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August 1, 2013 | By Gary Klein
USC is ranked No. 24 in the USA Today preseason college football coaches poll. The Trojans were ranked third going into last season in the coaches poll and first in the Associated Press media poll before stumbling to a 7-6 record. Two-time defending national champion Alabama is ranked No. 1 . USC is one of five Pac-12 teams in the top 25. Oregon is ranked third, Stanford fourth, UCLA 21st and Oregon State 25th. USC does not play Oregon in the regular season, but the Trojans will face four teams ranked in the preseason poll: Stanford, UCLA, Oregon State and No. 11 Notre Dame.
August 1, 2013 | By Chris Dufresne
In one of the least shocking announcements of summer, two-time defending national champion Alabama has opened at No. 1 in USA Today's preseason college football poll . UCLA, coming off a 9-5 season, is No. 21 and USC, 7-6 last year, is No. 24. Alabama is followed in the USA Today coaches' poll by Ohio State, Oregon, Stanford and Georgia. Rounding out the top 10 is Texas A&M, South Carolina, Clemson, Louisville and Florida. The Southeastern Conference, which has won the last seven BCS titles, has five schools in the top 10. Alabama, which picked up 58 of the possible 62 first-place votes, has never won a national title when it debuted at No. 1 in the coaches' poll.
August 1, 2013 | By Kevin Baxter
Looks like Gareth Bale is heading to Real Madrid after all. The Spanish daily AS is reporting that an oral agreement has been reached on a $159-million deal that would send the English Premier League's player of the year from Tottenham to Real Madrid, although neither side will confirm the accord. And the deal could involve more than just money, with two players from a group that includes left back Fabio Coentrao, winger Angel Di Maria, midfielder Luka Modric and striker Alvaro Morata moving from Madrid to Tottenham as well.
June 20, 2013 | By Meredith Blake
Details are emerging in the sudden death of “Sopranos” actor James Gandolfini , who passed away Wednesday in Rome at the age of 51. Dr. Claudio Modini, head of the emergency department at the Policlinico Umberto I Hospital in Rome, confirmed to The Times that Gandolfini died of cardiac arrest.   “When he arrived, [he] was already in cardiac arrest. He was put under resuscitation treatment for 40 minutes, but the emergency staff failed to restart his heart, and at 23:00, he was pronounced deceased," said Modini, who did not personally treat the actor, via telephone, adding that "he could have been deceased on arrival since he was already in cardiac arrest.” PHOTOS: James Gandolfini | 1961-2013 Modini also told the Associated Press that, in accordance with Italian law, an autopsy would be conducted 24 hours after his death.
June 10, 2013 | By Ben Bolch
Three NBA teams, including the Atlanta Hawks, have been fined an unspecified amount for tampering, according to a league memo obtained by USA Today. ESPN reported  the Houston Rockets were one of the other teams. The Hawks were fined for sending an email to prospective season-ticket holders referencing free agents Dwight Howard and Chris Paul. The Rockets were fined, according to ESPN, for mentioning free agents on their team website. The league memo said the teams were fined because "the conduct at issue involved statements by a team employee to the media, a team email to prospective season-ticket purchasers, and articles posted online on a team website, each related to players who are currently under contract to other teams but who will become free agents this summer.
April 26, 2013 | By Patrick Kevin Day
Matt Lauer's public popularity may be in the dumps, but he still has at least one ally on "Today": Kathie Lee Gifford. The co-host of "Today's" boozy fourth hour recently attempted to show support for the embattled Lauer by circulating a letter expressing kind words and staff love, according to a report in the New York Daily News. The letter, which Gifford had planned to publish as a full-page ad in USA Today before Lauer put a stop to it, was filled with signatures of "Today" staffers, including Al Roker, Hoda Kotb and Savannah Guthrie.
April 20, 2013 | Elaine Woo, Los Angeles Times
Al Neuharth, the newspaper mogul who in 1982 made a $1-billion gamble called USA Today that earned derision for its emphasis on brevity, flashy graphics and upbeat stories but endured to become the nation's largest-circulation newspaper, died Friday in Cocoa Beach, Fla. He was 89. He died of complications from a recent fall, according to USA Today and the Newseum, the Washington, D.C., news museum he founded. Described by detractors and admirers as brutish, egomaniacal, brilliant and fiercely competitive, Neuharth was a latter-day Citizen Kane, who in the 1970s turned the small Gannett newspaper chain into the nation's most profitable newspaper company.
April 8, 2013 | By Chuck Schilken
John Unitas Jr. is not happy with his half-brother's choice of Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco to play their father, Baltimore Colts legend Johnny Unitas, in the football scenes of the upcoming biopic "Unitas We Stand. " In an interview with USA Today, John Unitas Jr. called Flacco "a goofball" and said a better choice to play his late father would be a modern-day legend who played many years for the Indianapolis Colts. "If you want a quarterback, go with Peyton Manning," said John Unitas Jr., one of five children from Johnny Unitas' first marriage.
March 18, 2013 | By Chuck Schilken
NFL owners are scheduled to vote this week on a proposed rule change to prohibit running backs from delivering a blow with the crown of their helmets in an open field. Matt Forte does not get a vote because he is a running back, not an owner. Still, he had plenty to say about the proposal on Twitter this weekend. "The proposed rule change for running backs might be the most absurd suggestion of a rule change I've ever heard of," he said in a series of tweets . "In order to lower ur shoulder u obviously have to lower ur head.
October 30, 2012 | By Joe Flint
After the coffee. Before seeing if I can take over Anderson Cooper's daytime talk show. The Skinny: When did Los Angeles drivers get so bad? On Monday, I saw someone turn left from the center lane despite the fact that there was a left-turn lane. Put the phone down and pay attention!  Tuesday's headlines include how local stations are covering Hurricane Sandy, low ratings for the World Series, and Anderson Cooper's daytime show getting the ax. Daily Dose: In the grand scheme of things, the impact of Hurricane Sandy on Nielsen ratings is a trivial matter.
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