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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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Nationals sign Jake Boone, who could be MLB's first fourth-generation player

Nationals sign Jake Boone, who could be MLB's first fourth-generation player

The first fourth-generation MLB player could make his career in Washington after Jake Boone—the son, nephew, grandson and great-grandson of former players—signed with the Nationals on Saturday as an undrafted free agent.

Boone’s father, Bret, played in the majors from 1992 to 2005. His uncle, Aaron, played from 1997 to 2009 and currently manages the New York Yankees. Bret and Aaron’s father Bob and grandfather Ray played for 18 and 12 years, respectively. Ray started the family dynasty in 1948, when he made his MLB debut as a shortstop for the Cleveland Indians.

Jake, a shortstop himself, was originally selected by the Nationals in the 38th round of the 2017 MLB Draft. He instead elected to honor his commitment to Princeton, where he played a total of 72 games and hit .250 with one home run and 24 RBIs. Bob, who is 72 years old, is a vice president of player development for the Nationals and senior advisor to GM Mike Rizzo.

With the 2020 MLB Draft being shortened to five rounds as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, Jake didn’t have the chance to find out if he improved his draft stock enough to earn a higher selection. But after the rules were amended to allow for an increased number of undrafted signees, he will have the opportunity to follow in his family’s footsteps and get a Boone back on a major-league roster for the first time since Aaron retired in 2009.

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Tom Haberstroh believes Wizards' Rui Hachimura should be NBA All-Rookie First Team

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Rui Hachimura has had an impressive rookie season, even if there were some struggles along the way. But, was his first NBA campaign impressive enough to land an NBA All-Rookie First Team nod?

According to NBC Sports' Tom Haberstroh, the answer is a clear yes.

“He does, in my book he’s first-team all-rookie," Haberstroh said Sunday on NBC Sports Washington's Wizards Pregame Live.

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Haberstroh understands that Hachimura may not get the same attention as other big-name rookies such as Zion Williamson or Ja Morant, but that shouldn't take away from his body of work. Though there were some tough showings at points during the campaign, which is to be expected, Hachimura established himself as a solid scorer. 

Yet, what is more impressive to Haberstroh than the 13.4 points per game as a rookie is how Hachimura kept that scoring total despite Washington's situation. The forward was thrown right into the middle of a young roster and asked to create shots. The analyst also noted that Hachimura started playing the sport of basketball at a much later age than other rookies and he's still competing at the same level.

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Hachimura also didn't have the luxury of John Wall, a point guard who could've helped him find more shot opportunities. For times throughout the season, he was asked to be one of "the guys" in Washington, which is no easy task for a rookie. When looking at what he did and who he did it with, Haberstroh thinks the All-Rookie honor makes sense. 

“The minutes that he played, the consistency from a scoring standpoint and the fact that he didn’t have a true playmaker to work with, John Wall out for the season," Haberstroh said. “It’s really been an impressive year for Rui Hachimura and I think he’s done a very, very good job considering the environment that seemed like guys were dropping left and right.”

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