Tuesday, December 2, 2003

Croom's hiring makes history

MSU picks SEC's first black coach

The Associated Press

STARKVILLE, Miss. - Sylvester Croom became the first black head football coach in Southeastern Conference history, accepting an offer to take over troubled Mississippi State.

"We went after the best football coach, and we're confident we found that individual in Sylvester Croom," athletic director Larry Templeton said.

A news conference will be today to introduce him.

Croom, 49, has never been a head coach, but has been an NFL assistant with five teams since 1987 and worked for Bear Bryant and Ray Perkins at Alabama from 1977-86.

The SEC's hiring history came under increased scrutiny earlier this year when Croom was passed over for the top job at his alma mater, Alabama, in favor of Mike Shula.

AUBURN: Tommy Tuberville has decided to stay as Auburn's coach despite an attempt by the university president and athletic director to line up a replacement before the Iron Bowl. University officials held a secret meeting with Louisville coach Bobby Petrino on Nov. 22.

UTEP: Texas-El Paso coach Gary Nord and his entire staff were fired after compiling a 14-34 record in four years.

EASTERN MICHIGAN: Northwestern assistant Jeff Genyk was hired as EMU's coach.

OHIO STATE: B.J. Sander, a senior from Roger Bacon, has been named one of three finalists for the Ray Guy Award, presented annually to the nation's top punter.

The other finalists are Tennessee's Dustin Colquitt and Nebraska's Kyle Larson. The winner will be announced Dec. 11 on the ESPN College Football Awards Show.

Sander averaged 43.6 yards per punt and led the Big Ten in net punting with a 41.2-yard average. Thirty-six of his 75 punts were downed inside the 20, and another 15 were fair-caught.

--Neil Schmidt

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