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First College Football rankings released

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

Alabama on top in first poll

The Crimson Tide, Clemson, LSU and Notre Dame are the top four teams in the first College Football Playoff rankings of the season.

After meeting for a day and a half at a hotel outside Dallas, the 13-member CFP selection committee released the first of its five weekly top 25s before the four-team field is set for the College Football Playoff semifinals on Dec. 2.

Michigan is fifth, followed by Georgia and Oklahoma, in the rankings announced Tuesday night.

The top four teams were no surprise. The same four teams are Nos. 1-4 in the latest Associated Press college football poll, except with Notre Dame third and LSU fourth.

Next week’s rankings figure to look a lot different. Four games matching top-20 teams will be played Saturday, including Alabama at LSU.

Maryland should keep coach Durkin

The University System of Maryland board of regents has recommended that Terrapins coach DJ Durkin retain his job, opening the door for him to return to the team as soon as this week.

“We believe coach Durkin has been unfairly blamed for the dysfunction in the athletic department,” Jim Brady, chairman of the board of regents, said. “He has acknowledged his role in the athletic department’s shortcomings.”

Durkin, 40, has been on paid administrative leave since Aug. 11, following the death of a player who collapsed during practice and an investigation of bullying by the Maryland coaching staff.

“I feel like I’ve been punched in the stomach, and somebody spit in my face,” Marty McNair, Jordan’s father, who thought the USM board would “do the right thing’” said.

The investigation cited University President Wallace Loh and athletic director Damon Evans as having a part in the troubled program, but Brady said the board recommended both men be retained.

The recommendation by the board of regents Tuesday comes after the release of 198-page external report on the culture of the program.

Offensive coordinator Matt Canada is serving as interim head coach. The Terrapins are 5-3 under his guidance heading into Saturday’s home game against Michigan State.

Durkin was poised to enter his third year at Maryland when offensive lineman Jordan McNair was overcome by heat and exhaustion on May 29 and died on June 13.

Durkin signed a five-year contract with Maryland in December 2015 after serving one season as defensive coordinator at Michigan under Jim Harbaugh.

SPORTS BETTING

Devils’ owners join in

The company that owns the NHL’s Devils, the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers and a major New Jersey sports arena is going all in on promoting sports betting.

Harris Blitzer Sports and Entertainment on Tuesday announced its second deal in five days to open a sports lounge at Newark’s Prudential Center to promote sports betting to customers with gambling accounts on their mobile phones.

This time it’s a deal with Caesars Entertainment for a restaurant and bar on the main concourse.

It follows last week’s deal opening of a sports lounge with bookmaker William Hill.

Neither facility can accept cash bets, something reserved for casinos and racetracks.

But they may prove an effective way to promote and cash in on mobile sports betting, where most of the growth is.

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