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  • Giannini flirts with Auburn's AD post

    Posted: Wednesday September 8, 2004 2:26AM; Updated: Wednesday September 8, 2004 2:26AM





    AUBURN, Ala. (AP) -- Southern Mississippi athletics director Richard Giannini says he has discussed the possibility of heading Auburn's athletics department with the school's independent search firm, but has not been interviewed by any Auburn officials.

    Giannini told the Mobile Register for a story Wednesday that he has spoken with Carr Sports Associates about the position, which will be vacated by athletics director David Housel when he retires in January. But he said he is not seeking to leave Southern Miss.

    "I've got a great situation at Southern Miss," Giannini said Tuesday. "I've really enjoyed the five years I've had here. We're in the midst of a $60 million capital campaign that is coming along very well. It would be difficult for me to leave."

    Giannini came to Southern Miss in 1999 after five years of heading the athletics department of Northeast Louisiana, now called Louisiana-Monroe. Earlier, Giannini was president of two Charlotte-based private firms and had a nine-year stint as a senior associate AD at Florida, his alma mater.

    Giannini is one of several potential candidates for the job. Other reported candidates include FDIC chairman Donald Powell, former Auburn player and Birmingham financial planner Mike Kolen, LSU senior associate AD Dan Radakovich and Florida associate AD Greg McGarity. Internally, Auburn is also expected to consider senior associate AD Jay Jacobs.

    Retired Georgia athletics director Vince Dooley, last week ruled out a return to his alma mater.

    Auburn still fires up Miss. State's Croom
    STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) -- You can take Sylvester Croom from the Iron Bowl, but you can't remove the emotional Auburn-Alabama rivalry from the former Crimson Tide star's psyche.

    Croom traded his Alabama crimson for Mississippi State maroon, but said the sight of Auburn's burnt orange and navy blue uniforms still fires him up.

    "It always has," Croom said Tuesday. "It always will."

    The first black head football coach in Southeastern Conference history will meet an old nemesis -- Auburn -- in his first league game Saturday.

    The history between Croom and Auburn dates back to the 1970s, when the Tuscaloosa native played and later coached for the Crimson Tide.

    Last year, Croom was a finalist for the Alabama job, but the Tide hired Mike Shula instead. Mississippi State gleefully snapped up Croom months later.

    In 10 of 14 games as a player and coach against Auburn, Croom walked away a winner in one of the most intense rivalries in college football.

    Alabama went 2-1 against Auburn when he starred at center from 1972-74, and the Tide was 8-3 against Auburn from 1976-86, when he was on the staffs of coaches Bear Bryant and Ray Perkins.

    Croom's favorite Iron Bowl memories?

    "Every time we won," Croom said.

    It'll take more than Croom's Auburn-beating reputation to keep his first Mississippi State team in the game against the 18th-ranked Tigers, he said.

    "We can't waste a minute this week," Croom said. "We have to improve every single minute just to have a chance."

    Auburn (1-0) embarrassed Louisiana-Monroe 31-0 last weekend behind two touchdown passes from Jason Campbell and 103 rushing yards from Carnell Williams in a performance coach Tommy Tuberville called vanilla.

    Similarly, Mississippi State (1-0) opened its season by routing Tulane 28-7.

    But Croom said Auburn's talent is decidedly better than Tulane's -- or, for that matter, Mississippi State's.

    Williams rushed for a school-record six touchdowns last season in Auburn's 45-13 rout of the Bulldogs, the day after coach Jackie Sherrill announced his retirement.

    "We're talking about one of the top teams in the country from a talent standpoint," Croom said. "So there's no question, we'll find out where we are as far as what kind of football team we have. I know already (that) we don't have the talent they have. That's obvious."

    Kickoff Saturday is 11:30 a.m. CDT. The game will be televised by Jefferson Pilot.


    Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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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.

    Advertisement


    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
    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
    Price ready for fresh start at UTEP
    by DJRamFan
    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." ...
    -09-02-2004, 10:00 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
    Auburn wants to stay in hunt; 'Bama has other ideas
    by DJRamFan
    Nov. 18, 2004
    SportsLine.com wire reports

    TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Tommy Tuberville is taking it one championship game at a time: state, conference and, with two wins and some outside help, perhaps even national.

    Advertisement


    The Auburn coach wants his Tigers, tied with Oklahoma at No. 2, to forget about the muddled Bowl Championship Series and focus on what really matters in this football-mad state: winning the Iron Bowl.

    Nevertheless, the Tigers (10-0, 7-0 SEC) are stumping for national championship votes every time they step on the field these days, including Saturday's game at Alabama.

    "This is the most important game of the year and this is the championship game," insists Tuberville, whose team already has secured a spot in the Southeastern Conference title game. "There is no other like it and we approach it like that."

    The Iron Bowl is a 365-day-a-year borderline obsessive topic within the state. But this year, it's also got an abundance of national allure.

    The Tigers are fighting for a spot in the Orange Bowl at the BCS title matchup. They're ranked third in the BCS standings behind Oklahoma and No. 1 Southern California.

    Alabama (6-4, 3-4) would love to clear up that mess and erase some of those giddy feelings down on the Plains, boosting its own bowl standing in the process.

    If the Crimson Tide can end the Tigers' bid for No. 1, "I'd feel real happy," tailback Kenneth Darby said. "I think the whole team would feel happy."

    The game hasn't featured a national championship contender since 1992, when Alabama won the title. Last year, both teams were unranked. Two years ago, the Tide was ranked No. 9 but ineligible for the league title because of NCAA sanctions.

    "It's one of the greatest rivalries in college football history," Alabama safety Charlie Peprah said. "You can throw out the rankings, you can throw out our non-ranking. This is Auburn-Alabama. That's what we keep talking about. That's all it is: It's just Auburn versus Alabama."

    It's also a chance for the Tide to reverse a troubling trend for a program that had grown accustomed to being the team vying for national titles in this state. Alabama has lost 17 of its past 20 games against ranked teams in Tuscaloosa, dating back to 1997.

    "I'm not trying to ruin Auburn's season or anything like that," Tide free safety Roman Harper said. "I just want to get another win for Alabama. That's a better way to look at it for me. I'm not trying to be mean or anything like that. We just need a win."

    The Tigers haven't been ranked so high heading into this game since 1958. But tailback Carnell Williams said Auburn players have tried to block out the BCS buzz in class and around town....
    -11-18-2004, 12:41 PM
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