USC lands Kliff Kingsbury as Helton’s OC — Former Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury has agreed to become Clay Helton’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Southern California. USC announced the hire Wednesday. Kingsbury is considered one of the top offensive minds in football despite being fired by Texas Tech on Nov. 25. He went just 35-40 in six seasons in charge of his alma mater, but the Red Raiders consistently had one of the nation’s most dynamic offenses. Kingsbury was pursued by NFL teams after his dismissal, but he chose to join the embattled Helton at talent-loaded USC. He replaces Tee Martin, who was dismissed along with several assistant coaches after the Trojans (5-7) finished their first losing season since 2000.
Colorado hires Georgia DC Mel Tucker — Colorado has hired Georgia defensive coordinator Mel Tucker as its new head coach after he helped rebuild the Bulldogs into a national contender. Tucker gets a five-year, $14.75 million contract under the deal announced Wednesday. He starts immediately and will not coach Georgia in the Sugar Bowl on New Year’s Day. The 46-year-old Tucker replaces Mike MacIntyre, who was fired with a game remaining in the season and the team mired in a six-game skid. The Buffaloes lost their final game under interim coach Kurt Roper to miss a bowl berth for a second straight season. After several stints as an NFL defensive coordinator, Tucker became an assistant at Alabama in 2015. He spent a season with the Crimson Tide before following coach Kirby Smart to Georgia.
Rams settlement could be worth $24 million — One of the biggest disputes remaining from the Rams relocating to Los Angeles concluded Wednesday with an agreement to pay as much as $24 million to fans who purchased personal seat licenses during the franchise’s two decades in St. Louis. The deal, first reported by the Los Angeles Times last month, resolves three class-action lawsuits that were consolidated into one U.S. District Court case in St. Louis. “This settlement provides a substantial benefit that matches the relief we sought in the lawsuit,” Kevin Green, an attorney for the plaintiffs, said in a statement. The motion for preliminary approval Wednesday covers 46,000 PSLs first sold by FANS Inc., the ticketing agent for the Rams, and later by the franchise. The PSLs, which allowed the owner to purchase season tickets for Rams games at the Edward Jones Dome, ran through 2024. The settlement refunds 30 percent of the PSL value since nine years remained on the original 30-year terms when NFL owners voted in January 2016 to approve the Rams returning to Los Angeles. Payouts will range from $75 to $1,350 per claim, depending on the PSL price tier.
Iditarod clears 4-time champ in doping scandal — Iditarod officials have cleared a four-time champion of any wrongdoing in a dog-doping scandal that followed the sled dog race last year. The Anchorage Daily News reports that officials for the 1,000-mile Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race issued a statement this week absolving musher Dallas Seavey of any involvement in the drugging of his dogs. Four of Seavey’s dogs tested positive for the opioid painkiller tramadol, a banned substance, following his second-place finish in March 2017. Mike Mills, the president of Iditarod’s board of directors, says evidence indicated Seavey “didn’t have anything to do with it.” He declined to say what that evidence was. Seavey says he presented “a very compelling case” to the race board, noting that the dogs had high levels of the drug immediately before testing.
Atlanta’s Martinez is MVP of MLS — A teary-eyed Josef Martinez claimed the MVP award from Major League Soccer on Wednesday after shattering the record for goals in a season and leading Atlanta United to the championship game. While he normally speaks through a translator, the 25-year-old Venezuelan striker gave the first part of his acceptance speech in English. “This is a special day for me, for my family, for my teammates, for the city,” Martinez said. “I want to say thank you to the fans for the amazing support this year.”
— From wire reports