By Arlie Rahn
Arizona Daily Wildcat
The first major shake-up in the Pacific 10 Conference occurred yesterday when California head coach Keith Gilbertson was fired, two days after the Bears ended their season with a loss to rival Stanford. Gilbertson managed only one winning season during his four years as head coach at Cal.
Cal athletic director John Kasser met with Gilbertson yesterday and the two reached a financial settlement for the final three years of Gilbertson's contract.
"We felt the need to go in a new direction," Kasser said. "He's a fine, fine person and I'm sorry that things didn't work out the best here for him."
Gilbertson, who made about $225,000 per year, watched his team's record fall to 3-8 this season, giving him a career mark of 20-26 at Cal.
Kasser said the search for a new coach would begin immediately, and he named a six-member search committee.
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It was another close Pac-10 season, as No. 17 Southern Cal (8-2-1 overall, 6-1-1 in the Pac-10) and 21st-ranked Washington (7-3-1, 6-1-1) shared the conference title. But the Rose Bowl bid goes to the Trojans for their better overall record.
"We're the Pac-10 champions, we've earned that right," USC coach John Robinson said.
That leaves Washington with the third draw, taken by the Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas. The Huskies might enter that bowl without Lawyer Milloy, their best defensive player. The free safety underwent a magnetic imaging resonance scan on his left big toe yesterday to determine whether his toe was broken or sprained. Coach Jim Lambright did not announce the results of the injury immediately.
Milloy injured his toe in the second quarter of a 33-30 victory over Washington State. If Milloy does sit out the Sun Bowl, it may be his last game. Lambright said he has been trying to convince Milloy to remain in Seattle for his senior season rather than entering April's NFL draft.
No. 12 Oregon, which was third in the conference at 6-2, will get the Cotton Bowl bid because of its 9-2 overall record. While the Ducks did not achieve their goal of roses, head coach Mike Bellotti said he is not disappointed with his team's postseason situation.
"Now that we know the Cotton Bowl is a reality, there'll be seven to 10 days for the players to have off," Bellotti said. "I'm very proud of our team and our seniors. They've played hard all year long, and they responded to the challenge. It's a tremendous accomplishment for us, returning to a bowl."
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UCLA managed the upset of the season, beating USC last weekend to solidify a bowl bid. The Bruins' 24-20 win over the conference champs probably will land them a spot against Baylor or Texas Tech in Hawaii's Aloha Bowl. They also extended the winning streak over their cross-town rival to five games.
"I'm thrilled with the effort these guys gave," said UCLA coach Terry Donahue, who passed former Washington coach Don James as the Pac-10's all-time win leader with 98. "This win puts us back into the race for a bowl game."
While the Trojans and Coach John Robinson are headed to a better bowl game than UCLA, he said he was not satisfied with his team's effort.
"It was a too-familiar start for us," Robinson said. "We start the game poorly and get behind, and try to close the gap. This time we didn't get it done. The key was two trick plays Ÿ the same thing that Stanford did on us. But you have to give them credit, UCLA is one of the more talented football teams in the country."
While wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson caught 12 receptions, the Bruins did manage to keep the All-America candidate out of the end zone.
"When you're getting triple-covered, you can't do anything but go underneath, so that's what we did," Johnson said. "There's nothing I can say. We just lost."
The win for the Bruins is of an even greater magnitude considering they achieved it without the services of the Pac-10's leading rusher, Karim Abdul-Jabbar. The Bruin offensive line helped pick up the slack, opening holes for tailback James Milliner (74 yards) and fullback Derek Ayers (69 yards) as the Bruins amassed 211 rushing yards.
"They have a great running game and that means they have a very good offensive line," Robinson said. "We knew they would run the ball."
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Oregon managed a late field goal to defeat last-place Oregon State 12-10 and help assure themselves a third-place finish in the conference. All 12 points came off Josh Smith field goals.
"Josh Smith, our no-name kicker, came through again for us," Bellotti said. "He improved himself and did a great job Ÿ I think he performs better under pressure."
But the story was defensive play for the Ducks, who held the second-ranked rushing team in the Pac-10 to under 200 total yards.
"You have to give credit to the "Gang Green" (Oregon's defense)," Bellotti said. "OSU threw lots of different things at us and this was (defensive coordinator) Charlie Waters' first time defending the option. He and the coaches took little things from previous encounters, and had the players responding well."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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