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News & Notes© More from this issue
San Jose player loses part of his leg
For the second time in a year, a Northern California college football player lost part of his leg after being injured in a game.
Doctors were forced to amputate the foot and ankle of Neil Parry, 20, a San Jose State sophomore, nine days after he sustained a compound fracture during an October game against the University of Texas-El Paso. Parry, who was injured on a kickoff return, developed a severe bacterial infection. Unable to stop the spread of the infection, doctors feared that without the amputation, Parry would lose his entire leg.
"The infection could not be controlled, and tissue destruction by the bacteria was so extensive and rapidly progressing that an amputation of the affected area became necessary," said team physician Martin Trieb.
Last year, Sam Paneno, a running back at the University of California-Davis, had the lower part of his right leg amputated after he ruptured an artery and dislocated a knee during a game.
Lightning does strike twice
Members of the Arizona State football team had more to celebrate when they arrived home on Oct. 21 than merely beating Washington State 23-20 in overtime. They were happy to be alive.
"I think everybody was fearing for their life," tight end Todd Heap told The Arizona Republic, describing players' reactions when the plane carrying the team was hit twice by lightning. "I had a flashback or two to things I had done in my life."
The first time the plane was hit by a flash of white light, the cabin went dark. The second hit, that occurred about 10 minutes later, was accompanied by a blue-orange glow.
Many of the 60 players and coaches, prayed. Some cried. Some merely hung their heads.
But when the America West charter flight finally landed, they all responded in unison: They cheered.
Vicious hits under attack
A reprimand for criticizing the officiating in Arizona's narrow loss to Oregon didn't change Wildcat head coach Dick Tomey's plans to push for rule changes that would enable conference officials to review vicious hits.
"I think the conferences - and I am going to pitch for it on the rules committee - need to have the authority to review plays like the NFL does and render an opinion that could result in action," Tomey said just hours after he was reprimanded by Pac-10 officials for publicly criticizing the officiating in the game that knocked the Wildcats out of first place.
Tomey was angry that no flag was thrown when Oregon linebacker Wesly Mallard hit Arizona cornerback Michael Jolivette head first, knocking Jolivette out of the Oct. 21 game. Jolivette lost his helmet and sustained a gash, that required 11 stitches, on his chin. Tomey says Mallard hit Jolivette, who was on punt coverage, with the crown of his helmet. The NFL considers such hits spearing and fines players who violate rules against it.
"I think it was a malicious blow," Tomey told reporters. "It is a frightening thing when you see it. The media has a feeding frenzy about it on TV. The crowd has a feeding frenzy about it. Michael is so lucky. He could have been hurt badly."
Tomey was also upset that Oregon wasn't penalized for what he said was a clear case of face-guarding. "You cannot fail to make a call in that situation," he said after reviewing the videotape.
He said he will use the videotape to try to persuade fellow member of the NCAA's Rules Committee that such behavior should be subject to conference review and that steps should be taken to penalize players who endanger opponents on the field.
Texans may find home for Texan
Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak may finally get to go home.
Kubiak, a Houston native, is one of 15 candidates being considered for the head coaching job for the expansion Houston Texans. Last year, when he was interviewing for the head coaching job with the New Orleans Saints, Kubiak said one of the attractive things about the post was its proximity to his hometown.
Still, Kubiak isn't talking about the possibility of returning home. And, team officials, said he probably shouldn't start house-hunting anytime soon.
"We may just wait until 2002 (before naming a head coach)," said Charley Casserly, Texans vice president-general manager.
Others under consideration include: University of Miami head coach Butch Davis; University of Pittsburgh head coach Walt Harris; Stanford University coach Tyrone Willingham; Jacksonville Jaguars defensive coordinator Dom Capers; Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Bill Cowher, and Arizona Cardinals interim head coach Dave McGinnis.
Stoops wins big pay hike
Winning pays. Just ask Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops, who got a more than 100 percent pay raise three days after his Sooners defeated No. 1-ranked Nebraska to move into the top spot for the first time since 1987.
The university's regents gave Stoops a five-year contract with a guaranteed $1.4 million salary. That's up from the $675,000 he was given when he was named head coach last year.
While his base salary of $200,000 didn't change, the regents agreed to guarantee him $1.2 million in other revenue. Previously, Stoops was to receive $475,000 from other sources.
And the newly-agreed upon $1.4 million isn't the limit. Regents also increased his potential performance-based bonuses from $250,000 to more than $300,000.
Not surprisingly, Stoops was happy with his new contract. "I've said it a bunch of times, I believe it's a privilege to be the head football coach at Oklahoma because of what we have here and the great tradition and history, and I'm confident in the leadership here," he told reporters at a news conference.
University officials, meanwhile, said they had good reason to make Stoops one of the top five highest paid college coaches in the nation. "He is the right person for our university," University President David Boren said.
Grove City's Bowers sets record
A one-yard dive gave Grove City College senior R.J. Bowers the 6,959 yards he needed to set a new NCAA all-division career rushing record.
The dive, that came during the second quarter of an Oct. 28 game against Bethany College, broke the record of 6,958 yards Brian Shay set while playing for Division II Emporia State from 1995-98. Bowers feat gives the record back to a western Pennsylvania-born running back. The record was once held by Heisman Trophy winner Tony Dorsett, of Pittsburgh.
Early in his athletic career, Bowers, who was born in West Middlesex, Pa., had set his sights on baseball. The 6-foot-2, 238-pound back spent five years in the Houston Astros' farm system before enrolling in Division III Grove City as a 23-year-old freshman in 1997.
Before setting the career rushing record, Bowers had established an NCAA-record by wracking up at least 100 yards in 32 consecutive games. That streak was broken on Oct. 21 when Westminster College held him to 61 yards on 23 carries.
Auburn's Tuberville hits seven figures
Tommy Tuberville is now a $1 million-plus man.
With Auburn poised to go to its first bowl game since 1997, school officials in mid-November agreed to give Tuberville a five-year contract extension that will gaurantee him $1.25 million a year.
His base salary will be $185,000 annually with the rest coming from endorsements and radio and television agreements. His previous package was worth $760,000 a year.
"The job Tommy has done is truly remarkable," athletics director David Housel said when he announced the raise. "We wanted to show our appreciation and make a significant commitment to him."
Tuberville was equally effusive. "There isn't a beter place in the country to be," he said. "The university and athletic program are the best I've been associated with and that is a credit to our administration."
Since taking over as head coach in 1999, following the controversial reign of Terry Bowden, Tuberville has turned the team around. When the raise was announced, Auburn was tied for the Southeastern Conference Western Division and was undefeated at home. His two-season record stood at 13-8.
VMI wants its independence
Virginia Military Institute administrators are tired of watching their football team get hammered by bigger schools. The problem is what - if anything - they can they do about.
In October, VMI superintendent Josiah Bunting said he planned to ask the Southern Conference for an "open-ended leave of absence" for the school's football program. Other school sports would remain in the conference.
"We simply need to get this program better and stronger and I don't think we're going to be able to do it successfully by playing against the level of competition which involves a number of Southern Conference teams," he told The Roanoke Times.
But when conference officials met in November, he didn't make a formal request. Schools around the league made it clear they didn't like the idea of VMI leaving the conference it has been a part of since 1925. Still, they said, they understood VMI's dilemma.
With 1,250 students, VMI is one of the smallest schools In Division I-AA. At least four schools in their conference - including Georgia Southern and Appalachian State - have 8,000 students.
Officials are to continue talking about the problem and consider possible solutions at the May conference meeting.
Head coach Cal McCombs said his players aren't concerned about the issue even though the Keydets haven't beaten a Division I-AA opponent since 1996. They ended their 16-game losing streak on Oct. 21 when they beat non-conference Charleston Southern. The streak was the longest in the nation among Division I-AA teams.
Stunned by a loss to the Kansas City Chiefs that shattered predictions that they would be undefeated this year, the championship St. Louis Rams begged their former defensive coordinator to come out of retirement and help them.
Bud Carson, who had turned down previous pleas due to heart problems, returned to his former job on Oct. 22. "I think Bud can help us," Rams head coach Mike Martz said when he announced that Carson was coming back. "We need some help over on the defense right now. There's some things we've got to shore up and I think Bud's contribution can only help us."
Carson, 69, gained notoriety in the 1970s as the architect of the Pittsburgh Steelers' "Steel Curtain." In 1979, he helped the Rams go to the Super Bowl with a team that finished the regular season first in total defense. In 1991, when he was defensive coordinator in Philadelphia, the Eagles became the fifth team in NFL history to lead the league in total defense, passing defense and rushing defense.
While Carson is back with the Rams, his title is unclear. Peter Giunta is in his first season as sole defensive coordinator.
Martz described Carson as "a consultant." Titles, he said, aren't important.
"He can be the co-head coach if he wants," Martz said. "He can have half my job if it's going to help us win."
Georgia tires of going to Florida
The annual Florida-George game, billed as the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party, might be getting a change of venue.
Tired of traveling nearly four hours to get to the traditional neutral game site and then consistently losing to the University of Florida, Georgia officials are considering ending the contract to play the game in Jacksonville after this season.
"We'll take time to assess every constituency that has an interest in the game - the ticketholders, the faculty, the athletic board, coach (Jim) Donnan - and see where we are," George athletic director Vince Dooley said days before the Bulldogs - for the tenth time in the last 11 years - lost to Florida at this year's meeting.
While the site may be neutral, it isn't equally accessible, Donnan said. Florida players take a 75-minute bus ride to the stadium. Georgia players, on the other hand, have to take a two-hour bus ride to Atlanta, then a hour plane fight to Jacksonville and another 45-minute ride to the hotel.
This isn't the first time complaints have been raised about the site of the annual contest. But the last time there was a serious effort to move the game from Jacksonville and return it to the schools, the complaints came from Florida fans.
At that time, Florida had gone 4-15 in its previous 19 meetings with George and Gator alumni wanted to put the game back on campus.
However, when coach Steve Spurrier was hired in 1990, the former Gator quarterback said he had fond memories of the game and urged officials to continue to play it in Jacksonville.
Spurrier readily admits that the venue of the game favors the Gators. Jacksonville, after all, is in Florida, a city filled with Gator fans. Further, the stadium where the game is held used to be called the Gator Bowl. "I'd say we've got a little advantage there," he said.
Spurrier signs on for another four years at Florida
While one Florida coach has agreed to a four-year contract extension, another could be headed to Alabama.
University of Florida head coach Steve Spurrier received a four-year contract extension worth $8.4 million. The deal should keep the former Heisman Trophy winner at his alma mater through 2006.
Already making $2 million a year, his new contract ups his salary to $2.1 million. About half of it will be paid with money the school receives from an apparel deal it has with Nike, according to The Sporting News.
This year, the Gators clinched the SEC East for the seventh time. Since Spurrier was hired in 1990, Florida has won five Southeastern Conference titles and a national championship. Before he was hired they hadn't won an official conference title.
Meanwhile, speculation is rampant that Miami's Butch Davis is the favorite to replace Alabama coach Mike DuBose.
Davis, who rebuilt the Hurricanes and turned them back into a national powerhouse in the wake of a NCAA recruiting scandal, says he is interested in a school with a more campus-like atmosphere. Alabama officials, who have expressed interest in Davis, say they know they will have to pay more than the $381,000 they were paying DuBose if they want to get a top-notch replacement. Davis' salary package with Miami is worth $900,000 annually.
Officials battle over Sun Bowl
There's a showdown in Texas over the Sun Bowl.
The El Paso County Commissioner's Court is trying to stop the University of Texas system from seizing the stadium through eminent domain, a legal process that enables government to seize property for public use. While UT System officials offered to buy the stadium for its appraised value of $1,600, county commissioners balked and hired another appraiser to review the offer.
The dispute began when UT asked the county for permission to build a sports center next to the stadium that the county owns and leases to the University of Texas-El Paso for $1 a year. While the county eventually approved the construction of the $9 million Larry K. Durham Sports Center, the two sides began arguing about who will be allowed to use it. The county wants to be able to use the facility for a handful of events each year. UTEP is objecting to the county's request.
A mean season for head coaches
This season has proved to be a deadly one for head coaches. By late November, more than a half-dozen college and NFL coaches either lost their jobs or agreed to step down at the end of the season.
Perhaps the biggest shock was the announcement by West Virginia coach Don Nehlen that he would retire when the season ends. His announcement, which came after the Mountaineers lost to Syracuse 31-27, left WVU fans breathless.
"I just about fell out of my chair," fan Libby Thompson, of Morgantown, told reporters. "Nehlen is WVU football. I still don't think I've recovered."
Nehlen, 65, has coached the Mountaineers for 21 years - twice as long as any other West Virginia coach. He has 199 career wins, fifth among active Division I-A coaches. He's had 16 winning seasons, including two undefeated ones, taken teams to 12 bowl games and won a Big East championship. Still fans, had become increasingly critical, especially in light of his eight straight bowl losses.
"It's time," his wife, Carol, said of her husband's decision to step down.
Less surprising was the announcement that Mike DuBose would step down as head coach of the Crimson Tide at the end of the season. The announcement by university officials ended weeks of speculation about DuBose's future. The speculation actually began last year when he was embroiled in a sexual harassment scandal. It ceased when DuBose was named SEC Coach of the Year. It began again in the fall, however, when Alabama got off to the worst start in a decade. A homecoming loss to Central Florida proved too much for university administrators and they asked Dubose to step aside and began a search for a replacement.
Others mid-season changes include:
• Oklahoma State's Bob Simmons announced he would resign at the end of the season. His team had lost six straight games. "That was tough," Simmons said of his meeting with players to tell them his sixth year at the school would be his last. "I asked them to go forward and very much be a part of the future of this program, the successes that they are going to have."
• Detroit coach Bobby Ross stepped down a day after the Miami Dolphins embarrassed the Lions 23-8. "What bothered me is that we never fought back," Ross, 65, said after the loss. "If there is one thing I want to leave with the people of Detroit, it is that I will always fight back. You want your team to be a model of yourself, and I've failed at that." Team officials said Ross made the decision to leave on his own. "I think he felt that he just burned himself out physically and mentally, that he didn't have anything more to give," owner William Clay Ford told reporters.
• Vince Tobin, who led Arizona to its first playoff victory in 51 years two season ago, was fired a day after the Cardinals lost to the Cowboys 48-7. "We decided that it would be in the interest of the team to make a coaching change," team owner Bill Bidwill said during a press conference. "I felt it was time." Some players, however, noted that time will tell whether Tobin was responsible for the team's lackluster performance this year. "Obviously, you can't fire 54 players," quarterback Jake Plummer said. "The sick thing is we are good, talented football players. ... Why is it not happening. We have to find that answer."
• Buffalo coach Craig Cirbus' contract was not renewed. With three games remaining in the season, school officials announced they would begin a search for his replacement. The announcement came after the Bulls 73-10 loss to Northern Illinois. It was the team's worst loss since 1932 when it was buried by Harvard 66-0.
• Larry Welsh won't be back next year at Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo. After three straight losing seasons, school officials announced it was time for Welsh to go.
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