Notre Dame makes stunning switch to ACC

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Notre Dame makes stunning switch to ACC

From Comcast SportsNetSOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) -- Notre Dame has picked its conference. Now it has to decide which football rivalry games to keep.The announcement Wednesday that Notre Dame is moving to the Atlantic Coast Conference in all sports except football and hockey came with a provision that the Fighting Irish play five football games a year against league opponents. That's good news for fans who want to see the Irish play Miami more often, but may not be welcomed by some traditional rivals.The deal calls for the Irish to play each ACC team once every three years, which means traditional games against Pittsburgh and Boston College will end. Irish athletic director Jack Swarbrick said Notre Dame will continue to play Navy, which bailed out the school in the 1940s when it was struggling financially by putting programs on the South Bend campus. The Irish also will keep playing Southern California and Stanford, to keep a presence on the West Coast.But what of Big Ten rivals Michigan, Michigan State and Purdue? Swarbrick wasn't ready to say immediately. He did say, however, the shift in scheduling wouldn't be as big as some people think."We're going to keep some traditional rivals and we're going to get around the country. We're still going to be in California every year and we're still going to find a way to get into the Southwest. And, of course, this gives us a great East Coast footprint and we want to make sure we keep a Midwest presence, too," he said. "We'll meet our mission and make sure Notre Dame is playing everywhere in the country."Purdue athletic director Morgan Burke expects the Boilermakers to continue playing the Irish."We have a long-time relationship with Notre Dame involving many of our programs, and we expect it to continue," he said.Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon hopes to keep the series against Notre Dame going after their contract expires in 2020, but said it will be Notre Dame's decision. Michigan State athletic director Mark Hollis said the Spartans have a contract that runs through 2031 that calls for games against Notre Dame for four years and then two off years.But with five ACC games on the schedule, games against USC, Stanford and Navy, if the Irish played all three Big Ten opponents it would have just one other game on the schedule.Notre Dame will begin playing five ACC teams in 2014. It wasn't clear when it would join the league in other sports because the Big East has a 27-month notification period for any member that wants to leave, and a 5 million exit fee. The Big East has shown a willingness to negotiate, as it did with Pittsburgh and Syracuse, who paid 7.5 million each to get out early. Swarbrick wouldn't say when Notre Dame would leave, but indicated he would try to work out a deal."My own philosophy is, it's in everybody's interests to do it sooner rather than later," Swarbrick said.One of the key reasons Notre Dame decided to move from the Big East, which it joined in 1995, was because the ACC's offer allowed the Irish to be part of its bowl rotation. For the next two seasons, if Notre Dame doesn't earn a BCS berth it must wait to see what conferences can't fill their bowl allotments to see where it can play. Notre Dame also could play an ACC team in the Orange Bowl in some years."We needed a soup-to-nuts solution for the postseason and we have achieved it," Swarbrick said.ACC Commissioner John Swofford said the deal helps the league as well because it will re-negotiate its recent ESPN contract worth 3.6 billion to account for Notre Dame's arrival. Notre Dame will keep its broadcast partnership with NBC and won't receive TV revenue for other ACC football games.Swarbrick said he thinks Notre Dame's move to the ACC might stabilize all the changes going on among conferences."I think this gives us a real chance that we are going to have a period ahead of us now in college athletics which is going to be pretty stable," he said. "That would be one of the nicest possible legacies if five years from now we look back on this deal and say, You know what, that ushered in a period of where we focused on what was going on on the field and not what was going on in the AD's office in college sports. I think it will."

In latest comeback bid, Ravens TE Dennis Pitta's confidence not a problem

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In latest comeback bid, Ravens TE Dennis Pitta's confidence not a problem

Not everyone close to Dennis Pitta was immediately sold on his second NFL comeback attempt. Will his twice-fractured hip hold up? How much is Pitta risking his long-term health?

Pitta has pondered those questions for months. But after the first week of OTA’s, the Ravens’ 30-year-old tight end remained confident he had made the right decision.

“I had to convince a few people, and I’m thankful for those who have been in my corner all along and had my best interests in mind,” Pitta said. “Like I’ve said before, I know my situation better than anyone else, and I’m confident in the decision I made to come back, and certainly there were people who wanted to make sure that I was confident in that decision. I have a great support team behind me, and we all feel good about this move.”

Pitta first fractured his hip during training camp in 2013, then again on a non-contact play against the Browns in 2014. However, Pitta says he doesn’t think about his right hip when he’s on the field. He’s also not lowering his expectations, despite not playing at all in 2015, and not playing a full season since 2012.

Pitta was one of quarterback Joe Flacco’s favorite targets, catching 61 passes for 669 yards during the 2012 regular season, then adding 14 catches for 163 yards and three touchdowns during the Ravens’ playoff run to a Super Bowl title.

Asked if he could return that level of play, Pitta suggested, “Why not?”

“No, my expectations haven’t changed from four years ago, to two years ago, to now,” Pitta said. “My level of expectation is extremely high going into this year. Like I said, I feel confident in how I can run, how I can move, how I can play and it’s just a matter of getting those reps back to where I’m confident in doing all of that. So, yes, expectations personally are very high.”

Pitta obviously wasn’t ready to end his career. If he is on the 53-man roster Week 1, it will be a terrific comeback story.

Orioles turn to hot Chris Tillman for positive end to road trip

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Orioles turn to hot Chris Tillman for positive end to road trip

Today's Game: Baltimore Orioles (27-20) vs. Cleveland Indians (26-21), Progressive Field, Cleveland, 1:10 p.m.

Starting pitchers: Chris Tillman (6-1, 2.61) vs. Mike Clevinger (0-1, 8.71)

Keys to the Game: 

Can Tillman keep his string of quality starts going? He has seven straight. 

Can the Orioles shake off their sloppiness? They made four errors and allowed five stolen bases in Saturday's loss. 

News and Notes:

The Orioles are 3-5 on their nine-game road trip.

Tillman is 4-2 with a 3.89 ERA in seven starts against Cleveland. 

Current Indians are batting .226 against Tillman. 

Matt Wieters is batting .441 (15-for-34) over his last eight games. 

The Orioles have allowed 10 or more runs in three games, all started by Ubaldo Jimenez.

Clevinger has started just twice in the major leagues, and given up three home runs in 10 1/3 innings. 

Caps prospect Madison Bowey escapes discipline for Game 4 actions

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Caps prospect Madison Bowey escapes discipline for Game 4 actions

Capitals prospect Madison Bowey will not face further discipline after he was investigated for using a homophobic slur in Game 4 of the Calder Cup Eastern Conference Finals on Friday.

In a series in which everything has been going right for the Hershey Bears, something went very wrong on Friday in Game 4 against the Toronto Marlies. Not only did Toronto win 5-0 to avoid a sweep, but Bowey was ejected from the game in the third period after a high elbow delivered to Toronto forward Kasperi Kapanen.

There's no doubt about that one. Bowey comes in with his elbow high and nails Kapanen right in the head. The defenseman was assessed a five minute major and game misconduct for the hit.

It is not the hit that has garnered so much attention, however, but what happened afterwards.

Kapanen was slow to get up following the play, but was eventually able to stand under his own power. He and Bowey then began exchanging words. At one point, Bowey was caught on tape using what appeared to many to be a homophobic slur.

You can watch the video here.

There was no audio to the video, but that was enough for Toronto to puruse further discipline for Bowey.

Bowey, however, was cleared by the AHL on Friday and will not be suspended for what he may or may not have said.

In the video, a linesman is skating with Bowey at the point in question. It seems likely that the linesman would have heard whatever Bowey may have said which would make for a simple AHL investigation.

There is precedent for supplemental discipline in matters such as these from the NHL. Andrew Shaw of the Chicago Blackhawks was suspended one game and order to undergo sensitivity training after using a homophobic slur in Game 4 of Chicago's series against the St. Louis Blues.

Though the initial report by Rob Longley indicates the AHL was still reviewing the hit, with Game 5 set for Sunday afternoon at 3 p.m., it seems unlikely at this point that the league will issue any last minute suspension.

Kapanen is reportedly day-to-day after receiving the hit. Hershey leads the series 3-1 and will advance to the Calder Cup Finals with a win on Sunday to face the Lake Erie Monsters.

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