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Sports briefs, Nov. 23, 2011


Texans place Schaub on IR, sign Clemens

HOUSTON — Texans quarterback Matt Schaub was placed on injured reserve Wednesday, ending his season, and the team signed quarterback Kellen Clemens.

Schaub hurt his right foot in Houston’s win over Tampa Bay on Nov. 13. He met with several doctors, including a specialist in Charlotte, who determined he’ll need season-ending surgery on the Lisfranc injury.

“We held out hope and he went down there and he met with the doctor this morning very early,” coach Gary Kubiak said. “I hurt for him, because he was having a Pro Bowl season. But he will be back and he will play at a high level for a very long time.”

Matt Leinart will start for Houston (7-3) at Jacksonville (3-7) on Sunday. Clemens becomes the backup and rookie T.J. Yates, a fifth-round pick, is No. 3 on the depth chart.

Looking to reach the playoffs for the first time in franchise history, the Texans have a two-game lead in the AFC South with six to play.

Hawaii coach won’t discuss point-shaving

HONOLULU — University of Hawaii coach Greg McMackin told reporters after Wednesday’s practice that he’s been asked not to comment on allegations that some players have been involved in point-shaving.

The university said Tuesday the admissions office received an anonymous letter Nov. 3 accusing unnamed players of intentionally playing poorly to affect the final score as part of a gambling scheme. Honolulu police and the NCAA were notified after the university received the letter, but police have said there isn’t enough information for a criminal investigation.

McMackin directed questions to university spokeswoman Lynne Waters, who wouldn’t comment Wednesday on whether the university would conduct a probe. On Tuesday, she declined to say whether the anonymous letter referred to current members of the football team or incidents alleged to have happened in previous years.

Also on Wednesday, the NCAA said it was “extremely concerned” by the allegations and has been in contact with the school since early this month.

“We take any allegation of point shaving very seriously as it is a crime that threatens two core NCAA principles — the well-being of student-athletes and the very integrity of intercollegiate sport,” a statement said.

When asked about preparing for Saturday’s home game against Tulane, McMackin said the team has faced challenges before.

“It’s just another form of adversity,” he said. “I really believe in these guys. I love these players, I love the coaches, and a lot of people are going through adversity in our world. I’m a teacher. I’ve had to teach through adversity to the team more than I’ve had to (in the past).”

Warriors receiver Jeremiah Ostrowski said the allegations won’t affect the team’s play.

“Individually, it has nothing to do with any of us as players,” he said. “We all know that we aren’t a part of it, so really it’s no distraction. We just have to maintain focus.”

The Warriors won 10 games in 2010 but have five wins and six losses this year with two games left in the regular season. The Warriors were 5-3 overall and tied for second place in the Western Athletic Conference at 3-1 when UH received the letter.

They’re 3-7-1 against the point spread and have failed to beat the spread in nearly two months. The team hasn’t beaten the spread since its win at Louisiana Tech on Oct. 1. Warriors are 0-5-1 against the spread in last six games.

Hawaii needs to win its final two regular-season games to qualify for the Dec. 24 Hawaii Bowl. After Saturday’s Tulane game, the Warriors host BYU on Dec. 3.

Lawyers for Schultz, Curley seek records from AG

HARRISBURG, Pa. — Lawyers for two Penn State administrators charged with perjury and with failing to properly report suspected child abuse want prosecutors to turn over material to help them prepare for their preliminary hearing next month.

Attorneys for athletic director Tim Curley and former university vice president Gary Schultz wrote to state prosecutors Tuesday to seek grand jury testimony and other information related to their cases.

They’re seeking corroboration of statements by assistant coach Mike McQueary that he told Schultz and Curley he witnessed former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky sodomizing a 10-year-old boy in the football team showers nine years ago.

The lawyers say that corroboration is required to prove perjury. They also want any information showing McQueary and Sandusky socialized together after the 2002 incident.

The attorney general’s office declined to comment.

Haynesworth has no ill will toward Titans

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tampa Bay’s Albert Haynesworth says he is returning to Tennessee with no ill will toward the Titans.

He’s now with his third team since leaving the franchise that drafted him and says he’s learned the hard way a big payday may not be worth the hassle.

“I’m going into free agency, I’m almost thinking that all the other teams are kind of alike, and they just want to bring somebody in of a high caliber that they’re going to kind of play to their strengths,” Haynesworth said Wednesday in a conference call. “That doesn’t necessarily mean it. A lot of times, it’s a business and not every team, but some teams are just going to bring you in to sell tickets.

“So guys got to definitely be careful for that and before you go and think it’s going to be greener grass on the other side, really look back where you played all your ball and see if you maybe can work something out with them.”

Haynesworth turned down a reported four-year deal for $32 million with Tennessee in July 2008 before playing his seventh and final season with the Titans. He then signed a $100 million deal with Washington with $41 million guaranteed. The Redskins traded him to New England in July after two seasons highlighted by poor production and a running battle with Washington coach Mike Shanahan last year.

The Patriots waived him earlier this month, and the Bucs, who had offered Haynesworth $42 million guaranteed when he was a free agent, claimed him. Now the Bucs (4-6) visit Tennessee (5-5) on Sunday.

This will be his second game back in Tennessee since he left, though he had only one tackle in very limited play in a Redskins’ overtime win last season.

Haynesworth said he read where Titans general manager Mike Reinfeldt said the difference between their offer and Washington’s was about 20 percent. The tackle said if that were true, he’d still be wearing Tennessee blue.

Titans fullback Ahmard Hall watched Haynesworth at his best in 2007 and 2008 when the defensive tackle went to two Pro Bowls motivated to become the highest-paid defensive player in the NFL. He thinks Haynesworth has had this game circled on his calendar, which could be bad for the Titans because the tackle plays so well when he has a reason.

Haynesworth’s best season as a pro was in 2008 when he had 51 combined tackles and 8.5 sacks. He has barely topped that with the past three seasons combined with 37 tackles in 2009 with 4 sacks for Washington followed by 13 tackles and 2.5 sacks in 2010. This season, he has nine tackles with no sacks.

“It’s a mentality, it’s motivation,” Hall said of Haynesworth’s play. “He hadn’t lost the talent. He hadn’t lost the talent. He’s the same guy that he was here. A fact of him probably not being motivated to do it anymore. This game is mental. I know that’s a cliché. Everybody hears it. It’s 90 percent mental, 10 percent physical. But it is. If you’re not motivated to do it, you’re not going to get it done.”

Haynesworth was motivated Nov. 13 when the Bucs lost to the Houston Texans. He had five tackles and fell on Matt Schaub’s foot at the goal line, possibly leading to the injury that ended the quarterback’s season Wednesday when Houston placed him on injured reserve. Haynesworth said he does love to hit Schaub and graded himself as playing all right.

“He actually screamed like normal,” Haynesworth said of Schaub during that play.

Haynesworth said he feels much more comfortable in the 4-3 that the Bucs run, a defense that allows him to disrupt and be aggressive rather than sit back and fill space. He said he wishes he had taken Tampa Bay’s offer instead of Washington’s in 2009. He also hopes he doesn’t hear too many boos Sunday when two of his children should be in the stands watching.

Tampa Bay coach Raheem Morris said Haynesworth has fit in quickly.

“He has played decent,” Morris said. “He went out there the first week and had eight tackles and did a nice job for us and created some disruption, played 47 snaps or whatever the case may be. Then the following week he went out there and made some disruption and played pretty tough against the world champs, and hopefully he can get out there and play well and put a couple more games together where he is playing well like he is right now.”

Hall knows Haynesworth well enough that he hopes not to run into the 6-foot-6, 350-pound tackle in the hole.

“If I do, I’ll probably cut him or something like that,” Hall said.

Ex-Florida coach says no offer at Ohio State

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Despite numerous reports saying he’s all but set to become Ohio State’s next football coach, Urban Meyer said Wednesday that is not the case.

“I have not been offered any job nor is there a deal in place,” the former Florida coach said in a statement released through ESPN, where he is a college football analyst. “I plan on spending Thanksgiving with my family and will not comment on this any further.”

Several websites, TV stations and The Columbus Dispatch have reported that Meyer has reached an agreement in principle with Ohio State and, barring any last-minute problems, will be introduced as the Buckeyes’ coach next week.

People within the athletic department and close to the team told The Associated Press the job has not been offered to Meyer and nothing has been completed. They spoke on condition of anonymity because the coaching search is supposed to be confidential. Athletic director Gene Smith declined to comment Wednesday.

Ohio State, under interim coach Luke Fickell, plays at No. 17 Michigan on Saturday. Fickell, who some reports have said will be retained on Meyer’s staff, declined to address the story, which has been percolating for days.

“No. I won’t,” he said Wednesday. “It’s not about that. I’m going to have enough respect for this football game to make sure it’s about this football game. I don’t think this is the time and the place.”

Speaking briefly to reporters, he was asked if he knew if a decision on a new coach had been made yet.

“I know there’s a game at noon on Saturday,” he said.

Meyer is from Ashtabula and was a graduate assistant at Ohio State under Earle Bruce in the 1980s. He grew up an Ohio State fan and has said he has a portrait of legendary Buckeyes coach Woody Hayes hanging prominently in his home.

In addition to winning national titles in Florida in 2006 and 2008, he has also been a head coach at Bowling Green and Utah and worked as an assistant at Notre Dame, Colorado State and Illinois State.

He announced in December 2009 he was stepping away from coaching because of health concerns, but quickly changed his mind. After taking a leave of absence, he returned to the sidelines for the 2010 season and then retired again in December.

Alabama coach Nick Saban said he would welcome Meyer back into the coaching fraternity.

“Urban Meyer is a very good coach, he’s a good teacher. He’s good for young people,” Saban said on the Southeastern Conference coaches conference call this week. “If coaching is in his heart, I think that’s what he should do.”

Saban said he understood why Meyer had apparently changed his mind about returning to coaching.

“As you go through life and you do things and you make choices and decisions about what you do — and I know his involved circumstances around his health — but still you learn about yourself in everything you do,” Saban said. “As you learn these things, sometimes things change in terms of what his direction is. I think everybody has to do that, and I don’t think anybody should be criticized for that.”

Jim Tressel was pressured to resign on May 30 after 10 years as the coach of the Buckeyes. His downfall came about when it was learned that he knew that several of his players had accepted cash and tattoos from ta tattoo parlor, the focus of a federal drug-trafficking investigation. Ohio State is awaiting NCAA penalties stemming from several violations.

Fickell, a defensive assistant coach for nine years, was promoted to head coach.

In a season with NCAA sanctions looming, several players suspended and injuries to important players, the Buckeyes have gone 6-5 — their worst season since Tressel went 7-5 in his first season in 2001. Should the Buckeyes lose at Michigan on Saturday, the 6-6 mark would be their worst since John Cooper went 6-6 in 1999.

The speculation about Meyer has been making the rounds for weeks.

One of the top football recruits in Ohio for next fall, defensive end Adolphus Washington from Cincinnati’s Taft High School, committed to Ohio State on Tuesday. Asked at his news conference who he thought would be coaching the Buckeyes next season, he said, “I believe Urban Meyer. I hope so.”

Return of Harrison gives Colts respite

INDIANAPOLIS — Marvin Harrison is coming back to Indianapolis on Sunday to be inducted into the team’s Ring of Honor.

For the Colts, the ceremony couldn’t come at a better time.

The league’s only winless team is trying to avoid its first 0-11 start since 1986 this weekend, and seeing the franchise’s career receiving leader will give some of Harrison’s ex-teammates a respite from all the talk about Andrew Luck and the chase of the perfectly imperfect season, 0-16.

Fans remember Harrison most for three plays — a twisting TD catch at New England, a one-handed catch at Tennessee and the playoff game against Denver, when the untouched Harrison got past three Broncos defenders and scored.

Sproles helping Saints already prolific offense

METAIRIE, La. — Darren Sproles says he never expected to be such a central figure on an offense that could go down as the most prolific in Saints history.

Drew Brees says he can’t name a better free-agent pickup in the NFL this year than the speedy, versatile, 5-foot-6 running back. Sproles is among the Saints’ leading rushers and receivers, not to mention their best return man.

New Orleans leads the NFL in offense, averaging 436.9 yards and on pace for 6,990 yards. That would rank second in NFL history, behind only the 2000 St. Louis Rams (7,075).

Sproles has 348 yards rushing, averaging of 6.8 yards per carry. He’s caught 60 passes for 448 yards. He has five offensive touchdowns.

The Saints host the New York Giants on Monday night.

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