Brady tries to stay calm
NEW ORLEANS, Jan. 31 (UPI) -- Tom Brady admitted Thursday he was excited to have been named starting quarterback for the Super Bowl.
But, he said he was excited about pretty much everything associated with his still brief professional career.
The New England signal caller said, however, that he would now have to pace himself until his team takes the field Sunday at the Louisiana Superdome to meet the St. Louis Rams for the championship of the National Football League.
Brady will become just the third quarterback ever to start a Super Bowl in the same season he made his first professional start. The other two have been Vince Ferragamo, who started for the Los Angeles Rams against Pittsburgh in Super Bowl XIV, and Kurt Warner, who quarterbacks the team Brady will try to beat Sunday.
As Super Bowl week passed the midway point Thursday, the teams conducted the second of their three major practice sessions. Barring a late-week development, however, the key decision of the week had already been made.
New England Coach Bill Belichick, after watching Brady practice Wednesday, decided his second-year quarterback had recovered enough from a sprained left ankle to be able to start Sunday's game.
That left veteran Drew Bledsoe back on the sidelines, where he spent virtually the entire season after suffering a severe chest injury in the second game of the campaign. Bledsoe, however, came on to replace Brady last Sunday and helped the Patriots to a victory over Pittsburgh in the AFC Championship game.
Thursday's mandatory visit with the media was the first occasion for Brady and Bledsoe to publicly express their feelings about the coach's decision.
"I was prepared either way," Brady said.
Bledsoe, who said early in the week that he desperately wanted to start in the Super Bowl, said Thursday that he could derive some satisfaction from the fact he helped his team win last Sunday's game.
Kentucky draws 3-year football probation
LEXINGTON, Ky., Jan. 31 (UPI) -- The University of Kentucky was placed on three years probation and banned from a bowl game next season by the NCAA Thursday for violations in the school's football program.
The NCAA Committee on Infractions issued its ruling for transgressions committed during the tenure of former Coach Hal Mumme, who stepped down last February.
The school had admitted to many of the violations and already had self-imposed a number of penalties, including the reduction of scholarships over the next three seasons.
The NCAA found a lack of institutional control, a serious charge that often stiffens the sanctions drastically. But, the committee also found that Kentucky "acted quickly to investigate violations and punish those involved," which lightened the
Former Chargers coach joins Saints
NEW ORLEANS, Jan. 31 (UPI) -- The New Orleans Saints added former San Diego Coach Mike Riley to the staff Thursday and promoted Rick Venturi to defensive coordinator.
A month after being fired as coach of Chargers, Riley was named secondary coach and assistant head coach to Jim Haslett. His name had surfaced in the few college vacancies since he left San Diego.
Venturi, who has been with the Saints since 1996, makes the move from the secondary and replaces Ron Zook, who left to coach the University of Florida when Steve Spurrier departed for the Washington Redskins.
Riley never cut it in San Diego, posting a 6-26 mark in two seasons. The Chargers went a league-worst 1-15 in 2000 and won five of their first seven games in 2001 before finishing with nine losses.
U.S., Costa Rica reach Gold Cup final
PASADENA, Calif., Jan. 31 (UPI) -- The United States finally solved Lars Hirschfeld with a series of penalty kicks and advanced to the CONCACAF Gold Cup final with a victory over Canada on Wednesday night.
Team USA advanced to Saturday's final and will face Costa Rica, a 3-1 winner over Korea in the early semifinal.
Hirschfeld was simply outstanding throughout the run of play, making a spectacular series of saves early in the second half and stopping a pair of sure goals in sudden-death overtime.
But, the Canadians could not solve Kasey Keller, who made two saves during the penalty phase. Meanwhile, the Americans put four past Hirschfeld, whose nerves finally gave way.
Seles survives wave of Tokyo upsets
TOKYO, Jan. 31 (UPI) -- Third seed Monica Seles of the United States
and fifth-seeded Silvia Farina Elia posted second-round victories Thursday, but four other seeded players were upset at the $1.2 million Pan Pacific Open.
Seles cruised to a 6-2, 6-3 victory over Belgian qualifier Els Callens to advance to a quarterfinal match with American qualifier Alexandra Stevenson.
Farina Elia, who lost to Hingis in the quarterfinals last week, advanced Thursday with a 7-5, 6-4 win over fellow Italian Rita Grande and will face fourth-seeded Sandrine Testud of France in the quarterfinals.
Anne Kremer of Luxembourg knocked off second-seeded Jelena Dokic of Australia, 7-5, 6-2 in another second-round match Thursday. Kremer will face unseeded Russian Anna Kournikova, who overcame her countrywoman, seventh seed Elena Dementieva. 7-6 (7-4), 7-6 (7-5). Stevenson eliminated eighth-seeded Amanda Coetzer of South Africa, 4-6, 6-0, 7-6 (7-3).
Els takes 2-shot Heineken lead
MELBOURNE, Australia, Jan. 31 (UPI) -- Ernie Els of South Africa fired an 8-under-par 64 Thursday for a two-stroke lead in the first round of the Heineken Classic.
Scotland's Dean Robertson pulled out before the start with a hand injury suffered practicing on the hard turf. He hopes to be fit for next week's ANZ Championship in Sydney.
Czech duo prevails
BANGALORE, India, Jan. 31 (UPI) -- Petr Pala and Pavel Vizner of the Czech Republic bounced local favorites Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi from the World Doubles Challenge Cup on Thursday with a 7-6 (8-6), 7-5 triumph.
Just the second ATP Tour loss for the team of Paes and Bhupathi in India kept it from winning enough sets in the round-robin stage to advance to the semifinals.
The teams of Pala and Vizner, and Mark Knowles of the Bahamas and Brian MacPhie of the United States made it out of the Bharti group by going 2-1 and winning five sets apiece.
Knowles and MacPhie advanced with a 6-3, 7-6 (7-3) victory over the South African duo of John-Laffnie de Jager and Robbie Koenig. That team went 0-3 in the Bharti Group.
Bad bios have coaches in bind
ATLANTA, Jan. 31 (UPI) -- The two Georgia Tech assistant football coaches discovered to have bogus claims in their biographical information could lose their jobs, it was reported Thursday.
Coming on the heels of the George O'Leary situation in which an incorrect resume cost the former Tech coach the head job at Notre Dame, the latest revelations got a quick response from school officials.
School President G. Wayne Clough said the cases of newly hired assistant coaches Rick Smith and Tommie Robinson would be reviewed by Tech's Athletic Association Board before a final decision is made.
"Obviously, I wasn't pleased after having gone through this episode with George O'Leary," Clough told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "To have this come up again is something that does not make us very happy."