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Western Kentucky hires Petrino as football coach

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Western Kentucky hires Petrino as football coach

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (AP) Now that Bobby Petrino is back in the coaching ranks, he wants to make the most of his second chance.

Petrino was introduced Monday as Western Kentucky's new head football coach. The 51-year-old was fired by Arkansas in April for a ``pattern of misleading'' behavior following an accident in which the coach was injured while riding a motorcycle with his mistress as a passenger.

``At this point in my career, it's about getting back and coaching players,'' Petrino said. ``It just happened to open up at a place we love.

``I hope it can be as long as possible.''

Petrino had a 34-17 record at Arkansas before he was dismissed in the wake of the scandal. Petrino had an affair with former Razorback volleyball player Jessica Dorrell, who he later hired as a football assistant had gave $20,000 in gifts. Petrino said initially he was the only person on the motorcycle but later admitted to Dorrell's presence.

``I'm going to be able to sit down with mom and dad and the student-athlete and make them understand how this experience has made me a better coach, a better person and will make me understand their son better,'' Petrino said during a packed news conference at Houchens-Smith Stadium.

``I'm looking forward to the opportunity I'll be able to give student athletes when they make a mistake.''

Petrino is replacing Willie Taggart, who left WKU last week to become South Florida's coach.

Western Kentucky gave Petrino a four-year deal with a base annual salary of $850,000. If he terminates the deal at any time, he must re-pay the university $1.2 million in six monthly payments starting the month after he leaves.

Athletic director Todd Stewart knows he might get criticized for hiring Petrino.

He and Petrino had a long discussion over the weekend about the coach's past. Stewart said Petrino was candid and honest about his conduct and took responsibility for his actions. He said Petrino's contrition convinced him to give the coach a shot.

``What it comes down is that he made a big mistake and he acknowledges that and he's taken ownership of that,'' Stewart said. ``And he's paid a heavy price for it.

``But this is the United States of America, and we're a country of second chances. I was confident after talking with him and with other people that he deserved a second chance and we are more than happy to give it to him.''

Petrino, 75-26 overall as a college head coach, said he is looking forward to ``building on the foundation and standards'' that Taggart established.

Petrino had been looking to get back into coaching since he was let go by Arkansas. His name had been recently mentioned in connection with several openings, including Kentucky and Auburn.

He returns to the state where he successfully began his head coaching career. Petrino coached at Louisville from 2003-06, going 41-9 and leading the Cardinals to a 12-1 mark and their first-ever BCS berth in the Orange Bowl in 2006.

Now that he's back in the state, the coach said he and wife Becky ``consider this coming home.''

While at Louisville, Petrino was offered an NFL job and he left the Cardinals to become coach of the Atlanta Falcons.

He had a brief 13-game stint in 2007 with Atlanta. The Falcons stumbled to a 3-10 start before Petrino left for Arkansas, announcing his departure to players in a four-sentence laminated letter left at their lockers.

Arkansas had a losing record - 5-7 - in his first season. But Petrino and the Razorbacks improved each after that. They were to 8-5 in 2009, 10-3 with a Sugar Bowl appearance in 2010 and went 11-2 with a Cotton Bowl bid in 2011.

He takes over a 7-5 Western Kentucky team that's headed to its first bowl appearance as an FBS school. The Hilltoppers will play in the Little Caesar's Pizza Bowl on Dec. 26 against Central Michigan.

WKU defensive coordinator Lance Guidry was named interim coach on Saturday and will coach the team in the bowl game.

Petrino will be hands-off until after the bowl game.

The new coach did meet with Hilltoppers players on Monday afternoon. Petrino expects the program to consistently win conference championships, bowl games and to compete for a BCS bowl berth.

Stewart believes Petrino can take WKU to the next level.

``I'm confident that he'll be here for a while and hope that he's here for a long time,'' Stewart said. ``No one person is bigger than the program, it's about the program. The important thing is that the program continues to develop and get better and go to places that its never been.

``You need a field general to give you the best chance to have that happen, and coach Petrino is the best one out there for us.''

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AP Freelancer Writer Brad Stephens in Bowling Green contributed to this report.

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Bradley Beal makes most of his opportunity in first All-Star Game

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Associated Press

Bradley Beal makes most of his opportunity in first All-Star Game

Bradley Beal may have had a slow start in the three-point contest on Saturday night, but in Sunday's All-Star Game he worked quickly to make the most of his relatively small window of playing time.

Beal checked in for the first time with 5:45 left in the first quarter and less than 25 seconds later had his first points on a two-handed dunk assisted by LeBron James.

In his All-Star debut, Beal helped lead Team LeBron to a 148-145 victory over Team Stephen as the league utilizied a new format for the annual showcase.

RELATED: BEAL BOUNCED EARLY IN THREE-POINT CONTEST

Beal finished with 14 points and a steal in a productive night. He shot 5-for-10 from the field and an impressive 4-for-8 from long range. 

Beal also tried to get a travelling call from the refs on Karl-Anthony Towns. Yeah, that's not likely to happen in an All-Star Game:

Beal more than held his own and only played 16 minutes, which was good considering he has logged the fifth-most minutes of any player so far this season. A realistic best-case scenario was a strong showing and a short night and that's exactly what he got.

Not only does Beal play a lot of minutes, the Wizards need him now more than ever with John Wall's injury. He needs whatever rest he can get during this All-Star break.

Speaking of Wall, he was in the house despite being in the middle of his rehab from left knee surgery. Per usual, Wall was shining bright:

RELATED: BEST WIZARDS/BULLETS MOMENTS ON ALL-STAR SATURDAY NIGHT

The All-Star Game wasn't all about Beal, of course. Here are some other things that stood out...

*The new format and increased financial incentive were intended to make the game more competitive and that's what happened late in the fourth quarter. Usually, that's how these things go where the players will start trying at the end. But this time it seemed to be up a few levels and it was fun to watch. 

Both teams scored in the 140s, so it wasn't exactly a defensive battle. No matter what the league does, the players will only try so hard for so long. The main goal of everyone's is to not get injured in a game that ultimately doesn't count for anything. Still, this was different and appears to have been a success.

*While everyone was focusing on the reunion of LeBron and Kyrie Irving the best beef was Joel Embiid vs. Russell Westbrook. Those two have traded waves to taunt each other at the end of wins in head-to-head matchups and it was clear on Sunday they still don't like each other. Westbrook tried to dunk all over Embiid in the first half, only to get blocked at the rim.

Westbrook's determination to dunk on Embiid was out of the ordinary for an All-Star Game. It was obvious what was on his mind:

*Irving's handles are simply ridiculous. Check out this fake behind-the-back move he pulled with Giannis Antetkounmpo guarding him. Yes, it didn't fool the defender but it was impressive nonetheless:

*LeBron is 33 years old, yet he was still running up and down the court faster than anyone and leaping above the rim to thrown down alley-oop after alley-oop. It is truly amazing and everyone should enjoy watching him while they can, regardless of whether they like the guy or not.

This was one of his dunks:

LeBron took home MVP with a game-high 29 points, 10 rebounds, eight assists and a steal.

*The pregame show was quite bad. It was anchored by comedians Kevin Hart and Rob Riggle and, though they had some funny jokes, it lasted nearly 30 minutes. The whole thing was pretty much universally panned on social media. Fergie's national anthem was also roasted by the masses.

*The halftime show was much better. It began with N.E.R.D taking it back to their older days with 'Lapdance,' went to Migos performing 'Stir Fry' and swung back to N.E.R.D. who did their latest hit 'Lemon.' 

RELATED: LATEST 2018 NBA MOCK DRAFT

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The NBA All-Star pregame introductions were, uh, something

The NBA All-Star pregame introductions were, uh, something

Whoever put together the NBA All-Star Game player introductions has some 'splainin to do. 

The NBA introduced a kinda-full Staples Center to their 2018 All-Stars about an hour ago, and boy was it weird. There were a lot of dancers in different themed costumes. Kevin Hart was screaming. Rob Riggle was screaming. Ludacris showed up? Hey! Did you know that the Barenaked Ladies are still a band? The NBA would like you to know they're still around.  The whole thing was like when you're at an art museum and you're told that abstract piece in the corner is actually really meaningful but you gotta be honest, you don't get it. 

Anyways, the internet hated it. Here are some highlights from the internet hating it:

The lesson here is that you never need Kevin Hart and Rob Riggle. One will do.