Troy eager to rise to prominence with Neal Brown at helm
Neal Brown was a 20-something assistant during much of Troy's most successful run at the major college level.
Now, the Trojans' 34-year-old head coach is trying to get them back to that kind of success.
"We've got to get back to playing with that edge that got us five conference championships and three bowl games," Brown said Monday at his introductory news conference.
"We're going to play fast, play hard and play physical."
The former Texas Tech and Kentucky offensive coordinator received a four-year deal worth $660,000 annually — with a rollover for a fifth year.
Brown replaces Larry Blakeney, who retired after 24 seasons and gave his successor his shot as a 25-year-old assistant who later became the youngest offensive coordinator in Football Bowl Subdivision.
Now, Brown is major college football's second youngest head coach.
He was a Troy assistant from 2006-09, serving as offensive coordinator for the final two seasons. Troy won four Sun Belt Conference titles during that span within its five-year reign over the league, and finished third nationally in total offense in his final season.
The Trojans haven't had a winning record since 2010, and are turning to Brown to change that.
Athletic director John Hartwell has high ambitions for the program. Part of that growth process will be some pricey upgrades, including a projected $28 million football facility planned for the North end zone.
"They're going to talk about Troy football in the same breath as Boise or Northern Illinois," Hartwell said. "They're going to say, 'We don't want to play them. They're going to kick our tails.'"
Brown spent the past two seasons at Kentucky, whose offensive numbers rose 11.3 points and 69.3 yards from the year before his arrival.
He said he was in no hurry to leave Mark Stoops' staff, but Brown and wife Brooke jumped at this opportunity.
"Troy is that special place for us," Brown said. "It's where I became a Division I football coach for the first time. It's where Brooke and I moved when we first got married. It's where our first child was born. It's where I became the youngest offensive coordinator in the country.
"When I saw coach Blakeney step down, I knew I wanted this job."
Blakeney attended the news conference with Brown and will stay on with the university in a fundraising role. "Coach will remain an active part of this program," Brown said. "I want him to be as involved as he wants to be."
Wall, Wizards cool off Heat in 107-86 win
Washington made its first seven three-pointers while holding Miami to 2-for-22 from beyond the arc for the game, and John Wall finished with 18 points and 13 assists to lead the Wizards past the Heat 107-86 on Monday night.
Rasual Butler scored 23, and Marcin Gortat added 15 points and 10 rebounds for the Wizards, who never trailed and led by 21 in the first half and 25 in the second.
The Heat came into the game leading the NBA in three-point shooting at 38.6 percent, but they made only 9.1 percent. They opened the game going 0-for-8 from three-point range.
■ Kawhi Leonard scored a game-high and career-high-tying 26 points and had a crucial three-point play in the final minute to help the San Antonio Spurs defeat the winless 76ers 109-103, extending Philadelphia's losing streak to start the season to 0-17.
The Spurs (13-4) played without stars Tim Duncan (rest) and Tony Parker (shoulder). Even without the duo's more than 31 points out of the lineup, San Antonio had little trouble dispatching Philadelphia for their eighth straight win.
Michael Carter-Williams had 24 points and 11 rebounds and Alexey Shved chipped in 19 points for Philadelphia. The 76ers also were short-handed, as leading scorer Tony Wroten (knee) missed his second straight game and former Kentucky star Nerlens Noel (hip) sat after getting injured in Sunday's practice.
Report: Mariners to sign Nelson Cruz
The Mariners are on the verge of landing the right-handed slugger they were seeking for the middle of their batting order.
Free-agent slugger Nelson Cruz and Seattle are nearing agreement on a contract, two people with knowledge of the deal told The Associated Press on Monday. The pair spoke on the condition of anonymity because the deal had not been finalized and was still pending a physical.
El Caribe in the Dominican Republic first reported the agreement, saying it was worth $57 million over for four years.
Seattle did not comment.
Cruz led the major leagues with 40 home runs last season and had 108 RBI for Baltimore, which signed him to an $8 million, one-year deal.
■ The Tampa Bay Rays have traded utilityman Sean Rodriguez to the Pittsburgh Pirates for a player to be named and cash. Rodriguez played every position except pitcher and catcher for the Rays during the past five seasons. He has a .225 career average and appeared in 96 games this year, batting .211 with 12 homers and 41 RBI.
High school girls basketball
Burbridge opens season with triple-double
Frankfort junior Brianna Burbridge had a triple-double — 29 points, 13 rebounds and 10 steals — in the Lady Panthers' 62-38 victory over Lexington Christian on the opening night of high school basketball season in Kentucky.
Hayley Strunk led the Lady Eagles with 19 points.
■ Freshman Mashayla Cecil had 16 points to lead host Paul Dunbar's over Walton-Verona 56-51.
■ Shelby Harmeyer, a freshman, had a career-high 28 points and 12 rebounds in Grant County's 72-63 win over visiting Pendleton County.
Silver Charm to retire at Old Friends
Former Kentucky Derby winner Silver Charm has returned to the state to live out his days as a celebrity at a retirement farm.
Old Friends farm founder and president Michael Blowen said the Racing Hall of Fame champion arrived at the Georgetown farm Monday.
The 1997 Derby and Preakness winner has spent about a decade in Japan, where the gray horse continued his stud career.
Blowen said the 20-year-old will be quarantined for about three weeks, as is customary. After that, he hopes the horse will be frolicking in his paddock. He said visitors will be able to take pictures of him and feed him carrots.
Blowen said the horse seemed to take to his new surroundings right away.
Silver Charm finished his racing career with $6.9 million in earnings.
■ Texas-Brownsville (22-0) eliminated Lindsey Wilson in the second round of the NAIA National Men's Soccer Championship 5-1. It was the first time the Blue Raiders (14-3-3) gave up five goals since 1995.
The last word
New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning said in defense of head coach Tom Coughlin:
"It's not his fault we don't finish games."