Monday’s Sports in Brief

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COLLEGE FOOTBALL

INDIANAPOLIS (AP)Stetson Bennett delivered the biggest throws of his storybook career and Georgia’s defense sealed the sweetest victory in program history, vanquishing rival Alabama 33-18 for its first national title in 41 years.

Bennett connected with Adonai Mitchell on a 40-yard touchdown to give No. 3 Georgia a 19-18 lead with 8:09 left and then hooked up with Brock Bowers for a 15-yard TD on a screen to put the Bulldogs up eight with 3:33 left.

The final blow came from Georgia’s dominant defense. Kelee Ringo intercepted an underthrown deep ball down the sideline by Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young. Instead of going down with a little over a minute left, Ringo took off and behind a convoy of blockers and went 79 yards for a touchdown that set off a wild celebration by the relieved Georgia fans who packed Lucas Oil Stadium.

The Bulldogs (14-1) hadn’t won a national title since freshman Herschel Walker led them there in 1980. If simply snapping the drought wasn’t good enough, doing against No. 1 Alabama (13-2) had to make it feel even better.

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – College Football Playoff expansion talks remain stalled and the possibility of implementing a new format by the 2024 season dimmed after three days of meetings failed to produce an agreement.

While Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby said it looked increasingly unlikely that an expanded playoff would come before the end of the current CFP contract that expires in 2026, it was not ruled out altogether.

Everybody involved supports expansion, but they are hung up on the how and when.

Executive Director Bill Hancock said the management committee, comprised of 10 conference commissioners and Notre Dame’s athletic director, are still stuck on the same lingering issues: Whether conferences should have automatic qualification into an expanded field, and which ones; how bowls will be used as sites in a new system; and athlete health and welfare issues related to more games.

A proposal for a 12-team playoff has been on the table since June. That proposal calls for the six highest ranked conference champions, regardless of conference, to be in the playoff field along with the next six highest ranked teams.

TENNIS

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) – Novak Djokovic returned to the tennis court for training, having won a legal battle to stay in Australia to play in the Australian Open after his exemption from strict coronavirus vaccine rules was questioned. But the government is still threatening to cancel his visa and deport him.

The unvaccinated tennis star was released after being confined to an immigration hotel for four nights – a drama that has gripped many in Australia and beyond.

Federal Circuit Court Judge Anthony Kelly reinstated Djokovic’s visa, which was pulled after his arrival last week because officials said he didn’t qualify for an exemption to a rule that all non-citizens be fully vaccinated. Djokovic’s lawyers say that since he recently recovered from COVID-19, he didn’t need to be inoculated.

The judge ruled the No. 1 player had not been given enough time to speak to his lawyers before the decision was made and ordered the government to release him from the Melbourne quarantine hotel where he was held.

PRO FOOTBALL

From the NFC North to the AFC East, the firings began almost immediately after the NFL’s first 17-game season concluded.

The Vikings fired coach Mike Zimmer and general manager Rick Spielman following an 8-9 season. Division rival Chicago parted with coach Matt Nagy and GM Ryan Pace after going 6-11.

And in a relative surprise, Miami dismissed coach Brian Flores, whose Dolphins went 9-8, including a sweep of archrival New England.

Indeed, the career coaching records for each total 130-112-1.

New York Giants general manager Dave Gettleman retired, though he likely would have been fired otherwise.

PRO HOCKEY

The NHL Players’ Association has filed a grievance against the San Jose Sharks for terminating the remainder of Evander Kane’s contract, a person with direct knowledge of the decision told The Associated Press.

The grievance, contending the Sharks did not have sufficient grounds to make the move, was filed Sunday night, the person said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the matter is now in the league’s hands.

The Sharks placed Kane on unconditional waivers on Saturday, saying the forward violated COVID-19 protocols while with the AHL Barracuda. Kane went unclaimed over the 24-hour period, putting the Sharks in position to terminate the remainder of the player’s contract.

The move will cost Kane about $22.9 million from the seven-year, $49 million deal he signed in May 2018.

Kane is now a free agent and open to sign with any team, while awaiting the start of the grievance process.

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