Revis Happy to Start Again as Buccaneers’ Stopper

Manchester United's Robin van Persie, obscured extreme left, celebrates with teammates after scoring against Aston Villa during their English Premier League soccer match at Old Trafford Stadium, Manchester, England, Monday April 22, 2013. (AP Photo/Jon Super)

Manchester United's Robin van Persie, obscured extreme left, celebrates with teammates after scoring against Aston Villa during their English Premier League soccer match at Old Trafford Stadium, Manchester, England, Monday April 22, 2013. (AP Photo/Jon Super)

Tampa, Fla. — Darrelle Revis is confident he will fully recover from a major knee injury and help transform the Tampa Bay Buccaneers into a playoff team.

The three-time All-Pro cornerback acquired from the New York Jets was formally introduced yesterday as the newest member of a defense that ranked last in the NFL in pass defense in 2012.

Revis said he’s going to “do my best” to play up to expectations that come with a new six-year, $96 million contract and insisted during a news conference that he holds no grudges against his old team, which was reluctant to give a player coming off surgery to repair a torn knee ligament such a commitment.

“I have nothing to prove to the New York Jets,” Revis said. “I have nothing to prove to anybody.”

Weeks of reports about the 27-year-old’s future ended Sunday when the Jets traded Revis to the Bucs in exchange for the 13th overall pick in this week’s NFL draft and another selection next year.

The star cornerback also agreed to what Revis conceded is a “unique” contract that includes no guaranteed money.

The Buccaneers not only are banking on Revis to be physically ready to open the season in September against — yes — the Jets, but believe he’s far enough long in his recovery to reasonably expect he’ll be able to get on the field for the start of training camp this summer.

Saints’ Fujita Retires

New Orleans — From the mountaintops of Peru, Scott Fujita has retired.

The Super Bowl-winning linebacker later enmeshed in the Saints bounty scandal signed a one-day contract with New Orleans and retired yesterday. The Saints provided the document, and Fujita signed it while on a trip with former teammate Scott Gleason, who is battling ALS.

The 33-year-old Fujita finished his career with the Cleveland Browns, but was implicated and even suspended for one game by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell for his role in what the league called a performance pool designed to knock targeted opponents out of games from 2009 to 2011. Fujita later was essentially absolved of blame by former commissioner Paul Tagliabue.


Other Marathons
Supporting Boston

Boston — Marathons in Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and Cleveland are joining together to raise money for the victims of last week’s Boston Marathon bombing.

The three May events are providing wristbands that say “Boston Strong” to fans who make any donation to One Fund Boston. The charity was established to help those affected by the explosions at the Boston Marathon finish line that killed three and wounded as many as 200 others.

Cleveland Marathon executive director Jack Staph says participants in his race were looking for a way to help.

All three of the races will hold a moment of silence for the Boston victims.

The Pittsburgh and Cincinnati races are May 5, and the Cleveland event is May 19.


Sprint Cup Road Courses
To Employ Group Qualifying

Charlotte, n.c. — NASCAR will use group qualifying for its two Sprint Cup Series road course races this year.

The format has been used in lower series, but NASCAR had still used single-car qualifying at Sonoma at Watkins Glen until yesterday’s announcement.

The size of the groups were not announced, but will be determined by final practice speeds. The slowest cars will be placed in the first groups, with the fastest cars in the final group.

Each group will be given a pre-determined about of track time to complete their qualifying laps. The fastest lap timed for each car will be considered the driver’s qualifying time.

The change moves qualifying from Friday to Saturday at Sonoma. It was already scheduled for Saturday at Watkins Glen.


ACC TV Rights to League

The Atlantic Coast Conference presidents have agreed for the league to retain media rights for a school that leaves the conference.

The league said Monday each of the current and future schools has signed the deal, which is effective immediately.

The grant of rights would appear to make the league more stable by essentially locking all 15 schools into the ACC through the length of a TV deal, including eventual new arrivals Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Notre Dame and Louisville.

Awarding control of those TV rights — and, more importantly, the money that comes with them — to the league means that a school would have to leave its TV rights behind if it chose to go elsewhere.

Those rights would stay with the ACC, meaning the departing school wouldn’t bring any added TV value to a new league’s broadcast package and make it a less-desirable target for realignment purposes.

The ACC is the fourth major conference to approve a grant of TV rights, joining the Big 12, Big Ten and Pac-12.

“This announcement further highlights the continued solidarity and commitment by our member institutions,” ACC commissioner John Swofford said in a statement. “The Council of Presidents has shown tremendous leadership in insuring the ACC is extremely well-positioned with unlimited potential.”

The move, first reported by The ACC Sports Journal, would be a promising sign of stability for the ACC, which had been besieged by rumors that some of its highest-profile members might consider following Maryland out the door and jumping leagues.

Its existing TV deal with ESPN runs through the 2026-27 season, though the sides are updating that agreement due to expansion and the league is researching the creation of an ACC TV channel.

Duke men’s basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski said the decision “secures the ACC’s future, and thus Duke’s, for years to come.”

“It is one of the great days in the history of our conference as it shows the highest level of commitment — not by words, but by actions,” Krzyzewski said in a statement.

Bubba Cunningham, the athletic director at North Carolina, said the grant of rights “should put (conference) realignment on the shelf.”

“These are strong and definitive moves by the ACC and its member schools to further announce our desire to stay together and position ourselves among the top conferences in the country,” Cunningham said in a statement. “We look forward to continued talks with the ACC and ESPN on how to best strengthen and position our multi-media package.”

The league will add Pittsburgh and Syracuse in all sports this summer, while Notre Dame will join in all league sports except football. Louisville will replace Maryland in 2014.

“The added resources coming to the ACC schools will have a significant impact on the success of our athletic programs,” Florida State president Eric J. Barron said in a statement. “We are also very pleased that we will be moving forward on the next phase of developing an ACC network. The vote of the ACC presidents will ensure that the conference will strengthen its position of leadership among Division I athletics.”

The league had also twice raised its exit fee during recent waves of realignment, first to $20 million in September 2011 when it announced the additions of Pitt and Syracuse from the Big East.

A year later, when the league said it would add Notre Dame, the league said it had increased the fees to three times the league’s annual operation budget — which amounted to more than $52.2 million when Maryland announced two months later that it planned to leave for the Big Ten.

The ACC is currently suing Maryland for payment of that exit fee.

When Louisville replaces Maryland in 2014, the ACC will add a program that won the NCAA men’s basketball title, reached the NCAA women’s basketball final and won the Sugar Bowl this season in exchange for a school that hasn’t been to a bowl game or reached the NCAA men’s basketball tournament since 2010.

UCF Wins NCAA Appeal

Orlando, Fla. — It wasn’t an easy decision for Central Florida to challenge a ruling handed down by the NCAA.

It turned out to be a beneficial one, though.

The NCAA granted UCF’s appeal of a one-year postseason ban in football on Monday, clearing the way for the Knights to be eligible for a bowl berth in their inaugural season in the American Athletic Conference in 2013.

It its report on the ruling, the NCAA wrote that its Infractions Appeals Committee “determined the football postseason ban is excessive such that it constitutes an abuse of discretion.” UCF had argued in its written appeal that the NCAA used “irrelevant factors” in conveying the postseason ban on its football program.

UCF football coach George O’Leary said having it overturned was vindication for an appeal he pressed school president John Hitt to submit after the Committee on Infractions slapped its football and basketball programs with a litany of penalties last year.

“I’m always gonna fight for the athletes if I feel it’s justified,” O’Leary said. “It came out to be a great decision, and it’s something that you don’t win very often.”

UCF’s was originally issued the ban as part of sanctions levied last July for major recruiting violations in football and basketball. It also received a one-year postseason ban in basketball, $50,000 fine, five years’ probation, reduction of basketball scholarships, and limits on football recruiting.

The postseason ban was the lone penalty UCF didn’t accept and it allowed the Knights to participate in the Beef O’Brady’s Bowl in 2012.

UCF presented its appeal of postseason ban in January.

Athletics director Todd Stansbury said that ultimately the decision to appeal was made because Hitt, he and others came to a consensus that “it was the right thing to do” and that the facts presented by the NCAA in their opinion “didn’t justify the penalties.”

“Obviously the fact that it’s taken this long I think shows that they took it seriously, giving it its proper attention,” Stansbury said. “Now we’re ready to look forward and turn the page...This, I think closes out on where we’ve been and allows us to move forward into next season with a full-steam ahead attitude.”

The punishments stemmed from a 2011 NCAA investigation that found the programs were involved with runners for sports agents and making cash payments to recruits.

Former athletics director Keith Tribble and assistant football coach David Kelly were cited for unethical conduct by the NCAA last year and resigned. Tribble was given a three-year show-cause order and Kelly a one-year order. It means any institution that hires them in that time must prove to the NCAA that they are rules compliant.

Basketball coach Donnie Jones was also given a three-year show-cause order.

When the NCAA released the penalties on July 31, it was believed that UCF was simply delaying its bowl ban by a year because the organization doesn’t often overturn its decisions.

But Hitt called the appeal “well-grounded”, noting that none of the players UCF was found to have recruited illegally ever actually played football at the school.

UCF is joining the newly-named American Athletic Conference, formerly the Big East, in all sports when it begins competing for the 2013-14 school year. Next season is also the final year of the conference’s automatic qualifier status to the Bowl Championship Series in football.

The most immediate impact, though, will be felt in recruiting where O’Leary said his coaches had been hearing other schools were using UCF’s possible postseason ban as a means to steer players away from UCF.

“You get rid of a negative,” O’Leary said. “If you didn’t win, it’s all of a sudden now you’re playing for the love of the game...Everything that was available to us this past year is still available for us.”