Seminoles tops at grabbing fresh talent
Florida State is No. 1 -- in Recruiting Wars 2001, that is.
The Seminoles rebounded from their loss to Oklahoma in the national title game with a recruiting haul that blew away the competition, Sooners included.
With coach Bobby Bowden calling signals, Florida State signed three high school All-Americans in quarterback Joe Mauer, running back Eric Shelton and linebacker Chauncey Davis on Wednesday, then rounded out its Class of 2005 with three other stars rated among the nation's top 25 players.
"It's a slam dunk for Florida State," Allen Wallace of Laguna Beach, Calif.-based SuperPrep Magazine said. "They completely dominated the state and that means they completely dominated the nation."
The Seminoles weren't alone in striking recruiting gold on the first day players were able to sign letters of intent.
LSU, Michigan, Oklahoma and Texas also can celebrate, with the Tigers making a surprisingly strong run to the top of the class. In fact, LSU's class was rated No. 1 ahead of Florida State by Max Emfinger of National Blue Chips based in Covington, La.
LSU coach Nick Saban saw nine of Louisiana's top 10 players sign on.
Notre Dame did not sign many high-profile players and managed a No. 13 rating from Prep Football Report's Tom Lemming, who said higher academic standards was the reason.
Vikings RB Smith goes out on top
Once again, Robert Smith has eluded his pursuers.
The agent for the 28-year-old running back confirmed Wednesday that Smith is retiring after eight seasons with the Minnesota Vikings. He is leaving the NFL at the top of his game, much like a 31-year-old Barry Sanders before the 1999 season, and at the height of his earning power as an unrestricted free agent.
Smith, who announced his decision in a brief statement Tuesday to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, let his reasons for leaving remain a mystery.
Smith, the Vikings' first-round pick in 1993, led the NFC in rushing last season with 1,521 yards in his first complete 16-game season. He broke the organization's career rushing record held by Chuck Foreman, with 6,818 yards.
In other pro football news, Hancock County, Miss., is putting together a sports complex involving a NASCAR race track and an all-purpose arena suitable for hockey, basketball, concerts and other events and a football stadium. Its target is the New Orleans Saints, who have complained that their 7-year-old lease for the state-owned Superdome had been violated in a number of ways, and that they face a $20 million gap between their annual revenue and the NFL average.
Laila Ali announces June bout with Frazier
Get set for Ali-Frazier IV.
Three decades after Joe Frazier won a brutal 15-round decision over Muhammad Ali in the first of their three memorable bouts, their sparring daughters said they will rekindle the long rivalry.
Laila Ali will fight Jacqui Frazier in June -- perhaps even on Father's Day -- promoters said Wednesday at Turning Stone Casino in Verona, where Laila made her professional debut 16 months ago.
Ali and Frazier will fight on the same card at Turning Stone on March 2, against opponents still to be determined.
Woods tries to change his luck with new driver
For what it's worth, Tiger Woods is sticking a new driver in his bag today for the first round of the Buick -- a Titleist 975 EFS.
He tested it playing with Davis Love III on Tuesday. The club is supposed to generate more club head speed for Woods, who also hopes it will help him hit the ball straighter.
In his three PGA Tour events in 2001, Woods has finished a combined 29 shots out of the lead. Woods has gone six straight tour events without winning.
A's accuse, Yanks, Mets of tampering
Yankee GM Brian Cashman and his Mets counterpart, Steve Phillips, tend to be tight-lipped when it comes to players on other teams.
But after they joked about wooing Oakland A's slugger and potential free agent Jason Giambi at an awards dinner Sunday night, A's owner Stephen C. Schott screamed "tampering" and demanded an investigation.
Commissioner Bud Selig's office asked both GMs to explain themselves this week, though a senior baseball official said it is unlikely that Selig will take any action against the Yankees or Mets.
"I don't think those kind of remarks are called for in jest or not," Schott said from his office in California. "Jason's a home-grown guy, he's under contract with us and he's negotiating a deal with us and we don't want someone tampering. It put us in a difficult spot. It really (ticked) me off."
Around & about
Buffalo Bandits forward Derek Malawsky was named the National Lacrosse League player of the month for January. Malawsky had eight goals and 26 points in three games.
Denise Finnerty, wife of Buffalo Blizzard goalkeeper Bryan "Goose" Finnerty, can be called "Mother Goose." Finnerty gave birth Wednesday to twin boys, Joshua Billey and Owen James.
Philippe Sauve -- son of Bob Sauve, the former Buffalo Sabres goalie -- stopped 19 shots for his first American Hockey League shutout as the visiting Hershey Bears won, 3-0, over the Rochester Americans.
Monty Montgomery (Bennett) had 20 points and 10 rebounds as Daemen took over first place in the Northeast Athletic Conference with a 91-70 men's basketball victory over Roberts Wesleyan. Adrian Baugh (Traditional) added 19 points for the Warriors (16-11, 5-1). Elsewhere, Dan Ghirsig (West Seneca West) scored the winning basket with two tenths of a second left in overtime as first-place D'Youville (8-10, 3-1) took a 67-65 Upstate Athletic Alliance win over Medaille (5-16). Brent Peterson (Starpoint) led the Mavericks with 19 points.
In women's basketball, Crystal DeRosa had 14 points and four steals and Adrienne Welka (North Tonawanda) had nine points and 19 rebounds in Daemen's 80-70 loss to Roberts Wesleyan. The Lady Warriors are 13-12. Elsewhere, Mary Legnard had 24 points and Carrie Stevens had 15 points and 12 rebounds as D'Youville (9-8) scored a 66-50 win over Medaille (3-17). Emily Dailey (Lake Shore) led the Mavericks with 16 points.