Four-team playoff appears likely; BCS likely on way out
College football is on the verge of finally having a playoff, its own version of the Final Four. For the first time, all the power brokers who run the highest level of the sport are comfortable with the idea of deciding a championship the way it's done in just about every other sport. "Yes, we've agreed to use the P word," Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said.
They want to limit it to four teams. That's for sure. Now they just have to figure out how to pick the teams, where and when to play the games and what to do with the bowls. The new format would go into effect for the 2014 season.
As for the current Bowl Championship Series, it's on life support. Any chance that it survives past the next two seasons? "I hope not," Southeastern Conference Commissioner Mike Slive said Thursday.
BCS Executive Director Bill Hancock said the 11 conference commissioners will present a "small number" of options for a four-team playoff to their leagues over the next month or so at conference meetings. The commissioners will get back together in June and try to come up with a final version, and eventually the university presidents will have sign off on it. That would probably come in July.
Bobcats finish with worst record ever
The host Charlotte Bobcats couldn't even beat a Knicks team resting most of its starters, finishing with the worst winning percentage in NBA history after a 104-84 loss on Thursday night. The Bobcats' 23rd consecutive loss left them with a winning percentage of .106 (7-59) in the lockout-shortened season. The record was set 39 years ago, when the 1972-73 Philadelphia 76ers finished 9-73 (.110) in a full regular season.
■ John Lucas III scored a career-high 25 points, Joakim Noah had 13 points and 13 rebounds, and the host Chicago Bulls clinched the top overall seed in the NBA playoffs with a 107-75 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday night. Chicago will host Philadelphia on Saturday in the playoffs.
■ Paul Pierce scored all 12 of his points in the first half despite missing most of it with a sprained toe and former UK standout Rajon Rondo had 15 assists as host Boston closed the regular season with an 87-74 win over Milwaukee.
■ Playing without their Big Three, Miami suffered its worst defeat of the season at Washington, 104-70. The Heat, locked into the Eastern Conference's second playoff spot, rested LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh. Miami will open the postseason Saturday against the Knicks. Ex-UK star John Wall had seven points and 12 assists for the Wizards, who closed the season with their first six-game win streak since Nov. 11-21, 2007.
■ Ben Uzoh had 12 points, a career-high 12 assists and 11 rebounds for his first career triple-double, and the host Toronto Raptors routed New Jersey 98-67.
Watson 6 shots back at Zurich Classic
Ken Duke and Cameron Tringale — both winless on the PGA Tour — topped the Zurich Classic leader board at 7-under 65 on Thursday, leaving defending champion Bubba Watson six strokes back at TPC Louisiana in his first tournament since winning the Masters. Steve Stricker, Ernie Els, Daniel Chopra and Chris Stroud were a stroke back at 66. Second-ranked Luke Donald opened with a 73.
■ Victor Dubuisson of France overcame tough scoring conditions to shoot a 4-under 68 and take a two-shot lead after the first round of the Ballantine's Championship in Seoul, Korea. Cold weather and a fierce wind made for high scores at Blackstone Golf Club, with only 17 of the 156 players in the European Tour event finishing under par. Paul Casey was among a group of five players at 2 under.
■ Jennifer Rosales birdied five of the first seven holes on the back nine and finished with a 5-under 67 on Thursday in the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic for a share of the first-round lead with Katie Futcher, Lindsay Wright and Caroline Hedwall.
■ Javier Ballesteros, the son of late golf great Seve, played in a professional tournament for the first time Thursday on the same course where his father made his pro debut. The 21-year-old Ballesteros entered the Spanish tour event at the Sant Cugat club in Barcelona as an amateur. He shot a 5-under 65 in the first round and trails the leader by three shots.
Pro Bowl might be a no-go next year
The Pro Bowl could be suspended next year, two people familiar with discussions said Thursday. Commissioner Roger Goodell, among others, expressed concerns about the quality of play after January's game, and the league has been holding talks with the players' union about the future of the all-star game. The people spoke on condition of anonymity because the talks were not being publicized.
Bengals' Maualuga settles assault case
A judge dismissed an assault charge against Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Rey Maualuga on Thursday after learning the dispute was settled in mediation. He still faces possible punishment from the NFL under its personal conduct policy. Maualuga was charged with misdemeanor assault after an employee at a downtown bar told police that the middle linebacker punched him in the face on Feb. 5. The case was referred to mediation.
Fine lands job with Israeli team
Former Syracuse assistant basketball coach Bernie Fine has a new job. The 66-year-old Fine was hired as a consultant by the Maccabi "Bazan" Haifa franchise of the Israeli Basketball Super League. The team made the announcement Thursday. Fine will be based in the U.S. and will consult on player personnel decisions and help in the search for a new coach. Fine, who coached at Syracuse under Jim Boeheim for just more than 35 years, was fired in November after two former team ball boys accused him of sexually abusing them more than 20 years ago. Fine has denied the allegations and has not been charged.
Series at Vandy up next for Bat Cats
The Kentucky baseball team travels to defending Southeastern Conference champion Vanderbilt for a three-game series this weekend. Game times are 7:30 p.m. Friday, 3 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday.
Fans send racist comments after loss
Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis and the Boston Bruins are scolding hockey fans who let loose with a burst of racist comments directed at Joel Ward after the black Canadian player scored an overtime goal that won their playoff series for the Caps late Wednesday. Soon after, disappointed fans posted their reaction on Twitter, hurling the n-word at Ward. The Bruins said in a statement they were disappointed by the insults and, "these classless, ignorant views are in no way a reflection of anyone associated with the Bruins organization."
The last word
Budd Bailey of the Buffalo (N.Y.) News, on the allure of being the "coach-in-waiting" behind new SMU basketball coach Larry Brown:
"Anyone waiting for Brown to leave a job usually doesn't have long to wait."