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Archive for Friday, January 16, 2009

Lions turn to Titans aide

January 16, 2009

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— The Detroit Lions agreed on a four-year deal Thursday with Tennessee defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz to be their coach.

Schwartz will attempt to lead a turnaround for the NFL’s first 0-16 team. The Lions fired Rod Marinelli two weeks ago and interviewed several candidates, including Dolphins assistant head coach Todd Bowles.

Schwartz will be introduced at a news conference today at Ford Field.

The 42-year-old Schwartz just finished his eighth season as the Titans’ defensive coordinator and his 10th on their staff. He interviewed for a second time with the Lions on Monday.

“After an extensive search that included several highly qualified coaches, we are thrilled that Jim Schwartz will become our team’s head coach,” team president Tom Lewand said in a statement. “(General manager) Martin (Mayhew) and I believe that Jim’s qualifications and vision will lead this organization on the field toward our goal of becoming a championship football team.”

The chance to lead an infamous team only seemed to motivate Schwartz to get the job. “I don’t shy away from a challenge,” he said during a news conference earlier this week.

Detroit interviewed Schwartz after the regular season and had to wait for Tennessee to be eliminated from the playoffs to speak with him again. The Titans lost to Baltimore on Saturday.

The Lions also showed some interest in Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, Vikings defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier and Chargers defensive coordinator Ron Rivera.

Before being hired by Tennessee, Schwartz spent three years on the Baltimore Ravens’ staff.

NFL

Saints hire coordinator

New Orleans — The New Orleans Saints hired Gregg Williams to fill their vacant defensive coordinator’s post, hoping he’ll shape up a unit that allowed 339.5 yards per game. Williams, who spent three seasons as a head coach in Buffalo earlier this decade, spent 2008 as the Jacksonville Jaguars’ defensive coordinator.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

USC QB to enter draft

Los Angeles — Southern California quarterback Mark Sanchez will skip his senior season to enter the NFL Draft.

Sanchez and Georgia’s Matthew Stafford, another junior coming out early, are considered the top two quarterback prospects in the draft. Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford of Oklahoma decided to return to school.

Sanchez is coming off a spectacular Rose Bowl against Penn State. The fourth-year junior went 28-for-35, setting a Rose Bowl record by completing 80 percent of his passes. He threw for 413 yards and four touchdowns, and also ran for a score in the Trojans’ 38-24 victory.

Florida’s Harvin leaving

Gainesville, Fla. — Florida standout Percy Harvin is taking his speed, elusiveness and durability concerns to the NFL. The junior playmaker said Thursday he was leaving school early to turn pro, but Gators linebacker Brandon Spikes will return for his senior season.

TENNIS

Seles selected for hall

Newport, R.I. — Monica Seles was elected to the International Tennis Hall of Fame on Thursday, honored for a career in which she won nine Grand Slam singles titles and returned to the tour after being stabbed while playing a match.

Also elected were 1972 French Open champion Andres Gimeno, Association for Tennis Professionals co-founder Donald Dell, and the late Robert Johnson, who pioneered the integration of tennis. The induction is July 11.

GOLF

Singh has knee surgery

Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. — Three-time major champion Vijay Singh had surgery on his right knee and is expected to miss the next three weeks on the PGA Tour. Singh, the defending FedEx Cup champion, had athroscopic surgery Wednesday in Jacksonville to repair torn cartilage.

Maruyama takes Sony lead

Honolulu — Shigeki Maruyama took a step back from obscurity on the PGA Tour with a 5-under 65 in the wind and occasional rain Thursday for a one-shot lead in the Sony Open. Maruyama knocked Geoff Ogilvy off the top of the leaderboard for the first time this year. Ogilvy opened with a 66. Boo Weekley, Brian Gay and Webb Simpson also were at 66. Former Kansas University golfer Gary Woodland shot a 68 and was tied for 13th.

BASEBALL

Colon, White Sox agree

Chicago — Free agent Bartolo Colon, a former Cy Young Award winner and two-time All-Star, agreed Thursday to a $1 million, one-year contract with the Chicago White Sox. A two-time 20-game winner, Colon could earn an additional $2 million based on innings.

Padres add Eckstein

San Diego — David Eckstein and the Padres agreed Thursday on a one-year contract, and the 2006 World Series MVP is expected to play second base for San Diego. Eckstein, who turns 34 on Tuesday, was the starting shortstop on two 100-win teams during his three seasons in St. Louis. He won World Series titles with the Cardinals (2006) and Anaheim Angels (2002).

Dodgers cut Andruw Jones

Los Angeles — Andruw Jones, a $36.2 million bust with the Los Angeles Dodgers, was released by the team Thursday. Heralded as the answer to the Dodgers’ power-hitting void when he signed his rich two-year contract in December 2007, Jones was injured part of last season and was mostly ineffective otherwise, hitting only .158 with three home runs and 14 RBIs in 75 games.

Radomski appears at court

Washington — Convicted steroids dealer Kirk Radomski appeared Thursday at the federal court house in Washington where a grand jury is being asked to determine whether Roger Clemens should be indicted on charges of lying to Congress. A former New York Mets’ clubhouse attendant, Radomski was sentenced to five years’ probation after pleaded guilty to distributing steroids and laundering money.

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