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Osborne: The Distinguished Gentleman from Nebraska?

After weeks of speculation that he might make his next career in politics, former Nebraska Coach Tom Osborne announced in January that he is running for Congress.

Osborne, who led the Huskers to three national titles before retiring in 1997, threw his hat into the ring in his hometown of Hastings on the campus of his alma mater, Hastings College.

The 62-year-old Osborne, a Republican, said he had been contemplating whether to run since October.

"I don't think this is an ego trip," Osborne said at a news conference with his family and friends. "It would be a lot easier to go fishing."

Osborne left coaching because of a heart condition and to spend more time with his family and humanitarian work. He now says his health is not a problem.

"We did every test known to man on me and found out I had a few miles left in me," he said.

The soft-spoken Osborne holds a doctorate in educational psychology and has long been politically active as an advocate for families, youth and environmental causes. He has never ruled out an entrance into politics since his retirement. He has admitted that he has been restless since leaving coaching.

"I didn't want to feel that I was on the shelf forever," he said.

Scientist Says Titans' Lateral Versus Bills Went Forward

According to a professor at the University of Rochester, the lateral thrown by Tennessee Titan Frank Wycheck to beat Buffalo in the first round of the playoffs was probably an illegal forward pass.

Mark Bocko, a professor of electrical and computer engineering, said the position of the television camera and the height of the ball when it was thrown versus when it was caught are the key factors to consider.

"The point was the fact that the ball was higher when it was thrown than when it was caught makes it look like the ball may have gone backwards," he said. "You're viewing this trajectory in three dimensions, from an angle that makes it appear it went backward. It's basically just simple geometry."

Bocko, a longtime Bills fan, watched the game on television, saw the replays and studied photographs in the newspaper the next day.

"So Sunday morning, I sat down at my computer and wrote a program to plot trajectory," he said. "This isn't definitive, because I don't know exactly where the camera was."

He estimated that when the ball was thrown it was about 6 feet off the ground and was caught about 1 foot above the ground.

While the ball was thrown on the 25-yard line, he estimated that the television camera catching the action was located at about the 20-yard line, creating a geometric illusion.

Viewing the path of the ball against the background of the 25-yard line, it appears to be a legal lateral. But projecting the path of the ball down onto the playing surface, the ball can be seen advancing upfield.

"To make a definitive determination of the legality of the lateral one would need to know the precise location of the camera that took the replay video, and in the absence of such information, this analysis is subject to revision," he said.

BCS Will Be Around for Awhile

Those hoping for a playoff system in Division I-A college football got some bad news in January after the Bowl Championship Series and ABC agreed to a four-year contract extension worth about $400 million.

The new deal runs through the 2005 season, which includes bowl games in January 2006. Taken as a whole, the entire eight-year package that began in 1998 is worth more than $930 million.

"We're pleased with the agreement and glad ABC was willing to make enhancements to the rights fees," said Kevin Weiberg, commissioner of the Big 12, one of the six conferences in the BCS, along with Notre Dame.

The new deal is expected to raise payouts by as much as 30 percent, to about $17 million, in the final years of the agreement.

"We now have a plan in place that will be consistent for a few years," BCS chairman Roy Kramer said. "The first two years of the plan worked very well, so we're happy with the extension."

"The BCS has turned out to be unqualified success for everyone," ABC spokesman Mark Mandel said. "The BCS is doing what it was designed to do - crown a national champion, create interest and compelling games for the bowls and bring high ratings for ABC."

Asked if a playoff was still a possibility after the new deal expires, Kramer said: "I never say never to anything."

Next season's championship game is at the Orange Bowl on Jan. 3, 2001, and the following title game will be at the Rose Bowl on Jan. 3, 2002. The rotation for the title games from 2003-2006 has yet to be determined.

The ABC-BCS deal also ended the hopes of ISL, a sports marketing company that had been pitching $1 billion playoff plans to college presidents and athletic directors.

Rhodes, Fazio Join Redskins Defensive Braintrust

After finishing second to last in NFL defensive statistics in 1999, the Redskins have enlisted the services of former Packers head coach Ray Rhodes and Vikings defensive coordinator Foge Fazio.

Rhodes succeeds Mike Nolan as the Redskins' new defensive coordinator. Fazio is the 'Skins' new linebacker coach. He resigned from the Vikings in January, citing "personal reasons" a few days after Vikings head coach Dennis Green fired inside linebackers coach Tom Olivadotti without telling Fazio.

Nolan endured a season of private and public criticism by team owner Dan Snyder and quit the week following Washington's playoff loss at Tampa Bay.

The same day Nolan left, the Redskins also fired defensive backs coach Tom Hayes, and defensive line coach Earl Leggett announced his retirement after a 24-year NFL coaching career. Consultant Bill Arnsparger also will not return.

Nolan has never been a favorite of owner Snyder, who asked head coach Norv Turner to fire Nolan at least once during the season.

Asked if Snyder's ownership played any part in his decision, Nolan said: "I'd rather not answer that."

Jessie Jackson, Ron Wolf Discuss Status of Black Coaches in NFL

The Rev. Jesse Jackson and Green Bay Packers General Manager Ron Wolf met in January following the firing of Ray Rhodes.

Jackson, president of the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, called the telephone conversation with Wolf "very amicable" and said he has gotten personal assurances from Wolf that he is committed to increasing the number of black coaches in the NFL.

Rhodes, one of only three black head coaches in the NFL last season, was fired the day the Packers finished 8-8 and failed to make the playoffs for the first time since 1992.

"He assured us of his commitment to racial inclusion and expansion of black coaches' ranks," Jackson said. "He shared our concern about the implications of his decision and vowed to work with us in expanding the number of black coaches."

Jackson and Charles Farrell, his top aide on sports issues, sent a letter to Wolf last week, inquiring whether Rhodes was "held to a different standard" because of his race.

The letter also expressed the coalition's "grave concerns and disappointment" over the firing of Rhodes' top assistants, offensive coordinator Sherman Lewis and defensive coordinator Emmitt Thomas, who, along with Rhodes, comprised the NFL's first coaching staff with blacks in the top three positions.

"This sweep eliminated two others from head coaching consideration," Jackson said. "It took a heavy toll beyond Ray Rhodes and that needs to be fully understood."

The civil rights advocate also said he wants to work with Wolf and others in the NFL to "address the positive challenge of developing new black coaches."

Cougars Lose Another Player to Honor-Code Violations

Sophomore kick returner Jaron Dabney has withdrawn from Brigham Young University due to an alleged violation of the school's honor code.

The code at the Mormon church-owned university prohibits crime, drugs, alcohol, non-martial sex and sets other behavior and dress standards.

Dabney is the fifth starter in the last year to be expelled, suspended or forced to withdraw because of honor code problems.

University officials said Dabney can apply for readmission - probably next fall at the earliest - if he fulfills certain confidential requirements, although it's unclear whether he will do that.

Dabney missed the 1998 season because he was academically ineligible, and he was on Honor Code probation before that because of an arrest for shoplifting in 1997.

Dabney spent the '98 season using his redshirt year while improving his grades at Blinn Junior College in his native Texas, and nearly transferred to Texas A&M. But he returned to BYU, he said, because he had made a commitment to the Cougars.

Dabney averaged 23.6 yards per kickoff return last season.

Other starters who have had Honor Code trouble since last season were: running back Junior Mahe and safety Tyson Smith, who are expected to be back with the team next fall; running back Ronney Jenkins, who transferred and played last season at Northern Arizona before declaring himself eligible for the NFL Draft; and cornerback Heshimu Robertson, who returned to play this past season and completed his eligibility.

"Friday Night Lights" Coach Gets First College Head-Coaching Job

The coach at the center of the book on Texas high school football, Friday Night Lights, has been hired as the head coach at Abilene Christian University.

It will be the first college head-coaching job for Gary Gaines, who has been at San Angelo Central High School since 1996. Gaines was the coach at Odessa Permian High School in 1988 when writer H.G. Bissinger produced his controversial account of the high school football culture in Texas. Gaines has said he never read it.

Gaines won a state championship at Permian in 1989 before leaving the school for an assistant head coaching job at Texas Tech. He returned to the high school ranks in 1994, when he accepted the head coaching position at Abilene High.

Abilene Christian hired Gaines after a decision was made to not renew the contract of Jack Kiser, who had a 21-20 record at the school over four seasons, including 4-6 for the last two years.

Gaines compiled a 14-28 record at San Angelo Central and has an overall head-coaching record of 107-75-4.

NCAA Adopts New Eligibility Standards

High school athletes will now have an easier time meeting academic standards that allow them to play college sports. A new set of NCAA rules will let high schools determine whether athletes have fulfilled course requirements for college eligibility.

The decision means that many athletes who had been denied scholarships in the past will now be able to qualify for them.

A committee of the governing body recommended the change last spring, and the NCAA Division I and II membership recently approved the legislation.

The NCAA eliminated certain parts of the course requirements, giving high school principals more latitude in setting the agenda. The change takes effect immediately.

The old rules were much more stringent and allowed the NCAA to determine what were acceptable course. For example, one previous regulation disqualified social studies courses that devoted more than 25 percent of classroom time to current affairs or independent study.

"We've become more generic in defining those academic criteria," Bob Oliver, director of NCAA membership services, said.

The new rules require several things: that a course be considered college preparatory, be taught at or above the high school's regular academic level and qualify for graduation credit in English, math, natural or physical science, social science, foreign language, computer science or nondoctrinal religion or philosophy.

Independent study, individual instruction and correspondence and Internet courses may now be part of the new criteria for core subjects.

In most cases the NCAA will accept a principal's certification that a course satisfies requirements, Oliver said.

"The only time we'll investigate is if they send in a course titled 'woodworking' or 'drivers ed' or 'phys ed' or 'remedial reading.' " he said.

Beamer Gets the Vote of AFM Readers

In an online survey asking who should be the 1999 college coach of the year at the Division I-A level, American Football Monthly readers who took part in the voting chose Virginia Tech's Frank Beamer over Hawaii's June Jones and Alabama's Mike DuBose.

The voting, which took place at, asked readers to choose between Beamer, Jones, DuBose, Oregon State's Dennis Erickson or to write in a different pick. Here is the final tally:
Frank Beamer - Virginia Tech: 44% Butch Davis - Miami (Fla.) : 1%
June Jones - Hawaii: 28%Dennis Franchione - TCU : 1%
Mike DuBose - Alabama: 8%Tom O'Brien - Boston College: 1%
Dennis Erickson - Oregon State: 3% Bob Pruett - Marshall : 1%
Bobby Bowden - Florida State: 3% Jackie Sherrill - Mississippi State : 1%
Bill Snyder - Kansas State: 2%Frank Solich - Nebraska : 1%
Bob Stoops - Oklahoma : 2% Joe Tiller - Purdue : 1%
Barry Alvarez - Wisconsin : 1%Tommy Tuberville - Auburn : 1%
Mike Bellotti - Oregon :


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