Five Big Ten teams accept bowl bids
CHICAGO, Dec. 3 (UPI) -- Five Big Ten Conference teams accepted bowl bids Tuesday, led By No. 11 Michigan, which will face No. 20 Florida in the Outback Bowl on New Year's Day in Tampa, Fla.
The other Big Ten teams to accept bowl invitations were No. 12 Penn State (9-3), Wisconsin (7-6), Minnesota (7-5) and Purdue (6-6).
Second-ranked Ohio State, which finished the regular season 13-0, is guaranteed a spot in the national championship game in the Fiesta Bowl. Iowa (11-1) is likely headed to the Rose Bowl, giving the 11-team league seven bowl teams.
The Wolverines (9-3), who finished third in the Big Ten behind Ohio State and Iowa, will be making their 27th consecutive bowl appearance and 34th in school history.
For the fourth straight year, Michigan will participate in a bowl game in Florida. The Wolverines played in the 1999 Orange Bowl before appearing in the Citrus Bowl the last two years.
Michigan suffered a 45-17 setback to Tennessee in last season's Citrus Bowl, falling to 17-16 all-time in bowls.
Florida (8-4), coming off a 31-14 loss to Florida State, will be making its 30th bowl appearance and 12th straight. The Gators will be playing on New Year's Day for the 10th consecutive year.
However, Florida needs a victory to extend its Southeastern Conference-record streak of consecutive nine-win seasons to 13.
The Gators beat Maryland, 56-23, in last year's Orange Bowl to improve to 14-15 in bowl appearances.
Penn State, which will be playing in its first bowl game in three years, accepted a bid to the Capital One Bowl in Orlando on Jan. 1. The Nittany Lions will face an undetermined team from the Southeastern Conference.
It will be the 31st bowl appearance in 37 years for the Nittany Lions under coach Joe Paterno, who has a postseason record of 20-9-1, the most bowl wins of any coach in NCAA history. Penn State is 23-12-1 all-time in bowl play.
Wisconsin was chosen to play in the Alamo Bowl on Dec. 28 in San Antonio. The Badgers will face an opponent from the Big 12 Conference, whose identity likely will not be announced until after Saturday's Big 12 championship game between Oklahoma and Colorado.
Under coach Barry Alvarez, Wisconsin is 6-1 in bowls, including Rose Bowl victories in 1994, 1999 and 2000. Overall, the Badgers are 8-5 in postseason play.
Purdue will face a Pac-10 Conference team to be determined in the Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas on New Year's Eve. The Boilermakers will be making their sixth bowl appearance in as many years under coach Joe Tiller and are 6-4 all-time in bowl play.
Minnesota will represent the Big Ten in the Music City Bowl in Nashville, Tenn., on Dec. 28 against an SEC opponent to be announced. The Golden Gophers, 2-5 in the postseason, will making their third bowl appearance under coach Glen Mason.
Flames fire Coach Greg Gilbert
DENVER, Dec. 3 (UPI) -- In the midst of a disappointing season, the Calgary Flames on Tuesday fired coach Greg Gilbert.
After being active in free agency and acquiring Chris Drury from the Colorado Avalanche prior to the season, the Flames were hoping to contend for a playoff spot. Calgary has not made the playoffs since the 1995 season.
The Flames have stumbled badly, posting a 6-13-3-3 record and are in last place in the Northwest Division. They are 1-10
Gilbert's fate may have been sealed after the Flames lost their first four games of a five-game road trip. During that span, they were outscored, 22-8
To replace Gilbert, the Flames named Al MacNeil coach on an interim basis.
Named coach late in the 2001 season, Gilbert finished his tenure in Calgary with a 42-56-17-6 record.
Gilbert became the second coach to be fired in the last three days, joining San Jose's Darryl Sutter, who was dismissed on Sunday.
The Flames also fired assistant coach Brad McCrimmon, but retained the services of fellow assistants Brian Skrudland and Rob Cookson.
MacNeil, who was the club's coach when the franchise relocated from Atlanta in 1980, has been with the organization for 23 years and had been serving as an assistant to General Manager Craig Button.
MacNeil's first assignment behind the bench comes Tuesday night at Colorado. He has a career coaching record of 134-108-53.
Thome gets six-year, $85 million deal
PHILADELPHIA, Dec. 3 (UPI) -- Slugger Jim Thome began the second leg of his career with an emotional news conference Tuesday in which he fondly remembered Cleveland and became choked up when talking about his wife.
The all-time home run leader for the Cleveland Indians, Thome donned a Philadelphia Phillies jersey for the first time Tuesday, wearing a No. 25 jersey as he met the media.
Phillies General Manager Ed Wade announced that Thome received a six-year, $85 million contract that includes a team option for a seventh year at $13 million or a $3 million buyout.
Thome, 32, received a $10 million signing bonus and will receive $9.5 million in 2003, $10.5 million in 2004, $11.5 million in 2005, $12.5 million in 2006 and $14 million in both 2007 and 2008, plus award bonuses.
The most coveted slugger on the free agent market, Thome had been courted by both the Phillies and the Indians, with whom he had spent his entire career.
The Indians, who have made some considerable cost-cutting moves over the last two years, offered Thome $60 million over five years, then sweetened the deal with a sixth year at a vested option. Thome pondered his decision over the Thanksgiving weekend at his home in Aurora, Ohio, before opting to become the highest-paid player in Phillies history.
Thome is a career .287 hitter with 334 home runs and 927 RBI. He made his debut with Cleveland in 1991 and helped the Indians reach World Series in 1995 and 1997.
Thome hit a career-high and club-record 52 homers and drove in 119 runs last season.
Cubs sign Remlinger to three-year deal
CHICAGO, Dec. 3 (UPI) -- The Chicago Cubs tried Tuesday to improve their beleaguered bullpen by signing All-Star lefthander Mike Remlinger to a three-year contract.
ESPN Radio 1000 reported Monday that the deal is worth $10.5 million.
It is the first major signing for new Cubs General Manager Jim Hendry.
Remlinger, 36, excelled as a setup man for the Atlanta Braves last season, posting a 7-3 record and 1.99 ERA in 73 appearances. In 68 innings, he allowed only 48 hits and 28 walks with 69 strikeouts.
In Chicago, Remlinger could assume the Cubs' closer role as Antonio Alfonseca struggled last season. Alfonseca had just nine saves, posting a 2-5 record with a 4.00 ERA.
Remlinger, who is joining his fifth team, has posted a 44-41 career record with 16 saves and a 3.80 ERA.
Panthers DE suspended final four games
NEW YORK, Dec. 3 (UPI) -- Carolina Panthers rookie defensive end Julius Peppers was suspended Tuesday for the final four games of the season for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy.
Peppers' agent, Marvin Demoff, informed the league Tuesday morning that he was withdrawing the appeal of the suspension that originally was handed down in mid-November.
It has been reported that Peppers tested positive for a banned substance in a dietary supplement. The NFL does not reveal details regarding violations of its substance abuse policy.
Peppers is third in the NFL and leads all rookies with 12 sacks. By missing the rest of the season, he will fall 2 1/2 sacks shy of tying Jevon Kearse's rookie record set in 1999.
If selected, Peppers is eligible to play in the Pro Bowl.
An All-America at North Carolina, Peppers declared for the NFL draft after his junior season and was selected with the second overall pick.
Kemp Rasmussen will replace Peppers on one of the top defensive lines in the NFL.
The Panthers (4-8) ended an eight-game losing streak with Sunday's win at Cleveland. Their remaining games are against Cincinnati, at Pittsburgh, Chicago and at New Orleans.
Ravens DE McCrary out for season
OWINGS MILLS, Md., Dec. 3 (UPI) -- The Baltimore Ravens placed two-time Pro Bowl defensive end Michael McCrary on injured reserve Tuesday with chronic knee arthritis.
McCrary has played in just five games this season, collecting two sacks and three tackles for the Ravens (6-6), who already are without perennial Pro Bowl linebacker Ray Lewis for the rest of the season.
One of four players remaining on the Ravens' record-setting defense from their Super Bowl team in the 2000 season, McCrary may never play again. He was limited to 10 games last season.
McCrary was drafted in the seventh round by the Seattle Seahawks out of Wake Forest in 1993. He has registered 71 career sacks and is second on the Ravens' all-time list with 52.
A 10-year veteran, McCrary's best season came in 1998, when he had 102 tackles and a career-high 14 1/2 sacks.
Reds IF Branyan will miss four months
CINCINNATI, Dec. 3 (UPI) -- Cincinnati Reds infielder Russell Branyan will be sidelined four months after undergoing arthroscopic surgery Tuesday to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder.
Branyan, who hit 24 homers with Cleveland and the Reds last season, suffered the injury while playing winter ball in the Dominican Republic.
In 84 games with Cincinnati, the 26-year-old Branyan hit 16 homers, drove in 39 runs and batted .244. He has 61 homers and a .230 average in 326 career games.
White Sox get Koch from Athletics
CHICAGO, Dec. 3 (UPI) -- The Chicago White Sox, who have been searching for a different closer this offseason, apparently have acquired hard-throwing Billy Koch from the Oakland Athletics as part of a five-player deal.
ESPN Radio 1000 in Chicago and MLB.com, the official web site of Major League Baseball, both reported the trade Tuesday.
The reported deal would send Koch and two players to be named later from Oakland in exchange for current Sox closer Keith Foulke, catcher Mark Johnson, minor league pitcher Joe Valentine, and cash considerations.
Koch went 11-4 with a 3.27 ERA and 44 saves in 84 appearances during his only season with Oakland in 2002. He converted 44 of 50 save opportunities.
In four big-league seasons with Toronto and Oakland, Koch owns a 22-17 mark with a 3.48 ERA, converting 144 saves in 167 opportunities.
Foulke, 30, was 2-4 with a 2.90 ERA and 11 saves in 65 relief appearances last season. He tied Antonio Osuna for the team lead in saves with 14, but had just three save chances after the All-Star break.
Expos dump Yoshii
MONTREAL, Dec. 3 (UPI) -- The Montreal Expos Tuesday released righthander Masato Yoshii.
He went 4-9 with a 3.61 ERA in 31 games last season, including 20 starts. He missed the final month of the season with soreness in his pitching shoulder, and underwent surgery on Sept. 26.
Yoshii, 37, joined the Expos as a free agent on April 13, 2001. In two seasons with Montreal, he compiled a record of 8-16 with a 4.42 ERA in 73 games, including 31 starts.
Kerry Kittles to injured reserve
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J., Dec. 3 (UPI) -- The New Jersey Nets Tuesday placed starting shooting guard Kerry Kittles on the injured list with a sprained left knee.
Kittles was injured in the third quarter of Saturday night's game at Portland. He sat out the following night at Seattle.
It is the first significant injury for Kittles since he returned to the club after sitting out the entire 2000 season with a knee injury.
Kittles played in all 82 games last season, helping the Nets reach the NBA Finals for the first time in club history. He averaged 13.4 points while being an integral member of the Nets' fast-break offensive style.
In 17 games this season, Kittles is averaging 12.6 points while shooting 49 percent (85-of-173) from the field.
New Jersey suspends Danton
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J., Dec. 3 (UPI) -- The New Jersey Devils Tuesday suspended Mike Danton after the rokie center failed to report to the team's minor league affiliate in Albany, N.Y.
It is the second time in as many seasons that the Danton, 22, has been suspended by Lamoriello.
Last season, Danton contended he had a serious abdominal injury and could not skate for a long period of time. He decided to get a second medical opinion on the west coast, and did not fulfill an assignment to Albany.
Lamoriello suspended him without pay and Danton filed a grievance with the NHL Players Association.
Augusta member quits in protest
NEW YORK, Dec. 3 (UPI) -- Former CBS Chief Executive Officer Thomas H. Wyman has resigned from the Augusta National Golf Club in protest of the all-male club's refusal to admit a woman, The New York Times reported Tuesday.
Wyman, who belonged to the club for 25 years, told the newspaper that the position taken by the club's leadership is "pigheaded" and estimated as many as 75 of Augusta's roughly 300 members also support the admission of a woman.
Wyman was CEO of the network from 1979 to 1986. The Masters, one of golf's major events,is broadcast each year by CBS.
"We are disappointed that Mr. Wyman has chosen to publicize a private matter," said club spokesman Glenn Greenspan. "While we respect the fact that there are differences of opinion on the issue, we intend to stand firm behind our right to make what are both appropriate and private membership choices."
The Times said that, in a letter to Augusta Chairman Hootie Johnson, Wyman wrote that he hoped his resignation would spur others inside and outside the club to speak out in favor of a woman joining Augusta National.
"Excluding a woman from the membership is not right," Wyman said. "And it could be fixed so easily. The course Hootie is choosing, and it is completely his choice, will bring about a downhill slide that will only hurt Augusta National, the game of golf, and our modern sense of diversity as a desirable thing."
Wyman, 72, previously had encouraged Johnson to announce that Augusta, which hosts the prestigious Masters golf tournament each year, could have a woman by next year.
Johnson, who has been opposed to allowing a female member, asserted that many club members share his view.
"I want you to also know that there is no timetable for the admission of women into our membership, nor do I expect there to be one in the foreseeable future," Johnson wrote in a letter to Wyman.
Owens Award winners announced
Established in 1981, the award is the highest honor in USA Track & Field, presented annually to the outstanding U.S. male and female track performers.
This year, Jones became the first U.S. athlete in seven years to complete an undefeated season. She was perfect with 16 wins in the 100 meters, four wins in the 200 meters, and one 400-meter victory.
Jones swept the Golden League meets in the 100 meters, giving her the IAAF overall Grand Prix title.
The last American track athlete to achieve the feat was Michael Johnson in 1995.