College football news

Published 7:17 am Wednesday, January 14, 2009

STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) — New Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen has added longtime associate John Hevesy to his staff.

Like Mullen, Hevesy has been part of Urban Meyer’s coaching staff at Bowling Green, Utah and Florida over the last eight years, serving as a tight ends and offensive line coach. He has coached in four BCS bowls, including the 2006 and 2008 national championship games.

Hevesy is the fifth assistant coach hired by Mullen since he was tabbed to replace coach Sylvester Croom. Other coaches hired are Mark Hudspeth, Les Koening, Carl Torbush and Frank Wilson.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Mullen will assign duties to his coaching staff later.

Mullen is making six stopthis week y as part of a tour to meet with Bulldog fans.

The stops began in Stoneville and Olive Branch on Monday and will end on Thursday with stops in Hattiesburg and Gulfport.

Mullen says he’ll be back in Starkville on Friday for his first meeting with his Bulldog team.

Mullen comes to Mississippi State from Florida and just helped the Gators become BCS champions.

He has said he will soon set out to recruit “the best, fastest, most athletic players in the country.”

Also, Mississippi State defensive back Keith Fitzhugh has been chosen to play in Saturday’s East-West Shrine Game.

Fitzhugh, a Hampton, Ga., native, played in all 48 games during his career with the Bulldogs, finishing with 180 tackles and six interceptions.

The East-West Shrine Game features seniors who have exhausted their eligibility. The game gives them an opportunity to play in front of scouts and coaches from professional leagues.

• In Hattiesburg, a strong finish means a contract extension for first-year Southern Miss coach Larry Fedora.

The Golden Eagles (7-6) ended the season with five straight wins and knocked off Sun Belt champion Troy 30-27 in overtime in the New Orleans Bowl, extending their streak to 15 straight winning seasons.

“We are very excited about the future of Southern Miss football under the leadership of Larry Fedora and we are pleased to announce the extension of his contract,” Southern Miss athletic director Richard Giannini said Monday. “We are confident coach Fedora will lead Southern Miss back to (Conference USA) football championships and potential BCS bowl games, which has always been one of our major goals.”

The extension pushes Fedora’s contract to four years through 2012, the most allowed under state law. It must still be approved by the College Board. Financial terms have not been completed.

The school set records for ticket sales under Fedora, who replaced Jeff Bower last year. The former Oklahoma State offensive coordinator was brought in to jazz up Southern Miss’ playing style and didn’t disappoint as the Golden Eagles finished 20th in total offense with a total of 5,636 yards and 433.5 per game. The team broke 36 school records and tied six more on the way to its seventh straight bowl appearance and the 11th in 12 seasons.

“I am thrilled about the opportunity to lead this football program to new heights. Southern Miss is a special place with special people who truly care about comprehensive development of our student-athletes.”• In Oxford, Former Auburn All-American defensive lineman Tracy Rocker is returning to his alma mater as defensive line coach, head coach Gene Chizik announced Monday.

Rocker held the same position at Mississippi, where he helped guide the No. 14 Rebels to an amazing turnaround from worst in the Southeastern Conference to a Cotton Bowl win over Texas Tech, driven in large part by outstanding play along the defensive line.

Rocker was a two-time All-American and three-time All-SEC player at Auburn. He played two years in the NFL before going on to coach at Arkansas, Cincinnati, Troy State and West Alabama.

“I’m glad to be welcomed back to Auburn, where I have a lot of fond memories and had many great experiences,” Rocker said in a statement. “There are three things that I’ve learned you need to be successful in football, and those are hard work, patience, and team work. I’m looking forward to the challenges ahead and working for Coach Chizik and the entire staff.”

Rocker won the 1988 Outland and Lombardi Trophies. He was previously defensive line coach at Arkansas for five seasons. Rocker was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame by the National Football Foundation in December, 2004, in New York City, and was inducted into Alabama’s state Sports Hall of Fame in the summer of 2005.

A third-round pick of the Washington Redskins in the 1989 NFL Draft, Rocker went on to play two seasons with the Redskins and was selected to the NFL All-Rookie team in 1990.

“It’s a tremendous privilege to be able to add to our staff one of the greatest players to ever wear an Auburn uniform,” Chizik said. “Tracy’s ability as an All-American player and his reputation nationally as a defensive line coach will provide instant credibility to our players and recruits.”