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7 things to know now: Comey to testify; Clinton’s return; March Madness brackets blown

Here's a roundup of news trending across the nation and world today.

What to know now:

1. Comey to testify: FBI Director James Comey will testify before the House Intelligence Committee on Monday morning as hearings into allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election get underway in Washington. Comey is expected to be asked at the public hearing about any investigations of the new administration and about President Donald Trump’s statement that his campaign was wiretapped. Also scheduled to testify is Michael Rogers, the director of the National Security Agency.

2. Gorsuch hearings: Neil Gorsuch, President Trump’s nominee for the vacant Supreme Court seat, begins confirmation hearings Monday. Gorsuch, a judge on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, would fill the seat of Justice Antonin Scalia who died in February 2016. Gorsuch is likely to face several days of hearings.

3. Out of the Woods: Hillary Clinton told a group on Friday that she was “ready to come out of the woods,” and return to the American political scene. Clinton joke about being spotted while taking walks in the woods around her New York home, and told people gathered at a St. Patrick’s Day celebration in Scranton, Pa., "I'm like a lot of my friends right now; I have a hard time watching the news.” Clinton urged those there to get involved in the political process. "I do not believe that we can let political divides harden into personal divides. And we can't just ignore or turn a cold shoulder to someone because they disagree with us politically," she said.

4. Breslin dies: Columnist and author Jimmy Breslin died Sunday in New York. Breslin, who first became famous for a column about the man who dug the grave for President John F. Kennedy, was 88. He spent his career in New York City, and won a Pulitzer Prize for his columns about the famous, the infamous and, in most cases, the everyday man. 

5. Brackets blown: Millions of people across the country let out a groan at the same time Saturday, when their NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament bracket was blown up as returning champion Villanova lost to Wisconsin. There were other upsets – Duke lost to South Carolina and Michigan defeated Louisville. There was a blown call that likely sent Northwestern home early. After it was all over, the field was cut down to the “Sweet 16.” The tournament continues Thursday.  

And one more

Spring arrived Monday morning at 6:28 a.m. E.T. with the vernal equinox – the moment the Sun crosses the celestial equator and heads toward the Tropic of Cancer. There’s more daylight, and, according to forecaster, it will be a warm spring.

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Georgia Sports News

  • The emotional outpouring from Bulldog Nation this week in response to the passing of Andy Johnson provided a stark contrast to the cool, modest demeanor of Georgia football’s most low-key legend. Andy Johnson wanted to play for the Dawgs from childhood. (University of Georgia/courtesy) Athens native Johnson, a classmate of mine from seventh  grade on, starred in both football and baseball at UGA, and was, in the estimation of many — including Vince Dooley  — the Dawgs’ best running quarterback ever. Drafted by the Atlanta Braves, he also could have had a Major League Baseball career, but chose instead to play as a running back for the New England Patriots (the first of 11 Bulldogs that team has drafted), spending nine years in the NFL and another in the USFL. Longtime Atlanta sportscaster Bill Hartman, another Classic City native, said this week in a Facebook discussion that “ Andy was the best athlete ever to come out of Athens, and that covers a lot of ground.” I agree with Hartman; Johnson was the best all-around athlete I’ve ever seen. Andy, no doubt, would have been embarrassed by such a statement. A quiet, gentle man — the quintessential “nice guy” — he was modest to a fault. As my brother Tim noted, Andy “ really could have been the face of UGA football, if he had wanted it,” but he never sought the limelight. His Bulldog heroics most notably included leading the Dawgs to a last-minute victory over Georgia Tech in a nationally televised game on Thanksgiving night in 1971. Trailing Tech 24-21, Georgia got the ball at its own 35-yard line with 1:29 on the clock. In one of the most memorable drives I’ve ever seen, Andy led them downfield. Known primarily as a running quarterback, he got the comeback started with a 22-yard scamper, but it was the four passes he completed on that drive that made the difference, especially a clutch fourth-down throw to Mike Greene that gave the Dogs a first down at the Tech 25 with 48 seconds remaining. After another pass to Jimmy Shirer got the Dogs down to the 1, Jimmy Poulos went over the top to score with only 14 seconds left on the clock. Georgia won, 28-24. Former UGA quarterback Andy Johnson was a constant breakaway threat as a runner. (AJC file) Another Johnson touchdown — one that beat favored Tennessee in Knoxville in 1973 — also resulted in one of the earliest of those unforgettable radio calls by Larry Munson. Late in the game, with the Vols ahead, Andy faked a handoff, the ball bounced off the turf back into his hands, and he ran in for the winning score. Shouted Munson: “Andy Johnson touchdown! Andy Johnson touchdown! … My God Georgia beat Tennessee in Knoxville!” For Athens folks, a last-minute comeback led by Johnson was nothing new. In the fall of 1969, when the Athens High Trojans met the mighty Valdosta Wildcats in the state AAA championship — then the top classification in Georgia high school football — Andy ran the ball 70 yards for a touchdown on the final play of the first half. Later, as the clock ticked down in the fourth quarter, Valdosta was still ahead  26-18 , but Johnson led the Trojans down the field, throwing for a TD and completing another pass for a 2-point conversion to tie up the game as time ran out. In those days, ties were acceptable, so Athens and Valdosta ruled as co-champions that year. Ironically, two of the folks I heard from this week mourning Andy were a couple of former Bulldog quarterbacks who grew up on the other side of that Athens-Valdosta rivalry. Said Valdosta native Buck Belue in a reply to my tweet about Johnson’s death: “ Andy was not only the best athlete Athens produced, [but] probably the best athlete to ever play at UGA.” And, chimed in John Lastinger: “ He single-handedly tied VHS in [the] State Title game. I cried then. Cried today! He was such a great guy! DGD.” Johnson lettered in four sports in high school, including basketball. (Athens High School 1970 yearbook) Andy, who lettered in football, basketball, baseball and track at Athens High, was a high school All-America selection. Charlie Hayslett, who covered Johnson and the Trojans for the Athens Daily News, recalled: “ You only had to see him once to know he was one of those rare, one-in-a-zillion athletes.”  In his 2005 book written with Tony Barnhart — Dooley: My 40 Years at Georgia,” — the legendary UGA coach said Andy “ was one of the best athletes I have ever seen. … I remember watching him play one time in high school. He turned to make alateral pitch, but the back had gone the wrong way. The ball sailed loose and [Andy] outran the entire defense to recover it near the sideline. And the defense was already going full speed! It was an impossible play, but he made it.” Andy, whose uncles, Walter and Harold Maguire, played for UGA, started playing football at age 6 in the same Cobern Kelley-led Athens YMCA football program that produced Fran Tarkenton and Jake Scott. He turned heads from the start, and also was a baseball prodigy in Little League. Helen Castronis’ dad, Mike, was on the UGA coaching staff and recruited Andy for the Bulldogs. “We took Andy to McWhorter Hall for lunch every Sunday,” she recalled. It probably wasn’t necessary. There really never was any question where he would play his college ball. As Andy told Loran Smith for his 1989 book Dooley’s Dawgs, “I always wanted to be part of the Georgia tradition, dating back to the time when I scored a touchdown between the hedges for the Athens YMCA [in a pregame scrimmage] and the Redcoat Band played a Bulldog fight song or two after I crossed the goal line.” But, as fellow Athens native Owen Scott recalled this week: “ Andy was more than just a great athlete, he was an amazing person. … He never displayed the kind of ego that some highly gifted stars develop.” Said Bill Bryant, who worked with me on the Athens High newspaper: “ Andy was one of the nicest guys any of us has known. To have that much talent and good looks, it took a special person not to be consumed with himself. He was one cool guy who never tried to be. Secretly, I think we all wanted to be Andy. He really had it all: an abundance of natural ability, good looks, an unassuming style.” Ben Anderson, one of Andy’s high school basketball teammates, said he was “awed by Andy’s seemingly effortless athleticism.” Recalled another Athens native, Bill Berryman: “I first realized that Andy was truly gifted when our group of Y boys lined up for a wind sprint for fourth or fifth grade football practice. … By the time most of us reached yard 15, Andy was at 25.   His lead only grew, and we were in awe. … But Andy was gifted in another way, too — genuine and self-effacing, he was the epitome of sportsmanship, from the sandlot to the NFL.” Johnson was an early athletic prodigy in the Athens YMCA and Little League. (Courtesy of Jessica Jordan) Despite his stardom — he was inducted into the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame in 1996 — Andy always had time for others. Said classmate Saye Sutton: “His countenance was gentle, kind and attentive. You knew he was listening to you and always learning something new about everyone he encountered.” Or, as my buddy Charles Isbell put it: “H is easy-going personality and his warmness and friendliness to everyone” was “ pretty much his normal demeanor.” “He was also the most humble person I’ve ever known,” said former Bulldog football player Dave Williams. Betz Lowery, who was three years behind us at Athens High, said she had a “huge crush” on Andy back then, but never got to meet him until she attended a UGA lettermen’s banquet a few years ago. “ I tried not to gush when I told him that I had a crush on him since I was 14. He shook my hand and was so gracious and thanked me for telling him that. I also told him I was thrilled to meet him. He then gave my hand a kiss before saying goodbye.” Another classmate of Johnson’s, Dan Pelletier, summed it up: “ Amazing how everyone’s memories of Andy are so positive. He truly was loved and admired by all he met.” MiMi DuBose Gudenrath dated Andy when they were juniors at Athens High. She reminisced this week: “I always contended we broke up because his mother didn’t like me. We used to joke about it. About a year ago, I got a text from Andy with an attachment; it was the prom picture of us at the Junior-Senior. He found it as he was cleaning out his mom’s house after her death.” Andy and MiMi at the 1969 Athens High Junior-Senior. (Courtesy of MiMi DuBose Gudenrath Added Andy in the text: “See, I told you my mom liked you; she kept our picture!” My own experiences with Andy after college were mainly limited to chatting at our class reunions, held every five years. After I started doing the Junkyard Blawg, I saw him at a reunion when the Dawgs were in a bit of a down period, and he gently chided me, “You’ve been kind of hard on them lately.” It’s fair to criticize the coaches, Andy said, but he urged me always to remember “there’s nobody in that stadium who wants Georgia to win more than the players do.” I knew Andy had been battling illness for at least a decade, but, when I saw him at our most recent reunion, in the fall of 2015, his gaunt appearance surprised me. We chatted about Georgia football, as we usually did, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that I might never see him again. So, before we parted, I told him how special he was, how much he’d meant to all of us, and how he’d have been one of my all-time favorite Bulldogs, even if we hadn’t gone to school together. He smiled broadly, took my hand, and, in that quiet way of his, said, “You’re so kind.” This week, after word came of Andy’s death, it meant a lot to me that I took that opportunity to tell him how we all felt about him. It was a privilege to know him. The post UGA football: Andy Johnson showed what becomes a legend most appeared first on DawgNation.
  • Former Georgia linebacker Alec Ogletree admitted that he didn’t live up to his personal expectations during his college career in a Q&A session with the  NYPost. “Somewhat. I feel like I could have done things a little differently,” Ogletree said, via the NYPost. “It was mainly my fault. I felt like that’s why I didn’t have the career I wanted to have. I made some mistakes during college. I definitely saw myself doing bigger things in college than what I did. You live and you learn. I didn’t have a bad experience in college.” Related:  LA Rams trade former Georgia LB Alec Ogletree; Todd Gurley not happy Ogletree experienced a series of off-field incidents during his college career including a DUI arrest leading up to the 2013 NFL Draft, a four-game suspension in 2012 for marijuana and a misdemeanor that stemmed from stealing a $35 bike helmet in 2010. The former USA Today High School All-American still managed to have a decorated career at Georgia, which included a second-team All-SEC nomination in 2012 and led to him being selected by the then-St. Louis Rams at No. 30 overall during the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft. The post Alec Ogletree: ‘I definitely saw myself doing bigger things in college’ appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATLANTA (AP) - Sean Newcomb couldn't summon the usual bite on his fastball, so he decided to just settle in and pitch. 'I didn't have my best stuff all around, I'd say, but I was able to get some fastballs in the zone, make other things work a little bit, get some weak contact,' he said. 'That's all I was trying to do.' Newcomb pitched six strong innings to win his fourth straight start, Johan Camargo and Ozzie Albies each drove in two runs, and the Atlanta Braves beat the Miami Marlins 8-1 on Saturday night. Ender Inciarte went 3 for 4 and Freddie Freeman added a two-run homer in the eighth to help Atlanta win for the eighth time in 11 games and hold onto the NL's best record at 27-17. Newcomb (5-1) had thrown 21 consecutive scoreless innings, the longest active streak in the majors, before the Marlins took a 1-0 lead in the second when Justin Bour singled, advanced to third on Cameron Maybin's double and scored on a groundout. Newcomb allowed four hits and two walks with four strikeouts. He is 4-0 with a 0.36 ERA in four starts this month. Braves manager Brian Snitker thought the left-hander showed maturity when he wasn't feeling as strong as usual. 'It seemed like he had to really grind through this one,' Snitker said, 'but he stayed current with pitch to pitch again and made some good pitches when he had to.' Jose Urena (0-7) lost his eighth straight decision, with his last victory coming Sept. 20 against the New York Mets. The Marlins have lost each of his 10 starts this year and 12 straight overall to match the longest streak in club history, set by Brian Moehler from 2006-07. The Braves scored four runs in the fifth to take a 4-1 lead. Inciarte reached on an infield single as the ball deflected off first baseman Bour's glove. Second baseman Starlin Castro fielded the ball and lifted it toward first with his glove to retire Inciarte, but Bour and Urena collided at the bag and the ball bounced away, allowing Inciarte to advance to second and Kurt Suzuki to third. Suzuki scored on Camargo's RBI single, and Inciarte scored on a sacrifice squeeze bunt by Dansby Swanson. Albies' single cleared the bases. Suzuki's sixth homer and Camargo's RBI double made it 6-1 off Jarlin Garcia in the seventh. Freeman has nine homers, including four in six games against the Marlins this season. Urena gave up five hits and four runs in six innings. 'Jose was good - really can't ask for much more from him,' Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. 'His pitch count was down and he got ground balls. We just didn't make any plays for him that inning, I thought.' TRAINER'S ROOM Marlins: C J.T. Realmuto got the day off with the Braves starting a left-hander. Though his .332 road average since the start of 2016 ranks third in the majors, Realmuto is hitting .211 in 21 plate appearances overall against lefties this season. Braves: Swanson, reinstated from the disabled list after missing 13 games with left wrist inflammation, went 0 for 2 with one run scored and one RBI. GOHARA GEARING UP Snitker said LHP Luiz Gohara will make his starting debut Wednesday at Philadelphia unless he's needed for extended bullpen work over the next four days. The Braves have an open spot after RHP Mike Soroka went to the DL with shoulder tightness. Gohara was projected to be a regular in the rotation before ankle and groin injuries sidelined him throughout spring training. Since getting recalled from Gwinnett on May 8 to pitch in relief, he has no record with a 1.29 ERA in seven innings. UP NEXT Marlins: LHP Wei-Yin Chen (1-2, 7.56) will make his first start against Atlanta since 2016. He pitched 4 1/3 scoreless innings in his last outing against the Los Angeles Dodgers earlier this week. Braves: RHP Julio Teheran (4-1, 3.49 ERA) will make his 18th career start against the Marlins and is 6-5 with a 3.49 ERA in the series. Teheran has won three straight starts overall. ___ More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball
  • ATHENS — First let’s talk about what happened in Georgia’s baseball game on Saturday, then we’ll talk about what has happened this season. The abridged version: Keegan McGovern, Mr. Everything for the Bulldogs, threw out an Arkansas runner at home plate to win the game 3-2. That’s right, a day after recording a win over No. 6 Arkansas with a 10th-inning, walk-off hit, No. 13 Georgia won with a walk-off, throw-out from its left fielder in the last game of the regular season. If you hadn’t thought so before, it’s about now you start to think, “maybe this Georgia team is something special.” “I thought that already,” said Scott Stricklin, the Bulldogs’ fifth-year coach. “But I’ve never seen a game end like that before.” Stricklin, you’ll note, has overseen 815 games as a college head coach and participated in about 60 a year since he first played college ball at Kent State in 1990. So, yes, it was unusual play, on multiple levels. First was the fact that Arkansas sent its runner from third base on a shallow fly ball on the foul line while tied with one out in the top of the ninth. Then there was the notability of the person fielding the ball. McGovern had 3 assists on the season. For what it’s worth, Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said it was his decision and he didn’t regret it. “I was surprised he went,” said McGovern, a senior who hit his 15th home run in the game and is on the Golden Spikes watch list. “But as the ball was coming down, everybody was yelling ‘4, 4, 4,’ so I knew where I had to go with it.” Almost literally, McGovern delivered a strike. His throw to catcher Austin Biggar came in knee high on the line and never touched the ground. Biggar simply had to catch it and fall forward to tag out the hard-sliding Heston Kjerstad, who’d led off the inning with a double and went to third on a passed ball. So that’s how the inning had begun, with a runner on third and no outs. Yet the Bulldogs wiggled out of it. Of course. And that’s what they’ve been doing all year, mostly. Even the ones they’ve lost have been heart-palpitating thrillers. This bunch competes like they’re livelihood depends on it. Thank you, Seniors! #DoItForTheSeniors | #SeniorDay #DawgsOnTop | #GoDawgs pic.twitter.com/WN4dhUoQVv — Georgia Baseball (@BaseballUGA) May 19, 2018 For Stricklin, it actually did. No bones about it. He entered the fifth year of his six-year deal to be Georgia’s coach without an NCAA Regional appearance and with athletic director Greg McGarity answering questions about why Stricklin hadn’t already been fired. That’s no longer on the table. The only inevitability now is a contract extension. He might even have a bonus coming for SEC Coach of the Year. Truly, if it went to anybody else at this point, an investigation might be warranted. Some facts to consider: Georgia has recorded its lowest team ERA (3.66 coming in) in 50 years, a tribute both to Stricklin and the new pitching coach he brought in from Michigan this year, Sean Kenny. They’re also hitting 30 points higher and fielding 17 points better. And they’re versatile. The game Saturday was a perfect example. The Bulldogs scored 1 run via 2 bunts and 2 runs via 2 homers. “We can win a lot of different ways,” Stricklin said. And now they’ve already won 10 more games than Stricklin’s previous best season. Accordingly, there is a bunch more to play for at this point. Arkansas (37-17, 18-12 SEC) came in with a national RPI of No. 3; Georgia (37-17, 18-12) was No. 4. The victory also assured the Bulldogs of the 3 seed and a first-round bye in the SEC Tournament next week in Hoover, Ala. They’ll open Wednesday morning at 10:30 a.m. ET against an opponent to be determined. Georgia hasn’t been in this position since 2008, when it last hosted a Super Regional and was a College World Series finalist. The Bulldogs hadn’t even won an SEC Tournament game since Stricklin has been in town. Even if they don’t next week, it shouldn’t matter. The thought is that Georgia already has locked down a “super seed.” Those go to the nation’s top 8 teams. “We better be,” said Michael Curry, who hit his 10th homer of the season in the game. “I don’t know how we couldn’t be.” But even that’s not what it’s all about for these guys anymore. They’re having fun. They’re getting contributions from everybody down the lineup. They’re not just expecting it to win, but demanding it. “We knew it at the end of last year that we could win a lot more games,” said McGovern, the hulking left fielder from Willacoochee. “It’s probably a shock to everybody else but it isn’t to us.” The post Another walk-off win for drama-loving Diamond Dawgs appeared first on DawgNation.
  • Georgia softball dominated the competition in Athens for the second day in a row on Saturday afternoon, defeating Northwestern 12-0 in six innings. The Bulldogs finished off the mercy-rule win with seven runs in the final two frames, including a five-run sixth inning. An Alyssa DiCarlo homer in the top of the frame put the finishing touches on the victory. DiCarlo was the standout today, blasting three home runs and producing six RBI. She became just the fourth player in history to hit three homers in an NCAA Tournament game. Here’s a clip of her final blast of the day: 3️⃣ DiCarlo Dingers!! Watch @UGASoftball’s Alyssa DiCarlo hit her THIRD homer of the day! #NCAASoftball pic.twitter.com/VEggjSjseQ — NCAA Softball (@NCAAsoftball) May 19, 2018 Justice Milz also had a nice day, getting two hits, scoring three runs and driving in a pair. In the circle, Georgia used four solid performances to shutout the Wildcats. Mary Wilson Avant got the start and limited Northwestern to just one hit over three innings. Amanda Ablan, Kylie Bass and Keara Napoli took it from there, permitting just five hits and one walk over the final three frames. Georgia now advances to the regional championship on Sunday, where the Bulldogs could meet Northwestern again. The Wildcats will first face the winner of Saturday’s elimination game between Cal and Harvard. Whoever prevails from that trio will have to beat the Bulldogs twice on Sunday in order to advance to the NCAA Super Regionals. First pitch is slated for 12 p.m. ET on Sunday. The post Alyssa DiCarlo blasts 3 homers as Georgia softball run-rules Northwestern appeared first on DawgNation.