Another big day of bowl games
PASADENA, Jan. 1 (UPI) -- The battle between Oklahoma and Washington State at Pasadena headlines another active day in the college football bowl season.
The two schools square off at 5 p.m. Eastern time at the Rose Bowl. By the time they get underway, it is likely that four games will be over.
The day's bowl lineup started with a pair of 11 a.m. Eastern time contests -- No. 9 Texas (10-2) and No. 25 LSU (8-4) at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, and No. 20 Florida (9-4) against No. 11 Michigan (9-3) at the Outback Bowl in Tampa, Fl.
Also, in one of the day's more interesting matchups, No. 12 Notre Dame (10-2) went against 17th-ranked North Carolina State (10-3) at the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville. N.C. State set a school record for victories in a season, and the rejuvenated Fighting Irish had a turnaround campaign under first-year coach Tyrone Willingham.
No. 10 Penn State (9-3), back in the postseason after a brief absence, met No. 22 Auburn (8-4) in the Capital One Bowl in Orlando. It was the Nittany Lions' 31st bowl appearance in 37 years under Coach Joe Paterno.
The eighth-ranked Sooners (11-2) make their first appearance in the Rose Bowl against No. 8 Washington State (10-2).
Wednesday's games begin the Bowl Championship Series, which culminates with Friday's national title contest between unbeatens Miami and Ohio State.
The Rose Bowl was hoping to return to a traditional Big Ten-Pac-10 matchup this year, but that did not happen as the BCS chose No. 5 Southern California (10-2) and No. 3 Iowa (11-1) for the Orange Bowl, leaving Oklahoma next in line.
Adding to the intrigue of the game is the upheaval surrounding the Washington State program. The school is allowing Mike Price to coach the game, even though he accepted the vacant job at Alabama last month, a decision that has angered many Washington State fans and alumni.
"To do something different would be very disruptive to the program and the possible success in the game," said WSU Athletic
Director Jim Stark.
Those Washington State supporters thought the honor of coaching the game should have gone to long-time assistant defensive coordinator Bill Doba, who will succeed Price.
The contest marks the final appearances of Washington State quarterback Jason Gesser, the Cougars' all-time leading passer, and Oklahoma running back Quentin Griffin.
Washington State wrapped up the Pac-10 title with a 48-27 win over UCLA on Dec. 7. Gesser was the inspiration for the Cougars, playing with a pair of braces on his right leg after being injured in a loss at Washington in late November.
Griffin rushed for 1,740 yards for the Sooners, who beat Colorado, 27-9, in the Big 12 championship game in their last contest.
Washington State is not the only team facing turmoil on New Year's Day. No. 16 Florida State (9-4) will start third-string quarterback Fabian Walker when it faces No. 4 Georgia (12-1) in the Sugar Bowl.
Seminoles starter Chris Rix was declared ineligible for the game when he overslept and missed a final exam. In November, backup Adrian McPherson was dismissed from the team for allegedly stealing a check.
Reports: Parcells headed to Dallas
IRVING, Texas, Jan. 1 (UPI) -- Bill Parcells, who has guided two teams to Super Bowls, Thursday will be named the new coach of the Dallas Cowboys.
ESPN reported Wednesday that Parcells has agreed to a four-year contract worth $17 million and officially will be introduced on Thursday. The Dallas Morning News reported on its Web site Monday that Parcells has reached an agreement on the deal, but no announcement was made.
Parcells, 61, confirmed to the New York Daily News that he has had productive conversations with Jones, the owner and general manager of the Cowboys, but "nothing is imminent."
Parcells is known to be a person who gets cold feet. Last year, he agreed to coach the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, then backed out at the last minute.
The Bucs have claimed they are entitled to compensation, saying Parcells signed a four-year contract with them before he changed his mind. The NFL has yet to make an announcement on the issue, but will likely not grant Tampa Bay compensation if a contract with Parcells was not formally filed to the league.
Parcells, who has been out of coaching for the last three years, met with Jones on Dec. 18 for more than five hours and again on Dec. 27. It appeared to be an odd pairing since Jones constantly has meddled with his coaches and eventually drove away Jimmy Johnson, who won two Super Bowl titles in Dallas, while Parcells craves complete control.
Parcells left the New England Patriots after leading them to the Super Bowl in 1997 because he demanded final say in personnel decisions, prompting his famous quotation: "If they're going to ask you to cook the meal, they ought to let you buy the groceries."
After firing Campo on Monday after a third straight 5-11 season, Jones said he was ready to embrace "a change in philosophy."
Working this year as a studio analyst on ESPN's "Sunday NFL Countdown," Parcells last coached for the New York Jets in 1999 and said he would consider coaching again in the "absolute right situation."
Dallas is a rebuilding team, and has a hands-on owner known for walking the sidelines. Parcells directed the New York Giants to Super Bowl titles in 1986 and '90, and the Patriots to a Super Bowl appearance in 1996. He also took the Jets to the AFC championship game in 1998.
In 2003, the Cowboys are scheduled to play both New York teams and will make visits to New England and Tampa Bay.
Kings put Jackson on IR
SACRAMENTO, Ca., Jan. 1 (UPI) -- Sacramento guard Bobby Jackson has been placed on the injured list with a broken left hand.
Jackson, who is averaging 19.5 points, 4.3 rebounds and 3.7 assists per contest, suffered the injury with five minutes left in the Kings' victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Christmas Day, when Shaquille O'Neal knocked the ball out of his hands.
Jackson underwent surgery the following day at California-Davis Medical Center. The Kings do not know how long he will be sidelined.
To take his's roster spot, the Kings activated guard Mateen Cleaves, who has been on IR twice this season. Jackson started 26 games during Mike Bibby's absence with a broken foot.
The Kings went 20-6 in those contests, and lead the Pacific Division by 3 1/2 games over the Phoenix Suns.
U.S. does well at Hopman Cup
PERTH, Australia, Jan. 1 (UPI) -- World No. 1 Serena Williams led the United States to a round-robin sweep of Spain on Wednesday at the $1 million Hopman Cup.
The Hopman is a mixed team tennis championship.
Williams began the rout of defending champion Spain with a 6-3, 6-3, victory over Virginia Ruano Pascual. Although the match took just 60 minutes, the American felt she was far from her best.
James Blake clinched the Group A victory by routing Tommy Robredo, 6-3, 6-0, in 51 minutes. It was the first singles loss for Robredo in six outings after coming into this year's event with a 4-0 record in Spain's cup-winning performance last year.
Williams and Blake posted a 6-1, 6-4 triumph over Ruano Pascual and Robredo in the mixed doubles.
With two wins apiece, the United States and Australia have a good chance of meeting in the final.
Holmgren gives up general's manager role
KIRKLAND, Wash, Jan. 1 (UPI) -- Seattle Seahawks President Bob Whitsitt announced Tuesday that Coach Mike Holmgren will relinquish his role as general manager and continue as coach.
"We wanted to free up Mike to do more coaching," Whitsitt said. "I just think there's so much to do. There's only so many hours in a day."
Holmgren apparently did not fight to keep his GM job -- a position he insisted on having when he left the Green Bay Packers to join the Seahawks in 1999.
"I think the biggest title you can have is Super Bowl champion," said Holmgren, who coached Green Bay to a Super Bowl title in 1996. "It wasn't a particularly difficult thing for me. My No. 1 goal is winning. I don't have any problems with this at all."
Holmgren had a winning team with the Packers as well as Brett Favre as his quarterback, but left because Ron Wolf had no intention of stepping down as the team's general manager.
However, Holmgren finally may have realized how difficult it is to build a team and coach it. He has had particular problems assembling a defense and owns a disappointing 31-33 record with one playoff appearance in four years with Seattle.
After allowing 369 points this season, Holmgren fired defensive coordinator Steve Sidwell, offensive line coach Larry Brooks, linebackers coach Johnny Holland, secondary coach Ken Flajole, and offensive assistant Jerry Colquitt.
"They were my friends. It was not a fun thing to do," Holmgren said.
Randy Mueller, who was fired as general manager of the New Orleans Saints last May, is believed to be a candidate for the Seahawks' job. He worked in the front office when Dennis Erickson coached Seattle in 1998.
The Seahawks won their last three games this season to finish 7-9, and most of the players supported Holmgren. As GM, he acquired quarterback Matt Hasselbeck from Green Bay to run the offense, and drafted talented skill position players such as Shaun Alexander, Koren Robinson, and Darrell Jackson.
However, Holmgren has been criticized for failing to help the defense. His first pick as general manager was end Lamar King, a first-rounder in 1999 who has been a major disappointment. Holmgren spent a second-round pick on Ike Charlton in 2000, then traded him last season.
In training camp this season, Holmgren waived linebacker Levon Kirkland, who signed with the Philadelphia Eagles and became one of the team's defensive leaders.
Holmgren had a 75-37 record in seven years as Packers coach, winning the Super Bowl in 1996 and reaching the Super Bowl the following year.