Sports briefs: March 6

March 6, 2013 

Television

Fox to launch challengeto ESPN 'machine' in August

For anyone who thinks TV is already saturated with sports of every stripe, stay tuned.

Here comes Fox with an in-your-face challenge to ESPN — a 24-hour sports cable network called Fox Sports 1, set to launch Aug. 17.

"ESPN, quite frankly, is a machine," Fox Sports executive vice president Bill Wanger said Tuesday in announcing the venture. "They have very consistent ratings, obviously huge revenue. We're coming in trying to take on the establishment."

The new network will be available to 90 million homes.

"We like our position," ESPN spokesman Josh Krulewitz said. "We have always had vigorous competition so there is really nothing substantially new here. Others are, however, beginning to recognize what we have long known: the power of live sports, especially in light of technological advances, is substantial and brings tremendous value in today's entertainment landscape."

Fox has rights to college basketball and football, NASCAR, soccer and Ultimate Fighting Championship for the channel. Starting in 2014, FS1 will start broadcasting Major League Baseball games.


Golf McIlroy calls walking off 'not right thing'

Rory McIlroy told Sports Illustrated that he made a mistake by pulling out of the Honda Classic midway through the second round.

The world's No. 1-ranked golfer had played his first eight holes in 7-over par and informed playing partners Ernie Els and Mark Wilson that he was quitting after hitting his second shot into a pond on his ninth hole.

McIlroy blamed his withdrawal on pain from an impacted wisdom tooth. The 23-year-old from Northern Ireland said he knew within an hour of walking off that he'd made a "reactive decision."

"What I should have done is take my drop, chip it on, try to make a five and play my hardest on the back nine, even if I shot 85," McIlroy said. "What I did was not good for the tournament, not good for the kids and the fans who were out there watching me. It was not the right thing to do."

McIlroy told SI he expects to have his lower right wisdom tooth extracted following the U.S. Open in June. According to tour rules, a player may withdraw because of injury or other disability. McIlroy's dentist sent a letter to the PGA Tour on Monday describing McIlroy's condition with his wisdom teeth, SI.com said.

A judge in Dallas is ordering an auction company to hold on to a champion's green jacket from the Masters until ownership can be determined at trial. Dallas-based Heritage Auctions is selling the jacket won by Art Wall Jr. in 1959. Last month the club, which claims the jacket was stolen from there, was granted a temporary restraining order days before it was to be auctioned.


NBA

League to trot globe next pre-season

The NBA is going overseas for eight pre-season games in October, with stops in Europe, Asia and South America.

The Oklahoma City Thunder will open by playing Turkish team Fenerbahce on Oct. 5 in Istanbul. The Philadelphia 76ers follow a day later against Uxue Bilbao in Spain. The Thunder and 76ers then meet in Manchester, England. The Houston Rockets and Indiana Pacers face off in Manila, Philippines, and again in Taipei, Taiwan. The Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Lakers will play each other in Beijing and again in Shanghai.

In South America, the Chicago Bulls will play the Washington Wizards on Oct. 12 in Rio de Janeiro.

Paul Pierce had 18 points and 11 rebounds, and Avery Bradley scored 22 points to lead the Boston Celtics to a 109-101 win over the 76ers in Philadelphia. Kevin Garnett scored 18 points to help the Celtics continue their push up the Eastern Conference standings.


Soccer

Ronaldo gets winner against Man U.

Cristiano Ronaldo sent Real Madrid into the Champions League quarterfinals at the expense of former club Manchester United by clinching a 2-1 victory on Tuesday in Manchester, England.

The forward completed Madrid's comeback in the 69th minute to secure a 3-2 aggregate win after the Spanish champions took advantage of United being reduced to 10 men.

Madrid gifted United the opener at the start of the second half when Sergio Ramos turned the ball into his own net. But the game swung back in the visitors' favor in the 57th minute when Nani was sent off for a studs-up challenge on Alvaro Arbeloa. Madrid seized control of the last-16 match with two goals in three minutes, with Luka Modric netting a powerful equalizer in the 66th before Ronaldo tapped in the winner.


NFL

Packers let Jennings go free

The Green Bay Packers declined to use their franchise tag on Greg Jennings, meaning the star wide receiver will become an unrestricted free agent next week.

Jennings ranks in the top 10 on the all-time Packers reception list. Even though the team is about $22 million under the salary cap, spending top dollar on a receiver who turns 30 in September and missed 11 games the past two seasons could have been questionable. The Packers can still pursue Jennings as a free agent, but that would happen only if Jennings drew limited interest from other teams.

The Atlanta Falcons have signed running back Antone Smith to a two-year contract extension. Smith has only one carry in three seasons with the Falcons. Playing primarily on special teams, Smith appeared in 13 games in 2012 and had four tackles.

Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller has guaranteed that his team will win the Super Bowl next season. Miller said he made the assurance after the recent recovery of his cousin, who was involved in a serious automobile crash. "(Jeremiah) ... got in a wreck about a week ago and he just came out of a coma a couple of days ago," said Miller on ESPN Radio's The Herd With Colin Cowherd. "His first couple of words was, they asked him a couple of questions and, of all the stuff to remember, he remembered that his cousin played for the Denver Broncos and his name was Von Miller."


College Football

Big East schools to get $100 million

Big East football schools will get almost all of a $110 million pot in a deal that will allow seven departing basketball schools to keep the name Big East and start playing in their own conference next season, a person familiar with the negotiations says.

The football schools will receive about $100 million under the agreement, most of which will go to holdover members Connecticut, South Florida and Cincinnati. The basketball schools will receive $10 million, the Big East name and the right to play their conference tournament at Madison Square Garden.

Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner has been granted an extra season of eligibility because of medical hardship. The school says Gardner has two seasons of eligibility left. He played in three games in 2010 as a freshman before a season-ending back injury.

Gardner began last season as a wide receiver but started the final five games at quarterback. He'll be under even more pressure in 2013 as Michigan moves on without star Denard Robinson.


The last word

The Miami Hurricanes are 23-5 and poised to win the Atlantic Coast Conference, but they were an unknown last fall when Coach Jim Larranaga dropped in on a meeting of trustees. He recalls:

"I said, 'I'm the basketball coach. I don't know if you guys know that or not. But we're going to have perhaps the best season in school history.'"

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