News from the Tennessee Valley Sports
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 21, 2006
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COLLEGE FOOTBALL NOTES

Alabama

According to interim Alabama head football coach Joe Kines, the Crimson Tide faces no academic-induced drama heading into this year's Independence Bowl.

All Alabama players are academically eligible.

"You can mark off the first check. Every scholarship player we have is eligible for the bowl game," Kines said. "It's important to the parents. They don't send their children here for us to take them lightly. We're going to take care of them."

When Kines had his first news conference as interim coach, he stressed the importance of making sure the football players went to class and that they made their grades.

Josh Cooper, Daily Sports Writer

Auburn

AUBURN — Apparently, a trip to Dallas in January sounds good to thousands of Auburn football fans.

Auburn spokesman Kirk Sampson said the school already has sold more than 9,000 of its allotment of 12,500 tickets for the Cotton Bowl.

The No. 10-ranked Tigers (10-2) will face No. 22 Nebraska (9-4) in the Dallas-based game Jan. 1 at 10:30 a.m. WZDX-54 will carry the television broadcast.

Bradley Handwerger, Daily Sports Writer

Arkansas

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Arkansas coach Houston Nutt on Wednesday named Casey Dick as the starting quarterback against No. 6 Wisconsin in the Jan. 1 Capital One Bowl, but he said Mitch Mustain also would go into the game for the third Arkansas series.

Nutt said how the two play early in the game will determine which of them gets the majority of snaps for the remainder of the game.

Receiver Damian Williams was granted his release after Williams' parents and parents of Mustain and receiver Ben Cleveland met with athletic director Frank Broyles after a regular season that saw the team use a run-oriented offense.

Georgia Tech

ATLANTA — Reggie Ball, who has taken nearly every snap at quarterback for Georgia Tech this season, has been ruled academically ineligible for the Gator Bowl.

Cornerback Kenny Scott is also academically ineligible, the school said Wednesday.

Georgia Tech plays West Virginia in the Gator Bowl on Jan. 1.

Idaho

After a national search to replace Dennis Erickson as football coach, the University of Idaho had to look only 8 miles west to find Robb Akey.

The 44-year-old Akey, Washington State University's exuberant defensive coordinator, was introduced as Erickson's successor Wednesday during a campus news conference in Moscow, Idaho. He becomes the Vandals' third head coach in three years.

Notre Dame

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Safety Tom Zbikowski is trying to decide whether to return to Notre Dame for his final season of eligibility.

As No. 11 Notre Dame heads into the Jan. 3 Sugar Bowl against fourth-ranked LSU, Zbikowski ranks third in tackles on the Irish with 69.

He also is Notre Dame's primary punt returner, averaging 9 yards a return.

The senior has a year of eligibility left because he did not play as a freshman.

Senior Bowl

MOBILE — Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith of Ohio State will play in the Senior Bowl on Jan. 27, joining Notre Dame's Brady Quinn, who finished third in the Heisman balloting, as a quarterback on the North roster.

Smith leads the Buckeyes against Florida in the national championship game Jan. 8.

- The Associated Press

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