COLLEGE FOOTBALL

Alabama 26 Georgia 23 OT

 

NBA SCOREBOARD

Indiana 109 Milwaukee 96

Toronto 114 Brooklyn 113 OT

New Orleans 112 Detroit 109

Houston 116 Chicago 107

Minnesota 127 Cleveland 99

San Antonio 107 Sacramento 100

Golden State 124 Denver 114

LA Clippers 108 Atlanta 107

 

NHL SCOREBOARD

Columbus 3 Toronto 2

 

AP MEN’S BASKETBALL POLL

1             Villanova                            14-1

2             West Virginia                    14-1

3             Virginia                               14-1

4             Michigan State                 15-2

5             Wichita State                    13-2

5             Purdue                                15-2

7             Duke                                    13-2

8             Texas Tech                         14-1

9             Oklahoma                          12-2

10           Xavier                                  15-2

11           Arizona State                    13-2

12           Kansas                                12-3

13           Seton Hall                          14-2

14           Cincinnati                           14-2

15           Gonzaga                             14-3

16           TCU                                     13-2

17           Arizona                               12-4

18           Miami (FL)                          13-2

19           Clemson                             14-1

20           North Carolina                  12-4

21           Kentucky                             12-3

22           Auburn                               14-1

23           Florida State                      12-3

24           Tennessee                         10-4

25           Creighton                           13-3

 

AP WOMEN’S COLLEGE BASKETBALL POLL

1             Connecticut                       13-0

2             Notre Dame                      15-1

3             Louisville                            18-0

4             Mississippi State              17-0

5             Baylor                                 14-1

6             Tennessee                         15-0

7             Texas                                   13-1

8             Oregon                               15-2

9             South Carolina                  13-2

10           Ohio State                         15-2

11           Maryland                           15-2

12           Missouri                             14-2

13           Florida State                      14-2

14           UCLA                                   11-4

15           West Virginia                    14-2

16           Duke                                    12-4

17           Texas A&M                        13-4

18           Arizona State                    13-3

18           Iowa                                    15-2

20           Oklahoma State               12-3

21           Rutgers                               16-2

22           Oregon State                    11-4

23           Michigan                            13-4

24           California                           11-4

25           Green Bay                          12-2

 

 

TOP HEADLINES

Walk-off: Alabama beats Georgia in OT for national title

To add another championship to the greatest dynasty college football has ever seen, Alabama turned to its quarterback of the future, and Tua Tagovailoa proved that his time is now.

The freshman quarterback, who had played mostly mop-up duty this season, came off the bench to spark a comeback and threw a 41-yard touchdown to DeVonta Smith that gave No. 4 Alabama a 26-23 overtime victory against No. 3 Georgia on Monday night for the College Football Playoff national championship.

Tagovailoa entered the game at halftime, replacing a struggling Jalen Hurts, and threw three touchdown passes to give the Crimson Tide its fifth national championship since 2009 under coach Nick Saban.

“He just stepped in and did his thing,” Hurts said. “He’s built for stuff like this. I’m so happy for him.” The Tide might have a quarterback controversy ahead of it but first Alabama will celebrate another national title.

For the third straight season, Alabama played in a classic CFP final. The Tide split two with Clemson, losing last season on touchdown with a second left.

What was Saban thinking as the winning pass soared this time?

“I could not believe it,” he said. “There’s lots of highs and lows. Last year we lost on the last play of the game and this year we won on the last play of the game. These kids really responded the right way. We said last year, `Don’t waste the feeling.’ They sure didn’t, the way they played tonight.”

Smith streaked into the end zone and moments later confetti rained and even Saban seemed almost giddy after watching maybe the most improbably victory of his unmatched career.

After Alabama kicker Andy Pappanastos missed a 36-yard field goal that would have won it for the Tide (13-1) in the final seconds of regulation , Georgia (13-2) took the lead with a 51-yard field goal from Rodrigo Blankenship in overtime.

Tagovailoa took a terrible sack on Alabama’s first play of overtime, losing 16 yards. On the next play he found Smith, another freshman, and hit him in stride for the national championship.

Tagovailoa was brilliant at times, though he had a few freshman moments. He threw an interception when he tried to pass on a running play and all his receivers were blocking. He also darted away from the pass rushers and made some impeccable throws, showing the poise of a veteran. Facing fourth-and-goal from 7, down seven, the left-hander moved to his left and zipped a pass through traffic that hit Calvin Ridley in the numbers for the tying score with 3:49 left in the fourth quarter.

He finished 14 for 24 for 166 yards. The winning play was, basically, four receivers going deep.

“After the sack, we just got up and took it to the next play,” Tagovailoa said. “I looked back out, and he was wide open. Smitty was wide open.” Freshmen were everywhere for the Alabama offense: Najee Harris at running back, Henry Ruggs III at receiver, Alex Leatherwood at left tackle after All-American Jonah Williams was hurt. It’s a testament to the relentless machine Saban has built.

But this game will be remembered most for his decision to change quarterbacks trailing 13-0.

“I just thought we had to throw the ball, and I felt he could do it better, and he did,” Saban said. “He did a good job, made some plays in the passing game. Just a great win. I’m so happy for Alabama fans. Great for our players. Unbelievable.”

Saban now has six major poll national championships, including one at LSU, matching the record set by the man who led Alabama’s last dynasty, coach Paul Bear Bryant.

This was nothing like the others.

With President Trump in attendance, the all-Southeastern Conference matchup was all Georgia in the first half before Saban pulled Hurts and the five-star recruit from Hawaii entered. The president watched the second half from Air Force One.

“I don’t know how Coach Saban found me all the way in Hawaii from Alabama,” Tagovailoa said. “Thank God he found me and we’re here right now.”

The Tide trailed 20-7 in the third quarter after Georgia’s freshman quarterback, Jake Fromm, hit Mecole Hardman for an 80-yard touchdown pass that had the Georgia fans feeling good about ending a national title drought that dates back to 1980.

Fromm threw for 232 yards for a while it looked as if he was going to be the freshman star for the game, the first to true freshman to lead his team to a national title season since Jamelle Holieway for Oklahoma in 1985.

“I mean, if you want to find out about Jake Fromm, go ask those guys on the other side of the ball, and they’ll tell you because that’s a really good defense he just went against,” Smart said.

A little less than a year after the Atlanta Falcons blew a 25-point lead and lost in overtime to the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl, there was more pain for many of the local fans. Two years ago, Georgia brought in Saban’s top lieutenant, Kirby Smart, to coach the Bulldogs and bring to his alma mater a dose of Alabama’s Process.

Smart, who spent 11 seasons with Saban – eight as his defensive coordinator in Tuscaloosa – quickly built `Bama East. It was Georgia that won the SEC this season. Alabama had to slip into the playoff without even winning its own division.

With the title game being held 70 miles from Georgia’s campus in Athens, Dawg fans packed Mercedes-Benz Stadium, but it turned out to be sweet home for Alabama and now Saban is 12-0 against his former assistants.

But not without angst.

Alabama drove into the red zone in the final minute and Saban started playing for a field goal that would end the game and win it for the Tide. A nervous quiet gripped the crowd of 77,430 as `Bama burned the clock. With the ball centered in the middle of the field, Pappanastos lined up for a kick to win the national championship. The snap and hold looked fine, but the kicked missed badly to the left.

For the second straight week, Georgia was going to overtime. The Bulldogs beat Oklahoma in a wild Rose Bowl in double overtime to get here, and after Jonathan Ledbetter and Davin Bellamy sacked Tagovailoa for a big loss on the first play, Alabama was in trouble – second-and-26.

Not for long. Tagovailoa looked off the safety and threw the biggest touchdown pass in the history of Alabama football.

 

Alabama is No. 1 in final AP poll for 11th time; UCF 6th

Alabama was voted No. 1 in the final Associated Press college football poll after the Crimson Tide beat Georgia in the national championship game on Monday night. Unbeaten Central Florida finished sixth.

The Crimson Tide received 57 of 61 first-place votes from the media panel after its 26-23 overtime win. UCF received the other four.

Georgia finished second and Oklahoma was third, followed by Clemson and Ohio State.

The AP national championship is the 11th for the Crimson Tide, three more than any other school, and fifth under coach Nick Saban since 2009. Alabama becomes the first preseason No. 1 to finish No. 1 since Southern California in 2004 and for the fourth time two teams from the same conference finished Nos. 1 and 2.

 

Chicago Bears hire Chiefs assistant Matt Nagy as coach

The Chicago Bears hired Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Matt Nagy as their new head coach Monday, hoping he can help a foundering NFL franchise emerge from one of the worst runs in its history.

The Bears announced the move a week after firing coach John Fox, who went 14-34 in three seasons for a .292 winning percentage that is the second-lowest in team history. The Bears were 5-11 this past season and haven’t finished above .500 since they let Lovie Smith go following a 10-6 finish in 2012, two years after their last visit to the playoffs.

The 39-year-old Nagy spent the past 10 seasons working under Andy Reid in Philadelphia and Kansas City. He did not call plays until late this season, but drew praise for his work with Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith. In Chicago, the former quarterback at Delaware and then the Arena Football League will be trying to develop No. 2 overall draft pick Mitchell Trubisky.

The Chiefs won the AFC West, only to blow an 18-point halftime lead in a playoff loss to Tennessee on Saturday. The Bears met with Nagy on Sunday and wasted little time hiring him.

Chicago also interviewed Philadelphia quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo, offensive coordinators Pat Shurmur (Minnesota) and Josh McDaniels (New England), Vikings defensive coordinator George Edwards and Chicago defensive coordinator Vic Fangio.

General manager Ryan Pace, who recently got a contract extension through the 2021 season, announced the decision and will have a lot riding on Nagy’s performance.

Pace has had some big hits in the draft such as star running back Jordan Howard (2016, fifth round) and notable misses such as oft-injured receiver Kevin White (2015, first round). Injuries have consistently exposed a lack of depth, and Pace’s record in free agency has so far been shaky in trying to replace talented players such as receivers Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery, tight end Martellus Bennett and kicker Robbie Gould.

Fox helped restore some of the professionalism that was missing under former GM Phil Emery and coach Marc Trestman. But Fox’s conservative approach and some questionable decisions during games were sore spots.

The Bears were 3-15 against the NFC North under Fox and dropped all six division games this past season.

 

NFL, NFLPA to review how Panthers handled hit on QB Newton

Interim general manager Marty Hurney insists the Carolina Panthers handled the medical treatment of quarterback Cam Newton “the right way” during Sunday’s 31-26 playoff loss to the New Orleans Saints.

The NFL and NFL Players Association announced Monday they plan to conduct a joint review to determine if the Panthers followed the correct concussion protocol after Newton took a hard shot from Saints defensive tackle David Onyemata midway through the fourth quarter. If the concussion protocol was not properly followed the team is subject to discipline, including a $150,000 fine.

Newton spent time on the ground after the hit. Then, as he was walking toward the sideline, appeared to stumble to one knee. He briefly pointed toward his right eye.

He sat out one play, but returned on the next offensive series and finished the game.

“He took a hit. But when he walked off and he told the trainers he got poked in the eye, then they did take him into the tent and checked him for a concussion, which he did not have,” Hurney said. “And it was really getting poked in the eye.”

Hurney said Newton intentionally took a knee because he was told to by the team’s training staff so Carolina could get an official timeout, thus allowing backup quarterback Derek Anderson a chance to warm up. Anderson came in for one third down play and was nearly intercepted.

However, the question could become whether or not Newton should have been taken to the locker room for evaluations.

The league and the players union changed its concussion protocol last month after Houston Texans quarterback Tom Savage returned to the field after having a concussion that left the quarterback’s hands shaking after a hit.

The changes to the protocol include the requirement of a locker room concussion evaluation for all players “demonstrating gross or sustained vertical instability (e.g., stumbling or falling to the ground when trying to stand.)”

Newton did not visit the locker room.

Panthers coach Ron Rivera said he is very confident that the protocol was followed correctly.

“Based on what the young man (Newton) said to me, that is what I believe happened,” Rivera said. “And again, from that point on I don’t think anything else needs to be said about it.”

Newton said after the game Sunday that “precautionary concussion protocol things” happened, but “it wasn’t my head. It was my eye. My helmet had come down low enough over my eyelid and it got pressed by the player’s stomach.”

The Panthers were investigated once before in the 2016 season opener at Denver when Newton took a blow to the head but remained in the game.

It was later determined the Panthers handled that situation correctly and no fines were handed out.

The Seattle Seahawks were fined $100,000 in Week 10 after the league and union determined they failed to apply the concussion protocol properly after quarterback Russell Wilson took a blow to the head against the Arizona Cardinals.

 

Belichick ‘absolutely’ intends to return as Patriots coach

Bill Belichick says he “absolutely” intends to return as New England Patriots coach next season despite reports of turmoil involving himself, quarterback Tom Brady and owner Robert Kraft.

Belichick said Tuesday he had nothing to add to the joint statement from the three last week in response to an ESPN report detailing an array of tension.

Asked about another report of his interest in coaching the New York Giants, the Patriots coach said he is focused on New England’s playoff game Saturday night against Tennessee.

The ESPN story highlighted purported disputes concerning Brady’s personal body coach and a supposed difference between Kraft and Belichick over the decision to trade backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. The story implied Brady has taken issue with a lack of praise from Belichick this season.

 

 

Villanova returns to No. 1 in reshuffled AP Top 25 poll

Villanova’s slide out of No. 1 in the AP Top 25 lasted just a week.

The Wildcats returned to the top spot in Monday’s poll after an upset-filled week that included losses by No. 1 Michigan State and No. 2 Duke. Villanova got 52 of 65 first-place votes to move up from third to No. 1, where it spent three weeks in December.

West Virginia climbed four spots to No. 2. This is the Mountaineers’ highest ranking since December 1959 in Jerry West’s senior season.

Virginia climbed five spots to No. 3, followed by Michigan State. Purdue and Wichita State tied for No. 5.

Duke fell five spots to No. 7, followed by Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Xavier to round out the top 10.

 

Murray undergoes hip surgery, hopes to be back for Wimbledon

Andy Murray underwent surgery on his right hip on Monday and said he hopes to be back playing in time for Wimbledon.

The former No. 1-ranked Murray, a three-time major winner, has not played a competitive match since a quarterfinal exit at Wimbledon last July.

Murray has been told to expect a 14-week recovery period and he is targeting a return to the court by June.

“I underwent successful right hip surgery at the St Vincent Hospital in Melbourne,” Murray wrote on his Facebook page. “I’d like to thank Dr John O’Donnell and all of the staff for looking after me. I look forward to returning to competitive tennis during the grass court season. Thanks to everyone for all the well wishes and support over the last few days. I’ll comeback from this.”

The 30-year-old Murray, though, accepts he will have to reduce his workload on court.

“I’m certainly not going to be putting in the same amount of tournaments and effort to try to get to No. 1,” Murray told British media. “I’ll certainly be more considered in the amount of tournaments I play, even though I play a conservative schedule anyway in comparison to most of the players on the tour.

“I’ll be playing a reduced schedule, and then focusing more on trying to win major events and big tournaments rather than trying to achieve certain ranking goals.”

Murray said he can get himself back to “95 percent of my best.”

“I believe that’s enough to compete at the highest level,” he added. “No question.”

 

Seoul: North Korea to send delegation to Olympics in South

North Korea agreed Tuesday to send a delegation to next month’s Winter Olympics in South Korea, Seoul officials said, as the bitter rivals sat for rare talks at the border to discuss how to cooperate in the Olympics and improve their long-strained ties.

The Koreas’ first talks in two years were arranged after North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un recently made an abrupt push for improved ties with South Korea after a year of elevated tensions with the outside world over his expanding nuclear and missile programs. Critics say Kim may be trying to divide Seoul and Washington in a bid to weaken international pressure and sanctions on the North.

During the talks, the North Korean delegation said it would send an Olympic delegation, which includes officials, athletes, cheerleaders, journalists and others, South Korea’s Vice Unification Minister Chun Hae-sung told reporters, according to media footage from the border village of Panmunjom, the venue for the talks.

The South Korean delegation, for its part, proposed North Korea send a big delegation and conduct a joint march during the Feb. 9-25 Game’s opening and closing ceremonies, Chun, one of the five South Korean negotiators, said.

He said South Korea also suggested resuming temporary reunions of families separated by war and offering military talks designed to reduce animosities in frontline areas. South Korea also stressed the need to achieve denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, Chun said.

North Korea responded by saying the two Koreas must try to promote peace and reconciliation through dialogue, he said.

The two sides were to continue their negotiations later Tuesday at Panmunjom, the only place on the tense border where North and South Korean soldiers are just feet away from each other. A North Korean soldier late last year defected to the South across Panmunjom amid a hail of bullets fired by his comrades. He was hit five times but survived.

The meeting began with an amicable atmosphere Tuesday morning, with chief North Korean delegate Ri Son Gwon saying he hopes the talks would give “a New Year’s first gift – precious results (of the talks) to the Korean nation.” Ri’s South Korean counterpart, Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon, said he also hopes they would come up with a “good gift” for people in both Koreas.

The overall prospect for the negotiations was still unclear. The two Koreas have a long history of ending key talks without any agreement and failing to follow through with rapprochement accords.

An agreement on the North’s Olympic participation had been widely expected before the talks began, but the Koreas remain sharply at odds over how to improve their overall ties.

North Korea is expected to demand rewards in return for South Korea’s offer for family reunions and military talks, like Seoul halting propaganda broadcasts and scaling back or halting military drills with the U.S., observers say.

Suspension of the military drills would be unacceptable for Seoul because that would seriously undermine the alliance with its chief ally the United States, which wants to put more pressures on Pyongyang. The North views the drills as a rehearsal for a northward invasion.

President Donald Trump on Saturday expressed hope for some progress from the talks and said he was open to talking with Kim himself. But U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley later said the U.S. administration isn’t changing its conditions regarding talks with North Korea, saying Kim would first need to stop weapons testing for a “significant amount of time.”

In his New Year’s Day address, Kim said there is an urgent need to improve inter-Korean ties and that he is willing to send a delegation to the Pyeongchang Games. He urged Seoul to halt the military drills with the U.S. and said he has a “nuclear button” to launch missiles at any target in the United States.

South Korean liberal President Moon Jae-in, who favors dialogue as a way to defuse the North Korean nuclear standoff, welcomed Kim’s outreach and proposed talks at Panmunjom. Kim quickly accepted.

“As President Moon has said, the improvement of relations between North and South Korea cannot advance separately from resolving North Korea’s nuclear program,” Brian Hook, a chief adviser to U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, told reporters in a conference call late Monday Washington time. “And so, we remain focused on our global pressure campaign. That campaign is designed to bring Kim Jong Un to the table for meaningful negations.”

The Trump administration agreed last week to delay springtime military drills with South Korea until after the Games. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis insisted the delay was a practical necessity to accommodate the Olympics, not a political gesture.

Trump and Kim traded bellicose warlike rhetoric and even crude insults last year, as the North conducted it sixth and most powerful nuclear detonation and three tests of intercontinental ballistic missiles.

The International Olympic Committee said Monday it has “kept the door open” for North Korea to take part in the Games. IOC spokesman Mark Adams said the registration deadline has been extended and that the Switzerland-based committee supports North Korean athletes in the qualification process, while respecting U.N. sanctions against North Korea.