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Hackett Replacing Old Friend At Usc

Paul Hackett admitted he had some agonizing moments when he was approached about replacing old friend John Robinson as the USC coach. He also knew deep down that he would take the job.

Hackett, an assistant under Robinson at USC from 1976-80 and currently offensive coordinator for the Kansas City Chiefs, credits Robinson with giving him his big break.

“If it wasn’t for John Robinson, I would never have had the chance to be a part of everything that is USC,” Hackett said Thursday during a conference call from the Midwest.

“Everything I learned about USC, I learned from him… . That’s when Paul Hackett’s career took off.”

Robinson, who had wanted to remain as coach, was fired Tuesday and Hackett was signed. The moves were announced Wednesday.

“The initial reaction in my gut was that I knew that I was going to do that (take the job),” Hackett said. “Now, I can’t wait to get there.”

Defensive Ducks

Mike Bellotti believes his Oregon Ducks deserve a bowl game, even after a 6-5 regular season. He’ll get no quarrel from oddsmakers, who make the Ducks a favorite against No. 23-ranked Air Force in the Las Vegas Bowl.

Despite a record that barely qualified Oregon for bowl consideration, the Ducks are three-point favorites over the Falcons (10-2) in Saturday’s Las Vegas Bowl. Apparently, the guys who make Las Vegas gambling odds agree with Bellotti and are more impressed with opponents than records.

“We’re a better team than many teams that have better records,” Bellotti said Thursday. “I think we’re a type of team that can play with anybody and one which deserves to showcase its talents in a national bowl game.”

Manning hospitalized, but OK

Peyton Manning spent Thursday in a hospital bed with a VCR and game films of Nebraska while his Tennessee teammates practiced for the Orange Bowl.

Manning, who prided himself on missing only one practice during his four-year career, has an infected knee, but school officials expect him to be released today.

Manning isn’t expected to practice until Dec. 26 when the No. 3 Volunteers (11-1) arrive in Miami for the Jan. 2 game against No. 2 Nebraska (12-0) and a shot at the national title.

Georgia QB arrested

University of Georgia quarterback Mike Bobo was arrested and charged with obstruction of a police officer early Thursday after he ran from the police outside an Athens, Ga., bar.

Bobo, a 23-year-old from Thomasville, Ga., posted a $5,000 bond and was released less than 2 hours later.

Georgia coach Jim Donnan said he was looking into the incident, but refused to speculate on a what action he will take.

Georgia defensive back Glenn Ford was arrested last Friday and charged with two felonies after he was caught shoplifting. Donnan suspended Ford and he will not be allowed to play in the bowl game.

Arkansas State joins Big West

Arkansas State has officially joined the Big West as a football-only member, the conference announced.

The Jonesboro, Ark., school remains in the Sun Belt Conference in all other sports. The addition of Arkansas State gives the Big West a seven-team football conference.


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