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Bush, Leinart, Young named finalists for Heisman Trophy


The Heisman Trophy competition is a three-man race - just as it's been all season.

Reggie Bush and Matt Leinart of Southern California will be back in New York on Saturday, along with Texas quarterback Vince Young, when the Heisman Trophy is awarded.

The Downtown Athletic Club, which hands out college football's most prestigious individual award, invited yesterday only those three players to the presentation ceremony.

Last season, five players attended the Heisman ceremony, and Leinart won it. Since 1999, either four or five finalists have been invited to New York.

Bush, Leinart and Young have been the front-runners since the preseason, and they've been jockeying for position all year.

The three finalists will meet in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 4 with the national title on the line.

Colorado -- The university will not retain coach Gary Barnett, the Denver Post reported. The Buffaloes finished the season with three consecutive losses, hurting Barnett's bid for a contract extension. The coach has one year left on his contract, and the Post reported that it will cost the university $1.8 million to buy out of remainder of Barnett's deal.

Penn State -- Coach Joe Paterno caused a stir when he decided at the last minute to make his players unavailable for a news conference in State College, Pa. Paterno had some testy exchanges with reporters, some of whom traveled several hours to attend Penn State's "Orange Bowl media day." Paterno said he didn't want his team caught up in the early hoopla over the Jan. 3 game against Florida State, which will cap Penn State's comeback season after two straight losing years.

Auto racing

NASCAR agrees to $4.48B TV deal

NASCAR agreed to an eight-year, $4.48 billion television deal that will split its schedule among several networks beginning in 2007. Fox will televise the first 13 Nextel Cup races, including the Daytona 500, plus the exhibition Budweiser Shootout. TNT will air six races in June and July, including the July 4 weekend Pepsi 400. ESPN and ABC will split the final 17 races. The annual all-star race will be on Speed Channel. NASCAR's current deal, a six-year, $2.8 billion agreement, began in 2001.

Horse racing

Woodward Stakes moves to Saratoga

The prestigious $500,000 Woodward Stakes will be run at Saratoga instead of Belmont Park next year, the most significant change in the 2006 racing schedule proposed by the New York Racing Association.


Adu says he'll return to D.C. United in 2006

Freddy Adu has made amends with coach Peter Nowak and D.C. United, and the teenager who was so disgruntled over playing time this year says he is now content to return to the club next season. "I'm excited to remain with D.C. United," Adu said in an interview posted on the team's Web site. "I'm working hard to improve my game this offseason in order to become a bigger part of the team next season." Adu, his mother and his agent met with United officials recently, and the 16-year-old forward also held separate meetings with Nowak in Florida to clear the air over Adu's role on the team.

European Champions League -- Benfica upset two-time champion Manchester United, 2-1, to eliminate United and advance to the final 16 of the Champions League. It was the first time Manchester United was ousted from the Champions League group stage since 1994-95.


Turin flame arrives in Italy for relay

With 65 days to go before the opening ceremony, the Olympic flame arrived in Italy for the Winter Games in Turin. The flame, held in a small lantern, was flown in from Athens, Greece, aboard an Italian military transport plane. The flame will be carried across Italy in a torch relay before lighting the cauldron Feb. 10. Turin organizing chief Valentino Castellani held the lantern aloft on the airport tarmac as a military band played the Olympic anthem. The flame then was whisked by motorcade to the presidential Quirinal Palace.

Wales -- The country joined Scotland in refusing to be part of a unified British soccer team at the 2012 London Olympics. The Football Association of Wales council voted against joining England and Northern Ireland for British men's and women's Olympic teams, saying it would "compromise [Wales'] position playing as a nation in the World Cup or European Championship."

Et cetera

Agassi may sit out Australian Open

Andre Agassi's plans to play next month's Australian Open are in jeopardy because of a severe left ankle sprain that hasn't healed. "Australia has now become a concern, no question about it. Until this is better, I can't make any sure statements," he said yesterday. Agassi sprained his ankle Oct. 12 while playing racquetball with a friend in Las Vegas.

Boxing -- Devin Vargas (7-0, four knockouts) dropped Albert Newberry (4-2, three KOs) twice, including a left hook that ended the fight and left Newberry flat on his back, ending the 30-second bout at Martin's West in Woodlawn.

Doping -- Three-time Olympic weightlifting champion Halil Mutlu was banned for two years for steroid use. The Turkish lifter, who tested positive for nandrolone at the European Championships in Bulgaria in April, was banned until April 2007, the International Weightlifting Federation said.

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