Weekend Sports in Brief
NEW YORK (AP) - Two years before the playoffs start in college football, the Southeastern Conference is staging a semifinal to determine who plays Notre Dame in the BCS title game.
Alabama (.9236) was second and Georgia (.8911) third in the BCS standings released Sunday. The Crimson Tide and Bulldogs play Saturday in Atlanta for the SEC championship.
The winner will advance to the national championship game in Miami on Jan. 7 against the Fighting Irish (.9979), who locked up their spot Saturday with a 22-13 victory against Southern California.
Florida (.8882) is fourth in the standings, but with no games left, looks stuck behind their SEC rivals. The good news for the Gators is they are likely to get an at-large BCS bid to the Sugar Bowl, while the SEC runner-up is out of the big games all together.
"For either one of these teams, it's not really a great scenario,'' Alabama coach Nick Saban said.
One way or another, the SEC will get a shot at its seventh straight BCS championship.
Gene Chizik, Frank Spaziani and Danny Hope got the pink slips many expected were coming after disappointing seasons.
North Carolina State getting rid of Tom O'Brien took more than a few people off guard. So did Colorado letting Jon Embree go after only two seasons.
Sunday was a tumultuous one around college football, with five coaches losing their jobs to bring the total openings in FBS to 12 - including four in the Southeastern Conference.
Chizik was fired by Auburn after one of the most stunning and dramatic falls in college football history. The Tigers won the second national championship in program history behind Cam Newton in 2010. This season, Auburn finished 3-9 and did not win an SEC game. The Tigers lost the Iron Bowl 49-0 to rival Alabama.
The decision came 17 months after Auburn gave Chizik a contract worth some $3.5 million annually through 2015 with a hefty buyout of $7.5 million.
RENTON, Wash. (AP) - The Seattle Seahawks say they "are aware'' of a report that cornerbacks Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner are facing four-game suspensions for violating the NFL's policy on performance-enhancing drugs.
The Seahawks released a short statement late Sunday after arriving back in Seattle following their 24-21 loss in Miami. ESPN.com first reported Sunday afternoon, citing unnamed sources, that Seattle's starting cornerbacks had tested positive and were planning to appeal the suspensions.
NEW YORK (AP) - Fireman Ed is hanging up his helmet.
New York Jets fan Ed Anzalone wrote in a guest column for Metro New York newspaper Sunday that he will no longer lead the "J-E-T-S!'' chants at home games or wear his firefighter's hat because "confrontations'' between him and other fans "have become more common.''
The former New York City firefighter says he doesn't want "to lose my temper and make a stupid mistake.''
CLEVELAND (AP) - Browns president Mike Holmgren left the organization following Cleveland's 20-14 win over the rival Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday.
A Browns spokesman said the game was Holmgren's last with the team.
Holmgren has indicated he's still interested in coaching. There have been stories about him joining the Dallas Cowboys.
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) - Ernie Warlick, among pro football's first pass-catching tight ends and a member of the Buffalo Bills' two AFL championship teams in the 1960s, died after a brief illness. He was 80.
His death was confirmed by Amigone Funeral Home in Amherst, N.Y. Warlick died Saturday at his home in Williamsville, N.Y. The cause of death was not known.
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) - Rory McIlroy won the Dubai World Championship by two strokes after shooting a 6-under 66 on Sunday, ending a year in which he won the PGA Championship and the European and PGA tour money titles.
The top-ranked McIlroy overcame early putting woes to finish with five straight birdies in a 23-under 265 at the season-ending tournament to beat Justin Rose of England, who shot a course-record 62.
SAO PAULO (AP) - Sebastian Vettel overcame a first-lap crash to capture his third straight Formula One championship title Sunday, finishing sixth in a Brazilian Grand Prix filled with crashes and won by Jenson Button under pouring rain.
Vettel became the youngest three-time champion in Formula One at age 25.
Seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher, F1's most successful driver, finished seventh in his final race after 19 seasons.
Vettel appeared in big trouble after he was bumped shortly after the first lap and spun. The German dropped to last place before he could turn his car around and start a difficult pursuit, working his way up the field to hold off Ferrari's Fernando Alonso, the only other driver contending for the title, by three points.
Alonso had a superb start on a hectic first lap at Interlagos and finished second in the race, but that wasn't enough to overcome Vettel's 13-point lead in the standings coming into Brazil.
HOUSTON (AP) - The daughter of Houston Rockets coach Kevin McHale died Saturday.
Alexandra "Sasha'' McHale was 23. The team disclosed no other details Sunday.
Kevin McHale has been on leave since Nov. 10 to deal with what the team called a personal family matter. During his absence, Kelvin Sampson has been the interim coach. There is no timetable for McHale's return.
GRINNELL, Iowa (AP) - Jack Taylor's encore for his record-setting performance was OK, just nowhere near his previous game.
Taylor scored 21 points in Grinnell College's 131-116 defeat to William Penn on Sunday night. He was 6 for 21 from the field, making 3 of 13 attempts from 3-point range, in the first loss of the season for the Pioneers (3-1).
LONDON (AP) - Rafa Benitez was greeted with jeers from Chelsea fans, and the Blues were held to a 0-0 draw Sunday by Manchester City in his first game as manager.
A forgettable match lacking in clear-cut scoring chances was notable for the scenes that unfolded in the stands at Stamford Bridge as Chelsea fans welcomed Roberto Di Matteo's successor with boos.
LAKE LOUISE, Alberta (AP) - Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway won a super-G Sunday, completing a sweep at Lake Louise.
Svindal also won Saturday's downhill, making him the first man to win both events at Lake Louise since Bode Miller in 2004.
ASPEN, Colo. (AP) - Austria's Kathrin Zettel held off teammate and training partner Marlies Schild to win a World Cup slalom Sunday, skiing a blazing second run on a course on which she is much at home.
Zettel finished in a combined time of 1 minute, 42.46 seconds to edge Schild by 0.67 seconds. Tina Maze of Slovenia was third in a race Lindsey Vonn skipped as she recovers from an intestinal illness.
On Saturday, Maze won her second straight World Cup giant slalom race, while an exhausted Vonn finished 21st.
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