Groh Resigns From Jets To Coach Virginia

Posted: December 31, 2000

Al Groh resigned yesterday to take the coaching job at Virginia, jolting a New York Jets team that must look for its seventh head coach in 11 years.

Groh spent just one season with the Jets after Bill Parcells resigned as coach. He now heads back to his alma mater to replace George Welsh, who retired. He accepted a seven-year contract that could be worth $5 million.

"I realize there will be some criticism of this, but only I know my heart," Groh said in a statement released by the Jets. "Too, this provides the type of long-term security and stability not commonly found in the NFL nowadays.

"The University of Virginia is my school," Groh said. "I wore that jersey and it means a great deal to me. My mom lives there and my dad is buried there."

Groh's departure was in keeping with the Jets' coaching history. Groh got the job when Parcells resigned last January, and Bill Belichick, Parcells' hand-chosen successor, quit after one day and wound up coaching the New England Patriots.

Groh went 9-7 after a 4-0 start, but the team lost its last three games. A victory in any of them would have earned a playoff berth.

The university confirmed the hiring and said Groh would be introduced at a news conference Friday.

The Jets said they would defer all comments about their next coach until Tuesday.

Welsh retired Dec. 11 because of health reasons. The Cavaliers lost to Georgia, 37-14, on Dec. 24 in the Oahu Bowl, the last game for the 67-year-old coach.

Groh was an assistant at Virginia from 1970 to 1972, having graduated in 1967 following four years playing at defensive end with the Cavaliers.

Groh's son Mike also attended Virginia and was the quarterback on the Cavaliers team that stunned No. 2 Florida State, 33-28, in 1995, becoming the first Atlantic Coast Conference team to beat the Seminoles.

Mike Groh also was a member of his father's staff with the Jets.

* Eagles defensive end Hugh Douglas and linebacker Jeremiah Trotter are members of the Associated Press all-pro team.

The Tennessee Titans showed why they had the NFL's best record by placing the most players, four, on the team. Running back Eddie George, guard Bruce Matthews, cornerback Samari Rolle, and kick returner Derrick Mason were selected by a nationwide panel of 50 sportswriters and broadcasters who cover pro football.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Baltimore Ravens had three all-pros. Tampa Bay defensive tackle Warren Sapp, outside linebacker Derrick Brooks, and safety John Lynch all were repeaters from the 1999 squad.

Ravens middle linebacker Ray Lewis, the cornerstone of the stingiest defense in league history (165 points allowed), led all vote-getters with 49. He was joined by Baltimore tackle Jon Ogden and kicker Matt Stover, the league's scoring leader with 135 points.

Marshall Faulk, the league's most valuable player, was the only member of the defending champion St. Louis Rams to repeat - a measure of how difficult a year St. Louis had.

Joining George and Faulk in the backfield was Oakland quarterback Rich Gannon. Like George, Gannon was a first-time all-pro, among 13 on the team.

Oakland punter Shane Lechler was the only rookie on the squad.

COLLEGES

Coach Lute Olson has taken an indefinite leave of absence from the Arizona basketball team to be with his wife, Bobbi, who is suffering from ovarian cancer.

Olson, who guided Arizona to the 1997 national championship, was to have skipped last night's game against Mississippi State in the championship of the Fiesta Bowl Classic.

He and Bobbi have been married 47 years.

"Lute and Bobbi want the UA athletic department family and the basketball team and staff, their many friends, the Tucson community, and the news media to know how much they appreciate the loving support given to them during this difficult period," the university said in a statement.

Olson did not coach the nation's preseason No. 1 team on Dec. 9 when it lost at Connecticut. The team's associate head coach, Jim Rosborough, in his 12th season at Arizona, "will assume temporary leadership for an indefinite amount of time," the school said.

* Damian Richburg, a walk-on junior-college transfer from Mitchell College in New London, Conn., has joined the Temple men's basketball team.

Richburg, a 6-foot-4, 210-pound forward, averaged 15 points and four rebounds per game last season. He is expected to dress for the Owls' next game, against La Salle on Thursday.

* Following an embarrassing 49-38 loss to West Virginia in the Music City Bowl, Mississippi has decided not to renew the contract of defensive coordinator Art Kaufman.

"We evaluate our staff after every season," coach David Cutcliffe said in a written statement.

Also cut were defensive backs coach Tom Lavigne and conditioning coach Benjy Pierce.

* Stanford freshman point guard Susan King will miss the rest of the season after an MRI on Friday confirmed she had a torn anterior cruciate ligament in her right knee, Stanford announced yesterday.

King was hurt Wednesday night in a 102-98 overtime loss for the 17th-ranked Stanford women at Oklahoma. King was fouled with 1:04 left in the first half as she went up for a layup.

BASEBALL

Early contract discussions initiated by the Colorado Rockies with first baseman Todd Helton have raised the possibility of a 10-year extension.

Helton, 27, has two years left on a four-year contract that pays $4.95 million next season and $5 million in 2002. A 10-year extension could amount to a lifetime contract.

"It could go that far with options," said Rockies general manager Dan O'Dowd. "But we have Todd for three more years - two under contract and another year of arbitration - so there's no real sense of urgency on our part. We're working on it, but I'm not going to add pressure to the situation by putting a deadline on it."

WINTER SPORTS

Bjarte Engen Vik of Norway won the last Nordic combined event of the year, soundly beating defending overall champion Samppa Lajunen by 28.6 seconds after a strong cross-country ski race in Lillehammer, Norway.

Third went to Ladislav Rygl of the Czech Republic, 30.4 seconds back.

Felix Gottwald, the overall leader from Austria, was 30.9 seconds behind the winner in fourth place.

Bill Demong was 20th and the top American finisher.

* Sonja Nef won her third giant slalom of the season, leading Switzerland to a 1-2 finish in the World Cup event in Semmering, Austria. She was timed in 2 minutes, 23.16 seconds on a track that confused many racers with its varied conditions, occasional bumps and changing light.

Teammate Corinne Rey Bellet was second in 2:23.79. Sarah Schleper, of Vail, Colo., was third in 2:24.40.

* Defending champions Jennifer Rodriguez and Derek Parra won races to maintain their overall leads at the U.S. Allround Speedskating Championships in Butte, Mont.

Rodriguez, of Miami, won the 3,000 meters in 4 minutes, 22.48 seconds, 11 seconds faster than Catherine Raney of Elm Grove, Wis.

Parra, of San Bernardino, Calif., won the men's 5,000 in 6:58.11, edging KC Boutiette of Tacoma, Wash., by 0.33 seconds.

Skaters in the top four positions after three events in the men's and women's standings qualify for the North American/Oceania Regional Qualifier on Jan. 12-14 in Milwaukee. That event is the qualifier for February's World Allround Championships to be held in Budapest, Hungary.

AUTO RACING

Allan McNish's car is on the pole for today's American Le Mans Series season finale, but the driver who has dominated the sports car endurance racing series this season may miss the race and could lose the series title in the process.

McNish injured his back during a photo shoot in Scotland last week, and then reinjured it when he arrived in Adelaide, Australia. He drove only a handful of laps in practice on Friday and had to get out of the car and visit a local hospital because of the pain. He was not at the circuit yesterday when teammate Rinaldo Capello qualified the car on the pole for the six-hour race on the 2.4-mile track.

SOCCER

A fence collapsed during a championship soccer game in Rio de Janeiro, crushing spectators at a crowded stadium and leaving 90 fans injured.

There were no immediate reports of deaths. The injured were taken to Rio's Souza Aguiar Hospital, where the holiday medical staff was reinforced. Three fans were reported seriously injured.

The state governor, Anthony Garotinho, suspended the second leg of the Joao Havelange Cup final between Vasco da Gama and Sao Caetano.

Overcrowding at the 35,000-capacity stadium appeared to have been the main problem.

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