LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Louisville's seven-game skid was bad enough. Worse were the large margins of defeat and opponents' apparent ease in lighting up the scoreboard.

That combination spelled the end of coach Bobby Petrino's second chapter with the Cardinals.

Louisville fired Petrino on Sunday morning with two games left in a spiraling season that includes five blowout losses in which the Cardinals allowed at least 50 points.

The school announced Petrino's dismissal with a statement from athletic director Vince Tyra, who wasn't confident the coach could turn things around next season. He said a new head coach would be chosen soon to restore the program to national prominence.

The AD said at a news conference later that he considered a number of factors in Petrino's status, but noted that the three games since Louisville's bye showed no progress.

"It was clear the players weren't responding," he said. "The coaches' and the players' efforts have to go in the right direction, but I didn't feel it was going that way."

Purdue head coach Jeff Brohm, a former Louisville quarterback who later became an assistant under Petrino, has frequently been mentioned as the top candidate to replace him. Tyra said he had "a list in mind" but didn't want to interfere with potential candidates with the season still in progress.

Louisville interim coach says last 2 games not 'about me'

Louisville interim football coach Lorenzo Ward said he is focused solely on salvaging the Cardinals' final two games rather than whether he will have the job permanently.

It's unclear who will be Louisville's next head coach, whether it's Ward or possibly Purdue's Jeff Brohm, a former Cardinals quarterback who has been mentioned as a possible candidate.

It's a challenge either way: Whether Ward gets the job is not within his control and ending the Cardinals seven-game slide that won't be easy against North Carolina State on Saturday.

"We're going through tough times," Ward said Monday in his first news conference as interim coach. "They're used to winning. We're not, and the thing we want to do is try to make these next two weeks as fun as we can possibly make them.

"It's not going to be about me. ... It's about what we're going to do for these young men."

No matter how the season ends on the field, Ward might not keep the job permanently.

There are already questions about who will take the reins after the season finale against No. 20 Kentucky. Brohm has been frequently mentioned as the top candidate. The former Cardinals quarterback who became an assistant under Petrino acknowledged the reports Monday but dismissed them, saying he is concentrating on making the 5-5 Boilermakers bowl eligible.

"I've heard the noise just like everyone else," Brohm said during his weekly news conference. "Unfortunately, it's important for me to not comment on any speculation right now. I have a job, and we've got work to do, and a lot of it. ...

Brohm added that he was "very appreciative of the job I have right now."

Ward is little short-handed in his preparation for the Boilermakers — three assistants were also let go.

Petrino's son, quarterbacks coach Nick Petrino, defensive line coach L.D. Scott and linebackers coach Ryan Beard were also shown the door along with director of football operation Andy Wagner.

David Pearson, NASCAR's Silver Fox, has died at 83

David Pearson, the NASCAR pioneer known as "The Silver Fox" for his cunning craft and a longtime rivalry with Richard Petty, has died. He was 83.

The Wood Brothers Racing team said Pearson died Monday night in Spartanburg, South Carolina, where he was born and lived most of his life. Details were not immediately available.

Pearson was one of NASCAR's first superstars along with Petty, Bobby Allison and Cale Yarborough, and they raced all over the country as the cornerstone during NASCAR's period of slow growth beyond a regional racing series. Pearson was a three-time Cup champion, his 105 career victories trail only Petty's 200 on NASCAR's all-time list, and he was inducted into the second class of the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

Pearson's career paralleled Petty's and the two combined for 63 finishes in which they finished first and second to each other. Pearson won 33 of the battles.

"I have always been asked who my toughest competitor in my career was. The answer has always been David Pearson," Petty said late Monday night. "David and I battled each other for wins, most of the time finishing first or second to each other. It wasn't a rivalry, but more mutual respect. David is a Hall of Fame driver who made me better. He pushed me just as much as I pushed him on the track. We both became better for it."

Kyle Busch sets up showdown with Kevin Harvick for the title

The three most dominant drivers of this NASCAR season will fittingly race each other for the championship, a chance for Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr. to settle which team is truly the best.

It was Busch who claimed the latest round, winning for the eighth time this year Sunday to tie Harvick for the most Cup victories. His win at ISM Raceway outside of Phoenix was the final qualifying event for next week's finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, where it will be winner-take-all between NASCAR's so-called Big Three and the driver once called "Sliced Bread."

Busch, Harvick and reigning series champion Martin Truex Jr., coined The Big Three because of how they dominated the regular season, advanced into the championship round as expected. Joey Logano, nicknamed "Sliced Bread" before his NASCAR debut at age 18  because he was predicted to be "the best thing since ...," has the fourth spot.

The field is two Ford drivers, two Toyota drivers and represents four organizations. Chevrolet was shut out of the finale.

"I don't know how you could pick a favorite necessarily," Busch said. "I would predict this is the best four, the closest four that have been in our sport in a long time.

Nets say LeVert foot injury not as gruesome as it looked

Caris LeVert's injury wasn't as bad as it looked.

The Brooklyn Nets said Tuesday their leading scorer suffered only a dislocation of his right foot and no fractures, and he could return this season.

That's far better than what was feared when LeVert's leg appeared to bend in a gruesome manner after he leaped to block a shot in the final seconds of the first half of Monday night's game in Minnesota.

"While the optics of this injury may have appeared to be more severe, surgery will not be required," team orthopedist Dr. Martin O'Malley said in a statement.

O'Malley examined LeVert on Tuesday at the Hospital for Special Surgery and the third-year swingman was diagnosed with a subtalar dislocation of the right foot.

O'Malley said there was only moderate ligament damage and that following a period of rehabilitation, LeVert was expected to return to full strength and resume all basketball activities without any limitations this season.

Hue Jackson back in Cincinnati, helping to run defense

Hue Jackson needed only a few weeks to land another job in the place where he's always welcomed.

The Bengals hired Jackson on Tuesday as a special assistant to head coach Marvin Lewis as he tries to resurrect Cincinnati's historically bad defense. Jackson was fired by the Cleveland Browns last month after he won only three games in three seasons as head coach.

As soon as Cleveland let him go, the Bengals showed an interest in Jackson, who begins his third stint with them.

In his latest role, he'll help Lewis — a close friend — to try to fix the defense and save the season. Cincinnati (5-4) has lost three of its past four games and is on pace to give up the most yards in a season in NFL history. The Bengals have allowed 500 yards in three straight games, a first for any team in the Super Bowl era.

They fired defensive coordinator Teryl Austin on Monday, with Lewis taking over as defensive coordinator in addition to his head coaching duties. Lewis said on Monday that there was a plan to help him do both jobs, but didn't get specific.

The Bengals talked to Jackson about becoming Lewis' special assistant, and he readily accepted the position.

"I have a great comfort level with Hue and his ability to assist me with the day-to-day responsibilities on defense, including analyzing our opponents and helping me on game days with the players and defensive coaches," Lewis said.

Lewis hired Jackson in 2004 — his second season in Cincinnati — as receivers coach. He spent three years in the job before moving to the Falcons as offensive coordinator, developing a reputation for creativity. He was the Raiders' offensive coordinator before moving up to head coach in 2011.

After his firing in Oakland, he returned to the Bengals in 2012 as a special assistant working with the defensive backs in 2012. He worked with the running backs in 2013 and was promoted to offensive coordinator a year later when Jay Gruden went to Washington.

The Bengals had one of their best years on offense in 2015, with Andy Dalton leading the AFC in passer rating. Jackson was hired by the Browns after the season

Browns owner Jimmy Haslam fired Jackson after a 33-18 loss in Pittsburgh, Cleveland's 25th consecutive road defeat. Jackson wasn't getting along with offensive coordinator Todd Haley, who also was fired.

Even though Jackson will be working with the defense in his latest incarnation in Cincinnati, it'll create an awkward dynamic. Dalton developed a close relationship with Jackson, who helped him to his greatest success in the NFL. Bill Lazor is in his first full season as the Bengals' offensive coordinator.

The offense is missing receiver A.J. Green indefinitely with an injured toe on his right foot. The starting unit managed only one touchdown during a 51-14 loss to the Saints on Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium, even though New Orleans also has one of the league's worst defenses.

The Bengals play at Baltimore (4-5) on Sunday, a game that's pivotal for both teams. Pittsburgh (6-2-1) has started pulling away atop the AFC North. The Ravens have lost three straight games, and quarterback Joe Flacco has an injured hip that could keep him out of Sunday's game.

Coach John Harbaugh said on Monday that he'll decide later in the week if Flacco can play. If not, rookie Lamar Jackson will likely get his first NFL start.

The Bengals haven't won a playoff game since the 1990 season, the sixth-longest streak of postseason futility in NFL history. Lewis is 0-7 in the playoffs, the worst coaching mark in league history.

___

More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/tag/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.