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Sports Update

  |   Jan. 8, 2002 at 12:02 AM
In Sports from United Press International

Stoops staying at Oklahoma

GAINESVILE, Fla., Jan. 8 (UPI) -- Shortly after former Florida coach Steve Spurrier publicly announced his intentions to land a coaching job in the NFL by next season, Bob Stoops, his former assistant, said he planned on remaining as coach of Oklahoma.

Stoops had been mentioned as the leading candidate at Florida after Spurrier surprisingly announced his resignation on Friday. The 41-year-old Stoops served as defensive coordinator at Florida for three seasons under Spurrier before taking over at Oklahoma in 1999.

Stoops said he met Monday with Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley, who wanted to find out if Stoops had any interest in the vacancy. Stoops said that he never discussed contract terms with Foley nor did he discuss a contract extension with Oklahoma.

In a press conference held earlier on Monday, Spurrier said he did not steer Stoops to Gainesville. "I'm not big on recommendations," he said. "I told him you should do what you feel is best."

Spurrier, at the center of coaching rumors himself, said he was interested in landing a job for the 2002 season. "I'm intrigued to see if my style of coaching can be effective

in the NFL," the pass-happy Spurrier said. "I need to find that out. I hope to get that opportunity real soon."

Spurrier said he would not limit his NFL choices to a team from Florida, indicating he could be candidate for the vacancies with the Carolina Panthers or Minnesota Vikings.

George Seifert was fired as coach of the Panthers on Monday while Dennis Green was forced out as coach of the Vikings last week.

There also is speculation the Tampa Bay Buccaneers also will make a coaching change if they lose in the wild card round to the Philadelphia Eagles. Spurrier came close to becoming coach of the Buccaneers in 1996 before Dungy was hired.


Lions fire defensive coordinator Vince Tobin

PONTIAC, Mich., Jan. 8 (UPI) -- The Detroit Lions, after allowing an NFC-high 424

points in a 2-14 season, fired defensive coordinator Vince Tobin Monday.

Lions rookie coach Marty Mornhinweg hired Tobin as his defensive coordinator last February, but decided to go in a new direction for 2002.

The Indianapolis Colts were the only team in the NFL to yield more points than the Lions, who gave up 20 or more points in 13 of 16 games.

Tobin, 58, previously served as a defensive coordinator with the Chicago Bears from 1986-92 and the Indianapolis Colts in 1994-95. He was named coach of the Arizona Cardinals in 1996 and guided them to the playoffs in 1998. But seven games into the 2000 season, Tobin was fired with a career record of 29-44.


Panthers fire Seifert

CHARLOTTE, N.C., Jan. 8 (UPI) -- George Siefert was fired Monday as coach of the Carolina Panthers, who set an NFL single-season record of 15 straight losses.

Seifert had joined Carolina in 1999 with the best winning percentage in NFL history and two Super Bowl titles while coaching the San Francisco 49ers. But, that kind of success did not follow him to Charlotte.

Although no possible successors were mentioned, speculation immediately centered on Steve Spurrier, who resigned last week at Florida to seek an NFL job.

"I felt I had no choice with 15 straight losses," owner Jerry Richardson said at Monday's news conference. "We were 31st in offense, 31st in defense. I couldn't continue it. I just couldn't continue it."

"Just not enough decisions I made worked out and what's been done is probably in the best interests in the football team," Seifert said. "I'm disappointed in the way I'm going out as a football coach. But I think there's a good nucleus here as far as the football team is concerned."

The Panthers opened the season with a win at Minnesota with rookie quarterback Chris Weinke at the helm, but proceeded to lose their next 15 games and capped the campaign with a 38-6 defeat to the New England Patriots before barely more than 21,000 disgruntled fans at Ericsson Stadium.

Seifert, who turns 62 later this month, compiled a 16-32 record in three seasons as Carolina coach. The Panthers were 8-8 in his first season and 7-9 in 2000.

Seifert succeeded Hall of Fame coach Bill Walsh in San Franciso in 1989 and led the 49ers to a 108-35 record--the highest winning percentage in NFL history at .765 -- and two Super Bowl titles in eight seasons.


Olympics tickets getting scarce

SALT LAKE CITY, Jan. 8 (UPI) --With a month to go before the opening ceremonies, tickets are still available for the Winter Olympics, although ducats for the premier events such as skiing and figure skating are becoming harder to find.

The Salt Lake Organizing Committee reported Monday that around 180,000 tickets were still available, however they weren't expected to last long.

"Since the beginning of the year, ticket sales have doubled on a daily basis with an approximate average of $200,000 in sales per day," said SLOC President Mitt Romney. We still have great seats available to gold medal events but they are going fast."

Single tickets were available Monday for medal events in women's hockey and Alpine skiing, men's figure skating plus men and women's bobsled, biathlon and speed skating.

There are also single tickets available to the opening and closing ceremonies.

The SLOC has sold 1.365 million tickets for a total of $171 million. Ticket purchases may be made through the SLOC's Web site at saltlake2002.com, or through the eBay Internet auction site.


Diamondbacks get Myers from Rockies

PHOENIX, Jan. 8 (UPI) -- The world champion Arizona Diamondbacks added depth to their bullpen Monday, acquiringlefthander Mike Myers from the Colorado Rockies foroutfielder Jack Cust and catcher J.D. Closser.

Myers, 32, posted a 2-3 record with a 3.60 ERA in 73 appearances last season. The southpaw has been a workhorse during his career, appearing in at least 70 games in six of his seven major league seasons.

Last season, the Diamondbacks used veteran Greg Swindell and Troy Brohawn as lefthanders out the bullpen. They went a combined 4-9 with three saves in 123 games.

Myers, a sidearmer, has been particularly effective against lefthanded batters, who have hit just .201 (115-for-571) against him in his career. Myers, who also has pitched for Florida, Detroit and Milwaukee, has a lifetime record of 54-50 with a 4.21 ERA in 476 games.

Cust, 22, was the Diamondbacks first-round pick in 1997 and has been an All-Star at four levels in Arizona's minor league system. Last season, he batted .278 with 27 homers and 79 RBI while playing at Class AAA Tucson of the Pacific Coast League. In 513 career minor league games, he is a lifetime .306 hitter with 93 homers and 359 RBI. But with the re-signing of Danny Bautista and Erubiel Durazo waiting for an opportunity, Cust had no role in Arizona.

Closser, 21, still has a way to go to reach the major leagues. He spent last season with Class A Lancaster in the California League, where he batted .291 with 21 homers and 87 RBI.


Warner has throat injury

ST. :LOUIS, Mo., Jan. 8 (UPI) -- St. Louis Quarterback Kurt Warner has been instructed not to talk for seven days after suffering a throat contusion during Sunday's regular season finale win over the Atlanta Falcons, the Rams announced Monday.

"We are taking this precaution with consideration of the bye week before the playoffs begin," Rams Coach Mike Martz said. "We expect Kurt to make a full return to practice when we get ready for the divisional playoff game next week."

The Rams finished with the best record in the NFL at 14-2 and have homefield advantage throughout the playoffs. Warner threw for 4,830 yards, the second-highest total in NFL history, this past season and also led the league with 36 touchdown passes and a quarterback rating of higher than 100.


Bills' Hansen retires after 11 seasons

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y., Jan.8 (UPI) -- Defensive end Phil Hansen, one of the last ties to the Buffalo Bills' Super Bowl years in the early 1990s, announced his retirement on Monday.

Hansen, 33, played his entire 11-year career with the Bills, was a starter on three of their four Super Bowl teams and the franchise's second all-time leader in sacks with 61 ½.

The Bills concluded a 3-13 season, their worst mark since 1985, with a 34-7 loss at Miami on Sunday.

Hansen missed four games with an elbow injury and finished with 46 tackles and three sacks in 12 starts. But, he recorded his first career interception in the final two minutes of Buffalo's 14-9 upset of the playoff-bound New York Jets two weeks ago.

Hansen started 148 of 156 games with the Bills and was regarded as one of the team's most consistent players, compiling 867 tackles.


Lightning add defenseman

TAMPA, Fla., Jan. 8 (UPI) -- The Tampa Bay Lightning got defenseman Dan Boyle from the Florida Panthers for a fifth-round pick in the 2003 draft Monday.

"Dan is a gifted offensive defenseman," Lightning General Manager Rick Dudley said. "We've been looking to generate more offense from the blue line and work on our passing out of our zone, and those are his fortes."

Signed as a free agent by Florida in March 1998, the 25-year-old Boyle has recorded 10 goals and 29 assists in 129 games over the past four seasons with the Panthers.


Two more seeds upset in Canberra Classic

CANBERRA, Australia, Jan. 8 (UPI) -- Two more seeds fell in the first round Monday at the $110,000 Canberra Women's Classic tennis event.

A day after No. 3 Cristina Torrens Valero and fourth-seeded Anne Kremer exited, second seed Francesca Schiavone of Italy was ousted by Petra Mandula of Hungary, 6-1, 7-6 (7-3), and No. 8 Iva Majoli of Croatia fell to Australian Rachel McQuillan, 6-4, 6-2.

McQuillan will face countrywoman Amanda Grahame, a qualifier, in the second round. Grahame was leading 7-5, 2-0 before Germany's Barbara Rittner retired with a shoulder injury.

Two seeded players did move into the second round. No. 5 Elena Likhovtseva of Russia dispatched Selima Sfar of Tunisia, 6-3, 6-2, and sixth seed and 1998 winner Patty Schnyder of Switzerland eased by Rossana Neffa-De Los Rios of Paraguay, 6-4, 6-4.


Tasmanian first round delayed by rain

HOBART, Australia, Jan. 8 (UPI) -- Persistent rain throughout Monday cancelled all first-round action at the $110,000 ANZ Tasmanian International tennis event.

On Tuesday, former Australian Open champion Mary Pierce will face Kristina Brandi of the United States. Pierce, who received a wild card into this event, is attempting a comeback after missing seven months last season with back problems.

Top seed and 1999 finalist Rita Grande of Italy will play Rita Kuti Kis of Hungary; second-seeded Paola Suarez of Argentina meets Russian qualifier Elena Tatarkova; and fifth seed and defending champion Meilen Tu of the United States will battle Cara Black of Zimbabwe.

© 2002 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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