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Second ban over, Denver standout set to play finally


Saturday, November 17, 2012

DENVER — Linebacker D.J. Williams is on track to make his season debut today against the Chargers after the Broncos put him on their 53-man roster Saturday.

Williams, who totaled 11½ sacks in 2010 and 2011, returned to practice last week after serving two league suspensions that cost him nine games and about $4 million. Coach John Fox said Friday that Williams looked good in practice all week "and he's a guy we would definitely consider to be active for the game."

If Williams plays today, it likely will be as a reserve and on special teams.

The former University of Miami standout was suspended six games for violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing drugs and three games for an alcohol-related arrest.

Bucs move: The Bucs signed defensive lineman Matthew Masifilo off the 49ers' practice squad. The undrafted rookie, who likely won't be in uniform today, played end and tackle at Stanford. To make room, the Bucs released former Florida State defensive end Markus White, who was promoted from the practice squad Wednesday.

49ers: Quarterback Alex Smith, who sustained a concussion last week against the Rams, practiced. As he has all week, he wore a noncontact jersey. His status for Monday hasn't been announced.

Lions: Starting safety Amari Spievey went on season-ending injured reserve four weeks after sustaining his second concussion in 10 months.

Patriots: Receiver Deion Branch was released. The veteran was released during the preseason and re-signed just prior to Week 3. But he has just nine catches in seven games (three starts) and sustained a hamstring injury during practice last week.

For Tampa's Scott Peek, Florida Gators football is family affair


By Antonya English, Times Staff Writer
Saturday, November 17, 2012

GAINESVILLE — His father was a Florida Gator. So, too, was his grandfather.

So for Florida RB Scott Peek and his family, Saturday's 23-0 win over Jacksonville State was an extremely emotional day. The former walk-on out of Tampa's Freedom High was among the 18 seniors who played their final home game at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

"It really was a dream come true," Peek said summing up his time with the Gators. "When I was a little kid, that was all I ever wanted to do; to be a Florida Gator, to run out of the tunnel into the Swamp. It was pretty crazy having it all end (Saturday). It seems like it flew by, but it was the best experience of my life."

Peek broke his shoulder during a preseason game of his senior season at Freedom, derailing his hopes of a scholarship entering college. He was awarded one last season.

"I never really thought my dream was going to be able to come true," said Peek, who hasn't carried the ball this season but saw action late Saturday. "It just ended up being the best experience of my life. I was so glad I was able to follow in both my father's and grandfather's footsteps."

DRISKEL'S RETURN?: Whether Florida will have starting QB Jeff Driskel available for Saturday's game at Florida State remains to be seen. The sophomore sprained his right ankle against Louisiana-Lafayette on Nov. 10 and sat out against Jacksonville State.

"I think it's much better than it was," coach Will Muschamp said. "He's not in a walking boot or a brace anymore. We'll see how it progresses through the week. I'll probably know more on Monday and certainly know more on Wednesday about where he is.

ELITE COMPANY: Muschamp became the third Gator coach with 10 wins in his second season. Steve Spurrier went 10-2 with an SEC title in 1991, and Urban Meyer went 13-1 with an SEC and national title in 2006.

MATT JONES RESPONDS: RB Matt Jones got his opportunity to play significant minutes and made the most of it. The graduate of Seffner's Armwood High had eight carries for 65 yards, earning the right to play more because of his improved work ethic. The freshman also tied his career long with a 17-yard run

"He's practiced well," Muschamp said. "That's been questionable through the year, and I challenged him on that. I said you've got to practice well if you want to play. And I think he's a guy that's a heavy guy. He throws it up in there. We've developed more of a downhill run game, and he's a guy that certainly, as we move forward, needs to continue to mature."

INJURIES: Former Tampa Catholic standout and Wesley Chapel alumnus Hunter Joyer injured his thigh early, but Muschamp said he expects him to play this week. … RT Chaz Green (Tampa Catholic) reinjured an ankle but also should play. … LG Ian Silberman has a torn labrum and is out for the season.

Another injury: The mystery surrounding DB De'Ante "Pop" Saunders continues. Muschamp said Saunders, who was suspended for two games earlier this season, will not play the rest of the season because of a knee injury. But he ran out of the tunnel Saturday.

Pinellas: Sunday morning quarterback


By Bob Putnam and Rodney Page, Times Staff Writers
Saturday, November 17, 2012

A turnover tragedy

The most stunning development in Largo's loss to Armwood was how frequently the Packers coughed up the ball. Largo committed seven turnovers (four fumbles, three interceptions). Two of the fumbles were converted into scores.

What's makes it more stunning is how careful the Packers were with the ball during the regular season. Largo had just four turnovers in its previous 10 games (all fumbles). QB Juwan Brown had thrown no interceptions before Friday.

The Packers were still in the game in the final two minutes. That's a testament to their defense, which held the Hawks to 205 yards. Armwood QB Alvin Bailey was 4 of 15 passing for 34 yards and threw two interceptions, both to Jarvis Stewart.

"Our defense played their butts off," Largo coach Rick Rodriguez said. "But the turnovers just killed us. I don't think we've ever had that many turnovers in a game since I've been here."

Zero tolerance

Another game, another shutout for Clearwater Central Catholic. The Marauders blanked Frostproof 35-0 in the Class 3A region semifinals for their seventh shutout this season. The previous school record for shutouts in a season was three. Even more impressive is that CCC could have had nine shutouts if it had not allowed late touchdowns in blowout victories over Sarasota Cardinal Mooney and Tampa Catholic.

"I've never seen anything like this," coach John Davis said.

Offensive player of the week

Artavis Scott, East Lake: The junior has made quite an impact since returning from an ankle injury. This week, he had his best performance of the season with 10 catches for 163 yards and a touchdown in a win over Treasure Coast in the Class 8A region quarterfinals.

Defensive player of the week

Mike Stevenson, CC Catholic: The senior has been knocking passes away from receivers but has not been able to record many interceptions. He made up for that against Frostproof, picking off two passes and returning one for a touchdown to help the Marauders cruise to a win in the Class 3A region semifinals.

Breakout player of the week

Laterian Latimer, Lakewood: The senior provided a boost to the running game by gaining nearly 100 yards and scoring twice in a victory over Orlando Bishop Moore in the Class 5A region quarterfinals.


"We've only had two teams in 50 years of football that has won 10 games in one season, so to do that here was a goal for them."

John Davis, CCC coach

"Obviously we don't like the way this ended, but they played their hearts out. Thanks to our seniors, we are starting to make progress."

Mike Jalazo, Northeast coach

"They gave us a good taste of what a good football program is like, and we won't forget it."

Mark Buchanan, IRC coach, after a 42-21 loss to Naples First Baptist.

Lakewood vs. Robinson, Part II

On Oct. 26, when Lakewood lost to Robinson 19-8 for its only loss, Spartans coach Cory Moore said, "We'll probably see those guys again if things go as planned." Everything has gone as planned. Lakewood rolled over Orlando Bishop Moore 37-13 and Robinson crushed Port Orange Atlantic 41-8. The rematch will be at Robinson, and Lakewood's defense must do better. Robinson scored at will and led 19-0 at halftime before winning 19-8. Robinson coach Mike Depue said his team gave a C-plus effort the first time around. It will likely take an A effort this time.

By the numbers

0 Number of times Lakewood has advanced past the second round of the playoffs, dating to 1980

3 Straight seasons Venice has knocked a different Pinellas County team out of the playoffs in the first round (St. Petersburg, 2010; Countryside, 2011 and Pinellas Park, Friday)

7 Shutouts for Clearwater Central Catholic. The Marauders have not been scored on in their last four games

120 Points scored by Manatee against Pinellas opponents in the first round of the playoffs the past two years (55 against Pinellas Park, 65 against Northeast).

Tom Jones' Two Cents: sophomore slumps


By Tom Jones, Times Staff Writer
Saturday, November 17, 2012

Joe Charboneau

Ah, Joltin' Joe Charboneau still remains both a fond memory and a bad nightmare for the good folks of Cleveland. The Indians slugger had a monster rookie season, batting .289 with 23 homers and 87 RBIs. His season made him the runaway winner for the 1980 American League rookie of the year. But he injured his back the following season and was batting only .208 when the '81 strike hit. Later that season, he became the first rookie of the year to be sent to the minors in the following season. He finished 1981 with a .210 average, four homers and 18 RBIs. He would go on to play only 22 more games in the majors.

1997 Sugar Bowl

The 1997 Sugar Bowl makes the list because it was the second meeting of that season between Florida and Florida State. In the traditional regular-season finale for the teams, the No. 1 ranked and undefeated Gators travelled to Tallahassee to take on the No. 2 Seminoles. FSU intercepted Gators QB Danny Wuerffel three times in the first half, got 185 yards rushing from Warrick Dunn and held on for a 24-21 win. This game also was known for Florida complaining about late hits and FSU coach Bobby Bowden saying his team played to the echo of the whistle.

That set up what was supposed to be a rematch for the ages in the Sugar Bowl a little more than a month later. The outcome was memorable to Gators fans, but it was a dog of a game. Wuerffel threw for 306 yards and three TDs as the Gators won their first national title with a 52-20 spanking of the Seminoles.

'Slap Shot 2'

Slap Shot, the 1977 classic starring Paul Newman as the player-coach of a violent and dysfunctional minor-league hockey team, is the best sports movie ever made. The putrid Slap Shot 2: Breaking the Ice with Gary Busey and one of the Baldwin brothers not named Alec is among the worst movies ever made. Breaking the Ice? It should've been called Breaking Bad.

'Caddyshack II'

Here's another sports movie sequel to flush down the toilet. Look, most sports movie sequels are not good. But even the Mighty Ducks and Bad News Bears sequels are like Citizen Kane compared to Slap Shot 2 and Caddyshack II. For Caddyshack II, it's stunning that the producers could talk stars such as Dan Aykroyd, Randy Quaid, Dyan Cannon and Jackie Mason to be in this movie. And, still, a gopher was the best actor in the film. What does that tell you?

The 1984 U.S. Olympic hockey team

Those old enough to remember know just how special the 1980 Winter Olympics were. The U.S. hockey team, made up of a bunch of college kids, shocked the world and beat the mighty Russians in the "Miracle on Ice.'' The thing was, no one really paid attention to Olympic hockey in the United States before then, and the 1980 gold-medal team caught everyone by surprise. However, when the 1984 Olympics rolled around, many tuned in to watch, hoping for another miracle. But that magic could not be repeated ever again. Despite having future NHL stars such as Chris Chelios, Pat LaFontaine and Ed Olyczyk, as well as 1980 holdovers Phil Verchota and John Harrington, the Americans went 1-2-2 in the Olympic tournament and finished seventh.

Michael Jordan's second act

Technically, the greatest basketball player of all time had three acts. He won three titles with the Bulls, then retired for a year to take up baseball. He returned and helped guide the Bulls to three more titles. To me, that's all part of the same chapter of his career. He retired again, then announced a comeback on Sept. 25, 2001.

He would play two more NBA seasons with the Washington Wizards. His numbers really weren't that bad. He averaged nearly 23 points in his first season back and 20 in his second. He still even put up 30- and 40-point games over that span. But he never led the Wizards to the playoffs and seemed more like a cranky old man complaining about a younger generation than anything else. Plus, wearing that Wizards jersey just looked, well, wrong. Don't you wish he had never played those two seasons?

Andrew Raycroft

Raycroft was the NHL rookie of the year back in 2003-04 — the season when the Lightning won the Stanley Cup. Playing goal for the Bruins, Raycroft racked up a 29-18-9 record with an eye-popping 2.05 goals-against average and a .926 save percentage. He was set to be the Bruins goalie for years to come. But the lockout canceled the next season and he never regained his form when the NHL returned in 2005-06. He won only eight games that year and eventually lost both the starting and backup job. Raycroft, 32, bounced around through four other NHL teams and now plays in Italy.

Leonard-Duran II

The first fight between welterweights Sugar Ray Leonard and Roberto Duran was an epic collision between two of the best fighters of their generation. On June 20, 1980, Leonard tried to go toe-to-toe with Duran and ended up losing a unanimous but very close decision. The anticipated rematch took place five months later and this time, Leonard abandoned his slugger style of the first fight and went to a dance routine. Duran was so confounded and frustrated that he quit in the seventh round by saying his infamous words: "No mas,'' meaning, "no more.'' It was memorable, for sure, but not really the fight all of us wanted to see.

1968 NCAA basketball semifinals

In January of 1968, Elvin Hayes and the No.  2-ranked Houston Cougars upset top-ranked UCLA, led by a center then known as Lew Alcindor (later, he became Kareem Abdul-Jabbar). The game, played before nearly 53,000 at the Houston Astrodome, was called the "Game of the Century'' and snapped UCLA's 47-game win streak. The teams would meet again in the national semifinals, only this time it was the undefeated Cougars at No. 1 and the one-loss Bruins at No. 2. The highly anticipated rematch turned into a dud as UCLA destroyed Houston, 101-69. The Bruins would go on to defeat North Carolina for the national title.

tom jones' two cents

The sequel is rarely as good as the original, wouldn't you say? In fact, most are downright awful. Think Jaws II, Blues Brothers 2000 and pretty much all of the Halloween and Friday the 13th sequels. Oh, there are exceptions, of course. The Godfather Part II was awesome. So was The Empire Strikes Back. Even Rocky II was respectable. So why all this talk about sequels? Well, today, the Bucs take on the Carolina Panthers and quarterback Cam Newton, whose second season isn't going nearly as well as the first one. Here's a look at Newton's second go-around as well as other sequels that didn't quite measure up with the first one.

Na Yeon Choi leads at LPGA season finale; Seminole's Brittany Lincicome three back


Times wires
Saturday, November 17, 2012

Times wires

NAPLES — Na Yeon Choi overcame a careless three-putt on the third hole and was steady the rest of a blustery Saturday, shooting 3-under 69 for a one-shot lead over Ayi Miyazato after three rounds of the LPGA Tour's season-ending Titleholders.

At stake for Choi, at 12-under 204, is a chance to win for the second time this year — she won the U.S. Women's Open — and collect a big check, which could come in handy. Before returning home to South Korea, she will shop for a new house in Orlando on Monday, most likely in the Isleworth neighborhood.

"I need a good result (today)," she said, laughing.

Miyazato, the second-round leader, shot 3 over on the front nine but rallied with four birdies on the back nine to salvage a 71.

Rookie of the year So Yeon Ryu (68) was at 10 under, and Seminole's Brittany Lincicome (70) was tied with Karine Icher at 9 under. Lincicome continued to struggle with back problems that began early in the week.

"It's okay. (Saturday) was better. Still, the first couple holes … my lower body wouldn't let me follow through," said Lincicome, who bogeyed Nos. 2 and 3, her only bogeys of the round. "So hopefully (I'll) ice it and get it worked on one more time, and hopefully it will be better for (today)."

Lincicome on Saturday received a tour performance award for longest driving average this year, 275.2 yards. She received a car from Kia, a 2013 Optima Limited

Tampa's Cindy LaCrosse (72) was 3 under, Tampa resident Kristy McPherson (77) 13 over.

hong kong open: Miguel Angel Jimenez shot 2-under 68 to share the third-round lead with Michael Campbell (69) at 10-under 200 in the event sanctioned by the European and Asian tours. Matteo Manassero (64) and Lian-wei Zhang (69) were 9 under.

australian masters: Defending champion Ian Poulter shot 8-under 64 to take a one-stroke lead over Adam Scott (67) at 13-under 203 after three rounds of the PGA Australasia event in Melbourne. Matthew Guyatt (75), the leader after each of the first two rounds, was six strokes behind in third.

mcilroy to cut back: Rory McIlroy said he'll cut back his schedule next year after missing the cut at the Hong Kong Open, where he was the defending champion. It was the second time this year he missed the cut defending a title. The other was at June's U.S. Open. "I now look back over the last couple of years wondering why did I stretch myself so much," said McIlroy, 23. Counting next weekend's European Tour closing event, McIlroy will have played in 24 tournaments this season as well as the Ryder Cup and two exhibitions. Last year he competed in 22 European and PGA tour events, the Grand Slam of Golf, the World Cup, the Korean Open and the China Golf Challenge.

Miami40, USF9


Saturday, November 17, 2012

More online: blogs.tampabay.com/bulls

Who: Miami

RESULT: Miami 40-9

RECORDS: USF 3-7, 1-4 Big East

Miami 6-5, 4-3 ACC

Who: Cincinnati

WHERE: Nippert Stadium, Cincinnati

WHEN: 7 p.m.


RADIO: 98.7-FM

Sprint Cup scouting report: Homestead-Miami Speedway, 3 p.m. Sunday


Times staff
Saturday, November 17, 2012

Hillsborough: Sunday morning quarterback


By Joel Anderson and Joey Knight, Times Staff Writers
Saturday, November 17, 2012

Let's play two. Week 2 of the football postseason features four rematches of regular-season showdowns. In order of appeal, we rank them:

1. Armwood (8-3) at Hillsborough (9-1)

First meeting: Hillsborough 3-0 on Oct. 18

Veteran coach Earl Garcia was moved to tears after Hillsborough handed the penalty-prone Hawks their first shutout defeat in 11 years. For Garcia, will the sequel be a replicate of Godfather II or Caddyshack II?

2. Newsome (7-4) at Durant (11-0)

First meeting: Durant 38-28 on Oct. 18

It would sure be sweet for the Wolves to spoil Durant's undefeated season in this suddenly fierce eastern Hillsborough rivalry. But it'll be tough: The Cougars controlled the first matchup and led 31-7 before a late Newsome rally.

3. Lakewood (10-1) at Robinson (10-1)

First meeting: Robinson 19-8 on Oct. 26

The key for the Knights will be a breakneck start, which has been their modus operandi all winter. Robinson has scored first in all 11 games this year.

4. Tampa Catholic (8-3) at CCC (10-1)

First meeting: Clearwater Central Catholic 27-7 on Oct. 5

The Crusaders have to cross the bridge again for another shot at the Marauders, who held them to 79 yards. Clearwater Central Catholic led 24-0 before Tampa Catholic finally got on the board in the fourth quarter.

By the numbers

2 Times Armwood's offense has been shut out this season. The Hawks' lone TD in Friday's 10-6 triumph against Largo came on defense

13 Defensive TDs by Robinson. The Knights added to their state single-season record with Javaughn Johnson's 45-yard fumble return against Port Orange Atlantic

28 Career playoff victories, in only eight appearances, for Plant coach Robert Weiner after Friday's 48-31 victory against Orlando Freedom

371 Yards passing by Wharton junior Chase Litton in a 28-15 loss at Orlando Dr. Phillips, a career high for Hillsborough County's top passer (by yardage) this season

5,475 Career rushing yards by Carrollwood Day senior Robert Davis, a Hillsborough County record. Davis had 245 in the Patriots' 24-12 victory against Moore Haven

Honor roll

Vernon Hargreaves III, Wharton. Even in a losing effort at Orlando Dr. Phillips, Hargreaves was all over the field. He had two receptions for 26 yards, caused a fumble and had a number of stops in Wharton's solid defensive performance against the state's top-ranked Class 8A team.

TJ Harrell, Tampa Catholic. His 65-yard touchdown run with a little more than two minutes left was the go-ahead score for the Crusaders in a 24-23 win over Fort Meade.

Zach Hooper, Durant. The Cougars' jack of all trades scored two touchdowns to preserve Durant's undefeated season and first playoff victory since 2003 in a 34-7 win over Tampa Bay Tech.

Dwayne Lawson, Hillsborough. The 6-foot-5 sophomore quarterback had a splendid postseason debut, throwing for 173 yards and a touchdown, and running for 125 more, another touchdown and a two-point conversion in the Terriers' 35-point win over Osceola.

Newsome's offensive line. This unsung unit allowed the Wolves to rush for 510 yards in their playoff-opening 52-7 romp over Gaither.


"The thing that really worries me is No. 7 (senior Rodney Adams) getting in there in the wildcat formation. We've got to come up with something to stop that...because that absolutely hurt us last time. We've got to play disciplined, disciplined ball." — Mike DePue, Robinson coach, on the Knights' rematch with Lakewood

"He's the best we've played this season. Definitely." — Kenderson Obas, Orlando Dr. Phillips DL, on Wharton QB Chase Litton

"I asked Robert if he was okay to go. He said, 'Coach, I'm alive. I can go.' " — Lane McLaughlin, Carrollwood Day coach, on RB Robert Davis (32 carries, 245 yards), who missed several second-half plays in Friday's victory against Moore Haven while his injured right hand was being taped

Miami Hurricanes' deep passes plague USF Bulls


By Joe Polito, Times Correspondent
Saturday, November 17, 2012

MIAMI GARDENS — The Bulls knew Miami would be looking to make big plays, but didn't account for some of the Hurricanes' unlikely playmakers in their 40-9 road loss.

USF gave up its two biggest plays of the season to wide receiver Herb Waters and tight end Clive Walford, who both finished with more than 130 receiving yards and went for touchdowns of 87 and 65 yards respectively.

"I thought on defense our pass secondary was poor," USF coach Skip Holtz said. "I just thought there was way too many uncontested deep balls. It's one thing when the ball goes up and they jump up over you. ... I'll take those. But some of the other ones are just uncontested and totally uncalled for as a defense."

Down 22-3 in the third quarter, a USF punt gave the Hurricanes a long field starting on their own 13-yard line. But cornerback Kayvon Webster lost track of Waters, who went down the sideline untouched for a score. Waters had only five catches for 32 yards on the season coming into the game.

"They did a good job of capitalizing on our mistakes. ... We made mistakes," Webster said. "We had a lot of missed assignments and we just didn't do our jobs."

Holtz said he felt good about the game up to that point.

"Right there I felt like it was a pretty evenly played football game even though the points were a little bit swayed because of the turnovers. ... But from there it certainly went south in the pass defense," he said.

USF's defense saw what Walford could do on Miami's first play from scrimmage, when the 250-pound tight end caught a pass over the middle for 34 yards. Quarterback Stephen Morris found him again for 36 yards in the second quarter and a third time for a 65-yard touchdown to start the fourth. Morris extended the play with his feet, allowing Walford to get well behind the defense for the deep ball.

"I think there was a tremendous amount of big plays. ... At times when we were ahead of the chains — it's just being disciplined in what we're supposed to do," USF defensive coordinator Chris Cosh said. "When the quarterback broke down and started to move out of the pocket, we've got to be disciplined and we didn't do that."

While the Bulls got burned for their own mental mistakes, they also failed to capitalize on some of Morris' errant passes. Safety Mark Joyce bobbled a would-be interception and linebacker Reshard Cliett saw a pass go through his hands on third down deep in Miami territory.

Coming into the game, a 47-yard pass against FSU was the longest play the Bulls had given up. Against Miami the defense watched five pass plays go for more than 30 yards and gave up 456 total passing yards.

Scarlet Knights remain in control


Times wires
Saturday, November 17, 2012

CINCINNATI — With another shutdown day by its defense, No. 22 Rutgers stayed in control of the Big East.

Reserve running back Savon Huggins had a career-high 179 yards, and the Scarlet Knights stifled the league's top scoring offense for a 10-3 victory over Cincinnati on Saturday that left Rutgers alone in first place.

Rutgers knocked the Bearcats out of the race and kept a one-game lead over No. 20 Louisville, which was idle. The Scarlet Knights finish with games at Pittsburgh and home against Louisville.

"I'm not thinking about being in control of the Big East," coach Kyle Flood said. "This was a one-time event."

Not by Rutgers' reserve running back or its unmatched defense.

Huggins filled in for the injured Jawan Jamison and had a career day. Gary Nova threw a 71-yard touchdown to Mark Harrison in the second quarter, and Nick Borgese made a 42-yard field goal in the fourth.

The league's top defense took it from there, shutting out Cincinnati until Tony Miliano's 36-yard field goal with 11 seconds left. Rutgers recovered the onside kick.

It was the third time this season Rutgers held an opponent to three or fewer points.

"I was very disappointed about losing the shutout," said Scarlet Knights linebacker Khaseem Greene, the conference's defensive player of the year in 2011. "I'm not going to lie to you. We played hard enough and worked hard enough to get the shutout."

Rutgers picked off Brendon Kay twice and stopped George Winn on fourth and inches at the Scarlet Knights' 7-yard line in the third quarter. Rutgers came in fifth nationally in points allowed at 13.4 per game.

It was essentially an elimination game for the Bearcats, who won or shared three of the past four league titles. They'd already lost to Louisville.

"That's a locker room that's hurting right now," Bearcats coach Butch Jones said. "We can still finish with 10 wins, which is extremely hard to do in college football."

Rutgers is 5-0 in the Big East for the first time.

Jamison, second in the league at 105.9 yards per game, was limited by an ankle injury suffered a week earlier and carried four times for 37 yards.

TEMPLE 63, ARMY 32: Montel Harris ran for a career-high 351 yards and seven touchdowns (see notes, 2X) and Matt Brown scored twice before leaving with an injury for the visiting Owls. Temple scored only 54 points combined in losing its previous four, all in the Big East.

USF Bulls have plenty of blame to go around


By Gary Shelton, Times Sports Columnist
Saturday, November 17, 2012


Blame Bobby Eveld, if you wish. Considering the sling around his left arm, it isn't as if he can put up much of a defense.

Blame Matt Floyd, if you prefer. Considering that none of his 35 passes resulted in a touchdown, he's a logical target.

Blame B.J. Daniels for getting his ankle broken. Blame the USF recruiters for not having a better option. Blame all the other quarterbacks who preferred other campuses to USF's over the past few seasons.

Right about now, that's the temptation for Bulls fans after USF was clobbered 40-9 by Miami. The young quarterbacks looked like, well, young quarterbacks. You can suggest that this is why Eveld hasn't played and that is why Floyd hasn't played.

Yeah, blame the backups. That would be easy, and it would be convenient, and it would expected.

On the other hand, it would be off-target.

Granted, neither Eveld nor Floyd suggested that greatness had arrived on Saturday afternoon. But if you want to list the reasons that USF lost another game, the quarterbacks probably come in about fifth on the list of suspects. Maybe sixth. Frankly, that is a much more frightening notion than blaming two quarterbacks who weren't expected to win — or to play, for that matter — for USF this season.

Want to blame someone? Blame the secondary, which may be the worst in the nation. It is amazing how open the Miami receivers were for most of the day. Put it this way: There are fewer kids lost at Disney World than in the Bulls' secondary.

Want to blame someone? Blame the receivers. As Bulls coach Skip Holtz pointed out, it wasn't as if they helped out either quarterback by breaking tackles or making circus catches. The old rule about young quarterbacks is that their teammates have to play better around them. That didn't happen.

Want to blame someone? Blame Holtz. The time-management at the end of the first half was so horrible you want to chip in to buy the Skipper a watch. (Four plays in 68 seconds?) And tell me again: Why kick two field goals while 34 points behind in the fourth quarter? Wouldn't it be more beneficial to let a quarterback make a throw?

In other words, it wasn't the new guys at fault here. It was the old guys.

"I don't think those two quarterbacks lost it," Holtz said. "I would certainly like to tell you, if this was a 28-26 game and we threw an interception backed up late in the first half and they got points, then yeah, that could have been the difference. But I don't think it was inexperienced quarterbacks that lost this game. I think it was more of a story that we didn't play well enough around them."

Again, if you were looking for a long-term answer at quarterback, well, you're going to need more evidence. If I were a Bulls' fan, I would send a tape of this game to waivering commitment Asiantii Woulard. And also to every other three-star or better quarterback in high school. And to every junior college quarterback who has some sizzle. I would label the tape with only one word: Help.

Say this for Eveld. He went through a season in 15 snaps. That's how long he played until his left shoulder was separated on a hard tackle. It was a tough finish for Eveld, Holtz's I've-got-a-secret starter.

"I know it's easy to second-guess and say it was wrong," Holtz said. "I'm sick. I absolutely hate it for Bobby. But we made the decision that we felt gave this football team the best opportunity to win coming in."

As for Floyd, he threw two interceptions on his first six passes. After that, however, he wasn't bad for his first start, hitting 20 of 35 passes. Again, the offense did not score a touchdown against a Miami defense that had been 89th in the country in scoring defense.

In other words, yeah, if USF is going to be better as a program, it is going to need a lot better performance from its quarterbacks.

From everyone else, too.

Listen to Gary Shelton weekdays from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. on 98.7-FM the Fan.

Report: No-trade vows broken


Times wires

Saturday, November 17, 2012

All-Star shortstop Jose Reyes and left-hander Mark Buehrle, two of the five Marlins who were traded to the Blue Jays last week, say the team broke verbal promises not to trade them, foxsports.com reported.

The Marlins do not award no-trade clauses, but club officials apparently assured Reyes and Buehrle that they would not be traded before signing them as free agents last offseason, according to the website.

Buehrle and his wife Jamie were concerned about the Marlins' history of dumping high-priced players but were reassured by team president David Samson.

Jamie, according to the website, was emotional while talking with Samson after learning of the trade Tuesday.

"I spoke to Mark Buehrle. He said he was sorry things didn't work out," Samson said during a radio interview. "I said, 'I'm as sorry as you that things didn't work out.' "

The website also reported that Reyes was emphatically told he would not be traded.

Reyes, 29, agreed to a six-year, $106 million deal with Miami before the season. Buehrle, 33, rejected a three-year offer from the Nationals to sign a four-year, $58 million contract.

MANAGER SEARCH: The Blue Jays could announce their next manager within days, ESPN.com reported.

Former big-league managers Jim Tracy and Jim Riggleman are the favorites to replace John Farrell, who left last month to take over the Red Sox.

Tracy resigned from the Rockies last month after the team finished 64-98. Riggleman last managed in the big leagues for the Nationals in June 2011, when he abruptly quit. He has since been managing for the Reds' Double-A affiliate in Pensacola.

DICKEY TALKS: The Mets plan to offer National League Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey a two-year contract extension, foxsports.com reported.

It's unknown how much the Mets plan to offer. According to the New York Daily News, the right-hander would sign for a deal comparable to right-hander Jake Peavy's two-year, $29 million extension with the White Sox.

Dickey, 38, is under contract next season for $5 million. He went 20-6 with a 2.73 ERA and 230 strikeouts over 2332/3 innings this season.

Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said Friday that the team soon will need a resolution in its talks with both Dickey and third baseman David Wright, who is also in negotiations for an extension.

REDS PROSPECT HURT: Top prospect Billy Hamilton came out of an Arizona Fall League game with lower back spasms after slamming into the centerfield wall chasing a triple. The Cincinnati speedster set a minor-league record with 155 stolen bases this season.

NAME CHANGE: The Phillies' Double-A team in Reading, Pa., will be known as the Fightin Phils.

49ers 32, Bears 7


Times wires
Monday, November 19, 2012


SAN FRANCISCO — Strong-armed fill-in Colin Kaepernick made all the right throws, looking every bit a capable NFL No. 1 quarterback.

Kaepernick passed for 243 yards and two touchdowns in his first career start in place of the injured Alex Smith, and the 49ers routed the Bears 32-7 on Monday night in a highly touted NFC showdown that hardly lived up to the hype.

"It's everything I could've ever wished for," Kaepernick said. "It feels great just to be out there."

Kaepernick threw touchdowns to Vernon Davis and Michael Crabtree, and Kendall Hunter ran for a 14-yard score as San Francisco jumped to a big lead by scoring on each of its first four possessions — with Aldon Smith wreaking havoc on the other side of the ball with 5½ sacks.

Jason Campbell, the other quarterback in this matchup of backups for division leaders, threw a 13-yard touchdown to Brandon Marshall in the third quarter but was sacked five times and threw two interceptions in his first start since October 2011 for Oakland.

He faced fierce pressure all night, on the field for the Bears as starter Jay Cutler recovers from a concussion suffered eight days earlier — just like Smith.

After Kaepernick's stellar night, there's certain to be chatter of a quarterback controversy for the NFC West-leading Niners.

Aldon Smith took the NFL sacks lead at 15, passing Denver's Von Miller with 13, with the No. 2 total in franchise history behind Fred Dean's six-sack day on Nov. 13, 1983, against New Orleans. Tarell Brown and Dashon Goldson each had an interception for San Francisco's stingy defense.

"We were playing our defense, stopping the run and then stopping the pass," Aldon Smith said. "I was just playing my game and getting after it."

Playoff football: Carrollwood Day School vs. Naples First Baptist Academy


By Rod Gipson, Times Correspondent
Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The lone North of Tampa-area team still alive in the playoffs, Carrollwood Day School, heads into tonight's second-round state playoff game with two things it did not have a week ago: a playoff win and a record-setting career running back.

The Patriots (10-1), fresh off their opening round win against Moore Haven, travel to Naples to face First Baptist Academy (11-0) in the Class 2A region finals. The winner advances to the state semifinals.

The Patriots and Lions and have some things in common: They are up-and-coming Class 2A programs with dominant running games making their first trip to the state playoffs.

CDS running back Robert Davis goes into his second playoff game as Hillsborough County's all-time career rusher with 5,475 yards. Davis set the career mark by gaining 245 yards in the 24-12 win over Moore Haven. The Lions defense will try to key on Davis as both teams try to move a step closer to a state crown.

Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.


Carrollwood Day School (10-1) at Naples First Baptist Academy (11-0)

Last Week: CDS defeated Moore Haven 24-12; First Baptist Academy defeated Indian Rocks Christian 42-21.

Why you should go: To see record-setting runner Davis and an outstanding CDS team in what could be their last game of 2012. Davis will look to add to his record county rushing total. But the Patriots' offense can offer more than just Davis. Quarterback Vidal Woodruff has thrown for 24 TDs this season, mostly to standout receiver Andy Embody, who has 15 touchdown catches this season.

In First Baptist, CDS will face a team with two solid runners. Quarterback Jonah Bueltel has 1,200 yards and 19 touchdowns on the season. When he does hand off, he gives the ball to Chris Dorrill, who has 1,050 yards on the season and 16 scores.

So if this one comes down to whose defense can get more stops, which squad has the edge? First Baptist, ranked fifth in the state in 2A, had five shutouts this season. CDS' defense shutout three opponents, but none since September and allowed 16 points per game. FBA's defense gave up 10 points per game.

One last note to chew on. Both First Baptist and Carrollwood Day played, and defeated, Indian Rocks Christian this season. CDS beat IRC 28-22 late in the regular season. FBA topped IRC 42-21 last week to open the playoffs.

St. Petersburg considered for IndyCar doubleheader but not chosen


By Jim Tomlin, Times Staff Writer
Tuesday, November 20, 2012

ST. PETERSBURG — Next season's IndyCar schedule, released in September, is introducing doubleheaders at three street circuits.

The Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg isn't a doubleheader site, but the concept was floated.

"We had conversations about whether St. Pete made sense," Grand Prix Vice President Tim Ramsberger said. "We talked about it briefly but I think being the first race of the season it presents challenges that (the conclusion was) maybe it was too much for us as a promoter, too much for IndyCar to bite off for a first race, or first street race at least."

The street race in Toronto, which like St. Petersburg is under Green Savoree Racing Promotions, is one of the doubleheader sites along with Detroit and Houston.

Driver Simona de Silvestro, visiting St. Petersburg to promote the race — tickets go on sale Dec. 1 — talked about the challenges of doing two physically demanding races in one weekend, especially on street courses which are bumpy and tight.

"As a racer I think it's cool to get two races on a weekend," said de Silvestro, who has joined KV Racing and will team with Tony Kanaan. "As a driver, and even for the mechanics and everybody, to put two races in one weekend is a lot of work. For me, after every race you're pretty tired. To do two full-length races, it's going to be challenging. Also, from the fans' perspective, are they going to come twice to see two races?"

De Silvestro's best career IndyCar finish was fourth in St. Petersburg in 2011 and her nine best series finishes, including all five of her top-10 runs, have been on road and street courses.

"I think it makes sense to do doubleheaders on the street courses more than on an oval," she said. "But I don't think it's an advantage (for me). If you want to win the championship in IndyCar you have to be good on anything. And it showed last year, Ryan (Hunter-Reay) did an incredible job on the road courses and on the ovals and he won the championship."

Ramsberger also said the drifting cars will return for the 2013 race weekend, which is March 22-24.

OHL limit on hockey fights grabs attention


By Damian Cristodero, Times Staff Writer
Tuesday, November 20, 2012

D aniel Zweep, 6 feet 5, 229 pounds of solid muscle, is not the kind of player who backs down from a fight.

And in a recent game for the Owen Sound Attack of the junior Ontario Hockey League, all he wanted to do was knock the head off of Sault Ste. Marie defenseman Darnell Nurse.

But instead of throwing down, the left wing backed off.

Zweep already had four fights this season, and with only 10 allowed before harsh league suspensions kick in, the left wing was in conservation mode.

"I went into the corner and finished my check and he came at me," Zweep recalled. "I just said, 'I'm not going to fight you.' I was, like, I only have 10 fights. I have to pick and choose."

That is because the OHL this season made headlines by establishing rules it hopes will sharply reduce fighting, especially among players who have little to offer besides chucking the knuckles.

Players can fight 10 times without sanctions, but fights 11-15 will bring two-game suspensions.

For fights 16 and more, the team will be fined $1,000 in addition to the player suspension.

If a player is the instigator in any fight above 10, he will be suspended four games.

All that is in addition to in-game penalties.

Through Saturday, the league reported 156 fights compared to 217 at the same time last season, down 28.1 percent, a trend that, if it continues, surely will become part of the ongoing debate about fighting's role in the game.

It is enough the NHL will monitor how things progress, though Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman, who has served on several league rules and competition panels, said there is no impetus to follow the OHL's lead.

"I'm not necessarily a big proponent of fighting, but I don't think it's a real issue in the sport right now," Yzerman said. "I think everyone is pretty comfortable with the way the rules are, but we'll see how it develops."

• • •

Several factors went into the crackdown.

The game has changed. The NHL's instigator rule has helped make the old-time goon obsolete. And the increased speed of the game means players are judged more on skill and smarts, things which the developmental junior leagues, for ages 15-20, must reinforce. Reducing potential for head trauma also was a concern.

Then there is this:

"When you talk about fighting, I don't think our game needs it to sell," OHL commissioner Dave Branch told Mike Farwell of Canada's Sportsnet radio. "I don't think our players want it at the end of the day. There's a handful of players who feel that's the only way they can compete. That's not where we want to be."

But fighting is a tricky subject in hockey, which still thrives with story lines built on physical intimidation, payback and got-your-back camaraderie.

As Windsor right wing Ty Bilcke said, "The emotion of the game comes into it and everybody gets all hyped up at times and things happen. I'm here to get in on the forecheck and crash and bang, but I'm here to look after my teammates, too."

And no matter how much the game has changed, Saginaw coach Greg Gilbert said, that always will have its place.

"Obviously, I disagree with the staged fights, when guys are talking about it before the faceoff," said Gilbert, who played 15 NHL seasons. "But hockey is a game of passion. What it does now is protects the cheap-shot artists and all the players who do the dirty stuff because there is no repercussion. The guy who stands up for a teammate or stands up for himself because he is cheap-shotted or something thinks twice about doing it."

There also is concern players with 10 fights will be goaded into an 11th, which would trigger a suspension. To address that, the OHL will not count a fight against a player if his opponent is the instigator as determined by the on-ice officials.

"There will always be fighting," Branch told the Boston Globe. "It's how you address it."

• • •

The OHL last season had 25 players with at least 11 fights, according to hockeyfights.com, led by Bilcke, whose 37 were 14 more than any other.

But the 6-2, 208-pounder said the fighting rules are an opportunity more than a restriction.

"It gives me a chance to prove to people I'm a hockey player, No. 1, and not just a fighter," he said.

So during a summer in which he healed from a broken leg sustained at the end of last season, Bilcke worked on his skating and his hands and lost 10 pounds.

"I've come a long way," he said. "But I still play my game. I chip pucks to the net. I get deep. I finish my checks."

And he still fights, six times so far, tied for the league lead through Monday but on pace for only 19.

"You just can't go running around," Bilcke said. "At the same time, we're not letting guys take liberties on anybody with a dirty hit or anything."

So, one must pick his battles, maybe give a face wash instead of a punch, Bilcke said. "Or maybe it comes to a point in a game I take a number and hit him with a good, clean check and take care of it that way."

Wild and former Lightning tough guy Zenon Konopka likes the OHL's new rules.

It cuts the potential for head trauma and other injuries, he said, especially in a league in which a five-year disparity in player ages can sometimes cause fights to be mismatches.

That rarely happens in the NHL, which is a reason Konopka, with 102 fights in seven NHL seasons, does not favor the rule for professionals.

As for OHL players, "It's all about being calculating and making sure you fight for the right reasons," Konopka said. "If someone drags a leg or there's a head shot, you better make sure you have one of your 10 fights left to take care of business."

Damian Cristodero can be reached at cristodero@tampabay.com.

How good is Bucs RB Doug Martin? Ask Dunn, Graham and Alstott


By Gary Shelton, Times Sports Columnist
Tuesday, November 20, 2012

You will never know how small the holes might be as Doug Martin runs toward them. You will never know the pain that awaits on the other side. You never know the speed the job takes, or the strength, or the vision.

Warrick Dunn knows.

You will never know how far third and 1 can be. You will never know how much effort it takes to pull away from the giant men with bad attitudes. You will never know the elation that waits in the end zone.

Mike Alstott knows.

You will never know the beauty of running free in the secondary. You will never know the satisfaction of entering the huddle after a crucial run. You will never know the grind of a 16-game season.

Earnest Graham knows.

If you think Martin is impressive to the untrained eye, try looking through the eyes of other men who have held the same job. Martin is impressive to those guys, too. He looks like a player in a hurry to get to stardom to them, too.

"He's somewhere between an Emmitt Smith and a Ray Rice,'' said Dunn, who has gone back to school and is closing in on his MBA. "I haven't seen a lot of him, but I've seen the highlights. He has really good balance, and a feel for finding the sweet spot at times, and he can catch the ball out of the backfield. He's not the fastest guy, but he has the quickness that makes him dangerous. He has great upside.''

"I think he's dynamic,'' Graham said. "I've heard a lot of comparisons like Ray Rice. To me, he's a stronger, more physical version of Darren Sproles. I think he exceeds the escapability of Maurice Jones-Drew and Rice. His explosive ability is rivaled by few guys.''

Rarely has a running back arrived this fast or been admired this deeply. No other Buc has gained 1,000 yards in 10 games. Few others have been such gamebreakers every time they touched the ball.

Then again, carrying a football for a living is a young man's game. Consider: The Bucs have had 11 1,000-yard seasons by eight players; four of them did so in their rookie years.

"He's a good running back, he hits the hole with patience and makes his first decision," Alstott said. "He doesn't dance. He'll start with 1-yard runs and then it's 3, 4, 5, and then he'll blow the game open. He plays bigger than his size. He's got (almost) 30 catches and 1,000 yards. He's been invaluable."

So far, Martin has shown speed, and strength, and balance. And vision, and elusiveness, and willingness to block.

"In the NFL, you want to be really good at something,'' Graham said. "To him, it's his versatility. You can throw him a checkdown, and he turns it into 40 yards. If a defender doesn't fit the run right, it's a 50-yard gain. A creative coordinator can turn him into one of the most explosive running backs in the league.''

So what constitutes a complete back? Dunn will tell you it is being unselfish, doing things that don't show up in the stat sheet, understanding blocking schemes.

"It took me a long time to get to that point,'' Dunn said. "Early, I was just running. It was in my fourth year, maybe even in Atlanta, before I started to understand.''

Dunn laughs. "My first year, I was blocking Reggie White. I don't know how smart that was.''

Ten games in, and already, there have been comparisons between Martin and the other good running backs the team has seen. You can talk about James Wilder's single-game record (Martin broke it), or Dunn's burst, or Graham's determination, or Cadillac Williams' impressive rookie season. When a running back is this fast, the comparisons are, too.

"He and Cadillac are totally different,'' Graham said. "In all my years, watching Cadillac run his first year was the most physical thing I've seen. I wouldn't compare him to Warrick, who had such a natural feel of running the ball. I think he's like Robert Smith. He's a stronger version of Reggie Bush and Sproles. Throw the versatility of Thurman Thomas in there. I like what the Bucs have now, and I still think he can get better.''

Said Dunn: "I've heard some people compare him to me, but I don't think we're in the same situation. We were just starting to build, and our offense was horrible. He has a quarterback capable of making it the first or second tier and playmakers at receiver and a veteran tight end.''

Dunn should know. He had five 1,000-yard seasons as a pro, including two for the Bucs. Wilder (who had 2,844 yards over a two-year span) and Errict Rhett (who had 1,000-yard seasons in each of his first two years in the league) are the only other Bucs who broke 1,000 yards twice.

That's a crucial question of Martin: Can he last? No running back was ever faster out of the starting gate than Williams, who gained 434 yards in his first three games. Injuries stripped Williams of much of his burst, however, and he never gained 1,000 yards again after his rookie season.

The good backs know how hard it is. They know how fragile success can be. They know how elusive the end zone can be.

All that said, you have to think that Martin could be special.

After all, he's dartin' Martin, and he's just now startin'.

Listen to Gary Shelton weekdays from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. on 98.7-FM the Fan.


"He's not the fastest guy, but he has the quickness that makes him dangerous. He has great upside.''

earnest graham on martin

"I think he's dynamic. His explosive ability is rivaled by few guys.''

NFC SOUTH W L T PCT. div. next
Falcons 1 0 0 1.000 0-0
Panthers 1 0 0 1.000 0-0
Saints 1 0 0 1.000 1-0
Bucs 0 1 0 .000 0-1

Tampa Bay Rays add former top pick Tim Beckham to 40-man roster


By Marc Topkin, Times Staff Writer
Tuesday, November 20, 2012

ST. PETERSBURG — Tim Beckham's rise through the Rays' farm system has been slow and heavily scrutinized, as he was the top pick in a 2008 draft that has yielded dozens of big-leaguers topped by NL MVP Buster Posey.

But Beckham, 22, moved a step closer Tuesday when he was added to the Rays' 40-man roster, along with shortstop Hak-Ju Lee and left-handers Felipe Rivero and Enny Romero, protecting them from being taken in the Dec. 6 Rule 5 draft.

Beckham hit .256 with six homers and 28 RBIs at Triple-A Durham, playing second base in addition to shortstop, while sitting out 50 games for a drug test violation.

Lee, considered the Rays' top position prospect, hit .261/4/37 with 37 steals at Double-A Montgomery, missing time with injury. Romero was 5-7, 3.93 in 25 games (23 starts) for advanced Class A Charlotte and Rivero 8-8, 3.41 in 27 games (21 starts) at Class A Bowling Green; both were chosen for the All-Star Futures Game.

Among eligible players not protected were infielder Cole Figueroa and first baseman/outfielder Leslie Anderson.

In other Rays news:

• Reliever Joel Peralta's two-year, $6 million deal — with salaries of $3 million in 2013 and 2014 — was finalized, and it came with a twist.

In return for giving Peralta, who turns 37 in March, the second year he wanted to come back, the Rays got three one-year team options — through 2017 — at a salary of $2.5 million, with no buyouts.

Though it may be unlikely the Rays will pick up the options given Peralta's age, it is unusual, though not unprecedented, to have no buyout attached.

"We love Joel's competitiveness and the impact he has on the younger pitchers in our bullpen," Rays executive vice president Andrew Friedman said in a statement. "He has been an integral part of our late-inning success and has proven that he can get big outs in the American League East."

Peralta was 2-6 with a 3.63 ERA and a career-high 84 strikeouts last season, allowing a .200 batting average and .254 on-base percentage while making 76 appearances, second most in the AL. His 147 games over the past two seasons led the league.

Marc Topkin can be reached at topkin@tampabay.com.

Rays spring training schedule

The spring training schedule features 17 games in Port Charlotte starting Feb. 23 and a March 30 finale at Tropicana Field vs. Detroit.

Prices run from $10 for berm/boardwalk general admission to $27. Season-ticket deposits are being accepted; single-game sales will start in January at a date to be determined.

Spring training opens Feb. 12, a longer run in 2013 due to the World Baseball Classic.


23Pirates (ss)at Port Charlotte1:05 p.m.
23Red Sox (ss)Fort Myers1:05 p.m.
24Twinsat Fort Myers1:05 p.m.
25Red Soxat Port Charlotte1:05 p.m.
26Astrosat Port Charlotte1:05 p.m.
27Piratesat Bradenton1:05 p.m.
28Tigersat Port Charlotte1:05 p.m.


1Blue Jaysat Dunedin1:05 p.m.
2Oriolesat Port Charlotte1:05 p.m.
3Twinsat Port Charlotte1:05 p.m.
4Red Soxat Fort Myers1:05 p.m.
5Twinsat Fort Myers1:05 p.m.
7Piratesat Bradenton1:05 p.m.
8Philliesat Port Charlotte1:05 p.m.
9Philliesat Clearwater1:05 p.m.
10Red Soxat Port Charlotte1:05 p.m.
11Twinsat Port Charlotte7:05 p.m.
12Yankeesat Port Charlotte1:05 p.m.
14Oriolesat Sarasota1:05 p.m.
15Philliesat Port Charlotte1:05 p.m.
16Red Soxat Port Charlotte1:05 p.m.
17Red Soxat Fort Myers1:05 p.m.
19Tigersat Lakeland1:05 p.m.
20Twinsat Fort Myers7:05 p.m.
21Blue Jaysat Port Charlotte1:05 p.m.
22Orioles (ss)at Port Charlotte1:05 p.m.
22Pirates (ss)at Bradenton1:05 p.m.
23Twinsat Port Charlotte1:05 p.m.
24Yankeesat Tampa1:05 p.m.
25Piratesat Port Charlotte7:05 p.m.
26Philliesat Clearwater1:05 p.m.
27Blue Jaysat Port Charlotte1:05 p.m.
28Oriolesat Sarasota7:05 p.m.
29Tigersat Lakeland1:05 p.m.
30Tigersat Tropicana Field1:10 p.m.

Gibbons returns to manage Jays


Times wires
Tuesday, November 20, 2012

TORONTO — Blue Jays president Paul Beeston couldn't believe it when he learned his team had the chance to land three star players from the Marlins last week. He was equally surprised when his general manager told him he wanted to hire John Gibbons to manage Toronto again.

"They were back-to-back shockers," Beeston said with a laugh.

General manager Alex Anthopoulos unexpectedly hired Gibbons as manager Tuesday, a day after a megadeal with Miami reinvigorated the roster and raised expectations the Blue Jays will make the playoffs for the first time since winning their second straight World Series in 1993. Only the Royals and Pirates have longer playoff droughts.

"I said, 'Are you serious?' " Beeston recalled. "Forget about him being an intellectual, he's a baseball guy. And those are the guys you really want in your organization."

Gibbons, 50, managed Toronto from 2004-08 and had a 305-305 record, making him the third-winningest manager in franchise history.

He succeeds John Farrell, who left Toronto for his dream managing job in Boston. Gibbons takes over a very different team from the one Farrell managed

The surprise announcement came a day after the Blue Jays completed the trade to acquire All-Star shortstop Jose Reyes and pitchers Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle from Miami. The Blue Jays also finalized a $16 million, two-year contract with free-agent outfielder Melky Cabrera.

Gibbons said he never imagined he'd be hired by Toronto again.

"Who wouldn't want to be here?" Gibbons said. "The front office has put together a legitimate contending-type team."

KURODA BACK TO YANKS: The Yankees have agreed to a one-year, $15 million contract with right-hander Hiroki Kuroda. Kuroda, 37, had a solid first season with New York, going 16-11 with a 3.32 ERA in 33 starts.

ROYALS RE-SIGN VETERAN: Kansas City signed right-hander Jeremy Guthrie to a $25 million, three-year deal. Guthrie, 33, was acquired in a midseason trade from the Rockies, where he'd been 3-9 with a 6.35 ERA. He went 5-3 with a 3.16 ERA in 14 starts in Kansas City.

UNION EYEBALLING MARLINS: The players' association will monitor the Marlins after their payroll purge, saying it is too early to determine whether the salary cuts will cause any issues under baseball's labor contract. After complaints by the union that the Marlins weren't using revenue-sharing money to improve, the players' association, Major League Baseball and the Marlins reached a three-year agreement in January 2010 that the team would increase payroll annually as it prepared to move into its new ballpark in 2012.

RABURN RELEASED: The Tigers released outfielder and former Durant High standout Ryan Raburn, 31, who started the 2012 season as a big part of their plans but hit .171 in 66 games.

LAHAIR TO JAPAN?: The Cubs designated first baseman Bryan LaHair, 30, the former St. Petersburg College standout, for assignment so he can pursue an opportunity in Japan.

Rutgers takes its revival to Big Ten


Times wires
Tuesday, November 20, 2012

PISCATAWAY, N.J. — As the Big East was being picked apart, Rutgers was looking for a way out and a new place to show off a football program that has been resurrected in the past decade.

Not only did the Scarlet Knights find that escape hatch, they ended up in one of the most desirable neighborhoods in college sports.

Rutgers joined the Big Ten on Tuesday, leaving the Big East behind and cashing in on the school's investment in a football team that only 10 years ago seemed incapable of competing at the highest level.

The move follows Maryland's announcement a day earlier that it was heading to the Big Ten in 2014. The Big Ten now has 14 schools and a presence in lucrative East Coast markets.

Rutgers announced its decision at a campus news conference attended by Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany, Rutgers president Robert Barchi and athletic director Tim Pernetti.

"The Big Ten is really where Rutgers belongs," Barchi said. "This is not just a good fit for us athletically, it's a good fit for us academically and as an institution."

Rutgers has been competing in the Big East since 1991. But the league has been torn up by realignment, losing three key members last year.

Pernetti had insisted that Rutgers would land on its feet and that being a member of the prestigious American Association of Universities and residing in the nation's largest media market would ensure the school wouldn't be cast aside as the landscape of college sports changed.

The Scarlet Knights landed in the best possible spot.

"It's a transformative day for Rutgers University, and transformative in so many ways," Pernetti said. "This is about collaboration at every level, the perspective the Big Ten institutions have, the balance between academics and athletics, proving over decades and decades that athletics at the highest level and academics at the highest level can coexist. It's the perfect place for Rutgers."

Rutgers left its entry date ambiguous, though the Big Ten and the school would like it to line up with Maryland.

Meanwhile, San Diego State athletic director Jim Sterk said the Aztecs are committed to a future in the Big East in 2013 despite Rutgers' jump.

"I can say the Big East took a hit," Sterk said. "It may take some others, but I can tell you the league will continue to be strong."

CAL CANS COACH: Coach Jeff Tedford was fired after 11 seasons at California that began with great promise and ended with a run of mediocrity.

Tedford engineered an impressive turnaround for the Golden Bears after taking over a one-win team following the 2001 season. He won a school-record 82 games, churned out numerous NFL prospects and spearheaded a facilities upgrade highlighted by a $321 million stadium renovation.

But he never matched early success that included two 10-win seasons in his first five years and a share of the 2006 conference title. The program bottomed out this season, losing the final five games to finish 3-9 for Tedford's worst season at the helm.

BOWL MOVING: The Fight Hunger Bowl will move from San Francisco to the 49ers' new stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., once the venue is completed in 2014.

IDAHO ST.: Coach Mike Kramer announced he is not retaining four assistant coaches after the team went 1-10, 0-8 in the Big Sky.

WESTERN KENTUCKY: Defensive end and national sacks co-leader Quanterus Smith is done for the season after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee.

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