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  • Price ready for fresh start at UTEP

    Sept. 1, 2004
    SportsLine.com wire reports

    TEMPE, Ariz. -- Mike Price is trying to keep a low-profile in his return to college football.

    Price lost a $10 million job with Alabama last year for a night of partying at a strip club. He returns to coaching on a much smaller stage Thursday night, leading Texas-El Paso against Arizona State.

    The Miners got more publicity by hiring Price than they earned by winning the Western Athletic Conference championship in 2000 -- one of only 12 times in the last 33 seasons that UTEP has managed to win more than twice.

    In keeping with his rebuilding job, Price has stayed under the radar -- even skipping the usual visiting coach's conference call Arizona State has for the media on Mondays.

    But his reputation for coaching sound teams precedes him.

    "Mike Price came from winning 10 games in his last two or three years coaching Washington State," said Arizona State coach Dirk Koetter, who has his own job-security issues despite the reassurance of athletic director Gene Smith that he'll start the 2005 season as coach.

    Koetter, trying to improve on last year's 5-7 record, knows he has a tricky home opener because of the Price Effect on UTEP.

    "I think it is going to be different for him with updated personnel," Koetter said.

    Cleveland Browns defensive coordinator Dave Campo, who spent two years as Price's assistant head coach at Weber State, was sure his former boss would turn the Miners around.

    "The reason he got the Alabama job in the first place was that he took very difficult schools and made them established," Campo said. "He's an outstanding recruiter. People get a comfort level around him, so there's no question he's going to have an impact there.

    "And I think his second strength is that he's very well-liked by his players. He has a way of putting games into perspective, a way of getting people to play for him because of his style."

    The last time the teams met, in 1995, Arizona State won 45-20, the Sun Devils' seventh straight over the Miners and 24th win in the last 25 meetings.

    The 2000 season marked UTEP's only bowl appearance in the last 15, the high-water mark of coach Gary Nord's career. But Nord was fired on Dec. 1 after going 2-9, 2-10 and 2-11 the next three seasons.

    That opened the door for Price, who is 129-121 after eight years at Weber State and 14 at Washington State. He turned out five first-round NFL draft picks and won a national coach of the year award, yet even with that resume, Price remained persona non grata after being let go by Alabama.

    Nebraska never considered him for its vacancy, and Arizona toyed with the idea only long enough for university president Peter Likins to say, "No way."

    Price got in trouble in Pensacola, Fla., where he went in April 2003 to play in a pro-am golf tournament.

    He admitted drinking too much, visiting a strip joint and waking up in a hotel room with a woman. The incident occurred before Price signed his seven-year contract with the Crimson Tide, so his highly publicized firing was actually the cancellation of an offer.

    Nevertheless, it had made him a pariah.

    It also made him more determined to return to coaching and to getting his new job right. While looking for the right situation, Price lost weight, underwent hip-replacement and corrective eye surgery and wrote out a detailed program-rebuilding plan.

    His preparations caught the eye of UTEP athletic director Bob Stull, and Price was glad to accept the $225,000-a-year position after visiting the campus, which features the picturesque Sun Bowl stadium and new training facilities.

    Jordan Palmer, the younger brother of 2002 Heisman winner Carson Palmer, is Price's first candidate to follow quarterbacks such as Drew Bledsoe and Ryan Leaf, who Price developed at Washington State.

    Palmer started six games last year as a freshman, passing for 1,168 yards and a team-high seven touchdowns. He also threw 13 interceptions, a number he'll need to cut down.

    AP NEWS
    The Associated Press News Service

    Copyright 2004, The Associated Press, All Rights Reserved

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  • DJRamFan
    Illinois excited about possibilities under Zook
    by DJRamFan
    Dec. 6, 2004
    SportsLine.com wire reports

    CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Former Florida coach Ron Zook took over Illinois' struggling football program Tuesday, returning to his roots and promising to turn around a team that has sunk to the bottom of the Big Ten since winning a league title in 2001.

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    Zook, a native of Ohio and a former assistant coach at Ohio State, said taking the job was an easy decision.

    "I was raised in the Midwest. I coached in the Big Ten," he said. "It's one of the finest athletic conferences in the land."

    Athletic director Ron Guenther said he wanted to find a coach with integrity, who was committed to academics and with a strong ability to recruit. He called Zook "a perfect fit."

    "He's a players' coach," Guenther said. "His players picked up on the passion and played extremely well for him."

    Zook received a five-year deal, worth about $1 million a year, according to university spokeswoman Robin Kaler.


    Ron Zook doesn't get any down time as he steps right into the Illinois gig.(AP)
    Zook and Guenther talked last Tuesday, but Illinois could not name a new coach until a two-week waiting period to comply with state guidelines passed. The deadline was Monday.

    Florida fired Zook on Oct. 25, two days after the Gators lost at Mississippi State, satisfying a growing groundswell for his ouster that began two years earlier -- after he replaced Steve Spurrier.

    But Zook coached the Gators for the rest of the season and led them to a 3-1 record in their final four games and an invitation to the Peach Bowl. In his three seasons at Florida, he went 23-14 with impressive victories over eventual national champion LSU last season and an upset of Florida State on Nov. 20, the Gators' first win in Tallahassee since 1986.

    Zook has 27 years of coaching experience, including six years in the NFL as an assistant for the Kansas City Chiefs, Pittsburgh Steelers and New Orleans Saints, where he was defensive coordinator for two seasons.

    At Illinois, Zook will replace Ron Turner, who was fired Nov. 22 -- two days after finishing his third straight losing season. Turner's teams won only five Big Ten games after winning the conference championship in 2001 and going to the Sugar Bowl.

    Illinois won only once in 2003 and lost 14 consecutive Big Ten games between Nov. 23, 2003, and a 26-22 win over Indiana on Nov. 6. Two of the Illini's four wins in the past two seasons have been against Division I-AA opponents, Illinois State and Florida A&M.

    Guenther replaced Turner after determining that recruiting problems had "reached a point of no return," he said.

    Zook has a reputation for being a tireless and effective...
    -12-08-2004, 05:36 PM
  • DJRamFan
    Alvarez to step down as Wisconsin coach but stay as AD
    by DJRamFan
    July 28, 2005
    CBS SportsLine.com wire reports




    MADISON, Wis. -- Barry Alvarez eliminated all the surprise and speculation -- his 16th season as Wisconsin coach will be his last.


    Barry Alvarez has a 108-70-4 mark in 15 seasons at Wisconsin. (AP)
    Alvarez said Thursday he will step down after this year and focus solely on his role as the school's athletic director, a job he took on in 2004. And he's already picked his successor in defensive coordinator Bret Bielema.

    When Alvarez assumed both positions in April 2004, he said he planned to eventually transition into a full-time athletic director. But he gave no clue as to how much longer he would coach.

    It took just a year for double-duty to take its toll because of the constant demands on his time.

    "I believe it's the right time," Alvarez said at a news conference. "I certainly didn't want it to slip, and I just saw some potential for things."

    Alvarez, 58, was hired in 1990 to turn around a program that had only five winning seasons in the 27 years before he came on board. Three seasons later, Alvarez led Wisconsin to its first Rose Bowl since 1963, one of three Rose Bowl titles in his tenure. Alvarez is the winningest coach in school history with a mark of 108-70-4 in 15 seasons. He is 7-3 in bowl games.


    Career Record
    Year Record Bowl
    1990 1-10 None
    1991 5-6 None
    1992 5-6 None
    1993 10-1-1 Won Rose
    1994 8-3-1 Won Hall of Fame
    1995 4-5-2 None
    1996 8-5 Won Copper
    1997 8-5 Lost Outback
    1998 11-1 Won Rose
    1999 10-2 Won Rose
    2000 9-4 Won Sun
    2001 5-7 None
    2002 8-6 Won Alamo
    2003 7-6 Lost Music City
    2004 9-3 Lost Outback
    Totals 108-70-4 Bowls: 7-3
    Alvarez's teams have been defined by a punishing ground games and a stout defenses, both keys to their three Rose Bowl wins. His squads set a Big Ten record with 10 straight seasons with a 1,000 yard rusher, including Heisman Trophy winner Ron Dayne.

    Alvarez brought in Bielema last year to take over Wisconsin's defense, which ranked in the top 10 nationally in points (15.4) and yards (291.2) allowed.

    Alvarez said he first approached Bielema about taking over earlier this summer. The combination of family, the responsibilities of two jobs and his confidence in Bielema convinced him it was time for him to give up coaching.

    "Bret Bielema is the right man to replace me," Alvarez said.

    Quarterback John Stocco said the Badgers will be motivated to make Alvarez's last season memorable.

    "We talk about how successful Coach Alvarez has been and what he's done for the program,"...
    -07-31-2005, 03:05 PM
  • DJRamFan
    Penn State has Coke-bottle glasses about JoePa
    by DJRamFan
    Oct. 27, 2004
    By Dennis Dodd
    SportsLine.com Senior Writer
    Tell Dennis your opinion!


    National feature | Notebook
    At least Florida had the power to fire its coach.

    Penn State has no such option. The only person who can determine the future employment of Joe Paterno is Joe Paterno. And at last check the 77-year-old was armed with a four-year extension as a foundation for an increasingly obvious stubborn streak.

    SportsLine.com odds
    Florida coaching candidates
    Coach, School Odds
    Steve Spurrier EVEN
    Bobby Petrino, Louisville 2-1
    Butch Davis, Browns (NFL) 3-1
    Urban Meyer, Utah 10-1
    Jeff Tedford, Cal 100-1
    Rick Neuheisel, H.S. $11,000-1
    Bob Stoops, Oklahoma 1 million-1
    The silly season kicked off early Monday with the firing of Ron Zook at Florida. The 2004-05 round of coaching changes apparently won't include the departure of Paterno. What was merely uncomfortable the past couple of seasons could get flat-out embarrassing in Happy Valley.

    Those Coke bottles might help JoePa focus on his world, but they're still blocking his view. Saturday's 6-4 loss to Iowa proved that -- or rather reinforced it. The Nittany Lions have few Big Ten-quality athletes, even fewer playmakers.

    They are 2-5 this season and 5-14 over the past two seasons. In the last four-plus seasons, Penn State has lost 31 games. That's not a blip on the radar, friends, that's a trend. The school lost a total of 22 games in the 1970s, 28 in the 1980s and 26 in the 1990s.

    What little Big Ten talent Paterno does have, he doesn't seem to know what to do with. The coach lashed out at reporters last week after calling quarterback/receiver Michael Robinson "one of the best football players I have ever coached."


    Steve Spurrier is getting in some golf in Florida before a widely anticipated return.(AP)
    "Don't question me," Paterno added.

    Robinson promptly went out and threw two interceptions and fumbled on plays that ended Penn State's final three possessions. Most troubling, and usually a sure sign a coach is in trouble, is thousands of empty seats at Beaver Stadium.

    Apparently, not at Penn State where the school would be firing one of its biggest donors who has ties to bigger donors. That the final score was the same as the first college football game played in 1869, between Rutgers and Princeton, taints those first noble football warriors.

    Back then, didn't each "touchdown" count for a point?

    Considering the issues, jobs, coaches and schools this could be on the most interesting offseasons in recent history. Now that Florida has broken the seal, here the top potential openings in the country ...

    Florida
    He's coming...
    -10-27-2004, 11:14 AM
  • DJRamFan
    Gundy, Stillwater run deep with optimism for OSU football
    by DJRamFan
    Feb. 14, 2005
    By Dennis Dodd
    SportsLine.com Senior Writer
    Tell Dennis your opinion!


    STILLWATER, Okla. -- This is what a couple of victories over Oklahoma will get you ...


    Interest from a millionaire donor.
    Interest in your coach.
    Interest in getting better?
    Oklahoma State is in the business of answering that question -- again. It's a common one in Stillwater, where rookie Mike Gundy is the fourth coach since crippling NCAA sanctions tore OSU football apart in 1988.


    QB Donovan Woods will have the spotlight next year. (Getty Images)
    Its perpetual starting point is being the other program in the state, seldom dealing from a position of strength. On its own campus, Eddie Sutton consistently fields a top 10 basketball program. OSU football constantly fights for recruits, attention and victories against that national power 90 minutes down the road.

    Ah, that's where the Cowboys can claim some progress. Quick, name the only school to beat Oklahoma more than once since the beginning of the 2000 season.

    Yep, Oklahoma State, which has won two of the past four meetings and five of the past 10.

    "Our staff, in my honest opinion, does a great job of game-planning them," said Gundy, who ascended from offensive coordinator to replace Les Miles on Jan. 3. "We challenge them. We go after them. Some teams go out there and say, 'Let's get this over with.' Our players go right after them."

    Sooners everywhere have about eight months to let those words soak in. Until then, I-A's youngest coach (Gundy is 37) is brash enough to keep crowing. Miles wasn't shy about the subject while leading the program out of a decade-long malaise before departing for LSU. While his record wasn't spectacular (28-21), his organizational skills and game-planning were outstanding.

    Ask Oklahoma. A going-nowhere Cowboys team beat the No. 4 Sooners in Norman 16-13 in 2001, Miles' first season. They did it again the next year, winning 38-28 against a team ranked No. 3.

    Based largely on those two results, LSU swept in and hired Miles, the only coach to guide Oklahoma State to three consecutive bowls. Also based on those victories, Oklahoma State quickly replaced him with Gundy. Millionaire T. Boone Pickens was already on board, having given a combined $200 million to the school and athletic department.

    Mike Gundy file
    A brief history of Oklahoma State's new coach:
    Birthdate: Aug. 12, 1967 (youngest I-A coach)
    Wife: Kristen
    Children: Gavin, Gunnar, Gage
    School: Oklahoma State
    Playing experience: Four-year starter at quarterback, 1986-89; still holds school career passing record (7,997 yards)
    Coaching experience: assistant Oklahoma State, 1990-1995; Baylor, 1996; Maryland,...
    -02-18-2005, 07:48 AM
  • DJRamFan
    Hawkins to consider longer stay at Boise State
    by DJRamFan
    Dec. 3, 2004
    SportsLine.com wire reports

    POCATELLO, Idaho -- Boise State coach Dan Hawkins is considering a five-year, $2.6 million offer from the university that could keep him with the school through 2009.

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    The State Board of Education on Thursday approved the new contract offer, which would boost Hawkins' salary more than 30 percent from this year.

    Hawkins, who has led the Broncos to 22 straight victories, said he wouldn't make a decision until Sunday, at the earliest.

    "I need to get back and mull it over and talk with my family and powwow," said Hawkins, who made $50,000 when he joined Boise State as an assistant head coach in 1998.

    The offer, which Hawkins himself helped structure, includes big bonuses and incentives -- but penalties if he left before the end of the deal. If Hawkins stayed for less than the full five years, it would cost him or his new employer $850,000 to end the agreement.


    Dan Hawkins has coached Boise State to 22 consecutive wins.(AP)
    "This is a package that (Hawkins) consented to," Boise State president Bob Kustra said. "We've discussed this with him over the course of the last few days. He knows everything that's in it, and he thought it was a very attractive offer for Boise State to make."

    Hawkins' name has come up as a possible candidate for several high-profile job openings, including Florida, and Washington.

    Hawkins said none of those schools have contacted him and he intends to consider the Boise State offer first.

    During his four years as head coach at Boise State, the Broncos have won three consecutive Western Athletic Conference championships and compiled a 44-6 record.

    Hawkins, 44, signed a deal two years ago that will net him $501,500 this season, including bonuses, if he remains employed at Boise State through March 1, 2005.

    AP NEWS
    The Associated Press News Service

    Copyright 2004, The Associated Press, All Rights Reserved
    -12-04-2004, 02:01 PM
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