Two Georgia players arrested after bar fight

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ATHENS, Ga. -- Two Georgia Bulldogs football players are facing misdemeanor disorderly conduct charges after they were arrested following an incident at a downtown Athens bar early Sunday morning.

Athens-Clarke County Police public information officer Geoffrey Gilland told ESPN that officers arrested senior receiver Tyler Simmons and freshman cornerback Tyrique Stevenson after they were identified as subjects allegedly fighting with bar employees at the Cloud Bar.

Stevenson, an early enrollee from Miami, was arrested at 2:42 a.m. ET and released on $1,000 bail.

Simmons, from Powder Springs, Georgia, was treated for minor injuries at a local hospital and cited.

Bulldogs wide receiver Tyler Simmons caught nine passes for 138 yards and two touchdowns, and rushed for 131 yards and two touchdowns in 2018. Photo by Jeffrey Vest/Icon Sportswire

"Both were charged with disorderly conduct," Gilland said. "Both were transported to the jail. When they arrived at the jail, Simmons complained about an injury. The jail will not process someone if they are injured. Our officer transported Simmons to a local hospital. After he was treated, he received a citation for disorderly conduct."

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Who should fight for the UFC's vacant bantamweight title?

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TJ Dillashaw relinquished the UFC bantamweight belt last week after the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency and the New York State Athletic Commission informed him of an "adverse analytical finding" in a drug test dating back to his most recent fight, which took place in January in Brooklyn. He was given a one-year suspension and fined for his actions. The news sent MMA fighters, fans and media into a frenzy as the top of the division was now up for grabs.

The UFC is now on ESPN and ESPN+. Subscribe to ESPN+ to get: Exclusive live UFC events, weigh-ins and more; Ariel and the Bad Guy; Dana White's Contender Series; and more exclusive MMA content.

UFC flyweight champion Henry Cejudo has long stated he wants to move up a weight class to become a double champion. But what would that mean for the 125-pound division? Bantamweights Marlon Moraes, Aljamain Sterling and Pedro Munhoz, among others, all have legitimate claims to a title fight.

Who should fight for that vacant championship? ESPN's MMA contributors -- Brett Okamoto, Ariel Helwani, Jeff Wagenheim, Eric Jackman, Eric Tamiso, Andrew Davis and Chamatkar Sandhu -- give their answers.

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Betting favorites made history in round of 32

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The betting favorites in the NCAA tournament went on a historic run over the weekend, leaving a Sweet 16 bracket full of blue-blood chalk.

For the first time since the tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985, all 16 betting favorites won in the round of 32, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

Three times, in 2009, 1995 and 1991, the favored team had won 15 of 16 games in the round of 32, but this was the first year in which the chalk went undefeated.

Action was heavy during the first weekend of March Madness at U.S. sportsbooks. Here's a look at some of the notable bets, from a bet that netted a $1 profit to a 14-cent wager that landed almost $1,500.

It's NCAA tournament time, but is it the best time to bet? One professional bettor shares his thoughts on the difficulty of picking games in March.

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Rick Pitino has interesting response to question about Alabama job

The Alabama Crimson Tide are looking for a new head basketball coach now that Avery Johnson is on his way out with a settlement. Naturally, former Louisville coach Rick Pitino has been mentioned among the potential replacements.

When asked about the chatter, Pitino chose to once more proclaim he never did anything improper at Louisville (or anywhere else), rather than directly respond to that line of questioning.

“The only thing I can say with my broken record is that in my 30+ years as a head coach I’ve never cut a dirty deal or gave any improper benefits to any athletes,” Pitino said, per Adam Zagoria of the New York Times (on Twitter). “All you have to do is ask my over 30 assistants who have become head coaches or any player that has played for me.”

Pitino exited his job at Louisville in disgrace in 2017. During his watch, Louisville’s basketball team was involved in an escort sex scandal. Then he was implicated in a federal investigation into student athletes who received bribes, and he’s been accused of taking a ton of money from Adidas as part of that whole ordeal.

Needless to say, any school that even entertains Pitino is going to have some serious questions to answer, which is why it’s not all that surprising that he felt the need to answer a question about a job opening by defending his past.

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Crimson Tide Softball takes Two of Three at Texas A&M

“You can’t win them all.”
~ Connie Mack

No. 3 Crimson Tide finally succumbed to Lady Loss, dropping the finale of a three-game set in College Station. But fret not. This is softball. It is near impossible to go through a college softball undefeated. Despite the defeat, the real highlights came in the first two games in which Alabama pummeled the Aggies into a pair of run-rule games.

FRIDAY

Alabama 13 Texas A&M 3 (6 innings)

The balls were flying out of the park in the opener as four different Tide players went yard. Bailey Hemphill had a three run shot in the opening frame. Claire Jenkins smoked a solo four-bagger two innings later. Merris Schroder led off the fifth with a moonshot. And Skylar Wallace rounded out the scoring with a 3-RBI round-tripper in the sixth. Bama collected 12 hits on the night with every starter getting at least one hit and one run. Montana Fouts got her 12th win in 5 innings pitched yielding only 3 hits, two runs and 10 strikeouts.

SATURDAY

Alabama 11 Texas A&M 1 (5 innings)

One way to keep Alabama from getting so many hits is walking them (11) and committing errors (3). Game 2 was another short affair with the game halted after 5 innings for the Mercy rule after the Tide battered the Aggies with 11 runs on only 5 hits. Alabama was the beneficiary of one earned and three unearned runs in the first. The Tide tallied up two more home runs, one by Schroder to lead-off the third inning and one by GUESS WHO! Hemphill who stroked a grand slam (her second of the season) later in the same inning. The Aggs managed to push one across in the fourth but this Crimson Tide team has an amazing aptitude for striking back in the next frame after a foe scores and did so again in the top of the fifth for their 11th run on the day. Schroder was 2 for 4 with 3 RBI, HR, and a stolen base. Sarah Cornell (W, 12-0) went 4 and a third innings with Krystal Goodman getting the last two outs.

* 33-0 is the best start by any school in SEC history.

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Jumbo Package: Avery Johnson is out. So, who’s it going to be?

Happy Monday, everyone. The softball team came up just short of the national record for consecutive victories to open a season, losing on a game three walk-off in College Station. The ladies sit at 33-1 with a consensus top five ranking, though the rest of the SEC schedule is daunting. As Roger already told you, baseball took one of three from an excellent Arkansas squad, and the Gym Tide placed third at the SEC Championships and will move on to NCAA regionals, seeding to be announced today.

Of course, most of the buzz surrounds the now officially open men’s basketball coaching position.

Do you go for another veteran looking to get back in the game, a Fred Hoiberg or Thad Matta? Do you go the alumni route with Iowa State’s Steve Prohm? Do you try to raise enough money (see above under “buyout”) to convince a major college coach with a good gig to move? That’s a hard thing to do in college football or basketball, unless you are talking a Jimbo Fisher compensation package? Do you play what is, for want of a better term, Mid-Major Roulette?

Are there any guarantees with “the guy at Buffalo” (Nate Oats) or “the guy at Wofford” (Mike Young) or “the guy at Liberty” (Ritchie McKay)? Would they adjust well to the SEC, or would there be a learning curve and a chance of being in the same boat four years from now?

It would certainly be nice to get someone who has some staying power. Seems like only yesterday that people were buckling their seat belts for the first time. Cecil seemed to tease the fanbase a bit on Twitter last night.

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Early reviews are good on a few newcomers

A third of the way through spring practice, some Alabama football newcomers are gaining the attention of onlookers and the Crimson Tide coaching staff. Alabama football has been in pads for only two sessions but there are only two more practice sessions before the first scrimmage of the spring. Much more will be learned on […] Alabama Football: Early reviews are good on a few newcomers - Bama Hammer - Bama Hammer - An Alabama Crimson Tide Community - News, Blogs, Opinion and more.
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Alabama Baseball Loses To Arkansas

The Alabama Crimson Tide had a mixed bag of play over the weekend when the hosted eighth ranked Arkansas at Sewell-Thomas Stadium. The Razorbacks won on Friday night by a 12-3 score before the Tide bounced back for a 10-0 whitewashing on Saturday. With the series on the line the Hogs bounced back and dispensed of the Tide 10-2. Bama falls to 19-6 overall and 2-4 in the SEC. Arkansas improves to 20-4, 5-1 in the SEC. The Hogs are a legitimate College World Series contender, with talent up and down the roster.

Game One: Lost 12-3

Friday night matched Arkansas ace Isaiah Campbell against the Tides Sam Finnerty. Both have been outstanding all year, but with different styles. Campbell is a big, strong, downhill thrower at 6’4” 235 pounds. In 30 innings entering the game he had walked only four batters and struck out 44. Finnerty is a savvy, veteran, and relies more on guile than on overpowering stuff. While Campbell touches mid 90’s with his fastball, Finnerty is more likely to sit around the 88-91 mph with his fastball.

In his two seasons as the Tide’s Friday night Finnerty you can almost always count on five to seven solid innings, with the team still in the game when he exists. On Friday night the Razorbacks had a different idea. Sophomore right fielder, Heston Kjerstad, a Freshman All American last season, touched Finnerty for a first inning home run to give the Hogs an early 1-0 lead. Things fell apart in the top of the second inning when Arkansas used five singles, a double, and a hit batter to plate six runs and put the game out of reach early. Finnerty was hit for two more doubles and one run in the third, before gutting his way through the fourth inning before leaving, on the wrong end of an 8-0 deficit.

In the bottom of the fifth the Tide looked to make a game of it when they loaded the bases on a John Trousdale single, a walk to Kolby Robinson, and a single by Kobe Morris. A long fly out by Joe Breaux ended the threat. Casey Cobb relieved Finnerty and ate four important innings up, saving the bullpen for the rest of the series. In his final inning of work, Cobb gave up a two run home run to Jacob Nesbit to stretch the lead to 10-0. Freshman Dylan Smith pitched the ninth for the Tide and was touched for two runs on three hits.

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Avery Johnson reportedly out as head coach at Alabama

Avery Johnson, who spent seven years as an NBA head coach with the Mavericks and Nets, is no longer the head coach at Alabama, tweets Jeff Goodman of Stadium. Johnson had reportedly been negotiating a separation agreement with the university since Thursday, and a deal was announced today.

Johnson was mentioned as a possible replacement for Tyronn Lue in Cleveland when Lue was let go in October. Johnson mentored Cavs rookie point guard Collin Sexton during his lone year with the Crimson Tide and may have interest in renewing that relationship in the NBA.

The Cavaliers have said they will search for a long-term head coach once the season ends, and it’s not clear if current coach Larry Drew will be considered for the job.

Johnson spent four years at Alabama, compiling a 75-62 record with one NCAA Tournament appearance. He is 254-186 as an NBA head coach and took the Mavericks to the NBA Finals in 2006.

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Alabama Basketball: Greg Byrne has complicated options in coach search

Alabama basketball is at another crossroad and Greg Byrne is faced with a complicated set of options in hiring the next head coach. Alabama basketball fans want Athletic Director Greg Byrne to hire a game-changer for the Crimson Tide. A coach who can transform Alabama basketball from a currently NCAA Tournament also-ran to a frequent Sweet […] Alabama Basketball: Greg Byrne has complicated options in coach search - Bama Hammer - Bama Hammer - An Alabama Crimson Tide Community - News, Blogs, Opinion and more.
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Tanaka? Paxton? Keuchel?! Handicapping Yankees' Opening Day starter

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TAMPA, Fla. -- All winter, it was practically a foregone conclusion who'd be starting Opening Day for the New York Yankees.

Then, about 15 minutes prior to Tuesday's spring training game against the Braves, it became dramatically less certain.

Although an MRI of Luis Severino's right shoulder came back that afternoon mostly positive, only revealing rotator cuff inflammation, the Yankees were still forced to sideline the right-hander. He won't be making his long-expected start at Yankee Stadium on March 28 after all.

Who will be pitching in his place? While a front-runner appears to be emerging, there are others perhaps worthy of consideration. Here's a rundown of potential Yankees Opening Day starters and the likelihood they'll be handed the ball to start the season. [Vote for your favorite option here.]

Not in contention: Severino, CC Sabathia

While Severino could land on the injured list for a short stint at the start of the regular season, the Yankees are expecting to make a similar move with Sabathia.

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Judge rules against NCAA in antitrust lawsuit

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A judge has ruled against the NCAA in a federal antitrust lawsuit, saying football and basketball players should be permitted to receive more compensation from schools, but only if the benefits are tied to education.

The ruling Friday night from U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken in Oakland, California, said the NCAA cannot "limit compensation or benefits related to education.''

The plaintiffs in the so-called Alston cases were seeking much more. Plaintiffs had asked the judge to lift all NCAA caps on compensation and to allow schools to provide benefits beyond a scholarship to college athletes.

The goal was to create a free market, where conferences set rules for compensating athletes, but this ruling still allows the NCAA to prohibit cash compensation untethered to education-related expenses.

The claim was against the NCAA and the 11 conferences that have competed in the highest level of college football.

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Sources: Gottfried directly linked to payments

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Court filings in a federal criminal case involving college basketball corruption link former NC State coach Mark Gottfried to being the first head coach directly connected to impermissible payments to players, sources told ESPN.

According to a disclosure from federal prosecutors, former NC State assistant Orlando Early's attorney said his client disclosed that Gottfried on two occasions gave him envelopes -- containing what Early believed was cash -- to deliver to star guard Dennis Smith Jr.'s trainer to ensure he signed with the Wolfpack in 2015.

Smith Jr.'s trainer, Shawn Farmer, was supposed to deliver the envelopes to Dennis Smith Sr., the father of the five-star recruit, who is now a point guard with the New York Knicks.

According to sources, the allegations concerning Gottfried were included in a sentencing memorandum filed Feb. 12 on behalf of former Adidas executive James Gatto, who was sentenced to nine months in federal prison on Tuesday.

The information concerning Gottfried, who is now coaching at Cal State Northridge, is redacted in the sentencing memo that is publicly available.

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Broncos propose alternative to trying onside kick

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NFL teams have proposed nine rule changes for 2019, including an intriguing alternative from the Denver Broncos to bypass the onside kick.

According to the Broncos' proposal, released Friday night by the NFL, each team would have one opportunity per game to remain on offense after a fourth-quarter score. Instead of kicking off, the team would line up at its 35-yard line for what is in essence a fourth down-and-15. If the team gains at least 15 yards, it maintains possession. If not, the defense takes over.

The NFL annually invites teams to propose rule changes, but the competition committee is charged with vetting and either endorsing or allowing them to stand on their own. Historically, owners defer substantial judgment to the committee, which is scheduled to meet later this month to finalize its recommendations for 2019.

Minnesota's Adam Thielen jumps on an onside kick in a game against the Eagles last season. A proposal by the Denver Broncos would provide teams with an alternative to the onside kick if approved by NFL owners. Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire

Votes from 24 owners are required to approve any rule changes. The Broncos' submission reflects the increased difficulty of onside kicks under new kickoff rules implemented last season. In 2018, NFL teams recovered only four of 52 onside kicks, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

The new Alliance of American Football (AAF), which has outlawed kickoffs, offers teams the chance to convert a fourth-and-12 from its 28 if it is down by 17 points or more in a game, or if it is trailing by any deficit with five minutes or less remaining in the fourth quarter.

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Nick Saban talked new faces and a missing one

After the first spring practice for Alabama football, Nick Saban talked about all the new faces and the glaring absence of one much-needed player. Alabama football fans have to wonder how badly will the 2019 Crimson Tide be snakebit again. Last season it was an abundance of injuries at outside linebacker. The 2019 season is […] Alabama Football: Nick Saban talked new faces and a missing one - Bama Hammer - Bama Hammer - An Alabama Crimson Tide Community - News, Blogs, Opinion and more.
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Saban says Alabama is lucky to have Sarkisian

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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Alabama coach Nick Saban took issue with the criticism offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian has faced for his brief time with the program during the 2016 season.

Sarkisian was initially hired as an analyst on staff but was elevated to offensive coordinator before the CFP National Championship when Lane Kiffin left abruptly to become the head coach at Florida Atlantic. Alabama lost to Clemson 35-31 in the title game after blowing a 10-point lead in the second half.

Not long after, Sarkisian surprised many when he left for the same position with the Atlanta Falcons. He was fired following the end of last season, and Saban brought him back to replace Mike Locksley, who became the head coach at Maryland.

Nick Saban came to newly hired assistant coach Steve Sarkisian's defense Friday, saying Alabama is lucky to have a guy who the Arizona Cardinals wanted as their offensive coordinator. Tom Pennington/Getty Images

"He did a really, really good job when he was here, and I have a tremendous amount of respect for what he did before he came here as an offensive coach," Saban said of Sarkisian, who was head coach at USC from 2014 to 2015, after Alabama's first day of spring practice on Friday. "And I don't think it's fair to criticize when he takes over a job one week before a game and has to go try to implement something because of the circumstance we were in.

"If you go look at the body of work at the Falcons, they were sixth in offense or whatever, so there has to be some level of expertise to allow them to do that. The players that I spoke to there really thought he did a good job and was a good coach."

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How will Arsenal and Man United respond?

W2W4 previews the weekend's Premier League action by highlighting its most compelling storylines ...

Man United and Arsenal nursing different hangovers

Arsenal and Manchester United are both dealing with European hangovers of a different nature. Arsenal will have a day fewer to prepare after a 3-1 loss to Rennes in the Europa League, but it's the Manchester United players who will probably be more exhausted ahead of their game on Sunday. After Wednesday night's miracle/VAR-assisted win in Paris, the energy must be drained from the bodies and minds of the United players. The remarkable effort required to defeat PSG will ultimately be worth it, but there are short-term consequences: specifically, how well they will recover for their next test, a trip to face Arsenal, particularly given the number of injuries they will still have to cope with.

ESPN+ is America's home for a host of professional soccer leagues from around the world, highlighted by Italy's Serie A, Major League Soccer, UEFA Nations League and English FA Cup. | ESPN+ schedule

ESPN FC's experts ranked the best men's players and managers in world football. Check it out.

On Feb. 8, a fire at an uninspected youth dorm at one of Brazil's highest-earning clubs killed 10 young players. How?

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Spring Practice kicks off in T-Town

Alabama football hit the practice field for the first time Friday and based on who did and did not take part, and at what position, there is interesting news. On Friday, the revamped Alabama football staff put the 2019 Alabama Crimson Tide through practice session No. 1 of the spring season. Due to the school’s […] Alabama Football: Spring Practice kicks off in T-Town - Bama Hammer - Bama Hammer - An Alabama Crimson Tide Community - News, Blogs, Opinion and more.
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Source: Bennett reunion with Patriots possible

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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- There could be a Bennett brothers reunion in New England, with Michael set to join the team via trade and Martellus contemplating a return to football.

The Philadelphia Eagles have informed Michael Bennett that they are planning to trade him to the Patriots, the defensive end told ESPN's Josina Anderson on Friday. With that trade set to be finalized, tight end Martellus Bennett is interested in coming out of retirement to join his brother in New England, a source told ESPN's Adam Schefter.

Adding Bennett gives the Patriots an affordable rotation piece, and they remain in position to make a strong offer to the younger Flowers.

The Eagles would receive a fifth-round pick in the 2020 draft and send Michael Bennett and a 2020 seventh-round pick to the Patriots, a league source told Schefter. Philly.com was first to report that a trade was close to completion.

Bennett played in 16 games (10 starts) last season and totaled nine sacks. He has 63 sacks over his 10-year career.

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LSU suspends Wade indefinitely amid FBI probe

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LSU has suspended men's basketball coach Will Wade indefinitely, the school announced Friday.

The decision comes a day after reports that FBI wiretaps intercepted telephone calls between Wade and aspiring business manager Christian Dawkins, in which Wade expressed frustration about his inability to close what he described as a "strong-ass offer" for a recruit.

"Recent media reports regarding Coach Will Wade are without question concerning to us all," read a statement from LSU president/chancellor F. King Alexander and athletic director Joe Alleva. "As such, we and university officials have taken deliberate and purposeful steps to fairly assess and adequately address the situation. As we have done since media reports first surfaced months ago, we are closely coordinating with the NCAA with every step. They have our full cooperation and we will continue to report to them all facts and information on this matter.

FBI wiretaps intercepted telephone calls between LSU coach Will Wade and aspiring business manager Christian Dawkins, in which Wade expressed frustration about his inability to close an offer for a recruit, sources told ESPN.

"All of us at LSU share the obligation to protect the integrity of this institution, as such we have suspended Head Coach Will Wade indefinitely until such time as we can ensure full compliance with the NCAA, as well as institutional policies and standards. Assistant coach Tony Benford will assume the duties of interim coach."

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