COLLEGE FOOTBALL

The College Football Playoff announced Thursday it will expand to a 12-team event starting in 2024, completing an 18-month process that was fraught with delays and disagreements.

The announcement came a day after the Rose Bowl agreed to amend its contract for the 2024 and 2025 seasons, which was the last hurdle CFP officials needed to clear to triple the size of what is now a four-team format.

The first round of the playoff in 2024 will take place on campus sites matching teams seeded 5-12 the week ending Saturday, Dec. 21. Exact dates are still to be determined.

The quarterfinals and semifinals will be played in the bowls that have been rotating as hosts of the semifinals in the current format: Rose, Sugar, Orange, Peach, Cotton and Fiesta.

The championship game for the 2024 season will be played Jan. 20, 2025, in Atlanta. The title game the next year will be played Jan. 19, 2026, in Miami Gardens, Florida.

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP)Mickey Joseph, Nebraska’s interim football coach for nine games this season, is accused of putting his hands around a woman’s throat, pulling her hair and punching her before being taken into custody, according to a police affidavit.

Joseph, 54, was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of strangulation and third-degree domestic assault. Joseph denied to police that he assaulted the woman. Nebraska placed Joseph on administrative leave.

Joseph’s arrest came two days after Matt Rhule was introduced as the Cornhuskers’ head coach.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) – Florida backup quarterback Jalen Kitna was released from jail on $80,000 bond, a day after he was arrested on five child pornography charges that police said included images of a man having sex with a young girl.

Judge Meshon Rawls set the bond and, as condition for Kitna’s release, ordered him not to have any unsupervised contact with minors and not to have any internet access.

Kitna sobbed into his hands when his parents, including former NFL quarterback Jon Kitna, addressed the court during a 75-minute appearance. Jalen Kitna was at the Alachua County Jail and on a closed-circuit feed when Jon and Jennifer Kitna stepped to a podium in the courtroom and promised they would supervise their 19-year-old son back home in Burleson, Texas.

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) – Michigan star running back Blake Corum is expected to have surgery on his injured left knee that would cause him to miss the postseason, a person with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because Michigan was not publicly disclosing Corum’s condition.

No. 2 Michigan will play Purdue in the Big Ten championship game Saturday night in Indianapolis and is likely heading toward its second straight College Football Playoff appearance.

Corum was injured late in the first half of the Illinois game two weeks ago on a low tackle. He tried to play last week against rival Ohio State, but after appearing on Michigan’s first possession he was done for the day.

Also, Michigan defensive lineman Mazi Smith will play against Purdue while facing a felony charge of carrying a concealed gun. The charge was filed in an Ann Arbor court, nearly two months after the handgun turned up during a traffic stop.

Cade McNamara, the backup quarterback this season, announced he’ll transfer to Iowa. McNamara tweeted ”New Beginning” with a picture of him in an Iowa uniform.

VEGAS (AP) – The Pac-12 Conference extended its agreement to at least 2023 to play its championship game at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas.

The game Friday between No. 4 Southern California and No. 12 Utah will be the second in Las Vegas. Commissioner George Kliavkoff said Thursday the game has sold out.

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) – Arizona agreed to a contract extension with football coach Jedd Fisch through the 2027 season, pending approval from the Arizona Board of Regents.

The Wildcats went 5-7 in Fisch’s second season, the third-largest win increase in program history.

PRO FOOTBALL

BEREA, Ohio (AP) – Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson refused to address non-football questions in his first comments since returning from an 11-game NFL suspension over sexual misconduct allegations.

Speaking to the media for the first time since Aug. 18, Watson declined to discuss his suspension or the reasons behind it. He has been accused by more than two dozen women of sexual harassment and assault during massage therapy sessions.

The 27-year-old will play his first game for the Browns on Sunday in Houston, where he starred for four seasons with the Texans and where the alleged misconduct took place.

Watson opened with a statement, saying he was advised by his legal and clinical teams to only address ”football questions.” Watson agreed to the lengthy suspension, a $5 million fine and to undergo professional counseling and therapy after an independent arbitrator ruled that he violated the league’s personal conduct policy.

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) – Former NFL wide receiver Antonio Brown is wanted on a battery charge stemming from a domestic incident, Tampa police said.

Investigators said Brown, 34, and a woman were involved in a verbal altercation Monday afternoon at a home in Tampa. Brown threw a shoe at the woman, attempted to evict her from the home and locked her out, the report said.

There is a court-issued warrant for Brown’s arrest. The Associated Press requested a copy of the warrant, but no additional details about Monday’s incident were immediately available.

On Thursday afternoon, WFTS-TV in Tampa reported that police were outside of Brown’s house for an hour trying to get him to come out. Tampa police said late Thursday that Brown was not in custody. Police spokeswoman Merissa Lynn also said he was ”not communicating with officers, so it’s unclear if he’s still inside the home or not.”

Brown’s contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was terminated a few days after he tossed his equipment into the stands and left in the middle of a Jan. 2 game.

BASEBALL

GAFFNEY, S.C. (AP) – Baseball Hall of Famer Gaylord Perry, a master of the spitball and telling stories about the pitch, died Thursday. He was 84.

Perry died at his home in Gaffney at about 5 a.m. Thursday, Cherokee County Coroner Dennis Fowler said. He did not provide additional details. A statement from the Perry family said he ”passed away peacefully at his home after a short illness.”

The native of Williamston, North Carolina, made history as the first player to win the Cy Young in both leagues, with Cleveland in 1972 after a 24-16 season and with San Diego in 1978 – going 21-6 for his fifth and final 20-win season just after turning 40.

Perry, who pitched for eight major league teams from 1962 until 1983, was a five-time All-Star who was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1991. He had a 314-255 record and 3,534 strikeouts.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) – Former Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Zach Eflin has agreed to join the Tampa Bay Rays on a three-year, $40 million contract that’s the largest the club has ever awarded in free agency, a person familiar with the deal told The Associated Press.

The person spoke to the AP on the condition of anonymity Thursday night because the agreement was subject to a successful physical and had not been announced.

Eflin, who spent portions of seven seasons with the Phillies, will join a rotation that includes All-Star lefty Shane McClanahan and right-handers Tyler Glasnow and Drew Rasmussen with the Rays, who will pay him $11 million in 2023, $11 million in 2024 and $18 million in 2025.

Also, the Rays are relocating their spring base for 2023 because of extensive damage to team training facilities caused by Hurricane Ian. The Rays have trained since 2009 in Port Charlotte, about 90 minutes south of St. Petersburg, and intend to explore several options before making a decision on where to hold spring training and play Grapefruit League games when camp opens.

GOLF

NASSAU, Bahamas (AP) – Sepp Straka was home in Alabama preparing for a big week of golf matches at his club, a friend’s wedding and the SEC Championship game. And then Tiger Woods couldn’t play in the Bahamas because of a foot injury, and Straka had a change in plans.

The replacement for Woods managed six birdies at rain-soaked Albany for a 3-under 69 that gave him a share of the lead at the Hero World Challenge with defending champion Viktor Hovland, Tom Kim and Collin Morikawa. Straka was first off in the pro-am, the time usually occupied by Woods. He was paired with Justin Thomas, who typically plays the first round with Woods.

Straka is the only player to have never played in a Ryder Cup or Presidents Cup at Albany. He is No. 29 in the world, a winner for the first time at the Honda Classic this year.

JOHANNESBURG (AP) – Thriston Lawrence shot an 8-under 64 to match the course record he set last year and take a one-stroke lead in the South African Open.

The 25-year-old South African had birdies and a bogey at the Blair Atholl Golf and Equestrian Estate. Ross Fisher of England and Jens Fahrbring of Sweden were a shot back.

Lawrence also shot a 64 on the course during a Sunshine Tour event last year. At 8,161 yards, the layout is the longest on the European tour.

AUTO RACING

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – Chase Elliott was honored as NASCAR’s most popular driver most popular driver for the fifth straight year during the season-ending awards ceremony at the Music City Center.

Elliott’s run started in 2018, the first year of Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s retirement. Earnhardt had won the most popular award every year since 2003, the season Bill Elliot asked for his name to be removed from the ballot after winning 16 times. Now his son is continuing the tradition, with either an Elliott or Earnhardt winning the award for 32 straight years.

Chase Elliott had five Cup victories this year.