Thursday Sports in Brief
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Urban Meyer agreed to become head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars on Thursday, leaving the broadcast booth and returning to the sidelines after a two-year absence that followed another health scare.
The 56-year-old Meyer was team owner Shad Khan’s top target, and Khan waited nearly a week to get it done. They met last Friday on Khan’s yacht in Miami, again Wednesday and one final time at the facility Thursday. Hiring the longtime college coach with three national championships would signify a new direction for a franchise that has lost 105 of 144 games since Khan took over in 2012.
Meyer went 187-32 in stops at Bowling Green (2001-02), Utah (2003-04), Florida (2005-10) and Ohio State (2012-18). He ranks seventh all time in collegiate winning percentage, trailing only Notre Dame legends Knute Rockne and Frank Leahy among coaches at major programs.
NEW YORK (AP) — The New York Jets reached an agreement in principle with San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh on Thursday night to hire him as their head coach.
Saleh replaces Adam Gase, who was fired by on Jan. 3 after going 9-23 in two seasons.
The 41-year-old Saleh emerged as the favorite for the Jets job when he was brought in for a second -- and this time, in-person -- interview Tuesday night, and those discussions extended into Wednesday. He was the first of the nine known candidates New York interviewed remotely to meet with chairman and CEO Christopher Johnson, team president Hymie Elhai and general manager Joe Douglas at its facility in Florham Park, New Jersey.
THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (AP) — Quarterback Jared Goff will start the Los Angeles Rams’ playoff game at Green Bay on Saturday, and John Wolford will be inactive.
Coach Sean McVay announced his decision Thursday. The Rams will take on the top-seeded Packers (13-3) at Lambeau Field.
Wolford started the Rams’ last two games, but the second-year pro was injured early in Los Angeles’ 30-20 win at Seattle last Saturday.
Goff has been the Rams’ starter for the past 4 1/2 years, but he sat out their regular-season finale after breaking his right thumb.
DETROIT (AP) — The Detroit Lions agreed to terms with Brad Holmes on Thursday to be their general manager.
Holmes led the Rams’ college scouting department for eight years and started his 18-year career with them as a public relations intern in 2003.
The Rams said Holmes will oversee the Lions’ football operations.
NEW YORK (AP) — Former Chicago Cubs and Boston Red Sox executive Theo Epstein has been hired by Major League Baseball as a consultant for on-field matters and will evaluate possible rule changes.
Epstein will work with baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred, the owners’ competition committee and analytics experts, MLB said Thursday,
MLB is considering possible rules changes such as expanding the designated hitter to the National League. The DH was adopted by the American League for the 1973 season and was used by the NL as an experiment last year during the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Four stars from Alabama’s national championship team, including Heisman Trophy finalist quarterback Mac Jones, are leaving early to enter the NFL draft.
Jones, wide receiver Jaylen Waddle, cornerback Patrick Surtain II and defensive lineman Christian Barmore announced their intentions to leave on Thursday — all are considered potential first-round picks.
DURHAM, N.C. (AP) — Duke head coach David Cutcliffe is giving up play-calling duties amid multiple changes in responsibilities for the Blue Devils coaching staff following a two-win season.
Cutcliffe took over play-calling last season as the Blue Devils sought an offensive spark, but said Thursday he needed to return to taking a broader program overview.
The school said Jeff Faris would shift from coaching tight ends to quarterbacks while taking over as primary in-game play-caller. Faris was named co-offensive coordinator along with Re’quan Boyette, who is moving from coaching running backs to receivers.
The only stars at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am this year will be the players.
The spike in COVID-19 cases in California led organizers to cancel the pro-am portion of a tournament with a long history of entertainers and celebrities mixing with the pros on one of the most picturesque courses in the country.
The tournament also is losing one of its golf courses. The 156-man field on Feb. 11-14 will play only at Pebble Beach and Spyglass Hill. It typically includes the Shore course at Monterey Peninsula Country Club.
TORONTO (AP) — Chris Armas has replaced Greg Vanney as head coach of Toronto in Major League Soccer.
Armas, 48, was head coach of the New York Red Bulls from July 6, 2018, until last Sept. 4.
Toronto general manager Ali Curtis was sporting director at the Red Bulls while Armas was an assistant coach there. Armas was hired as a Red Bulls assistant coach in 2015 and became head coach when Jesse Marsch moved to RB Leipzig in Germany.
MONTREAL (AP) — Montreal’s Major League Soccer team is dropping its Impact nickname.
The team said Thursday it will rebrand as Club de Foot Montreal and go without a formal nickname, in the style of European clubs.
The club replaced the Impact’s shield logo with a round black badge rimmed with blue and featuring a grey snowflake. Designer Justin Kingsley said the creative team wanted to hearken back to the 1976 Montreal Olympics and Expo 67.
CHICAGO (AP) — The Chicago Sky signed general manager and coach James Wade to a a four-year contract extension Thursday.
Wade is now under contract with the Sky through the 2025 season.
Wade has gone 32-24 (.565) in his two seasons with the Sky, the highest winning percentage in franchise history.
The UFC will no longer punish fighters for using marijuana in most cases, making a major change to its anti-doping policy.
The world’s largest mixed martial arts promotion confirmed Thursday that it will no longer worry about positive tests for carboxy-THC, the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, unless it believes a fighter used it intentionally to enhance performance.
All other cannabinoids derived naturally from marijuana are no longer prohibited substances, said Jeff Novitzky, the UFC’s senior vice president of athlete health and performance.
MIAMI (AP) — Men’s Olympic soccer qualifying in North and Central America and the Caribbean was rescheduled Thursday for March 18-30 in Guadalajara, Mexico, where the tournament originally was set to be played last spring.
The U.S., which failed to qualify for the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, is in Group A of CONCACAF with Mexico, Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic.
Honduras, Canada, El Salvador and and Haiti are in Group B.
TRACK AND FIELD
MONACO (AP) — Olympic hurdles champion Brianna Rollins-McNeal has been provisionally suspended for a doping rules violation, the Athletics Integrity Unit said Thursday.
Rollins-McNeal won gold in the 100-meter hurdles at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics. The 29-year-old American was also world champion in 2013.
The AIU said it charged Rollins-McNeal with “tampering within the results management process,” but did not specify details of the case.
VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) — Kathleen Heddle, a three-time Olympic rowing champion for Canada, has died. She was 55.
She died Monday at home in Vancouver, Rowing Canada said Wednesday in a statement on behalf of her family. Heddle had breast and lymph-node cancer followed by melanoma and brain cancer for six years.
Heddle and Marnie McBean won Olympic gold medals in 1992 and 1996 in the coxless pair and double sculls. Heddle also earned gold in the women’s eight in 1992. Heddle and McBean carried Canada’s flag at the closing ceremony of the 1996 Atlanta Games.