In Sports from United Press International

Nov. 5, 2002 at 12:07 AM
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Michigan State football coach fired

EAST LANSING, Mich., Nov. 5 (UPI) -- Michigan State coach Bobby Williams was fired Monday as the Spartans disappointing season bottomed out over the weekend.

Offensive coordinator Morris Watts will serve as interim coach until the end of the season, athletics director Ron Mason said.

"When I was named athletics director, I promised decisive leadership," Mason said. "I assured the administration that I would make the decisions I thought were in the best interests of the athletics department and the entire university. I knew some of them would be difficlut ones and didn't expect one this early.

Led by quarterback Jeff Smoker and receiver Charles Rodgers, the Spartans began the season with high hopes and were considered a dark horse candidate to play for the national title.

But after back-to-back wins, the Spartans went into a free fall, losing six of their next seven games, including a 49-3 blowout to archrival Michigan on Saturday. Michigan State has lost four games in a row by an average of more than 28 points.

On Sunday, the school announced Smoker has a substance abuse problem and dismissed arrested running back Dawan Moss from the team.

On Oct. 24, Williams suspended the 21-year-old Smoker for an undisclosed violation of team rules.

Smoker, a junior, threw for 1,593 yards, 13 touchdowns and 10 interceptions before his suspension.

Moss was dismissed by Williams after his arrest Saturday night on felony and misdemeanor charges.

According to Lansing Police Department Sgt. Dave Dahlke, Moss was charged with fleeing and eluding, a felony, and operating under the influence and resisting arrest, a pair of misdemeanors. He was jailed, arraigned on the charges Sunday morning and posted bond.

The alleged incident took place at the Lansing Center in downtown Lansing. Dahlke said Moss had contact with an officer while he was driving and that an officer was injured, although he declined to be more specific.

Moss, a senior, was MSU's leading rusher with 592 yards and four TDs on 125 carries.

"It became clear to me that the direction of the football program required this decision," Mason said. "There was no one incident, event, episode or game that determined my conclusion. Therefore, I don't think it wise or helpful to publicly analyze any single event or incident. I made the decision today. There was no reason to prolong what I had determined was inevitable."

Williams, who became Michigan State's coach on Dec. 5, 1999, following 10 years as running backs coach, was 16-17 after taking over for current Louisiana State coach Nick Saban.

Since the start of the 2000 campaign, the Spartans have led the Big Ten with 15 conference losses. Williams, one of only four black football coaches in Division I-A, was just 1-9 on the road in Big Ten play.

Oklahoma, Ohio State 1-2 in BCS poll

MORRISTOWN, N.J., Nov. 5 (UPI) -- Ohio State nudged ahead of Miami into second in the latest Bowl Championship Series poll released Monday night.

Oklahoma remained on top of the poll for the third straight week and is in control of its own destiny.

But a wild Saturday in which four unbeaten teams fell for the first time shook up the ratings that determine the two schools who will meet for at least a share of the national championship in the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 3.

Oklahoma (8-0), currently first in the media poll and second to Miami in the coaches poll, has 2.04 points under a complicated formula in which a lower score ranks first. The Sooners coasted to a 27-11 win over Colorado last Saturday.

The most notable surrpise this week saw Ohio State (10-0) move up three spots to second with 5.57 points, a mere 0.44 points better than Miami, which was second last week.

The Hurricanes (8-0) struggled for three quarters before defeating Rutgers, 42-17, on Saturday. But since strength of schedule is a component in the BCS, Miami has a chance to separate itself from the Buckeyes in the next few weeks.

The Hurricanes have games with Tennessee, Pittsburgh, and Virginia Tech. Ohio State, by contrast, has just one game left against a team with a winning record (Michigan).

Texas (8-1) shot up three spots to fourth in the latest BCS poll with 10.03 points. Washington State (8-1) is fifth with 13.05 points.

Notre Dame (8-1), which was stunned by Boston College at home last week, fell four spots to seventh in the latest poll. The Fighting Irish are one spot ahead of Georgia (8-1), which fell two spots after losing to Florida, 20-13.

Iowa (9-1), Southern California (6-2) and Virginia Tech (8-1) complete the top 10. Virginia Tech fell dropped four positions after losing at home to Pittsburgh, 28-21.

North Carolina State (9-1), the last of the unbeatens to fall on Saturday when it lost to Georgia Tech, fell three spots to 12th, one ahead of Michigan (7-2).

Florida State (6-3), Florida (6-3) and Kansas State (7-2) complete the BCS poll.

Vikings wide receiver out indefinitely

MINNEAPOLIS, Nov. 5 (UPI) -- Minnesota Vikings receiver Derrick Alexander has a torn ACL in his left knee, coach Mike Tice announced at Monday's media briefing.

Alexander suffered the injury late in the first half of Minnesota's 38-24 loss at Tampa Bay on Sunday and will be sidelined indefinitely.

After arriving with much fanfare as a free agent signee, Alexander has been a major disappointment, catching just 14 passes for 134 yards in eight games.

Seeking a replacement for Cris Carter to serve as a complement to Randy Moss, the Vikings signed both Alexander and D'Wayne Bates in the offseason. Bates has only 19 receptions for 286 yards and one score.

Alexander, 30, was bothered by hamstring problems last season and caught just 27 passes for 470 yards and three touchdowns for the Kansas City Chiefs. He had career-highs with 78 receptions for 1,391 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2000.

Saints CB Dale Carter reinstated by NFL

METAIRIE, La., Nov. 5 (UPI) -- New Orleans Saints cornerback Dale Carter, who was suspended in July for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy, was reinstated Monday.

Signed to a seven-year, $28 million contract as a free agent in March, Carter was suspended indefinitely by the league on July 17 after a low amount of alcohol was found in his system twice in the spring.

Carter missed eight games, but the Saints fared fine without him. New Orleans (6-2) is one-half game behind first-place Tampa Bay in the NFC South.

"We're pleased to get Dale back to our team," Saints General Manager Mickey Loomis said. "Our concern for Dale went beyond football, and he has fulfilled all of the requirements that were necessary for him to get to this point. We expect Dale to be a productive player for us this season."

A four-time Pro Bowler, the 32-year-old Carter signed with the Minnesota Vikings last November after being reinstated to the NFL following a 19-month suspension for repeat violations of the league's substance abuse policy. He started eight of nine games at left cornerback and finished with 37 tackles and six passes defensed.

A first-round pick of the Kansas City Chiefs in 1992, Carter has started 110 of 127 games. He was voted to the Pro Bowl four straight years from 1994-97 and signed a six-year, $34 million contract as a free agent with the Denver Broncos in 1999.

Shortly after his first season with the Broncos, Carter violated the league's substance abuse policy for the third time, mandating a one-year suspension. After being reinstated, Carter was waived by the Broncos and signed with the Vikings.

Florida State runningback out for season

TALLAHASSEE, Fla., Nov. 5 (UPI) -- No. 18 Florida State learned Monday that running back Greg Jones will miss the rest of the season with a right knee injury.

Jones, the leading rusher in the Atlantic Coast Conference with 104.2 yards per game, suffered ligament damage in Saturday's 34-21 victory over Wake Forest.

The 240-pound junior has rushed for 938 yards and eight touchdowns and helped the Seminoles build a 6-3 record, including a 5-0 mark in the ACC.

The likely replacement for Jones is senior Nick Maddox, who rushed for 122 yards and two touchdowns in a win over Wake Forest.

NASCAR penalizes Mark Martin 25 points

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., Nov. 5 (UPI) -- Winston Cup driver Mark Martin has been penalized 25 championship points for a rule violation found in inspection following Sunday's race at North Carolina Speedway, NASCAR officials announced on Monday.

Martin, who drives the No. 6 Ford Taurus owned by Jack Roush, led for the most laps in the race en route to a second-place finish in the Pop Secret 400. But a post-race inspection discovered a problem with the front coil springs on Martin's Ford. The car had 4 3/8-inch coils instead of the required 4 1/2 inches.

The loss of points could prove to be costly to Martin, who closed the gap to 87 points on Tony Stewart in the Winston Cup championship. Martin now trails Stewart by 112 points with two races remaining.

Roush also was penalized 25 owner points, while crew chief Ben Leslie was fined $5,000 for the infraction.

Leslie was fined for the third time this season and it is a second major penalty. He also was fined $50,000 after Martin's winning car was too low in post-race inspection following the Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe's Motor Speedway on May 26. He was hit with a $1,000 fine for an unapproved window strap at Talladega in October.

Hinske named top AL rookie

NEW YORK, Nov. 5 (UPI) -- Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Eric Hinske, who was an afterthought among first-year players at the hot corner when the season began, Monday captured American League Rookie of the Year honors.

While most eyes were on the more heralded third base trio of Hank Blaylock of Texas, San Diego's Sean Burroughs and Morgan Ensberg of Houston, Hinske stepped up with a balanced offensive season, and became the first Blue Jay to win the award since Alfredo Griffin in 1979.

Hinske received 19 of 28 first-place votes and nine seconds for a total of 122 points in balloting by the Baseball Writers Association of America.

Starting pitcher Rodrigo Lopez of the Baltimore Orioles received the other nine first-place votes and finished second with 97 points.

Lopez's teammate, closer Jorge Julio, was a distant third with 14 points.

Hinske, 25, who was acquired from the Oakland Athletics last offseason, was the centerpiece of the retooling plan of General Manager J.P. Ricciardi, and Hinske responded, batting .279 with 24 homers, 84 RBI, and 99 runs scored.

He led all AL rookies in runs, homers, RBI, hits (158), and extra-base hits (74). The 24 homers eclipsed the franchise record of Fred McGriff, and after a shaky start defensively, became one of the most surehanded third basemen in the league over the final three months.

Jennings named top NL rookie

NEW YORK, Nov. 5 (UPI) -- Colorado Rockies righthander Jason Jennings, who excelled despite pitching in one of the most hitter-friendly parks in the major leagues, Monday was named National League Rookie of the Year.

Jennings fell one win shy of the franchise record shared by Kevin Ritz (1996) and Pedro Astacio (1999), going 16-6 with a 4.52 ERA in 32 starts. He was 9-5 with a 5.65 ERA at Coors Field.

Jennings, 24, had a memorable major league debut on Aug. 23, 2001, when he fired an eight-hitter with eight strikeouts and hit a home run in a 10-0 victory over the New York Mets. He made seven starts in 2001, going 4-1 with a 4.58 ERA.

Jennings allowed 201 hits, walked 70, and struck out 127 in 185 1/3 innings in 2002. He also batted .306 (19-for-62) with 11 RBI.

He received 27 first-place and five seconds for a total of 150 points in balloting by the Baseball Writers Association of America. He is the first member of the Rockies to win the award.

Montreal Expos outfielder Brad Wilkerson was second after receiving two firsts and a total of 57 points.

Wilkerson led all NL rookies in games, runs, hits, triples and home runs. He provided a spark with a .370 on-base percentage, and likely solved Montreal's revolving door in both the leadoff spot and center field.

Seattle loses Brown to broken foot

SEATTLE, Nov. 5 (UPI) -- Veteran linebacker Chad Brown of the Seattle Seahawks, who leads the team in sacks, suffered a broken right foot in Sunday's loss 14-3 to Washington. He was expected to undergo surgery on Monday and is expected to miss the remainder of the season.

Brown, a three-time Pro Bowler who joined the Seahawks from the Pittsburgh Steelers, had been one of the Seahawks' few bright spots this season. He had a team-high seven sacks in eight games, and has 70 sacks for his career.

Brown played for Pittsburgh from 1993-96 before joining Seattle.

The Seahawks, who are only 2-6, have been hit hard by injuries to key players in skill positions.

No. 1 quarterback Trent Dilfer is done for the year because of a right torn Achilles tendon, wide receiver Darrell Jackson is recovering from a concussion and seizure on Oct. 27 in the Dallas game, and starting linebacker Anthony Simmons has not played since a season-opening loss to the Oakland Raiders because of a sprained knee.

Arizona loses Jenkins to shoulder injury

PHOENIX, Nov. 5 (UPI) -- The Arizona Cardinals, who have scored two or fewer offensive touchdowns in seven of eight games, Sunday took a hit on their anemic offense as wide receiver MarTay Jenkins suffered a broken shoulder blade in the first quarter of a 27-14 loss to the St. Louis Rams.

Jenkins, who also is the team's kickoff returner, likely will miss 4-5 weeks. Ironically, he was injured on a kickoff return.

"I could make it back for the last two games and then for the playoffs," Jenkins said. "That's what I'm shooting for now."

This season, Jenkins has 21 receptions for 250 yards and one touchdown.

Jenkins was replaced by Jason McAddley, who had two catches for 30 yards in the contest.

Badger running back victim of stabbing

EAST LANSING, Mich., Nov. 5 (UPI) -- Anthony Davis, the star running back at Wisconsin, was stabbed in the left leg early Sunday morning in a domestic altercation at his apartment.

Davis suffered a puncture wound to the middle of his left thigh, and was transported to the University of Wisconsin Hospital, where he was admitted for treatment and observation.

According to the school, he may be released as early as Monday.

Police in Madison arrested Tiffany L. Spears, 22, at the scene, and booked her into the District County jail. The case is still under investigation.

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported that the injury occurred during an altercation, and was charged with second degree recklessly endangering safety.

Davis leads the Badgers with 1,023 rushing yards and six touchdowns in 10 games this season.

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