Weekend Sports in Brief
Alabama is in, winning the great debate over Ohio State to reach the College Football Playoff yet again.
The Crimson Tide got the nod Sunday for the fourth and final spot over Buckeyes and will play Clemson on Jan. 1 in the Sugar Bowl. Oklahoma and Georgia will meet in the Rose Bowl semifinal a few hours earlier.
Tide or Buckeyes was the question facing the selection committee, the toughest call in the four-year history of the playoff.
The Tide had been more consistent and lost just once. The Buckeyes lost twice, including an embarrassing 31-point loss at unranked Iowa, but have the more impressive set of victories. Ohio State won the Big Ten while Alabama did not even win its Southeastern Conference division.
The committee rolled with the Tide, and for the first time the playoff will include two teams from the same conference. Alabama joins SEC champion Georgia and an all-SEC title game on Jan. 8 in Atlanta is possible.
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) New Nebraska coach Scott Frost was given a rousing welcome home at his introductory news conference Sunday from boosters, current players and his old teammates, and he promised to make them proud with the product he will put on the field.
Frost takes over a program that has lost its stature among college football’s elite in the 20 years since he quarterbacked the Cornhuskers to a share of the 1997 national championship.
The 42-year-old Frost agreed to a seven-year, $35 million contract. This year he became the hottest coach on the market for leading the dramatic turnaround at Central Florida. He inherited a team that went 0-12 in 2015, and this year he coached the Knights to a 12-0 record. He was introduced less than 24 hours after UCF defeated Memphis 62-55 in two overtimes in the American Athletic Conference championship game.
Athletic director Bill Moos said he’s certain Frost was the first choice for several of the other top coaching vacancies in the Power Five.
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) – Gus Malzahn is staying at Auburn, putting an end to the questions about his future.
The football coach has agreed to a new seven-year deal to remain at the school after a strong late-season rebound, said a person with knowledge of the situation.
Complete financial details were not immediately available but the person said Malzahn will make more than $7 million in the final year of the contract. The person spoke with The Associated Press Sunday on condition of anonymity because Auburn had not announced details of the new deal.
The university said in a statement Sunday night that Malzahn and Auburn officials have ”agreed to the broad outlines of a new contract extending his leadership of the Tigers” and expect to finalize the details over the next few days.
TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) – Arizona State has hired former NFL coach and ESPN analyst Herm Edwards as its football coach.
The school announced the hiring Sunday night and will hold a news conference introducing Edwards on Monday morning.
The Sun Devils fired coach Todd Graham after six seasons on Nov. 26 and wanted to move quickly with the early-signing period for high school recruits starting on Dec. 20.
Arizona State made a surprise move by hiring the 63-year-old Edwards, who hasn’t coached since 2008 after being fired by the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs.
Edwards has not coached in college since serving as a San Jose State assistant in 1989 and spent the last nine years as an NFL analyst for ESPN
Arizona State athletic director Ray Anderson previously represented Edwards during his days as an agent.
NEW YORK (AP) – The Yankees and Red Sox are among the teams that pitcher and outfielder Shohei Ohtani has ruled out, and it seems the Japanese star will likely pursue a smaller market nearer to the West Coast.
New York general manager Brian Cashman confirmed to reporters Sunday night that his club was out of the running.
”I know that our presentation was excellent,” Cashman said. ”The feedback from that was outstanding. But I did get a sense that I can’t change that we’re a big market and I can’t change we’re in the East.”
Red Sox spokesman Kevin Gregg confirmed Boston’s elimination from the bidding. The New York Mets, Oakland Athletics, Pittsburgh Pirates, Tampa Bay Rays, Minnesota Twins and Milwaukee Brewers are also among the teams told they won’t sign Ohtani.
Ohtani was put up for bid Friday by the Pacific League’s Nippon Ham Fighters for the maximum $20 million posting fee. The 23-year-old has until 11:59 p.m. EST on Dec. 22 to agree to a contract with an MLB team.
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) – Rob Gronkowski was apologetic for pile-driving his shoulder into the back of Bills rookie cornerback Tre’Davious White’s head. Bills safety Micah Hyde was livid, calling it a dirty play.
Injuries and accusations overshadowed New England extending its winning streak to eight games and closing in on its ninth consecutive AFC East title following a 23-3 win on Sunday.
Buffalo’s playoff hopes could be jeopardized after starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor hurt his left knee and had a towel draped over his head while being carted off the sideline early in the fourth quarter. And Gronkowski’s hit on White added to the Bills’ frustrations.
White was being evaluated for a concussion after he was struck by Gronkowski while lying on the ground after Buffalo’s rookie first-round pick intercepted a Brady pass with 4:50 remaining.
”That’s just dirty football. There’s nowhere in our game for that,” Hyde said. ”I don’t know if it was a shoulder, elbow, I’m not sure what it was. That was dirty.”