Bengals name Marvin Lewis coach
MOBILE, Ala., Jan. 15 (UPI) -- The Cincinnati Bengals, who have not made the playoffs since 1990, Tuesday named Marvin Lewis as their coach.
Bengals general manager Mike Brown made the announcement at the site of this weekend's Senior Bowl after a two-week process in which he interviewed Lewis, former Jacksonville Jaguars coach Tom Coughlin and Pittsburgh Steelers offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey.
Lewis, who was the defensive coordinator of the Washington Redskins this past season, will remain here through the end of the week before traveling to Cincinnati for a news conference.
Best known for being the defensive coordinator of the 2000 Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens, Lewis becomes the eighth black coach in NFL history. The only current black coaches in the league are Herman Edwards of the New York Jets and Tony Dungy of the Indianapolis Colts. Both led their teams to playoff berths.
The wait for a coaching job was especially painful for Lewis, who was a hot commodity after the Ravens set an NFL record for fewest points allowed in a 16-game season with 165 in 2000. But after the Ravens won the Super Bowl, there was only one coaching vacancy left in Buffalo and Gregg Williams got that job over Lewis and John Fox.
Last year, the 44-year-old Lewis lost out to Fox for the Carolina Panthers' job, but appeared to be on the brink of becoming the coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. However, owner Malcolm Glazer decided not to accept general manager Rich McKay's recommendation of Lewis and instead lured Jon Gruden from the Oakland Raiders.
Despite not getting the opportunity to run his own team, Lewis left the Ravens to become the defensive coordinator for Steve Spurrier with Washington. Adjusting to Lewis' complex scheme was difficult for the Redskins, who allowed an average of 26.9 points in their first seven games and 19.7 points in their last nine. However, they ranked fifth overall in yards allowed.
Lewis was offered the coaching job at Michigan State last month, but held out hope for an NFL job and his patience paid off.
In Cincinnati, he inherits a defense that yielded a league-high 456 points, or 28.5 per game. But the Bengals appear to have a nucleus to build around with defensive end Justin Smith and linebackers Takeo Spikes and Brian Simmons, although Spikes is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent in March.
The Bengals fired coach Dick LeBeau on Dec. 30 after finishing a franchise-worst 2-14 campaign. They own the first pick in the April draft.
Lewis should be familiar with the failings of Bengals after serving six years as defensive coordinator of the Ravens (1996-2001) and four years as linebackers coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers (1992-95). Both are in the same division as the Bengals.
Lewis' 2000 defense with the Ravens is regarded as one of the best of all time with a league-high four shutouts. It also finished first in rushing yards allowed (970), takeaways (49) and fumble recoveries (26). The defense held opponents scoreless in 41 of 64 quarters and allowed one TD or fewer in 14 of the team's last 18 games.
Lewis' 2001 unit also led the Ravens to the league's second-fewest points allowed and finished in the top-four in six other categories.
Senators majority owner Bryden submits bid for team
OTTAWA, Jan. 15 (UPI) -- Ottawa Senators majority owner Rod Bryden and a co-investor submitted a bid Tuesday for the bankrupt team and the Corel Centre at the NHL's offices in New York.
Bryden met with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and representatives of the Covanta Energy Corporation, a bankrupt American firm owed $60 million by the Senators and $136 million by the Corel Centre.
According to a statement from the team, the bid is under consideration by the parties and further discussion is expected over the next several days. The deadline to submit a bid was Tuesday.
"It's not a simple financial structure, but I feel the bid is in the best interest of the present investors," Bryden said. "The ultimate decision will be made in court. I suspect it may be as early as next Wednesday and not later than Friday."
Should the bid be accepted, a period of about 30 days will be required for the co-investor to show the ability to finance it.
Bryden refused to divulge the identity of the co-investor but said it "is a well-funded American corporation" that "feels this is the best city to invest in."
"If the team is properly managed and continues to get support from the city, it will mean a great investment for the future," Bryden said. "It's a condition of the bid that I not reveal who they are at this time."
The Senators, who joined in the league in 1990, filed for bankruptcy last week and Bryden was given five days to make an exclusive bid.
The team failed to pay its players on Jan. 1.
On Monday, the Buffalo Sabres filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
Tennesee women's coach gets 800th victory
KNOXVILLE, Tenn., Jan. 15 (UPI) -- Pat Summitt became the first coach in women's college basketball history to win 800 career games as No. 5 Tennessee defeated No. 25 DePaul, 76-57.
Summitt, who has guided the Lady Vols to six national championships, improved her all-time record to 800-161 over 29 seasons.
Ashley Robinson had 12 points and eight rebounds and Shyra Ely scored 11 points off the bench for Tennessee (12-3), which has not lost to the Blue Demons in 13 games.
The Lady Vols used an 18-0 run in the first half to build a commanding 43-18 lead heading into intermission.
Gwen Jackson added 10 points for Tennessee, which has won three straight games after a 63-62 overtime loss to Connecticut on Jan. 4.
Reserves Khara Smith and Charlene Smith combined for 32 points for DePaul (12-4).
Serena has tough first round match
Williams, pursuing her fourth straight Grand Slam title, overcame 55 unforced errors in her opening-round match at Melbourne.
Also, Lleyton Hewitt, the men's top seed and local hope, had a tough time in his opening match before holding off qualifier Magnus Larsson of Sweden, 6-3, 3-6, 6-1, 6-7 (3-7), 6-2.
Williams was very close to becoming only the second top-seeded woman in the Open Era (post-1968) to lose in the first round at the Australian Open. Flustered by her opponent's varied lefthanded shots, she was three points from defeat in the second set and later was down a break in the third before pulling out her 22nd consecutive match win at a major.
Loit, ranked 56th in the world, became the first player to take a set from Williams in a Grand Slam tournament since Jennifer Capriati won the opening set of the semifinals at last year's French Open.
The year's first major was on the verge of losing two of its top three seeded women when Williams was at 40-30 on serve at 5-6 in the second set, but she hit a service winner to force a tiebreaker.
Williams then lost her serve in the fifth game of the decisive set, but broke right back and again in the 12th game to avoid joining Virginia Ruzici as top-seeded first-round losers at the Australian Open.
Ruzici fell to Mary Sawyer in the opening round in 1979, a time when many of the world's top players did not make the trip to Australia.
Capriati, the third seed and two-time defending champion, was ousted Monday by Marlene Weingartner.
While not in a position to claim a legitimate Grand Slam (all four major tournaments in the same calendar year), Williams is trying to become the first woman to win four consecutive majors since Steffi Graf in 1993-94.
Williams' only loss in her last four majors was a final setback to older sister Venus in the 2001 U.S. Open. After missing last year's Australian Open with a right ankle injury, Serena avenged the defeat by beating her sibling in the finals of the French Open, Wimbledon, and the U.S. Open.
One player who feels she can break the Williams sisters' domination of the WTA Tour is fourth-seeded Kim Clijsters of Belgium, who routed Samantha Reeves of the U.S., 6-2, 6-1, in 62 minutes.
Clijsters captured her 11th career title last week at Sydney, and has won 19 of 20 matches since a semifinal loss to Anastasia Myskina in September at Leipzig. Since that defeat, she has won four titles, including the season-ending championship at Los Angeles over Serena Williams.
Clijsters' boyfriend, Hewitt, came close to his second straight first-round elimination at Melboure. Last year, suffering the aftereffects of chicken pox, he became the first top seed in the Open Era to lose in the first round.
The native of Adelaide, Australia is trying to become the first male from his country to win the Australian since Mark Edmondson in 1976.
come out here (now) and get rid of it. I'm just going to get better and better from now on."
Hewitt won five titles and finished 2002 ranked No. 1 for the second season in a row. He claimed his second career Grand Slam crown at Wimbledon, but started this season with middling results, going 2-2 at the Hopman Cup.
Marat Safin, the men's third seed and 2002 finalist, put his sore shoulder to the test in a 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory over Raemon Sluiter of the Netherlands.
Safin withdrew last week from the quarterfinals at Sydney because he was unable to serve at full strength. However, he received treatment over the weekend and declared himself fit after practicing Sunday.
Other winners included No. 6 Roger Federer of Switzerland; No. 7 Jiri Novak of the Czech Republic; and No. 9 Andy Roddick of the U.S., who overcame Zeljko Krajan of Croatia, 6-7 (9-11), 6-2, 7-6 (7-0), 6-3.
No. 15 Alex Corretja of Spain became the highest men's seed to exit. Feliciano Lopez handed his countryman his second straight first-round loss at Melbourne, 6-7 (3-7), 7-6 (11-9), 7-6 (8-6), 6-3.
Among other winners on the women's side was sixth-seeded Monica Seles of the U.S. The 29-year-old American has won the Australian eight times, and owns a 42-3 record at Melbourne, but has not played an official WTA Tour match this season. She won an exhibition two weeks ago in Hong Kong.
No. 8 Anastasia Myskina of Russia was a winner, as were No. 10 Chanda Rubin of the U.S.;
and No. 11 Magdalena Maleeva of Bulgaria.
Troy State rodeo member killed
TROY, Ala., Jan. 15 (UPI) -- One member of the Troy State rodeo team was killed and another seriously injured Monday night in a two-car accident.
Brandon Barbee and Matt Albritton were attempting to cross oncoming traffic shortly before 10:30 p.m. EST when Barbee's pickup truck was struck on the passenger side by a tractor trailer at the intersection of U.S. 231 and Hunter's Mountain Parkway.
Barbee, a junior who also was a member of Troy State's Army ROTC unit and the Alabama National Guard, was killed instantly. He had transferred to Troy State this past fall to compete for the rodeo team.
Albritton, a freshman, was stabilized in Troy, then airlifted to Alabama-Birmingham Medical Center, where he was scheduled to undergo additional surgery to stop internal bleeding late Tuesday.
Both students competed as members of Troy State's first-year intercollegiate rodeo program this past fall and were expected to contribute during the team's spring season.
Georgia tight end to enter NFL draft
ATHENS, Ga., Jan. 15 (UPI) -- Tight end Ben Watson in Tuesday became the latest Georgia player to forgo his senior year ofeligibility to enter the NFL draft.
The 6-3, 270-pound Watson had 31 catches for 341 yards and three touchdowns this past season for the Bulldogs, who won the Southeastern Conference championship game and beat Florida State in the Sugar Bowl.
Defensive tackle Johnathan Sullivan, linebacker Chris Clemons and running back Musa Smith were the other Georgia players who earlier declared for the draft.
The deadline for underclassmen to declare for the draft is Wednesday.
Washington to enter NFL draft
KNOXVILLE, Tenn., Jan. 15 (UPI) -- Wide receiver Kelly Washington of Tennessee Tuesday announced his intention to go pro.
Washington, a speedy and talented wideout, endured an injury-plagued sophomore season. He was expected to be one of the nation's top receivers in the start of the 2002 season, but was bothered by a back injury and limited to four games. He caught 23 passes for 443 yards and a touchdown.
Washington, 23, spent four years as an infielder in the Florida Marlins organization before joining Tennessee in 2001. In his freshman season, the 6-4 225-pounder had 64 receptions for 1,010 yards and five touchdowns. He thought about entering the 2002 draft.
Washington is the second Volunteer in as many days to leave school early for the NFL draft. On Monday, Jason Witten, a finalist for the John Mackey Award as the nation's best tight end, announced that he will skip his senior season.
Also Monday, Miami running back Willis McGahee and wide receiver Andre Johnson announced they will forgo the rest of their college eligibility for the draft. McGahee, a sophomore, tore three ligaments in his left knee when Miami lost the national title game to Ohio State on Jan. 3.
McGahee to try to turn pro
MIAMI, Jan. 15 (UPI) -- Despite a serious knee injury, Miami running back Willis McGahee will enter the NFL draft pool this year.
He will be joined by star wide receiver Andre Johnson.
McGahee, who tore three ligaments in his left knee in the national title game loss to Ohio State, announced his plans to make himself available for the draft on Monday night.
Johnson told the Miami Herald that he also will try to turn pro, thus forgoing his senior season at Miami.
"I just felt like I was ready to go to the next level," Johnson told the newspaper.
The deadline for underclassmen to declare for the draft is Wednesday.
McGahee, a Heisman Trophy finalist who helped Miami play for a second straight national championship in the Fiesta Bowl, underwent knee surgery on Jan. 5 after tearing up his knee in the fourth quarter of the Hurricanes' 31-24 double-overtime loss to Ohio State.
The 6-1, 224-pound McGahee, a third-year sophomore, rushed for 1,686 yards and 27 touchdowns after beginning spring practice behind Frank Gore on the depth chart.
While McGahee took out a $2.5 million insurance policy in case he does not play again, he likely would have received an NFL signing bonus far exceeding that if he was not hurt.
"I have no reason to seek and I have no interest in seeking to collect on my $2.5 million insurance policy," McGahee said in a prepared statement. "My unfulfilled dream is to play in the NFL."
Johnson led the Hurricanes last season with 1,092 receiving yards. He caught 52 passes, including nine for touchdowns.
Kennison gets long-term deal
KANSAS CITY, Jan. 15 (UPI) -- The Kansas City Chiefs have signed wide receiver Eddie Kennison to a six-year contract.
Financial terms were not disclosed, but the Kansas City Star reported that, with incentives, the deal could be worth as much as $18.5 million.
The paper also said Kennison will get a $3.2 million signing bonus.
"Eddie definitely wanted this," his agent, John Hamilton, told the paper. "He had an opportunity to probably do a lot better financially on the free-agent market, but that's not where he wanted to be."
The Chiefs are looking to keep their explosive offense intact, but the Kennison deal was a bit of a shock. Before he came to Kansas City, he walked out a day before a game for his former employer, the Denver Broncos.
Kennison, 29, was an integral part of the NFL's highest-scoring offense this past season, leading the club with 906 yards receiving, 53 receptions, and two touchdowns while playing in all 16 games.
"Eddie was an important part of our offensive success last year and we did not want him to pursue free agency," said Chiefs President Carl Peterson.
Kennison signed with the Chiefs for the final five games of the 2001 season after being released by the Broncos. He also has played for St. Louis, New Orleans, and Chicago in his career, catching 296 passes for 4,343 yards with 19 touchdowns in 106 games.
In each of his previous NFL stops, he was tabbed a "bad apple," and his attitude turnaround under Kansas City Coach Dick Vermeil has been a pleasant surprise.
The Lake Charles, La., native, who played collegiately at LSU, has played in 106 games (83 starts) over seven seasons in the NFL, and was a first-round pick by New Orleans in 1996.
Thrashers name Hartley new coach
ATLANTA, Jan. 15 (UPI) -- Bob Hartley Tuesday was named head coach of the NHL's Atlanta Thrashers.
The hiring comes less than a month after he was fired from a similar post by the Colorado Avalanche. He now will take control of transforming the NHL's worst team.
Hartley led Colorado to a Stanley Cup title in 2001, but was fired on Dec. 18, as the second coach in team history.
"Each coaching situation has its own set of challenges and opportunities, and I'm ecstatic to have the opportunity to get back into coaching again this season and be a part of an exciting, young organization like the Thrashers," said Hartley, who will make his debut Wednesday against Montreal.
General Manager Don Waddell had served as interim coach for nine games after firing Curt Fraser on Dec. 26, and was delighted to land Hartley.
"Bob is a proven winner in the NHL, and has an impressive record of success," Waddell said. "Hiring him to coach this team is another major example of our efforts to continue to build and improve this hockey club. His leadership and experience behind the bench will be a huge plus for all of our players now and for many years to come."
Terry Murray, former coach of the Washington Capitals, Philadelphia Flyers, and Florida Panthers, also interviewed for the job.
Hartley's hiring was first reported Saturday by the RDS Cable Network of Canada, which said the Thrashers were waiting for Hartley to resolve financial issues with the Avalanche.
In Colorado, Hartley coached a galaxy of stars that included Joe Sakic, Peter Forsberg, Patrick Roy, and Rob Blake. With the Thrashers, he will rely on Dany Heatley, the 2002 Calder Trophy winner, and Ilya Kovalchuk, the runnerup for last year's rookie award.
"This team has some great talent, and I look forward to taking them to the next level," Hartley said.
The Thrashers, in their fourth season, are last in the NHL with a 12-25-2-4 record and 30 points. They were 3-5-1-0 under Waddell, who ended his term with a 7-4 victory over the first-place Philadelphia Flyers on Monday night.
Hartley, 42, led the Avalanche to division titles and the conference finals in each of his four full seasons with Colorado, and is the franchise's second-winningest coach with a record of 193-109-48-9.
High expectations cost Hartley his job with Colorado. He was fired on Dec. 18 after the team started 10-8-9-4 in 2002-03. The move did little to spur the Avalanche, who are just 7-5
Hartley becomes the second coach to work for two teams this season, joining Darryl Sutter, who was hired by Calgary on Dec. 28, four weeks after he was fired by San Jose.
Until the 2002-03 campaign, the last coach to work for two teams in the same season was Ted Sator, who guided the New York Rangers and Buffalo Sabres in 1986-87.