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News Nuggets, 12.28.04
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Compiled from staff reports and electronic dispatches

Utah carries banner of have-nots into Fiesta Bowl


12.27.04: Vanderbilt football star slain by gunfire in Tampa ... Tulsa coach resigns with C-USA on horizon ... More...
12.26.04: Tulane rewards Scelfo with contract extension ... Big Ten pushes for instant replay for all of I-A ... More...
12.25.04: Chang, Hawaii spoil UAB's bowl debut in shootout ... Memphis bumps West up to $800K per year ... More...
12.24.04: BCS produces sequel to 'Night of the Living Dead' ... Cincy torches Herd in frigid Ft. Worth Bowl ... UAB makes bowl debut against prolific Warriors ... More...
12.23.04: Bowling Green shakes off Memphis in GMAC Bowl ... Primetime bowl preview: Bearcats vs. Herd ... Tranghese: BCS not interested in playoff ... More...
12.22.04: Up-and-coming programs tangle in GMAC bowl ... Petrino hits jackpot with new pact at U of L ... College basketball power indexes ... More...
12.21.04: Cold, hard facts about health swayed Majerus ... Basketball panel tinkering with RPI formula ... More...
12.20.04: GMAC Bowl history sets stage for Tigers-Falcons shootout ... Memphis reinstates Banks after one game ... Mounting attrition challenges Pitino, Cards ... More...
12.19.04: Houston AD livid with Nebraska over cancellation ... Duke cans offensive coordinator Galbraith ... Majerus retreats back to TV booth ... More...
12.18.04: Wolfpack's Hodge not short on self-esteem ,,, James Madison rushes to I-AA championship ... More...
12.17.04: Nebraska icon Osborne irked with aloof AD's ... William & Mary QB captures Payton Award ... More...
12.16.04: Pirates hawking hoops tickets with a twist ... Majerus ditches TV gig to rescue Trojans ... More...
12.15.04: Bowl season kicks off with Southern Miss victory ... Marshall linebacker suspended for bowl game ... More...
12.14.04: Preview: USM, North Texas kick off bowl season ... Former ECU assistants McFarland, Brindise land jobs ... McLendon to bolt Wolfpack for NFL draft ... More...
12.13.04: Musical chairs at full tilt as coaches change jobs ... List of Division I-A coaching changes ... Heisman Trophy chronology 1935-2004 ... More...
12.12.04: Title game of the Heismans set ... All-time Heisman winners list ... Blue- Gray Classic scratched again ... More...

SCOTTSDALE, AZ — Receiver Paris Warren knows fifth-ranked Utah is representing plenty of other schools in the Fiesta Bowl.

As the first school to appear in a Bowl Championship Series game from a conference that doesn't have an automatic BCS bid, the Utes want to take another shot at the system.

``We're kind of carrying the flag for all the non-BCS schools,'' Warren said Monday.

The Utes (11-0) play Pittsburgh on Saturday in the Fiesta, one of the four top games in the bowl hierarchy which have never featured a team from outside the six guaranteed conferences or Notre Dame.

The BCS was adopted in 1998 and teams such as Utah in the Mountain West Conference could only watch their colleagues from the larger leagues play in the Fiesta, Rose, Sugar and Orange bowls. But by going unbeaten in the regular season and winning their second straight MWC title, the Utes became the first to crack the system.

Yet they still hear questions about whether they belong.

``Like they say early in the season. We're going to try and prove people wrong,'' offensive lineman Chris Komeatu said. ``People say that non-BCS teams like Utah aren't good enough to be here. That's what makes everything more challenging to us and helps us get to this level.''

Pittsburgh (8-3) is fighting a similar battle of public perception. As the winner of the Big East's automatic bid, the Panthers' BCS merits have been widely questioned because of their conference. Winning the Big East when it no longer includes Miami and Virginia Tech just doesn't carry as much weight as it has.

``This is a game of two teams that haven't garnered much national interest or respect,'' Pittsburgh defensive lineman Vince Crochunis said. ``I think it will be an interesting game because each team is going to be out there trying to prove that they belong in this game.''

Any pressure the Utes are feeling as a heavy favorite and playing for the BCS outsiders is actually a welcome change from the weeks that immediately followed the regular season. Coach Urban Meyer was courted by Notre Dame and Florida and it was very apparent he was probably not going to be back next fall for a third season at Utah.

When Meyer took the Florida job, it opened the spot at Utah and more coaching uncertainty. Defensive coordinator Kyle Whittingham was offered the Utes' job as well as the one for rival Brigham Young, Whittingham's alma mater.

But once Whittingham chose Utah, the Utes were able to relax a little, knowing there would be at least some continuity on the coaching staff. And now, they get to treat their time in Phoenix like any other game week — just with better weather.

The Utes also are not thinking about how much more they could be playing for this week. Unbeaten teams often get a chance at playing for the national title, but this season, five Division I-A teams finished without a loss.

So Utah, third-ranked Auburn and No. 10 Boise State will watch No. 1 Southern California and second-ranked Oklahoma play for the title in the Orange Bowl.

``People look at it, but we're satisfied with where we're at. We've got to take care of business against Pitt,'' Warren said.

Tampa slaying perplexes victim's friends

TAMPA — Friends of affable Vanderbilt football star Kwane Doster remembered him Monday as a quiet young man, unlikely ever to be a victim of violent death.

The running back was fatally shot early Sunday as he and two friends sat in a car in the parking lot of a fast-food restaurant in Ybor City, Tampa's historic nightclub area. His companions were not injured.

No motive for the shooting has been established, Tampa Police Lt. William Ferguson said. Police said they do not know if Doster was the intended target.

``He's the last person on the team who we thought would die this way,'' said Vanderbilt running backs Kenny Carter, who came to Tampa from Nashville, Tenn., to help the family.

He described Doster, 21, as a popular player, ``a good kid; that's why all our players were so drawn to him.''

Vanderbilt coach Bobby Johnson said Doster's death is the toughest situation he has dealt with as a coach.

``I've had other things happen that were tragic. This is the first time a violent act has taken somebody away from us,'' Johnson said in Nashville.

Johnson learned the news in a telephone call just before 5 a.m. EST while in Charleston, SC, with his wife for Christmas.

``That's why I always have my phone on. You know those calls in the early morning aren't going to be good. I was just shocked and devastated. It was just hard to believe, hard to believe,'' he said.

Ruben Doster said his nephew was ``a likable guy, not a talkative person. He was quiet. Go to a party, you'd never know he was there.''

No arrests have been made, police said Monday. They continued to search for an orange Infiniti that stopped next to the vehicle in which Doster was a passenger. Someone inside the Infiniti fired a hail of bullets, hitting Doster once.

Doster, a junior majoring in human and organizational development, had hopes of a career in sports management and was looking forward to graduation in 2006, according to his mother, Kelly Doster.

``He was the most beautiful son a mother might want to have,'' she said Monday, standing in the yard of their modest, sun-splashed home set in a quiet, middle-class neighborhood. ``He made life so easy. He was just a born leader.''

She said his loss has been ``unbearable.'' However, she knows her Kwane's siblings will look to her for support.

``I know I have to be strong for my daughter and my son and grandson,'' she said.

She said Kwane spent Christmas Day at home with family. They ate a typical southern-style dinner, featuring dressing, turkey, oxtails, collard greens, rice and his favorite dish — macaroni and cheese.

About midnight, he said he was going out with friends. Two hours later, she was awakened by a phone call from the hospital where he had been taken.

In Nashville, junior wide receiver Erik Davis spoke about Doster for a few minutes before breaking down.

``It's nothing you can learn to cope with when something as senseless as this happens for no reason, for no reason at all,'' Davis said.

Vanderbilt Chancellor Gordon Gee has chartered an airplane to take school officials, coaches and football players to Tampa for Doster's funeral Friday afternoon.

Doster was one of the first recruits Johnson brought to Vanderbilt after being hired in December 2001. Doster was a former standout athlete at Robinson High School, where he played both football and baseball. He became the first Vanderbilt player ever recognized as the Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Year in 2002 after setting a team record with 798 yards rushing.

News Nuggets are compiled periodically based on material supplied by staff members; data published by ECU, Conference USA and its member schools; and reports from Associated Press and other sources. Copyright 2004 and other publishers. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


Page Updated: 02/23/2007 12:07 PM


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