Thursday, August 5, 2004

Trojans' Williams hopeful of return

Enquirer wire services

LOS ANGELES - Mike Williams leaped, caught Matt Leinart's tight spiral on his fingertips and came down inside the sidelines.

Just like last season. And maybe this season.

Williams, an All-America wide receiver who declared for the NFL draft and left school last spring, has asked the NCAA to restore his eligibility so he can return for his junior season with the defending national champion USC Trojans.

While awaiting the NCAA decision, Williams is practicing with the Trojans, who opened camp Wednesday.

"I felt like I never left," Williams said. "To get out here and fly around, it feels good to be back out here."

Williams, fourth in last season's Heisman Trophy balloting, is enrolled in summer school and expects the NCAA to issue its ruling after grades are posted.

"Summer school is over Aug. 10, and that seems to be the final hurdle," he said. "So I just need to take care of class and hopefully, Aug. 11 I'll know."

Williams hired an agent and followed Ohio State running back Maurice Clarett in declaring for the NFL draft after a federal judge ruled that younger players could turn pro. But that ruling was stayed.

The NFL bars players from turning pro until they are three years out of high school.

BIG TEN: The Big Ten will be the focus of college football's attention this season as much for what happens above the field as on it.

The Big Ten will use instant replay this fall, the first conference in the country to do so. If the one-year experiment goes well, other conferences might adopt it.

Under the Big Ten's system, a technical adviser will watch the game from the press box. If he sees something questionable, officials on the field will be notified via pager and play will be halted while the adviser reviews the call. The call for review must be made before the next play begins, or the opportunity passes.

The only video the adviser can use in his decision is that from the television feed. He'll also have a digital video recorder - think TiVo - to review the play.

Auto racing

BUSCH SERIES: NASCAR will stage its first points-paying event outside the United States in a half-century when the Busch series races next year in Mexico City.

A NASCAR official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Wednesday the race is scheduled for next spring at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, a 2.786-mile course.

The entire schedule for the Busch series is expected to be released today.

In going to Mexico City, NASCAR will continue its expansion into new markets. First-year chairman Brian France is trying to bring the top-tier Nextel Cup series to the New York City market and has expressed interest in Mexico and Canada.


LABOR TALKS: Talks between the NHL and its players' union resumed Wednesday, but both sides said no progress was made.

The four-hour session in the union's Toronto office was their first meeting since July 21, when the league presented six possible concepts for a new economic system.

The collective bargaining agreement expires Sept. 15. If a new agreement isn't reached, a lockout could threaten the entire season.

Local sports

FOOTBALL: The Kings Comets will have their first home game of the season at 7 p.m. Saturday at Princeton High School Vikings Stadium. The Comets (3-2, 1-1 Mid-Continental Football League) will play the Indiana Mustangs (4-0, 2-0). Ticket prices are $7 for adults and $5 for students.


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