Standard-Speaker from Hazleton, Pennsylvania on December 27, 1995 · Page 18
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Standard-Speaker from Hazleton, Pennsylvania · Page 18

Hazleton, Pennsylvania
Issue Date:
Wednesday, December 27, 1995
Page 18
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Sports Standard Speaker WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 27, 1995 -- Page 18 Eagles9 Rhodes Coach, of the Year By BARRY WILNER AP Football Writer NEW YORK (AP) - The Philadelphia Eagles made Ray Rhodes' first season as an NFL coach something special, taking him to the playoffs and 1995 Coach of the Year honors. Rhodes, defensive coordinator for the Super Bowl champion 49ers last year, was hired after Philadelphia owner Jeff Lurie was turned down by Jimmy Johnson and former Eagles coach Dick Vermeil. But it worked out well, because Rhodes took a disjointed team that lost its final seven games in 1994 and turned it into a 10-6 playoff squad. That earned Rhodes 24 votes from a nationwide panel of sports writers and broadcasters in balloting by The Associated Press. He edged Dom Capers of Carolina and Marty Schot-tenheimer of Kansas City, who had 21 apiece. "I'm not a guy who's big on personal achievements anybody who knows me knows that," Rhodes said Tuesday. "Really, this award is a reflection on this organization for making the commitment to get this thing pointed in the right direction." Rhodes, 45, displayed an aptitude at keeping this year's team focused. "What you have to do is rally the troops as quick as you can," he said. "If you've noticed, every time we've lost, our players have been able to bounce back the next week and get it back." The Eagles did just that. After an opening loss at home to Tampa Bay, they won at Arizona. Following two more defeats, home to San Diego and at Oakland, they responded with four straight victories. A loss at Dallas was followed by three more wins, and after a distressing defeat at Seattle, the Eagles beat the Cowboys. "He's shown a lot of confidence in us and a lot of faith in himself," receiver Fred Barnett said. "He's shown he can handle the job." Rhodes prepared for a head coaching spot while working in San Francisco. A former wide receiver and defensive back with the Giants and olely a DB for the Niners, Rhodes became an assistant coach in 1 98 1 . "A whole lot of guys are just hanging around, going for the ride. But I was actively involved in everything we did from '81 on, from personnel decisions to everything, and a whole lpt of coaches weren't," Rhodes said of his days with Please see RHODES, page 20 Loss to Cowboys costs Ryan his job By MEL REISNER AP Sports Writer TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) - The "winner in town" left as a loser. Arizona Cardinals coach Buddy Ryan, whose team wrapped up a miserable 4-12 season with a 37-13 loss to the Dallas Cowboys Monday night, was fired Tuesday by owner BillBidwill. Bidwill said he hadn't thought about dismissing Ryan until he watched the Cardinals come out flat against their NFC East rival. Ryan, also the general manager, had two years remaining on his contract. "Last night I started to think what the solution to. this situation might be, and this morning I came to the conclusion that this is the way we should go," Bidwill said. He said wins and losses, not declining attendance or the daily Ryan-bashing on talk shows, were behind his decision. The Cardinals lost seven of their last eight games. Ryan, 61, a brash and abrasive Korean War veteran who brought a military ethic to his coaching, was 12-20 in two seasons with the Cardinals. His style marked by his claiming "You've got a winner in town," when he arrived in 1994 alienated some people but endeared him to most of his players. Reached at home, Ryan declined to comment on his ouster, a move that prompted fullback Larry Centers to say he would leave if he could and would like to be traded. "I'm a Buddy man, and I didn't want to see him go," said Centers, whose 12 catches against the Cowboys gave him an NFL season record for catches by a running back (101). "He's an honest guy, a guy who treats players fair, a guy who tells it to you like it is and not somebody who's going to sugar-coat things." Ryan was not even on the field for the end of Monday night's game. He mistakenly ran from the sideline in the closing seconds, thinking the game over. As play was completed, Ryan watched from the tunnel. Middle linebacker Eric Hill, who called the defensive signals in Ryan's blitzing defense, said the dismissal was as much politics as it was the Cardinals' record. Bidwill is trying to marshal support for a $200 million domed stadium, which would need some public funding. "My gut feeling is that it has a lot to do with building the new stadium," Hill said. "I don't think he was getting much support for the spending because of the way people have been riding Buddy lately." Bidwill, who met briefly Tuesday with Ryan, denied the proposed stadium had anything to do with the firing. "I like Buddy, and I think my relationship with Buddy has been Please see RYAN, page 20 iff- - i No. ' Lk 'v 1 . - jjMmmJk 4 HM1--- 1 ASSOCIATED PRESS Buddy Ryan's job wasn't really in jeopardy until Monday night's pounding by the Dallas Cowboys. That defeat cost Ryan his job Tuesday. Eagles looking to regain momentum By WAYNE WOOLLEY Associated Press Writer PHILADELPHIA (AP) - The Philadelphia Eagles know this is the wrong time to lose momentum. "We have been playing our worst football of the season and that's not what you want to do going into the playoffs," said Rodney Peete, who threw two interceptions in a 20-14 loss to Chicago Sunday. "We have to find some way, somehow, to turn it around." The Eagles have developed a dangerous habit -falling at least 10 points behind in each of their last four games. They rallied to beat Dallas and Arizona, but lost to Seattle and Chicago. Against Chicago, the Eagles converted just 3 of 13 third downs and marquee running back Ricky Watters managed just 13 yards rushing on 12 carries. On the other side of the ball, Chicago converted 9 of 15 third downs. A repeat performance Saturday against the Detroit Lions and the NFL's No. 1 offense could give the Eagles a quick exit in their first playoff appearance in three years. "We've been getting behind so early we've been letting the (opposing) defense dictate so they can come in and tee off on us," said receiver Rob Carpenter. "If we can eliminate that, then you'll see a whole new ball game." Coach Ray Rhodes said his team simply must play better. 'This is the week where everything is on the line everything," he said. "We've got to pull out all the stops." Rhodes guided the team to a 10-6 record in his first year as coach and was named 1995 Coach of the Year Tuesday. But he said the honor will mean a lot less if his team falters in the playoffs. "It's do or die time," Rhodes said. "And I'm not Please see EAGLES, page 20 ill 1 "" ii h " 11 'J ft . J- K-....... . & . : 1 f ' : .-... -t .... - ttM1 . mm. 'jL t M 1-4 i " t I r.; " Jayi. h . ASSOCIATED PRESS Emmitt Smith (22) celebrates with teammated Michael Irvin after Smith scored an NFL-record 25th touchdown of the season Monday night. For Dallas, it's amazing what one victory can do for morale By DENNE H. FREEMAN AP Sports Writer IRVING, Texas (AP) -Smiles. There were actually a few of them at previously joyless Valley Ranch Tuesday after the Dallas Cowboys had achieved a goal set in training camp. After two uneasy weeks, the Cowboys have a division title and home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs. "We have a new attitude, a new feeling," said wide receiver Kevin Williams, who caught two touchdown passes in a 37-13 victory Monday night over the Arizona Cardinals. "This was a win we could celebrate." The clutch win gave Dallas a 12-4 record and took the home field advantage away from the defending Super Bowl champion San Francisco 49ers, who beat the Cowboys during the regular season. The Cowboys lost to the 49ers, twice to Washington and to Philadelphia during a regular season that quarterback Troy Aikman said had "no joy. It wasn't a lot of fun." "We set a high standard and haven't played up to our capability," Aikman said. "We still aren't consistent, but we can be happy about this. "I'm very pleased with this season. It's been what we've been wanting since last January. We had to fight through 16 games. But we got there." Aikman got through the regular season with injuries to both legs and currently is nursing a bad back. "The back gives me problems," said Aikman, who will undergo treatment all week. "I've been fighting through it, too." Please see MORALE, page 20 Southern boy' Donnan is new head coach at Georgia By ED SHEARER AP Sports Writer ATHENS, Ga. (AP) - Calling himself a southern boy who has "no problem eating grits," Jim Donnan was introduced as Georgia's second new football coach in eight days Tuesday. Donnan said he didn't know what had happened to make Glen Mason of Kansas change his mind one week after agreeing to replace the fired Ray Goff as Georgia's coach. "I only know that the right man's here now," Donnan said. "I knew Glen Mason was a friend of mine, but I didn't know he was this good a friend." Mason, who led Kansas to a 51-30 victory over UCLA in the Aloha Bowl Christmas day, notified athletic director Vince Dooley before the game that he had changed his mind for per- believe in fate I bought my son a bulldog five months ago. We named him Reggie, We'll probably change the name now. J J Jim Donnan New Georgia coach sonal reasons and would remain at Kansas. There were published reports in Atlanta that Mason changed his mind because of a recent divorce decree granting him and his ex-wife joint custody of their two children and that she would block them moving to Georgia with the coach. Asked if Mason mentioned that as a reason when he phoned, Dooley said, "Absolutely not. We didn't talk about anything." Dooley said he had grappled with his decision to take Mason over Donnan the first time around and immediately put in a call to Donnan as soon as his conversation ended with Mason Monday. Donnan, 50, has been one of the most successful coaches on the Division I-AA level for the last six years, leading Marshall to a 64-21 record. His 1992 team won the national championship and this year's team lost the championship game to Montana. Donnan also has spent 21 seasons as an assistant coach at his alma mater, North Carolina State, Florida State, North Carolina, Kansas State, Missouri and Oklahoma. Donnan said he was working off some of his Christmas meal when his wife called to tell him Please see DONNAN, page 20 Orioles land Wells for Goodwin, Valdez By DAVID GINSBURG AP Sports Writer BALTIMORE (AP) - The Baltimore Orioles cemented their starting rotation Tuesday by obtaining left-hander David Wells from the cost-conscious Cincinnati Reds in exchange for outfielder Curtis Goodwin and a minor leaguer. The trade also included Trovin Valdez, a switch-hitting outfielder who batted .245 and had 34 steals in 55 attempts last season with Class A Frederick. Orioles general manager Pat Gillick, making deals at a break-neck pace since taking the job late last month, said the addition of Wells gives Baltimore at least five quality starters. "David kind of solidifies the rotation," Gillick said in a telephone interview. "We particularly needed another left-hander in order for us to compete with New York and Boston in the AL East." Wells, 32, was 16-8 with the Detroit Tigers and the Reds during the 1995 season. Gillick said he will fit nicely in a rotation that tentatively includes right-handers Mike Mussina, Scott Erickson and Jimmy Haynes, along with lefthander Kent Mercker. "We like that fact that we have two left-handers to face guys like Paul O'Neill and Wade Boggs of Please see WELLS, page 19 minted ' ifcm mll mm -,, f V-A.LL . ASSOCIATED PRESS David Wells will return to the American League for the 1996 season after being traded by Cincinnati to Baltimore Tuesday.

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