Monday’s Sports In Brief
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — DeVonta Smith was uncoverable, Najee Harris unstoppable and Mac Jones impeccable. With a performance that was both surgical and explosive, No. 1 Alabama won the College Football Playoff national championship game 52-24 against No. 3 Ohio State.
The final game of a college football season in a pandemic, a season that was uncertain to be played in the summer and filled with disruptions in the fall, ended in the most predictable fashion: Alabama (13-0) as national champion for the sixth time in the last 12 years under coach Nick Saban.
For Saban, it was career title No. 7 overall, breaking a tie with Alabama great Paul “Bear” Bryant for the most by a major college coach.
Ohio State (7-1) just couldn’t keep up. Justin Fields, playing what might be his last game before heading to the NFL, passed for 194 yards and a touchdown. Whether Fields was 100% after taking a brutal hit to the side during his brilliant semifinal performance against Clemson was hard to know for sure.
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — Alabama has finished the season No. 1 in the AP Top 25 for the 11th time, extending its record by finishing with the program’s first perfect season since 2009.
The Crimson Tide was a unanimous No. 1 in the final poll, getting 61 first-place votes, after beating Ohio State 52-24 in the College Football Playoff championship game Monday night.
Alabama started this season in a pandemic No. 2, jumped to No. 1 in early November and finished as major college football’s only undefeated team.
The Buckeyes were second, followed by Clemson at No. 3 and Texas A&M in fourth, finally passing Notre Dame for the Aggies’ best finish in the AP poll since it won the national title in 1939.
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Doug Pederson lost his job less than three years after he led the Philadelphia Eagles to the franchise’s only Super Bowl title.
Pederson was 42-37-1 in five seasons. He guided the Eagles to two division championships and three playoff appearances before going 4-11-1 in 2020.
Owner Jeffrey Lurie made the decision after meeting with Pederson last week and again Monday.
Pederson had two years remaining on his contract. Lurie said he wouldn’t be surprised if another team hired Pederson before the end of the week.
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick announced he will not accept the Presidential Medal of Freedom, saying “remaining true to the people, team and country I love outweigh the benefits of any individual award.”
In a delicately worded, one-paragraph statement, the six-time Super Bowl-winning coach did not say explicitly that he had turned down the offer from President Donald Trump, whom he has called a friend. Instead, Belichick explained, “the decision has been made not to move forward with the award” in the wake of last week’s deadly siege on the U.S. Capitol.
A White House official said on Sunday, four days after the riots, that Trump would be awarding Belichick the nation’s highest civilian honor — part of a late flurry of presentations that also included golfers Annika Sorenstam, Gary Player and the late Babe Zaharias.
Sorenstam and Player accepted their awards in a private ceremony the day after Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. Five people died in the mayhem, including U.S. Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick. Belichick was to be honored on Thursday.
FRISCO, Texas (AP) — The Dallas Cowboys agreed to terms with former Atlanta coach Dan Quinn as defensive coordinator, turning over a unit that was among the worst in franchise history to someone who built his reputation on defense in Seattle.
Quinn was already on the hot seat with the Falcons before an 0-5 start that included Atlanta becoming the first team in NFL history to lose back-to-back games after leading by at least 15 points in the fourth quarter. One of those losses was to the Cowboys.
The 50-year-old Quinn replaces Mike Nolan, who lasted just one season as the most important hire for first-year coach Mike McCarthy. Dallas allowed a franchise-record 473 points (29.6 per game) and finished 31st in the NFL in run defense while going 6-10. The Cowboys also fired defensive line coach Jim Tomsula.
Dallas tried to implement a new scheme without in-person work during the offseason because of the pandemic, and the defense was plagued by blown assignments along with questions about effort while the team started 3-9. Owner Jerry Jones suggested the Cowboys tried to change too much given the restrictions brought on by COVID-19.
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — CJ McCollum scored 30 points, including the go-ahead jumper with 9.6 seconds left to give the Portland Trail Blazers a 112-111 victory over the Toronto Raptors.
Damian Lillard added 23 points and Carmelo Anthony scored 20 off the bench for the Blazers, who erased a 17-point deficit and overcame Pascal Siakam’s first career triple-double of 22 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists.
McCollum hit his clutch shot over Fred VanVleet off a spectacular series of dribble moves.
NEW YORK (AP) — Gonzaga and Baylor remain atop The Associated Press men’s basketball poll for the seventh consecutive week in the regular season.
The Zags received 63 of 64 first-place votes from a national media panel in the poll released Monday and the Bears had the other one. Villanova, Texas and Iowa rounded out a top 5 that remained the same from last week.
Gonzaga (12-0) had two games last week and turned both into routs, beating BYU 86-69 and Portland 116-88. The Zags have won 16 straight, dating to last season.
Baylor (11-0) beat Oklahoma and TCU last week to hold at No. 2.
No. 25 Connecticut moved into the poll for the first time since reaching No. 18 in 2016-17.
NEW YORK (AP) — Stanford tightened its grip on the No. 1 spot in the Associated Press women’s college basketball poll. The Cardinal received 29 of the 30 first-place votes from a national media panel.
They were followed by Louisville, North Carolina State, UConn and South Carolina. The Wolfpack received the other No. 1 vote.
No. 6 Baylor, Texas A&M, UCLA, Maryland and Oregon rounded out the the top 10.
Washington State earned its first-ever ranking, entering the poll at No. 25. It came a day after Washington State beat then-No. 7 Arizona 71-69 in overtime on a buzzer-beating layup by freshman Charlisse Leger-Walker. Washington State (7-1) has won five of its first six Pac-12 games for the first time since the 2013-14 season.