April 23, 2014

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Big news yet to come from owners
Written by Associated Press   
Thursday, March 27, 2014 8:18 PM

Associated Press

ORLANDO, Fla. — NFL owners made plenty of news at their annual meetings, from shifting some video review oversight to the officiating headquarters to experimenting in the preseason with extra-point kicks from the 20-yard line.

They also vowed to clamp down on unsportsmanlike conduct and verbal abuse.

A significant item they didn’t vote on — but discussed at length — was expanding the playoffs.

Though the move wasn’t adopted in Orlando, it soon will be.

 
A guide to the NCAA regionals
Written by Associated Press   
Wednesday, March 26, 2014 8:24 PM

By JOHN MARSHALL

Associated Press

Just when you think the first weekend of the NCAA tournament couldn’t possibly top itself, it happened again.

Last year’s ride was a wild one, filled with massive upsets that blew up brackets and spectacular performances that made it one of the most entertaining starts in tournament history.

This year’s version was even better, the best weekend on the sports calendar starting with most of the brackets blown out on the first game of the first full day and including a four-point play to send a game to overtime.

Now that we’ve had time to catch our breath, it’s time to hold on tight again with the regional rounds up next.

Here’s some of what to keep an eye on:

 
Buckeyes seek replacement for RB Carlos Hyde
Written by Associated Press   
Wednesday, March 26, 2014 8:23 PM

Associated Press

COLUMBUS — It’ll be difficult for Ohio State to replace Carlos Hyde.

All the senior did a year ago for the Buckeyes was rush for 1,521 yards and 15 touchdowns in just 11 games, becoming the first running back to top 1,000 yards in Urban Meyer’s 12 years as a head coach.

Although it might be hard finding someone to fill his spot, that doesn’t mean it won’t get done.

“Someone has to step up and fill the shoes of Carlos Hyde,” running backs coach Stan Drayton said after a recent spring practice. “If it takes more than one guy to do that, I promise you it’s going to get done.”

There are several candidates in Ohio State’s spring camp. Ezekiel Elliott, the leading returning rusher at running back with 262 yards on only 30 carries, would seem to have the inside track.

“I just think that I’m a very versatile back, I can do a lot of things,” said the sophomore, a prized recruit from St. Louis. “I can run to the outside, I can run a tight zone, I’m a great pass catcher out of the back field. I think I just bring a little versatility to the table.”

 
Hendrick ranks California as one of toughest defeats
Written by Associated Press   
Wednesday, March 26, 2014 8:22 PM

By JENNA FRYER

Associated Press

CONCORD, N.C. — It was a long cross-country flight home for Rick Hendrick after the team owner watched victory slip away for two of his drivers at Auto Club Speedway.

Jimmie Johnson was leading in the closing laps until a tire failure sent him to pit road and cost him his first win of the season. His misfortune appeared to be Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon’s gain, though, as Gordon inherited the lead from Johnson.

But as Gordon cruised toward the finish line, a spin by Clint Bowyer with two laps remaining jumbled everything. Gordon restarted in traffic, had trouble on the restart and finished 13th. Johnson was 24th after leading a race-high 104 laps.

 
Masters field nearing completion
Written by Associated Press   
Wednesday, March 26, 2014 8:21 PM

By DOUG FERGUSON

Associated Press

ORLANDO, Fla. — The Texas Open is the last chance for players to crack the top 50 in the world ranking and earn a spot in the Masters.

The drama is lacking this year.

Richard Sterne is No. 53 and George Coetzee is No. 55 — except they’re not in the field at San Antonio. The only players at the Valero Texas Open who can move into the top 50 are Chesson Hadley (No. 56) and Ryan Palmer (No. 62). Everyone else who could make it to the top 50 would have to win — and that’s an automatic invitation, anyway.

Without any movement, Stephen Gallacher of Scotland (who won Dubai) is the only player who will have moved into the top 50 since the end of last year.

Augusta National began relying on the world ranking in 2000, only it was slightly different. The top 50 at the end of the preceding year received invitations, along with the top 50 a month before the Masters. Starting in 2003, the final cutoff was moved to one week before the Masters.

 
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