Kelly relishes Irish role as playoff ‘new kids on the block’
By CHARLES ODUM
AP Sports Writer
Friday, December 7
ATLANTA (AP) — Sitting beside Nick Saban, Lincoln Riley and Dabo Swinney at a gathering of the College Football Playoff coaches, Notre Dame’s Brian Kelly referred to his team as “the new kids on the block.”
The description fit. Saban has guided No. 1 Alabama, the defending champion, to its fifth straight playoff. Swinney and Clemson are making their fourth straight appearance. Riley’s Oklahoma team is in the playoff for the third time in four years.
The Fighting Irish are newcomers, but the playoff is an old dream for one of college football’s most familiar names.
“It’s something we certainly look toward each and every year,” Kelly said Thursday at the College Football Hall of Fame.
Finally, Kelly has his chance when No. 3 Notre Dame (12-0) plays No. 2 Clemson (13-0) in the Cotton Bowl. Alabama (13-0) will play No. 4 Oklahoma (12-1) in the Orange Bowl.
Are these college football’s best four teams?
Georgia, which made it all the way to last year’s national championship game, took a 35-28 loss to Alabama in the Southeastern Conference championship game. Following the game, Saban said he believed Georgia was one of the nation’s best four teams.
In his final vote in the coaches poll, however, Saban voted for the four teams that actually made the playoff. Georgia was No. 5 in his poll.
Saban stuck by his vote — and his Georgia claim — on Thursday night.
“I do think they were one of the top four teams in the country, but I didn’t think they were going to get in the playoff with two losses,” Saban said, adding that he voted for the best four teams he thought had a chance to be included in the playoff.
“What this really indicates is the SEC championship game was a playoff game,” he said.
Asked a follow-up question, Saban wouldn’t say Georgia should be one of the playoff teams.
“I’m not saying that,” he said. “I’m just saying, I’m saying what I said, and I’m not changing what I said. When we played Georgia I thought they were one of the best four teams in the country. That doesn’t mean that they’re any better than the teams that are here, and I voted for the four teams that are here. Is that correct? OK.”
The loss to Alabama dropped Georgia (11-2) to No. 6 in The AP poll. The Bulldogs will play No. 14 Texas in the Sugar Bowl.
Meanwhile, Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray edged Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa in AP Player of the Year voting released Thursday. Murray has a chance to give the Sooners two straight Heisman Trophy winners, following Baker Mayfield.
“To have a chance to have guys back to back, you really never dream it,” Riley said.
More AP college football: https://apnews.com/Collegefootball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25
Harbaugh says he’s staying at Michigan, not returning to NFL
By LARRY LAGE
AP Sports Writer
Monday, December 10
ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — Jim Harbaugh insisted he is staying at Michigan.
Responding to speculation he’s returning to the NFL, the former San Francisco 49ers coach told ESPN he is not going anywhere.
“This is a choreographed message that comes up at this time every year before signing day,” Harbaugh told ESPN. “It’s people spreading messages to further their own personal agenda. But I’m on record right here, right now: I’m not going anywhere. I’m staying at Michigan. We have big plans here, and there’s a lot we want to accomplish.”
Former Ohio State star receiver and Fox Sports analyst Cris Carter has said Harbaugh is a potential candidate to lead the Green Bay Packers and Cleveland Browns.
After Harbaugh and the eighth-ranked Wolverines were celebrated Sunday at a banquet, he didn’t want to discuss the topic much at a previously scheduled news conference to promote the team’s appearance in the Peach Bowl.
Why did he address it with ESPN?
“To make a statement of it, to go on record and not be asked anymore after that by people who like to yap and ask questions,” Harbaugh told reporters.
Michigan won 10 games this season for the third time under Harbaugh but dropped to 0-4 against the rival Buckeyes and fell out of the Big Ten and national championship races. The Wolverines face No. 10 Florida on Dec. 29 in the Peach Bowl.
Harbaugh, who is 38-13 at Michigan, is in the fourth year of a seven-year contract with a compensation package that gives him more than $7 million per year. He returned nearly four years ago to the school where he was a star quarterback after going 44-19-1 with the 49ers, winning the 2012 NFC championship.
“I’m so happy that he’s our coach,” Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel said. “And I look forward to him coaching, as I said before, until he retires from Michigan and ends his career here.”
Manuel said it is a credit to Harbaugh that his name is often mentioned to fill openings in the NFL.
“Jim is one of the greatest coaches — college or pro,” Manuel said.
Wolverines quarterback Shea Patterson said he hasn’t thought about whether he will stay in school or pro, adding he plans to talk about his future with Harbaugh and his family.
Follow Larry Lage on Twitter at www.twitter.com/larrylage
Accuser upset over no jail time for ex-Baylor student
By RYAN TARINELLI
Tuesday, December 11
DALLAS (AP) — A woman who says she was raped by a former Baylor University classmate is upset over a plea bargain that will spare him from a jail sentence, saying the justice system is “severely broken.”
Judge Ralph Strother’s decision on Monday to accept the plea deal for Jacob Walter Anderson marked at least the third time the Texas judge has approved probation for men accused of sexually assaulting Baylor students.
The woman said she was plied with a drink of punch at a 2016 party and became disoriented. She said Anderson led her behind a tent and repeatedly raped her while she was gagged and choked.
“He stole my body, virginity and power over my body,” the woman said in court, according to a family spokesman.
Anderson had been indicted on sexual assault charges, but the deal allowed him to plead no contest to a lesser charge of unlawful restraint. A no-contest plea means a person does not admit guilt but will offer no defense.
The former fraternity president agreed to probation, counseling and a $400 fine. He will not be forced to register as a sex offender.
Anderson was expelled from Baylor after a university investigation.
“I not only have to live with his rape and the repercussions of the rape, I have to live with the knowledge that the McLennan County justice system is severely broken,” the woman said in a statement. “I have to live with the fact that after all these years and everything I have suffered, no justice was achieved.”
Anderson’s attorneys declined to comment.
District Attorney Abel Reyna defended the plea deal in October, saying prosecutors “achieved the best result possible with the evidence at hand.” He said evidence did not support the allegation that the victim may have been drugged.
Strother, the judge, said Monday that in making the decision, he had the benefit of arguments filed by attorneys on both sides and a background report assembled by a probation department. He said many of the comments he saw on social media or in emails were “not fully informed, misinformed or totally uninformed.”
Last year, Strother sentenced a man to probation after he pleaded guilty in the 2013 rape of a former Baylor student. The judge ordered the man to pay for the woman’s counseling. The man told police the woman had been drunk, according to an affidavit.
The judge earlier this year sentenced a man to probation and 30 days in jail for the sexual assault of a former Baylor student. The man, who was a student at the time and told authorities the sex was consensual, was allowed to serve the jail time on the weekends.
Strother did not return a call from The Associated Press seeking comment.
The alleged assault by Anderson happened around the same time that Baylor was engulfed in a sexual assault scandal surrounding its football team in 2016. It resulted in the firing of coach Art Briles and the demotion of the university’s president, former Whitewater special prosecutor Ken Starr. The school’s athletic director was disciplined by the school and resigned.
The university has since settled several lawsuits from women who said their allegations of sexual assault by football players were mishandled or ignored.
The outrage over Anderson’s plea deal also mirrors reaction to the case involving former Stanford University swimmer Brock Turner, who was convicted in 2016 of sexually assaulting an intoxicated woman outside a fraternity party. A judge in that case rejected a prosecutor’s demand for a lengthy prison term and instead sentenced Turner to six months in jail. He was released after serving three months.