Five players named Heisman finalists
NEW YORK, Dec. 11 (UPI) -- The Heisman Trophy race was limited Wednesday to only five players.
Dorsey and McGahee are the first Heisman Trophy finalists from the same school since Ki-Jana Carter and Kerry Collins of Penn State in 1994. They finished second and fourth, respectively, in the voting.
Dorsey was third in last year's voting after guiding the Hurricanes to an unbeaten season and national championship. He is halfway there this season, with only the Fiesta Bowl against Ohio State standing in Miami's way.
In improving to 38-1 as a starter, Dorsey has completed 194-of-350 passes for 3,073 yards with 26 touchdowns and 10 interceptions this season.
McGahee wasn't even supposed to start at tailback this year, but he can become the first sophomore to win the award. He set the school record for touchdowns (27), yards rushing (1,686), total yards (2,036) and 100-yard games (10).
With this year's Heisman race as close as any in recent history, McGahee helped himself Saturday, when he ran 39 times for a career-high 205 yards and a school-record six touchdowns.
Finally living up to expectations, Palmer is trying to become the first Heisman winner from a West Coast school since USC's Marcus Allen in 1981. He has completed nearly 63 percent of his passes for 3,639 yards with 32 TDs and 10 interceptions this season.
A senior from California, Palmer finished the regular season with 425 yards passing - the most ever allowed by Notre Dame - and four TDs in a 44-13 win. He will lead the fifth-ranked Trojans into the Orange Bowl against Iowa.
Johnson became only the ninth player in Division I-A history to rush for 2,000 yards in a season, amassing 2,015. He has added 341 yards receiving - a school record for running backs - and 2,575 all-purpose yards, the ninth-best total in NCAA history.
Banks is the sleeper of the five, having come from nowhere to lead third-ranked Iowa to its first 11-win season and a berth in the Orange Bowl after never starting a Division I-A game.
A senior from Florida, Banks has completed 155-of-258 passes for 2,369 yards with 25 TDs and four interceptions. He also has ran for 387 yards and five scores.
The winner will be announced Saturday at the Yale Club in New York.
Giants suspend Ron Dixon
NEW YORK, Dec. 11 (UPI) -- The New York Giants Wednesday suspended veteran wide receiver Ron Dixon for one game.
Dixon, who was suspended without pay because of what was termed for "conduct detrimental to the team," also was fined and suspended by the team as a rookie two years ago.
In a statement, the Giants said Dixon, who has missed three of the last four games with a knee injury, has been late for team meetings, missed treatments, and failed to show up for scheduled doctors' appointments.
Coach Jim Fassel said he chose to suspend Dixon because of his repeat-offender status. The suspension began Wednesday morning, and Dixon cannot re-join the team until Dec. 18.
"My philosophy is always to treat the players fairly and given Ron's track record, this penalty is more than fair," Fassel said. "I expect our players to be disciplined on and off the field. This is the only way to reinforce that message, given the circumstance."
During his rookie season, Dixon was suspended for a Dec. 10 game against the Pittsburgh Steelers after arriving late for a walk-through the day before. Before his NFL regular season on Sept. 3, 2000, he was fined by Fassel for oversleeping and missing a team meeting.
Dixon is fifth on the Giants with 22 receptions for 377 yards and two touchdowns this season. He was promoted to the starting lineup after Ike Hilliard suffered a season-ending dislocated shoulder on Oct. 28 at Philadelphia.
In his first two games as a starter, Dixon caught four passes, including an eight-yard touchdown against Jacksonville, and four passes for 107 yards at Minnesota, his first career 100-yard game.
Dixon suffered a partially-torn ligament in his knee against the Vikings, and missed games against Washington and Houston.
He returned on Dec. 1 against Tennessee, and caught five passes for 93 yards, including a 24-yard touchdown.
Dixon did not play last week against the Redskins, and was listed as doubtful prior to the suspension.
The Giants (7-6), who are still mathematically alive for the postseason, host the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday.
Baylor hires former Kentucky coach
WACO, Texas, Dec. 11 (UPI) -- Guy Morriss Wednesday was introduced as the new football coach at Baylor.
The downtrodden Bears have had one of the losingest Division I programs in the country in recent years. They has four-year record of 4-32 under Morriss' successor, Kevin Steele, winning just one conference game in the Big 12.
Steele, who had a 24-game conference losing streak, was fired Nov. 3.
Morriss spent 18 years in the National Football League, where he was an All-Pro player, played in two Super Bowls, and coached for three seasons.
He is a native Texan (Colorado City, Texas) who played high school and college football in Texas, and has recruited in the state for years.
During his tenure at Kentucky, the Wildcats had 10 players earn All-SEC recognition, and two were named All-American. In his six seasons at the school, four UK offensive linemen were selected first-team All-SEC, and three earned freshman All-America honors.
Morriss is second coach in the last two weeks to leave an SEC school for the Big 12 in Texas. On Friday, Dennis Franchione left Alabama to fill the vacancy at Texas A&M.
He assistant at Kentucky from 1997-2000, and took over for Hal Mumme in 2001, posting a two-year record of 9-14.
Utah hires Meyer
SALT LAKE CITY, Dec. 11 (UPI) -- The University of Utah Wednesday hired Urban Meyer as its new football coach.
Meyer posted a two-year record of 17-6 at Bowling Green. He will be introduced officially at a news conference on Thursday.
Bowling Green was the most improved team in the country in 2001, going 8-3 after winning just two games in 2000. This year, the Falcons finished 9-3, and were ranked in the top 25 for five weeks.
"Urban is one of the brightest stars in the coaching fraternity and he has left our program in tremendous shape," said Bowling Green Athletic director Paul Krebs.
Prior to joining the staff at Bowling Green, Meyer, 38, spent four seasons as the wide receivers coach at Notre Dame. The 1986 graduate of Cincinnati also has coached at Ohio State, Illinois State, and Colorado State.
At Utah, Meyer will replace long-time coach Ron McBride, who was dismissed after posting a 13-year record of 88-63.
The Utes have gone just 17-17 since the start of the 2000 campaign, including 10-11 in the Mountain West Conference. They went 5-6 this season.
Saban steps down at Chowan
MURFREESBORO, N.C., Dec. 11 (UPI) -- Lou Saban has resigned as football coach at Chowan College after winning just two games in two season.
Saban, 81, was hired on an interim basis in October of 2001 with five games to play after the resignation of Steve Lee.
The Braves went 2-3 during his 2001 tenure, and Saban was hired full-time.
In 2002, the Braves went 0-10 under the former NFL coaching great. They were plagued by injuries and inexperience.
"I enjoyed the opportunity to work with such a successful football legend," said Athletic Director Debbie Warren. "I am also very encouraged by the spirit of competitiveness that he has instilled in the football program while at Chowan."
"I would like to say that I am deeply grateful to Coach Saban for his willingness to step in at an awkward time to help Chowan's athletic program," said President Dr. Stanley Lott. "He brought a wealth of knowledge, wisdom, and experience that is hard to find."
Saban is a member of the Buffalo Bills Hall of Fame. In 1964 and '65, he led the Bills to record of 12-2 and 10-3-1, respectively, and two AFC titles. His overall record of 70-47-1 is second-best in Bills history behind Marv Levy.
Defensive backs coach Steve Gill has been named as Saban's successor.
"I am looking forward to working with someone as energetic as Steve," Warren said. "I feel he is someone who is ready to take the reign and build a solid program at Chowan College."
Gill has coached ten seasons at the college level, including stints at Frostburg State College, Western Maryland, and Waynesburg College.
Brewers sign Clayton to one-year deal
MILWAUKEE, Dec. 11 (UPI) -- Free agent shortstop Royce Clayton, who spent the last two seasons with the Chicago White Sox, Wednesday signed a one-year contract with Milwaukee.
Last season, Clayton, 32, batted .251 with seven homers and 35 RBI in 112 games. He set a White Sox franchise record with a fielding percentage of .989, the third-best mark of all major league shortstops behind Baltimore's Mike Bordick (.998) and Cleveland's Omar Vizquel (.990).
Over the past two seasons, Clayton has committed just 12 errors in 1,033 chances. After a slow start last year, he batted .331 from June 22 through the end of the season.
Clayton is a career .258 hitter with 86 homers, 534 RBI and 187 stolen bases in 1,459 games with the White Sox, St. Louis Cardinals, Texas Rangers and San Francisco Giants. He began his major
Blue Jays sign Myers to one-year deal
TORONTO, Dec. 11 (UPI) -- Veteran catcher Greg Myers is back where he started after signing a one-year, $800,000 contract Wednesday with the Toronto Blue Jays.
Myers was selected by the Blue Jays in the third round of the 1984 draft and spent parts of five seasons with them before getting traded to the California Angels in the middle of the 1992 season, the year Toronto won the first of two World Series.
Myers, 36, batted .222 with six home runs and 21 RBI in 65 games with the Oakland Athletics last season. He has a .250 average with 72 homers and 342 RBI in 973 career games with seven teams.
Tom Wilson and Ken Huckaby did most of the catching for the Blue Jays last season. The 31-year-old Wilson, who was with Oakland in 2001, batted .257 with eight homers and 37 RBI in 96 games. The 30-year-old Huckaby hit .245 with three homers and 22 RBI in 88 games.
Iowa tight end named nation's best
MANHASSET, N.Y., Dec. 11 (UPI) -- Dallas Clark of Iowa has been named winner of the 2002 John Mackey Award as the best tight end in college football.
The announcement was made by the Nassau County (N.Y.) Sports Commission.
Clark, a junior who began his career as a walk-on linebacker for the Hawkeyes, will be honored at the NCSC's annual awards dinner banquet in Westbury, N.Y., on April 8.
"I feel very honored to be named the recipient of the John Mackey Award," Clark said. "I accept this honor on behalf of every single teammate at the University of Iowa, because I would not be in a position for such an award without the hard work of each and every player in our program."
Clark was the second-leading receiver for the 11-1 Hawkeyes, the Big Ten Conference co-champions, who will meet Southern California in the Orange Bowl on Jan. 2.
Clark had 39 receptions for 645 yards, a 16.5-yard average, and four touchdowns. He was named Big Ten Player of the Week after Iowa's 31-28 victory over Purdue on Oct. 5, when he had three catches for 111 yards, including a 95-yard touchdown reception and a seven-yard catch for the winning score on fourth down with 1:07 to play.
"I also want to give thanks to Coach Kirk Ferentz and the entire coaching staff for all their hard work in helping all of us, and especially for helping me be a better tight end," Clark said. "The individual honors are only a reflection of the dedicated efforts of the entire staff and all of my teammates."
Colorado's Dan Graham was last year's winner, which is named after the Long Island native who was only the second strictly tight end to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Bears put two on Injured Reserve
CHICAGO, Dec. 11 (UPI) -- The Chicago Bears have ended the seasons of two players, putting them on injured reserve.
The players are running back Anthony Thomas and backup tight end Dustin Lyman.
Thomas, the 2001 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year when he rushed for 1,183 yards and helped the Bears win their first NFC Central Division title since 1990, suffered a fractured left index finger in a game Dec. 1 at Green Bay.
He also was Chicago's leading ground gainer this year as well with 721 yards and six touchdowns in 12 games. He added 24 pass catches for 163 yards.
Lyman, the club's backup tight end, also was injured in the Green Bay game when he caught two touchdown passes before rupturing the ACL in his left knee.
He had 14 catches for 121 yards for the year.
Also, quarterback Jim Miller will not play again this season. Miller suffered a hyperextended left knee Monday night when Miami lineman Rob Burnett was pushed back into his leg, and Miller had to be carted off the field.
The Chicago Sun-Times reported Wednesday that an MRI showed some damage to the MCL. The paper said the injury will not require surgery. Currently, Miller is on crutches.
A season after their magical campaign, the Bears (3-10) are one of three teams with double-digit losses in the NFC North, and are in a three-way tie for last place in the division.
Erickson has shoulder injury
BALTIMORE, Dec. 11 (UPI) -- Baltimore Orioles righthander Scott Erickson has a torn muscle in his right shoulder.
Erickson missed 1 1/2 seasons with elbow problems before returning in 2002.
The team announced Wednesday that Erickson will undergo a rehabilitation program and is expected to be ready in time for that start of spring training.
Erickson, 34, had "Tommy John" surgery on his right elbow in August 2000 and missed all of the 2001 season before going 5-12 with a 5.55 ERA in 29 games in 2002.
Erickson, who relies on keeping the ball down and getting groundouts, is 140-128 with a 4.51 ERA in 355 career games. He had his best season with the Orioles in 1997, when he was 16-7 with a 3.69 ERA as Baltimore won the American League East Division.
In his second major league season, he went 20-8 with a 3.18 ERA, and helped the Minnesota Twins win their second World Series title in 1991.
Padres sign two players
SAN DIEGO, Dec. 11 (UPI) -- The San Diego Padres have signed veteran infielder Dave Hansen and once-promising pitcher Jaret Wright.
The signings are aimed at bolstering their bench and pitching depth. Financial terms of the signings were not disclosed.
Hansen was signed to a two-year contract after spending the last 11 seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers. He hit .292 with two homers and 17 RBI in 120 at-bats last season.
Hansen, 34, is one of the sport's most prolific pinch hitters. He has 120 career hits, putting him No. 6 all time on the career pinch-hit list. He has 14 homers and 68 RBI as a pinch hitter.
San Diego signed Wright, 26, to a one-year deal.
The righthander spent his first five seasons with the Cleveland Indians, going 35-32 with a 5.50 ERA in 98 games, including 96 starts.
He split time between the major leagues and Triple-A Buffalo last season, going 2-3 with an ERA of 15.71 in eight appearances, six starts, for the Indians.