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Miami self-imposes 2nd straight bowl ban

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Miami self-imposes 2nd straight bowl ban

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) Calling the move prudent and unprecedented, Miami is self-imposing a second straight postseason ban on its football program because of an NCAA investigation that is expected to eventually lead to stiff sanctions against the Hurricanes.

The decision, announced to players - who described the mood as disappointing and shocking - early Monday morning, ends Miami's hopes of winning the Atlantic Coast Conference's Coastal Division, securing a berth in the league's overall championship game and any chance for the team to play in the Orange Bowl.

And while the school said it's not imposing any further penalties yet, Miami coach Al Golden revealed he is preparing to lose some scholarships going forward.

``We want to get it fixed,'' Golden said. ``Again, we didn't ask for it. But I have confidence in the coaches and the players and all the guys that made a commitment to fix this at the end of the day, and that's where we're at. ... We'll get through it. Miami's been through it before. We'll get through it.''

By skipping another bowl season, Miami - which still has not been presented with its notice of allegations from the NCAA, meaning the process is almost certainly several months from being complete - is hoping to minimize the impact of any looming sanctions that could be handed down when the investigation ends. Schools often self-impose penalties with hope that the NCAA takes those measures into account when doling out punishment, and typically, it works.

Acting Miami athletic director Blake James told the team of the decision.

``I think everybody was surprised,'' quarterback Stephen Morris said. ``I think everybody was in a state of shock, actually.''

The NCAA began looking into Miami's athletic department in March 2011, five months before rogue booster and convicted Ponzi scheme architect Nevin Shapiro told Yahoo Sports that he provided dozens of athletes and recruits with so-called ``extra benefits'' such as cash, meals, strip club access and yacht rides over an eight-year span starting in 2002.

Of the 83 individuals named by Shapiro for that story, only three - two players and one equipment-room staffer - are currently at Miami. This year's team will pay a steep price anyway.

``Do I think it's fair? No,'' Golden said. ``But that's the system.''

Golden has said several times he's eager for the process to end, and former Miami offensive lineman Tyler Horn - whose college career ended when the Hurricanes didn't go to a bowl last year - said Monday on Twitter that he doesn't understand why the investigation has lasted this long.

``The NCAA needs to change,'' Horn wrote. ``Making 2 classes w/ an overwhelming majority of innocent players miss out on what they earned is just plain wrong.''

Miami's decision has a major impact on the ACC, in the standings and potentially on the bottom line as well.

First, the move effectively ended the Coastal race. Miami, North Carolina and Georgia Tech can all finish 5-3, but it'll be the Yellow Jackets representing the division in the ACC title game because the Tar Heels are ineligible and the Hurricanes are choosing to be ineligible. Within minutes of Miami making its announcement, Georgia Tech's athletic department tweeted that the Jackets were ``Coastal Division champs.''

And secondly, Miami opting out of bowl consideration almost certainly means the league will not satisfy all eight of its bowl contracts this season.

``We will continue to support Miami's efforts during the ongoing NCAA inquiry, including its institutional decision to withhold the football program from postseason competition,'' ACC Commissioner John Swofford said. ``There is no higher priority than integrity and compliance within the rules.''

Miami clearly hopes that a pair of postseason bans, especially when the Hurricanes still had a chance at a Bowl Championship Series berth this year, helps its cause with the NCAA. Whenever the process ends, sanctions against the football and men's basketball programs are expected, with penalties likely to include probation terms and scholarship reductions.

``We're going to get our goals accomplished,'' Golden said. ``We lose one senior starter on offense and one on defense. We're going to add 15 or 16 new faces. That's going to be the nucleus of the Miami Hurricanes going forward.''

And Golden reaffirmed his commitment to Miami on Monday, saying he's ``not in the business of searching for another job right now.'' He believes the Hurricanes are truly closing in on becoming a program that can again contend for college football's biggest prizes.

``I can see the end. I can see what we're going to become,'' Golden said.

It's the first time since the 1981 and 1982 seasons that Miami will go consecutive years without a bowl trip. In 1983, the Hurricanes won the school's first of five national championships.

Schools that do not self-impose things like bowl bans when facing NCAA investigations often regret that decision. Most recently, Ohio State - still unbeaten - chose not to ban itself from a bowl last season, before the NCAA handed down punishments for the memorabilia-for-tattoos scandal. Instead of being in the mix for a BCS berth, and possibly a shot at the national title, the Buckeyes' season will end this weekend.

``We needed to do what's best for the University of Miami program, and we're confident this is what's best for the University of Miami program at this point,'' James said.

University President Donna Shalala and the school's legal counsel were also involved in making the decision.

``Considerable deliberation and discussion based on the status of the NCAA inquiry went into the decision-making process,'' the university said in a statement, which also said the school ``has already taken proactive measures to ensure more strict compliance with NCAA rules and continues to evaluate further steps.''

Miami still has a championship game of sorts waiting. If the Hurricanes beat Duke, they will finish tied for first in the Coastal and could call themselves co-champions. That alone would provide a boost heading into 2013.

``We're here as a family,'' Morris said. ``We've faced a lot of adversity here at this university. Something that was done a couple years ago affects us right now, but that's what men have got to do. We've got to step up.''

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Need to Know: Five safe draft picks for the Redskins

Need to Know: Five safe draft picks for the Redskins

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, April 22, four days before the 2018 NFL draft.  

Five safe picks for the Redskins

Sometimes teams try to hit home runs with their draft picks. They may hit a few but they also will strike out a lot. Teams often are better off trying to hit solid singles and doubles. Here are five picks who would are unlikely to make many Pro Bowls but the Redskins would not regret the pick if they turned in the cards with their names on it. 

RB Kerryon Johnson, Auburn—I’m starting off here with a player who would be a safe pick in the third round. Of course, the Redskins don’t have a third right now but if they do swing a trade and get one, Johnson would be a good pick. He doesn’t have breakaway speed, which is one reason why he might be available in the third. He is a grinder who will be an upgrade over Samaje Perine and Rob Kelley. 

DL Vita Vea, Washington—There is plenty of hand wringing over whether Vea is a three-down player or just a base defense nose tackle. But even if he can’t rush the passer very well his floor is a player who can go a long way towards helping the Redskins stop the run, a chronic weakness. This is why a lot of fans and media are urging the Redskins to not overthink this and take a player that will, at a minimum, bolster one of their weakest areas. 

OL Billy Price, Ohio State—He started 55 games for the Buckeyes, the most of any player in the storied history of the program. He did suffer the partial tear of a chest muscle in the combine but that will be fully healed by training camp. When he’s ready, he’s an explosive, smart, and powerful player. Just plug him in at left guard and the Redskins’ O-line is set with all home-grown talent. 

LB Leighton Vander Esch, Boise State—He doesn’t have the ceiling that the more heralded Roquan Smith and Tremaine Edmunds have. However, he may have a higher floor. Smith is undersized, and Edmunds will be highly drafted based more on potential than on production. At 6-4, 256, Vander Esch has plenty of size, and he racked up 141 tackles last year on his way to defensive player of the year honors in the Mountain West. 

 CB Isaiah Oliver, Colorado—The All-Pac-12 selection has the size and athleticism that add up to a safe pick in the second round. He needs some work on technique, but he has enough natural athletic ability—he competed in the decathlon—to be a productive cornerback right out of the gate. One other plus that fans will appreciate is that his strength is press coverage, not off man. 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCS.

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Timeline  

Days until:

—OTAs start (5/22) 30
—Training camp starts (7/26) 95
—Redskins @ Cardinals (9/9) 140

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2018 NBA Playoffs Wizards-Raptors Game 4: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

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2018 NBA Playoffs Wizards-Raptors Game 4: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

John Wall, Bradley Beal, Otto Porter and the Washington Wizards battle Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, Serge Ibaka and the Toronto Raptors on Sunday night in Game 4 of the 2018 NBA Playoffs.

Here is all you need to know: TV, live stream and radio info, tip-off time, plus three things to watch:

GAME 4: TORONTO RAPTORS AT WASHINGTON WIZARDS

Series: Raptors lead 2-1
Where: Capital One Arena
Tip-off: 6 p.m.
TV: NBC Sports Washington (pregame coverage begins at 5 p.m.)
Live stream: NBCSportsWashington.com
Radio: 1500 AM

Time to get even

After a momentous Game 3 win, the Wizards have breathed some life back into their season. On Sunday, they can make this a brand new series.

With a win in Game 4 for the Wizards, they would tie the series and send it back to Toronto ensuring another home game in Washington. A loss would put them down 3-1, a deficit that has historically been hard to overcome.

Only 11 teams have accomplished the feat, most notably the Cavaliers in the 2016 NBA Finals. The Warriors did the same that year in the conference finals. It has only been done three times since 2006. 

How will Raptors respond?

Game 3 took on a much different tone and style than the previous two and it played into the Wizards' hands. It was much more physical and Washington did a good job of instigating contact and using it to their advanage. After the game, several players highlighted Markieff Morris shoving OG Anunoby and Serge Ibaka as a turning point.

Just because it worked in Game 3 doesn't mean it will carry over successfully in Game 4. Not only could the Raptors respond with their own dose of brutality, but the referees may try to nip anything of the sort in the bud early on.

It would not be surprising if Game 4 was officiated very tightly and if a message was sent in the first quarter to the players. After seeing how well it worked in Game 3, the Wizards will likely try to test the limits.

Playoff Beal

The Raptors will also try to adjust their defense following Bradley Beal's 28-point outburst in Game 3. He wasn't much of a factor in the first two games of the series, but broke out in Game 3 to lead the Wizards to a win.

The Wizards did a good job of getting Beal involved early. He was found for open looks from three in the first half and had two three-pointers in each of the first two quarters. Beal also took it upon himself to attack the rim and force the issue.

The Raptors held Beal back in the first two games by being rough with him and in Game 2 they got him in foul trouble. Surely he will be a big emphasis of their gameplan on Sunday.

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For more on the Wizards-Raptors series, check out or latest Wizards Tipoff podcast: