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    Times wires
    Tuesday, January 1, 2013

    COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Freshman guard Seth Allen scored 13 and Maryland completed its nonconference schedule on a 12-game winning streak by beating IUPUI 81-63 Tuesday.

    Reserve Logan Aronhalt scored 10 for the Terrapins (12-1), who shot 54.7 percent (29 of 53).

    Maryland has its best record entering ACC play since 13-1 in 1998-1999. It is Maryland's longest winning streak in 10 years.

    The Terrapins next host Virginia Tech on Saturday.

    "I think we're ready for some big games," Aronhalt said.

    CLEMSON 92, citadel 51: Freshman Adonis Filer scored a career high 21, shooting 7-for-7, and fueled a 27-4 first-half run that carried the host Tigers (8-4). Filer had three 3-pointers and 10 points during the surge, which turned a tight game into a blowout. Filer had extra incentive — a birthday gift for his dad, Steve. "He told me to try and put on a show for him," said Filer, whose lone miss came at the line, where he was 3 of 4. Clemson's leading scorer, Devin Booker, missed most of the second half after turning his left ankle after a dunk.

    fau 61, hofstra 57: Greg Gantt posted his fifth straight 20-point game and hit a late 3-pointer as the host Owls (7-8) won their final nonconference game.

    Women

    No. 24 Texas A&M 80, rice 57: Kelsey Bone had 24 points and 14 rebounds for the host Aggies (10-4). Bone has scored at least 15 in seven straight games.

    no. 12 tennessee: Forward Cierra Burdick is out indefinitely after breaking a bone in her right (shooting) hand while working out on her own.


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    Times wires
    Tuesday, January 1, 2013

    ORLANDO — Aaron Murray threw for 427 yards and five touchdowns, both school bowl records, to lead No. 6 Georgia past No. 23 Nebraska 45-31 in the Capital One Bowl on Tuesday.

    Murray, a graduate of Plant High, shook off two first-half interceptions, one returned for a score, to help the Bulldogs (12-2) reach 12 wins for the third time and end a two-game bowl skid.

    "I don't know what it's like to head into an offseason with a win," the junior said. "It's great for the seniors, who have meant so much to this team. They've done a great job of leading this team the whole season."

    Nebraska (10-4), which entered No. 1 in Division I-A in pass defense at 148.2 yards per game, lost its third straight bowl. This one, in which it allowed Georgia to convert 12 of 17 third downs, came after it lost 70-31 to Wisconsin in the Big Ten title game.

    "I thought the plan was good," coach Bo Pelini said of the defensive scheme. "Third down hurt us, obviously. When we're in position, it was man on man down the field. We needed to make some of those plays, and we didn't."

    Murray hit Keith Marshall for a 24-yard touchdown that put Georgia up 38-31 eight seconds into the fourth. After Nebraska punted, Chris Conley turned a short pass into an 87-yard score.

    Georgia coach Mark Richt said Tuesday was about finding closure after just missing out on a berth in the BCS title game.

    "We wanted to … prove to ourselves that we are one of the better teams in the country," said Richt, whose team lost the SEC title game 32-28 when it reached the Alabama 5 before time ran out. "I think our guys did a good job of sucking it up when they were tired. But when you make a big play here and there, it gives you a little more energy as well."

    Gator Bowl: Quentin Williams returned an interception 29 yards for a score on the game's third play and Nick Vanhoose set up a late insurance touchdown with a 39-yard interception return to help No. 21 Northwestern beat Mississippi State 34-20 in Jacksonville.

    The Wildcats (10-3) had lost nine consecutive bowls, tying an NCAA record, dating to the January 1949 Rose.

    "This one goes to all the Wildcats that have been here before us," coach and alum Pat Fitzgerald said. "They've paved the way for us. The sky is the limit for where our program can go."

    Tyler Russell threw four interceptions, including two near the end zone, for Mississippi State.

    "Guys are going to have off days," said Bulldogs coach Dan Mullen, whose team finished 8-5 after a 7-0 start. "Here's the great thing: He had an off day, and there were still some opportunities there for us in the fourth quarter to go win the game."

    Heart of Dallas Bowl: Clint Chelf threw three touchdowns to lead Oklahoma State past Purdue 58-14. The 58 points were the most in a postseason game at the Cotton Bowl.

    The Cowboys (8-5) lost their regular-season finale in overtime to Oklahoma. That caused them to slide down the bowl list and led analysts to question if they would be motivated to play.

    "Some of the seniors would like to have been in a better bowl," said Chelf, 17-of-22 for 197 yards. "I think everybody wanted to go out there and … show them we could win a game like this."

    Plant grad Robert Marve didn't reach 100 passing yards for Purdue (6-7) until it was 45-0. He was 21-of-34 for 212 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.

    Late Monday

    ATLANTA — Clemson, trailing 24-13 in the third, came back to beat LSU 25-24 in the Chick-fil-A Bowl on Chandler Catanzaro's 37-yard field goal as time expired.

    LSU (10-3) led 24-22 and took over with 2:43 left. It threw the ball three times, completing one pass and taking only 1:04 off the clock.

    "They made it tough for us by stacking eight or nine guys in the box," said LSU's Jeremy Hill, who ran for 124 yards and two scores but had no carries in the fourth.

    Clemson (11-2) took over at its 20. The drive included Tajh Boyd's 26-yard pass to DeAndre Hopkins on fourth and 16.

    "These guys, they fought every play. They fought for every blade of grass,'' Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said. "This is a national championship team. I've been telling them they were at the doorway of greatness."


    Associated PressAssociated Press

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    By Antonya English, Times Staff Writer
    Tuesday, January 1, 2013

    NEW ORLEANS — One year ago, Florida and Louisville were six-win teams heading into their respective bowl games, desperately seeking a victory to end their seasons with winning records and hope for the future.

    The No. 4 Gators and No. 22 Cardinals meet Wednesday with vastly improved teams, but a win in the Sugar Bowl still holds significance for both.

    For Florida, a victory would complete the redemption process, particularly for a group of seniors that endured multiple coaching changes and down years and now want to be remembered as the group that brought the Gators back.

    "It's real big," senior safety Josh Evans said. "You want to leave a winner. That's probably one of the biggest things for us is to come in as winners and leave as winners. We came in our freshman year going to the Sugar Bowl and finishing it, I could definitely say we've accomplished a lot to make a BCS bowl and finish as winners."

    "It's very important to get the win for this senior group, and for this program in particular," senior nose tackle Omar Hunter added. "To be able to say you brought Florida back to the top before you left would be special."

    For Louisville, a win could help prove the Cardinals are ready to compete among the nation's elite teams as they prepare to join the ACC in 2014.

    "We have to have a good showing in this football game because we need to know exactly where we are," Louisville coach Charlie Strong said. "It's going to be a measuring stick for our program, and it's going to either show us how far behind we are or how much further we need to go. Our guys understand what's at stake."

    Louisville is in search of its first 11-win season since 2006 and its second BCS win.

    "It's a great opportunity for us to just show how hard we've worked all year and to just display that we are a top team in the country," Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater said.

    The disappointment and regret for Florida over what might have been has been replaced by a strong desire to finish what is. Yes, the Gators admit, there are times they can't help but wonder if they would have been in the BCS title game if they hadn't lost to Georgia. And with an offense ranked, No. 101 in Division I-A (338.4 yards per game), the Gators still have a lot to prove. So anyone who thinks Florida isn't taking this game, or Louisville, seriously, doesn't know this team, coach Will Muschamp said.

    "I think that's hogwash," he said when asked about the perception the Gators aren't fully into the game. "I don't think there's anything to that at all. I've seen a football team prepared in how they practiced … totally in tune with what we're trying to do. We're playing a good football team. The film speaks for itself. We have great respect for the opponent."

    Strong is well aware of what a victory over a top-level SEC opponent can do for his rising program. But the Cardinals will have to earn the win against a Florida defense that is ranked No. 5 in Division I-A in total defense (283.4 yards per game).

    While Louisville is a 14-point underdog, the Cardinals bring impressive credentials into the game. Bridgewater, the Big East offensive player of the year, has thrown for 3,452 yards and 25 touchdowns in an offense averaging 425 yards per game. Louisville leads I-A in red zone offense, scoring 96 percent of the time.

    The Gators said regardless of what the oddsmakers say, they know a victory isn't automatic.

    "It's not like we're going to just roll our hat out there and win," cornerback Marcus Roberson said. "We have to play. It's not going to be an easy game. They made it this far and that's a good team."

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


    Associated PressAssociated Press

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    By Joe Smith, Times Staff Writer
    Tuesday, January 1, 2013

    ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays and Cy Young award winning left-hander David Price have agreed to a one-year deal worth just over $10 million to avoid salary arbitration.

    Price made $4.35 million last year, but was projected to potentially more than double that amount in 2013 after going 20-5 with a league-leading 2.56 ERA, narrowly beating out Justin Verlander for the American League Cy Young award.

    Price, 27, a three-time All-Star, will be eligible for free agency after the 2015 season. There has been no official announcement or comment by the Rays on the agreement, which was first reported by ESPN's Jerry Crasnick.

    The deadline to exchange figures for salary arbitration is Jan. 18, but it's no surprise the Rays made Price's deal a priority.

    With righty James Shields (and Wade Davis) traded to the Royals, Price is expected to be the leader of the pitching staff. Plus, knowing what the Rays had to pay Price could help them sort out what they had remaining for the other arbitration-eligible players and potential free agents.

    The question still remains whether Tampa Bay can eventually sign Price to a long-term deal. Price has said many times he'd love to stay, and agent Bo McKinnis told the Times this month that while "it becomes increasingly difficult" at this stage of his career, "it's not too late."

    Joe Smith can be reached at joesmith@tampabay.com.


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    By Joey Knight, Times Staff Writer
    Tuesday, January 1, 2013

    TAMPA — When posterity sifts through all the breathtaking ebb and flow, boxes up all the subplots and surreality, it likely will condense the 27th Outback Bowl into a pair of riveting snapshots.

    Six-foot-6 South Carolina blunt-force purveyor Jadeveon Clowney dislodging one Michi­gan player from his helmet and 5-9 receiver Bruce Ellington dissecting the rest of the Wolverines' hearts.

    Arguably the most exhilarating Outback Bowl ever ended with Ellington catching a 32-yard touchdown pass from backup quarterback Dylan Thompson with 11 seconds to go, giving No. 11 South Carolina a 33-28 victory before 54,527 at Raymond James Stadium on Tuesday.

    The winner occurred 3:18 after No. 19 Michi­gan (8-5) capped a 10-play drive on junior Devin Gardner's third scoring pass of the game and roughly eight minutes after the most dizzying three-play sequence in Outback Bowl history.

    "We haven't won one like that since I've been here in eight years," said Gamecocks coach Steve Spurrier, who might have set a personal record for game balls awarded.

    "So hopefully, that will sort of tell us, 'Hey, we can do that. It's possible. Just hang in there.' "

    Facing the nation's No. 2-ranked pass defense, the Gamecocks (11-2) ran only 53 plays to Michigan's 82 and had the ball nearly 16 fewer minutes.

    But they converted five pass plays of 31 or more yards, duped the Wolverines on a 64-yard keeper by starting quarterback Connor Shaw and watched game MVP Ace Sanders return Michi­gan's first punt of the day 63 yards for a touchdown.

    "There are a couple of things in football that you don't want to do, and No. 1, you can't give up big plays," Wolverines second-year coach Brady Hoke said. "We had three, really four big plays in the throw game that we can't allow to happen."

    He'll be pondering the final one all the way back to Ann Arbor.

    Five plays after Shaw exited after aggravating an injured foot, Thompson found Ellington on a play Spurrier calls "Steamer X" near the goal line.

    A point guard for the Gamecocks basketball team, Ellington caught the pass near the 2, juked a defender and dashed to his left into the end zone.

    "I saw the safety coming, so I just wanted to make him miss and make it look a little more interesting," Ellington said.

    As if this game needed more interest.

    The final 15:02 featured four lead changes alone, highlighted by Sanders' 31-yard catch from Shaw with 8:06 to play, giving South Carolina a 27-22 lead.

    Two plays earlier, Michigan had executed a fake punt — by inches. The play after that, Clowney sliced his way into the Wolverines backfield just as Vincent Smith was taking the handoff, crashed his helmet into Smith's chest and sent the ball — and Smith's helmet and dreadlocks — flying.

    "A car crash," Sanders said when asked how the hit sounded.

    Clowney, a first-team All-America end and potential No. 1 pick in the 2014 NFL draft, said Smith had hit him earlier.

    "He laughed about it," Clowney said. "I said, 'I'm going to get you later on.' "

    After Clowney separated players from game balls, Spurrier distributed them liberally. Both Shaw and Thompson, who teamed for 341 passing yards and four touchdowns, received one, as did the Gamecocks' seniors.

    "(Shaw) sort of hobbled off, and Dylan was right there on call; and obviously, no hesitation to (run) him in there," Spurrier said of the final series. "Both those young men are just super team-oriented. There are no jealousies; nothing."

    The other quarterback tandem wasn't shabby either. Under duress most of the day, Gardner still finished 18-for-36 for 214 yards and three touchdowns.

    Meantime, former starter Denard Robinson, a utility player since hurting a nerve in his throwing elbow in late October, ran for a game-high 100 yards and finished as the NCAA's all-time rushing leader (4,495 yards) among quarterbacks. Robinson eclipsed West Virginia's Pat White by 15 yards.

    Small consolation to Hoke.

    "You know what the answer is. (The season) wasn't successful," he said when asked about the 2012 campaign.

    "You compete to win championships."

    Joey Knight can be reached at jknight@tampabay.com.


    DANIEL WALLACE   |   TimesDANIEL WALLACE | Times

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    Times wires
    Tuesday, January 1, 2013

    MILWAUKEE — Junior Cadougan scored 18, hitting a buzzer-beating, tying 3-pointer at the end of regulation, to lead Marquette to a 82-76 overtime win over Connecticut on Tuesday night in the Big East Conference opener for both teams.

    The Golden Eagles (10-3) have won 17 in a row at home.

    Shabazz Napier tied his career high with 29 points for Connecticut (10-3, 0-1).

    Cadougan's 3-pointer was the Golden Eagles' first of the night after missing their first 14.

    Marquette was without coach Buzz Williams, serving a one-game suspension for NCAA recruiting rules violations announced in August. Assistant Brad Autry filled in.

    maryland 81, iupui 63: Freshman guard Seth Allen scored 13 and the host Terrapins (12-1) completed their nonconference schedule on a 12-game winning streak. Maryland has its best record entering ACC play since 13-1 in 1998-1999. The Terrapins host Virginia Tech on Saturday.

    CLEMSON 92, citadel 51: Freshman Adonis Filer scored a career high 21, shooting 7-for-7, and fueled a 27-4 first-half run that carried the host Tigers (8-4).

    fau 61, hofstra 57: Greg Gantt posted his fifth straight 20-point game for the host Owls (7-8).

    Women

    No. 24 Texas A&M 80, rice 57: Kelsey Bone had 24 points and 14 rebounds for the host Aggies (10-4). Bone has scored at least 15 in seven straight games.

    no. 12 tennessee: Forward Cierra Burdick is out indefinitely after breaking a bone in her right (shooting) hand while working out on her own.


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    By Joey Knight and Greg Auman, Times Staff Writers
    Tuesday, January 1, 2013

    TAMPA — About three hours after South Carolina's Ace San­ders found a seam on his first punt return, his coach found a similarly tantalizing opening for a crack at his rivals.

    Both capitalized.

    The MVP of Tuesday's 33-28 win in the Outback Bowl, San­ders' career afternoon was highlighted by a 63-yard punt return for a touchdown in the first quarter. The 2010 Bradenton Manatee graduate also had nine catches for 92 yards, including touchdowns of 4 and 32 yards.

    "It's just a real good feeling," he said. "I just want to thank God for giving me the opportunity to showcase my talent."

    After the game, Steve Spurrier went to work.

    "You're probably wondering how we got him away from Florida and Florida State. They passed on him, said he was too little," he said of the 5-foot-8, 175-pound junior. "But he can play football. That's for sure. That was our good fortune that that happened."

    GAMBLING MAN: Twice, Michi­gan took chances by going for fakes, including a fake punt from its 37 with a one-point lead in the fourth quarter.

    Seeing an opening in coverage, the Wolverines snapped the ball to S Floyd Simmons, who looked to be brought down short of the marker. But officials ruled it a first down.

    "I asked one of those other refs, 'You know the ball did not touch the first-down marker?' He said, 'I know it didn't,' " Spurrier said. "I said, 'Well, why did you give it to them?' He said, 'I don't know.' "

    Michigan went for a fake field goal in the second quarter, shifting out of kick formation before the snap and WR Drew Dileo running 7 yards on fourth and 6. A sack two plays later forced the Wolverines to settle for a 40-yard field goal that cut South Carolina's lead to 21-13.

    Breakdowns: Entering Tuesday, the longest play Michigan had allowed this season was 52 yards, against Ohio State. South Carolina had three longer: passes of 56 and 70 yards and QB Connor Shaw's 64-yard run that was South Carolina's longest from scrimmage this season.

    LONGEST YET: Michigan uses P Matt Wile for long field goals. He attempted only two in the regular season, connecting from 48 yards. In the third quarter, Wile connected on a career-long and Outback-record 52-yarder. It was a yard longer than Alabama's Phillip Doyle in 1988. He also had punts of 54 and 56 yards (a season high).

    THIS AND THAT: Michigan went 3-for-4 on fourth down and 8-for-19 on third down. … Apopka's Jeremy Gallon, a Michigan receiver, set career highs with nine catches for 145 yards. His two touchdowns included the go-ahead score with 3:29 left. … South Carolina has won consecutive bowl games for the first time since the 2001 and 2002 Outback Bowls. Spurrier's three bowl wins are the most in school history. … With three catches (for 27 yards), Michigan fifth-year senior Roy Roundtree finished sixth in school history with 154.


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    Times wires
    Tuesday, January 1, 2013

    SAN FRANCISCO — The 49ers signed K Billy Cundiff to compete with struggling veteran David Akers on Tuesday.

    "He's thrilled with the opportunity to be in a position to help the team in any way he can this postseason," Paul Sheehy, Cundiff's agent, said. "It's a great opportunity with a great organization."

    San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh was unavailable for comment but said Monday he planned to try out kickers.

    Akers made 44 of 52 field goals last season but is 29-of-42 this season. He is only 7-of-13 from 40-49 yards and missed wide left twice from that range Sunday.

    Cundiff missed a tying 32-yard field goal for Baltimore in the final minute of last season's AFC title game loss. He was released at the end of training camp and signed by the Redskins. But they released him Oct. 9 after he made only 7 of 12 field goals.

    Packers: S Charles Woodson, out since breaking his collarbone Oct. 21, has been cleared to play.

    Seahawks: Seemingly unbeatable at home, the road, especially in the postseason, has been a different tale for the Seahawks. It has been 29 years since they won a playoff game on the road. They've lost eight straight dating to Dec. 31, 1983. Sunday, Seattle plays at Washington.

    "If you want to be a good team, you definitely have to be able to win on the road," DE Red Bryant said.

    The skid includes three overtime games: 23-20 to Houston in January 1998, 33-27 to Green Bay in January 2004 (when QB Matt Hasselbeck won the coin toss, said, "We want the ball and we're going to score," and threw an interception returned for a touchdown) and 27-24 to Chicago in January 2007.

    Coach Pete Carroll said the challenge is not getting wrapped up in playing on the road.

    "There's always a kind of air about (the playoffs) that you can sense it's different," he said. "But the key is not allowing that to factor into what it really takes to prepare well and not miss the message."


    Getty ImagesGetty Images

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    Times wires
    Tuesday, January 1, 2013

    PASADENA, Calif. — Though Stanford didn't score many style points in the 99th Rose Bowl, the Cardinal could celebrate because it didn't let Wisconsin score any points at all after halftime.

    Stepfan Taylor rushed for 89 yards and an early touchdown, Kevin Hogan passed for 123 yards on Tuesday, and No. 8 Stanford won its first Rose Bowl since 1972, beating the Badgers 20-14.

    Cornerback Usua Amanam made the decisive interception near midfield with 2:30 to play as the Pac-12 champion Cardinal (12-2) ended a four-decade drought in the Granddaddy of Them All with arguably the biggest bowl win yet during the long-struggling program's recent renaissance.

    "We knew this was going to be a battle, and we wouldn't expect it any other way," Stanford coach David Shaw said. "We know it's going to be tight, it's going to be close, and we're going to find a way to win. That's the way it's been all year."

    Stanford clamped down on the Big Ten champion Badgers (8-6), who lost the Rose Bowl in heartbreaking fashion for the third consecutive season. Montee Ball rushed for 100 yards and his 83rd touchdown, extending his Division I-A record, but Wisconsin managed only 82 yards in that scoreless second half.

    With impressive defense of its own, Wisconsin stayed in position for an upset in the one-game return of Hall of Fame coach Barry Alvarez, who was back on the Badgers' sideline in his red sweater-vest seven years after hanging up his whistle.

    "This group of kids has been through a lot, and they competed extremely hard against a very high-quality team," said Alvarez, the athletic director who stepped in for this game after Bret Bielema left to take the Arkansas coaching job. "We've played three very good football games (at the Rose Bowl). These guys played hard. In fact, most people would like to get here once."

    Kelsey Young rushed for a score on Stanford's opening possession, and Taylor scored on the second. Wisconsin kept the Cardinal out of the end zone for the final 51 minutes, allowing three points in the second half, but Stanford's defense didn't need any more help in its eighth straight victory.

    "We knew coming in, it was going to be a physical game," Taylor said. "We knew they know how to play against power as well as us. They did a great job. It was our defense keeping us in the game that enabled us to get this win."

    After winning the Orange Bowl two years ago and losing the Fiesta last season, Stanford earned its first conference title and the Rose Bowl berth in 13 years. The Cardinal won 12 for just the second time — and second in the past three years.

    The Cardinal ousted top-ranked Oregon on the way to the biggest season yet in the improbable surge of success started by Jim Harbaugh and Andrew Luck. Many Pac-12 observers expected a sharp decline this season — but Shaw and Hogan, who took over as the starting quarterback in November, have accomplished something even Harbaugh and Luck couldn't manage.

    "I think it served as some motivation for us throughout the year," Amanam said. "I think it's just a testament to our program and how we train and prepare every season."

    Alvarez will now hand off his program to new coach Gary Andersen, who met with Alvarez on the field before the game.

    But the Badgers' third straight Rose Bowl appearance ended in much the same way as the last two: With the offense failing to get the late score the Badgers desperately needed.

    "This stings just as much, because we fell extremely short when we had the opportunity to win," Ball said. "We had numerous opportunities to capitalize on big plays, and we fell short."

    Curt Phillips went 10 for 16 for 83 yards passing and that crucial interception for Wisconsin, and had 64 yards on the ground.


    Getty ImagesGetty Images

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    Times wires
    Tuesday, January 1, 2013

    NEW YORK — The Big East was "unwilling" to give Boise State the deal that kept it in the Mountain West, commissioner Mike Aresco said Tuesday.

    "We worked hard with Boise," he said. "We explored a lot of different ways to keep them."

    Monday, Boise State backed out of a commitment to join the Big East for football in July. Recent defections, including Louisville to the ACC and the seven non-Division I-A schools to a conference to be formed later, hurt the prospects of a big TV deal.

    The Mountain West recently re-worked its deal with CBS Sports Network to allow the conference to sell games to other networks. In addition, the Mountain West agreed to sell the Broncos' home games in a separate TV package, let them earn extra TV money and let them keep 50 percent of revenue gained via the BCS or playoff system instead of the conference dividing it equally.

    Said Aresco: "Our membership was unwilling to make the deal the Mountain West made with them."

    Meanwhile, San Diego State, another Mountain West team committed to play football in the Big East in July, also is reconsidering.

    "I don't know the deal with San Diego State," Aresco said. "That could come clear in the next few days."

    But Aresco denied Monday's report on cbssports.com that Houston and SMU are interested in joining the Mountain West. Both are set to join the Big East for all sports in July.

    "Everybody wants to stay in," he said. "We've had strong support from the Texas schools."

    Penn St. lawsuit: Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett said he plans to sue the NCAA over sanctions imposed against Penn State for the Jerry Sandusky child sexual abuse scandal. The sanctions, agreed to by the school, included a $60 million fine to be used nationally to finance child abuse prevention. State and federal lawmakers objected to the money being spent outside Pennsylvania.

    USF: Hans Straub, 32, Stanford's performance assistant coach, was hired as strength and conditioning coach. "There is great support from the fans and the community," he said of USF. "The potential to win is there with the caliber of athletes in Florida." Straub replaces Mike Golden, who was not retained after Skip Holtz's firing.

    Times staff writer Greg Auman contributed to this report.


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    Times wires
    Tuesday, January 1, 2013

    CINCINNATI — Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden sounded optimistic Tuesday that RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis could be ready for Saturday's playoff game at Houston.

    Green-Ellis didn't play in Sunday's regular-season finale against the Ravens after straining a hamstring during pregame warmups.

    "We're going to prepare to run the ball like we do every week, and hopefully BenJarvus is healthy," Gruden told the Cincinnati Enquirer. "He's got a little twinge right now, but it looks like he's going to be fine.

    "It will be important to us. We have other backs also that can run the ball. We're not going to change our plan at all. It never varies. We have a good run plan going in, but Houston's a good run defense as we all know. It's going to be important to try to force the issue."

    Colts: No longer a veteran-laden team, Indianapolis has 28 players who have never appeared in a playoff game. That includes rookie QB Andrew Luck and 12 others who started Sunday's regular-season finale against Houston.

    Sometimes, coach Chuck Pagano said, what a player doesn't know can't hurt him.

    "They don't know," he told the Indianapolis Star. "So they don't know any better. It's been evident throughout the course of this season."

    Ravens: Coach John Harbaugh decline to say if LB Ray Lewis will play Sunday against the Colts. He has been out since tearing his right triceps Oct. 14 against the Cowboys.

    "It's all going to be a game-time decision as far as anybody knows," Harbaugh told the Baltimore Sun. "This is the playoffs, and we're not talking about injuries. We're not talking about activations. We really don't care what you or anybody else thinks about that. We're getting ready to play a football game."

    Texans: Starting LB Darryl Sharpton went on injured reserve, the Houston Chronicle reported. He injured his hip Sunday against the Colts. It also reported Texans re-signed former Florida State standout LB Mister Alexander.


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    Times wires
    Tuesday, January 1, 2013

    Former Eagles coach Andy Reid has emerged as the leading candidate to become the Cardinals' next coach, Phoenix's KTVK-TV and espn.com reported Tuesday.

    Arizona said it has reached out to Reid but not scheduled an interview.

    It did confirm an interview with its defensive coordinator, Ray Horton, an African-American. That satisfies the NFL's Rooney Rule, which mandates teams interview a minority for coaching vacancies.

    Team president Michael Bidwill also said he will talk to Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy.

    The Eagles fired Reid after 14 seasons as coach Monday, two days after competing a 4-12 season. In Arizona, he would be reunited with quarterback Kevin Kolb, who thrived in Philadelphia.

    Bears GM cites two factors for firing

    LAKE FOREST, Ill. — The Bears had too many playoff misses and too many problems on offense. That's why coach Lovie Smith was fired, general manager Phil Emery said.

    Chicago has missed the postseason five of the past six seasons, including this season despite going 10-6. And despite four coordinators during his tenure and trades for quarterback Jay Cutler and receiver Brandon Marshall, the offensive continued to struggle under Smith.

    Emery added he will interview candidates over the next two weeks. They will include Bucs offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan. Media reports have him also talking to McCoy, Falcons special teams coach Keith Armstrong and Cowboys special teams coach Joe DeCamillis.

    Holmgren available: Mike Holmgren, recently ousted as Browns team president, said he would listen to any coaching offers. Holm­gren, 64, who led the Packers to a Super Bowl title, hasn't coached since 2008 with the Seahawks.


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    Tuesday, January 1, 2013

    DENVER — Danilo Gallinari led six Nuggets players in double figures with 17 points and Denver stopped the Clippers' franchise-record winning streak at 17 games with a 92-78 victory Tuesday.

    The Clippers' streak was the longest in the NBA since the Celtics won 19 in a row from Nov. 15 to Dec. 23, 2008.

    Kenneth Faried added 14 points and 11 rebounds for the Nuggets, who won their eighth in a row at home.

    The Clippers, whose point total was two above their season-low, were hurt by poor shooting from 3-point range (5 of 29, 17.2 percent) and the free throw line (13 of 29, 44.8 percent). Blake Griffin and Eric Bledsoe had 12 points apiece to lead Los Angeles.

    The loss also ended a franchise-record seven-game road winning streak for the Clippers.

    Andre Miller, starting in place of point guard Ty Lawson, had 12 points and 12 assists for the Nuggets. Lawson, the team said, has been bothered by tightness in his left Achilles' tendon for the past week, forcing him to miss a game for the first time this season.

    Blazers shrug off Anthony's 45 points

    NEW YORK — The Blazers overcame Carmelo Anthony's season high-tying 45 points and spoiled Amare Stoudemire's season debut, beating the Knicks 105-100.

    Nicolas Batum scored 26, Damian Lillard had 21 points, six assists and five rebounds, and LaMarcus Aldridge had 19 points and 14 rebounds for Portland, which avenged a 121-79 loss here March 14.

    "Down 42, that was real embarrassing," Batum said. "The only thing on my mind when I came in was just put (down) the stat sheet from last year. That was my motivation."

    Stoudemire finished with six points on 3-for-8 shooting and one rebound in 17 minutes in his return from knee surgery.

    "The game felt like it was going 100 mph that first half. …" Stoudemire said. "Just a little bit rusty. … But the second half was better than my first half. Hopefully my second game will be better than my first game."

    Anthony shot 14 of 24 and nearly led the Knicks back from 19 points.

    Game highlights: Vince Carter scored 23 as the Mavericks ended their six-game losing streak with a 103-94 win over the host Wizards. … The host Pistons held off the Kings 103-97 for their first three-game winning streak of the season. … Josh Smith scored 23 to lead the Hawks to a 95-86 victory over the Hornets.

    Nuggets 92, Clippers 78

    L.A. CLIPPERS (78): Butler 3-9 0-0 7, Griffin 4-11 4-7 12, Jordan 4-4 3-10 11, Paul 4-9 1-1 10, Green 1-9 0-0 2, Crawford 2-11 5-6 9, Barnes 4-10 0-2 9, Odom 2-6 0-1 4, Turiaf 1-2 0-2 2, Bledsoe 5-7 0-0 12, Hollins 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 30-78 13-29 78.

    DENVER (92): Gallinari 6-15 2-4 17, Faried 5-11 4-4 14, Koufos 2-5 0-0 4, A.Miller 6-9 0-0 12, Iguodala 5-10 1-5 12, McGee 5-10 0-2 11, Brewer 5-14 0-0 10, Mozgov 1-3 2-2 4, Hamilton 0-1 2-2 2, Fournier 2-4 0-2 6, Randolph 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 37-82 11-21 92.

    L.A. Clippers 19 24 16 19— 78

    Denver 21 27 27 17— 92

    3-Point GoalsL.A. Clippers 5-29 (Bledsoe 2-3, Paul 1-4, Barnes 1-4, Butler 1-6, Odom 0-2, Crawford 0-5, Green 0-5), Denver 7-23 (Gallinari 3-7, Fournier 2-2, McGee 1-1, Iguodala 1-5, A.Miller 0-1, Mozgov 0-1, Brewer 0-6). Fouled OutNone. ReboundsL.A. Clippers 59 (Jordan 11), Denver 60 (Faried 11). AssistsL.A. Clippers 15 (Paul 6), Denver 28 (A.Miller 12). Total FoulsL.A. Clippers 18, Denver 26. A19,155.

    Blazers 105, Knicks 100

    PORTLAND (105): Aldridge 8-19 3-6 19, Batum 7-13 6-7 26, Hickson 9-11 0-1 18, Matthews 3-6 2-2 8, Lillard 9-19 1-2 21, Jeffries 1-1 0-0 2, Claver 0-2 0-0 0, Price 2-3 0-0 5, Babbitt 2-6 0-0 6, Barton 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 41-81 12-18 105.

    NEW YORK (100): Anthony 14-24 12-14 45, Thomas 0-0 0-0 0, Chandler 4-7 2-2 10, Kidd 0-5 0-0 0, Brewer 2-4 0-0 5, J.Smith 10-22 4-6 28, Novak 0-5 0-0 0, Prigioni 1-3 0-0 2, Stoudemire 3-8 0-2 6, Copeland 1-5 0-0 2, Camby 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 36-84 18-24 100.

    Portland 30 28 20 27— 105

    New York 23 24 24 29— 100

    3-Point GoalsPortland 11-33 (Batum 6-12, Babbitt 2-5, Lillard 2-8, Price 1-2, Aldridge 0-1, Barton 0-1, Claver 0-1, Matthews 0-3), New York 10-37 (Anthony 5-11, J.Smith 4-12, Brewer 1-1, Prigioni 0-2, Copeland 0-3, Kidd 0-4, Novak 0-4). Fouled OutNone. ReboundsPortland 53 (Aldridge 14), New York 47 (J.Smith 11). AssistsPortland 22 (Lillard, Batum 6), New York 18 (J.Smith 5). Total FoulsPortland 22, New York 19. A19,033.

    Hawks 95, Hornets 86

    ATLANTA (95): Korver 4-8 2-2 14, Jo.Smith 11-20 0-0 23, Horford 10-17 0-0 20, Teague 2-8 0-2 4, Williams 4-13 0-2 9, Pachulia 5-8 2-2 12, Jenkins 3-4 0-0 7, Tolliver 2-5 0-0 6. Totals 41-83 4-8 95.

    NEW ORLEANS (86): Thomas 1-3 0-0 2, Davis 4-9 1-4 9, Lopez 5-9 0-0 10, Vasquez 7-15 2-4 17, Rivers 1-5 0-0 3, Gordon 5-17 1-4 11, Anderson 9-15 0-0 23, Aminu 0-2 0-0 0, Roberts 0-1 0-0 0, Ja.Smith 1-3 0-0 2, Mason 3-3 0-0 9. Totals 36-82 4-12 86.

    Atlanta 22 22 28 23— 95

    New Orleans 26 24 14 22— 86

    3-Point GoalsAtlanta 9-22 (Korver 4-7, Tolliver 2-4, Jenkins 1-1, Jo.Smith 1-3, Williams 1-5, Teague 0-2), New Orleans 10-20 (Anderson 5-10, Mason 3-3, Rivers 1-2, Vasquez 1-2, Gordon 0-3). Fouled OutNone. ReboundsAtlanta 46 (Jo.Smith 13), New Orleans 54 (Davis 13). AssistsAtlanta 30 (Teague 8), New Orleans 20 (Vasquez 10). Total FoulsAtlanta 11, New Orleans 17. A12,712.

    Pistons 103, Kings 97

    SACRAMENTO (97): Salmons 4-9 0-0 10, Thompson 6-10 4-6 16, Cousins 10-21 1-2 21, Thomas 4-10 2-2 12, Garcia 1-5 2-2 5, Johnson 2-6 0-0 4, Fredette 4-10 3-3 14, Brooks 2-8 2-2 7, Robinson 1-3 0-0 2, Hayes 0-0 0-0 0, Outlaw 2-4 2-4 6. Totals 36-86 16-21 97.

    DETROIT (103): Prince 5-8 0-0 10, Maxiell 3-6 1-2 7, Monroe 6-13 6-8 18, Knight 8-13 2-3 20, Singler 2-5 0-0 4, Drummond 3-6 1-2 7, Daye 5-10 1-1 13, Bynum 4-9 6-6 15, Villanueva 3-5 0-0 9. Totals 39-75 17-22 103.

    Sacramento 28 20 19 30— 97

    Detroit 27 31 22 23— 103

    3-Point GoalsSacramento 9-26 (Fredette 3-5, Salmons 2-5, Thomas 2-5, Garcia 1-3, Brooks 1-6, Outlaw 0-1, Johnson 0-1), Detroit 8-20 (Villanueva 3-5, Daye 2-4, Knight 2-6, Bynum 1-1, Prince 0-2, Singler 0-2). Fouled OutNone. ReboundsSacramento 44 (Cousins 14), Detroit 52 (Monroe, Drummond 11). AssistsSacramento 19 (Salmons 6), Detroit 19 (Bynum, Knight 4). Total FoulsSacramento 20, Detroit 15. TechnicalsDetroit Bench. Flagrant Fouls—Villanueva. Ejected— Villanueva. A12,175.

    Mavericks 103, Wizards 94

    DALLAS (103): Carter 9-14 3-4 23, Marion 5-7 0-0 11, Kaman 6-11 0-0 12, Collison 4-13 6-7 15, Mayo 6-10 0-0 15, Crowder 0-0 0-2 0, Nowitzki 5-7 0-0 11, Brand 2-8 0-0 4, Douglas-Roberts 0-1 2-2 2, Beaubois 2-6 0-2 5, Da.Jones 2-5 0-0 5. Totals 41-82 11-17 103.

    WASHINGTON (94): Webster 4-11 4-4 14, Nene 2-10 3-3 7, Okafor 5-10 4-6 14, Temple 1-6 3-4 6, Beal 7-16 4-7 22, Vesely 1-2 0-0 2, Seraphin 4-8 2-2 10, Mack 3-5 0-0 7, Crawford 4-9 0-0 9, Martin 1-2 0-0 3. Totals 32-79 20-26 94.

    Dallas 23 25 35 20— 103

    Washington 29 23 19 23— 94

    3-Point GoalsDallas 10-22 (Mayo 3-4, Carter 2-5, Marion 1-1, Nowitzki 1-2, Da.Jones 1-2, Beaubois 1-4, Collison 1-4), Washington 10-26 (Beal 4-7, Webster 2-8, Martin 1-2, Mack 1-2, Crawford 1-3, Temple 1-4). Fouled OutNone. ReboundsDallas 49 (Marion 14), Washington 51 (Okafor 11). AssistsDallas 25 (Collison 8), Washington 23 (Mack 6). Total FoulsDallas 25, Washington 23. A14,456.


    Getty ImagesGetty Images

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  • 01/01/13--20:47: Sports in brief
  • Times wires
    Tuesday, January 1, 2013

    NHL

    LEAGUE OFFERS NEW COUNTER IN QUICK SESSION

    NEW YORK — The proposals flew back and forth between the NHL and the players' association. Whether significant progress was made still wasn't all that clear.

    The league made a counteroffer on Tuesday night in response to one it received from the players on Monday and now the NHL is waiting for another answer.

    A full day of smaller group meetings wrapped up with a full bargaining session of about 30 minutes Tuesday. The union took the league's latest offer back to its headquarters to begin reviewing it.

    "They did make a comprehensive response to what we gave them (Monday)," union executive director Donald Fehr said. "We asked a couple of questions, and now what we have to do is go through the document, try to make some sense out of it, compare it and see what the appropriate thing is to do next."

    Fehr said he will get in touch with the league this morning, and that he anticipates the sides will get back together during the day.

    Commissioner Gary Bettman declined to provide details of the league's latest offer, but said it addressed specific areas the union requested.

    There's little time left. Bettman said Monday the NHL has told the union a deal needs to be in place by Jan. 11 so a 48-game season can begin eight days later.

    The Red Wings would have hosted the Maple Leafs on Tuesday in the Winter Classsic at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor. But the 108-day lockout wiped that out long ago, along with the All-Star game.

    TENNIS

    Sharapova hurt, Serena cruises

    Maria Sharapova withdrew from the season-opening Brisbane International in Australia with an injured right collarbone that left her unable to serve. She said she didn't want to aggravate the injury with the Australian Open two weeks away. Serena Williams reached the quarterfinals with a 6-2, 6-2 victory over No. 44-ranked Alize Cornet, and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova upset 2011 champ Petra Kvitova, 6-4, 7-5.

    HOPMAN CUP: The U.S. team rallied past France 2-1 in Perth, Australia, with John Isner and Venus Williams winning the decisive mixed doubles. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France topped Isner, a Tampa resident, 6-3, 6-2, before Williams beat Mathilde Johansson 3-6, 7-5, 6-4. The Americans, who next play Spain, won the mixed doubles 6-7 (5-7), 6-2, 10-8.

    ELSEWHERE: Top seed Li Na, playing in her homeland, defeated Mandy Minella 6-4, 6-0 in the Shenzhen (China) Open. … Top seed David Ferrer rallied past qualifier Dustin Brown 5-7, 6-3, 6-2 at the Qatar Open in Doha.

    ET CETERA

    SOCCER: Argentine striker Sergio Aguero scored in the 74th minute of Manchester City's 3-0 rout of visiting Stoke but left the game with a hamstring injury three minutes later. Also in the English Premier League, City's rival, Manchester United, won 4-0 at Wigan to remain seven points ahead, and American Clint Dempsey scored for Tottenham in its 3-1 win over visiting Reading. … MLS champion Los Angeles signed Italian goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini, 39, from Tottenham.

    AUTOS: Kasey Kahne will run up to 15 races in the NASCAR Nationwide series for JR Motorsports in 2013, the Charlotte Observer reported.

    BASEBALL: The Indians agreed to terms on a one-year deal with free agent right-hander Brett Myers, who pitched for the Astros and White Sox last season.

    Times wires


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    Times staff
    Wednesday, January 2, 2013

    College basketball

    Women: Ohio State at Iowa, 6:30 p.m., Big Ten

    Michigan at Northwestern, 7 p.m., ESPN2

    Northeastern at George Mason, 7 p.m., NBCSN

    New Orleans at Mississippi State, 7 p.m., BHSN

    Women: Florida at Kentucky, 7 p.m., Sun Sports

    Colorado at Arizona, 8 p.m., ESPNU

    Penn State at Wisconsin, 8:30 p.m., Big Ten

    Women: Tennessee at South Carolina, 9 p.m., Sun Sports

    Stanford at USC, 10 p.m., ESPNU

    California at UCLA, 11 p.m., FSN

    College football

    Fiesta Bowl: Oregon vs. Kansas State, 8:30 p.m., ESPN, ESPND; 620-AM

    Hockey

    World junior championship semifinal: United States vs. Canada, 4 a.m., NHL

    World junior championship semifinal: Russia vs. Sweden, 8 a.m., NHL

    Tennis

    ATP: Qatar Open, 7:30 a.m., Tennis

    TV: BHSN: Bright House Sports Network; ESPND: ESPN Deportes; FSN: Fox Sports Net; NBCSN: NBC Sports Network


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    Times wires
    Wednesday, January 2, 2013

    MIAMI — In between the Orange Bowl and the BCS national championship game, there's a daunting task that awaits the people who actually host those two contests.

    That is, a massive redecoration of several venues — with just a few hours to pull it off in some cases.

    Florida State and Northern Illinois are scheduled to head home from the Orange Bowl this morning, not long before Notre Dame and Alabama arrive to begin final preparations for Monday's BCS title tilt.

    And by the time the Fighting Irish and the Crimson Tide land, much of what promoted the Orange Bowl will be gone.

    Sections of the turf at Sun Life Stadium were to be removed immediately after the Orange Bowl for new sod — much of which will either have Notre Dame, Alabama or BCS logos painted on it in the coming days.

    The quickest work will likely come at the team hotels. Notre Dame and Alabama — not to mention large portions of each team's fan base — will check into the same hotels that the Seminoles and Huskies check out of earlier in the day.

    CAREY'S DEBUT: FSU coach Jimbo Fisher was asked in recent days about how he thinks Northern Illinois' Rod Carey handled the transition from assistant to head coach over the past couple of weeks. Fisher says it really hasn't happened: "I think it's going to be tougher next year than it is right now."

    Carey took over for Dave Doeren, who accepted the job at North Carolina State and watched Tuesday's game from the stands.

    "Next year I think will be even more of a transition because they have to reinvent those roles and tell everybody what they're doing and it's a different group," Fisher said. "But it is a lot to put on him. I think he's done a great job in meeting him the few times I have I've been very impressed. … I really enjoy being around him."

    Carey has shown quite a sense of humor about his new role, particularly the added media responsibilities.

    "I'm more comfortable with a whistle around my neck and coaching than I am with a (microphone) in front of me in a suit, I can tell you that," Carey said. "My wife likes it when I dress up in a suit. I hate it."

    UNIQUE DISTINCTION: Huskies QB Jordan Lynch became the first in Division I-A to pass for 3,000 yards and rush for 1,500 more in a season. He entered Tuesday with 1,771 yards rushing, the most by any quarterback in any college season.


    Getty ImagesGetty Images

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    Times wires
    Wednesday, January 2, 2013

    MIAMI — Eager to avoid an Orange Bowl shocker, the Seminoles kept getting tricked.

    An onside kick fooled them, as did a fake punt, and a pooch punt by Northern Illinois' star quarterback.

    But the final score was no surprise. Florida State had too much speed and depth for the Huskies and pulled away for a 31-10 victory Tuesday night for the program's first victory in a BCS bowl game since beating Virginia Tech for the national championship in the 2000 Sugar Bowl.

    Senior fullback Lonnie Pryor, voted the game's outstanding player, ran for a career-high 134 yards and two scores on only five carries. Senior EJ Manuel threw for 291 yards, while the Seminoles stuffed Huskies' QB and all-purpose threat Jordan Lynch for most of the night.

    EJ Manuel, 25-6 as a starter at FSU, on what he sees his legacy being: "A winner. A guy that came in and didn't complain. A leader.''

    He's only the second quarterback to win four bowl games, joining West Virginia's Pat White.

    The victory was a consolation prize for the No. 13 Seminoles (12-2), who began the season with national championship hopes. They've won five consecutive bowl games.

    For No. 16 Northern Illinois, in a BCS bowl for the first time, the defeat snapped a 12-game winning streak. The Huskies (12-2) came in as two-touchdown underdogs and fell to 5-28 against top 25 teams.

    Pryor scored the first touchdown on a career-long 60-yard run, then ran 37 yards for a clinching score with 10 minutes left. They were the two longest rushes allowed by Northern Illinois all season.

    Manuel went 26-for-38, threw for one score and ran for another.

    The Huskies, out of the MAC, were widely derided as unworthy of a BCS bowl berth, and didn't do enough to silence the doubters. They were outgained 534- 259.

    The trick plays in the kicking game helped keep the Huskies close until the fourth quarter, but when it came to Lynch, not much fooled a Seminoles defense ranked second in the nation. And the Huskies' last attempt at razzle-dazzle backfired when receiver Da'Ron Brown lost a fumble on an end around at midfield, setting up Pryor's final touchdown.

    Lynch came in leading the nation in rushing and total offense, and he threw or ran on nearly every play for the Huskies. But he completed only 15-of-41 for 176 yards, and carried 23 times for 44 yards.

    After the Huskies' lone touchdown cut their deficit to 17-10 in the third quarter, they recovered an onside kick, and Lynch moved them to the FSU 23. But he was flushed from the pocket on third down and threw an ill-advised pass that defensive back Terrence Brooks intercepted.

    The loss was Rod Carey's debut as the Huskies' coach. He was promoted to replace Dave Doeren, who took the North Carolina State job after the regular season.


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    By Derek J. LaRiviere, Times Correspondent
    Wednesday, January 2, 2013

    The Nature Coast Tennis Foundation will host the seventh annual Simon Toftegaard Memorial Junior Tennis Tournament on Jan. 26 at Delta Woods Park in Spring Hill.

    This co-ed event is a singles tournament open to elementary, middle and high school players for an entry fee of $30 per person. Early registration is $25 if paid before Sunday. Players do not need to be U.S. Tennis Association members to participate.

    Lunch and tournament T-shirts are included in the entry fee. The format will be best two out of three set matches with a seven-point tiebreaker. The winner advances, while the opponent moves to a consolation round. First and second place trophies will be awarded for every division.

    Named for former Nature Coast tennis standout Simon Toftegaard, the tournament benefits the NCTF scholarship program. Toftegaard died in an auto accident in 2009.

    For information, call Phil Zee at (352) 263-9546 or email nctf@tampabay.rr.com.

    To register, visit nctf.usta.com.

    DUNES WOMEN'S GOLF TOURNAMENT: The Dunes Women's Golf League will hold its 20th annual Sweet & Simple Invitational on Jan. 17.

    Female golfers from Hernando and its surrounding counties of Pasco, Citrus, Sumter, Pinellas and Hillsborough participate in this event. For information, call Eileen Ball at (352) 596-7880.

    SPRING HILL DIXIE BASEBALL: Spring Hill Dixie Baseball has scheduled registration at Anderson Snow Park for its spring season.

    League officials will accept sign-ups in the office at the park. Volunteers will be present from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Jan. 12 and 5:30 to 8 p.m. Jan. 10, 14, 18 and 25.

    The county has instituted a $3 player fee for park maintenance this year, and the league has gained control of Little Red Schoolhouse field in Spring Hill. With Spring Hill Dixie handling all maintenance and costs for the field, there will be an increase in fees this season.

    Cost varies depending on the age division. Junior Rookies (ages 5-6) is $80 per child, Rookies (7-8) is $90, Minors (9-10) is $110, Majors (11-12) is $115, O-Zone (12-13) is $125, and Boys (13-14) is $150. A copy of the child's birth certificate is necessary for registration. The fees cover all games, insurance and trophies.

    A $30 refundable deposit will also be required for all families. This will be returned to anyone who volunteers three hours in the concession stand during the season. In lieu of this, a family may make a $30 donation to the league.

    For information, call Joe Abbadessa at (352) 263-4488 or email shdixiebaseball@gmail.com.

    UMPIRE CLINICS: The Hernando-Sumter Umpires Association has scheduled a set of baseball/softball umpiring clinics.

    The clinics are designed to train anyone who wants to become an umpire, and the sessions also can help seasoned umpires improve. Clinics will take place Jan. 20 and Feb. 17 at the Anderson Snow Sports Complex in Spring Hill, Jan. 27 at Ernie Wever Park in Brooksville, and Feb. 3 at Ridge Manor Park in Ridge Manor.

    The sessions are open to men and women age 16 and older. All clinics will start at 10 a.m.

    Visit hernandosumterumpire.com to register. For more information, call (352) 593-6998 or send email to clinics@hernandosumterumpire.com.

    BROOKSVILLE BULLDOGS BASEBALL: The Brooksville Bulldogs youth recreation league will be holding sign-ups for the coming season this Saturday as well as on Jan. 19 and 26 at Kennedy Park in Brooksville.

    The Bulldogs compete in both the Cal Ripken and Babe Ruth leagues with age groups from 9 to 18 years old. Registrations will be taken from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on each of the dates.

    For information, contact Bruce Price at (813) 714-1054 or bruce67price@hotmail.com.

    CROOM ZOOM TRAIL RUN: The Croom Zoom Trail Run will take place Saturday on the trails in the Croom Tract of the Withlacoochee State Forest.

    The event will feature three races over three distances — 100 kilometers, 50 kilometers and 25 kilometers.

    Race participants will receive T-shirts with awards for the top finishers and trophies for the overall male and female winners.

    For information or to register, visit croomzoom.com.

    FIREARMS SAFETY CLASSES: The Hernando Sportsman's Club will be offering firearms safety classes. The next regular class date will be on Saturday. Other classes will follow on Jan. 19, Feb. 6, Feb. 16 and March 6. A firearms safety course for females will be on March 16.

    All classes will run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the sportsman's club, 16121 Commercial Way, north of Weeki Wachee.

    The course will cover lessons about the basics of firearms safety around the home as well as an introduction to pistol safety, parts and operation, an introduction to ammunition, the fundamentals of pistol shooting, an introduction to pistol shooting from the seated and standing positions, and an introduction to pistol cleaning and storage.

    Classes include instruction, live-fire training on the range and a lunch break.

    The cost is $60. Completion of the class provides required documentation to apply for a Florida concealed carry permit.

    TOURETTE SYNDROME GOLF TOURNAMENT: The Plantation Golf Resort in Crystal River will host the inaugural Tee Off for Tourette Celebrity Golf Tournament on Feb. 1 and 2.

    Proceeds will benefit the Tourette Syndrome Association of Florida, a volunteer organization dedicated to helping individuals and families living with Tourette's syndrome. The money will help send children to an annual camp, where they can spend time with other children with Tourette syndrome.

    The basic entry fee is $500 per four-player team, which includes a hole sign and recognition in the tournament program, as well as greens fees and a cart. Other sponsorship levels include gold, platinum and event.

    For information, contact event chairman Gary D'Amico at (352) 527-2938 or gary78@tampabay.rr.com.

    Contact Derek J. LaRiviere at derekjlariviere@gmail.com or (352) 584-6337.


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  • 01/02/13--17:35: Ravens star to retire
  • Times wires
    Wednesday, January 2, 2013

    OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Ray Lewis spent 17 seasons instilling fear in his opponents while serving as an inspirational leader for the Ravens. Now he's eager to be a full-time dad.

    The middle linebacker announced Wednesday that he will retire after this season.

    Lewis, 37, tore his right triceps Oct. 14 but intends to return Sunday against the Colts.

    "Everything that starts has an end," he said.

    Lewis wants to spend more time with his two sons. While rehabbing, he watched them play at Lake Mary Prep, north of Orlando. Next season, Ray Lewis III plays his freshman season at Miami, where the elder Lewis starred.

    "God is calling," said Lewis, a Bartow native who played his high school ball at Lakeland Kathleen. "My children have made the ultimate sacrifice for their father for 17 years. I don't want to see them do that no more. I've done what I wanted to do in this business.

    "I always promised my son if he got a full ride on scholarship, Daddy is going to be there. I can't miss that."

    Lewis, a seven-time All-Pro, was named defensive player of the year in 2000, the same season he was voted Super Bowl MVP after the Ravens' 34-7 rout of the Giants in Tampa. He also was defensive player of the year in 2003 and is the only player with at least 40 sacks and 30 interceptions.

    "I never played the game for individual stats," he said. "I only played the game to make my team a better team."

    Drafted 26th overall in 1996 (the first season after the team moved from Cleveland), Lewis became a beloved figure in Baltimore. He remained that way even after his reported involvement in two homicides in 2000. He eventually pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor and testified against two co-defendants. Within a year, Lewis led the Ravens to their only title.

    Hundreds of games later, he's ready to call it a career.

    "It was sad," Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs said of the announcement. "For the past 10 years … I've been sitting right next to the man and going to war on Sundays. It's going to one hard last ride, and we need to make it one to remember."

    Lewis called his rehab from the torn triceps "bittersweet." After spending Monday through Thursday working to return, he hopped on a plane to Florida to be with his boys.

    "Not having a father myself, that damaged me a lot," Lewis said. "I didn't want my kids to relive that. One of the hardest things in the world is to walk away from my teammates. But now I'm going to step into other chapters of my life.

    "When God calls, he calls. And he's calling. More importantly, he calls me to be a father. It's okay to be Daddy. Yes, this chapter is closing, but the chapter that's opening is overwhelming. That's what excites me the most."


    Associated PressAssociated Press

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    By Jim Huddleston, Times Correspondent
    Wednesday, January 2, 2013

    What's hot: Many inshore species are adapting to the first cold snap of the season. The sudden drop in water temperature pushed a lot of trout and redfish into skinny water. The water column in the shallows heats up quicker. If it warms up this weekend, as forecast, speckled trout should bite throughout St. Joseph Sound.

    What else: Though schools of bigger trout haven't emerged yet, the flats leading into estuaries and creeks are holding solid numbers that can be caught throwing artificials. Soft, plastic jerk baits and suspending lures work well on incoming tides. The key to working any type of lure right now is to slow it to a crawl and give these specks time to ambush the offering. The deeper water between the spoil islands has some sandy pockets with fish ready to feed. A select-sized shrimp rigged with a split shot above the hook should sink and hold the bait on the bottom for a productive presentation.

    Jim Huddleston charters out of Tampa, Palm Harbor and Clearwater and can be reached at (727) 439-9017 and at jimmy@captainhud.com.


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