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Gophers, Mason Might Part Ways

From the Associated Press

Minnesota Coach Glen Mason says he has been busy preparing his Golden Gophers for Virginia and the Music City Bowl, leaving negotiations on a new contract extension to his agent.

Time may be running out.

As of Thursday afternoon, Mason didn’t know if he’ll get an extension before Saturday night -- when contracts for his assistant coaches expire -- even though he has a year remaining on his seven-year deal. A school attorney told the St. Paul Pioneer Press that Minnesota doesn’t want Mason coaching without a renewal.

“I’d be less than truthful if I didn’t say that I’ve been thinking about it because it’s important to a lot of people around me -- my coaches, their families and my family,” Mason said. “But I really try to put it to the back burner because a lot of responsibilities I have here, and I literally don’t have any time to spend on it.”

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Mason is 58-49 in nine seasons with the Golden Gophers, and this is their sixth bowl in seven years.

Mason’s Golden Gophers (7-4) will try to win their fourth consecutive bowl game today against Virginia (6-5), a team they’ve never played.

Virginia figures to need a big effort from senior quarterback Marques Hagans to outscore a Minnesota team that averages 36.1 points.

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Penn State receiver Derrick Williams is doubtful for the Orange Bowl because of an arm injury that sidelined the freshman for two months.

Coach Joe Paterno said that Williams would probably sit out the Nittany Lions’ game against Florida State on Tuesday.

“Derrick Williams is worth a touchdown, but I doubt, really, if he’ll play,” Paterno said.

Williams was a key player for Penn State’s offense until breaking his arm in a 27-25 loss to Michigan on Oct. 15. He caught one touchdown pass and ran for three other scores.

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Paterno said the injury was so severe that doctors were concerned that there could be nerve damage.

“So, I don’t think it’s worth the kid’s future; he has a great future, so I doubt he will play,” Paterno said.

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Leading tackler A.J. Nicholson was suspended by Florida State and questioned by police in Hollywood, Fla., after a 19-year-old woman accused him of sexually assaulting her.

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A decision on whether to charge the linebacker will be made after the completion of an investigation expected to extend into next week, police said. Nicholson was released by police and sent home by the team, which arrived Wednesday in South Florida for Tuesday’s Orange Bowl.

Coach Bobby Bowden said Nicholson was suspended for violating a team rule but declined further comment.

The woman called police at 3 a.m. Thursday and said she had been assaulted by a Florida State player, later identified as Nicholson, police detective Carlos Negron said.

The alleged assault occurred at the Westin Diplomat Resort and Spa, where the Seminoles are staying.

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Nicholson went to the police station voluntarily and was questioned for two hours, Negron said.

The woman also was interviewed by detectives and taken to a rape treatment center.

Negron declined to give further details because the case remains open.

Nicholson, a senior, has started every game the last two seasons and led the Seminoles this season with 100 tackles.

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The Orange Bowl and Dolphins Stadium announced an agreement that will keep the game in its current home through at least 2014.

The eight-year deal begins in 2007.

The agreement includes a four-year option requiring both parties to accept an extension.

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The current contract expires after the game Tuesday.

“This agreement was essential in keeping the Orange Bowl Committee as a major player within the bowl system,” said Keith Tribble, the committee’s chief executive.

The agreement is an equal partnership between the committee and the stadium to share revenue from staging the game. The stadium played host to the Orange Bowl for the first time in 1996.


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