'Status quo is off the table'as BCS mulls 4-team playoff
Bowl Championship Series officials met Wednesday for about eight hours to discuss overhauling how a champion is determined and possibly implementing a four-team playoff. It is the fourth such get-together this year, and they agreed it's time to start narrowing the field. They will reconvene Thursday and BCS executive director Bill Hancock said the 11 conference commissioners and Notre Dame's athletic director would like to have it down to a few clear choices.
"I think that's what everyone wants to do. Get down to two maybe three," Hancock said. "I think we're making good progress on that. I think we're going to make it." One thing is clear: "The status quo is off the table," Hancock said.
Stern weighed World Peace's past
David Stern said Wednesday the elbow that Metta World Peace used to give James Harden a concussion was "recklessly thrown" and the Los Angeles Lakers forward's history absolutely weighed into the suspension. The NBA commissioner suspended World Peace for seven games Tuesday, a penalty that could force him out of the entire first round of the playoffs. World Peace's past troubles include an 86-game suspension in 2004 for jumping into the stands at the Palace of Auburn Hills in the Detroit suburbs to fight fans. "In fact if it had been somebody that got tangled up and threw an errant elbow, would that have been different than this? You bet it would have been," Stern said. Harden passed the NBA-mandated tests required for him to return from the concussion, but the Thunder held him out of Wednesday's regular-season finale against Denver.
■ John Wall had 21 points and 13 assists as the Washington Wizards won their fifth straight to extend their longest winning streak since 2007, beating the host Cleveland Cavaliers 96-85 on Wednesday night. The former Kentucky star had 12 points, six assists and four steals in the third quarter, when he accounted for 24 of Washington's 28 points.
■ Kyle Korver scored 20 points to help the Chicago Bulls defeat the host Indiana Pacers 92-87 and inch closer to claiming the top overall seed in the NBA playoffs. The Bulls ended the game needing just a win over Cleveland on Thursday or a loss by the San Antonio Spurs to clinch the top seed.
■ J.J. Redick had six three-pointers and scored a career-high 31 points as the host Orlando Magic held off Charlotte 102-95, the Bobcats' 22nd consecutive loss.
■ Evan Turner scored a career-high 29 points and the Philadelphia 76ers got a win while resting some key players for the playoffs, beating the host Milwaukee Bucks 90-85. Former UK standout Jodie Meeks added 27 points for the 76ers.
Report: Strickland staying at UK
Kentucky Coach John Calipari said assistant coach Rod Strickland will not join Larry Brown's staff at SMU and that he will stay at UK, ESPN.com reported Tuesday. Calipari said his entire coaching staff will remain intact, including assistants Kenny Payne and Orlando Antigua.
■ Forty-three UK athletes were among 398 named Wednesday to the 2011-12 Winter Academic Honor Roll by the Southeastern Conference. The honor roll is based on grades from the 2011 spring, summer and fall terms. Twany Beckham, Terrence Jones, Darius Miller and Jarrod Polson of the UK men's basketball team, and Kastine Evans, Amber Smith and Keyla Snowden of the women's basketball team all made the list, which required a 3.0 grade-point average. Fourteen members of UK's men's swimming and diving team made the honor roll, along with 10 from the women's team. Six gymnasts and six from UK's rifle team also qualified.
Valenzula to resume riding career
Jockey Patrick Valenzuela plans to resume his riding career at Hollywood Park on Thursday after briefly retiring. The 49-year-old rider had called it quits in November, citing gall bladder surgery and weight issues. Valenzuela, whose career has been marred by suspensions for drug and alcohol abuse, has two mounts on opening day of the track's spring-summer meeting.
■ Liaison worked 6 furlongs in 1:12.80 over a track labeled as "good" under Shaun Bridgmohan after the renovation break on a sunny and mild Wednesday morning at Churchill Downs. The Kentucky Derby contender posted fractions of :12.60, :24.80, :37 and 1:00.80. "I liked his gallop yesterday," trainer Bob Baffert said.
■ Isn't He Clever, runner-up in the Sunland Derby and most recently eighth in the Arkansas Derby, was considered to be a possible Derby starter at number 21 on the graded stakes earnings list; however, trainer Steve Asmussen said Wednesday the 3-year-old gelded son of Smarty Jones will bypass the Run for the Roses.
Northwestern adds ex-Card Swopshire
Former Louisville player Jared Swopshire has transferred to Northwestern. Swopshire averaged 3.3 points and 2.8 rebounds as a senior last season after sitting out the previous year because of a groin injury that required surgery. He is graduating this spring and is transferring because Louisville does not have an open scholarship available. He will be eligible to play next season.
Ex-Bengal convicted of sex charges
Former Bengals linebacker Nate Webster was convicted Wednesday of sex-related charges involving the teenage daughter of a former assistant coach for the Cincinnati team. A jury in Cincinnati found Webster, 34, guilty of four counts of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor. Jurors found him not guilty of three other charges: gross sexual imposition, sexual battery and a fifth count of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor. Prosecutors say Webster had sexual contact with the girl in 2009 when she was 15 and threatened to harm her if she told anyone. Webster admits having sex with the girl the next year, when she was 16, the legal age of consent in Ohio, but denies that the sexual relations began earlier than that. Prosecutors said Webster could be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison.
Smith: Bristol changes 'exciting'
Flanked by billboards declaring "Fans Spoke ... We Listened," track operator Bruton Smith unveiled changes Wednesday to Bristol Motor Speedway that he believes will return the excitement to the once-beloved bullring. "We are modifying what we have, and I really believe we are doing the right thing," Smith said. "I didn't want to create a train wreck with what we are doing, so we are just modifying what we have. I think it's going to be a lot better than what it was, it will be exciting and we do think that we'll win over all of these race fans to our side on this. They are going to love it, and chances are we'll have a complete sellout here in August." A grinding process will remove the top lane from the concrete surface, and the progressive banking currently located in the corners will be knocked down. A 2007 repaving of the 0.533-mile oval widened the track's racing groove, which gave drivers enough room to race side-by-side and avoid the constant bumping and banging fans adored.
The last word
Chicago Cubs broadcaster Bob Brenly, on Marlins outfielder Mike Stanton now going by his given first name, Giancarlo:
"Being as he stands 6-foot-5 and weighs 245 pounds, I'll certainly call him anything he wants to be called."