Wednesday's Sports in Brief

NATIONAL SIGNING DAY

Alabama came up just short in its bid for a second straight national title on the field, but the Crimson Tide's dominance on the recruiting trail remains as strong as ever.

According to composite rankings of recruiting services compiled by 247Sports, Alabama finished atop the team standings for a seventh consecutive year. And this might have been Nick Saban's best class yet.

Florida's 2010 class that included NFL first-round draft picks Dominique Easley, Matt Elam and Sharrif Floyd is 247Sports' only higher-rated class since 2002, which is as far back as 247Sports' data goes.

Alabama's class includes seven of the top 34 players in the 247Sports Composite: running back Najee Harris, offensive tackles Alex Leatherwood and Jedrick Willis, outside linebacker Dylan Moses, wide receiver Jerry Jeudy, defensive end LaBryan Ray and quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. Rivals and Scout rated Harris as the nation's No. 1 overall prospect.

Ohio State and Southern California also had reason to celebrate.

Barton Simmons, director of scouting for 247Sports, said the average 247Sports Composite rating of Ohio State's signees is the highest of any class since 2002. Alabama finished higher in the team standings largely because it signed more players than Ohio State.

Southern California surged into the top five in the team standings with a fabulous finish. Linebacker Levi Jones, defensive tackle Jay Tufele, wide receiver Joseph Lewis and offensive tackle Austin Jackson made Signing Day decisions to join USC's class. All three are top-100 prospects in the 247Sports Composite.

BAYLOR SEXUAL ASSAULT INVESTIGATION

WACO, Texas (AP) " Former Baylor football coach Art Briles has dropped the defamation lawsuit filed against four university officials he accused of making false statements against him, according to attorneys in the case.

Briles in December sued the three regents and a university vice president for libel and slander, claiming they falsely stated that he knew of reported assaults and alleged gang rapes by players and didn't report them.

Rusty Hardin, an attorney for the regents, told the Waco Tribune-Herald that the suit was dropped.

The lawsuit that was filed in Llano County also asserted that Baylor officials conspired to damage Briles' reputation and keep him from getting another coaching job. It sought damages for emotional distress and likely ending his career as a coach "on any level."

WACO, Texas (AP) " The former director of football operations at Baylor University has filed a lawsuit arguing he was unfairly named as contributing to the school's mishandling of student sexual assault complaints.

Colin Shillinglaw's lawsuit in district court in Dallas County names the school, interim President David Garland and others as defendants. In the lawsuit filed Tuesday, Shillinglaw contends Baylor leaders and others were defamatory in unfairly blaming him when it was the university's public safety officials who were responsible for handling assault complaints.

Shillinglaw, who was fired last year, is seeking a jury trial and damages.

A Baylor spokesman said the lawsuit is without merit.

PRO FOOTBALL

HOUSTON (AP) " Former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue is apologizing for remarks he made decades ago about concussions in football.

In an interview with the Talk of Fame Network, Tagliabue admitted he erred in 1994 in saying concussions were "one of those pack-journalism issues." He also claimed then that the number of concussions "is relatively small; the problem is the journalist issue."

Up for election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday, Tagliabue spoke out Wednesday about a major blemish on a record highlighted by labor peace throughout his 17-year tenure.

HOUSTON (AP) " Tom Brady hopes his mother will be in the stands on Super Bowl Sunday despite dealing with an undisclosed health issue.

The New England Patriots quarterback acknowledged that his mother Galynn Brady has been ill. He didn't provide any details.

"It's personal with my family, and I'm just hoping everyone's here on Sunday to share in a great experience. But it has been a tough year. Every family goes through different things and you know my family has always been a great support system for me and hopefully we can make everyone happy on Sunday."

Brady got choked up talking about his father during media night on Monday, and he said Tuesday that his mother had not been able to attend any games this season. On Wednesday, he confirmed that his mother has been ill.

TRUMP IMMIGRATION BAN

DALLAS (AP) " Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban questioned the effectiveness of President Donald Trump's executive order restricting immigration from seven countries, citing the "hypocrisy" of limiting immigration from some countries while not including others.

"I understand safety," Cuban said. "We all want to be safer. No one wants to be unsafe. But the hypocrisy of it all " only seven countries. Now, if it had been all terrorist-hosting countries, but seven countries? That's like locking your door with the best security ever invented and leaving all your windows open. It just makes no sense."

Cuban spoke of the struggles of his grandparents coming to America to escape persecution in Nazi-occupied Austria and in Stalinist Russia, and the challenges they faced as immigrants here.

PRO FOOTBALL

TEMPE, Arizona (AP) " Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald has confirmed he will be back to play a 14th NFL season.

In a text to azcardinals.com's Darren Urban, Fitzgerald confirmed a report that he had told ESPN's Jim Trotter that he would play another season.

"Truthful Trotter," Fitzgerald wrote.

Speaking at the PGA's Waste Management Open Pro-Am on Tuesday, Fitzgerald said he felt much better physically and had pretty much made up his mind on whether he would return, but wasn't ready to make it public.

The Cardinals still have not heard definitive word from quarterback Carson Palmer as to whether he will return.

At 33, Fitzgerald led the NFL in receptions last season with 107.

This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings

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