News from the Tennessee Valley Sports



AUBURN — Pro Football Weekly named Auburn senior offensive guard BenGrubbs to its All-America first team, while place-kicker John Vaughn received honorable mention.

Grubbs started all 12 regular-season games for the Tigers this year and has started 37 straight. He was named the SEC's offensive lineman of the week twice this season, the only player in the league to do that.

Earlier this week, The AssociatedPress named him second-team All-American.

Senior Bowl snares Irons brothers:Auburn players Kenny and David Irons will become the first set of brothers to play together in the Senior Bowl, a 58-year-old audition for senior NFL prospects.

Kenny Irons is the 10th-ranked Tigers' leading rusher and was a unanimous AP All-Southeastern Conference selection as a junior. He finished third in the league in rushing this season.

David Irons starts at cornerback and finished fifth on the team with 39 tackles. He had two interceptions.

"While they have enjoyed excellent collegiate careers at Auburn, both are also considered outstanding NFL draft prospects," Senior Bowl President Steve Hale said.

The Senior Bowl is set for Jan. 27.


BIRMINGHAM — UAB's search for a new football coach is no longer focusing on LSU offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher.

The Birmingham News reported that a meeting scheduled for Thursday with Fisher in Baton Rouge was canceled amid concerns by UAB trustees that hiring Fisher, who now makes $400,000 as an assistant, would be too costly. Watson Brown, who left UAB's head coaching post to run the program at Division I-AA Tennessee Tech, was making about $375,000 a year.

The News said Georgia offensive coordinator Neil Callaway is now the top candidate on UAB's list.

Ohio State

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Four of Ohio State's top underclassmen on offense are considering leaving school early to enter the NFL draft.

Junior wide receivers Ted Ginn Jr. and Anthony Gonzalez, tailback Antonio Pittman and lineman Kirk Barton filed paperwork with the NFL on Friday.

"We're just awaiting some information so that we can make good decisions," said coach Jim Tressel, whose No. 1 Buckeyes play No. 2 Florida for the national title Jan. 8 in Glendale, Ariz.

An NFL advisory committee estimates where, or if, a player might be taken in the draft. A player can then elect to remain in college or make himself available for the draft.

Pittman said several weeks ago he wanted to come back for his senior year and win the Heisman Trophy — just as teammate Troy Smith did this year.

"I want to come back, but like anyone else I have a family to take care of," said Pittman, who rushed for 1,171 yards and 13 touchdowns after gaining 1,331 yards and scoring seven times a year ago. "When the paperwork comes back in, I'll sit down with my parents and coach Tress and then we'll make a decision."

Ginn led top-ranked Ohio State (12-0) with 59 receptions for 781 yards and nine touchdowns. With breakneck speed, he is also one of the nation's top return men.

Gonzalez is second on the team in receiving with 49 catches for 723 yards and eight scores. He is known as a dependable receiver with good hands and speed.

Idaho State

POCATELLO, Idaho — Former NFL linebacker John Zamberlin was hired Friday as football coach at Idaho State, which has won just 10 games during the last three years.

Zamberlin coached at Division II Central Washington since 1997 and will be moving up to I-AA. He replaces Larry Lewis, who was fired after a 2-9 season.

"Coach Zamberlin brings a solid head coaching record to Idaho State University as well as experience at other NCAA football championship division programs," athletic director Paul Bubb said.

Zamberlin played in the NFL with the New England Patriots (1979-82) and Kansas City Chiefs (1983-84). He was a fifth-round draft pick by New England in 1979 from Pacific Lutheran in Tacoma, Wash.

Air Force

AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. — Fisher DeBerry dumped a box of belongings from his office into his SUV and drove off slowly with wife LuAnn, leaving behind the campus he loved along with a lot of unanswered questions.

The 68-year-old DeBerry retired Friday after 23 years as Air Force's football, finishing with three straight losing seasons and two big controversies in his final years.

DeBerry, whose 169-109-1 record made him the winningest coach in Air Force history, had the third-longest tenure at one school of any active college coach, after Joe Paterno (41 years at Penn State) and Bobby Bowden (31 years at Florida State).

Coming off a third straight losing season for the first time in his 23 years at the academy, DeBerry read a prepared statement at a news conference, then walked off without taking questions.

"There comes a time in every man's life when I think you have to look at the big picture and decide what's the best thing for your family," said DeBerry, who guided the Falcons to three conference championships and spent 27 years at the school, including four as an assistant coach.

He briefly hugged athletic director Hans Meuh on his way out of the Falcon Athletic Center Hall of Excellence.

South Carolina

COLUMBIA, S.C. — It's one thing for South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier to read the riot act to an assistant coach for breaking NCAA rules. It's a whole different matter when the offending person is your wife.

Spurrier said Friday that his wife, Jerri, unknowingly violated NCAA rules by sending handwritten notes to families of players who had signed with the Gamecocks.

It's something she had done for years, wishing the newest players well as they got ready to join the ball coach's teams. She kept up the practice when her husband took over the Gamecocks in November 2004.

"She's done it every year in the past. This year's it's a violation, I guess," Spurrier said.

The infraction, which the university classified as a "Level II" secondary violation, was among eight secondary violations the school reported that took place between July and December.

Two other incidents involved the football program, according to the school. On July 27, an academic department improperly certified degree applicable hours to two student-athletes in football and men's basketball. Then on Nov. 29, the school said a football assistant called a prospective athlete during June and July when such calls could not be made until Sept. 1.

The later violation was classified as "Level I," meaning it will go from the Southeastern Conference office to the NCAA enforcement staff for review. South Carolina is currently under a three-year NCAA probation for violations that occurred during 1999-2004.

The Associated Press

Copyright 2005 THE DECATUR DAILY. All rights reserved.
AP contributed to this report.

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