News from the Tennessee Valley Sports



AUBURN — Cole Bennett couldn't bear to end his Auburn career as a spectator.

After the senior tight end sustained a broken right ankle against LSU, he didn't want to take a redshirt season.

Bennett changed his mind after the 10th-ranked Tigers' win over Alabama, deciding to return for a fifth season.

"I told my family before that I wasn't coming back, and it wasn't until Thanksgiving that I told them I basically changed my mind and told them I was thinking about coming back," he said.

"I felt like if I left now, if I never got to go back, I'd never get another shot at this."

Bennett will travel with the team to the Cotton Bowl game against No. 22 Nebraska, and hopes to participate in a few practices.


Stanford hired former NFL quarterback Jim Harbaugh on Monday to take over its struggling football program.

Harbaugh had spent the last three years as head coach at the University of San Diego, a non-scholarship Division I-AA program. He led the Toreros to a 29-6 record, winning 27 of his final 29 games at San Diego.

The school planned to formally introduce Harbaugh at a news conference Tuesday.

Harbaugh has the tough task of turning around the Cardinal, who set a school record for losses in a 1-11 season this year that led to the firing of coach Walt Harris. Stanford has won just 16 games in the past five seasons under Harris and Buddy Teevens.

Harbaugh played in college at Michigan but has ties to Stanford. His father, Jack, was an assistant there. Harbaugh worked as a volunteer assistant for his father at Western Kentucky during his NFL career. He was an assistant with the Oakland Raiders before taking the job at San Diego.

This was the first major hiring by athletic director Bob Bowlsby, who came to Stanford from Iowa in July. Other candidates former New York Giants coach Jim Fassel, Montana coach Bobby Hauck and San Diego Chargers assistant James Lofton.

Grambling State

GRAMBLING, La. — Melvin Spears, the Grambling State coach for three seasons, was fired on Monday, school president Dr. Horace A. Judson announced.

"I appreciate the hard work Coach Spears put in as head football coach," said Judson. "This was a difficult decision, but I believe it is in the best interests of the university and the football program."

Hired after the early-2004 resignation of Doug Williams, Spears became embroiled in a resume scandal only months later, which he later cleared up after finishing some necessary paperwork to get his master's degree.

Spears went 6-5 in his initial season in 2004, after losing record-setting quarterback Bruce Eugene to a knee injury in the opener, but rebounded upon Eugene's return from a knee injury with an 11-1 record and a Southwest Athletic Conference title in 2005. This season, again without Eugene, GSU slumped to 3-8.


FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Arkansas added one year to coach Houston Nutt's contract Monday, saying it would keep the coach on until at least 2012 and would seek a pay raise for the coach after his Razorbacks reached the Southeastern Conference Championship Game this year.

Nutt is 67-43 in nine seasons at Arkansas. The Razorbacks were 10-3 this year, their first winning season in three years, and lost to Florida in the SEC title game.

No. 12 Arkansas will play No. 6 Wisconsin in the Capital One Bowl in Orlando, Fla., on Jan. 1.

Arkansas last extended Nutt's contract before the 2005 season, when the Razorbacks were coming off a 5-6 season. The team was 4-7 after Nutt received the contract extension and the coach was widely considered to be under pressure to win this season.

Nutt earns a base salary of $329,644 and has a total compensation package of $1.05 million annually — not including $412,000 a year in tax-deferred annuities that will be paid at a later date.

Broyles said he would seek a pay raise for Nutt after the start of the year.

Boston College

BOSTON — Boston College is preparing to hire Green Bay Packers offensive coordinator Jeff Jagodzinski as head coach, a school official told The Associated Press on Monday.

Jagodzinski has been offered the job and is expected to be introduced at a news conference Wednesday, according to the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the move had not been officially announced.

Athletic director Gene DeFilippo did not return a call seeking comment. Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Monday he wouldn't comment on the situation, and a Packers spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Jagodzinski.

Jagodzinski was BC's offensive coordinator and offensive line coach in 1997-98, when the Eagles averaged more than 400 yards a game and allowed the fewest sacks in the Big East. A Wisconsin native, he coached the Packers tight ends for five years before spending two seasons with the Atlanta Falcons and then rejoining Green Bay this year for his first stint as an NFL coordinator.

He would replace Tom O'Brien, who left for North Carolina State after compiling a 75-45 record in 10 years with the Eagles.

Louisiana Tech

RUSTON, La. — Derek Dooley, son of longtime Georgia football coach Vince Dooley, was hired as head coach by Louisiana Tech on Monday.

Dooley has been an assistant coach for the Miami Dolphins the past two years.

"From the very first time I met Derek Dooley when we went to Miami, I was super impressed," Louisiana Tech president Dan Reneau said. "He knows coaching from one end to the other. It's a new day for Louisiana Tech, and Derek Dooley is the man we need to lead us into this era of success."

Dooley replaces Jack Bicknell, who was fired Dec. 4 after the Bulldogs finished 3-10, including 1-7 in the WAC. Bicknell had a 42-53 record in eight seasons at the school.

Dooley will continue his responsibilities as the Dolphins tight ends coach through the end of the season.

Tech athletic director Jim Oakes said Dooley will sign a five-year contract in the range of $400,000 a year.


MEMPHIS — Two more defensive coaches are leaving Memphis, head coach Tommy West announced Monday.

West fired defensive coordinator Joe Lee Dunn in September when the Tigers were 1-2.

Defensive line coach Craig Boller and secondary coach Tim Keane will not return. Both assistants came to Memphis in 2002.

The school didn't provide any details of their departures or offer a comment from West.

The Tigers recently finished one of their worst seasons in school history at 2-10 and 1-7 in Conference USA. Their only wins came against Division I-AA Chattanooga and at Texas-El Paso in the final game of the season.

Memphis last won fewer than three games in 1998 when it was 2-9 under coach Rip Scherer.

Notre Dame

MOBILE — Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn has accepted an invitation to play in the Senior Bowl, along with four of his teammates.

Wide receivers Jeff Samardzija and Rhema McKnight, defensive end Victor Abiamiri and offensive lineman Ryan Harris also will play in the Jan. 27 game, which features top senior NFL prospects.

Quinn won the Maxwell Award as the nation's most outstanding player and was a Heisman Trophy finalist, leading Notre Dame to a 10-2 regular-season record and a second straight BCS bowl appearance.

He threw for 3,278 yards and a school-record 35 touchdown passes and also won the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award as the nation's top senior quarterback.

The Associated Press

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Save $84.50 a year off our newsstand price:
Subscribe today for only 38 cents a day!

Leave feedback
on this or

Email This Page