NHL is moving forward with Seattle expansion bid
By STEPHEN WHYNO
AP Hockey Writer
Wednesday, October 3
NEW YORK (AP) — The NHL is moving forward with plans to expand to Seattle.
Commissioner Gary Bettman said Tuesday the Board of Governors’ executive committee recommended proceeding with Seattle’s expansion application, with an eye on voting to approve the league’s 32nd franchise in December. The recommendation came a few hours after key stakeholders presented their case to the committee and hit it off enough that Seattle could be awarded a team two months from now.
“The notion is have the board vote on expansion,” Bettman said. “And assuming, as I think everybody is, that it would be approved — I don’t want to be presumptuous of the board’s prerogative — but everything seems to be on track.”
It was the best possible news that could have come out of the meetings for proponents of the NHL in Seattle. Bettman agreed with Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan that the preference is for the team to begin play in the 2020-21 season, and that’s still a very real possibility as long as renovations to KeyArena in downtown Seattle proceed as scheduled.
“I’m very confident we’re going to be able to move forward and get what we need from the NHL and the team and stick to the schedule so we have hockey in 2020,” Durkan said. “They know we want it in 2020 and (the league would) like to have it in 2020, too, if we get the team.”
When the board next meets Dec. 3-4, Bettman expects a full report on Seattle expansion and said the goal is to for the governors to vote at that time, with 24 of 32 needed for approval. It’s conceivable the board votes to give Seattle the green light for 2020 contingent on the arena with the option to push things back to 2021 if necessary.
Approval seems assured at this point. Bettman said the endorsement by the nine-owner executive committee “speaks volumes,” and it seems unlikely the board will turn down a $650 million expansion fee for the opportunity to expand to the U.S. Pacific Northwest, provide a natural geographic rival for the Vancouver Canucks and balance the Eastern and Western conferences at 16 teams each.
“It looks good,” Vancouver owner Francesco Aquilini said. “It’s exciting. We want a team in Seattle. It’s great for Vancouver. It’s great for the league. It’s eventually going to happen. KeyArena is going to be built. So I think it’s imminent.”
After meeting with the executive committee for well over an hour, Durkan, Seattle Hockey Partners President and CEO Tod Leiweke, majority owner David Bonderman did not want to do a victory lap yet.
“It’s been a long time coming and we can be patient,” Leiweke said.
Tod’s brother, Tim, Hollywood producer Jerry Bruckheimer and fellow minor owner David Wright were also part of the contingent that made what Bettman called an “excellent” presentation.
“With the mayor’s help, what we tried to get across was Seattle is ready for a team, we got potentially a facility that will get built, a partnership with the city and away we go,” Bonderman said. “All we need is a franchise.”
The NHL had been at 30 teams since 2000 when it decided in 2016 to expand to Las Vegas. The Golden Knights began play a year ago and made a stirring run to the Stanley Cup Final in their inaugural season.
That process began with a season-ticket drive the league approved in the winter of 2014 to see if Las Vegas would be a viable hockey market. Seattle sold 10,000 season-ticket deposits in 12 minutes, and team officials say they now have 32,000 as excitement builds for the return of a major professional winter sports team in the biggest U.S. market without one.
The ticket numbers, a plan to renovate KeyArena and a video showcasing the benefits of Seattle expansion were all part of the presentation at the league office. What did not come up in that meeting was the status of the collective bargaining agreement, which the owners or players could choose in September 2019 to terminate effective Sept. 15, 2020.
Bettman downplayed the buzz about a potential 2020 work stoppage and said arena construction was a bigger hindrance to a 2020 start for Seattle.
“They have a lot of work to do initially,” Bettman said. “They’ve got to stop using KeyArena, there’s some demolition, they’ve got to dig a bigger hole, they’ve got to put the steel in. Once that’s all accomplished … we’ll have a better sense. But everybody’s goal is 2020 if it can be accomplished. If it’s not, then we’ll do it in ‘21.”
Follow AP Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SWhyno
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College Football Picks: October begins with 14 unbeatens
By RALPH D. RUSSO
AP College Football Writer
Wednesday, October 3
The arrival of October in college football means non-conference game are mostly done, with some notable exceptions involving independents, late-season rivalries and those mid-November cupcakes that have become a Southern staple.
Conference play usually means familiar opponents, tighter games and a higher probability for favorites losing. The season’s second month begins with 14 unbeaten teams. Broken down by conference, they look like this:
SEC — 4 (No. 1 Alabama, No. 2 Georgia, No. 5 LSU, No. 13 Kentucky).
American — 3 (No. 13 Central Florida, South Florida, Cincinnati).
ACC — 2 (No. 4 Clemson, No. 23 North Carolina State).
Big 12 — 2 (No. 7 Oklahoma, No. 9 West Virginia).
Big Ten — 1 (No. 3 Ohio State).
Pac-12 — 1 (No. 21 Colorado).
Independent — 1 (No. 6 Notre Dame).
By the end of October, that number will be down to 12 at most. Since every conference now plays a championship game, there cannot be more than seven undefeated teams on Dec. 3, the College Football Playoff’s selection Sunday. Only the SEC managed to get through the first month with the possibility of a matchup of unbeatens in its title game.
Among the unbeaten, LSU, Notre Dame and Kentucky face tricky road trips this week, while Colorado and N.C. State are home for potentially tough divisional games. The picks:
No. 1 Alabama (minus 35) at Arkansas
Tide has been outscored 28-17 in the fourth quarter. Clearly, those third- and fourth-stringers need a lot of work … ALABAMA 52-10.
Vanderbilt (plus 26) at No. 2 Georgia
Bulldogs have the No. 1 defense in the SEC (4.35 yards per play allowed), but the fewest sacks (five). That’s odd … GEORGIA 49-21.
Indiana (plus 25) at No. 3 Ohio State
A few times each season, the Hoosiers get frisky with a highly ranked team but still lose … OHIO STATE 38-17.
No. 4 Clemson (minus 17) at Wake Forest
QB Trevor Lawrence is expected to play against the 102nd-ranked pass defense in the country … CLEMSON 48-21.
No. 5 LSU (minus 2½) at No. 22 Florida
Tigers have won four of five and six of eight in the annual crossover series. Six of those games were decided by one score … LSU 23-20.
No. 6 Notre Dame (minus 5½) at No. 24 Virginia Tech
Irish won’t face another ranked opponent until at least mid-November if at all … NOTRE DAME 31-21.
No. 7 Oklahoma (minus 7½) vs. No. 18 Texas at Dallas
We can all agree this game will definitively determine whether Texas is, indeed, back. … OKLAHOMA 35-29.
No. 8 Auburn (minus 3) at Mississippi State
Two offenses looking for answers … MISSISSIPPI STATE 20-17, UPSET SPECIAL.
Kansas (plus 28) at No. 9 West Virginia
Mountaineers have won four straight against KU, all by at least three scores … WEST VIRGINIA 49-17.
No. 10 Washington (minus 21) at UCLA
Bruins will be fortunate to score a touchdown … WASHINGTON 31-6.
SMU (plus 24) at No. 12 UCF
Knights have converted 62 percent of their third downs, tops in the nation … UCF 56-24.
No. 13 Kentucky (plus 5) at Texas A&M
It’s the Bear Bryant Bowl. The legendary coach did stints at Kentucky and A&M from 1946-57. The only two times the Wildcats and Aggies played (1952-53), Bryant was coaching Kentucky. He later coached Alabama … KENTUCKY 25-23.
Utah (plus 5) at No. 14 Stanford
Utes are third in the nation in defense (4.03 yards per play) and 96th in offense (5.33 ypp) … STANFORD 24-17.
Maryland (plus 17½) at No. 15 Michigan
First of four straight opponents for the Wolverines that currently have winning records … MICHIGAN 38-17.
Nebraska (plus 20) No. 16 Wisconsin
Badgers have won six of seven meetings since the Huskers joined the Big Ten and nothing sums up Nebraska’s recent problems better than that … WISCONSIN 42-21.
Florida State (plus 13) at No. 17 Miami
Hurricanes snapped a seven-game losing streak to the ‘Noles last season with a dramatic comeback. This year, the ‘Canes get to flex a little … MIAMI 31-14.
Northwestern (plus 11) at No. 20 Michigan State
WiIdcats have beaten the Spartans the last two seasons … MICHIGAN STATE 28-14.
Arizona State (plus 2½) at No. 21 Colorado
Sun Devils RB Eno Benjamin ran for 312 yards against Oregon State, or 29 more yards than he had on the season coming into the game … COLORADO 28-24.
Boston College (plus 4½) at No. 23 NC State
Wolfpack could set up a huge game at home against Clemson on Oct. 20 coming off an open date … BOSTON COLLEGE 31-28.
Iowa State (plus 10) at No. 25 Oklahoma State
Cowboys have won six straight meetings but the last three have been by seven points or fewer … OKLAHOMA STATE 31-17.
Missouri (plus 2) at South Carolina — DABomination4
Bowl eligibility could be at risk for the Gamecocks with a loss, and that is definitely not what South Carolina fans were expecting this season … MISSOURI 34-30.
Tulane (plus 7) at Cincinnati — MrCatsPatrick
Bearcats (5-0) trying to become bowl eligible for first time since 2015 … CINCINNATI 28-18.
Iowa (minus 6) at Minnesota — Jake_Burroughs
Hawkeyes are seventh in the nation in defense (4.29 yards per play) and 71st in offense (5.78 ypp) … IOWA 16-7.
San Diego State (plus 14½) at Boise State — 24themoney
Broncos might not be able to afford another loss if they want to lock down a New Year’s Six bowl bid … BOISE STATE 31-21.
Syracuse (minus 4) at Pittsburgh — SportsMasterDan
Two surprise teams; one (Syracuse) surprisingly good and the other (Pitt) surprisingly bad …PITT 31-28.
Last week: 19-4 straight; 12-11 against the spread.
Season: 89-22 straight; 59-51-1 against the spread.
Upset specials: 3-2 (straight up).
Best bets: 2-3 (against the spread).
Follow Ralph D. Russo at www.Twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP and listen at https://www.podcastone.com/AP-Top-25-College-Football-Podcast
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Kurt Warner’s son emerges as Nebraska walk-on wide receiver
By ERIC OLSON
AP College Football Writer
Tuesday, October 2
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Kade Warner had a pretty good role model when it came to learning patience and perseverance.
The son of Kurt Warner, whose rise from humble beginnings to the Pro Football Hall of Fame is well documented, was a star receiver in high school in suburban Phoenix but attracted no serious recruiting attention.
He walked on to Nebraska at the invitation of the previous staff last year, broke his hand three days into fall practice and sat out as a redshirt. After Mike Riley was fired and Scott Frost was hired, Kade stewed over what role, if any, there would be in a fast-paced offense for a wide receiver who admittedly is not fleet of foot.
Kade need not worry anymore. He found out late last week he would start against Purdue, and this week he’s listed No. 1 on the depth chart for the game at No. 16 Wisconsin on Saturday night.
The next step, he said, is to create his own identity.
“There are some perks,” Kade said of his last name, “but obviously on everything you see I’ll always be Kurt Warner’s son. There’s a chip on my shoulder trying to get that part of my name not erased, but so I’m just Kade Warner. He’s a vital part of me getting here. I’ve got to respect that, and I wouldn’t be here without him.”
Adrian Martinez targeted Kade Warner four times, three in a row, in the 42-28 loss to Purdue. He caught back-to-back short passes late in the first half before getting overthrown. Martinez missed him badly with a ball in the third quarter.
“He is ‘Mr. Consistent.’ I think if you would have asked us about him back in spring ball we would say that he’s a guy that knows what he’s doing, a guy that we can count on out there,” Martinez said. “I can rely on him to catch the ball, to run the right route, to block his guy.”
Warner’s best attributes are his hands and toughness. Asked how many seconds it takes for him to run the 40-yard dash, he said: “I told the team 4.5 and they all laughed at me. I’m not a 4.5. I’m fast enough. I’ll say that.”
Warner’s back story isn’t as dramatic as his father’s, but it’s similar. Kurt didn’t get drafted after playing quarterback for Northern Iowa, so he spent time in the Arena Football League and NFL Europe before signing with the St. Louis Rams in 1998. He played in three Super Bowls with two franchises, won one of them, was voted NFL MVP twice and Super Bowl MVP once.
Kade said his dad throws to him when he’s back home in Scottsdale, Arizona, and he catches balls for quarterbacks his dad trains.
Arizona Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald is Kade’s idol. Fitzgerald was Kurt Warner’s teammate and is a close friend of the Warner family, and he’s glad to give Kade drills and pointers.
“I try to model my game after him because of how well he uses his body and his hands, and his work ethic,” Kade said. “He’s best in the game at looking over his shoulder, going up and grabbing it or making great catches. He’s been a big help.”
Warner’s 241 career catches for Desert Mountain High are an Arizona 11-man football record, and the 6-foot-1, 210-pounder was a two-time all-state selection.
His initial thought was to walk on at nearby Arizona State. That plan changed after he visited Nebraska at the request of Blair Tushaus, a former Desert Mountain assistant who was a graduate assistant for Riley.
“I loved the last coaching staff, the environment, the fans, the stadium, everything,” Kade said. “I love the Big Ten environment a lot. It’s their pro football. All that, a culmination, I loved it and wanted to come here and have loved it ever since.”
MLB attendance down 4 percent as 6 ballparks set lows
By RONALD BLUM
AP Baseball Writer
Wednesday, October 3
NEW YORK (AP) — Cincinnati catcher Tucker Barnhart could hear the difference at Great American Ball Park, one of six major league stadiums that set record lows for attendance this year.
“It’s pretty hard to not notice it when you can hear the light towers buzzing,” he said.
Major League Baseball’s average attendance dropped 4 percent to 28,830, its lowest since 2003 after 14 consecutive seasons topping 30,000.
Baltimore’s Camden Yards, Chicago’s Guaranteed Rate Field, Minnesota’s Target Field, Miami’s Marlins Park and Pittsburgh’s PNC Park also drew their smallest attendance since opening as part of a ballpark boom. In a season of unusually cold and wet weather, 17 of the 30 teams experienced drops.
Major League Baseball attributed the decrease primarily “connected to the historically bad weather we faced back in the spring” and noted the percentage drop decreased markedly after May 1.
Total attendance fell to 69.63 million from 72.67 million last year and a high of 79.5 million in 2007. The average is down 14.4 percent from its high of 32,785 in 2007, the last year before the Great Recession. It had not been this low since 28,013 in 2003.
“I think it is a concerning number, and a think a lot of factors go into it in today’s climate, particularly when fans have as many options as they have in where they’re spending their entertainment dollar,” players’ association head Tony Clark said.
On-field success and attendance usually are linked.
“When teams rebuild, it always has an attendance effect,” baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said.
The NL champion Los Angeles Dodgers set a club record, Colorado drew its biggest crowds since 2001, World Series champion Houston since 2007 and the New York Yankees since 2012 — including a new Yankee Stadium record 23 sellouts.
But advance sales were down for several teams that jettisoned veterans and went with youth. Under the five-year labor contract agreed to before the 2017 season, limits were placed on spending for international amateurs following restrictions that began in 2012 on amateurs who reside in the U.S. More cost certainty for controllable players may have encouraged more teams to rebuild at the same time.
“If our system encourages teams to be either all in or all out, there are some things worth discussing and we look forward to having those conversations,” Clark said.
The Orioles (47-115), White Sox (62-100), Marlins (63-98) and Reds (67-95) had among the poorest records, while the Twins had a losing season at 78-84.
“People have a lot of decisions to make in their life about what they’re doing with their commitments and money and what have you. It’s up to us to give them something they want to embrace,” Baltimore manager Buck Showalter said. “Attendance is down. It’s our fault, not theirs.”
But the Pirates contended until late in the season and finished 82-79, yet fell by more than 450,000 to 1.65 million, the smallest for the franchise since 1996 at Three Rivers Stadium. Perhaps the cause was a lingering effect from trading away stars Andrew McCutchen and Gerrit Cole the previous offseason.
Cleveland fell by 120,000 even though the Indians won their third straight AL Central title.
Despite a 90-72 record and third-place finish in the AL East, Tampa Bay was 29th in the major leagues at 1.15 million. The Rays and Oakland Athletics are the last two teams seeking new ballparks.
“I know it’s a hassle getting to the ballpark. I get it. Even if we’d have won 100 games, who knows if it would have been different?” Rays outfielder Kevin Kiermaier said.
In its first season under new chief executive office Derek Jeter, the Marlins drew 811,000 after trading star slugger Giancarlo Stanton to the New York Yankees, the low for a franchise that started in 1993 and the fewest home fans for any major league team since the 2004 Montreal Expos in their last season before moving to Washington, D.C. The Marlins said they changed their counting method to include only tickets sold. Still, the vast amount of empty seats is unsustainable.
“That’s something we need to improve,” Jeter said. “Where we’re starting from, the only way we can go is up.”
Bad weather played a factor in the falloff, especially earn in the season. The average of 26,867 through April was down 9.4 percent from 29,654 through the first full month in 2017. There were 54 postponements, the most since 1989, and 26 of them were higher-drawing weekend games. Manfred said 35 games in April had a temperature of 40 degrees or less and a quarter of the games were played in 50 degrees or under.
“We got ourselves in a hole that I’ve never seen since I’ve been in baseball,” said Manfred, who first got involved in the sport as an outside counsel in 1987.
Still, he knows changes in the sport and the audience have to be examined constantly.
“All live entertainment is challenging because of changing habits,” Manfred said.
AP Sports Writer David Ginsburg and Associated Press writers Mark Didtler and Mark Schmetzer contributed to this report.
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BC-FBN—Browns-Peppers Conflicts, 1st Ld-Writethru,573
Self-defense: Browns’ Peppers taking heat from angry fans
AP Photo NYDD220
Eds: Updates with new lead, quotes, details. With AP Photos.
Browns defensive back Jabrill Peppers says he has stopped going out by himself in public after having confrontations with fans angry about his play. Peppers said some of the encounters have nearly gotten physical. A first-round pick in 2017, Peppers says he knows he has to play better to get fans to like him. The 23-year-old believes some of the backlash is because he played at Michigan and now is in a city loaded with rival Ohio State fans.
By TOM WITHERS
AP Sports Writer
BEREA, Ohio (AP) — Jabrill Peppers has started playing self-defense.
The Browns defensive back said Thursday — his 23rd birthday — that he has stopped going out in public by himself in downtown Cleveland following hostile confrontations with fans unhappy with the way he’s played.
Peppers said he has endured verbal taunts and some joking in the past, but that lately some of the encounters have nearly gotten physical.
“When you walk up on another man, that’s a hostile situation,” Peppers said following practice. “For me, I have way more to lose than the average guy. So it puts me in kind of a funky situation where I can’t even go get daily toiletries or things without having to worry about something like that.”
Peppers did not give any specifics about the altercations. However, on Wednesday he told the Elyria Chronicle-Telegram about an “aggressive” exchange in a drug store where “my boy had to pull me away one time.”
Peppers said he has been confronted numerous times and believes some of the grief he’s taken is because he went to Michigan and plays in a city where rival Ohio State fans are abundant.
“Sometimes it’s more so jokes, but as of late it’s kind of a little bit more different situation than just verbal,” he said.
Peppers also tried to clarify comments that Browns fans are “very, very wishy-washy.” The former Michigan star said he wasn’t referring to die-hard Browns fans, but rather to an overall environment that exits in Cleveland — and other cities.
“This is the NFL and that’s how it is,” he said. “Love you when you’re doing good, and they don’t when you’re not. We know we have to play better. Obviously, I wasn’t talking about the fans as a whole — just more so the environment of an NFL franchise. We understand the city of Cleveland loves their Browns and wants to see us get back to how it’s supposed to be.
“But that’s just the NFL. They love you when you’re doing good or not so much when you’re not.”
Peppers said he has taken to covering up when he’s out shopping, but that hasn’t helped much.
“I don’t want to walk into a store with a hoodie on, that’s just bad manners,” he said.
The No. 25 overall pick in the 2017 draft, Peppers has not lived up to expectations and he knows that’s at the root of the backlash he’s getting from fans. He’s been moved around in Cleveland’s defense as the Browns try to figure out how to best use the 5-foot-11, 215-pounder who was one of the nation’s most impactful players in college but hasn’t had close to the same success as a pro.
Peppers has also struggled returning punts and kicks, and his lack of production has drawn the wrath of some Cleveland fans. He understands it’s up to him to change the narrative.
But despite the recent negative experiences, he has not soured on playing in Cleveland.
“I love the Browns. I love the city,” he said “I love how passionate the fans are and part of what I get is my fault.
“I’m not playing up to my potential and they see that as well, so you can’t fault the people for feeling how they feel. You just gotta take it with a grain of salt and do what you gotta do to get better.”
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