Friday Sports in Brief

NFL

The NFL goes into the playoffs with its regular-season ratings having gone up for the second straight year, the first time the league has seen back-to-back increases since 2010.

The league’s 100th season was its most viewed in four years as games averaged 16.5 million viewers on television. That is a 5% increase over 2018, according to Nielsen.

Neal Pilson, the former president of CBS Sports who now runs his own sports television consulting company, attributes the continued increases to the emergence of younger players as well as the league becoming year-around programming.

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Mike McCarthy, who won a Super Bowl with the Green Bay Packers and led them to nine playoff appearances in 13 seasons, has interviewed for the head coaching job with the New York Giants.

The 56-year-old McCarthy met with Giants co-owner John Mara, general manager Dave Gettleman and vice president of football operations Kevin Abrams on Friday.

The search committee had met with Kris Richard, the Dallas’ Cowboys’ defensive passing game coordinator and secondary coach, on Thursday.

The Giants are expected to meet with Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy and Ravens defensive coordinator Don Martindale on Saturday as they move to find a successor to Pat Shurmur, who was fired on Monday after winning nine games in two seasons.

McCarthy has also met with the Cleveland Browns about their coaching vacancy.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

Mississippi State fired Joe Moorhead after just two seasons Friday, making the unusual decision to dismiss a coach after a bowl game.

The Bulldogs went 14-12 under Moorhead, who was previously the offensive coordinator at Penn State. He was hired after the 2017 season when Dan Mullen left Mississippi State for Florida.

This season, Mississippi State (6-7) made it to the postseason with a one-point victory against rival Mississippi in the regular-season finale. The Bulldogs then lost 38-28 to Louisville in the Music City Bowl.

“In this case, it goes a little bit beyond just wins and losses, although I want to state for sure that wins and losses matter,” athletic director John Cohen said at a news conference. “There were some other issues at stake that we had to consider.”

The firing comes four days after the Music City Bowl loss. Leading up to that game, there were reports of a post-practice fight between freshman quarterback Garrett Shrader and starting linebacker Willie Gay that left Shrader injured.

Moorhead didn’t confirm a fight or details of Shrader’s injury, but did say before the bowl game that the two players had spoken to each other and the issue was addressed internally. Shrader had been slated to start, but did not play against Louisville.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor is headed to the NFL.

The record-setting junior announced Friday on Twitter and Instagram that he will forgo his senior season with the Badgers and enter the NFL draft.

The two-time Doak Walker Award winner and two-time unanimous first-team All-American finished his college career with 6,174 yards rushing, the most by any player in FBS history through their junior season. Taylor also had 55 total touchdowns in his three seasons.

SEATTLE (AP) — Washington running back Salvon Ahmed is leaving school and entering the NFL draft following a junior season during which he was the Huskies‘ leading rusher.

Ahmed ran for 1,020 yards and 11 touchdowns this season. He served as a backup to Myles Gaskin for his first two seasons before moving into the starting role this year. Ahmed averaged 5.4 yards per carry this season and 5.7 yards per attempt for his career.

Ahmed played in 39 games overall and finished with 2,016 yards rushing and 21 touchdowns.

BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) — Longtime NFL assistant Bill Musgrave was hired Friday to become the new offensive coordinator at California.

Coach Justin Wilcox announced Musgrave will replace Beau Baldwin next season for the Golden Bears. Baldwin left to become head coach at Cal Poly.

“Bill Musgrave has a brilliant offensive mind and is one of the top teachers of offensive football and quarterbacks,” Wilcox said. “Bill has incredible football knowledge and has been extremely versatile in the offensive systems he has run throughout his career, which is important. He also has a strong desire to coach again at the collegiate level, where he can help develop young football players at a formative stage of their careers.”

Musgrave has more than two decades of coaching experience in college and the pros and has spent 13 seasons as an offensive coordinator. His only college coaching job came in 2001-02 when he was offensive coordinator at Virginia.

MLB

Relief pitcher Will Harris is joining the Washington Nationals after they beat him in Game 7 of the World Series against the Houston Astros.

Harris and the Nationals have agreed to a $24 million, three-year contract, the team announced Friday.

The 35-year-old Harris dominated with Houston for much of the postseason, starting October with nine consecutive scoreless innings. The Nationals finally got to him late in the World Series, and Harris allowed Howie Kendrick’s go-ahead home run in Game 7.

Washington went on to win its first World Series. Harris was stuck with the loss.

The right-handed Harris had a 1.50 ERA in 68 games for the Astros last season. He had been with Houston since 2015 and was an All-Star in 2016.

NHL

NEW YORK (AP) — Dallas Stars forward Corey Perry was suspended for five games without pay by the NHL on Friday for elbowing Nashville Predators defenseman Ryan Ellis in the Winter Classic.

Perry received a major penalty and game misconduct for elbowing early in the outdoor game Wednesday at the Cotton Bowl. The suspension will cost Perry $40,323.

The 34-year-old Perry has three goals and 10 assists in 34 games this season, his first with the Stars after 14 with the Anaheim Ducks. He signed a one-year contract with the Stars in July after the Ducks bought out the final two seasons of his contract.

DALLAS (AP) — Former Dallas Stars coach Jim Montgomery said Friday his abrupt dismissal by the NHL club was “appropriate” and he has entered alcohol rehab.

Montgomery’s statement was his first public comment since he was fired Dec. 10 for unspecified unprofessional conduct. He said the firing was “a wake-up call.”

“It was also the appropriate call,” Montgomery said. “I let the team’s front office, staff and players down. ”

Montgomery said he entered a rehab facility Friday, addingit has “been an overwhelming and a very humbling experience knowing that I am not alone.”

General manager Jim Nill wouldn’t get into specifics when he announced the firing of the third coach he has hired since taking over in April 2013.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL

MIAMI (AP) — UTEP coach Rodney Terry was discharged Friday from a Miami hospital, where he spent two days being treated for anaphylactic shock.

“Coach Terry is on the mend and expected to make a full recovery,” the school said, less than 24 hours after announcing the coach had been listed in critical but stable condition.

Terry won’t coach the Miners in their game Saturday at Florida Atlantic. Assistant coach Kenton Paulino will serve as interim coach, just as he did Thursday in UTEP’s loss at FIU in the Conference USA opener for both schools.

Terry is expected to resume his duties when UTEP plays host to Southern Miss on Thursday.

The school said Terry’s medical condition was caused by a reaction to something he ate.

SOCCER

CHICAGO (AP) — The U.S. men’s soccer team has canceled its plan to train in Doha, Qatar, from Jan. 5-25 “due to the developing situation in the region.”

The U.S. Soccer Federation announced the decision Friday, a day after a U.S. military air strike killed a top Iranian military commander.

The Americans will move training to a site in the United States that has not yet been determined. They will be use a roster of players mostly from Major League Soccer ahead of an exhibition against Costa Rica in Feb. 1 at Carson, California.

The USSF said it hopes to train in the future at Qatar, host of the 2022 World Cup.

LONDON (AP) — Tottenham striker Harry Kane sustained a tear in his left hamstring muscle during the 1-0 loss at Southampton, the London club said Friday.

Tottenham did not give a timescale for Kane’s absence, only saying: “Our medical staff will continue to review the injury with treatment ongoing.”

Kane was injured in the second half of Wednesday’s Premier League game. The England captain played every minute of Tottenham’s other three games over the hectic festive period.

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Stanford junior midfielder Catarina Macario and Clemson junior forward Robbie Robinson are the Hermann Trophy winners as the top college soccer players.

Presented Friday night by the Missouri Athletic Club, the awards were determined by voting by NCAA Division I coaches.

Macario is the fifth female player to repeat as the winner and the sixth two-time women’s winner overall. She led the nation and set a Stanford record with 32 goals last season.

Robinson led the nation in points with 45 and tied for the lead in goals with 18.

OBITUARY

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — Houston Hogg, one of four African-American football players at Kentucky who helped break the Southeastern Conference color line in the late 1960s, has died. He was 71.

The school announced Friday that Hogg died in Owensboro, Kentucky.

The former Wildcats running back and defensive back entered Kentucky with Wilbur Hackett in 1967, a year after Nate Northington and Greg Page arrived in Lexington to become the first black players to enroll at an SEC school. Hogg played freshman football that season, when Northington made his historic varsity debut for the Wildcats on Sept. 23, 1967, and played his first SEC game a week later against Mississippi. Northington’s SEC debut came a day after Page died from a neck injury sustained in practice that summer.

Hogg rushed 92 times for 245 yards two touchdowns in his career and lettered in 1969 and 1970. He and his three teammates were honored for their groundbreaking courage and achievements in September 2016 with a statue outside the Wildcats’ training facility.

The four received the Michael L. Slive Distinguished Service Award at the 2017 SEC Football Championship Game.

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