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News Nuggets, 01.04.05
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Compiled from staff reports and electronic dispatches

Auburn holds off Tech, turns attention to voters


01.03.05: Tech sack artist looks to Baghdad for inspiration ... Meyer bids adieu as Utah relishes perfection ... More...
01.02.05: Utah domination of Pitt exposes BCS ... Petrino backpedals as LSU zeroes in on Miles ... More...
01.01.05: Cards hang on in Liberty Bowl shootout with Broncos ... Utes poised to cap off perfect season in style ... More...
12.31.04: Offensive juggernauts collide in Liberty Bowl ... Tire Bowl goes flat for North Carolina ... More...
12.30.04: Boston College tests ACC waters in Tire Bowl ... Syracuse reverses field, ousts Pasqualoni ... More...
12.29.04: Petrino flirts with LSU on eve of Liberty Bowl ... Power indexes: Conference ratings... Team ratings ... More...
12.28.04: Utah carries banner of have-nots into Fiesta Bowl ... Tampa slaying perplexes victim's friends ... More...
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...

NEW ORLEANS — The Auburn Tigers were pleading for someone — anyone — to vote them No. 1. They must have sensed that giving up two late touchdowns in the Sugar Bowl all but ruined their improbable hope of sharing the national championship.

No, the No. 3 Tigers didn't get the masterpiece performance they were hoping for. Instead, they settled for hanging onto a perfect season, beating Virginia Tech 16-13 Monday night.

Even so, Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville vowed to get his players championship rings — no matter how the polls turn out after Tuesday night's Orange Bowl between No. 1 Southern Cal and No. 2 Oklahoma.

And Tuberville didn't pass up the chance to make one more plea on behalf of his third-ranked team.

``I've got a subscription to Golf Digest. I may ask them to vote us No. 1,'' Tuberville joked. ``We're 13-0. We should be national champions. There's no doubt about it.''

Auburn had a couple of second-half turnovers and gave up an 80-yard touchdown pass with two minutes left — a major blow to their hopes of swaying the voters to split No. 1 again.

The Tigers just wish they could settle things on the field, yearning for a chance to play one more game.

``Bring 'em on,'' running back Carnell Williams said. ``The neighborhood park would be fine.''

Jason Campbell threw a touchdown pass, John Vaughn kicked three short field goals and Auburn completed its first perfect season since 1993.

Virginia Tech (10-3) could have made things even easier on the Bowl Championship Series by upsetting Auburn. But the Hokies had a couple of major blunders, dropping a pass in the end zone and missing a chip-shot field goal.

When Bryan Randall threw a 29-yard touchdown pass to Josh Morgan with 6:58 left in the game, ruining Auburn's shutout, one could almost sense that USC, Oklahoma and — especially — the BCS were breathing a little easier.

Randall dealt a more stunning blow to the Tigers when he threw the long touchdown pass to Morgan, who somehow slipped behind Auburn's prevent defense.

The Tigers recovered the onside kick and kneeled down to run out the clock, deciding to preserve the victory rather than try to win more impressively.

The Auburn band even launched into a Bon Jovi song that summed things up for the Southeastern Conference champions: ``Living on a Prayer.''

``I just wanted to win by one,'' said Tuberville, who nearly lost his job at the end of last season. ``That's all that counts. If you have to win with style points, you might as well throw out all the systems.''

Campbell was named MVP after completing 11-of-16 for 189 yards with one interception. Randall threw for 299 yards but was picked off twice.

``People just don't understand how hard it is to go 13-0,'' Campbell said. ``I'm not going to sit here and say we're No. 2 behind anybody.''

The odd team out in a troika of 12-0 teams, Auburn settled for a spot in the Sugar Bowl against the Hokies, while USC and Oklahoma were tapped for the Orange Bowl — the BCS title game.

Nothing ever seems to work out smoothly in Division I-A football, the only college sport that insists on using a mix of polls and bowls to determine its champion rather than settling things with a playoff.

Auburn's hopes were based on this convoluted scenario: The Tigers defeat Virginia Tech convincingly, Oklahoma knocks off USC in an ugly Orange Bowl and enough voters in The Associated Press media poll picks Auburn as the No. 1 team, creating another split championship.

The winner of the Orange Bowl is assured of being voted No. 1 in the coaches' poll. But the AP rankings aren't tied to the BCS. Last season, USC was voted No. 1 by the AP after winning the Rose Bowl, while LSU won the BCS title by beating Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl.

The overlooked Hokies hurt themselves with those two major miscues. Jesse Allen dropped a sure touchdown pass on fourth-and-goal at the 1 midway through the second quarter. Then, Brandon Pace yanked a 23-yard field goal just left of the upright early in the fourth.

``Well we played hard, we just didn't play well enough,'' Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer said.

Trotting onto the Superdome turf beneath a sign that said, ``Go Auburn, Biased Championship Series,'' the Tigers got off to a roaring start.

Campbell threw a 35-yard pass to Cooper Wallace on Auburn's first offensive play, then Ronnie Brown broke off a 31-yard run on the next snap. But the Tigers bogged down at the 5, settling for Vaughn's first field goal.

That would set the tone. Auburn drove inside the 10 on two more possessions, but the Hokies bucked up to keep the Tigers out of the end zone. Vaughn connected two more times from chip-shot range, tying the Sugar Bowl record for field goals in a half.

A voter in the coaches' poll, Beamer has already decided to anoint the Orange Bowl winner as No. 1. Auburn will have to settle for No. 2 on his ballot.

That sounds about right to one of his players, cornerback Eric Green.

``People were expecting it to be a blowout. People were expecting Auburn to show they should be in Miami,'' Green said. ``I think they're right where they belong.''

Petrino sets out to mend fences at Louisville

LOUISVILLE — Louisville football coach Bobby Petrino apologized Monday for his dalliance with LSU just days after signing a new contract with the Cardinals, and said he needs to mend his relationship with the school's athletic director and its fans.

Petrino met with LSU officials on Dec. 26, less than a week after Louisville nearly doubled his salary to $1 million a year. The Cardinals finished 11-1 this season and led the nation in points and yards per game.

Speculation about Petrino's future came as the seventh-ranked Cardinals prepared for the Liberty Bowl, which they won 44-40 against 10th-ranked Boise State on New Year's Eve.

``I'd like to apologize for the uproar that I caused for the fans and the administration last week,'' Petrino said Monday at the school's football complex. ``It was certainly not my intent.''

Petrino said he is committed to Louisville, echoing statements he made when he signed his contract last month.

``This is where I want to be,'' he said.

Petrino's new contract, like the old one, runs through the 2010 season. Petrino will earn a $1 million bonus if he stays through the 2007 season.

Petrino announced Saturday he was no longer a candidate for the LSU job. Les Miles, the coach at Oklahoma State, was hired Monday by the Tigers to replace Nick Saban, who left for the Miami Dolphins.

Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich, who hired Petrino two years ago, said Sunday he would honor the coach's contract, but expressed disappointment with the timing of Petrino's meeting with LSU officials and said it was up to Petrino to smooth things over with fans.

``My toughest job now, I think, is to repair my relationship with Tom Jurich and the fans, and I'm committed to doing that,'' Petrino said.

It was the second year that Petrino has angered Louisville fans by talking with officials from another school. In his first season at Louisville, Petrino met secretly with officials from Auburn, where he formerly was offensive coordinator.

University trustee Bill Stone predicted that Petrino would be successful.

``The fans of this community are very forgiving,'' Stone said. ``They care so much, that's why they were so hurt.''

Petrino said he followed proper protocol in meeting with LSU officials, but admitted ``the timing was awful.'' Jurich, who gave LSU permission to talk to Petrino, said Sunday he asked the Tigers to wait until after the Liberty Bowl to meet with the coach.

``I felt like I owed that opportunity to myself, and that it was something that I should do,'' Petrino said. ``Obviously if I had it to do over again, I probably would have just said no.''

Louisville will join the Big East next season and compete for the league's automatic berth in the lucrative Bowl Championship Series.

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 12:20 PM


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