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Schottenheimer heads back to the field

Marty Schottenheimer is leaving the broadcast booth and returning to the football field, this time as head coach and director of football operations for the beleaguered Washington Redskins.

At a press conference in early January, Schottenheimer said that while he loved the two years he spent as an NFL analyst for ESPN, he just couldn't pass up the opportunity to return to coaching. "It's in my blood," the 11th winningest coach in NFL history said. "It's who I am."

The four-year deal is worth $10 million with incentives that would add $8 million to the total package.

While he once said he couldn't imagine working for a hands-on owner like Redskins' Daniel Snyder, he said his concerns were allayed when he met Snyder. "At first I felt our management styles were not similar, but when I met him, I found him to be a very engaging guy, and totally committed to recapturing the winning tradition of the Washington Redskins," Schottenheimer said.

Further, he said, by making him head of football operations, Snyder gave him the control he needs to win. One of the decisions that will be out of his hands is how his former employer will benefit from his return to the gridiron. Because of a clause in his contract with the Chiefs, the Redskins will have to compensate Schottenheimer's former team. They agreed to give the Chiefs a third-round draft pick in each of the next two drafts.

FSU's Richt has the right stuff for Georgia

Mark Richt, Florida State's offensive coordinator, had his hand full when the Seminoles played Oklahoma for the national championship.

Just days before the Jan. 3 game in the Orange Bowl, the 40-year-old had been tapped to become the University of Georgia's new head coach. He replaces Jim Donnan who was fired despite a 40-19 record, including a 37-14 win over Virginia in the Oahu Bowl.

Richt has been on Bobby Bowden's staff at Florida State for 15 seasons. He spent the last seven years as offensive coordinator, overseeing one of the nation's top-scoring teams.

Both Bowden and Donnan wished Richt luck in his new job. According to Donnan, he'll need it.

"I never dreamed this would happen, but it happened. I'm not going to slit my throat over it," he told reporters after winning the Oahu Bowl. "But I'm not sure what it says about Georgia."

Patterson era begins at TCU

Gary Patterson didn't have a great start to his career as a head coach. His team lost.

But, given the uproar that surrounded Texas Christian after head coach Dennis Franchione was tapped to replace Mike DuBose at Alabama, few could fault Patterson for the Horned Frogs 28-21 loss to Southern Mississippi at the Mobile Alabama Bowl on Dec. 20.

"It's been wild," Patterson said of trying to prepare the team as Franchione - and most of the staff - headed out the door. "(The assistants) really did a great job of preparing for the ballgame with everything going on."

Patterson, 40, was selected to replace Franchione a week after his longtime mentor announced on Dec. 1 that he would be packing his bags and heading to Alabama. Patterson had been Franchione's defensive coordinator for the last five years, two at New Mexico and the last three at TCU. He helped Franchione turn the Horned Frogs from a team that went 1-10 when he arrived in 1997 into a team that went 10-1 this season.

Before teaming up with Franchione in 1996, Patterson coached for 13 years at a variety of schools including Navy, Utah State, Sonoma (Calif.) State, and Pittsburg (Kan.) State. The school didn't release the terms of Patterson's contract saying only it was "multi-year" but didn't come close to the $1 million a year contract Franchione was offered to stay.

Arizona State will play Sooners later

Arizona State won't be playing the national champion Sooners anytime during the next two years after all.

The scheduling change didn't have anything to do with Oklahoma's win at the Orange Bowl, but rather a tiff that developed when the Sooners pulled out of a scheduled 2002 game. After Oklahoma said it couldn't play Arizona State in Tempe in 2002 because of a scheduling conflict, Arizona State officials cancelled next year's scheduled game in Norman.

"We are disappointed that game in Tempe was canceled," Arizona State athletics director Gene Smith said. "Once that happened, it made no sense for us to travel to Norman for one game with no return to Sun Devil Stadium."

Next year's game in Norman was to have been Arizona's season opener. Analysts say it's probably too late for Arizona State to find a big-name opponent to replace Oklahoma on its schedule.

Buffaloes want to keep Barnett around

Despite a losing season, officials at the University of Colorado are confident Gary Barnett can turn the Buffaloes around.

They proved it by extending Barnett's contract by two years, through the 2005 season. "It makes you want to work harder. It makes you want to do your part in the vision that we all have here," Barnett, 54, after the contract extension was announced.

Barnett was hired in 1999. The team went 3-8 this year after wracking up a 7-5 record last year. While his contract was extended, however, he won't earn any more money. His pay package will remain at about $720,000 annually, which includes a base salary of $145,000 and money from radio and television, summer camp and CU's contract with Nike.

Virginia Groh(s) on Al

Al Groh followed his heart and it took him back to his alma mater, the University of Virginia.

Less than a month after University of Virginia head coach George Welsh announced he is stepping down after 19 seasons in Charlottesville, Groh shocked the football world by announcing he was leaving the New York Jets to return to his roots.

"I realize there will be some criticism of this, but only I know my heart," Groh said in a statement released by the Jets. "This provides the type of long-term security and stability not commonly found in the NFL nowadays."

Welsh, 67, retired for health reasons after compiling a 134-85-3 record at Virginia. Calling it the hardest decision he never made as a coach, he said he finally realized it was time for him to step down. He spent his last day as coach of the Cavaliers in Hawaii, where his team lost to Georgia 37-14 in the Oahu Bowl.

The future of the Jets, meanwhile, was murky at press time. Ten days after Groh quit, Bill Parcells resigned as director of football operations and said he didn't want to coach the team he led for two years before he quit last year, giving Groh the first head coaching job he's had since he coached at Wake Forest in the early 1980s.

Grobe takes magic show south

Jim Grobe is about to find out whether the magic he worked in Ohio will work in North Carolina.

Grobe, who transformed Ohio University, was named head coach at Wake Forest, two weeks after Jim Caldwell was fired. Caldwell had one winning season in eight years. The losing tradition, however, dates back three decades. The Demon Deacons have only had six winning seasons since 1971.

Grobe, by comparison, inherited a team that went 0-11 in 1994 and finished his six-year career with a record of 33-33-1.

Athletic director Ron Wellman said Grobe's accomplishments at Ohio University landed him the job at Wake Forest. "He's a proven winner," Wellman said.

For his part, Grobe, 48, said he enjoys coaching the underdog. "We got the biggest kick out of helping Ohio University and those kids," he said. "We started with a group of kids who were totally demoralized , had absolutely no pride in themselves or their accomplishment. When I left I don't know if there was another football team in our league that had any more pride than our kids."

He leaves the bobcats to Brian Knorr, the team's offensive coordinator. Knorr, 36, who played for the U.S. Air Force Academy, becomes the schools's 27th head coach.

Bunting rings in new era at North Carolina

John Bunting is returning home to North Carolina.

Three decades after he helped the Tar Heels win an ACC championship, he accepted an offer to replace Carl Torbush, who was fired on Nov. 20 after a three-year record of 17-18. Bunting, who had been linebackers coach for the New Orleans Saints, said he didn't hesitate to accept the job from his alma mater.

"It was an easy choice for me," he said, "but by no means will this be an easy task."

He inherits a team that is a shadow of its former self. While he has never been a head coach in Division I-A, he promised to put them back in the Top 10.

"He told us we were going to win and have fun doing it," junior cornerback Errol Hood said. "That's the best thing I've heard in a while."

To motivate players, he showed them the Super Bowl ring he wears on his hand and pulled his 1971 ACC championship ring out of his pocket. "This ring right here is just as important to me," he said of the college ring. "That's what we're looking to get done here. If my fingers weren't so fat, I would wear it."

His five-year contract comes with a base salary of $160,000. With another revenue, he is expected to earn about $600,000 annually.

Conference USA goes national

Teams in Division I-A's Conference USA will be playing under the glare of television lights for most of the next decade.

Conference officials and ESPN announced they have agreed to an eight-year deal for televising the league's football games. Under the terms of the agreement, the national cable company will broadcast 10 conference games annually. Some of the games will be played on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday nights. The agreement also contains the rights to a future Conference USA championship game for ABC Sports, syndication of select games and pay-for-view rights for ESPN's GamePlan package. Both ABC and ESPN are owned by Walt Disney Co.

Conference officials were elated by the deal. "This agreement enhances the conference's prime-time exposure in a very significant way," USA commissioner Mike Slive said

Fitz Hill knows way to San Jose

Fitz Hill is moving from Arkansas to San Jose State to take over a team that has been caught in a dispute between the head coach and the school's athletic director.

Hill, who has been an assistant at Arkansas for 10 years, was hired to replace Dave Baldwin, who compiled an 18-27 record in four seasons. Baldwin found out he would not be around for a fifth season when the school issued a press release saying he had turned down a three-year contract extension. Baldwin, who led the team to a 7-5 record this year, said he thought his agent was still in negotiations with the school.

While school officials said he missed a deadline to respond to their contract offer, Baldwin said the story was just a ruse. He claimed athletic director Chuck Bell had been trying to get rid of him since he took over the athletic department in 1997.

Arkansas coach Houston Nutt was also surprised to be losing Hill. But, he said, he was happy for Hill, who spent the last eight years coaching the Razorbacks wide receivers. "We are very proud of him," Nutt said. "He has been here the longest of any of our assistants, and has done a great job."

Torbush teams up with Franchione

As his replacement settles in at North Carolina, former North Carolina coach Carl Torbush is headed to Alabama to become defensive coordinator.

New Crimson Tide coach Dennis Franchione hired Torbush saying his experience as both a head coach and an assistant makes him a valuable asset. "Carl Torbush is one of the premier defensive coordinators in the nation, and is a coach who is familiar with the SEC," Franchione said. "It is a plus that coach Torbush has been an assistant and head coach. He can see both sides of the big picture."

Torbush built one of the top defenses in the nation at North Carolina but couldn't sustain it when named head coach. He went 17-18 in three season before being fired two days after the season ended.

Brown rewarded for wins

Texas Longhorns coach Mack Brown got a nearly half-million dollar raise for keeping his team in the winning column.

School officials in Austin announced that they had upped Brown's salary from $1 million to $1.45 million annually. The extra cash was a reward for establishing a three-year streak in which the team won at least nine games for the first time in nearly 20 years.

In fact, the streak puts Brown among an elite group of coaches. Including his previous two seasons at North Carolina, he has a five-year streak of winning at least nine games each season. The only other Division I-A coaches to have accomplished the feat are: Florida's Steve Spurrier, Kansas State's Bill Snyder and Florida State's Bobby Bowden.

Woody Hayes haunts John Cooper

Two days after he lost one of the biggest games to one of his school's biggest rival, Ohio State's John Cooper was handed his walking papers.

While Ohio State's 24-7 loss to unranked South Carolina wasn't the sole reason Cooper was fired, school officials said it contributed to thedecision. "(It was) sort of a capstone on what we have seen as a deteriorating climate within the football program," OSU athletic director Andy Geiger said. "Concern about discipline, competitiveness, academic pursuits, a whole series of things. I though yesterday, unfortunately, was an exhibit of all those things rolled into one."

Cooper, 63, who compiled an 111-43-4 record during his 13 years at the school, disputed Gieger's claims that his players lacked discipline. He said there wasn't one off-field problem that spilled over to game day.

His real problem was that he wasn't Woody Hayes. When he took the job he acknowledged that it would be hard living under the shadow of the legend that compiled a 205-61-10 record and won a national title. "A lot of people are never going to like me," he said.

Pete Carroll says yes to Southern Cal

The second time was the charm for Pete Carroll and Southern California officials who have been wooing him for three years.

Carroll, 49, said he accepted the head coaching position he rejected three years ago because the timing was right.

"I believe I am tailored for this, it's quite clear," said Carroll, who was fired as head coach of the New England Patriots in 1999. "I'm very energetic, I'm very enthusiastic, I just think this is right. I'm going to a place where there are great expectations. That's where I want to be."

He replaces Paul Hackett, who was fired two days after the Trojans completed a 5-7 campaign. It was their first losing season since 1991 and just their third in 39 years. The Trojans have won eight national championships, but none since 1978. They've also won 20 Rose Bowls, but they've appeared in only one in the last 11 years.

But while fans wanted a change, not all were happy that Carroll was selected to replace Hackett. They pointed out that he hasn't coached college ball since 1983 and he is a two-time loser in the NFL, having been fired by both the Patriots and the New York Jets. Carroll, however, was undaunted by the criticism. "I've been an unpopular choice at times," he said. "It is a challenge. I'm going to prove (the USC hierarchy) right. I want to make (the fans) proud. I don't need anybody to give me pep talks or fire me up."

SMU back on probation

Southern Methodist University is back on probation again, 13 years after it become the first - and only - major college football program to receive what is known as the "death penalty."

The two-year probation was ordered after NCAA officials cited the school for recruiting violations. Last year, the university imposed sanctions on its football program after discovering that defensive line coach Steve Malin had committed academic fraud and made improper payments to various students two years ago. Malin, who was suspended without pay in August 1999, was fired.

While the university had cut eight scholarship positions for two years, the NCAA reduced the number of high school recruits who can visit the campus, mandated that one less coach can be allowed to recruit during the 2001-2002 season and ordered the school to vacate the team's 1998 record and 10 of the games in which a player who committed academic fraud played. Sanctions don't include any restrictions on television appearances or eligibility for bowl games.

The sanctions are a further black mark on the school that in 1987 was forced to disband its football team after it was discovered that a booster paid 13 players thousands of dollars.

Amstutz gets Rocket power

After 21 years as an assistant coach at the University of Toledo, Tom Amstutz now has the top job.

The 45-year-old was named to replace Gary Pinkel, who led the Rockets to a 10-1 record this season and was rewarded by being offered the head coaching job at Missouri. In naming Amstutz to replace Pinkel, school officials pointed out his involvement in Toledo's recent prowess.

"Tom has been a big part of the success of our program for many years," Toledo athletic director Pete Liske said. "His appointment keeps the continuity and momentum of the program going strong."

While shut out of a bowl game this year, Toledo ranked third in the nation in total defense and scoring defense, giving up just 11 points a game.

McGinnis wins even as Cardinals lose

Dave McGinnis got the top job at Arizona in a pinch and will get to keep it even though he compiled a 1-7 record as the Cardinals head coach.

Saying he was the victim of vast personnel problems, Cardinal owner Bill Bidwill announced that McGinnis will get to keep the job he got when Vince Tobin was fired mid-way through the season. The 49-year-old former defensive coordinator said he will rebuild the team that two years ago won in the playoffs for the first time in 52 years."All I want to do is have (fans) happy on Sunday afternoons," he said.

Iowa State hands McCarney bonus

Iowa State coach Dan McCarney doubled his salary by leading his team to its first winning season in 11 years.

School officials gave him a new four-year contract for $600,000 annually. Under his existing contract, which expired next year, McCarney would have made $300,000 a year.

He guided the Cyclones to an 8-3 record and their first bowl appearance since 1978. They lost the Bowl to Iowa State 37-29.

Being perfect has its drawbacks

Having the best season in 103 years proved to be a mixed blessing for Davidson College.

As soon as the North Carolina's schools perfect 10-0 season ended, its coach of one year - Joe Susan - left to take the offensive line coaching job at Rutgers. However, the job didn't remain vacant for long. Less than a week later, school officials announced Michael Toop, Connecticut's defensive coordinator, would be the Wildcats new coach. s

West Alabama gets new coach

Randy Pippin, who has coached Middle Georgia College for two years, is moving west to be head coach at West Alabama.

Pippin replaces Bobby Jones who left Alabama season-end to be with his family in Gainesville, Fla. During his two season at Middle Georgia, the 37-year-old Pippin compiled a 51-15 record.

Darnell stays at Western Michigan

Gary Darnell will be coaching Western Michigan for the next five years.

While he had been offered coaching positions at such schools at Oklahoma State, North Carolina, Missouri and Rutgers, when those deals fell through he agreed to accept a five-year contract that replaces the one that was to expire in two years.

"We've been given the challenge of maintaining a successful program that many people have played a part in," said Darnell, who began attracting attention after compiling a 31-15 record at Western Michigan, including this year's 9-3 record which earned him MAC Coach of the Year honors.

To get him to sign on for three extra years, school officials increased his base salary from $130,000 to $140,000. Other incentives will boost his new annual salary to $225,000, up from an estimated $200,000.


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