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National Sports Briefs: Leach fired

Associated Press
LUBBOCK, Texas ó Texas Tech fired Mike Leach on Wednesday after the coach took the school to court to try to overturn his suspension for alleged mistreatment of an injured player.
“I’m very sad to say there’s only one person to blame for this and it’s Mike Leach,” Texas Tech chancellor Kent Hance told the AP.
Jerry Turner, vice chairman of the university system’s board of regents, said “other things” came to light during an investigation of Leach’s treatment of receiver Adam James. The sophomore alleged the coach twice confined him to a small, dark place after the player was diagnosed with a concussion.
Leach was suspended Monday after he refused to agree to guidelines for dealing with players set forth by his bosses in a Dec. 23 letter.
When Leach decided to fight the university in court “in defiance” of his suspension, that’s why “we are where we are,” Turner said.
Leach was in San Antonio with his team, which is preparing for the Alamo Bowl against Michigan State on Saturday.
He left the team’s hotel while his interim replacement, defensive coordinator Ruffin McNeill, was holding a news conference.
BOWDEN’S LAST PRACTICE
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. ó Bobby Bowden wrapped himself Wednesday in a gold Florida State sweat shirt and garnet jacket, then pulled on his white cap adorned with the same logo and headed onto the Seminoles’ practice field.
Somehow, he didn’t realize it was for the final time.
After 44 years of coaching and thousands of practices along the way, a Bowden-coached team has gone through a full-scale workout for the last time. The Seminoles completed preparations for Friday’s Gator Bowl against West Virginia, and now only a light walkthrough ó a dress rehearsal, really ó remains before Bowden’s final kickoff.
“Hadn’t thought about it,” Bowden said Wednesday morning, bundled against an unseasonable north Florida chill. “Those are not in my mind. It’s not like I’m keeping score: ‘Oh, it’s the last day; oh, it’s the last this.’ It’s the last thing I want to think of, really.
“But it’s the last day.”
HUMANITARIAN BOWL
BOISE, Idaho ó Max Komar made a sliding 16-yard touchdown catch with four seconds left and Nathan Enderle passed to Preston Davis for the 2-point conversion, lifting Idaho to a dramatic 43-42 victory over Bowling Green in Wednesday night’s Humanitarian Bowl.
The Falcons took a 42-35 lead with 32 seconds left on a 51-yard pass from Tyler Sheehan to Freddie Barnes, who slipped behind the Idaho secondary for his 17th catch of the game and No. 155 in his record-setting season. But Idaho answered with a 50-yard heave from Enderle to Davis that got the ball to the Bowling Green 16. After an incompletion with 8 seconds left, Enderle found Komar in the middle of the field, and he slid to cradle the low pass.
Coach Robb Akey then decided to go for the 2-point conversion and Enderle threw to Davis alone in the back of the end zone.
HOLIDAY BOWL
SAN DIEGO ó Zac Lee threw a 74-yard touchdown pass to Niles Paul in the third quarter to highlight No. 20 Nebraska’s 33-0 rout against No. 22 Arizona on a rainy Wednesday night, the first shutout in the 32-year history of the Holiday Bowl.
The coaches expected a defensive game, and the Huskers delivered, earning their first shutout in 46 bowl appearances.PANTHERS
CHARLOTTE ó Muhsin Muhammad is 36, in the final year of his contract and didn’t catch his first touchdown pass of the season until last Sunday.
Yet the Panthers starting receiver ó who has spent 11 of his 14 seasons in Carolina ó vowed that Sunday’s season finale against New Orleans won’t mark the end of his career.
“I don’t know if it will be my last game as a Panther, but I know it won’t be my last game,” Muhammad said Wednesday.
A two-time Pro Bowler and known as one of the NFL’s top blocking receivers, Muhammad has just 46 catches for 496 yards. Lack of production by receivers other than Steve Smith has hampered the Panthers offense for much of their disappointing season.
Muhammad’s 22-yard touchdown catch in Sunday’s 41-9 win over the New York Giants was the first TD by a receiver other than Smith.
ARTEST
LOS ANGELES ó Lakers forward Ron Artest still can’t remember exactly how he fell at his home on Christmas night. He’s just thankful his tumble only left him with a concussion, a deep cut on his left elbow and a little memory loss.
The latest misadventure in Artest’s unusual career has kept him out of Los Angeles’ lineup for three games, but he expects to return soon. He’ll run on a treadmill Wednesday to see whether he should attempt to play Friday against Sacramento.
SPEED SKATING
KEARNS, Utahó Heather Richardson of High Point clinched a spot in her third Olympic event by winning the 1,500 meters at the U.S. Speedskating Championships.BASEBALL
PHOENIX ó The Arizona Diamondbacks signed second baseman Kelly Johnson on a one-year contract.
Johnson hit just .224 with eight homers and 29 RBIs in 106 games for the Atlanta Braves last season, but batted .325 against left-handers and .368 (7 for 19) as a pinch hitter.

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