guy, the deep ball guy, made some wonderful plays. Some of the long yardage receptions have been just launching it out there deep and him making a play. He's also caught a couple balls, shorter range balls, made people miss, has taken it to the house or had some big plays.

    "He's very versatile. They have a couple other guys that have been outstanding for them, as well."

    Kevin Norwood and Christion Jones are veterans having solid seasons, but no other healthy wideout has more than four catches.

    MUTE MURRAY: With Georgia one win away from playing for a national championship, quarterback Aaron Murray has suddenly imposed a media blackout.

    The school said that Murray, the former Plant High standout, met with coach Mark Richt and got permission to be relieved from his media responsibilities leading up to the SEC Championship Game against Alabama.

    Murray has always been one of Georgia's most accessible players, usually meeting with the media on Tuesdays and after games. But he gave a hint that his approach would change when he didn't hang around after last week's win over Georgia Tech, appearing to catch the sports information staff off guard.

    One of his best friends, linebacker Christian Robinson, said Murray simply wants to make sure his entire focus is on beating the Crimson Tide.

    CHATTY MANZIEL: The legend of Johnny Football has grown all season while Johnny Manziel piled up yards and the Texas A&M Aggies piled up wins.

    Monday, the freshman quarterback finally weighed in on his catchy nickname as he spoke to the media for the first time all season.

    "I think a lot of people here in Aggieland enjoy it," he said. "But I find it extremely funny."

    The success of Manziel and the Aggies is no joke. His 4,600 yards of total offense have helped A&M to its first 10-win season since 1998 and has him among the top Heisman Trophy contenders.

    Manziel said he respected coach Kevin Sumlin's decision for him not to speak to the media this season because he's a freshman. But he said he's happy to have a chance to talk about this season.

    "It's kind of nice now to be able to kind of let you guys know how I am a little bit more," he said. "There's so many question marks out there."

    Sumlin, who is in his first year at A&M after four seasons at Houston, raved about Manziel and said he was a catalyst for what his team was able to do in its first season in the SEC.

    "He's a tremendous competitor and a tremendous leader, and that's something that you really don't see in a player as a redshirt freshman," Sumlin said. "His leadership on and off the field throughout the season has made our season a real successful one."

    HAWAII BOWL: SMU accepted an invitation to play the Christmas Eve game against a team from the Mountain West.

    POINSETTIA BOWL: San Diego State accepted a bid to face BYU in the Dec. 20 bowl in San Diego.

    GA. TECH: The school opened practice for the ACC Championship Game without leading rusher Orwin Smith, but the senior said he "definitely" plans to practice today and hopes to play in Saturday night's game against FSU. Smith missed last week's 42-10 loss to Georgia with a sprained right ankle.

    MICHIGAN: Coach Brady Hoke said a medical-redshirt request is being sent to the Big Ten on quarterback Devin Gardner's behalf. If a medical hardship is granted, Gardner will be eligible to play during the 2013 and 2014 seasons. Gardner was limited to three games as a freshman at least in part because of a back injury.

    PITT: Coach Paul Chryst dismissed redshirt freshman defensive back Stephen Williams from the team for disciplinary reasons two days after he was charged with assaulting a woman who said she was his girlfriend.

    TEXAS: Coach Mack Brown said Case McCoy will start at quarterback this week at Kansas State. Starter David Ash is listed as questionable after a rib injury in last week's loss to TCU.


    Associated PressAssociated Press

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    By Marc Topkin, Times Staff Writer
    Tuesday, November 27, 2012

    Future is uncertain for Cy Young winner

    ST. PETERSBURG — Rays left-hander David Price posted on his Twitter account that was he "happy" to see teammate Evan Longoria "get paid" after the announcement of his new deal.

    Then he added, "I'm sure it feels great!!!"

    That was with three exclamation points.

    While Longoria is now signed through 2022 (with a 2023 option), Price, who won the Cy Young Award as the American League's best pitcher, has a much less certain future with the Rays.

    He is headed toward arbitration for the second of four eligible years, and a likely salary of close to $10 million, with the increasing possibility that he will become too expensive to sign long-term and will end up being traded before he hits free agency after the 2015 season.

    Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg said the Rays in theory could afford to also sign Price, 27, but eventually will have to make choices to ensure they can put enough talent around their stars.

    "At some point, it stops," he said. "You've got to make a decision. We're going to eat steak, and we're going to eat lobster, and we're going to order some wine, but we're not going to be able to turn the heat on, and the house isn't going to get painted."

    Longoria said part of the reason he took the deal was in hoping the Rays can keep the clubhouse stocked.

    "I told them from the beginning, I didn't want to be the one sucking up all the payroll so that we can't afford anybody else, because it's not giving ourselves the best chance to win," he said.

    Marc Topkin, Times staff writer


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    By Joe Smith, Times Staff Writer
    Tuesday, November 27, 2012

    Sizing it up Joe Smith, Times Staff Writer

    Evan Longoria's six-year, $100 million extension announced Monday isn't the longest contract in the history of Tampa Bay professional sports teams; Lightning center Vinny Lecavalier (11 years, $85 million) has him beat. But Longoria's deal is by far the richest multiyear deal, both in total amount, and annual average.

    Player Contract Annual avg.
    Evan Longoria Rays/2012 6 years, $100M $16.6M
    Carl Nicks Bucs/2012 4 years, $47.5M $11.875M
    Vincent Jackson Bucs/2012 5 years, $55.5M $11M
    Scott Kazmir Rays/2008 4 years, $39.5M $9.875M
    Player Contract Annual avg.
    Carlos Pena Rays/2008 3 years, $24.1M $8.03M
    Donald Penn Bucs/2010 6 years, $48M $8M
    Pat Burrell Rays/2009 2 years, $16M $8M
    Vinny Lecavalier Lightning/2008 11 years, $85M $7.72M

    *NFL contracts are not guaranteed


    0 0

    By Jim Tomlin, Times Staff Writer
    Tuesday, November 27, 2012

    ST. PETERSBURG — Simona de Silvestro has been a team leader in IndyCar for three years. Now she's back on a learning curve, the newcomer on a team led by one of the most accomplished, respected veterans in the series.

    And she couldn't be happier about it.

    De Silvestro joins KV Racing for next season to pair with Tony Kanaan, the 2004 IndyCar champion. She has already done two tests with her new team and has another next month at Sebring.

    "Having Tony as a teammate, I think I can learn a lot from him, especially on the ovals. I think I have a lot of work to do in that part," de Silvestro said last week from the offices of the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg — where she was also looking forward to attending Sunday's Bucs-Falcons game at Raymond James Stadium and seeing her fantasy team's quarterback, Josh Freeman. "And on the road and street courses like St. Pete I think we can really push each other."

    The 24-year-old Swiss driver did just that in St. Petersburg in 2011, finishing a career-best fourth after she spent the final segment of the race trying to pass Kanaan for the final spot on the podium.

    "I think that's where he had a lot of respect for me, I think we raced hard the whole race," de Silvestro said. "But I'm really happy to have him as a teammate. He's a great person and we just get along. Even in 2010, my rookie year, when I had questions he was kind of my go-to guy."

    Now she joins a two-car KV team that did not retain Rubens Barrichello or EJ Viso.

    "She has shown a lot of determination, and to now be able to work with someone as experienced as Kanaan will be a huge asset for her," team co-owner Jimmy Vasser said upon her signing.

    De Silvestro struggled last season with the Lotus engine package. Chevrolet won the drivers' and manufacturers' championships in its first year back in the series and Honda, the lone supplier in the series from 2006-11, remained strong. But Lotus was so uncompetitive that most of its teams reached deals with one of the other two manufacturers in time for the Indianapolis 500.

    De Silvestro's single-car HVM team was the lone Lotus holdout and remained so all season.

    "Last year was really difficult," de Silvestro said. "Other people who were with the Lotus engine managed to get out of it. We seemed not to be able to, and that was a big mistake the team made. I think it was just time for a change and time to get into a bigger team."

    Her first tests in a Chevrolet, at Texas and Barber Motrsports Park in Alabama, were a revelation.

    "When I was testing at Barber … I felt like a little kid again," she said. "It was really powerful. You could push the car and the lap time would show up. Last year I felt like I was driving the wheels off the car and the lap time would never come down."


    CHRIS ZUPPA   |   Times (2011)CHRIS ZUPPA | Times (2011)

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    By David Rice, Times Correspondent
    Tuesday, November 27, 2012

    Triple-S Golf Ranch in Dade City will host a charity golf event for area resident Chelsey Jean Alford Hoyle on Dec. 9.

    Chelsey, who turns 1 on Dec. 5, was born without a bile duct and began experiencing liver problems and fluid buildups soon after birth. She is awaiting a liver transplant in Gainesville.

    The golf event to raise money for her medical expenses begins with a shotgun start at 9 a.m. Entry fee is $180 for a foursome, with cash prizes going to the top three teams. There will also be raffles, a longest drive competition and a putting contest.

    Donations can be made at Wells Fargo Bank, 14210 Seventh St., Dade City, to Kaylee Alford, who is Chelsey's mother. For information, call (352) 567-6622.

    PICKLEBALL: Veterans Memorial Park in Hudson hosts open pickleball nights from 6-9 p.m. Mondays. The sessions are open to players age 9 and up at a cost of $2 per person. A pickleball ambassador from the United States Pickleball Association is on hand for the sessions. For information, email Lee Boerckel at lee@pickletheworld.com or call (727) 861-3033.

    KARATE: The James Irvin Civic Center offers Trim No Shin karate classes for ages 5 and up on Mondays and Wednesdays. Trim No Shin is a style of karate and weaponry that blends Okinawan tradition with American practicality. Techniques are centered around practical self defense that work regardless of age, gender or size. Class times vary according to age and skill level. The cost is $20 per month. For information, call (352) 521-4166.

    FUN CAMP: The Land O'Lakes Recreation Complex will host Winter Fun Camp for kids ages 6-11 from Dec. 26-28 and Jan. 2-4 from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Camp includes a field trip each week and the cost is $40 for one week or $60 for both weeks. For information, call (813) 929-1220.

    RUNNING: The sixth annual 5K Reindeer Run will take place Saturday at Lake Jovita Golf and Country Club. The race begins at 8 a.m. and is professionally chip-timed. Register at active.com or visit the Lake Jovita Fitness Center. For information, call Suzanne Hollins at (352) 588-2233, ext. 316.

    To submit information on community sports events, contact David Rice at davidrice83@gmail.com.


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