Allen Park, Mich. New Detroit Lions coach Jim Schwartz made his first major staff hire Wednesday, bringing in veteran assistant Gunther Cunningham as defensive coordinator.
The two previously worked together as assistants on Jeff Fisher’s staff in Tennessee. Schwartz was defensive coordinator under Fisher this past season, when the Titans posted an NFL-best 13-3 record with a defense that ranked second in points allowed.
Cunningham, a 40-year coaching veteran on the college and pro levels, was Kansas City’s head coach from 1999-2000 and the Chiefs’ defensive coordinator in 1995-98 and from 2004 through this past season.
Holt tapped for Challenge
Kansas University linebacker James Holt will play in the Western Refining Texas vs. The Nation All-Star Challenge on Jan. 31.
The third annual game will take place at Sun Bowl Stadium in El Paso, Texas. Kickoff is set for 2 p.m.
Holt, an All Big 12 first-team selection by the Associated Press, earned Insight Bowl Defensive MVP honors after KU’s 42-21 victory over Minnesota.
Perez takes Hope lead
La Quinta, Calif. — Pat Perez shot an 11-under 61 on Wednesday to take a one-shot lead in the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic. Mike Weir and Bubba Watson opened the five-day tournament with 62s.
Former Kansas University golfer Gary Woodland finished the day at even-par with a 72 but there was nothing even about his day and par was a rarity on his scorecard.
Woodland started the day with a double-bogey on No. 1, had a triple-bogey on No. 10, had bogeys on three holes and had eight birdies. Woodland drove the ball 340 yards on No. 18 on his way to his third birdie in four holes. He carded just five pars. He is in an eight-way tie for 114th among the 128 golfers. Woodland had trouble driving the ball accurately, but saved himself by putting well.
Serena wins in Australia
Melbourne, Australia — Serena Williams ignored pain and frustration to reach the third round of the Australian Open with a 6-3, 7-5, victory today against Gisela Dulko.
Olympic champion Elena Dementieva improved her 2009 winning streak to 12 matches with 6-4, 6-1 win over Iveta Benesova.
Amelie Mauresmo, who won here and at Wimbledon in 2006, rallied for a 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 win over Britain’s Elena Baltacha.
Providence beefs security
Providence, R.I. — Providence College said Wednesday that it would beef up security at its men’s basketball games after the brother of a player walked onto the court to confront a referee during a game last weekend.
The college said uniformed Providence police officers will now be positioned behind team benches during games at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center and that more security guards would also be used.
Dodgers’ Kent to retire
Los Angeles — Jeff Kent plans to announce his retirement from baseball today at Dodger Stadium. Kent spent 17 years in the major leagues and leaves as the career home run leader among second basemen with 351, 74 more than Ryne Sandberg. He spent the last four seasons with the Dodgers, hitting .291 with 122 doubles, 75 homers and 311 RBIs. Los Angeles issued a statement Wednesday announcing the news conference.
Markakis deal finalized
Baltimore — Right fielder Nick Markakis’ $66.1 million, six-year contract was finalized Wednesday by the Baltimore Orioles. Markakis hit a career-high .306 with 20 homers and 87 RBIs for the Orioles last season.