SPORTS ITEMS

Wofford tabs Pitt DC Conklin as new head coach

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SPARTANBURG - Pitt defensive coordinator Josh Conklin was named head coach at Wofford.

The school announced the hire of Conklin, a former Wofford assistant, on Tuesday. Conklin spent the past three seasons with the Panthers. He was also an assistant at Florida International and Tennessee.

Conklin takes over for Mike Ayers, who announced his retirement after a 30-year career as Wofford head coach.

Wofford president Dr. Nayef Samhat said he was delighted to have someone like Conklin who understands Wofford.

Conklin led the Pitt defense to major upsets the past two seasons, defeating No. 2 Clemson 43-42 in 2016 and No. 2 Miami 24-14 last November.

Conklin said he hoped to continue the success that Ayers had at Wofford, the defending Southern Conference champs who reached the NCAA FCS quarterfinals last month.

LEE CENTRAL 60

NORTH CENTRAL 34

KERSHAW - The Lee Central High School varsity girls basketball team remained undefeated in Region IV-2A with a 60-34 victory over North Central on Tuesday at the NC gymnasium.

Kendra Lesane led the Lady Stallions, who are 3-0 in region play, with 23 points. Robionne Myers had 21 points and four steals and Tashanna Harris had 12 points and nine rebounds.

College Football Playoff TV ratings rise on return to Jan. 1

With the semifinals back New Year's Day, viewership for the College Football Playoff on ESPN was the highest it has been since the first season of the postseason system in 2015.

The double overtime Rose Bowl thriller between Georgia and Oklahoma drew a 14.8 overnight Nielsen rating and average viewership of 27 million, up 39 percent over last season's early semifinal. Georgia beat Oklahoma 54-48 and ESPN said the television rating reached a high of 17.3 in overtime.

The Sugar Bowl between Alabama and Clemson got a 12.5 rating and average viewership of 21.1 million, up 10 percent from last season's second semifinal.

The last two seasons the semifinals were played on Dec. 31. The CFP drew record viewership for ESPN in its first season when games were played on Jan. 1, 2015.

Gruden tells paper: 'I hope I'm a candidate' for Raiders job

ALAMEDA, Calif. - Jon Gruden says he hopes he's a candidate to return for a second stint as coach of the Oakland Raiders and believes a final decision will be made next week.

Gruden made his most specific comments in an interview Tuesday with the Bay Area News Group about the opening in Oakland created when the Raiders fired Jack Del Rio following a disappointing six-win season.

Gruden said that he understands interviews will be conducted this week. When asked if he was a candidate he responded: "Well, I think I am being considered, yes. I hope I'm a candidate."

The Raiders are not commenting on the search beyond a statement issued Sunday night from owner Mark Davis thanking Del Rio for his tenure.

Spieth starts a new year with

a new status: He's engaged

KAPALUA, Hawaii - Jordan Spieth now can remember 2017 for a silver jug and a diamond ring.

Spieth confirmed Tuesday that he proposed to longtime girlfriend Anne Verret, and while he kept the details to a minimum, she said yes.

"It was a fantastic year," Spieth said.

The 24-year-old Texan won the claret jug with a three-shot victory in the British Open at Royal Birkdale to become the third youngest player in history with three legs of the career Grand Slam. He won the Masters and U.S. Open in consecutive majors in 2015.

Were the nerves greater at Birkdale or Chambers Bay, or when he proposed?

3 arrested for breaking into

NASCAR team owner's home

LEXINGTON, N.C. - Authorities say three men have been arrested for breaking into the home of NASCAR team owner Richard Childress.

The Davidson County Sheriff's Office identified the three as 20-year-old Niquan Victorin and 18-year-old Chantz Kade Hines, both of Winston-Salem, and 18-year-old Armeka Vantonne Spinks of Salisbury. They're charged with attempted first-degree burglary and first-degree trespassing and jailed under $250,000 bond apiece. It's not known if they have attorneys.

According to the sheriff's office, three people armed with military-type weapons attempted to break into the home on Dec. 18. Childress, who was at home with his wife, grabbed his gun and fired at the intruders, who fled.

The sheriff's office said Winston-Salem police told them that the guns used at the Childress home matched firearms reported stolen during a Dec. 15 break-in.

From staff and wire reports