NCAA

Manning endorses Luck to Colts?

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Manning endorses Luck to Colts?

If Indianapolis winds up with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, Peyton Manning is OK with the team drafting Andrew Luck, Colts Vice Chairman Bill Polian revealed on his weekly radio show Monday night.

Or did he?

"The bottom line is that if the right person is thereand it has to be the right personthen now is the time to make that choice," Polian said. "Peyton and I have spoken about that and he's OK with that."

There's a big difference between Manning proclaiming, "I'm totally fine with the Colts drafting Andrew Luck," and Polian declaring that Manning is in fact OK with it.

Manning is one of the most competitive players the league has ever seen, and unless he knows in his heart of hearts that he doesn't think he can play at an elite level again, I doubt that he would endorse the Colts drafting his immediate replacement.

The irony? When Luck was contemplating whether to enter the 2011 NFL Draft or return to Stanford for another season, it was Manning who advised Luck to return to school.

Manning had made the same decision 15 years prior.

In 1996, Manning finished eighth in the Heisman Trophy rankings and was presumed to be the No. 1 pick in the 1997 NFL Draft. He surprised everybody when he elected to return to Tennessee for his senior season.

Manning finished second in the 1997 Heisman voting (Charles Woodson), and his Volunteers fell to Nebraska 42-17 in the Orange Bowl.

Luck finished second in the Heisman voting a year ago, and led Stanford to a magical 12-1 season, culminating in an Orange Bowl victory over Virginia Tech.

Like Manning in 1997, Luck was the consensus preseason favorite to win the Heisman this year, and despite Stanford's recent loss to Oregon, he is still a leading candidate.

Stanford's signal-caller is widely considered the most NFL-ready college quarterback since Manning in '98. If the Colts are on the clock with the No. 1 pick, they can't possibly pass up on him can they?

Manning, the NFL-record four-time MVP, is recovering from multiple offseason neck surgeries, and although the Colts are hopeful that he can return as early as this season, there is reason to believe that Manning may never be able to play again.

Without their Super Bowl-winning quarterback, the Colts are 0-10 in 2011. The last time they started a season 0-10? 1997 -- the year before they selected Manning with the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft.

After going 3-13 in his rookie season, the Colts have made the playoffs 11 of the past 12 seasons, including nine seasons in a row.

It seems as if the Peyton Manning Era is nearing an end in Indianapolis. It's only a matter of time before the Andrew Luck Era begins.

Apparently, Manning is okay with it.

Drew Shiller is a Web Producer at CSNBayArea.com. You can follow him on Twitter @DrewShiller

Louisville has 'effectively fired' head coach Rick Pitino

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AP

Louisville has 'effectively fired' head coach Rick Pitino

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Louisville has placed coach Rick Pitino and athletic director Tom Jurich on administrative leave amid a federal bribery investigation.

Jurich is on paid leave, while Pitino is on unpaid leave. The coach’s attorney, Steve Spence, told the Courier-Journal Wednesday that Louisville has “effectively fired” Pitino.

Pitino’s exit comes after the school acknowledged on Tuesday that the men’s program is part of a federal investigation into alleged bribery of recruits. The 65-year-old coach was not named in the indictment that resulted in the arrest of 10 people including four assistant coaches at other schools and an Adidas executive.

It is the latest black eye for the Cardinals program. Pitino and Louisville are in the middle of appealing NCAA sanctions following an embarrassing sex scandal.

Jurich has supported Pitino through his transgressions during the athletic director’s nearly 20-year tenure at the university.

Cal fights USC into fourth quarter, can't complete the upset

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AP

Cal fights USC into fourth quarter, can't complete the upset

BOX SCORE

BERKELEY -- Stephen Carr ran for a fourth-quarter touchdown two plays after Southern California's defense forced one of its six turnovers and the fifth-ranked Trojans won their 13th straight game, 30-20 over California on Saturday.

USC (4-0, 2-0 Pac-12) has dominated the series with its in-state rival by winning 14 straight against the Golden Bears (3-1, 0-1), but this was one of the tightest matchups in years as the game was tied early in the fourth quarter.

Sam Darnold threw for 223 yards and two touchdowns for the Trojans but also had an interception and was under pressure for much of the day.

It was the defense that stepped up for USC, intercepting a pass from Ross Bowers in the first quarter to set up a field goal and then delivering the big play early in the fourth quarter after Chase McGrath gave the Trojans a 16-13 lead with his third field goal of the game.

Josh Fatu knocked the ball out of Bowers' hand and Uchenna Nwosu recovered the fumble at the 3. Carr ran it in two plays later from the 2 to make it 23-13.

Ykili Ross then intercepted Bowers' pass on the next possession, setting up Darnold's 4-yard TD pass to Deontay Burnett that put away the game.

Bowers finished 22 for 50 for 303 yards with one touchdown, four interceptions and two lost fumbles.

THE TAKEAWAY

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA: The Trojans struggled for much of the game without starting RB Ronald Jones (ankle) and WR Steven Mitchell (groin) but managed to pull away late in their first road game of the season.

CALIFORNIA: The Bears used an improved defense to start 3-0 under first-year coach Justin Wilcox but this was supposed to be the test of how far they had come. Cal showed plenty by sticking with a national title contender for three quarters. A sequence on the opening drive of the second will haunt the Bears. Patrick Laird dropped a potential TD in the end zone and Matt Anderson then missed a 29-yard field goal that kept the game tied at 13.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

A win against an unranked team should do little to alter USC's poll position.

UP NEXT

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA: Visits No. 18 Washington State on Friday.

CALIFORNIA: Visits No. 24 Oregon on Saturday.