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Kiffin won't turn away 'Huskers

By Times Staff Writers
Published December 4, 2003

TAMPA - If Nebraska wants to talk to Bucs defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin about becoming the Cornhuskers head coach, he would listen.

Kiffin, who played at Nebraska and began his coaching career there, said he has not been contacted by the university. But speculation in Lincoln is that he is a candidate.

"It is my alma mater. I coached there, you know. I played there, you know," Kiffin said. "So if they asked me, I'd listen, there's no doubt about that. But at the present time, I've had no contact with Nebraska. I don't want to discuss it anymore.

"At the present time, I'm just trying to coach the next game."

Nebraska is searching for a replacement for Frank Solich, who was fired Saturday after winning 75 percent of his games over six seasons.

Solich had just finished a 9-3 season after Friday's 31-22 victory over Colorado. His overall record was 58-19, but he failed to return the program to national prominence after taking over from Tom Osborne.

Kiffin played offensive and defensive tackle at Nebraska from 1959 to '63. He began his coaching career there, working from 1966 to '76 under Bob Devaney and Osborne.

Kiffin's only head coaching experience came at North Carolina State, where he compiled a 16-17 record from 1980 to '82. In the offseason, he turned down an offer to become the 49ers head coach.

"Everybody back home thinks the world of Monte and respects him," said Scott Frost, the former Nebraska quarterback who signed as a safety with the Bucs on Tuesday.

"I'm not really sure what the AD (Steve Pederson) there is thinking. But I know if I was him, I'd take a look at Monte. He's the best in the business."

PITTMAN TRIAL UPDATE: Warrants issued against the wife and babysitter of Bucs running back Michael Pittman were quashed Tuesday after an Arizona judge was assured they will be present in February for Pittman's trial on felony counts of aggravated assault.

Melissa Pittman and Kristina Hegland, who were in a Mercedes-Benz that Pittman is accused of ramming with his Hummer after an argument at his Arizona home in May, have until Dec. 15 to file an affidavit with the court, in effect promising they are aware of the trial date and will attend.

Both have said through Tampa attorney Ed Brennan they do not wish to pursue charges against Pittman, but prosecutors are proceeding without their cooperation. Judge David Talamante warned that if the women do not submit affidavits or attend a Dec. 15 pretrial hearing, bench warrants for their arrest will be re-filed.

In addition to the two assault charges, Pittman faces a felony charge of aggravated domestic violence. Prosecutors filed a motion Tuesday seeking the three charges be consolidated into one trial, but Talamante did not make a decision. Pittman's trial, which had been set for Jan. 13, was postponed until Feb. 19.

PRO BOWL BOUND?: With 10 days of voting left on NFL.com, defensive end Simeon Rice and defensive tackle Warren Sapp lead the NFC for votes at their respective positions. Rice has received 219,632 votes, the most of any defender in the NFC. Sapp has 134,339 votes.

The final 43-man roster will be tabulated using voting from NFL.com, coaches and players, each counting for one-third. Fan voting stops on Dec. 12, while players and coaches will vote Dec. 15-16.

Absent among the leaders is linebacker Derrick Brooks, reigning defensive player of the year. Redskins outside linebacker LaVar Arrington tops that category with 79,773 votes.

The Pro Bowl squad will be announced Dec. 18 and the game is scheduled for Feb. 8 in Honolulu.

Titans quarterback Steve McNair leads all votes with 641,410, just ahead of Chiefs running back Priest Holmes (631,877), who leads the league with 17 touchdowns.

FAMILIAR FACE: Former UF star Earnest Graham, injured during training camp with the Bucs, returned as a member of the practice squad.

The running back showed promise in two preseason games, but injured his shoulder and was released.

"I definitely think I can play in the league," said Graham, an undrafted rookie. "I have some things I want to work on in the offseason, things I need to take care of and that's what I'm trying to do. I want to change some things about my body, become more explosive, get in better shape and learn to play special teams."

INJURY REPORT: Receiver Keenan McCardell (left hip sprain) and Rice (left elbow sprain) are probable. Everyone participated in practice, coach Jon Gruden said, though Rice was limited.


[Last modified December 4, 2003, 01:46:27]

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