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News & Notes© More from this issue
Fassel gets giant raise
While Jim Fassel didn't win the Super Bowl, he won the respect of the New York Giant's brass.
Exactly a month after the Giants lost to the Baltimore 34-7 in Tampa, team officials announced that they had signed Fassel to another four-year contract even though he had another year left on the contract extension he signed after the 1999 season. While the terms weren't available, Fassel will reportedly earn $11 million over the four years - more than doubling his $1.1 million annual salary.
"I'm excited about it because this brings stability in my life with my family, and it brings stability to the Giants' organization because a lot of teams are going through coaching changes and there are doubts about this and that," he told reporters.
After compiling a 7-9 record in 1999, Fassel made it clear he wasn't going to settle for anything less than a Super Bowl appearance this year. A guarantee he issued in November ignited a run that saw the Giants snare the NFC East Championship with a 12-4 record. Fassel, who joined the Giants as head coach in 1997, now has an overall 37-26-1 record.
Akina leaves Arizona in a lurch
In a move University of Arizona head coach John Mackovic described as "devastating," his defensive coordinator announced he was leaving the team to become secondary coach for the University of Texas.
Duane Akina turned in his resignation during a meeting Mackovic said was "less than cordial." According to The Arizona Daily Star, Akina will earn $150,000 a year in his new position, which is roughly $40,000 more than he was making at Arizona.
A shocked Mackovic said he didn't think money was the issue because Arizona made a counter-offer. Still, the inexplicable departure of the man who has spent the last 14 seasons at UA and ran its unique double-eagle flex defense left Mackovic scrambling.
"I think this is very devastating for University of Arizona football," the new coach said. "He was probably our most important coach because of involvement with the offense - I generally turn the defense over to the defensive staff."
With less than a month to prepare for spring practice, Mackovic didn't even attempt to hide his dismay. "I'm very upset because we have to completely start over in our planning for a defensive scheme," he said.
Akina was the last assistant to remain from former UA coach Dick Tomey's staff. Tomey quit, rather than be fired, after the team lost its final game last season.
Holtz rewarded for turnaround
South Carolina coach Lou Holtz will be $175,000-a-year richer after leading the Gamecocks to one of their most successful seasons in school history,.
The university's board of trustees upped Holtz's salary to just over $1 million - a reward for orchestrating a startling turnaround that saw the Gamecocks go from an 0-11 record in 1999 to this year's 7-4 record and a win in the New Year's Day Outback Bowl.
The athletics department will cover $25,000 of the raise and the rest will come from increased earnings from radio and television appearances and apparel.
Two of Holtz's assistance were also rewarded for the historic turnaround. Offensive coordinator and assistant head coach Skip Holtz will make $140,000 a year and defensive coordinator Charlie Strong will make $120,000.
Inspirational player returns to Miami
Randy Shannon, who was named the University of Miami's most inspirational player when he played linebacker for the school three years ago, is the Hurricanes new defensive coordinator.
Shannon, 34, was linebackers coach for the Miami Dolphins before he joined new head coach Larry Coker's staff.
June Jones recovers; the show goes on
University of Hawaii spring football practice began on schedule last month even though head coach June Jones was in the hospital recovering from serious injuries he received in a one-car accident just days before.
Athletic Director Hugh Yoshida said he considered postponing or canceling the month-long spring drills but decided not to after Jones' condition was upgraded from "critical, but stable" to "guarded."
Doctors said Jones' vital signs were improving but, because he couldn't talk, he had yet to explain why his Lincoln Town Car veered off the freeway near Honolulu International Airport and slammed into a concrete pillar supporting an overpass.
Since the 48-year-old was not wearing a seatbelt, state highway officials say they plan to use him in future campaigns to encourage people to buckle up. Known for his willingness to lend his name to worthy causes, Jones is expected to agree to the dubious honor.
Jones is best known for directing the biggest one-year turnaround in NCAA history. A year after the Warriors went 0-12, he returned to his alma mater in 1999 and lead the team to a 9-3 record and a win in the Oahu Bowl.
Life after Ohio State begins in Oakland
Fred Pagac, who spent 19 years at Ohio State as an assistant, is going to work for the Oakland Raiders as their linebackers coach.
Pagac, 48, was passed over to become head coach of the Buckeyes when John Cooper was fired on Jan. 2. New Ohio State coach Jim Tressel brought in many of his former assistants from Youngstown State and did not retain Pagac.
Andrews to stay at FSU
Calling it "a very difficult decision," longtime Florida State defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews turned down a chance to become defensive backs coach for the Tennessee Titans.
"You have to go where your heart tells you to go. [Wife] Diane and I have put our heart and soul into Florida State and we are excited about being able to continue to do that," he said. The 59-year-old, who has been at FSU for 17 years, was reported to be the top candidate for the job.
Unable to pry Andrews out of Tallahassee, Titans head coach Jeff Fisher handed the job to Titans assistant Jim Schwartz. Schwartz first joined the Titans in 1999 as a quality control/defensive assistant and became linebackers/third-down package coach last season. He began work in the NFL as a scout for the Cleveland Browns.
The announcement that he would replace Gregg Williams as defensive coordinator came eight days after his wife game birth to twins. Williams left the Titans to become head coach of the Buffalo Bills.
Money sinks longtime grudge match
An 86-year-old contest between two state rivals will end next season as money take precedence over tradition.
"It's just a business deal," Texas El-Paso Athletic Director Bob Stull said, explaining why the Miners won't be playing New Mexico State in the fall. "We needed to play another home game to make some more money."
UTEP must increase its budget by about $400,000 to cover the cost of new student housing. Playing Texas Southern at home on Sept. 8, instead of New Mexico State on the road, will generate some of that needed cash.
New Mexico and UTEP, located 40 miles apart, have been playing each other in football since 1914.
Ironically, Stull was very critical of Texas Tech officials when they tried to get out of a contract to play UTEP next fall because they said they could make more money by scheduling another home game.
Texas A&M assistant Ray Dorr dies
Former Texas A&M assistant football coach Ray Dorr died last month after a two-year battle with Lou Gehrig's disease. He was 59.
"In collegiate athletics we talk to our players about overcoming adversity and handling the tough times," A&M coach R.C. Slocum said. "Ray Dorr was a testimony to great courage and he was a pillar of strength. He touched so many lives. You could not meet Ray Dorr without coming away blessed. He will be truly missed."
Although Dorr was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis in the spring of 1999, he continued as quarterbacks coach the following season, putting in 14-hour days. He retired from on-field coaching after the 1999 season but kept up his coaching duties until the progression of the disease made it impossible.
Dorr spent 33 years as a college coach. His longest tenure was at Washington where he worked under head coach Don James from 1975 to 1983. He was head coach at Southern Illinois from 1984-87. Other stops included Kent State, Kentucky, Southern California and Akron. He is survived by his wife, Karen, two sons and a sister.
Arkansas reunites friends
Dave Wommack is leaving the University of Southern Mississippi to join his close friend John Thompson at Arkansas.
Wommack, who has been assistant head coach and defensive coordinator at Southern Miss for seven years, has been friends with Thompson since they were both graduate assistants in Arkansas in the 1980s.
Wommack replaces Bill Johnson, who coached the defensive line. But Wommack will coach the secondary, while Thompson, who is the defensive coordinator, will coach the inside linebackers.
In addition to hiring Wommack, Arkansas coach Houston Nutt hired David Lee from Rice and George Pugh from Alabama-Birmingham. Lee will coach quarterbacks and Pugh will coach wide receivers.
Wannstedt wins extension
While the team again lost in the second round of the playoffs, first-year Miami coach Dave Wannstedt did what some thought was impossible by leading the Dolphins to its first AFC East title in six years.
Dolphins owner H. Wayne Huizenga rewarded Wannstedt, 48, with a one-year contract extension through 2003, and, presumably, a raise. Terms of the deal were not released. When he replaced Jimmy Johnson last year, the former Chicago Bears coach signed a three-year $3.9 million contract.
Moeller heads south to Jacksonville
Greg Moeller, who was fired as head coach of the Detroit Lions midway through the 2000 season, has been hired as defensive coordinator of the Jacksonville Jaguars. He replaces Dom Capers, who is now head coach of the expansion Houston Texas.
Moeller accepted the job only after seeking assurances that the Lions would pay him the $3 million they owe him. He said he was excited about rebuilding the Jaguars.
"The team has a lot of very good defensive players," he said. "I'm going to do whatever I can to help get things back to where they were a year ago." While the Jaguars finished 15-3 in 1999, last year they fell to 7-9 as injuries crippled the team.
Moeller has a long history in Michigan. Before being hired to coach the Lions in 1997, he coached Michigan from 1990-94. He was fired after pleading no contest to disorderly conduct and assault charges after a drunken outburst at a Detroit-area restaurant.
Moeller was selected for the Jaguars post over John Pease, who has been Jacksonville's defensive line coach for the last six seasons. Pease, 56, meanwhile, was promoted to assistant head coach.
Former Browns coaches find new jobs
Chris Palmer didn't stay unemployed long.
A month after he was fired from the Cleveland Browns, he was tapped to become offensive coordinator for the expansion Houston Texans. He compiled a 5-27 record in his two seasons with the Browns. Palmer, 51, came to the Browns from Jacksonville where he was offensive coordinator for two years.
Meanwhile, his defensive coordinator in Cleveland, Romeo Crennel, also found work. Crennel, 53, was hired to perform the same job for the New England Patriots. By hiring Crennel, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick will be able to concentrate on being a head coach. Belichick served as both head coach and defensive coordinator during his first season with the Patriots.
The comings and goings of the Redskins
New Washington Redskins coach Marty Schottenheimer hired his younger brother, Kurt, as his defensive coordinator while his predecessor found gainful employment with the Cleveland Browns.
Kurt Schottenheimer, 51, worked with his older brother in Cleveland and Kansas City. He coached at five different colleges, including Notre Dame, before getting his first NFL job in 1987.
Marty Schottenheimer's predecessor with the Redskins, head coach Terry Robiskie, 46, meanwhile, was hired by new Browns coach Butch Davis. Exactly what Robiskie will be doing is unclear. He was given the unspecified title of offensive coach.
Mumme leaves Kentucky
Guy Morriss, an assistant coach at Kentucky with more than 15 years of NFL playing and coaching experience, was promoted to replace head coach Hal Mumme, who resigned in the wake of an ongoing NCAA investigation into possible recruiting violations.
While Mumme didn't admit to any violations, athletics director Larry Ivy said he felt responsible because the problems occurred under his watch. "He felt like he should shoulder the responsibility for those problems," Ivy said.
Mumme had four years remaining on an $800,000-a-year contact. Ivy said some kind of severance package would be worked out.
The 48-year-old Mumme was an unknown coach at Division II Valdosta State when he was hired in 1997 to lead Kentucky. His aggressive style of play was labeled "Mummeball." He took the team to back-to-back bowl games, a feat that had only been accomplished twice in the 109-year history of the school.
Last season, however, in addition to the NCAA investigation into reports that assistants had asked boosters for money to pay recruits, Mumme's team stumbled on the field. The Wildcats lost their final eight games to finish 2-9. Mumme ended his career with Kentucky with a record of 20-26.
Bowden hires Bowden as defensive coordinator
Jeff Bowden won't report directly to his father, coaching legend Bobby Bowden, in his new job as Florida State defensive coordinator.
University nepotism policies prohibit staff members from supervising family members. So, the younger Bowden will report to longtime assistant coach Jim Gladden, and his pay will be set by athletic director David Hart, Jr.
According to university policy, "Employment of relatives within a single organizational unit is discouraged, except when it becomes necessary because of shortage of qualified personnel."
FSU president Sandy D'Alemberte said he was confident Jeff Bowden, who has been the Seminoles' receivers coach since 1994, is the most qualified person to replace former offensive coordinator Mark Richt, who left FSU to become head coach at Georgia.
Temple booted out of Big East
Temple will play its last games in the Big East Conference next season.
Citing its losing record and its poor attendance, the presidents and chancellors of the seven universities in the conference voted to boot Temple out of the conference after next season.
Temple has not had a winning season since it joined the Big East in 1991. Further, its average attendance of 18,612 is the lowest among Big East schools. The Philadelphia school is the only football-only school in the conference. In other sports, Temple has achieved success in the Atlantic 10 Conference. Its basketball team, for instance, has been in 11 consecutive NCAA tournaments.
But in football, it has compiled a 9-58 record since joining the conference nine years ago. Last year, the Owls' finished 1-6 in conference play and 4-7 overall.
Pittsburgh to keep Cowher
While Bill Cowher for a third year failed to take the Pittsburgh Steelers to the playoffs, team officials say they are going to keep him.
"He did a great job last year," Steelers vice president Art Rooney II told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "You don't make decisions like this on one year, obviously. Overall, certainly, he's done an excellent job, and we feel he's the coach we'd like to have of this team for the future."
The Steelers finished last season 9-7 after two losing seasons. But from 1992-97, Cowher coached the Steelers to six consecutive playoff berths and one Super Bowl appearance.
He has two years remaining on a contract he signed in 1998. He will make $2.3 million this year and $2.5 million in 2002.
Franchione to make $7.7 million at Alabama
Alabama coach Dennis Franchione's marriage to Alabama is official.
The school's trustees approved a $7.7 million, seven-year contract for the former Texas Christian coach. Franchione, who replaces Mike DuBose, will make about $1.1 million per season, including a $150,000 base salary and a $950,000 "talent fee." He will also have a $1,000-a-month expense account, a country club membership and the use of two cars. If he takes coach of the year honors or wins the Southeastern Conference championship or a bowl game he will earn extra cash.
With the contract in place, Franchione began filling remaining vacancies on his coaching staff. Ron Case was named cornerback coach and Lee Fobbs will coach running backs.
Seahawks' first quarterback returns
Jim Zorn, the Seattle Seahawk's first starting quarterback, is now the team's quarterback coach.
He replaces Mike Sheppard who was hired as offensive coordinator for the Buffalo Bills. Zorn had been with the Detroit Lions but lost his job when interim coach Gary Moeller was fired midway through last season.
Zorn was Seattle's starting quarterback during their inaugural season in 1976 and remained in the starting position through 1983 when he was replaced by Dave Krieg. He left the Seahawks a year later and went on to play for such teams as the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Jerry Rhome retires
A month before his 59th birthday, Jerry Rhome decided he'd had enough.
From his home in Flowery Branch, Ga., Rhome announced that after 33 years as a coach and a player, he's retiring from football.
A quarterback in college and for the pros, he spent his career as quarterback coach and offensive coordinator.
Last year, he was quarterback coach of the Atlanta Falcons. He also worked for the St. Louis Rams, Houston Oilers, Minnesota Vikings, Phoenix Cardinals, Dallas Cowboys, San Diego Chargers, Washington Redskins and Seattle Seahawks.
Kickoff Classic match up announced
Georgia Tech and Syracuse will meet for the first time ever on Aug. 26 when they face-off in the Kickoff Classic at Giants Stadium.
Georgia Tech ended last season with a 9-3 record and a second-place finish in the Atlantic Coast Conference. The Yellow Jackets made their fourth consecutive bowl appearance, a first for the school since the 1950s. Syracuse, meanwhile, finished the 2000 season with a 6-5 record, its 14th winning season in as many years.
While both teams have appeared in the Kickoff Classic in the past, they have never played each other. In addition to the historic nature of the match up, it also will be a homecoming, of sorts, for Georgia Tech head coach George O'Leary. O'Leary served as defensive line coach and assistant coach at Syracuse for six years before moving to Georiga Tech in 1987 as defensive coordinator.
Each team will receive a minimum $650,000 or 30 percent of gross revenues, whichever is greater, for playing in the game.
Purdue assistants moving on
Purdue quarterbacks coach Greg Olson will be performing the same job for the San Francisco 49ers next season.
Olson replaces Gregg Knapp, who last month became the 49ers offensive coordinator. Olson was the starting quarterback at Central Washington in 1983 and 1984 and began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Washington State. He has been at Purdue since 1997.
Meanwhile, Kevin Sumlin, a wide receivers coach at Purdue, is the new assistant head coach and wide receivers coach at Texas A&M. A linebacker at Purdue from 1983-86, he replaces Larry Kirksey, who left the Aggies for the Detroit Lions.
Lowe returns to Alabama
Woodrow Lowe, who played linebacker for Alabama and for the pros, is the new linebackers coach at UAB.
The three-time All-American who played for the San Diego Chargers for 11 seasons, replaces Bill Clay, who accepted a job at Oklahoma State.
Lowe, a native of Columbus, Ga., has spent the last two years as an assistant with the Oakland Raiders and also worked for four years for the New Orleans Saints.
He played for Alabama from 1972-75 and helped them win the national championship in 1973. He was recently inducted into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame. "I'm getting an opportunity to come back home and work in a really good situation," Lowe, 44, said of the reason he accepted the post.
In our February issue, American Football Monthly inadvertently left out the final standings for the NCAA Division II Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association and the Eastern College Football Association. We apologize for the oversight. Here they are:
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