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College football

Cornhuskers lose, gain a candidate

By wire services
Published January 7, 2004

Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer withdrew his name from consideration for the Nebraska coaching job, becoming the third person to turn it down, but it did not take long for the school to move on to another candidate.

Former Oakland Raiders coach Bill Callahan was contacted by Nebraska athletic director Steve Pederson and was expected to be in Lincoln to meet with him either Tuesday night or today, the Omaha World-Herald reported.

Zimmer, whose Cowboys defense allowed the fewest yards in the NFL this season, made the decision after interviewing for the Nebraska opening that was created when Frank Solich was fired Nov. 30.

"After returning home and talking to his family, Mike called me this morning saying that they had decided to remain in Dallas and asked to have his name withdrawn from consideration," Pederson said in a statement.

According to, Nebraska offered Zimmer a six-year contract worth $1.5-million annually, but Zimmer will sign a three-year, $3-million contract to remain on Bill Parcells' staff in Dallas.

Last week, Arkansas coach Houston Nutt turned down an offer from Nebraska and Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Al Saunders withdrew from consideration.

Pederson said Nebraska interim coach Bo Pelini and assistant Turner Gill would be interviewed for the coaching job.

In other Nebraska news, holder Kellen Huston was charged in Columbia, Mo., for punching a fan on the field after a loss to Missouri on Oct. 11.

Boone County assistant prosecutor Richard Hicks said Huston has agreed to plead guilty to peace disturbance by fighting.

The misdemeanor is punishable by one day to six months in jail, a fine of $1 to $500, or both.

CENTRAL FLORIDA: Coach George O'Leary filled out his coaching staff by hiring three assistants. Brian Polian of Buffalo was named running backs coach/recruiting coordinator, Tim Salem of Eastern Michigan was named offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach and Lance Thompson of LSU was named defensive coordinator. Also hired were Ed Ellis (director of strength and conditioning) and Scott Sinclair (assistant director of strength and conditioning).

COACHES: Pete Carroll had to share a national title, but his peers believe he alone is the Division I-A coach of the year. Carroll was honored by the American Football Coaches Association after his Southern Cal squad split the championship with LSU. Dick Biddle was named the Division I-AA coach of the year after leading Colgate to the championship game. There was a tie for Division II honors, with Division II champion Grand Valley State's Brian Kelly and NAIA champion Carroll's Mike van Diest sharing the award. John Gagliardi, the Division III winner, led St. John's (Minn.) to a championship.

LSU: Athletic director Skip Bertman said he faxed a new contract to Nick Saban's agent and did not expect to lose the coach. The new deal guarantees Saban would be the highest-paid coach at $2.5-million a year, nearly $200,000 more than his previous contract was raised to after his bonus for winning the BCS title. Saban isn't ready to sign, saying the contract isn't to his liking yet. "We'll look at it," he said. "You know, I'm happy to be at LSU." Saban has a 30-day window to re-negotiate with the university and agree to a deal, associate athletic director Dan Radakovich said. ... In addition to the BCS national championship trophy, Saban was presented with the MacArthur Bowl by representatives from the College Football Hall of Fame. The trophy, named for late Gen. Douglas MacArthur, will be displayed at LSU for a short period before returning to the Hall of Fame in South Bend, Ind.

MISSISSIPPI: Ole Miss wants to extend the contract of coach David Cutcliffe, who led the Rebels to their first 10-win season since 1971. Athletic director Pete Boone said he and Cutcliffe discussed an extension before Christmas. Cutcliffe has three years left on a four-year deal that pays about $900,000 a year with incentives.

MISSISSIPPI STATE: Georgia Tech assistant coach Brick Haley will join the staff of new coach Sylvester Croom. Haley had been coaching linebackers the past two seasons. Linebackers coach Jim Tompkins is expected to be retained by Croom, though in what capacity has not been determined.

PURDUE: Right tackle Kelly Butler is skipping his senior season to enter the NFL draft. The 6-foot-8, 320-pound lineman started all 38 games the past three seasons.

SYRACUSE: Wideout Johnnie Morant, who led the Orangemen with 46 catches for 799 yards, has received an invitation to participate in the NFL Combine workouts next month in Indianapolis.

TEXAS: Defensive coordinator Carl Reese resigned following his sixth season. The defense had been ranked in the top 10 three of the past four years but this season finished at No. 25. Coach Mack Brown said no other coaching changes were forthcoming.

[Last modified January 7, 2004, 01:33:45]


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