Archive for Tuesday, December 5, 2000

Arizona taps Mackovic; Donnan fired from Georgia football

December 5, 2000


College coaches were coming and going at a dizzying rate Monday, with John Mackovic taking over at Arizona, Jim Donnan getting fired at Georgia and Gary Crowton talking to BYU about replacing LaVell Edwards.

In a wild day of coaching changes, Mackovic returning after three years as TV football analyst appeared to be the topper. But later Monday, the Bulldogs pulled a surprise of their own by firing Donnan a month after he was given a vote of confidence.

"I thought he would be around another year," said Georgia quarterback Cory Phillips, who was at a team meeting at which Donnan told the team he had been dismissed. "I'm a little bit shocked. It's an unsettling feeling."

Also, Bowling Green hired Notre Dame receivers coach Urban Meyer to replace Gary Blackney, who resigned after 10 seasons with the Falcons.

In other coaching moves since Sunday night:

l Oregon's Mike Bellotti decided against leaving the Ducks for Southern California and signed a two-year extension to remain in Eugene through 2007, leaving the Trojans still searching for a replacement for the fired Paul Hackett.

l Mississippi coach David Cutcliffe signed a two-year contract extension through the 2004 season.

l New Orleans Saints linebacker coach John Bunting met with North Carolina officials about the head football coach opening there. Carl Torbush was fired last month after a 6-5 season.

l Georgia Tech running backs coach Bill O'Brien was promoted to offensive coordinator, replacing Ralph Friedgen, who left to take over at Maryland, which fired Ron Vanderlinden.

l Charlie Taaffe, coach of the CFL's Montreal Alouettes, interviewed with Friedgen for the Terrapins offensive coordinator position.

l Navy fired three assistants two days after beating Army for its lone win of the season. Fired were offensive coordinator Mike Vaught, offensive line coach and recruiting coordinator Gene McKeehan and secondary coach Charles McMillian. Defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter was reassigned as a defensive position coach. Charlie Weatherbie, the coach, stays.

But the biggest coaching news came out of Athens, Ga., and Tucson, Ariz.

Mackovic, who coached at Wake Forest, Illinois and Texas and spent four years coaching the Kansas City Chiefs, decided he wanted to get back on the sideline. He replaces good friend Dick Tomey, who resigned after the Wildcats finished the season 5-6.

"The TV gig was nice, but it's not coaching," Mackovic said. "It doesn't have the same feel of coaching."

Mackovic was fired after a 4-7 season at Texas in 1997, decided to quit coaching and worked for ESPN.

"I chose to say I was retired because I was hurt," Mackovic said.

Arizona AD Jim Livengood first contacted Mackovic a week ago. They worked out the details of the five-year contract at meetings late last week in Phoenix. Livengood said no one else was offered the job.

Donnan was fired after a disappointing 7-4 season that started with the Bulldogs ranked No. 10 and picked to win the SEC East.

Athletic director Vince Dooley had given Donnan a vote of confidence just last month. But the players said Dooley told them that school president Michael Adams made the decision to fire Donnan.

Georgia, headed to the Oahu Bowl to play Virginia, closed the regular season with a loss to Georgia Tech, its third straight against its bitter rival. A win would have put the 'Dawgs in position for a New Year's Day bowl.

Donnan, who came to Georgia for the 1996 season from Division I-AA Marshall, has been linked to coaching vacancies the past three years, including North Carolina. The Tar Heels again were looking for a new coach.

Donnan has a career record of 103-40, including 39-19 at Georgia. He has failed, however, against Georgia's biggest rivals, going 6-14 against Georgia Tech, Florida, Auburn and Tennessee.

Also, new Alabama coach Dennis Franchione had his formal introduction. With the likes of Bart Starr, Lee Roy Jordan and Gene Stallings looking on, the former TCU coach knows what's expected of him.

"I realize what the people of Alabama's goal for their program is, and I believe it parallels mine, which is to win a national championship," said Franchione.

Franchione was accompanied by seven assistants who plan to come with him. The coaches also met with the team.

And BYU officials were expected to meet with Crowton, the Chicago Bears offensive coordinator on Wednesday and hope to have Edwards' replacement by the end of the week.

"The only thing that we know is that I think we will have a conclusion to the story relatively soon. BYU clearly wants to get an answer," Bears coach Dick Jauron said. "They need to meet face-to-face, which indicates they're at a point where they want a decision."

Crowton, a Mormon from Provo, Utah, is a close friend of BYU AD Val Hale.

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