Notre Dame football coach Brian Kelly says the Fighting Irish are seeking a new identity this season.

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Notre Dame gets back to work

Notre Dame is seeking a new identity, eager to get rid of the bad taste from a 42-14 loss to Alabama in last season’s BCS National Championship Game.

The Fighting Irish, coming off a 12-1 season, begin spring practice Wednesday without linebacker Manti Te’o to anchor the defense or tight end Tyler Eifert or running back Theo Riddick to bail out the offense.

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Each season a team has a new identity, a new group of leaders, Kelly said Tuesday.

“I want to leave spring ball knowing what we have, knowing the identity of our football team,” he said.

The program was the focus of added attention in the winter when news broke that Te’o was the victim of a hoax of an online romance with a man posing as a woman and Kelly interviewing for the coaching job with the Philadelphia Eagles.

Kelly brushed off a question about him having to repair his relationship with Notre Dame players after interviewing for the NFL job.

“They don’t like me very much anyway, so it was really very little,” he said, joking.

Kelly officially confirmed what had been expected for nearly two weeks: Gunner Kiel, the former No. 1 quarterback recruit in the nation, has left the program after one season and will transfer.

Grand jury to get Alabama cases

Four ex-Alabama players arrested after two on-campus incidents are set to have their cases presented to a Tuscaloosa County grand jury.

Safety Eddie Williams, linebacker Dennis Pettway, running back/H-back Brent Calloway and linebacker Tyler Hayes were dismissed from school after a judicial review.

Williams, Pettway and Hayes are charged with two counts of second-degree robbery after two students were attacked in separate incidents Feb. 11. Williams and Calloway are both charged with using a stolen debit card.

Williams and Calloway — both 20 — and Pettway, 18, are seeking youthful-offender status.

Hayes, 18, and Williams confessed to robbing a student who was punched in the head and face and kicked in the ribs and back. Williams said Pettway and Hayes waited in a nearby vehicle about an hour later while he knocked out and robbed another student.


Snedeker returns from layoff

When last seen on a golf course, Brandt Snedeker was capping off an amazing run by winning the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am in California. He mentioned his ribs being sore, but never let on that the pain began to increase over the last four or five holes of the event.

That was five tournaments ago.

Snedeker, who also missed the U.S. Open last summer because of a rib injury, returns to competition Thursday at the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill in Orlando, Fla.

Snedeker said his rib muscle was strained on the left side, which was causing the pain. And while the two rib injuries are not related, there is concern about why it keeps happening.

“I had about every test run you can possibly have run,” said Snedeker, who is ranked No. 4 in the world. “The good news is, I’m completely healthy. The bad news is, I’m completely healthy. So I don’t know why it keeps happening.”

Snedeker remains atop the FedEx Cup standings because of his fast start to the season.


Owen to retire at end of season

Former England striker Michael Owen announced he will retire at the end of the season.

Owen, the last Englishman to be named European player of the year, made his name with Liverpool and went on to play for Real Madrid, Newcastle and Manchester United before signing with Stoke City of the English Premier League at the start of this season.

Injuries have hampered the 33-year-old Owen, who scored 40 goals in international matches to rank fourth on England’s all-time list.

Blatter says he has faith in Brazil

FIFA President Sepp Blatter said he believes 2014 World Cup host Brazil will have the stadiums and infrastructure ready despite construction delays.

Two of six stadiums are ready for the Confederations Cup in June. FIFA has faith in Brazilian soccer and government authorities, Blatter said.

“They will be ready because it is the World Cup and no one can afford not to be ready for the World Cup,” he said.

CONCACAF wants a bigger say

The soccer region that includes the United States wants a bigger say at FIFA.

Jeffrey Webb, president of soccer’s ruling body for North and Central America and the Caribbean, said he will urge FIFA executive-committee colleagues this week to look at how their influence is shared and how the panel’s seats are allocated among the six continental confederations.

CONCACAF has three representatives in the 25-member committee. Webb, a Cayman Islands banker, wants that increased to four.


Mike Plant, Atlanta Braves vice president, was appointed president of the U.S. Speedskating board, taking a lead role in the troubled organization with the Winter Olympics less than a year away. Plant, 53, is a former speedskater and member of the 1980 U.S. Olympic team.

U.S. Speedskating is dealing with the fallout from an athlete mutiny against former national short-track coach Jae Su Chun, who was accused of physically abusing athletes, and separate claims of improper sexual relationships with underage athletes against Andy Gabel, the group’s former president.

Adam Krikorian, 38, coach of the U.S. gold medal-winning women’s water-polo team, has signed a new four-year commitment through the 2016 Olympics.

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