Campo dumped by Cowboys
IRVING, Texas, Dec. 30 (UPI) -- Dave Campo Monday was fired by the Dallas Cowboys after enduring his third straight season with double-digit losses.
The move to fire Campo was expected after the Cowboys concluded their third straight 5-11 season on Sunday with a 20-14 loss to the Washington Redskins. Campo is the only coach in the illustrious history of the franchise to have three consecutive double-digit loss seasons.
"That was a tough way to finish the season," Campo said following the first loss to Washington since 1997, leaving his winning percentage at .312, the lowest of the four previous Cowboys head coaches. "We're not real pleased to lose the last four ballgames. I'm just disappointed in the season we had."
The Cowboys lost their final four games, allowing a total of 115 points in the span.
Campo had two years remaining on his contract. He started out his NFL coaching career as a defensive assistant in 1989, and quickly moved up to secondary coach before assuming the defensive coordinator role in 1995 season. After five solid years leading the defense, he was promoted to head coach following the firing of Chan Gailey.
The Cowboys ranked last in the league in passing offense, and had to play with more than $24 million missing from their salary cap because of "dead money" shelled out to former players no longer on the roster.
Campo was the third firing of the day. Earlier, Dick Lebeau and Tom Coughlin endured similar fates in Cincinnati and Jacksonville, respectively.
Coughlin out at Jacksonville
JACKSONVILLE, Dec. 30 (UPI) -- Tom Coughlin, the only coach in the history of the Jacksonville Jaguars, ended Monday with the firing he expected.
The firing came one day after the Jaguars concluded a disappointing season with a record of 6-10, good for third place in the AFC South. He had said recently that he did not expect to be retained.
Coughlin, who was in his eighth season, posted a 72-64 record with the Jaguars, leading the club to appearances in the AFC championship game in 1996, team's second year in the league, and in 1999. Overall, he led the Jaguars to four playoff appearances.
In the face of increasing salary cap problems, the Jaguars have struggled since their 14-2 record in 1999, going just 19-29 over the last three seasons, and attendance figures have dwindled. Coughlin had two years left on his contract and had total control over all decisions, including personnel.
Known as strong-minded coach who had run-ins with his players, one of whom was quarterback Mark Brunell, Coughlin came under fire after the Jaguars also finished 6-10 last season. Owner Wayne Weaver reportedly wooed former University of Florida Coach Steve Spurrier, before Coughlin was retained.
Also, when players have left the Jaguars' organization, they have not hid their disdain for Coughlin.
Weaver reportedly will seek a replacement that has previous head coaching experience. Among the candidates are former Minnesota Vikings Coach Dennis Green, LSU Coach Nick Saban, who has experience as an NFL assistant, and Oklahoma Coach Bob Stoops.
Coughlin was not expected to have an easy time this season after the Jaguars lost perennial Pro Bowl offensive tackle Tony Boselli and defensive tackle Gary Walker in the expansion draft. The club also was forced to release wide receiver Keenan McCardell for salary cap reasons.
Even with the losses, the Jaguars got off to a good start, winning three of their first four games, but they stumbled badly, losing nine of their last 12 games, including Sunday's 20-13 defeat at Indianapolis.
He joined Dick LeBeau in the unemployment line Monday. LeBeau was canned by Cincinnati.
Bengals fire Lebeau
CINCINNATI, Dec. 30 (UPI) -- In the wake of the worst record in franchise history, the Cincinnati Bengals Monday fired head coach Dick LeBeau.
The Bengals ended the 2002 campaign Sunday with a record of 2-14 after a 27-9 loss to the Buffalo Bills. They had never lost 14 games in a season before this year.
"The 2002 season was an acutely disappointing one for everyone in the Bengals organization, and for our fans," said Cincinnati President Mike Brown. "I credit Coach LeBeau and his staff for their hard work and perseverance. They held the team together in the face of great difficulty. We remained competitive in games long after our elimination from playoff contention, and our statistics on a yardage basis, normally indicative of a team's performance, were noticeably better than the win-loss record."
LeBeau was told of his fate by General Manager Mike Brown in their weekly Monday morning meeting.
"I got the job, I kept it for three years, and lost the job," LeBeau said in a press release at Paul Brown Stadium. "In between, I worked as hard as I could. End of statement. End of story."
The Bengals were the worst team in the league this season, continuing a string of bad seasons in recent years. During his tenure, his overall record was 12-33, and Cincinnati lost 21 of its last 25 games.
LeBeau, 65, had been an assistant coach with the Bengals for 15 seasons before taking over after Bruce Coslet resigned following the third game of the 2000 season. His winning percentage was the worst winning of any of the eight head coaches in franchise history.
This season, it did not help that the team lost its first seven games before beating the expansion Houston Texans, 38-3, on Nov. 3.
LeBeau played cornerback with the Detroit Lions from 1959-72, and was voted to three Pro Bowls. He also was an assistant coach with the Philadelphia Eagles, Green Bay Packers, and Pittsburgh Steelers.
Since Brown became general manager, the Bengals have had 12 straight losing seasons with an abysmal record of 55-137.
Also, the Bengals played their final three homes in front of the smallest crowds in the history of Paul Brown Stadium.
Kentucky names Brooks
LEXINGTON, Ky., Dec. 30 (UPI) -- The University of Kentucky Monday named Rich Brooks as the school's new football coach.
Brooks is the former head coach of the St. Louis Rams, and also held a similar post at Oregon. He has 27 years of coaching experience.
His most recent coaching assignment was as the assistant head coach and defensive coordinator position for the Atlanta Falcons from 1997-2000. The 1998 campaign was the most successful in Falcons' history.
With Brooks' defense generating a league-leading 44 takeaways, Atlanta advanced to its only Super Bowl appearance in franchise history.
The Rams had a 13-19 record in those two seasons, the team's best two-year stretch since 1989-90. The Rams won only nine games in the two years prior to his arrival, and won just nine games in the two years following his departure.
As head coach at Oregon from 1977-94, Brooks won more games than any coach in school history.
In 1994, his last, the Ducks had nine wins, the most since 1948. They won the Pac-10 championship, and played in the Rose Bowl for the first time in 37 seasons.
His overall record at Oregon was 91-109-4, but former Oregon Athletic Director Bill Byrne told the Lexington Herald-Leader that the mark was deceptive.
"(The school) was very primitive to say the least," Byrne told the paper. "We had four coaches to an office, and one would be in the dark watching film, and another would be under a desk calling recruits. We never showed recruits the weight room or the training room. But Rich just had that work ethic. He stuck with it. Eventually he upgraded facilities, and that led to getting more talent. From there, things started to stabilize. I'll tell you this much: Rich was never outcoached. We never had much depth, so when injuries hit, we'd struggle. But he was never outcoached."
He also was given high praise by Jeff Van Note, a former UK standout who now is an analyst on the Atlanta Falcons radio network.
"(Brooks) is good man and solid football guy," Van Note told the paper. "He'll bring sound fundamentals to the table. He has an organized approach to football."
Brooks, 61, won the Bear Bryant Award as the National Coach of the Year by the Football Writers Association of America, was chosen the Pac-10 Coach of the Year, and became the first coach in school history to take the Ducks to four bowl games.
Big Ten reprimands Davis
INDIANAPOLIS, Dec. 30 (UPI) -- The Big Ten Conference Monday publicly reprimanded Indiana basketball coach Mike Davis and accepted the school's one game suspension.
Indiana suspended Davis for his actions in a Dec. 21 game against Kentucky when he stormed the court in the final seconds to protest a call by officials.
Davis picked up two technical fouls and was ejected from the game.
On Monday, Big Ten Commissioner James E. Delaney said Davis' actions violated the conference's sportsmanlike conduct agreement.
"Intentionally, or with careless disregard for one's conduct," Delaney said, "including participants or spectators to violent or abusive action."
Delaney also indicated the conduct under review was considered "quite serious," and that the conference appreciated Davis and the University's constructive response.
Yankees, Clemens come to terms
NEW YORK, Dec. 30 (UPI) -- Roger Clemens returned to the New York Yankees Monday, agreeing to a one-year contract worth a reported $10.1 million.
According to reports, Clemens will defer some of his salary to make its value closer to $8 million, helping the Yankees to save money against the luxury tax.
"The importance of Roger Clemens in 1999 has turned out to be one of the best things that I have been involved with in our efforts to maintain championship-caliber teams," said Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman. "I am equally excited about having our association continue in our quest for another championship in 2003."
Baseball's only six-time Cy Young Award winner's return to the Yankees had been anticipated for weeks. The club simply had to find a way to work his contract into its bulging payroll.
Clemens, who turned 40 in August and is seven wins shy of becoming the 21st pitcher to reach the 300-victory plateau, was coming off a two-year, $30.9 million deal with the Yankees. By re-signing Clemens, the Yankees now have eight starting pitchers in a group that includes Mike Mussina, Andy Pettitte, David Wells, Jeff Weaver, Cuban defector Jose Contreras, Orlando Hernandez and Sterling Hitchcock.
Hernandez and Hitchcock likely will be traded before the season.
"The importance of Roger Clemens to our pitching staff can not be overstated, so it's great to have him back," said Yankees Manager Joe Torre. "Roger's work ethic is second to none, and he is a great example to other pitchers, both young and experienced. Even at his age and with all of his accomplishments, he continues to adjust and work at bettering himself along the way."
In four seasons with the Yankees, Clemens has posted a 60-27 record, helping the club to a pair of World Series titles. The righthander went 13-6 with a 4.35 ERA in 29 starts last season, when he struggled with leg problems.
Clemens, who won three Cy Young awards with Boston, two with Toronto and the other with the Yankees, owns a career record of 293-151 with a 3.15 ERA. He ranks third on the all-time strikeout list with 3,909, behind Steve Carlton (4,136) and Nolan Ryan (5,714).
Red Sox sign Mendoza
BOSTON, Dec. 30 (UPI) -- The Boston Red Sox have come to terms with veteran righthander Ramiro Mendoza on a two-year contract.
Mendoza, a 6-2, 195-pounder, had spent his entire major league career with the New York Yankees. He played for them for seven years.
Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but the Boston Herald reported the deal will pay Mendoza a total of $6.5 million over the next two seasons, after which he will be eligible for free agency .
Mendoza, 30, who can start or relieve, provides Boston with another solid arm. He was 8-4 with a 3.44 ERA and four saves in 62 games for the Yankees in 2002.
"He really fits in perfectly with how we plan to use our bullpen," General Manager Theo Epstein told the paper. "I wouldn't be surprised to see him pitch some of our most critical innings for us."
Boston is set at the front of its rotation with Pedro Martinez, Derek Lowe, and Tim Wakefield, but Mendoza, who has expressed a preference for starting, could serve as the team's fourth or fifth starter.
His value to Boston increased significantly after the Red Sox lost out on prized free agent Jose Contreras. The Yankees signed Contreras and the Red Sox were quick to point out New York's ability to outspend nearly every other team in its quest for talent.
Mendoza, who had arthroscopic surgery on his pitching shoulder in 2000, has won at least seven games in each of the last six seasons, and his 91 2/3 innings out of the bullpen in 2002 were second only to Billy Koch in the AL.
"We did MRIs on his shoulder and elbow and he checked out extremely well," said Epstein. "We have no reservations whatsoever about his health."
Mendoza, a member of four World Series championship teams in New York, has a career record of 54-34 with a 4.08 ERA and 16 saves in 277 appearances.
Catalanotto signs with Blue Jays
TORONTO, Dec. 30 (UPI) -- The Toronto Blue Jays Monday signed free agent outfielder Frank Catalanotto to a one-year contract.
Financial terms were not disclosed.
He hit .330 in 2001 for the Texas Rangers, is a career .296 hitter, and also can play second base. The Blue Jays plan to use him in the outfield.
The Rangers decided not to offer Catalanotto, 28, a contract for the 2003 season, making him a free agent. Texas signed outfielder Doug Glanville earlier in the month to a one-year contract.
Catalanotto, who bats left-handed, played in just 68 games last season because of an assortment of injuries. He hit .269 in 68 games with three home runs, 23 RBI, and nine stolen bases.
He ranked fifth in the American League with his .330 average in 2001, and also had 31 doubles, 11 home runs, and 54 RBI.
Two more beg out of Australian Open
MELBOURNE, Dec. 30 (UPI) -- Two veterans from Britain, Tim Henman and Greg Rusedski, both have withdrawn from the Australian Open because of health problems.
Henman, the top-ranked player in Britain, used his personal website to announce he would not play at Melbourne.
"This was a very difficult decision to make," Henman said. "I've been working hard and much progress has been made but it's not quite there yet and I've said all along that I was only going to make the trip to Australia if I felt my shoulder was fully recovered. Obviously the Australian Open is a very important event and one which I was very keen to participate in. I always enjoy my trips to Australia at the beginning of the year, and my goal was to try and compete there again if at all possible. However, at this stage of my career I am only interested in making the trip if I feel I can compete with the very best players in the world and have a realistic chance of winning the title."
He was hampered by a shoulder injury for much of the latter part of 2002. It required arthroscopic surgery in November, and he says he has not fully recovered from it.
Rusedski, 29, Britain's No. 2, has been dealing with a lingering foot injury. He had surgery on his painful right foot in October, but had been practicing for this week's Qatar Open when he experienced enough pain to sit out.
"The foot has not reacted as well as I would have wanted," said Rusedski. "I practiced in London for two weeks and got here [Doha] early, but as soon as I put more stress on it, it was not good."
The Age newspaper in Melbourne reported Monday that Rusedski had already withdrawn from Britain's Davis Cup tie against Australia in February because he believed his right foot would not be able to stand the strain of best-of-five-set matches on Sydney's clay courts.
Henman thinks he might be well enough in time to play that event.
Rusedski indicated age likely has become his biggest enemy.
"We have too much tennis and too many changes of balls and surfaces, and I am not 21 any more," he said. "With the traveling and so much tennis, that's what causes injuries and you have to be clever with the scheduling. I felt the injury when I was coming down on the heel after serving, and if you take the serve out of my game it takes an awful lot away."
The paper said doctors have told him it may take as long as five months to heal completely.
Other players who have withdrawn from the Australian include Pete Sampras, Martina Hingis, Tommy Haas, Todd Martin, Yevgeny Kafelnikov, Jelena Dokic, and Amelie Mauresmo.