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Huskers, 'Backs vie for Nutt

Associated Press
Published January 3, 2004

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - Nebraska offered Arkansas coach Houston Nutt $2-million to take over the team Friday, but family ties and a Razorbacks counteroffer kept Nutt from a quick decision.

"We're still negotiating. It's up to him," Arkansas athletic director Frank Broyles said Friday night. "We're just waiting for an answer."

If he took the Nebraska job, Nutt would more than double his salary and be part of an athletic program that is one-third larger than Arkansas'.

The demands would be more intense, too. Nebraska athletic director Steve Pederson fired Frank Solich after a 9-3 season, saying he feared the Cornhuskers' reputation was slipping. At Arkansas, Nutt has coached two nine-win regular seasons, in 1998 and 2002.

Nebraska played for the national championship in 2001. Arkansas played for the Southeastern Conference title last season.

If Nutt stayed with the Razorbacks, he would remain close to his Arkansas roots and enjoy a pay raise negotiated Friday during a 15-minute telephone call with Broyles. Broyles wouldn't say how much Nutt could get above his current $800,000 package.

"I had a nice visit with him and I was kind of encouraged that he might stay," Broyles said before his negotiations with Nutt.

The interview room at the Arkansas athletic complex was filled with reporters and photographers, but no Nutt. Television stations promised to cut into programming with any announcement, but none came quickly.

Arkansas officials said if an announcement comes today, it would be before or after Arkansas' basketball game with North Texas at 12:30 p.m.

Nebraska sports information director Chris Anderson said she couldn't confirm or deny if an offer had been made to Nutt.

O'LEARY RELEASED: Central Florida coach George O'Leary was released from a Minnesota hospital two days after having a mild heart attack.

The heart attack came three days after the Vikings' season ended with a last-play loss at Arizona.

O'Leary was Minnesota's defensive coordinator. Since UCF hired him Dec. 8, he had been splitting time between the NFL team and the Golden Knights.

"I'll be heading down to Central Florida sometime this week," O'Leary, 56, said after being released from Fairview Southdale Hospital in Edina, Minn. "Hopefully this weekend. ... I'll be there as soon as I can be there."

O'Leary was hired to replace Mike Kruczek, fired during a 3-9 season that included off-the-field problems. His part-time status and health problems, though, have created difficulties in recruiting players and coaches.

WINSLOW DECLARES: All-America tight end Kellen Winslow will forgo his senior season at Miami and enter the NFL draft. He is the third Miami underclassman to declare for the draft, joining All-America safety Sean Taylor and defensive tackle Vince Wilfork.

"You think we'll miss them?" coach Larry Coker said jokingly. "I don't know where they'll fall in the draft. I think they'll go very high."

The Hurricanes will lose at least 13 starters next season. Coker has lost eight underclassmen in three seasons.

SENIOR BOWL: Marvin Lewis and the Bengals coaching staff will direct the North squad in the Jan. 24 game in Mobile, Ala.

DELAWARE ST.: Alton "Al" Lavan, a longtime NFL assistant, was named coach. Lavan had been interim coach at Eastern Michigan.

KENT ST.: Jon Wauford, the Miami (Ohio) assistant coach who resigned after being accused of striking a fan after a game, was hired to coach the defensive line.

UCLA: Coach Karl Dorrell fired two assistants after the punchless Bruins dropped their last five games. Offensive line coach Mark Weber and tight ends-offensive line coach Gary Bernardi were dismissed.

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