Kelly relieved to avoid BCS politics

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Kelly relieved to avoid BCS politics

Brian Kelly said earlier in the fall he aimed to stay out of BCS politics. But as Notre Dame's path to the BCS Championship became clear in requiring two teams ahead of them to lose, it became difficult for Kelly to steer clear of politicking for his team.

After Notre Dame beat Boston College to improve to 10-0, Kelly voted his team No. 1 in the coaches poll, which is a component of the BCS. No other coach did. While Kelly said he told his team he believed they were No. 1, on some level, Kelly was doing his part to improve Notre Dame's standing in the BCS.

That was one thing Kelly could control -- his vote in the coaches poll. He had Notre Dame No. 2 before Alabama lost, and then moved them to No. 1. Nobody's questioning his No. 1 vote for Notre Dame this week, though.

"Oh, absolutely, but I understand it, too," Kelly said, relieved to not have to answer questions about politicking. "It comes with the territory, you're going to have those questions posed to you, and the best thing that I can do is keep our football team focused on the next game, and that's what we tried to do."

No matter how well Notre Dame played, and no matter what Kelly did, the Irish needed some combination of Alabama, Kansas State and Oregon to lose to have a chance to reach the national title. All three lost in successive weekends, and as long as Notre Dame beats USC, there won't be any BCS controversy in 2012.

"It's like being selected for the playoffs," Kelly said. "Now you know you're in if you take care of business, and you've got to win each week. I think it's more about just the feeling that you're included now in the race for a championship."

Jimmy Butler puts Benny the Bull on blast after draining trick shot

Jimmy Butler puts Benny the Bull on blast after draining trick shot

We have definitive proof Jimmy Butler can do anything on a basketball court.

And now, if Benny the Bull is ever injured, the Bulls have a backup in house.

Butler mimicked Benny's half-court, behind the back shot at practice Tuesday morning and called it before he even nailed it.

The Bulls All-Star then walked off the court, talking smack to Benny in the process (though Benny was nowhere to be seen in the video). 

"Benny F. Bull."

Cubs release Munenori Kawasaki and keep the door open for his return

Cubs release Munenori Kawasaki and keep the door open for his return

MESA, Ariz. – The Cubs released Munenori Kawasaki on Tuesday, allowing the popular, high-energy Japanese infielder to see what's out there while still keeping the door open for his return.

The timing would also allow the Cubs to avoid paying the $100,000 retention bonus to Kawasaki, who's played parts of five big-league seasons with the Seattle Mariners, Toronto Blue Jays and last year's World Series team.

"Hopefully, we get a chance to sign him back," manager Joe Maddon said at the Sloan Park complex. "A guy like him needs to take advantage of how well he's playing and possibly see if there's a chance to get a major-league job."

With that move, the Cubs cut the roster to 30 players on their second-to-last day in the Cactus League this spring. Between Addison Russell, Ben Zobrist and Javier Baez – and prospects like Ian Happ and Chesny Young – the Cubs would appear to be covered up the middle for now. 

"You can never have enough middle infielders," Maddon said. "I'd love to have him, no question. Hopefully, he's going to be back. Again, this is one of those things where the word 'release' is a very harsh word, but I think it can be rectified possibly. I hope he comes back to us."