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POSTED April 25, 2012 12:15 a.m.


u GRIGSON MAKES IT OFFICIAL, COLTS WILL TAKE LUCK: INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — It’s official: Andrew Luck will be the No. 1 choice in Thursday night’s NFL draft.

Colts general manager Ryan Grigson ended the suspense with his announcement following Tuesday’s mini-camp workout at the team complex.

The announcement is hardly a surprise. Last Wednesday, Grigson said the Colts had made a decision about who to take with the first choice but declined to say whether it would be Luck, the Heisman Trophy runner-up, or Robert Griffin III, the Heisman winner.

Less than 24 hours later, The Associated Press learned that the choice would be Luck barring an unforeseen accident.

Grigson says he didn’t see the point in prolonging what “the world already knows.” Luck will become the new face of the franchise, replacing Peyton Manning.

VITT DEFENDS SAINTS PLAYERS, BUT NOT HIS OWN WORDS: METAIRIE, La. (AP) — Joe Vitt used his first public comments as the face of the Saints’ coaching staff to accept some blame for the bounty scandal that has plagued the club’s offseason. Then he sought to clear the names of his players.

“At no time did any of our players ever cross the white line with the intention of hurting another player,” the assistant head coach said Tuesday afternoon. “That being said, I’m serving a six-game suspension for the spoken word, not the clenched fist.”

Vitt said his problem was the words he used in his motivational speeches when he was trying to urge defenders to play with the type of hard-hitting toughness that reduces an opponent’s will to compete. He said he was “on board 100 percent” with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s player safety goals and would change the way he addresses his charges.

Vitt is handling head coach Sean Payton’s duties while Payton serves a season-long suspension in connection with the NFL’s bounty investigation, which concluded that former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams offered improper cash bonuses for hits that hobbled targeted opponents.


SMITH INTRODUCED AS NEW ARKANSAS COACH: FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) — New Arkansas coach John L. Smith says he couldn’t pass up the opportunity to guide a team he helped mold, one without a leader since Bobby Petrino’s firing.

The Razorbacks introduced Smith as their new coach Tuesday after three weeks of turmoil surrounding Petrino’s affair.

The 63-year-old Smith, who was an assistant for Arkansas the last three seasons under Petrino, returns after leaving the school in December to become the head coach at Weber State.

Smith has a 132-86 record in 18 seasons as a head coach, also including stops at Michigan State, Louisville, Idaho and Utah State. He signed a 10-month, $850,000 contract with Arkansas.

WHAT CHANGES LOOK LIKE FOR THE BCS: College football’s new path to crowning a national champion should become a lot clearer in south Florida on Wednesday and Thursday.

The conference commissioners in charge of the Bowl Championship Series will meet for the fourth time this year, trying to sort out the future of the BCS. They are focusing on four options, though within in each plan there are myriad details to be worked.

A final decision isn’t expected to come from these meetings, but BCS Executive Director Bill Hancock says he’d like the conference commissioners and Notre Dame’s athletic director to come out of them with extensive plans for the leagues to chew on over the next month or so.

A playoff is the best bet, but more detailed plans also allow for more reasons to object.


KNICKS HIRE GRUNWALD AS GENERAL MANAGER: NEW YORK (AP) — The New York Knicks have promoted Glen Grunwald to executive vice president and general manager after he assembled numerous pieces of a playoff roster this season.

Grunwald has been serving on an interim basis since July, after Donnie Walsh opted not to return. He acquired center Tyson Chandler before the season to become the defensive presence the team long lacked, and signed key players such as Jeremy Lin, Baron Davis, Steve Novak and JR Smith along the way.

The Knicks went into Tuesday still with hopes of finishing sixth in the Eastern Conference, despite a tumultuous season that saw coach Mike D’Antoni resign in March.

Madison Square Garden chairman James Dolan says in a statement the Knicks look forward to Grunwald continuing in his role “for many years to come.”


OVEREEM DENIED LICENSE AFTER FAILED DRUG TEST: LAS VEGAS (AP) — UFC heavyweight Alistair Overeem has been denied a license to fight in Nevada after failing a drug test and pulling out of a championship bout next month.

Overeem told mixed martial arts regulators in Nevada that a doctor-prescribed anti-inflammatory caused him to fail the test.

The Nevada Athletic Commission on Tuesday ruled that the Dutch kickboxing champion can’t reapply for a license until late December.

Overeem says he aggravated a rib injury on his left side before a press conference in March for UFC 146. He says his doctor prescribed an anti-inflammatory that was mixed with testosterone.

He says he didn’t know about the mix but that knows he should know what’s going into his body.

The fighter apologized in a statement released by his managers.


10-MAN CHELSEA INTO CHAMPIONS FINAL OVER BARCELONA: BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Ten-man Chelsea withstood another onslaught from Barcelona to reach the Champions League final on Tuesday after hanging on for a 2-2 draw against the defending champion.

Chelsea’s hopes looked all but over after going down 2-0 and having John Terry sent off for a needless foul in the first half, but Ramires’ audacious lob right before halftime gave the Blues the advantage on aggregate.

After Lionel Messi blasted a penalty off the crossbar in the 59th and hit the post with another shot, substitute Fernando Torres netted in injury time to ensure that Chelsea reached the May 19 final at Allianz Arena in Munich.

Sergio Busquets and Andres Iniesta had put Barcelona up 2-0 by the 44th. Chelsea won the first leg at home 1-0.

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