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UPI NewsTrack Sports

Jan. 8, 2013 at 5:15 PM   |   Comments

Alabama tops final coaches football poll

MCLEAN, Va., Jan. 8 (UPI) -- Alabama, which dominated Notre Dame in the BCS Championship game, was officially crowned the No. 1 team in the USA Today Coaches' poll Tuesday.

The Crimson Tide (13-1) ended the 2012-13 college football bowl season with a 42-14 rout of previously unbeaten Notre Dame (12-1) in Monday's Bowl Championship Series finale. It was the third title in four years for Alabama and seventh consecutive season a team from the Southeastern Conference won the national title.

Seven SEC teams, including three in the first five and five in the Top 10, are in the final coaches' rankings. No other conference has more than three teams ranked.

The vote for No. 1 is a formality as Board of Coaches members must list the BCS title game winner first on their ballots and all 56 voting members did so. Alabama was No. 1 for 10 weeks during the regular season until a loss to Texas A&M.

Oregon (12-1) took over the top spot after that loss, holding it for one week before suffering its only loss of the season and yielding the No. 1 ranking to Notre Dame.

Oregon beat Kansas State 35-17 in the Fiesta Bowl and that caught the voters' attention enough to give the Ducks the season-ending No. 2 ranking with Notre Dame third.

Georgia (12-2) comes in fourth, followed by Texas A&M, which capped its 11-2 season with a 41-13 rout of Oklahoma behind freshman Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel.

Stanford (12-2) is sixth, with South Carolina (11-2) voted seventh, while Atlantic Coast Conference rivals Florida State (12-2) and Clemson (11-2) are eighth and ninth, respectively. Florida (11-2) comes in 10th.

Kansas State (11-2) is No. 11 and 12th-ranked Louisiana State (10-3) was just ahead of No. 13 Louisville (11-2). Boise State (11-2) winds up 14th and Oklahoma (10-3) comes in No. 15.

Northwestern (10-3), at 16th, is the highest-ranked Big Ten team. Utah State (11-2) takes the No. 17 spot followed by, in order, Texas, Oregon State and Vanderbilt, all 9-4.

San Jose State (11-2) comes in 21st ahead of No. 22 Cincinnati (10-3) while Nebraska (10-4) is 23rd, Northern Illinois (12-2) 24th and Tulsa (11-3) completes the final Top 25.

Vanderbilt, Cincinnati and Tulsa weren't in the final regular-season ranking. UCLA, Michigan and Wisconsin were dropped from the Top 25 in the final poll.


Texas A&M's Joeckel entering NFL draft

COLLEGE STATION, Texas, Jan. 8 (UPI) -- Texas A&M offensive tackle Luke Joeckel, who won the Outland Trophy this past season, said he is skipping his senior year and declaring for the NFL draft.

Joeckel -- 6-foot-6, 310 pounds -- was a consensus All-America this season and was awarded the Southeastern Conference's Jacobs Blocking Trophy, as the best blocker in the league. The Outland Trophy is symbolic of a player being considered the best interior lineman.

"This was a very difficult decision for me," Joeckel said Tuesday. "I have thought long and hard and visited with my family and coaches. I feel it is in my best interest to come out. I appreciate all that Texas A&M has done for me and my family.

"It is tough to leave a great group of coaches and players, including my twin brother Matt. I know they will have a great season in 2013 and I will remain their biggest fan."

Matt Joeckel is a quarterback at Texas A&M but behind Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel on the depth chart..

Luke Joeckel started all 39 games in his career at Texas A&M, which finished the 2012 season 11-2 and ranked No. 5 in the nation.

"Luke is projected to be one of the top players selected in the overall draft," Texas A&M Coach Kevin Sumlin said. "We appreciate everything he has done for Aggie football and Texas A&M and wish him well in the NFL."


Jets fire offensive coordinator Sparano

FLORHAM PARK, N.J., Jan. 8 (UPI) -- Tony Sparano was fired as the New York Jets' offensive coordinator, the NFL team said Tuesday.

Jets Coach Rex Ryan said he informed Sparano of the decision Monday.

The Jets fired General Manager Mike Tannenbaum last week but said Ryan would return for the 2013 season.

Sparano was the team's offensive coordinator for one year after four years as head coach of the Miami Dolphins.

The Jets were 30th in the NFL in yards per game and 28th in points in 2012. They were 30th in passing yards and 12th in rushing.

The team regularly made news with its quarterback controversy among Mark Sanchez, Tim Tebow and Greg McElroy.

The Jets were 6-10 in 2012 and will have the ninth overall selection in the 2013 NFL draft.


Coach Skiles, Bucks 'mutually' part ways

MILWAUKEE, Jan. 8 (UPI) -- Scott Skiles was removed as Milwaukee Buck coach and assistant coach Jim Boylan will lead the team for the rest of the season, the NBA team said Tuesday.

A release from the Bucks stated Skiles and the team "mutually agreed to part ways."

"Scott and I met (Monday) after practice and after some honest discussion, we both came to the conclusion that it was best to part ways," Milwaukee General Manager John Hammond said.

"It is never an easy decision to make but in the end a decision we felt was best for both parties. I want to thank Scott for his hard work, dedication and the imprint he leaves on our team and our entire organization. We all wish him and his family well."

Milwaukee, which has lost its last four games, is 16-16 this season, three games behind the Central Division-leading Chicago Bulls.

Skiles, 48, was hired as the Bucks' coach in April 2008. In three full seasons plus 32 games in 2012-13, Milwaukee was 162-182 under Skiles. The Bucks made the playoffs once with Skiles as coach, losing a first-round series against Atlanta in seven games in 2010.

Skiles previously coached the Bulls and the Phoenix Suns. In 13 seasons as an NBA head coach, Skiles built a 443-433 record.

Boylan, 57, had been the lead assistant for the Bucks for four seasons. He's worked with several NBA teams but his only head coaching experience was in 2007-08 as interim coach at Chicago. The team posted a 24-32 record.

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