© St. Petersburg Times, published December 29, 2002
MIAMI -- For the first time in more than eight years, O.J. Simpson attended a Southern Cal practice on Saturday, mingling and chatting with players, signing autographs and posing for pictures.
"I never thought I would be watching SC practice here on New Year's. Never, never," said Simpson, a former Trojan who won the 1968 Heisman Trophy.
Southern Cal faces Iowa in Thursday's Orange Bowl.
Simpson, 55, lives in Miami, and he's had little contact with the school since a Los Angeles jury acquitted him in 1995 of murder charges in the deaths of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ronald Goldman.
A civil jury later held Simpson liable for the killings and ordered him to pay the victims' survivors $33.5-million. His Heisman was sold to meet part of the obligation.
Simpson seemed in high spirits at the USC practice, pumping coach Pete Carroll's hand and smiling. He hugged many coaches and players, including this year's Heisman winner, quarterback Carson Palmer.
Carroll seemed pleased to have Simpson visit.
"It's a little different out here today," Carroll said. "It's his school, and the guys were excited to see him. He's a legend. At SC, our guys hold a Heisman Trophy winner in high regard."
ALAMO BOWL: Freshman wide receiver Jeremy Bloom of Colorado continued a busy December schedule in San Antonio.
Bloom, a World Cup champion in freestyle mogul skiing last season, splits his time between football and the slopes.
Fifth in the country with a 16.8-yard average on punt returns, he brought one back for a touchdown in the Big 12 title game against Oklahoma.
After final exams he hustled off to a World Cup moguls event in Finland and placed fourth, missing a bronze medal by two-hundredths of a point.
Then it was on to Texas for the bowl game Saturday then back to Utah to resume training with the United States freestyle ski team.
GATOR BOWL: Notre Dame linebacker Chad DeBolt was charged with trespassing after he was accused of causing a disturbance at a Jacksonville Beach nightclub and refusing to leave.
The 22-year-old was asked several times to leave the club early Friday but refused.
The club manager asked a police officer to remove DeBolt, according to an arrest report by the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office.
The officer told DeBolt to leave, but the player refused and was arrested about 2 a.m., according to the report.
The Florida Times-Union reported that authorities placed DeBolt in a restraint chair when he arrived at the Duval County Jail because he was disruptive.
DeBolt's face was bruised and his eyes swollen shut in his mug shot, the newspaper reported. The club's manager, John Blackwelder, said DeBolt didn't have the bruises when he was arrested.
Jail spokesman Greg Field told the newspaper the case was under investigation.
Notre Dame coach Tyrone Willingham offered few details about the arrest.
"I really can't tell you anything about that situation," Willingham said. "There has been an incident, but at this time I'm not able to elaborate any more than that."
DeBolt, a 6-foot, 202-pound senior, played in 11 games this season and made one tackle.
SILICON VALLEY: Six Fresno State players, including five starters, have been ruled ineligible because of a new Western Athletic Conference rule that requires athletes to pass at least six credits to be eligible for a bowl.
Defensive end Nick Burley, linebacker Sam Williams, wide receiver Marque Davis, cornerback Demorieux Reneau, left guard Fitu Tu'ua and linebacker David Adamo are ineligible, Saturday's Fresno Bee reported. All but Adamo are starters.
A Fresno State spokesman confirmed that six players had been ruled ineligible.
The WAC rule, requiring six credits of satisfactory progress, was implemented this year and has no appeal process.
The rule is intended to ensure athletes with professional aspirations continue to make academic progress.