Fri, 22 Aug 2014 03:37:00 +0000

BOSTON (AP) The Los Angeles Angels are going to be without Garrett Richards for a playoff run.

One of the AL West leader's top starters sustained a serious knee injury, tearing his left patellar tendon Wednesday against the Boston Red Sox

Richards was 13-4 with a 2.61 ERA this year. It's a serious blow to the Angels, who also lost starter Tyler Skaggs to Tommy John surgery earlier this season.

"You're going to be thinking of Garrett once every fifth day when he was out there," manager Mike Scioscia said Thursday. "You might not be able to replace that, but it doesn't mean that we're not going to be able to reach our goal as a cumulative pitching staff."

General manager Jerry Dipoto said "we'll be open" about finding a deal to replace Richards in the rotation.

Richards crumbled to the ground covering first base on a potential 3-6-1 doubles play against Boston. He was taken off the field on a stretcher and was flown to Los Angeles on Thursday morning, where he had an MRI.

The Angels tweeted Richards will have surgery on Friday. The rehabilitation time should be six to nine months.

The Angels selected the contract of left-hander Wade LeBlanc, who pitched briefly for the New York Yankees earlier this season, from Triple-A Salt Lake. Richards was placed on the 60-day DL to make room on the 40-man roster.

Thu, 21 Aug 2014 23:15:00 +0000

WASHINGTON (AP) Denard Span scored from second on third baseman Jordan Pacheco's throwing error in the ninth inning, and the Washington Nationals stretched their winning streak to 10 games with a 1-0 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Thursday.

Five of Washington's last six wins have come in its final at-bat of the game, and the streak is tied for the franchise record. Kansas City is the only other team to win 10 consecutive games this year.

Rafael Soriano (4-1) pitched a scoreless ninth for the Nationals, who swept three-game series against the New York Mets and Pittsburgh Pirates before winning all four games of this series.

Oliver Perez (2-3) got the loss for the Diamondbacks.

Fri, 22 Aug 2014 02:45:00 +0000

PHILADELPHIA (AP) Nick Foles threw for 179 yards and a touchdown to lead the Philadelphia Eagles to a 31-21 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday night.

Steelers running backs Le'Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount both played one day after they were arrested for marijuana possession shortly before Pittsburgh (1-2) traveled to Philadelphia.

Eagles All-Pro running back LeSean McCoy left the game with a right thumb injury after a 22-yard TD catch gave Philadelphia (1-2) a 7-0 lead. X-rays on McCoy's thumb were negative, but he didn't return. McCoy showed no effects of a toe injury that forced him to miss one practice earlier in the week.

The Eagles' first-team offense had only one touchdown on six drives in road losses to Chicago and New England. But this was more like last year's offense that set several franchise records.

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Thu, 21 Aug 2014 21:17:00 +0000

BEREA, Ohio (AP) On one knee and far from the action, quarterback Johnny Manziel leaned on his orange helmet and watched.

This is his new position.

As Browns starter Brian Hoyer worked with Cleveland's first-team offense during 11-on-11 drills Thursday, Manziel, for now relegated to the second string, observed from the side. He took mental notes as he waited for his turn.

This rookie has been no sensation. He's not ready to start.

Meet Johnny Backup.

Failing to make any magic happen in his first two NFL preseason games and unable to close the gap enough to beat out Hoyer, Manziel will begin the season as Cleveland's No. 2 quarterback, matching his uniform number. It's not a major surprise given he's had to learn a complex offense and he entered training camp behind Hoyer.

But Manziel's inability to leap-frog Hoyer, a journeyman who has made four career starts and is coming off knee surgery, shows the jump from college to pros is gargantuan - even for Johnny Football.

"Obviously I didn't want this to be the outcome," Manziel said. "But at the same time, I didn't necessarily feel I was ready, I felt like there were steps that I needed to take, and I need to take, to get better."

Manziel has shown flashes, just not enough.

Still, the Browns have seen promise in him, and Manziel's immense fan base now has members inside Cleveland's locker room.

"We got arguably the best No. 2 in the NFL," said wide receiver Nate Burleson. "I'm a Johnny Football fan. Not only was I a fan before he got here, but now he's family because we play for the same team. I'll always be in his corner."

Manziel has improved in recent weeks. He's got a much better grasp on offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan's playbook and its tongue-twisting verbiage; some plays contain 17 words. He's made better decisions with the ball, and he's won over some skeptical teammates with a solid work ethic and humble attitude.

Trouble is, Manziel may have damaged his chances to win the starting job before camp with his well-documented partying. The photos of Manziel chugging champagne while floating on an inflatable swan, talking into a phone made of money, and rolling a dollar bill in a bathroom brought him unwanted attention.

The Browns were privately concerned about Manziel's behavior and warned him about it. He obliged, but had two recent missteps: being late for a team meeting and flipping his middle finger at the Redskins' sideline Monday night on national TV.

The gesture, relatively harmless compared to other things than go on during a game, may have reinforced the belief of coach Mike Pettine and his staff that Manziel wasn't prepared mentally or physically to face the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sept. 7.

Sitting and waiting is nothing new for Manziel. He was so far behind when he got to Texas A&M that the Aggies redshirted him as a freshman. It wasn't long, though, before he was the big man on campus and quickly the biggest name in college football, a one-man scrambling highlights machine.

Manziel, who has completed 14 of 27 passes for 128 yards and a touchdown, said nothing has surprised him so far.

"It's exactly what I thought it would be," he said. "I knew it would be a big step, a big learning process. If people would have seen me my first year at A&M they would've said no way this kid could get to where I'm at today. People don't understand that my first year-and-a-half at A&M I was terrible.

"I just continued to try and get better, learn the playbook, got more comfortable around everybody, around the coaches with the system, and then good things happened for me."

Pettine said there won't be a "leash" on Hoyer, who will get an opportunity to take the job and run with it. But the Browns' difficult early schedule - they'll host New Orleans and Baltimore after facing the Steelers - could make things interesting if they're 0-3 or 1-2 at the bye week.

Manziel isn't the first prominent rookie to take a back seat in Year 1. He'll find his path, and knowing Manziel, it won't be a straight one.

"You don't have to come in from your first day of your rookie season and play right away," he said. "There's no exact guideline to how this process works with young quarterbacks. For me, I need to continue to do what I need to do to get better as a football player, get smarter and learn more, control what I can control and everything will work out fine for me."

NOTES: Pettine plans to play his starters most of the first half against St. Louis on Saturday. Pettine is also leaning toward his starters playing in the exhibition finale against Chicago. ... Pettine said WR Josh Gordon's pending NFL suspension has weighed on the Pro Bowler. "He wants to get on with it and move forward," Pettine said. "Just being in limbo for so long, it can be draining."

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

Thu, 21 Aug 2014 21:51:00 +0000

DENVER (AP) The goaltender known as "Jiggy" is stepping away from the net.

Jean-Sebastien Giguere announced his retirement Thursday after 16 NHL seasons in which he won 262 games, a Conn Smythe Trophy and a Stanley Cup championship.

The Colorado Avalanche say Giguere made his decision in Quebec while with the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada hockey team. He's part owner of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League squad.

"His achievements speak for themselves, from winning the Stanley Cup to winning the Conn Smythe, Jiggy was always a top-notch goaltender," team executive Joe Sakic said in a statement. "He was also a very important part of our team during the past three seasons, providing veteran leadership and stability in net. We wish him and his family the best of luck."

Giguere served as Semyon Varlamov's backup last season in Hall of Fame goaltender Patrick Roy's first season behind the bench. The team made it back to the postseason for the first time since 2010.

What's more, Giguere took rookie Nathan MacKinnon under his wing and allowed the talented teenager to live in the family's basement all season. The two even car-pooled to games and practices.

The 37-year-old Giguere is best known for his time with the Anaheim Ducks. He led the team to two appearances in the Stanley Cup finals, capturing the Conn Smythe Trophy in defeat in 2003 and hoisting the Cup in 2007.

The Ducks fans even gave Giguere an ovation after a game in Anaheim, California, last April. He skated to center ice that night with former teammate Teemu Selanne, their clasped hands held aloft. Selanne recently retired after a 21-season NHL career spent mostly with Anaheim.

"For (Selanne) to do that, it's something that's very special for me, and something I'll never forget," Giguere said.

Giguere was originally drafted by Hartford with the 13th overall pick 1995 and played eight games with the Whalers in 1996-97. He was the last active player to have suited up for Hartford.

A fan favorite wherever he went, Giguere also played for Calgary and Toronto.

Giguere played in 597 regular season games and faced 16,325 shots in 33,719 minutes. He finished his career with a 2.53 goals-against average and 38 shutouts.

Fri, 22 Aug 2014 01:09:00 +0000

Maya Moore put up incredible numbers all season for Minnesota. Now she's got her first WNBA MVP award.

Moore earned the league's most valuable player on Thursday, hours before the Lynx opened their Western Conference semifinals playoff series with the San Antonio Stars.

"It's a great feeling to be recognized for all the hard work that I've put in," said Moore in a phone interview with The Associated Press on Wednesday night. "I think of all the people who have helped me in my journey as a basketball player. They should be recognized with this award. It means so much to have the respect of the people who watch the game and love the game."

Moore led the league in scoring, averaging a career-best 23.9 points. She set a WNBA record by scoring at least 30 points 12 times, including in four straight games. The scoring mark was the third-highest average in league history, trailing only Phoenix's Diana Taurasi's 25.3 points in 2006 and 24.1 points in 2008.

Accepting the trophy roughly 90 minutes before the Lynx faced the Stars, Moore's only lament was the timing, having to talk individual honors, while trying to focus on the team goal of repeating as WNBA champs.

"It's definitely awkward for me," Moore said. "I kind of jump back to Big East competition where right before the Big East tournament, awards were being handed out and it was funny, awkward timing trying to keep your mind focused on something. This is such an awesome moment that I do want to put some thought into how to best celebrate this, but it makes me think of all the help that I have."

Moore received 35 of the 38 first place votes, surpassing Taurasi and Atlanta's Angel McCoughtry. Los Angeles' Candace Parker was fourth and Phoenix's Brittney Griner finished fifth.

"When she was a senior in college, Geno (Auriemma) described Maya to be similar to a shark, where if you punch her in the face, she goes away. I'm really proud to say that you can't punch Maya in the face anymore," Minnesota coach Cheryl Reeve said. "She's going to make you pay. She's going to take the hit, she's going to get the layup. So that's been the evolution of Maya."

The MVP award is the latest accolade for Moore, who won two national championships at Connecticut and was instrumental in the Huskies' record 90-game winning streak. She also won gold medals in the 2010 world championship and 2012 London Olympics.

The WNBA's top draft pick in 2011, Moore finished second in voting last season before earning the finals MVP honor.

"Maya is the Michael Jordan of this league," Tulsa Shock coach Fred Williams said after Moore had 32 points, nine rebounds and five assists against his team in July.

Moore grew up idolizing Jordan and represents his Nike brand.

"When I think of Michael Jordan, I think of course of a winner, someone who is a great leader," Moore said. "He was super competitive, had a tireless work ethic. He was also great teammate who made the players around him better. It's a great compliment."

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Follow Doug on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/dougfeinberg

Thu, 21 Aug 2014 16:20:00 +0000

BRISTOL, Tenn. (AP) Brad Keselowski earned his first NASCAR Truck Series win on Thursday.

Keselowski passed defending champion Kyle Busch with 75 laps to go and held off Busch's teammate Darrell Wallace Jr. in the UNOH 200 at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Wallace closed to Keselowski's back bumper with two laps left, but drifted high in turn one and Keselowski pulled away.

Four-time Truck Series champion Ron Hornaday Jr. finished third, followed by Matt Crafton and series points leader Johnny Sauter. Busch crashed with 22 laps left and finished 24th.

Keselowski first Truck Series win came after 62 starts. The driver of the No. 19 Ford is the 25th driver to win in all three of NASCAR's national series (Cup, Nationwide and Trucks).

Rain washed out the race on Wednesday night.

Thu, 21 Aug 2014 22:31:00 +0000

DETROIT (AP) A judge on Thursday dismissed rape charges against former Detroit Tigers pitcher Evan Reed, saying the testimony of the woman who accused him wasn't credible and prosecutors failed to show that force or coercion took place.

Reed, 28, said he was "elated" to be cleared of the third-degree criminal sexual conduct charges. He was with the Tigers at the time of the March incident and appeared in 27 games for Detroit before being sent to his current assignment with the Triple-A Toledo Mud Hens.

"It's not my time or place to bash my accuser, (but) her lies caught up with her," Reed said after the hearing. He has said they had consensual sex.

"There were some bad decisions made, but I didn't commit any crimes (and) the judge just agreed with me," he added.

The 45-year-old woman testified at the probable cause hearing that she met Reed at a bar in the suburb of Royal Oak on March 30 and that they later went to a casino in downtown Detroit. She said that she "blacked out" after taking her third drink at the bar, which tasted "sour," and that she believes she had been drugged.

"The last thing I remember was my body feeling funny. ... Everyone just sounded robotic to me, like I was in another world," she said, adding that the next thing she remembered was "waking up in the hotel room."

She said she woke up in bed with Reed, both of them naked, and prosecutors say he tried to force her to have sex on two occasions in the room. She said he then asked her to leave.

Judge Kenneth King threw out the charges, though, saying the woman gave contradictory accounts of what happened, including testifying that she had no idea that Reed and his companions at the bar played for the Tigers, then acknowledging that she texted a friend that evening to say she was with members of the team.

"Because of the alleged victim's vacillating testimony and her inability to remember many parts of the evening, I don't think (prosecutors) have met their burden of probable cause," he said.

Assistant prosecutor Suzette Samuels said afterward that the ruling was "disappointing," and that she believes "it was another value judgment" against a sexual assault victim. The prosecutor's office said in a statement that no decision has been made about appealing the case.

Defense attorney David Gorcyca said King made a "wise" and "courageous" decision.

"We never had anything to hide," he said.

Thu, 21 Aug 2014 19:11:00 +0000

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) The San Francisco 49ers were working to re-sod the field at new Levi's Stadium on Thursday, a day after a public workout was cut short and moved to the regular practice fields because players were slipping.

San Francisco hosts the San Diego Chargers at the $1.2 billion stadium on Sunday at 1 p.m. PDT, and the team has said it expects to have the field ready in time. KTVU's news chopper showed images of the sod replacement in some areas of the turf Thursday.

"The 49ers organization would like to apologize to any fans who were inconvenienced by today's practice ending early," the team said Wednesday. "We have determined the appropriate measures necessary to have the field ready for Sunday and look forward to hosting the San Diego Chargers."

Coach Jim Harbaugh moved his team out of the stadium Wednesday about an hour into the practice.

"It's a beautiful field for a first-year field," veteran placekicker Phil Dawson said this week. "Those guys are working their brains out to get that thing ready."

Dawson missed wide right on first-half field goal attempts from 55 and 44 yards in Sunday's 34-0 loss to the Denver Broncos. He said there are always adjustments with new grass. The field looked dry in places and chunks of sod could be seen missing in places where it apparently didn't root properly.

"We're all kind of in foreign territory here and learning as we go," Dawson said. "There were a lot of new experiences, not just wind but the footing on the field. It's the first time the big boys have been out there and trudging around and seeing how the field held up. There's a whole lot going on all at once. ... If your technique requires a six-inch step and your six-inch step goes in a divot or something like that, it can affect things. That's not unique to fields we play on. I have pretty good experience playing on fields that are less than ideal, so I'll just have to draw on those experiences."

San Francisco's regular-season home opener is a Sept. 14 prime-time matchup against Chicago. The 49ers are scoreless in their last seven quarters and have been outscored 57-3 this preseason. They lost 23-3 at Baltimore on Aug. 7.

West Coast Turf has provided the 49ers' sod at both Candlestick Park and Levi's Stadium. It is not unheard of around the league for teams to re-sod fields midweek or in short order, for example between a college bowl game and NFL game.

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

Wed, 20 Aug 2014 22:15:00 +0000

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) Tony Stewart will not race Saturday night at Bristol Motor Speedway, the third Sprint Cup race he's skipped since his car struck and killed Kevin Ward Jr. during a sprint car race.

Stewart's decision was announced Wednesday and Jeff Burton will once again replace him in the No. 14 Chevrolet. Burton also drove Stewart's car at Michigan last weekend.

Stewart-Haas Racing is allowing Stewart to take the time he needs away from the track, and the team statement indicated the three-time NASCAR champion is taking it week-by-week. Stewart will not have to decide on another race until the Aug. 31 event at Atlanta.

Stewart has been in seclusion since the Aug. 9 incident at an upstate New York dirt track. He has not commented since he issued a statement the day after Ward's death.

Stewart also pulled out of the race at Watkins Glen, which began about 12 hours after his car hit Ward at event in Canandaigua, New York. Ward's car had spun into a wall as he and Stewart raced for position, and the 20-year-old climbed out to confront Stewart.

Authorities said the first car to pass Ward had to swerve to miss hitting the driver, who was gesturing toward the NASCAR star. The front of Stewart's car then appeared to clear Ward, but Ward was struck by the right rear tire and hurtled through the air.

Ward died of blunt force trauma, and authorities are still investigating the incident. Ontario County Sheriff Philip Povero has said investigators did not have any evidence to support criminal intent by Stewart, but the investigation is expected to last at least another week. Povero said this week were no new updates.

None of Stewart's peers has spoken to the driver since the accident. But they've come to his defense, with six-time champion Jimmie Johnson saying nothing he's seen has convinced him that Ward's death was anything but a tragic accident.

Kevin Harvick, a longtime friend of Stewart's and his teammate at SHR, also bristled at the negative portrayal of Stewart since Ward's death.

"I've known Tony Stewart for a long time ... I know for sure that Tony Stewart is not going to run over somebody," Harvick said. "I don't think there's anybody in this garage that would. It would be hard to find somebody in the racing world that could point that car, just run somebody over."

NASCAR last week announced a rule that prohibits drivers from exiting from a crashed or disabled vehicle - unless it is on fire - until safety personnel arrive.

Stewart has 48 career Cup wins in 542 starts. He has one career win at Bristol, in 2001.

Burton made just his third start of the season last week. The 21-time Sprint Cup winner parted ways with Richard Childress Racing at the end of the season and is transitioning into an analyst for NBC. Burton won at Bristol in 2008 and has 15 top-10 finishes in 40 career starts.

Thu, 21 Aug 2014 02:18:00 +0000

NEW YORK -- Derrick Rose heard the fans chanting his name, and yes, he would've loved to give them what they wanted.

But after missing most of the past two years and with still a long summer of basketball ahead, he's willing to take this return slowly.

"Just trying to protect myself, just knowing that this is a long, long schedule and this is the most basketball I'll be playing in two years," Rose said.

"I want to be out there, but at the same time my health is the No. 1 issue right now."

With Rose sitting out, Kyrie Irving started and made all five shots, scoring 12 points as the U.S. national basketball team beat the Dominican Republic 105-62 on Wednesday night in an exhibition game.

James Harden also scored 12 in limited playing time for the Americans, who used their subs for most of the second half. Rudy Gay and DeMar DeRozan each scored 13 points.

Rose and U.S. assistant Tom Thibodeau, Rose's coach with the Chicago Bulls, both said he was experiencing general soreness, though Rose was quick to point out it was nothing related to his multiple knee surgeries.

Rose's absence allowed U.S. coach Mike Krzyzewski to take a longer look at other players with cuts coming soon. The Americans have 16 players on the roster and have to get down to 12 before the upcoming Basketball World Cup.

"When we do eventually make decisions on the 12, it will be very, very difficult," Krzyzewski said.

Krzyzewski said there would be no cuts before Friday's game against Puerto Rico, and he said Rose would play that night.

Fans chanted loudly in the third quarter for Rose to get into this one, but Krzyzewski decided shortly before tip the Chicago Bulls star wouldn't play.

Rose had sat out practices the past two days after starting in Saturday's exhibition victory over Brazil on his home floor, saying Tuesday he just wanted extra rest as he tries to play his way back into shape after missing most of the past two seasons because of knee surgeries.

"He's feeling a lot better, he was probably feeling good enough to play tonight, but because he hasn't played and he's trying to shake off some rust, the best thing to do was to give him the day off," Thibodeau said.

Houston Rockets forward Francisco Garcia scored 14 points for the Dominican Republic, coached by South Florida's Orlando Antigua. The Dominicans are without their best player, the Atlanta Hawks' Al Horford, who is recovering from a torn right pectoral muscle.

Karl Towns played 10 minutes for the Dominicans, though he won't accompany them to Spain as the highly touted freshman heads to Kentucky. The team shot 34 percent.

"Would've liked to shot the ball a lot better, but I thought we did a lot of good things throughout the game. We showed some good points," Antigua said.

The teams will meet again in Bilbao, Spain, where they are both in Group C.

The Americans leave Saturday for Spain, where they will finish their preparations with a final exhibition against Slovenia. The World Cup opens on Aug. 30.

The Dominicans took a 6-4 lead, the Americans answered with 14 straight points to make it 18-6, and that was about it. The Americans expanded a 28-17 lead after one quarter to 53-31 at the half, as Harden and Klay Thompson each scored 10 points by the break.

The U.S. pushed it to 69-34 with a little more than 4 minutes left in the third after a flurry by Irving, allowing for extra playing time for players at the back end of the roster such as Andre Drummond and Gordon Hayward.

Drummond finished with 12 points for the Americans, who shot 58 percent.

Chandler Parsons, Kyle Korver and Mason Plumlee were the only Americans who didn't play.

Before the game, U.S. military members presented each player with two dog tags. Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said one featured the American flag, the player's name, and the words leadership, service and teamwork, and the other featured the name of a serviceman.

Thu, 21 Aug 2014 00:57:00 +0000

BOSTON (AP) Former major league pitcher Curt Schilling says he has been treated for mouth cancer and blames the disease on his use of chewing tobacco for about 30 years.

Schilling discussed details on WEEI-FM in Boston on Wednesday. The former Red Sox right-hander announced in February that he had cancer but hadn't disclosed what kind. He has said he is in remission after seven weeks of radiation and chemotherapy and has lost 75 pounds.

"I'm not going to sit up here from the pedestal and preach about chewing," he said. "It was an addictive habit. I can think about so many times in my life when it was so relaxing to just sit back and have a dip and do whatever.

"And I lost my sense of smell, my taste buds for the most part. I had gum issues, they bled, all this other stuff. None of it was enough to ever make me quit."

Schilling revealed the type of cancer two months after Hall of Fame outfielder Tony Gwynn died at the age of 54 of oral cancer, a disease he attributed to years of chewing tobacco.

Use of chewing tobacco has been "a norm in the baseball culture," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "On the heels of the unfortunate passing of Tony Gwynn and now what Curt's going through, you would think that this would be more of a current beacon for guys to take note and know that there's a price to be paid if you're one of the unfortunate ones that is stricken by cancer."

Major League Baseball prohibits having smokeless tobacco in public view and imposes fines for violations. Minor leaguers cannot use it in games.

Former Red Sox left-hander Jon Lester was coming back from treatment for anaplastic large cell lymphoma in 2007, Farrell's first year as Boston's pitching coach. Lester, sent to Oakland at the trade deadline last month, was 4-0 that year and won the final game of Boston's four-game sweep of the Colorado Rockies in the World Series.

"Any time a public figure who is, unfortunately, diagnosed with cancer, is able to come out and speak about it - I know how hard that can be - it brings awareness," Lester said after Schilling's disclosure, "and maybe sheds a little light or a little hope on somebody who's struggling."

Before his team faced the Red Sox on Wednesday night, Los Angeles Angels manager Mike Scioscia said the use of smokeless tobacco "is non-existent in the minor leagues during a game. ... You hope that the next generation will heed the mistakes of the prior generation."

Schilling is a three-time World Series champion with the Arizona Diamondbacks and Red Sox.

"It's a very serious issue," said Baltimore Orioles manager Buck Showalter, Schilling's manager with the Diamondbacks in 2000, the year before they won the World Series after Showalter left. Awareness "has gotten a lot better over the years through things like Curt is doing, but there's a long way to go."

Schilling played from 2004-07 with the Red Sox, who won the World Series in his first and last seasons with them.

"He's elected to keep it very personal and I wouldn't want to betray that confidence," said Cleveland Indians manager Terry Francona, who managed Boston from 2004-11. "He's said what he's wanted to say, when he's wanted to say it."

Colorado Rockies outfielder Michael Cuddyer said he tries to encourage young players not to use smokeless tobacco.

"Anybody that thinks about it or wants to do it because it's cool should realize it's definitely not," he said. "You're seeing these guys' lives get put in jeopardy because of it. Young players and young kids should be aware of that. It's a disgusting habit."

Schilling is being sued by Rhode Island's economic development agency after his video game company received a $75 million state loan guarantee and then collapsed.

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AP Sports Writers Pat Graham and Janie McCauley and freelancers Patrick Donnelly and Paul Ladewski contributed to this story.

Wed, 20 Aug 2014 15:57:00 +0000

NEW YORK (AP) Top-ranked Serena Williams is seeded No. 1 as she seeks her third straight U.S. Open title.

The U.S. Tennis Association followed this week's WTA rankings in announcing the seedings Wednesday.

French Open runner-up Simona Halep is seeded second after reaching a career-best ranking this month. She has never advanced past the fourth round at the U.S. Open.

Wimbledon champ Petra Kvitova is seeded No. 3 with third-ranked Li Na out because of a knee injury. Agnieszka Radwanska moves up to No. 4.

Five-time major champ Maria Sharapova is seeded fifth, meaning there's a chance she could face Williams in the quarterfinals. The runner-up the last two years, Victoria Azarenka, is seeded 16th after an injury-plagued season.

Venus Williams is seeded 19th.

The draw is Thursday, and the tournament starts Monday.

Wed, 20 Aug 2014 21:31:00 +0000

Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly received encouraging news in his battle with cancer.

An initial physical exam showed no evidence of sinus cancer three months after the former Buffalo Bills quarterback completed radiation and chemotherapy treatments, Dr. Peter Costantino said in a release issued by New York City's Lenox Hill Hospital on Wednesday.

"The treatments have so far completely eliminated Mr. Kelly's pain, and his level of function has essentially returned to normal," said Costantino, who heads the hospital's head and neck institute. "Further, on physical examination, there is no evidence of the cancer."

The statement was issued a day after Kelly visited the hospital for a follow-up examination.

Costantino said a series of tests over the next week will determine if further treatments are necessary.

"It is possible that no further treatment will be required," he said.

Kelly had surgery in June 2013 to remove cancerous cells in his upper jaw. The cancer then spread to his sinus in March.

Kelly's wife Jill welcomed the news in a note posted on her Instagram account.

"We have come away from our checkup visit in NYC encouraged and hopeful," she wrote.

She added that the follow-up tests will include biopsies to confirm the cancer has been eradicated.

Kelly was in a weakened state following a two-month barrage of treatments last spring.

In one of his first public appearances following the treatments, Kelly surprised Bills players and staff by showing up to one of their final minicamp practices in June.

Kelly was then strong enough to attend the Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremonies in Canton, Ohio, three weeks ago, when former Bills teammate, receiver Andre Reed, was among the seven inductees. Reed closed his speech by having Kelly throw him a pass on stage.

A day later, Kelly served as the Bills honorary captain before their preseason-opening game against the New York Giants.

Kelly's battle with cancer has been a public one, and attracted thousands of supporters and well-wishers on social media.

"Kelly Tough" and "Prayers For JK" have become catch phrases and hashtags on Twitter by those voicing their support for Kelly.

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

Wed, 20 Aug 2014 21:30:00 +0000

TORONTO (AP) A settlement has been reached in Steve Moore's lawsuit against NHL forward Todd Bertuzzi, more than 10 years after the bloody, on-ice attack ended Moore's career.

Geoff Adair, a lawyer for Bertuzzi, confirmed the case was "settled in its totality" but said Tuesday the terms are confidential. The multimillion-dollar lawsuit had been set for trial Sept. 8.

"We are pleased that the resolution of this matter allows the parties to turn the page and look to the future," NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said in an email.

On March 8, 2004, Bertuzzi, then playing for the Vancouver Canucks, hit Moore from behind. The Colorado Avalanche rookie crashed face first to the ice, leaving him with a concussion and fractured vertebrae.

The Canucks released a statement Wednesday afternoon saying a settlement was reached and that they planned no further comment on the matter.

Moore alleges the Canucks had put a bounty on him following his check that injured their captain, Markus Naslund. Bertuzzi pleaded guilty to criminal assault causing bodily harm. He was sentenced in December 2004 to one year of probation and 80 hours of community service.

There has been years of legal wrangling since. The civil case was filed in Ontario court in 2006 but was slowed by delays.

Moore, now 35, never fully recovered from his injuries and was unable to keep playing. In March, a day before the 10th anniversary of the play, he told The Canadian Press he still has headaches and low energy.

"I lost my entire career in my rookie year," he said. "I think any player put in that situation would do the same thing. I can't recover anything else. I can't recover my career, the experience of living out my dream from the time I was 2 1/2 years old of playing in the NHL."

It all started on Feb. 16, 2004, when Moore flattened Naslund with an open-ice hit that left Vancouver's scoring star with a concussion. The play drew no punishment from the NHL.

Major retaliation was expected. Vancouver's Brad May was quoted as saying there was a "bounty" on Moore. But when the teams next met on March 3, with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman in the house, there were no incidents.

Not so on March 8, a 9-2 Colorado victory. Moore squared off in a fight against Matt Cooke in the first period, and it appeared that was the end of it. But things got nasty in the third period.

Moore was challenged again. He turned away. Bertuzzi skated up behind him, tugging on his jersey, then punched him from behind and fell on top of him as others piled on. Moore lay motionless on the ice in a pool of blood before being removed on a stretcher and taken to the hospital.

Bertuzzi was suspended for the rest of the regular season and the playoffs, which cost him about $502,000. He didn't play during the 2004-05 lockout season but was reinstated for the 2005-06 season. He has since continued his career, most recently with Detroit.

Wed, 20 Aug 2014 17:16:00 +0000

NEW YORK (AP) The Dallas Cowboys are the first U.S. sports franchise to top $3 billion in value.

For the eighth straight year, the Cowboys are worth the most of all 32 NFL franchises, according to Forbes. They're valued at $3.2 billion; only Real Madrid at $3.4 billion is worth more among global franchises.

Dallas posted the NFL's highest revenue, $560 million, and operating income, $246 million. That was far ahead of second-place New England, worth $2.6 billion and with $428 million in revenues, $147 million in operating income.

But the Patriots had the biggest increase since last year, up 44 percent in value. Dallas was up 39 percent.

The average NFL franchise value for 2014 is $1.43 billion, the highest in the 17 years the business magazine has tracked professional football. That shows a 23 percent increase, the largest in one year since 1999.

Forbes determines team values using equity plus net debt figures, and accounts for each team's current stadium situation, with adjustments for pending new stadiums and renovations to existing ones.

Washington ($2.4 billion) is third in value, increasing 41 percent since the last rankings, and the New York Giants ($2.1 billion) are fourth.

For the 2013 season, the average NFL team generated record revenue of $299 million and operating income of $53 million. Each franchise received a record $170 million of national revenue, mainly from league broadcasting and licensing fees.

At the bottom are Buffalo, worth $935 million and currently for sale after owner Ralph Wilson's death, and St. Louis at $930 million. But every team increased in worth, the lowest rise being Arizona at 4 percent.

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

www.forbes.com

Wed, 20 Aug 2014 22:40:00 +0000

ST. LOUIS (AP) St. Louis Cardinals newcomer John Lackey really wanted to keep his old number, so he gave teammate Pat Neshek quite a reward for switching jerseys.

After Neshek gave up his No. 41 uniform, Lackey gave him a baseball autographed by Babe Ruth that's worth thousands of dollars.

Neshek switched to No. 37 after Lackey was acquired from Boston last month at the trade deadline. Neshek announced the payoff Wednesday on Twitter, along with a photo of the ball and a letter of authenticity.

Manager Mike Matheny remembers giving up No. 22 when the Cardinals traded for Will Clark in 2000 and said it was no big deal, just a number. Clark gave Matheny a compound bow that the manager has passed on to his children.

Wed, 20 Aug 2014 16:51:00 +0000

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Former NFL linebacker Tim Shaw has announced that he has ALS.

In a 25-second video posted Tuesday on the Tennessee Titans' web site, the 30-year-old Shaw reveals he was recently diagnosed with ALS and pours a bucket of ice water on his head as part of the Ice Bucket Challenge to raise money and awareness to battle the disease.

Shaw then challenges "the Tennessee Titans organization, James Franklin and the Penn State football team and my Clarenceville community" to do the same.

"I'm here today to stand up and fight with all of you against this disease," Shaw says in the video.

Before entering the NFL, Shaw played at Penn State and Clarenceville High School in Livonia, Michigan. He started 32 games at Penn State, where he played running back, middle linebacker, outside linebacker and defensive end.

Shaw was drafted in the fifth round by the Carolina Panthers in 2007. He spent his NFL career with the Panthers (2007), Jacksonville Jaguars (2008), Chicago Bears (2009) and Titans (2010-12). He played in 80 career games.

The Titans named Shaw a special teams captain in 2011 and 2012.

After getting cut by the Titans before the 2013 season, Shaw announced his retirement from football earlier this year.

Tue, 19 Aug 2014 22:06:00 +0000

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) Ohio State star quarterback Braxton Miller will miss the 2014 season, dealing a severe blow to the fifth-ranked Buckeyes' national title hopes.

Ohio State confirmed late Tuesday afternoon that Miller reinjured his throwing shoulder and will need surgery. The two-time Big Ten player of the year left practice in pain Monday after making a short throw.

"My goal is to come back from this injury stronger and better than ever," Miller said in a statement.

It's a huge blow to a team considered to be one of the best in the Big Ten and the country, one which already has several major holes to fill on offense.

"My thoughts and prayers are with Braxton and his family," Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer said. "This is an unfortunate injury to a young man who means so much to this program."

The senior and three-year starter partially tore the labrum in his right shoulder in a loss to Clemson at the Orange Bowl. He had surgery, did not face contact in spring practice and was held out of several practices this month due to soreness.

Redshirt freshman J.T. Barrett is Miller's top backup and will likely be the starter in the Aug. 30 opener against Navy in Baltimore.

Miller said he was on schedule to graduate with a degree in Communications in December and that he also wanted to attend graduate school, "and then return to lead the Buckeyes next season."

Miller's options would include taking a medical redshirt and returning to Ohio State for one more season in 2015, or rehabbing the injury and making himself available for the NFL draft in the spring. He toyed with the idea of turning pro last spring but decided against it because of the shoulder surgery might hurt him with pro teams.

With a schedule that includes games at defending Big Ten champion Michigan State on Nov. 8, at Penn State on Oct. 25 and a Sept. 6 date at home against Virginia Tech, the Buckeyes are suddenly confronted by a lot of question marks.

Miller's injury in Monday's practice, first reported by The Columbus Dispatch, came on a routine, unrushed rollout pass. Miller reportedly left the field after screaming in pain but was upbeat later while getting his shoulder iced. He had his arm in a sling on Monday night.

Miller is one of the Big Ten's most decorated quarterbacks, and the falloff in experience compared to his backups is huge.

He has thrown 666 passes in his glittering three-year career, starting as a freshman. Barrett has never played in a game, and sophomore Cardale Jones threw his only two collegiate passes during a 56-0 rout of Purdue.

Miller has also run for 32 touchdowns and passed for 52, putting him in reach of many of Ohio State's career records at his position.

Barrett was an acclaimed four-star recruit out of Wichita Falls, Texas, who watched with Jones last year as Miller took most of the snaps in the Buckeyes' 12-2 season. When Miller was hurt for most of the San Diego State, California and Florida A&M games with a sprained knee, senior Kenny Guiton had big games while leading Ohio State to victories.

The Buckeyes are also replacing four of their five starting offensive linemen, their leading receiver (Corey Brown) and 1,500-yard rusher Carlos Hyde from last year's 11-2 team.

Barrett completed 17 of 33 passes for 151 yards with no interceptions and no touchdowns in Ohio State's annual spring intrasquad scrimmage. Because of Miller's problems with his shoulder, Barrett has gotten a lot of practice time with the Buckeyes' first-team offense in the spring and in recent weeks.

Miller hurt originally hurt his shoulder on the first possession against Clemson in the Orange Bowl, but played the rest of the way in the 40-35 loss. Soon after the injury was discovered, he had surgery in February.

Ohio State said at the time that Miller had "minor, outpatient surgery." But he has had problems with the shoulder since.

Still, he has repeatedly said he would be ready to go in the opener, and did so again between practices on Monday. His workload had been reduced to avoid any ongoing soreness in the arm.

At the Buckeyes' media day, Miller said his arm felt good and he was able to throw as much as he liked.

The injury is perhaps the most crippling at Ohio State since tailback Keith Byars was second to Doug Flutie in the Heisman Trophy race in 1985 but then missed almost all of the following season with a broken bone in his foot.

Tue, 19 Aug 2014 16:18:00 +0000

NEW YORK -- Top-ranked Novak Djokovic is seeded No. 1 for the U.S. Open, and five-time champion Roger Federer is No. 2, meaning they could meet only in the final.

Djokovic beat Federer for the title at Wimbledon last month.

The U.S. Tennis Association followed this week's ATP rankings in announcing the seedings Tuesday.

Federer moved up one spot from his No. 3 ranking because 2013 champion Rafael Nadal withdrew from the year's last Grand Slam tournament with an injured right wrist. The 33-year-old Federer is seeded at the U.S. Open for the 14th consecutive year, tied with Ivan Lendl for the longest streak, trailing only Jimmy Connors' record of 18.

Federer won the hard-court tournament every year from 2004-08, part of his record 17 Grand Slam titles.

Djokovic has played in the last four finals at Flushing Meadows, winning the title in 2011. He lost to Nadal in 2010 and last year, and to Andy Murray in 2012.

Murray is seeded eighth this year. Australian Open champion Stan Wawrinka is No. 3, followed by David Ferrer, Milos Raonic, Tomas Berdych and Grigor Dimitrov.

The women's seedings will be announced Wednesday, and the draw is Thursday.

The tournament starts Monday.

Tue, 19 Aug 2014 01:34:00 +0000

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) Oklahoma has suspended freshman running back Joe Mixon for the season after he pleaded not guilty to a misdemeanor charge of assault.

Mixon, one of the nation's top recruits and a potential starter, is accused of knocking a woman unconscious with a punch and breaking several bones in her face last month.

A release from the school Monday said university President David Boren accepted the recommendation of athletic director Joe Castiglione and coach Bob Stoops to suspend Mixon. He will be excluded from all team activities and removed from the team roster.

After Monday's practice, Stoops chose not to talk about Mixon.

"That's not something I'm going to delve into right now, because it leads to further questions in that regard, and I'm going to talk about the guys that are eligible to play right now," Stoops said.

The school said with appropriate conditions, Mixon will be permitted to continue as a student, eligible for financial aid.

"As the university has demonstrated in the past, we are committed to winning the right way," the school said in the release. "As an example to others, OU sets the highest possible standards for its student athletes, coaches and staff."

According to a probable cause affidavit released by the Cleveland County District Attorney's office, the alleged victim told police Mixon directed a homosexual slur at her friend and there was an argument. The affidavit said that according to surveillance video, the woman then pushed Mixon and Mixon lunged at her. The woman then slapped Mixon in the face, and he reacted by punching her in the face. She fell onto a table, then to the ground, and Mixon then left the scene. The woman suffered a fractured jaw, broken cheek bone, fractured sinus and `fractured orbit' near her left eye.

Mixon's lawyer, Kevin Finlay, said in a statement last week that he felt the woman should have been charged with assault and battery. He was disappointed that Mixon was charged with the misdemeanor.

"As we have maintained from the beginning, it is our belief that Joe reacted instinctively after being racially slurred and physically assaulted by a highly intoxicated young woman and her male friend," Finlay said. "We strongly disagree with the series of events as portrayed by Norman PD. Justice knows no gender bias, and we do not believe that Joe's actions were criminal in nature."

Stoops wouldn't say why he suggested the one-year ban.

"I'm not going to address the timetable," he said. "It is what it is. We made a decision here today that was announced and that's all I'm going to say about it. I can't say anything else in regard to it."

The decision is important for a team that opens the season ranked No. 4 and has national championship aspirations. The team lost its top two rushers from last season. The coaches say Keith Ford and Alex Ross have been the top two in camp so far, but they combined for just 26 carries last season. Freshman Samaje Perine also is in the picture.

"A lot of those guys are gonna need to play for us," quarterback Trevor Knight said. "Samaje Perine's been a hammer in there, just pounding the football, doing a really good job. Keith Ford's been doing a great job. Alex Ross has been doing a great job and Daniel Brooks and David Smith - they're getting in there and making plays."

Co-offensive coordinator Josh Heupel said he doesn't expect the running back competition to be decided before the season starts.

"Ultimately, on game day, we're going to find out who the guy is," he said. "Hopefully, somebody gets the hot hand and we can ride him that way."

Tue, 19 Aug 2014 05:23:00 +0000

GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) Arizona Cardinals defensive tackle Darnell Dockett, one of the most durable players in the NFL over the past decade, tore the ACL in his right knee during practice Monday and will undergo season-ending surgery.

The team said the extent of the injury was revealed in an MRI.

The 6-foot-4, 290-pound Dockett has missed only two games in 10 NFL seasons. He has started 156 of the 158 games in which he appeared.

Dockett was hurt in an 11-on-11 drill. He limped away but had to be helped onto a cart. Dockett lay on his back as he was carted off the field.

"Thank you all for your support and get well wishes. I really do appreciate it," he said in a tweet Monday night. "This will be a tough road to recovery but I been through worse."

Before the extent of the injury was known, defensive tackle Calais Campbell talked about the importance of Dockett to a defense that was ranked sixth in the league last season.

"He's a great player, a guy we count on day in and day out to be a leader and take us where we want to go," Campbell said.

Dockett, Campbell and nose tackle Dan Williams formed a formidable defensive front that helped the Cardinals rank first against the run.

Two of Dockett's teammates on Arizona's 2009 Super Bowl team were quick to tweet their support.

"I literally been sick to my stomach for the past couple hours thinking about (Dockett), one of my closest friends," Chicago safety Adrian Wilson said. "Speedy recovery my friend."

New York Giants safety Antrel Rolle wrote "everyone plz say a prayer for one of my best friends and wish strength and a speedy recovery plz. No injury will keep him down."

Dockett is a three-time Pro Bowl selection and four-time team captain.

"I played against him for three of those years when I was in Seattle," Cardinals tight end John Carlson said. "He's a beast."

Dockett has spent his entire career with Arizona. He and Larry Fitzgerald are the longest-tenured players on the squad. Both were drafted by the Cardinals in 2004 - Fitzgerald in the first round out of Pittsburgh, Dockett in the third round out of Florida State.

Dockett played in his first 104 games before a shoulder sidelined him for one contest in 2010. He missed another game in 2012 with a hamstring injury.

The knee injury is another blow to the already-depleted middle of Arizona's defense.

Inside linebackers Karlos Dansby and Daryl Washington, the heart of the unit a year ago, are gone. Dansby signed a free-agent contract with Cleveland. Washington is suspended for the season for violating the league's substance abuse policy.

Arizona could, at least, get a bit of good news later this week when safety Tyrann Mathieu is taken off the physically unable to perform list. He is coming back from surgery to repair a torn ACL and LCL.

"Praying for my brother," Mathieu said in a tweet.

The vocal, emotional Dockett had talked about the optimism of the coming season, saying that anything short of the playoffs would be a big disappointment. The Cardinals were 10-6 last year, in Bruce Arians' first season as head coach, but failed to make the playoffs.

The injury will further test the skills of defensive coordinator Todd Bowles.

Frostee Rucker moved into Dockett's spot with the first unit for the remainder of Monday's practice. Rucker, an eight-year NFL veteran, appeared in all 16 games for Arizona last season, one as a starter. He started all 16 games for Cleveland in 2012.

Others who could play the position are third-round draft pick Kareem Martin out of North Carolina and fifth-round draft pick Ed Stinson out of Alabama.

The team also might look at the free-agent market and could pick up someone when other teams make late cuts.

NOTES: Jay Feely, in danger of losing his kicking job, said he knows he is competing not only for a spot on the Arizona roster but for a place on other teams should he be cut. Rookie K Chandler Catanzaro is challenging Feely. Arians said the two might split duties Sunday night against Cincinnati. ... QB Ryan Lindley was "up and down" in his performance against the Bengals, Arians said. He is competing with rookie Logan Thomas for the No. 3 quarterback job. Thomas was 11 of 12 for 113 yards against Houston in the preseason opener.

Sun, 17 Aug 2014 20:07:00 +0000

The Associated Press preseason Top 25 is out. Take a look at how the ballots break down, and find out what to watch for when the college football season begins this month:

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`NOLES NATION DOMINATION

Finish No. 1. Start No. 1. Even Bobby Bowden's best Florida State teams never did that.

Jimbo Fisher's Seminoles will. Jameis Winston and the defending national champions are preseason No. 1 for the sixth time.

In two of the previous five seasons Florida State started No. 1, the `Noles went on to finish No. 1, including a wire-to-wire title in 1999. But they never did start the following year top-ranked.

OK, the 2000 Seminoles were preseason No. 2, and after Bowden, the Hall of Fame coach whom Fisher replaced, won his first national championship in 1993, Florida State started 1995 ranked No. 3.

Fisher's Seminoles have a long way to go to compare to Florida State's unprecedented run of national championship contention, a string of 14 straight seasons during which the `Noles finished the season ranked in the top five of the AP rankings.

Still, make no mistake: Florida State 2.0 is built to last.

"We're the second-winningest team in the country the last four years, the winningest team the last two years and have had the most NFL players," Fisher said. "We've recruited well, too. Recruited a lot of great young players we've been able to mentor and develop as we go, so we're very comfortable with the guys who are replacing the guys that left."

The Seminoles were an overwhelming choice as No. 1, receiving 57 of 60 first-place votes from the media panel. No. 2 Alabama, No. 2 Oregon and No. 4 Oklahoma got one first-place vote each.

Ohio State is No. 5 and Auburn, which lost the final BCS national championship game to the Seminoles 34-31, is No. 6.

Last season was a good reminder that preseason rankings can look pretty silly by the end of the season. Four teams that finished in final top 10 last season (No. 2 Auburn, No. 3 Michigan State, No. 5 Missouri and No. 10 UCF) were unranked to start the season. Throw in No. 13 Baylor, No. 20 Arizona State and No. 23 Duke, and seven of the teams that either won or played for the championship in the six conferences with BCS automatic-qualifying status began 2013 unranked.

The Bowl Championship Series is gone now, replaced by the College Football Playoff. The top four teams will be placed into national semifinals to be played on New Year's Day and advance to the championship game about a week and half later.

Expect surprises, though coming up with a scenario in which Florida State is not part of college football's first final four is difficult.

Winston will make a run at his second Heisman behind an offensive line that returns four starters. There's turnover at receiver and running back but still plenty left of four- and five-star talent left behind.

Same goes on defense, where sophomore safety Jalen Ramsey and defensive end Mario Edwards step into leadership roles.

Florida State is the hunted again. Fisher wants them to still act like hunters.

"We better have that attitude. It's got to be your attitude every year," said Fisher, starting his fifth season as Florida State coach. "We call it an attitude of domination. You can never be satisfied."

Florida State starts its season with a rebuilding Oklahoma State team at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, which, coincidentally, is also the site of the first College Football Playoff national championship game.

CONFERENCE CALL

Do not think for a second that the end of the Southeastern Conference's streak of national championships means the SEC is slipping.

The SEC begins the 2014 season with eight ranked teams, matching its own record for most teams from one conference in the preseason poll, set in 2011.

After Alabama and Auburn, South Carolina is No. 9, Georgia is 12, LSU is 13, Mississippi is 18, Texas A&M is 21 and Missouri is 24.

The Pac-12, which gave the SEC a good run as the nation's best conference last year, has six ranked teams - No. 7 UCLA, No. 11 Stanford, No. 15 Southern California, No. 19 Arizona State and No. 25 Washington - the most ever for the league in the preseason.

FROM THE ARCHIVES

- No. 7 UCLA has its best preseason ranking since 1998, when the Bruins were also seventh.

- No. 8 Michigan State has its best preseason ranking since 1967, when the Spartans were No. 3.

- No. 10 Baylor is ranked in the preseason for the first time since 1986 and has its best preseason rankings since 1957, when the Bears were No. 7.

- No. 25 Washington, with new coach Chris Petersen, formerly of Boise State, is making its first preseason appearance since 2003.

START TO FINISH

Since the AP preseason poll debuted in 1950, Florida State in '99 and Southern California in 2004 are the only teams to start and end the season No. 1 in the AP poll. Eight other preseason No. 1s have also won the national championship.

STREAKS

- Ohio State has been ranked in 26 straight preseason polls, the nation's longest current streak.

- Alabama has been ranked in the top five in six straight preseason polls, the nation's longest current streak.

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Full poll listing can be found at http://collegefootball.ap.org/poll

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Follow Ralph D. Russo at www.Twitter/ralphDrussoAP

Sat, 16 Aug 2014 07:29:00 +0000

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) Notre Dame is facing the possibility of losing three starters before the football season has even begun after another embarrassing hit for a university that prides itself on high academic standards.

The university on Friday barred KeiVarae Russell, the team's best cornerback, leading returning receiver DaVaris Daniels, defensive end Ishaq Williams, and backup linebacker Kendall Moore from practice and games while it investigates "suspected academic dishonesty."

The Rev. John Jenkins, Notre Dame's president, said the school is looking into allegations the players had course work done for them.

The news comes a season after quarterback Everett Golson was suspended for the 2013 season for academic impropriety and after Daniels was suspended for the spring semester.

The Irish finished 9-4 behind Tommy Rees last season, but coming off an appearance in the BCS title game in 2012 it was a step back.

Golson has returned, but now coach Brian Kelly could be scrambling to fill holes before opening his fifth season in South Bend at home against Rice on Aug. 30.

Athletic director Jack Swarbrick said Kelly was "devastated" by the news.

Jenkins and Swarbrick expressed support for Kelly.

"We have great confidence in Brian and his staff," Jenkins said. "They have been nothing but supportive."

Jenkins said the investigation shows Notre Dame's honor system works, saying it was started when someone on the university staff became suspicious of papers and homework turned in by the players.

"At any university you're dealing with young people. The vast majority of them make good decisions. But young people sometimes make bad decisions," he said. "Our job is to hold them accountable and to use those incidents as ways to educate them. That's what we're doing."

Jenkins said Notre Dame has notified the NCAA about the inquiry. Because of potential violations, the four players can't compete until the conclusion of the investigation and the university honor code process.

Jenkins said during a news conference that no student has been judged responsible for "academic dishonesty."

"Nobody has been dismissed," Jenkins said.

Jenkins said there is no timetable regarding how long the investigation will take.

"We will take as long as it takes to have a thorough and fair investigation and proceed through our academic honor code process," Jenkins said.

He added that such investigations at Notre Dame aren't common "but it happens."

The university also is investigating if other students are involved. Jenkins said it was too early to say if the four players acted together.

Jenkins said if it is found they violated the school's honor code the penalties could range from an F on an assignment, to an F in the course, to dismissal from school. The penalty would be decided by an honor committee.

Swarbrick said the players haven't been suspended. He said they remain grant-in-aid students and have access to athletic facilities and resources.

Jenkins said he didn't want to speculate on possible NCAA punishment, while Swarbrick said the NCAA usually defers to a university when it comes to academic integrity.

"There are a few narrow instances where that triggers an NCAA concern, but I must stress we have no evidence of most of those here. No involvement by a member of the coaching staff, no transcript impropriety, those sorts of things," he said. "If it has NCAA consequences, we'll let them know."

Jenkins said the school would vacate victories if it is determined players have been ineligible during past competition. All four were members of the 2012 team that played for the BCS national championship.

The investigation is the latest in a series for the Irish in the past 15 months involving academics, starting with Golson.

Jerian Grant, the leading scorer on the basketball team at the time, was suspended in December for the spring semester because of an academic violation. Daniels was suspended two weeks later for the spring semester and was recently reinstated.

Swarbrick said the previous cases were different.

"Let's not confuse academic probation, where you don't make grades in a semester, with academic dishonesty. They are very different things," he said.

Jenkins said he doesn't believe it's a sign Notre Dame has to make changes in the student-athletes it admits.

"We're confident that the students we admit have the capacity to be successful," he said.

Sun, 17 Aug 2014 02:41:00 +0000

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly on Saturday dismissed talk that he needs to do a better job of recruiting players who are better students to avoid the academic problems that have plagued the football program for the past 15 months.

"I think we've brought in the right young men," he said. "I think we have to continue to do a better job educating them. We have to do a better job of providing the resources."

The news conference was the first time Kelly talked to the media since the university announced a day earlier that starting cornerback KeiVarae Russell, leading returning receiver DaVaris Daniels, defensive end Ishaq Williams and backup linebacker Kendall Moore were being withheld from practices and games until the university completes an investigation into whether papers and homework they turned in were completed by others.

Kelly said none one involved in the investigation has asked to talk to him or his staff. He cautioned against assuming the players are guilty, saying the investigation is ongoing.

Kelly said it's his job as head coach to create an environment where players know they can't cut corners.

"If you let your players do whatever they want and they feel like they're not accountable, then I don't think you should be a head coach," he said. "I think if you create an environment and you lay out the expectations of your program and their not met, then they should be held accountable."

"Look, this is never a one-sided issue. We have to internally look at providing our student-athletes all of the resources necessary that, if in fact if they took shortcuts, that they don't. We have to look hard at that," he said.

Players know the high standards of Notre Dame, Kelly said, adding that his rules of conduct for players are posted in the locker room: "Treat women with respect, don't cheat, don't lie and don't steal."

Kelly said he doesn't have any more information about the investigation than what the university announced at the news conference Friday, saying as a coach he will be "on the outside looking in." He said his reaction to the news was "shock and disappointment."

But Kelly said he's proud that Notre Dame has high standards, saying it's one of the reason he accepted the job.

"We don't look the other way," he said.

The players were informed Friday about the investigation and Kelly said he hasn't talked with them since.

The Irish, who open the season against Rice on Aug. 30, have faced other academic problems. Starting quarterback Everett Golson missed last season because of academic impropriety and Daniels sat out the spring semester. Kelly described them as "good kids who made bad decisions."

If the players aren't allowed to return this season as a result of the investigation, it will be difficult to overcome, Kelly said.

"As players, you don't replace KeiVarae Russell. He's one of the best corners we've had here in some time. But we'll find a way," he said. "You don't replace a guy like that."

Replacing Daniels also will be a challenge, but Kelly said the Irish have depth at receiver.

"We're going to have to count on other players to step up and do the job for us," he said.

Kelly said he's not worried about Notre Dame possibly having to vacate some past victories, including possibly from the 2012 season when the Irish went 12-1 and their lone loss was to Alabama in the national title game. He said it wouldn't change his view of that season.

"I've never really counted my victories," he said. "It's not something I really spend much time thinking about."

It's been a tumultuous time at Notre Dame since Kelly arrived following the 2009 season, with a student manager killed when the scissor lift he was on toppled in high winds in 2010, several high-profile players being arrested and the academic troubles. Kelly was asked whether those issues reflected on his leadership.

"This isn't the time to have a debate on what my leadership or lack thereof is. My focus is on my football team and getting this team ready. There's a time and place for that. People have their opinions and certainly they're entitled to them. I'm going to focus on this football team and getting it ready for two weeks for Rice."

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