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USC APOLOGIZES TO UF, OTHERS FOR ACCUSATION

MAKING NEWS

USC has apologized to Florida, Alabama, Washington and Fresno State for wrongly accusing them of breaking NCAA rules by contacting one of its football players without permission. In a letter to UF athletic director Jeremy Foley, USC AD Mike Garrett wrote that freshman running back Dillon Baxter said he "did not receive a call from your institution. ... I apologize for any inconvenience or embarrassment this matter has caused to you and your institution." Spokesmen for the other schools confirmed to the Associated Press on Wednesday that their ADs had received similar letters. ESPN reported that USC filed a complaint with the Pac-10 in June about schools tampering with Baxter after USC was hit with NCAA sanctions that include a two-year bowl ban and scholarship losses for violations involving former tailback and current Saint Reggie Bush. USC upperclassmen can transfer without restrictions, but only juniors and seniors can be contacted by other schools.

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BABY WATCH

Baby arrives at good time for J.J.

Four-time defending NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson is a father, and it won't interfere with his racing schedule. Johnson's wife, Chandra, gave birth Wednesday to their first child, a daughter. A Johnson spokesman said mother and baby were doing well and no other details would be released. Johnson was prepared to miss a race if Chandra went into labor near race time.

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QUOTABLE

"Trent had just won the Super Bowl (in Baltimore). We weren't very good, and I wasn't playing very good. Fans were chanting 'Dilfer!' It didn't help that he was waving the towel getting everybody up and doing that. It definitely hurt me a little."

Matt Hasselbeck, Seahawks quarterback, who hopes to have a better relationship with Charlie Whitehurst, brought in by coach Pete Carroll for "healthy competition," than he did with former Buc Trent Dilfer when they fought for the starting job in Seattle in 2001 and '02

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