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Trojan and Buccaneer legend McKay Passes Away
John McKay, the legendary coach of USC and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, known as much for his memorable sense of humor as he was for his tremendous success as a coach, passed away on June 10 from complications associated with his diabetes. McKay, who won four national titles at USC and was later the coach of the expansion Tampa Bucs, was 77.
"John McKay never bit his tongue," said former Bucs quarterback and current Grambling coach Doug Williams. "He said exactly what he thought all the time."
An example of McKay's renowned good humor occurred during his early tenure in Tampa, when his Buccaneers were in the midst of the longest losing streak (26) in NFL history, when a reporter inquired about his team's execution.
"I think it's a good idea," he said.
The Bucs later became the first expansion team to make it to a conference title game within it first four seasons in 1979. For his pro career, he led his team to three playoff appearances and compiled a 44-88-1 record before retiring after his ninth season in 1984.
According to current University of South Florida athletic director and Hall of Famer Lee Roy Selmon, McKay's first-ever draft pick, "Coach had a lot of confidence in his ability and the system that he believed in."
"He endured some criticism, especially in the early years. I really respected him and admired him during those times, because he stuck to what he believed in. Over the course of time, not only did it work for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but I also saw several other teams adopting some of the philosophies ... many critics said would not work."
Born in Everettsville, W.Va., McKay enrolled at Purdue after serving in the Army Air Corps in World War II. He later transferred to Oregon and teamed with Norm Van Brocklin to help the Ducks go 9-1 in 1948 and earn a trip to the Cotton Bowl.
He began his coaching career as an assistant at Oregon and later moved to Southern California as an assistant in 1959 and became head coach when Don Clark retired a year later. The Trojans went unbeaten and won the first of their national titles under McKay in the coach's third season. Under McKay, Southern Cal went 127-40-8, won nine Pac-8 championships and only lost 17 conference games in 16 years under McKay. In addition to 1962, Southern Cal won national titles in 1967, 1972 and 1974. The Trojans also won five Rose Bowls and finished first or second in the Pac-8 13 times.
Concussion report reveals new information
Over 61 percent of former NFL players had concussions during their playing days, and most indicated they were not sidelined after their injuries, according to a study issued in May.
The report was based on a survey of 1,094 former players, ages 27 to 86, conducted in 1995-96 by the National Football League Players Association. Dr. Kevin Guskiewicz, research director of the University of North Carolina's Center for the Study of Retired Athletes, analyzed responses.
Concussions and their effects have become important issues in the NFL, as some of its marquee players have been forced to retire because of head injuries. Like Dallas Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman, who retired in April after suffering 10 concussions in his 12-year career, and San Francisco quarterback Steve Young quit in 1999 after his fourth concussion in three years.
Based upon the research and information obtained, 30 percent of the players had three or more concussions and 15 percent had five or more. Overall, 51 percent had been knocked unconscious at least once.
Seventy-three percent of those injured said they were not required to sit on the sidelines after their head trauma. However, the questionnaires did not ask participants if they actually resumed playing after the concussion.
The study also found that 49 percent of the former players had numbness or tingling; 28 percent had neck or cervical spine arthritis; 31 percent had difficulty with memory; 16 percent were unable to dress themselves; and 11 percent were unable to feed themselves.
Eight were diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. Alzheimer's has yet to be linked directly to head injuries, though evidence suggests the two are connected, Guskiewicz said.
"I think concussions are one of the biggest concerns of the league and the players association," said Frank Woschitz, director of the NFLPA's Retired Players Association.
For the last several years, the NFL has had a medical committee chaired by Dr. Elliott Pellman, the New York Jets team physician, studying the issue of concussions. Based on recommendations of the committee, the league has funded a major research project to better understand and share information on the subject.
San Diego State latest team to face mascot issue
The red-faced, spear-throwing Indian mascot long associated with San Diego State, "Monty Montezuma," has been sent into a forced retirement by university president, Stephen Weber, who wants a more dignified portrayal of the Aztec leader.
The most significant change announced by president eliminating Montezuma as a cheerleading mascot and using him as a historically accurate "ambassador."
The days of Monty wearing a loincloth and headdress, emerging from a shroud of smoke, dancing around and flinging a flaming spear into the turf moments before kickoff of football games are over.
And the school plans to gradually phase out the logo of a red-faced, glaring Indian that adorns stationery, literature, uniforms and the basketball court at Cox Arena. The changes are expected to be completed by fall 2003.
"If we are to employ the symbols of another culture, and portray a particular historical figure within that culture, we have an obligation to do so in an accurate and respectful way," Weber said during a news conference.
The name "Monty" also will disappear in official references and campus business establishments using the name will be renamed, Weber said. The only exception will be an alumni association award named The Monty.
ACC joins in against Friday night NCAA football
Atlantic Coast Conference Commissioner John Swofford announced his conference's policy prohibiting the televising of ACC football games on Friday night.
ACC officials unanimously adopted a policy prohibiting the televising of Friday night regular season football games. The NCAA, as part of a deregulation package to avoid potential anti-trust litigation, recently abolished its longstanding policy of prohibiting televising Friday night college football games.
"We feel strongly that Friday nights should be reserved for high school football and we want to do everything that we can to cooperate with the high schools and protect their game," Swofford said. "Consequently, we have instituted our own policy confirming that no ACC schools will be involved in the televising of our football games on Friday night. High school football is extremely important to college football and it is vital that we work together on matters such as this."
Jack Elway passes away
One one the game's best offensive innovators, Jack Elway, the father of John Elway and college coach in the 1970s and '80s, died unexpectedly at his home in Palm Springs, Calif., of an apparent heart attack. He was 69.
A successful coach at Cal State-Northridge (1976-78), San Jose State (1979-83) and Stanford (1984-88), the elder Elway retired last year as the Broncos' director of pro scouting. He also was coach of the Frankfurt Galaxy in the World League (1991-92) and scouted for the New York Jets in 1990. He spent seven years in the Broncos' scouting department (1993-99), the last five as director of pro scouting, and subsequently served the team as a scouting consultant until his death.
A native of Hoquiam, Wash., Jack Elway played quarterback at Washington State, where he earned both bachelor's and master's degrees. During the 1960s, he was a high school coach in Washington and Montana.
MAC heads west for title game
Mid-American Conference school presidents voted to play the championship football game at the West Division champion, ostensibly in an effort to keep Marshall from getting the contest for a fifth straight year. Marshall has won the game each year since rejoining the MAC in 1997.
The game will be played at 6 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 30. It will be televised on ESPN2.
Raiders foiled in court
Al Davis and his Raiders, who won a court case two decades ago allowing them to move to Los Angeles, lost their $1.2 billion suit claiming the NFL forced them back to Oakland in 1995, a devastating blow to the Oakland franchise.
After a six-week trial that featured volumes of documents and included conflicting testimony by Davis and NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue, a Superior Court jury voted 9-3 in favor of the league.
Raiders attorney Joe Alioto said the team would review the decision to determine if the verdict will be appealed.
"The jury upheld the NFL's position on all issues in the case," NFL spokesman Joe Browne said. "The truth regarding what happened is found in the Raiders' own June 23, 1995, media release announcing their decision to leave Los Angeles. It stated: 'The Raiders organization has chosen to relocate to Oakland."'
The Raiders, who moved to Los Angeles from Oakland after winning an antitrust suit against the NFL in Los Angeles in 1982, claimed the league should pay them for ruining the team's 1995 plans to move to a new stadium to be built at Hollywood Park.
The Raiders claimed the NFL sabotaged their hopes to move from the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum near downtown to Hollywood Park in suburban Inglewood by pushing for a second team to play at the proposed stadium. Davis testified that a second team would have crippled the Raiders financially when it came to selling luxury suites and building fan loyalty.
The NFL countered that the league tried to do more financially for the Raiders in the proposed Hollywood Park deal than it had ever done for a team. That included guaranteeing two Super Bowls at Hollywood Park if the Raiders would agree to another team playing there for a limited time.
Giants' Fassel has surgery
New York Giants coach Jim Fassel had surgery to remove bone spurs in his neck, a condition that bothered him throughout the 2000 season.
He returned to work following the Memorial Day weekend in time for minicamp beginning June 4.
Fassel said his neck problems continued into the off season.
"I had numbness in my fingers and my arm," he said in a statement. "We tried treating it with therapy and medication, but the condition persisted. So the best course of action for me was to have this procedure now."
Citrus Bowl extends agreement with SEC and Big 10
The Florida Citrus Bowl has renewed agreements with its conference tie-ins (SEC and Big 10) for another four years and has increased its payout higher than any postseason game outside the Bowl Championship Series. Under the new terms, the Southeastern Conference and Big Ten will send their runners-up or co-champions to the New Year's Day game at least through the 2004 season.
Also, the per-team payout - $4.25 million this season; $5.13 million in 2002; $5.25 million in 2003; and $5.38 million in 2004 - exceeds those of every bowl except the Rose, Orange, Sugar and Fiesta.
Convention mix-up forces Army-Navy tilt to leave Philly in 2002
A scheduling conflict has forced the 2002 Army-Navy football game to move out of Philadelphia. The 103rd edition of one of the greatest rivalries in college football was scheduled to take place December 7, 2002 at Veterans Stadium. It was to be the last installment of the game to be played under an existing long-term contract with the city of Philadelphia.
Unfortunately, a major medical convention is scheduled for the same weekend as the game, and there would be a lack of hotel rooms available for usage by the two academies.
The Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau recently informed the academies of the conflict, and both institutions agreed to move the site of the 2002 game to a city and venue to be determined.
Army and Navy have agreed to a new one-year contract to return to Philadelphia in 2003 at the new stadium of the NFL's Eagles. Army leads the all-time series, 48-46-7.
Bowden takes stiff action as Tigers self-impose for minor violations
After an internal investigation, Clemson penalized itself two scholarships for the 2002 season and froze the salary of an assistant coach after reporting several NCAA secondary rules violations regarding the football program.
It is the first problem with the NCAA for the Tigers since coach Tommy Bowden took control in December 1998. The rules violations included: improper conduct by an assistant coach and a booster during a recruiting "quiet period" when they had lunch with prospects at a local restaurant; a $1,300 loan by a booster to pay for a limousine the students used for a high school prom; and a booster allowing the students to use his boat.
"We intend to win and win with integrity. I will tolerate nothing less," Bowden said.
Bowden was not named in any violation, according to athletic director Bobby Robinson.
"The integrity of this university, our team and my good name are of paramount importance. They will not be compromised," Bowden said.
The problems centered on Gaffney (SC) High School players, LB Roger McIntosh and DL Jeff Littlejohn, both prospects from Gaffney, first committed to Clemson but then signed with Miami in February.
Clemson's scholarships will be reduced from 85 to 83 in 2002 and the assistant will be ineligible for a raise or bowl bonus until Sept. 1, 2002. The assistant also attended a rules seminar at his own expense and cannot recruit off-campus until Feb. 6.
NFL announces realignment plans
In an effort to create better balance, more competitive games and increase natural geographic rivalries, the NFL announced a realignment plan for the 2002 season. There was only one dramatic change moving Seattle from the AFC West to the NFC West, and five of the new divisions will have basically the same makeup.
The realignment plan was a shift to eight four-team divisions for 2002, when Houston will rejoin the league as an expansion franchise; giving the league an even numbered 32 teams.
The new format is the one that was considered the most likely when the NFL announced almost two years ago that it would realign into eight divisions from the current six.
Five of the new divisions will have all four teams from the old alignment and another will have three - the new NFC South, which contains three teams from the old NFC West. Each conference will have a North, South, East and West division, and most of the divisions are relatively compact geographically, unlike the old lineup, which had Arizona in the East and Atlanta and Carolina in the West.
AFC East - Buffalo, Miami, New England, New York Jets.
AFC North - Baltimore, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Pittsburgh.
AFC South - Houston, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Tennessee.
AFC West - Denver, Kansas City, Oakland, San Diego.
NFC East - Dallas, New York Giants, Philadelphia, Washington.
NFC North - Chicago, Detroit, Green Bay, Minnesota.
NFC South - Atlanta, Carolina, New Orleans, Tampa Bay.
NFC West - Arizona, St. Louis, San Francisco, Seattle.
Senior Bowl Gets New Sponsor
The best of all post-season all-star tilts, the Senior Bowl has reached a five-year sponsorship agreement with Bruno's, Inc., and its subsidiary, Food World supermarkets, for the supermarket chain to serve as the game's primary corporate sponsor. Financial terms of the new agreement were not disclosed.
The Senior Bowl, an all-star game that typically draws most of the best senior NFL prospects, has raised more than $2.4 million for charities since 1989.
The game will officially be called the Senior Bowl, presented by Food World. It has been held in Mobile since 1951.
Spielman agrees to stay with Miami and other Dolphin moves in personnel
Rick Spielman, the Miami Dolphins' vice president of player personnel, signed a one-year extension that will keep him with the club through 2003.
Spielman, who was the Chicago Bears' director of pro personnel until last May, when he came to Miami and rejoined coach Dave Wannstedt. The pair worked together for two seasons in Chicago. Spielman, 38, the older brother of former NFL linebacker Chris Spielman, spent seven seasons in the player personnel department of the Detroit Lions.
The Dolphins also promoted Ron Labadie, the team's Midwest scout since 1990, to director of college scouting. Tom Braatz, the team's director of college scouting since 1992, will become a scout. John Crea, who worked in the scouting department of the New York Giants since 1992, was hired as the new Midwest scout. Adam Engroff, who spent the past two seasons in the college scouting department, became college-scouting coordinator. Nate Sullivan, who has worked in the Dolphins' pro personnel department since 1997, will become a pro scout.
Eagles add Kelly to personnel department
Philadelphia head coach Andy Reid reached back to his west coast roots to name veteran college and professional coach Mike Kelly an advance scout in his newly revamped pro personnel department. Kelly, the former head coach at Valdosta State (1997-99), and heralded offensive coordinator for Winnipeg in the CFL, was most recently the offensive coordinator for the Orlando Rage of the XFL. Reid and Kelly share a common bond with legendary west coast passing game guru Vic Roen, who was the long-time coach at San Francisco City College.
Millersville names Kiesel coach
Kevin Kiesel, head football coach at Fairfield (Conn.) University since 1996, was selected as the new head football coach at Millersville University.
Kiesel succeeds Dr. Gene A. Carpenter, who announced his retirement December 5 after 31 years at the helm (1970-2000). Carpenter tallied a 212-89-6 record during his tenure, and led the Marauders to 10 PSAC Eastern Division championships between 1977 and 1998, plus NCAA Division II playoff appearances in 1988, 1995, and 1999.
During his five-season tenure at Fairfield, Kiesel established the Stags' gridiron program from scratch and made it a highly competitive and successful NCAA Division I-AA non-scholarship program. After a 1-8 record in Fairfield's inaugural season in 1996, Kiesel directed the Stags to overall records of 7-3 ('97), 9-2 ('98), 9-2 ('99), and 8-2 (2000) for a cumulative five-year mark of 34-17 (.667).
Prior to his post at Fairfield, Kiesel was head football coach for three years (1993-95) at Albright College in Reading. He inherited a team that was 0-10 the season prior to his arrival and proceeded to turn the Lions' gridiron fortunes around.
Charley Pell passes away
Former Florida football coach Charley Pell, given a great deal of credit for laying the foundation for program's current success died May 30. He was 60. The entire body of his work at Florida was overshadowed by the NCAA violations that occurred under his watch.
Pell, who had battled cancer since last fall, moved to Southside, Alabama, close to his hometown of Albertville in north Alabama to be closer to his three children and two grandchildren.
A former Alabama player, Pell coached the Gators from 1979 through 1984, leaving after the NCAA levied 59 sanctions against the program. He confessed to the violations and resigned, accepting total responsibility.
But, in recent years, Pell expressed bitterness at the irreversible damage the episode took on his career, believing he had been too hasty in taking the fall for the transgressions of others.
"I took the blame for everything to exonerate every other coach on the staff," he told The Orlando (Fla.) Sentinel in an interview in May. "I always believed I did too good a job of that. All it did was cause a lot of grief."
Pell's inability to resurrect his career contributed to a suicide attempt in 1993. He briefly returned to coaching at Lakeside (Fla.) High School, going 1-9 in his only season.
Schudel named new coach at Central Conecticutt
Central Connecticut State University hired Paul Schudel as the new head football coach. Schudel is the tenth head coach in the 61 years of football at CCSU.
Schudel replaces Sal Cintorino, who resigned his coaching position in February after nine years to take a position in athletic administration as senior associate athletic director at CCSU.
Schudel was named the head coach at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana in 1985. He compiled a 60-48-4 record over ten seasons, and guided his team to two Mid-American Conference Championships. He was named conference Coach of the Year in 1989 and 1993.
He left Ball State to become offensive coordinator at the University of Illinois for two seasons, and for the past four seasons, Schudel has been the offensive line coach at the University of Virginia.
ESPN buys the Las Vegas Bowl
ESPN Regional Television, a subsidiary of ESPN Inc., bought the Las Vegas Bowl from the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.
The Dec. 20 bowl pits the second team from the Mountain West Conference against an at-large opponent.
ESPN or ESPN2 has broadcast the game since its inception in 1992.
It's believed to be the first bowl game owned by a broadcaster. ESPN, which wouldn't say how much it paid, will be responsible for the Las Vegas Bowl's organization, marketing and sponsorship.
Selmon named AD at South Florida
A legendary Tampa area figure, Lee Roy Selmon, a member of both the college and pro football Halls of Fame, was named the athletics director at the University of South Florida. Selmon has served as a USF associate athletic director for fundraising since 1993.
Selmon was a successful banker before joining the staff of South Florida. Much of Selmon's work in his new post will focus on strengthening connections with campus and community constituencies to strengthen support for USF athletics.
A standout defensive lineman for Oklahoma and later the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Selmon was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1988 and the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1995.
His jersey, No. 63, is the only one ever retired by the Bucs and an expressway that runs from South Tampa to Brandon is named for him.
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