AP Top 25 Reality Check: A familiar top 10 looking to 2020

Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence passes against LSU during the second half of a NCAA College Football Playoff national championship game Monday, Jan. 13, 2020, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Clemson tabbed as 2021 title favorite

If there’s any consolation to Clemson’s loss to LSU on Monday night, it’s that the ACC Tigers could very well be back in the national championship next season.

Westgate Sportsbook has already released its odds for 2020-21 — and Clemson is at the top. The Tigers are given 9/4 odds to take their second national title in three years, and third since 2016-17.

The Tigers are the favorite, followed by Ohio State (3-1), Alabama (6-1), Georgia (8-1) and LSU (8-1).

Washington State replaces Leach

The president of Washington State University tweeted Tuesday that Hawaii’s Nick Rolovich will take over as the Cougars’ head football coach, replacing Mike Leach.

School president Kirk Schulz tweeted that WSU had picked “a dynamic new head coach @Nick Rolovich’’ to succeed Leach, who left for Mississippi State.

The school scheduled a Thursday event to introduce Rolovich in Pullman, Wash.

Iowa DE to enter draft

Iowa defensive end A.J. Epenesa will enter the NFL draft after two of the most dominant performances of his career.

Epenesa posted his decision on his Instagram page Tuesday, writing that his time with the Hawkeyes was everything he hoped it would be.

Epenesa was an Associated Press second-team All-American and an AP All-Big Ten first-team pick. The 6-foot-6, 280-pound junior from Glen Carbon, Illinois, led the Big Ten with 10.5 sacks as a backup in 2018. This season, he had 11.5, making him the first Iowa player with double-digit sacks in consecutive seasons since 2002-03.

USC cleans house in wake of scandal

When Mike Bohn was hired as the first outsider to lead USC athletics in decades, sweeping changes were expected inside a historically insular department recently racked by scandal.

Those changes at Heritage Hall began on Tuesday, according to multiple people familiar with the decision, as USC fired three of its most senior officials in the athletic department, including Steve Lopes, the CFO and COO, who’d long been considered second in command.

Their firings stem from concerns over recent scandals, including the “Varsity Blues” admissions scandal, which already saw one department official, Donna Heinel, indicted on federal bribery charges.

Ron Orr, a senior associate athletic director who led the Trojan Athletic Fund, was also fired, along with associate athletic director Scott Jacobson, who also worked in development and fundraising.

Kelly stays in-house for new OC

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Tom Rees has been promoted to offensive coordinator and Lance Taylor is moving up to run game coordinator in a shuffling of the Notre Dame football staff by coach Brian Kelly.

Rees is a former quarterback for Kelly at Notre Dame and had been the quarterbacks coach the past three seasons. Taylor was promoted from his role as running backs coach.

Kelly fired offensive coordinator Chip Long in early December and let the 27-year-old Rees and 38-year-old Taylor work with offensive line coach Jeff Quinn preparing the offense for their bowl game against Iowa State on Dec. 28.

The Irish won the Camping World Bowl 33-9. Rees handled play calling in the victory to complete an 11-2 season.

Ex-Nittany Lion alleges hazing

A former Penn State football player filed suit Tuesday in federal court claiming that he was the victim of hazing and harassment, some of it sexually suggestive, by his teammates and that head coach James Franklin and members of his staff witnessed it but did nothing to stop it.

Isaiah Humphries, a cornerback from Sachese, Texas, who spent the 2018 season in the Nittany Lions’ football program, named Franklin and defensive tackle Damion Barber as defendants in the lawsuit, which was filed in U.S. District Court in Harrisburg. He is seeking unspecified financial damages.

The suit said Franklin “failed to report incidents of prohibited conduct to the appropriate authorities,” and retaliated against Humphries for constantly complaining to him about the hazing.

In a statement, Penn State University said in regard to the lawsuit that its police department “investigated related allegations and forwarded the results of that investigation to the office of the Centre County District Attorney. The D.A. reviewed the case and decided that no charges would be pursued.”

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— From wire reports

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