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Sports briefs for Jan. 8, 2013

By BDN Staff and Wire Service Reports, Special to the BDN

Bowdoin men’s soccer coach gains MLS post

BRUNSWICK, Maine — Bowdoin men’s soccer coach Fran O’Leary will be stepping down as head coach of the team to join Toronto FC of Major League Soccer, Bowdoin College announced in a press release on Tuesday.

On Monday, O’Leary accepted the position of assistant coach and director of player recruitment with Toronto FC. He will serve under new head coach Ryan Nelsen. Bowdoin will begin a national search for his replacement.

O’Leary came to Bowdoin in the summer of 2005 and led the Polar Bears to unprecedented success. The two best seasons in program history came under the Dublin, Ireland native, as the squad posted an 11-4-2 mark and an NCAA Tournament berth in 2009. They followed it up with an 15-2-4 mark in 2010, which included the team’s first-ever NCAA Tournament victory and appearance in the Division III Final Four.

Bucks fire head coach Scott Skiles

The Milwaukee Bucks announced Tuesday that Scott Skiles is out as the team’s head coach and assistant Jim Boylan will take over for the rest of the season.

Milwaukee is 16-16 this season and hosts the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday night.

“Scott and I met yesterday after practice and after some honest discussion, we both came to the conclusion that it was best to part ways,” general John Hammond said in team release.

Skiles was 162-182 in the regular season in four-plus years with Milwaukee. He took over in April 2008.

Boylan, 57, has been the lead assistant coach for the Bucks the past four seasons. He also took over for Skiles in Chicago when he was fired during the 2007-08 season.

Seahawks-Redskins draw big ratings for Fox

Fox Sports announced Tuesday that Sunday’s NFC wildcard playoff between the Seattle Seahawks and Washington Redskins was the most watched program on any network since NBC’s Olympics coverage on July 31 of last year.

Sunday’s game had a 21.5 rating and 36 share with 38.1 million viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research.

It was Fox’s third highest national rating for an NFC wild-card game and its second most-watched NFC Wildcard game ever, with only 2011′s Green Bay Packers-Philadelphia Eagles matchup drawing 39.3 million viewers.

Washington, D.C., led all markets with a 50.2 rating and 71 share. It was the Redskins’ first home playoff game in 13 years.

Cardinals promote Keim to GM

The Arizona Cardinals announced Tuesday that they promoted Steve Keim to general manager.

Keim, who has been with the Cardinals since 1999, was vice president of player personnel. He replaces Rod Graves, who was fired last week.

Keim, 40, started his Cardinals’ career as a regional scout and worked his way up through the organization. He was named director of college scouting in 2006, director of player personnel in 2008 and was given the vice president title last season.

Washington Redskins director of player personnel Morocco Brown was also interviewed for the job.

Keim was a two-time all-ACC offensive guard for North Carolina State and briefly played for the Miami Dolphins before returning to N.C. State as an assistant strength and conditioning coach and recruiting assistant. Then, he was hired by the Cardinals.

Arizona is still searching for a new coach since firing Ken Whisenhunt last week.

Jets fire offensive coordinator Sparano

NEW YORK — The New York Jets fired offensive coordinator Tony Sparano after a season in which the team gained the third-fewest yards in the National Football League and struggled with three quarterbacks.

The move was announced Tuesday during a news conference at the Jets’ training facility in Florham Park, N.J. Coach Rex Ryan said defensive coordinator Mike Pettine, who is interviewing Tuesday for the same job with the Buffalo Bills, and quarterbacks coach Matt Cavanaugh also wouldn’t be returning to the team.

The departures of Sparano and Pettine are the latest changes for the Jets, who fired General Manager Mike Tannenbaum on Dec. 31, a day after completing a 6-10 season. The Jets decided to retain Ryan, who is meeting with the media Tuesday for the first time since the last day of the season. Owner Woody Johnson said that Ryan’s job for 2013 is safe regardless of who replaces Tannenbaum.

Adam LaRoche, Nationals agree to terms

WASHINGTON — The Nationals and Adam LaRoche ended their offseason-long stalemate and agreed to terms on a two-year contract, according to a person familiar with the deal.

LaRoche, the reigning Gold Glove and Silver Slugger winner in the National League, accepted the two-year offer the Nationals had on the table since the late fall. LaRoche had been holding out for a three-year deal, but he could not find one in a market stifled by the draft pick compensation attached to him.

LaRoche will earn at least $24 million over two years, and the contract includes a mutual option for a third year worth $15 million. If the option is not picked up, LaRoche will receive a $2 million buyout.

Eagles to interview Lovie Smith

The Philadelphia Eagles announced that they will interview Lovie Smith for their head coaching job on Thursday.

Smith, 54, was fired by the Chicago Bears last week. The Bears finished 10-6 but missed the playoffs.

He coached the Bears from 2004-12. He had an 81-63 record, including three NFC North division championships and a Super Bowl appearance in the 2006 season.

He was the defensive coordinator of the St. Louis Rams for three seasons prior to joining the Bears.

The Eagles also plan to interview Indianapolis Colts offensive coordinator Bruce Arians, Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley and Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden.

Atlanta Falcons defensive coordinator Mike Nolan, Falcons special teams coordinator Keith Armstrong and Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy have been interviewed for the job.

Broncos RB McGahee back at practice

Injured Denver Broncos running back Willis McGahee returned to practice on Tuesday wearing a non-contact black jersey, according to the Denver Post.

It was the first day McGahee was eligible to practice since being placed on the team’s injured reserve/designated-to-return list with a torn medial collateral ligament and leg fracture. He sustained the injuries in a Week 11 victory over the San Diego Chargers.

While he can practice, McGahee is not eligible to play until the AFC championship, if the Broncos advance. They face the visiting Baltimore Ravens in the AFC divisional playoffs on Saturday.

In 10 games, McGahee ran for a team-high 731 yards with four touchdowns. Knowshon Moreno has filled in effectively for McGahee

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