West Virginia’s All-Big 12 Robinson in NCAA transfer portal

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) — All-Big 12 safety Kenny Robinson is looking to transfer from West Virginia less than three months before the start of the season.
West Virginia football spokesman Mike Montoro confirmed Tuesday that Robinson has put his name into the NCAA’s transfer database.
Robinson started 20 games in two seasons. He had a team-high four interceptions and was second in tackles with 77 as a sophomore in 2018.
His departure would be another setback to a unit that lost all-Big 12 linebacker David Long and much of its defensive line.
Neal Brown enters his first season as coach after Dana Holgorsen left for Houston. Brown brought defensive coordinator Vic Koenning with him from Troy.
___
More AP college football: https://apnews.com/Collegefootball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

Rutschman, Witt, Vaughn lead list of MLB draft prospects

By DENNIS WASZAK Jr. AP Sports Writer
NEW YORK (AP) — Adley Rutschman has been a powerful presence at the plate and a formidable force behind it for Oregon State.
That tantalizing combination could make the switch-hitting catcher the No. 1 overall pick in the Major League Baseball draft Monday night.
Baltimore leads things off for the second time in franchise history, and first since it selected LSU pitcher Ben McDonald in 1989. Rutschman, a Golden Spikes Award finalist and the Pac-12 player of the year, has been linked to the Orioles at No. 1 for most of the college season.
Texas high school shortstop Bobby Witt Jr., the son of former major league pitcher Bobby Witt; Cal first baseman Andrew Vaughn; Vanderbilt outfielder JJ Bleday; and Georgia high school shortstop CJ Abrams are also possibilities to have their names called early by Commissioner Rob Manfred at MLB Network studios in Secaucus, New Jersey.
“It’s hard to understate it — it’s a huge opportunity,” Baltimore general manager Mike Elias said. “Any time you’re picking high in the draft, not just the No. 1 pick, but a top-10 pick, you’ve got a pretty good shot of really getting a franchise cornerstone. But it’s not a 100% shot by any stretch of the imagination. It’s probably more like 50-50 if you look at the historical records of it. So you feel a lot of pressure. There’s a big upside to the opportunity, but nobody has a crystal ball and it’s not easy to nail.
“So we just do as much work as we can going into it, and do what we think is right.”
That could lead to the Orioles doing what has been expected for weeks: taking the impressive Rutschman, who hit .411 with a career-best 17 homers with 58 RBIs and threw out 13 of 27 baserunners for the Beavers.
Here’s a capsule look at some of the top players eligible for the draft (with position, school, age, height, weight and college class):
___
CJ ABRAMS
SS, Blessed Trinity Catholic H.S. (Georgia), 18, 6-foot-1, 178 pounds.
Speedy shortstop could be selected within first five picks. Lefty hitter batted .418 with eight home runs and 100 RBIs in high school career. Impressed teams last summer by hitting .297 with eight RBIs for Team USA’s 18-and-under national team while playing center field. Has speed and arm to remain at shortstop, but could shift to center field or second base at next level.
___
HUNTER BISHOP
OF, Arizona State, 20, 6-5, 210, junior.
Slugging outfielder has powerful left-handed swing that has him ranked among national leaders in home runs (22), RBIs (63), total bases (165) and runs scored (65). Has light-tower power and finished five homers shy of Sun Devils’ single-season record of 27 by Mitch Jones in 2000. Had 44-game on-base streak. Younger brother of Mariners outfielder Braden Bishop (third round, 2015).
___
JJ BLEDAY
OF, Vanderbilt, 21, 6-3, 205, junior.
Finalist for Golden Spikes Award given to country’s top overall player. Southeastern Conference player of year leads nation in homers with school-record 26, with quick lefty swing. Expected to be first college outfielder taken in draft. SEC Tournament MVP hitting .351 and brings 42-game on-base streak into next weekend’s super regionals in NCAA Tournament. Cemented status as potential top-five pick when selected last summer as Cape Cod League’s top prospect.
___
CORBIN CARROLL
OF, Lakeside H.S. (Washington), 18, 5-11, 161.
Speedster committed to play at UCLA, but expected to be top-10 pick. Lacks size of most premier prospects, but not tools. Gatorade’s Washington state player of year hit .540 with nine home runs and 26 RBIs from left side of plate while playing excellent defense in center field. Has solid line-drive power to all fields and always threat on bases with 11 steals as senior.
___
RILEY GREENE
OF, Hagerty H.S. (Florida), 18, 6-1, 191.
Gatorade’s Florida state player of year hit .422 with eight homers, 27 RBIs and 38 runs scored as arguably country’s top prep outfielder. Has smooth left-handed swing that produces consistent line drives. Projects as corner outfielder in pros with good pop. Was one of stars of Team USA’s 18-and-under national team, leading squad with 20 RBIs.
___
SHEA LANGELIERS
C, Baylor, 21, 6-foot, 190, junior.
Outstanding defensive catcher threw out 14 of 25 would-be basestealers. Would be shoo-in for first catcher selected if not for Oregon State’s Adley Rutschman. Bounced back from broken hamate bone in left hand that sidelined him for 10 games. Has raw power in smooth right-handed swing. Hit .308 with 10 homers and 42 RBIs. Set NCAA Tournament record with 11 RBIs in three-homer game vs. Omaha on Saturday night.
___
NICK LODOLO
LHP, TCU, 21, 6-6, 185, junior.
Generally regarded as top pitching prospect in this year’s class , lefty went 6-6 with 2.36 ERA and struck out 131 while walking just 25 in 103 innings for Horned Frogs. Was 41st overall pick by Pirates in 2016 — highest selection to go unsigned that year. Expected to become school’s highest-drafted player, topping Lance Broadway (No. 15 by White Sox in 2005). Uses three-quarters arm angle to throw mid-90s fastball with nice sink. Slider also plus-pitch that sits in low-80s and complements solid changeup.
___
ALEK MANOAH
RHP, West Virginia, 21, 6-6, 260, junior.
Unanimous Big 12 pitcher of year had school-record 144 strikeouts while going 9-4 with 2.08 ERA and just 27 walks in 108 1/3 innings. Imposing power pitcher slings fastball in mid- to upper-90s. Also mixes in solid slider and changeup. Went undrafted out of high school, but led Cape Cod League in strikeouts last summer. Had scoreless streak of 33 1/3 innings this season, span that included consecutive shutouts of Texas Tech and Kansas with 15 strikeouts in each game.
___
JACKSON RUTLEDGE
RHP, San Jacinto J.C. (Texas), 20, 6-8, 240, sophomore.
Big righty fires fastballs that sit in mid- to upper-90s late into games as part of five-pitch repertoire that includes solid slider and knee-buckling curve. Top junior college prospect in this year’s draft class went 9-2 with four complete games, 0.87 ERA and 134 Ks and 30 walks in 82 2/3 innings. Was considered a top high school pitcher in Missouri, but opted for college. Transferred from Arkansas after freshman season.
___
ADLEY RUTSCHMAN
C, Oregon State, 21, 6-2, 216, junior.
Golden Spikes Award finalist was Pac-12 player of year and conference’s co-defensive player of year. Widely considered favorite to go No. 1 overall to Baltimore. Would mark seventh time player drafted as catcher taken with top pick — first since Joe Mauer in 2001. Switch-hitting slugger ranks among national leaders in several offensive categories, including on-base percentage (.575), slugging percentage (.751) and school-record 76 walks. Was 40th-round pick of Seattle in 2016.
___
ANDREW VAUGHN
1B, California, 21, 6-foot, 214, junior.
Outstanding overall hitter looking to become first repeat winner of Golden Spikes Award after being selected as country’s top college player as sophomore last year. Widely considered best all-around hitter in draft, Vaughn hit .381 with 15 homers and 50 RBIs with .544 on-base percentage that ranks among national leaders. Struck out just 74 times in three seasons.
___
BOBBY WITT JR.
SS, Colleyville Heritage H.S. (Texas), 18, 6-foot, 180.
Son of former big league pitcher Bobby Witt, who was selected No. 3 overall in 1985 draft. Would become seventh father-son combo of first-rounders, and first since Delino DeShields (1987) and Delino DeShields Jr. (2010). Could also become highest-drafted father-son duo, topping Tom Grieve (No. 6, 1966) and Ben Grieve (No. 2, 1994). Younger Witt considered top high school prospect this year. Five-tools shortstop has impressive power with smooth right-handed swing.
___
OTHER POTENTIAL EARLY FIRST-ROUNDERS: Florida high school RHP Matthew Allan; Texas high school 3B Brett Baty; California high school 3B Keoni Cavaco; Tulane 3B Kody Hoese; Elon RHP George Kirby; UNLV shortstop Bryson Stott; and Kentucky left-hander Zack Thompson
___
AP Sports Writer Dave Ginsburg in Baltimore, Maryland, contributed.
___
More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Things to know about NCAA baseball regionals

By ERIC OLSON AP Sports Writer
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — The NCAA baseball tournament opens Friday with play in 16 double-elimination regionals. Regional winners advance to best-of-three super regionals next week, and the final eight go to the College World Series in Omaha beginning June 15. Some of the top story lines:
WHO’S HOT
Central Michigan has won 18 games in a row and is in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1995. The Chippewas (46-12), who play Miami in the Starkville (Mississippi) Regional, need one win to tie the school record in coach Jordan Bischel’s first season. Other teams with double-digit streaks are Jacksonville State (12) and No. 1 national seed UCLA (10). No. 2 national seed Vanderbilt has won 22 of its last 23.
WHO’S NOT
Arizona State, which won 21 straight to start the season, has lost five of its last seven. Baylor has lost four of five, Duke seven of 10, Florida six of 11, Michigan seven of 12, Louisville six of 10 and Auburn 11 of 17.
CURSE OF THE 1 SEED
The last No. 1 national seed to win the championship was Miami in 1999, the first year of the current tournament structure. Oregon State was a No. 3 seed when it won the title last year. The most recent No. 1 to reach the College World Series finals was Texas in 2009.
FEELING A DRAFT
At least a dozen projected first-round picks in the Major League Baseball draft Monday through Wednesday are in the tournament, including the likely No. 1 selection, Oregon State catcher Adley Rutschman. Others are Arizona State outfielder Hunter Bishop, California first baseman Andrew Vaughn, Vanderbilt outfielder J.J. Bleday, TCU pitcher Nick Lodolo, Baylor catcher Shea Langeliers, West Virginia pitcher Alek Manoah, Texas Tech infielder Josh Jung, Clemson shortstop Logan Davidson, North Carolina first baseman-outfielder Michael Busch, North Carolina State shortstop Will Wilson and Campbell pitcher Seth Johnson.
NAME YOU KNOW
Mississippi State senior center fielder Jake Mangum is the Southeastern Conference’s all-time hits leader (372) and is three hits from becoming the first Bulldogs player to collect 100 in back-to-back seasons. Mangum bats leadoff and has reached base in 212 of 235 career games started.
NAME YOU DON’T KNOW
Campbell’s Seth Johnson has gone from being a light-hitting shortstop in junior college to potential first-round draft pick as a pitcher. He hadn’t pitched since middle school before begging his coach at Louisburg College in North Carolina to give him a chance last year. He totaled six innings over five appearances, striking out 11 and walking none. Johnson transferred to Campbell and though his 3-3 record and 4.72 ERA are modest, he’s touched 98 mph and is consistently in the low 90s with a four-pitch repertoire.
CHASING .400
Three players are batting better than .400 — Oregon State’s Rutschman (.419), Vanderbilt third baseman Austin Martin (.414) and Creighton first baseman Jake Holton (.405).
MAKING THEIR PITCH
The top six ERA teams are in the tournament: UCLA (2.59), Oregon State (2.98), Texas A&M (3.04), Fordham (3.08), Georgia (3.10) and UC Santa Barbara (3.21). UCLA leads the nation with 11 shutouts, 6.16 hits allowed per nine innings and 1.06 walks/hits per innings pitched. The Bruins are in the top 10 in strikeout-walk ratio (3.12) and strikeouts per nine innings (10.5). Louisville’s Reid Detmers, Vanderbilt’s Drake Fellows, Fresno State’s Ryan Jensen, Omaha’s Payton Kinney and UCLA’s Jack Ralston share the national lead with 11 wins apiece.
BIG BOPPERS
Seven players in the tournament have hit at least 20 homers: Vanderbilt’s Bleday (nation-high 26), Georgia Tech’s Kyle McCann (23), Arizona State’s Bishop (22), Mercer’s Kel Johnson (22), Miami’s Alejandro Toral (22), Arizona State’s Spencer Torkelson (21) and Southern Mississippi’s Matt Wallner (21).
MARTIN’S LAST CHANCE
Florida State, at 42 in a row, owns the longest active streak of NCAA appearances. Mike Martin has led the Seminoles to the national tournament each of his 40 years as coach and has made it to the CWS 16 times. He retires after the season, making this his last chance to win his first national championship.
Vanderbilt, at 14 straight, has the second-longest streak of appearances, followed by Florida (12) and Clemson (11).
Omaha of the Summit League is in the tournament for the first time.

New agent rule leaves college basketball player in limbo

By AARON BEARD AP Basketball Writer
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The new NCAA rule designed to help players explore their NBA draft potential by allowing them to sign with an agent and still return to school surprisingly doesn’t apply to all college players.
It was a stunning revelation for Phil Bledsoe from tiny Division II Glenville State in West Virginia when he learned the rule adopted amid the college basketball scandal only applies to Division I players.
Though Bledsoe followed the meticulous guidelines outlined by the NCAA to take advantage of the rule, he found out Tuesday that the restriction leaves him entangled in bureaucratic limbo and his college status unclear. He pulled out of the draft before Wednesday night’s 11:59 p.m. NCAA deadline for underclassmen to withdraw if they plan to return to campus.
“This didn’t need to happen,” Bill Lilly, the dismayed compliance coordinator at Glenville State who made the mistake, told The Associated Press. “I could’ve avoided it, but we could’ve had help in avoiding this thing, too, because we weren’t trying to sneak anything by anyone. We were just trying to give the kid the option we thought he had, and now he doesn’t have it.”
The NCAA did not immediately respond to inquiries about why the rule doesn’t apply to all college basketball players.
However, one thing is clear: Compliance officers play a pivotal role in the deciphering the rules. The NCAA allows schools to communicate directly with the NBA when notifying the league of a player’s intent to enter — then withdraw — from the draft.
Bledsoe sought out Maryland-based agent Jerry Dianis as he declared for the draft with the intent of maintaining his college eligibility. Dianis had previously attended a National Basketball Player Association seminar in recent months where NCAA representatives had attended to discuss the new rule, while Lilly said he spoke with colleagues and twice consulted with the NBA — which is focused on who is entering the draft and who is withdrawing, not who plans to return to school per NCAA guidelines.
Still, no one working with Bledsoe foresaw a problem for the 6-foot-6 junior who played his first two college seasons at Marshall in the Division I ranks.
“Everyone collectively, there was no division in thought in this,” Dianis said, “from the agent to the compliance officer to the head coach to the player. We were all on one accord.”
The rule, implemented last August amid numerous reforms proposed by former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s Commission on College Basketball. It permits agents to cover minimal travel expenses for team meetings and workouts, though those contracts must end if the player withdraws from the draft and returns to school.
Sounds simple enough, until trying to determine who the rule applies to.
The rule was adopted by the Division I Board of Directors overseeing only the NCAA’s top division of athletics. The NCAA launched the “Committed to Change” web page to explain the reforms, and broad terms such as “basketball student-athletes” and “college basketball players” are used when referencing the new agent rule without definitively saying it does not apply to Division II or Division III players.
It takes a deeper dive into the NCAA’s legislative database to make that distinction.
All three divisions have a starting point of General Rule 12.3.1, which prohibits athletes from agreeing to be represented by an agent either verbally or in writing. But there’s an exception outlined in the Division I rules permitting players to sign with an NCAA-certified agent (Section 12.3.1.2), yet that exception doesn’t appear in the Division II and Division III rulebooks and was never adopted at those levels.
“You just don’t think of this being separated between Is, IIs and IIIs, and if so, why?” Lilly said. “What’s the purpose of not allowing a Division II kid to have the same opportunity a Division I kid has?”
Some Division I players took advantage of the rule, following the same steps that Bledsoe took, including one who also worked with Dianis without any problems.
The agent helped Kevon Harris of Stephen F. Austin get feedback on his game before he withdrew from the draft to return to school.
“Just having somebody that’s just for you, that’s looking out for you, that’s calling and talking to teams — just for you,” Harris said. “Because your coach, he can only do so much. He’s got a team full. Of course he’s going to look out for you, but an agent is supposed to do his part and talk to GMs himself and call around. … I’ve got my name out even more. I’m just excited to be able to do it.”
Northeast Conference player of the year Keith Braxton of St. Francis in Pennsylvania agrees with Harris.
Braxton, a 6-5 guard, signed with agent Pedro Power but hopes he has generated NBA interest as he returns for his senior season after withdrawing from the draft.
“Just having an agent helps you build those connections that you might not have had beforehand,” Braxton said, adding: “It’s very helpful, very helpful. I couldn’t imagine doing it without him.”
Bledsoe took the same route, followed the same steps. But because he plays at a Division II school, the accounting major who Dianis said has a 3.7 GPA now is awaiting to see what’s next for him.
Dianis doesn’t believe this is what Rice and the commission had in mind and he is optimistic Glenville State and the NCAA will be able to resolve Bledsoe’s situation.
“I’ve had the conversation with the NCAA and I don’t anticipate there will be any issues at all in reference to his continued playing,” Dianis said. “Rational minds realize it’s just an oversight on the NCAA’s part, is the way I look at it. You just have to be more clear.
“How hard is it to add a sentence or to add ‘Division I’ just to include that in the information that was sent out?”
___
Follow Aaron Beard on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/aaronbeardap
___
More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/CollegeBasketball and http://www.twitter.com/AP_Top25

Oklahoma St. tops W. Virginia 5-2 in Big 12 title game

By CLIFF BRUNT AP Sports Writer
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma State had to work twice as hard to win the Big 12 title.
The Cowboys’ tournament semifinal against TCU that was originally set for Saturday night was moved to Sunday because of bad weather. That meant Oklahoma State would have to win twice on Sunday to win the championship.
The Cowboys did just that. They beat TCU in a 10-inning thriller to get to the final, then Brett Standlee gave up one run in seven innings to help Oklahoma State defeat West Virginia 5-2 in title game.
“The kids went out and delivered,” Oklahoma State coach Josh Holiday said. “I’m very proud of our ball club and very happy for our program and our school.”
The third-seeded Cowboys (36-18) won their third tournament title overall and their second in three years. Oklahoma State’s Colin Simpson was selected as Most Outstanding Player, edging out teammate Andrew Navigato.
Standlee, a 6-foot-4 redshirt freshman, was just as valuable in the final. He threw 98 pitches, including 68 strikes.
“We knew if we got to the final that someone would have to step up,” Holiday said. “Point blank. Someone’s got to step up. And Brett did.”
Fourth-seeded West Virginia (37-20) was seeking its first title since joining the conference before the 2013 season. The Mountaineers expect to make a deep NCAA Tournament run and have a chance to reach the College World Series.
“Obviously, we wanted to win the championship, but we just came short of that goal,” West Virginia coach Randy Mazey said.
“At the end of the day, we’re not going to hang our heads. We’re going to get back, we’re going to practice hard and we’re going to get ready for the weekend coming up.”
West Virginia’s TJ Lake scored in the third inning to give the Mountaineers a 1-0 lead.
The Cowboys tied the game when Jake Taylor scored on a bases-loaded walk by Colin Simpson with two outs. Navigato then doubled to score two and give the Cowboys a 3-1 lead.
West Virginia had two on and no outs in the eighth, but did not score.
“We had some guys on base and hit into a couple double plays,” Mazey said. “We hit the ball hard and it just went right to them. If those hits go between them, it’s a whole different game.”
Oklahoma State then added insurance during its half of the eighth when Carson McCusker singled to score Navigato and Alix Garcia’s single scored McCusker.
Perhaps as big as anything in the final was what the Cowboys did in Sunday’s semifinal to even qualify for the championship game.
With Oklahoma State trailing TCU 6-5 heading into the bottom of the 10th, Christian Funk led off with a single and moved to third on a fielding error. Pinch runner Noah Sifrit scored on a single by Navigato to tie the score at 6. Garcia singled to score Navigato for the winner.
“The rally in that first game created this moment for us, gave us the chance to do what we did in the second game,” Holiday said.
___
Follow Cliff Brunt on Twitter: www.twitter.com/CliffBruntAP .

Frazier, Williams lead Pirates to 2-1 win over Cardinals

By JOE HARRIS Associated Press
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Adam Frazier opened the game with a homer, Starling Marte drove in the game-winner and Trevor Williams allowed one run in seven solid innings as the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the St. Louis Cardinals 2-1 on Friday night.
Marte’s RBI single off of Andrew Miller (1-2) broke a 1-1 tie in the eighth and helped the Pirates snap a two-game skid.
Williams (2-1) stranded seven runners through the first four innings, and pitched around two fielding errors in the fourth inning. He allowed nine hits and limited the Cardinals to one hit in seven at-bats with runners in scoring position.
The Cardinals finished with one hit in nine at-bats with runners in scoring position, one night after getting a whopping 11 hits in that situation. St. Louis lost for the seventh time in nine games.
The only run allowed by Williams was shift-aided. Paul DeJong grounded a slow roller to second, but Frazier was playing on the third base side of the bag and couldn’t get to the ball in time to make a throw. The infield hit scored Yairo Muñoz, tying the game 1-1 in the seventh inning.
Kyle Crick pitched out of a jam in the eighth inning with runners on first and third. Felipe Vázquez struck out Paul Goldschmidt to cap a perfect ninth and earn his 11th save.
Frazier drove a 3-2 fastball from Adam Wainwright over the right field wall to give the Pirates a 1-0 lead. It was the second time this year — and fourth time in his career — that Frazier began a game with a home run.
The Pirates’ Josh Bell extended his hitting streak to 10 games in the first inning and saved a run with a diving stop on a smash by Matt Carpenter that ended the second inning.
Wainwright went a season-high seven innings and retired the final 10 batters he faced. He struck out eight — five looking — and allowed five hits and no walks.
BATTERY MATES
It was the 250th time that Yadier Molina caught a Wainwright start, moving the duo to ninth all-time in the majors ahead of Early Wynn and Jim Hegan (1949-1957 Cleveland Indians).
YADI HONORED
Molina was presented with the 2018 Roberto Clemente Award before the game for to his humanitarian efforts in his native Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria. Luis Clemente, the second-oldest son of Roberto, and Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith presented the award.
TRAINING ROOM
Pirates: RHP Chris Archer (right thumb irritation) threw a four-inning, 60-pitch simulated game to teammates Corey Dickerson, Lonnie Chisenhall and Elias Díaz on Friday. He said he had no issues griping the ball on any of his pitches.
“I threw everything, everything felt fine, no pitch was affected, body feels good,” Archer said. “I’m not sure exactly where we go from here, but I’m ready to pitch five days from now in a big league game.”
Cardinals: RHP Carlos Martinez (right shoulder cuff strain) threw a scoreless inning of relief, striking out two and giving up a hit, at Triple-A Memphis on Friday night. He is still considered two weeks away.
UP NEXT
The Pirates will send RHP Jordan Lyles (2-1, 2.20 ERA) to the mound against the Cardinals and RHP Miles Mikolas (4-2, 4.02 ERA) in the third of a four-game series on Saturday. Lyles gave up one run in a season-high 6 2/3 innings in a no-decision against Oakland on Sunday. Mikolas pitched seven scoreless innings and didn’t walk a batter for the first time this season against Philadelphia on Monday.
___
More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Analysis: Which new college football coaches might succeed?

By RALPH D. RUSSO AP College Football Writer
Success for a college football coach is best determined over an extended period of time.
Impatient Florida State fans might not want to hear that these days. Willie Taggart will enter Season 2 as Seminoles coach trying to rebound from maybe the worst debut of any of last season’s first-year FBS coaches. Florida State (5-7) missed a bowl game for the first time since 1981.
Same goes for Chip Kelly at UCLA (3-9). Kelly’s first season was even worse than Taggart’s. The nature of the fanbases and program expectations mean Kelly is likely to be extended more patience in rebuilding than Taggart. The last recruiting cycle, however, suggests the forecast for UCLA’s resurgence under Kelly might have been overly optimistic.
Last year’s Most Likely to Succeed ranking for newly hired head coaches in FBS had Kelly No. 1 and Taggart No. 2. So, yeah, now is a good time to remind you the Most Likely to Succeed list is a long-term projection based how the coach fits, program expectations and resources, and the coach’s ability to meet expectations and maximize resources.
Two years ago, Jeff Brohm of Purdue and P.J. Fleck of Minnesota were Nos. 1 and 2 on the first Most Likely to Succeed list, a ranking maybe most notable for the fact that No. 6 among the 21 coaches has already been fired. Mike Sanford went 9-16, including 3-9 last year, as Brohm’s replacement at Western Kentucky. Meanwhile, Jeff Tedford, who was No. 20, is 22-6 at Fresno State.
Welp.
Undeterred, the 2019 Most Likely to Succeed list, ranking the new hires in FBS on the likelihood the coach’s tenure will ultimately be viewed as a success:
1. Dana Holgorsen, Houston
Holgorsen ducked out on a West Virginia rebuild and returned to the state of Texas, where he had success early in his career as an assistant. Looks like a shrewd move. Based on funding, facilities, recruiting territory and conference competition, it should be easier to win big with the Cougars than with the Mountaineers. That’s no knock on Holgo. He proved to be a quality coach at WVU going 61-41 overall and 38-32 in the Big 12. Hard to imagine this not working out well for everyone involved.
2. Hugh Freeze, Liberty
Liberty is a newcomer to FBS, but the school has poured millions into its football program and now has landed a coach with a tarnished reputation but a 19-21 Southeastern Conference record at Ole Miss. Success under Freeze seems likely. It could also be fleeting. Don’t expect him to hang around long if he wins.
3. Geoff Collins, Georgia Tech
Year 1 for the Yellow Jackets as Collins converts the roster from triple-option football is likely to be ugly. But look at the big picture: Georgia Tech’s backyard has never been more fertile in terms of recruiting. Players are plentiful and coming from increasingly well-resourced high schools. Collins, a native of the area and twice on staff at Tech, has the potential to be a dynamic recruiter. Considering the state of ACC Coastal competition, Georgia Tech could be primed to shift the balance of power.
4. Neal Brown, West Virginia
This is another long play. Anything better than bowl-eligibility in 2019 will be a raging success for the rebuilding Mountaineers. Brown was potentially the biggest score of the last carousel, a young coach who seems to understand the broad vision it takes to run a successful program. The ceiling for West Virginia, the eastern outlier in the Big 12, might not be much higher than what Holgorsen hit. This ranking is a bet Brown can break through it eventually.
5. Scott Satterfield, Louisville
Jilted by hometown hero, Jeff Brohm, Louisville’s plan B has big-time potential. Satterfield brings the App State way to the ACC, which was good for 51-24 in six seasons. The initial rebuild for Satterfield is even more daunting than what Collins and Brown face. Bobby Petrino left a smoldering pile of rubble behind, but fundamentals of the program are solid and so is Satterfield.
6. Manny Diaz, Miami
The more time passes since Miami’s glory days, the more it seems as if the Hurricanes will never be able to recreate them. But that shouldn’t be the benchmark for success under the 45-year-old Diaz, a first-time head coach and Miami native. The Hurricanes have won the ACC Coastal once in 15 years. That’s absurd. If Diaz can simply make that a regular occurrence, he will be a success.
7. Will Healy, Charlotte
At 34 years old, Healy is a high-upside coach who already has an impressive turnaround on his record at FCS Murray State. Charlotte is a young FBS program, playing in a Conference USA that is flush with opportunity for upward mobility. Nice combination.
8. Chris Klieman, Kansas State
Fit, fit, fit. Some K-State fans were unhappy the Wildcats “settled” for an FCS coach, but Klieman’s recent North Dakota State teams were probably better than what Hall of Famer Bill Snyder was rolling out in his last few seasons. The North Dakota State model should fit nicely in Manhattan.
9. Mack Brown, North Carolina
Brown coached the Tar Heels from 1988-97 and led them to four seasons of at least nine victories, including three in double digits. North Carolina has surpassed nine wins in a season once since Brown left for Texas. What North Carolina needs most is stability. It doesn’t seem like too much to ask of Brown.
10. Ryan Day, Ohio State
The last five Ohio State football coaches include four Hall of Famers and Urban Meyer, who was the most successful of them all. Good luck keeping the folks in Columbus satisfied, Ryan.
11. Eliah Drinkwitz, Appalachian State
Appalachian State is a rock of a program, solid to the core. But the school went outside the family for the 36-year-old former offensive coordinator. Drinkwitz has a reputation for being brainy. Smart enough not to screw up a good thing?
12. Chip Lindsey, Troy
Another good looking fit. The Alabama native and former Auburn offensive coordinator takes over a program coming off three straight double-digit win seasons under Neal Brown. A word of caution though for Lindsey (and Drinkwitz): Fortunes can turn quickly at this level of FBS. See: Western Kentucky under Mike Sanford.
13. Mike Houston, East Carolina
Houston was 80-25 in eight seasons in Division II and FCS, including a national title at James Madison. East Carolina is a program with a proud history that has lost its way. As with most AAC programs, the faster Houston turns things around the sooner he becomes a Power Five job candidate.
14. Matt Wells, Texas Tech
The Red Raiders brought in Wells to coach the whole team, not just the offense, after six seasons of Kliff Kingsbury struggling to do just that. If success is defined as better than Kingsbury, that seems like an attainable goal for Wells. If Red Raiders fans expect to replicate Mike Leach’s success in Lubbock, they’re probably setting themselves up to be disappointed.
15. Rod Carey, Temple
After Manny Diaz bailed on Temple in January, the administration decided it needed an experienced coach whose style matched the Owls. Enter Carey, whose rugged Northern Illinois teams finished at least tied for first in the MAC West in four of six seasons. Seems like a safe hire. Maybe too safe?
16. Jake Spavital, Texas State
If nothing else, the 34-year-old Next Gen Air Raid guru should make Texas State fun and interesting.
17. Tom Arth, Akron
The 37-year-old Ohio native’s roots go back to Division III power John Carroll. It’s a hire that harkens to Buffalo bringing in Lance Leipold. That worked out great, but Arth has far less experience than Leipold did.
18. Jamey Chadwell, Coastal Carolina
Joe Moglia’s hand-picked successor takes on a program that is still trying to find its footing in FBS. His previous head coaching experience (60-35 in DII and FCS) suggests upside.
19. Mel Tucker, Colorado
Colorado has had one winning football season since 2005. Tucker, the former Georgia defensive coordinator and Alabama assistant, will try to bring Nick Saban’s Process to the Pac-12. Is Colorado ready to make the commitment necessary to execute the plan?
20. Les Miles, Kansas
The bar could not be much lower in Lawrence. Miles, the 65-year-old former LSU coach, just needs to make the Jayhawks competent. Yet, still, skepticism abounds.
21. Mike Locksley, Maryland
Locksley has deep ties to the area, which should help in both recruiting and unifying a program and community left fractured by the death of offensive lineman Jordan McNair during DJ Durkin’s tenure as head coach. Locksley also has on his resume an embarrassingly bad three-year stint as New Mexico coach. Boom or bust hire.
22. Thomas Hammock, Northern Illinois
The former NIU running back is a first-time head coach with NFL experience. He steps into a program that has been a model of consistency — no easy feat in the MAC — for about a decade. Tough spot to learn on the job.
23. Tyson Helton, Western Kentucky
Helton was Brohm’s quarterback coach and offensive coordinator when the Hilltoppers were killing it 2014 and ’15. Not a bad idea going back to that tree.
24. Walt Bell, UMass
The 34-year-old Bell takes over maybe the toughest FBS job in the country. Just getting UMass to a bowl game could merit a statue.
25. Scot Loeffler, Bowling Green
Loeffler brings Midwest roots and eight seasons as an offensive coordinator to BG. Of course, none of those offenses were particularly impressive.
26. Gary Andersen, Utah State
Certain factions at Utah State pushed for Andersen’s return after Matt Wells left. He knows the challenges of the program and has had success in Logan, but he did little to distinguish himself after leaving.
27. Jim McElwain, Central Michigan
It’s not easy for MAC schools to land experienced head coaches on the cheap, but Florida paid $7.5 million when it let go of McElwain after 2017 so here we are. Question: If McElwain was consistently unsatisfied with support and resources at Florida how does this end well?
___
Follow Ralph D. Russo at https://twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP and listen at https://podcastone.com/AP-Top-25-College-Football-Podcast
___
More AP college football: https://apnews.com/Collegefootball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

Panthers draft pick Grier says his role is to support Newton

By STEVE REED AP Sports Writer
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — As Will Grier launched his tee shot down the first fairway at Quail Hollow Club on Wednesday, one overzealous fan shouted “Move over Cam!”
Grier appreciates the support, but he knows that’s not happening anytime soon.
Cam Newton is in no danger over losing his starting job to the Panthers new third round draft pick.
While Grier joins the Panthers with the swagger, intellect and maturity of a potential starting NFL quarterback, he’ll have to wait his turn. Panthers general manager Marty Hurney has said unequivocally Newton remains the team’s starter and franchise quarterback.
Grier is smart enough to know that, and the rookie is saying all the right things.
“You do what is best for the team in all aspects,” Grier said at the Wells Fargo Championship Pro-Am golf event. “That’s really what I am here to do is to support Cam and be there for him and push him and make him better and be there for anything he needs. But also, my job is to be ready to go when my name is called.”
But if he does get a shot, the hometown quarterback will certainly have the support of fans.
He grew up in Davidson, North Carolina — about a 20-minute drive from where the Panthers call home. He grew up watching Panthers games in the team’s downtown stadium and cheered for his favorite player, Steve Smith. He became a local hero of sorts when he garnered national attention after throwing for a high school-record 834 yards and 10 touchdowns in a state playoff game for Davidson Day, where his father Chad coached.
When the Panthers drafted Grier, it set social media in the Carolinas abuzz.
Grier’s popularity was evident as he teed off alongside PGA Tour pro J.B. Holmes before a gallery of hundreds. He spent the next several hours signing autographs and posing for selfies between golf shots.
Grier said it has been an equally “hectic and happy” week, but now he’s eager to get to work when the Panthers open rookie minicamp on May 10.
“I’m just ready to play ball again,” said Grier who threw for 3,864 yards and 37 touchdowns last season for the Mountaineers and finished fourth in the Heisman Trophy voting. “It feels like forever. You go through this whole process and I’m definitely excited to get back to throwing a football.”
The one thing that could potentially expedite Grier’s playing time is the uncertainty surrounding Newton’s shoulder.
While the Panthers say the 2015 league MVP is experiencing more flexibility in his right shoulder since surgery, Newton still hadn’t thrown a pass as of last weekend. So despite Carolina’s optimism, it’s too early to know if Newton will be completely healthy and able to return to top form.
Grier gives the Panthers an insurance policy for Newton, who turns 30 next week and has two years left on his current contract.
Carolina’s only other backups are Tyler Heinicke and Kyle Allen, who have three career starts between them.
Grier hasn’t had much conversation with Newton, other than exchanging a few text messages after the draft. But he did see a chiseled Newton among several shirtless Panthers on social media on what the team has dubbed “flex Friday.”
“He looks a lot better than I do right now,” Grier said with a laugh. “I have to get in the weight room with him.”
Grier hasn’t had much time to think about football during what has been a whirlwind week. There were a series of interviews after the draft, followed by an invitation to play in the Pro-Am, which he said he couldn’t pass up — even though he’s an 18 handicap and rarely plays anymore now that he has a wife and a 2-year-old daughter.
On Wednesday, his focus was on keeping the ball in the fairway.
He’s no Tiger Woods.
He sent a worm-burner off the second tee that failed to make it out of the rough and into the fairway. A little while later he said to a fan, “I promise I’m a better football player than a golfer.”
___
More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/tag/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

Reynolds keeps rookie run going as Pirates top Rangers 7-5

By SCHUYLER DIXON AP Sports Writer
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Rookie Bryan Reynolds is closing in on teammate Gregory Polanco for a little piece of Pittsburgh Pirates history.
Polanco is enjoying the view.
Reynolds kept up his impressive start, hitting a three-run double as the Pirates completed a two-game sweep in Texas by topping the Rangers 7-5 on Wednesday.
A day after his first career home run put the Pirates ahead in the 11th inning of a 6-4 win that ended an eight-game losing streak, Reynolds extended his career-opening hitting streak to nine games with a liner over left fielder Joey Gallo’s head in the fourth.
A 24-year-old outfielder acquired in the trade that sent Andrew McCutchen to San Francisco before the 2018 season, Reynolds joined Polanco as the only Pirates since 1900 with a hit in each of their first nine games in the big leagues. Polanco debuted with an 11-game streak in 2014.
“It’s fun. It happened to me,” said Polanco, who had an RBI double to help keep the Pirates in front. “It’s humbling. It’s just like playing the game. You don’t think about nothing. You just play the game.”
All four of Reynolds’ RBIs in the majors came in the two games against the Rangers. He’s hitting .414.
“That’s every kid’s dream, to play in the majors, and very few people get that opportunity,” Reynolds said. “I’m lucky enough and blessed enough to have that opportunity, so I’m just trying to enjoy it.”
The Rangers hit three homers, starting with the 11th of the season from Gallo on a 114 mph liner off the fencing of the foul pole in right. On Tuesday, Gallo set a club record with 10 home runs before May 1.
Danny Santana led off the seventh with his third, also off Pittsburgh starter Jameson Taillon. Shin-Soo Choo pulled the Rangers within 6-5 on a two-run shot against reliever Richard Rodriguez later in the inning. His fourth homer landed just beyond the wall in right over a leaping Melky Cabrera.
After an RBI single from Elias Diaz for a two-run lead, Kyle Crick pitched a perfect eighth and Felipe Vazquez made it 2 for 2 on saves in the series, getting his eighth in eight chances by striking out Choo and pinch-hitter Hunter Pence with the tying run at second in the ninth.
FOR STARTERS
Taillon (2-3) won for the second time in three starts, allowing five hits and four runs — three earned — with five strikeouts in 6 1/3 innings.
Shelby Miller gave up exactly four runs in a fifth straight start after cruising through the first three innings. Five of six hitters reached against the Texas right-hander in the fourth, capped by Reynolds’ one-out double. Miller (1-2) allowed four hits and two walks in 3 1/3 innings.
STRUGGLING AND SUBBED OUT
Rougned Odor was 0 for 4 to drop to 2 for 24 since his return from a right knee sprain when manager Chris Woodward decided on a righty-lefty matchup by using Pence against the hard-throwing lefty Vazquez. The lefty-hitting Odor’s average is down to .136.
“It hurts to have to do that because I feel like he’s going to be one of our foundational players,” Woodward said. “And he knows that. I had a good talk with him before the game. It’s not that I’ve lost any trust in him.”
TRAINER’S ROOM
Pirates: C Francisco Cervelli was out of the lineup a day after getting hit by a pitch on his left wrist. The club said there was no fracture, and it appeared unlikely he was headed for the injured list. … RHP Chris Archer hasn’t thrown since experiencing right thumb inflammation that put him on the IL on Monday, a day after his most recent start. The club anticipates him being ready when he’s eligible to return.
Rangers: LHP Drew Smyly (left arm nerve tightness) reported no discomfort after throwing 37 pitches in a simulated game. Barring a setback, he could start Sunday against Toronto. … RHP Owen White, a second-round pick in last year’s draft, was scheduled for Tommy John surgery on his right elbow Wednesday.
UP NEXT
Pirates: RHP Joe Musgrove (1-2, 2.06 ERA) is set for his seventh appearance and sixth start Friday at home against Oakland. He worked at least six innings in each of his first five starts.
Rangers: LHP Mike Minor (3-2, 2.88) is 3-1 with a 1.75 ERA is his past five starts and ranks fourth among AL pitchers with opponents hitting .179 against him. He is one of three big leaguers with four starts of at least seven innings each.
___
More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/tag/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

West Virginia 2019-20 nonleague schedule has 7 home dates

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) — West Virginia will play seven men’s nonconference basketball games at home next season.
WVU announced the nonconference portion of its schedule Monday.
The Mountaineers open the 2019-20 season at home against Akron on Nov. 8. After playing at Pittsburgh Nov. 15, WVU will host Northern Colorado on Nov. 18 and Boston University on Nov. 22 as part of the Cancun Challenge before completing the tournament with two more games in Mexico on Nov. 26 and Nov. 27.
Other nonconference home games are Dec. 1 against Rhode Island, Dec. 12 against Austin Peay, Dec. 14 against Nicholls State and the Big 12-SEC Challenge against an undetermined opponent Jan. 25.
Other road games include Dec. 7 or 8 at St. John’s, against Youngstown State at an off-campus site in Youngstown, Ohio, on Dec. 21, and a neutral-site game against Ohio State in Cleveland on Dec. 29.