Sports Briefs 12-1-13

ERIC OLSON AP College Football Writer Published:

LINCOLN, Neb. -- Nebraska coach Bo Pelini is safe for now.

Athletic director Shawn Eichorst issued a statement Saturday expressing support for Pelini and his staff and quashing speculation that the sixth-year coach's job was in jeopardy following a disappointing regular season.

The Cornhuskers are 8-4, 5-3 in the Big Ten, after their 38-17 loss to Iowa on Friday. Pelini is 57-24 at Nebraska, but the school has not won a conference title since 1999.

The Huskers will learn their bowl destination next weekend. Eichorst, who is in his first full year as athletic director, until Saturday had adhered to his policy of not commenting about his coaches until after their seasons.

"However," he said in his statement, "given the volume of unfounded speculation and conjecture about our head football coach, I want to reaffirm what I have said many times since I have arrived at the University of Nebraska -- that I positively respect, appreciate and support our football student-athletes, coaches and staff, as we do everyone in the Husker family.

"We very much look forward to our upcoming bowl game and Coach Pelini continuing to lead our program in the future."

A message seeking comment was left on Pelini's cell phone.

Pelini is under contract through the 2017 season and is paid almost $3 million a year. Pelini's contract is extended one year after each season he receives a positive job review from the athletic director.

Former athletic director Tom Osborne extended Pelini's contract last year just a few days after the 70-31 loss to Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship game. It wasn't known when Pelini's next job evaluation would be done. Eichorst was not available for comment beyond his statement. Had Eichorst decided to fire Pelini now, the university would have owed Pelini more than $7.6 million, according to his contract.

• Football

Velasco placed on IR: The Pittsburgh Steelers have placed center Fernando Velasco on injured reserve with a season-ending Achilles injury.

Velasco injured the Achilles in Thursday's 22-20 loss to Baltimore. Velasco is the second center to be lost for the season. Maurkice Pouncey tore the ACL in his right knee eight plays into the opener against Tennessee in September.

The Steelers signed center Eric Olsen and offensive tackle Rashad Butler to add depth to a depleted line. Olsen played in 16 games, with four starts, for the New Orleans Saints in 2012. To make room for Olsen and Butler, the Steelers released cornerback DeMarcus Van Dyke.

Wolfe added to injury report: The Denver Broncos might have lost a fourth defensive starter for their game at Kansas City today after lineman Derek Wolfe fell ill sometime between the end of practice Friday and the team's departure to the airport about an hour later.

The defensive end/tackle was added to the injury report and listed as questionable, same as cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (shoulder).

Harvin doubtful: Percy Harvin is listed as doubtful to play Monday night for Seattle against the New Orleans Saints because of lingering soreness in his surgically repaired hip.

Coach Pete Carroll expected Harvin to be fully integrated into the offense coming out of their bye, but Harvin was unable to practice during the week.

Groom suspended: Marshall University says running back Kevin Grooms has been suspended indefinitely after his arrest on charges of misdemeanor domestic battery and obstructing an officer.

A booking officer at the Western Regional Jail in Barboursville said the 21-year-old Grooms was being held there after his arrest early Saturday in Huntington. Police in Huntington could not be reached for additional details on the arrest.

Sumlin, Texas A&M agree to terms: Texas A&M and coach Kevin Sumlin have agreed in principle to a new six-year contract that could keep him with the Aggies through 2019.

The university said Saturday that the terms of the deal still needed to be approved by its Board of Regents.

Sumlin is 19-5 in two seasons with the Aggies (8-3) heading into their game Saturday at No. 5 Missouri. That's the most victories by a coach in school history in his first two years.

• Elsewhere

Blue Jackets fall to Bruins: Milan Lucic scored a pair of goals and Patrice Bergeron added another, lifting the Boston Bruins to a 3-1 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday.

David Krejci added two assists for Eastern Conference-leading Boston, which is 10-2-2 in its past 14 games.

The Bruins haven't lost at home in regulation in 11 games (9-0-2). Boston has won all three meetings between the teams this season.

Another gold for Holcomb: Steven Holcomb piloted USA-1 to a win for a gold medal in the opening World Cup four-man bobsled race of the season on Saturday, a perfect start to the year for the driver who guided the Americans to a gold medal at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.

The team of Holcomb, Curt Tomasevicz, Steve Langton and Chris Fogt finished two runs on the Calgary track in 1 minute, 48.56 seconds. There was a two-way tie for second between Germany, piloted by Maximilian Arndt, and Russia, piloted by Alexander Zubkov. Both those sleds were 0.09 seconds off the pace set by USA-1.

Outbreak being investigated: Health officials said Saturday they're investigating whether a contagious stomach virus is the cause of an outbreak that has sickened dozens of players, coaches and parents taking part in a youth football tournament in Las Vegas.

Southern Nevada Health District spokesman Jorge Viote said his agency is interviewing the sick and taking samples from them as part of an investigation to pinpoint the cause of the outbreak.

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