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New bowl deal is close to fruition

Representatives of three New Year's Day bowls, two conferences and Notre Dame neared an agreement on an alliance for bowl bids Friday, but had unresolved issues that kept them from formally signing a contract. The plan involves the Atlantic Coast Conference (which will include Florida State in 1992), the new Big East football conference (which includes Miami), and the Orange, Cotton and Sugar bowls.

The idea is for those two conference champions and Notre Dame to be the opponents for the champions of the conferences that already have agreements with those three bowls: the Southeastern (Sugar), the Big Eight (Orange) and the Southwest (Cotton).

The formula for who plays where has yet to be determined.

"We're headed in the direction of doing one of the most significant things ever done in college football," said Cotton Bowl executive vice president Jim Brock. "This thing has a chance to be a bonanza."

Orange Bowl president Harper Davidson said, "We've agreed on the concept, now we have to resolve all the issues. My perception is that we've moved farther down the road with every meeting."

ACC commissioner Gene Corrigan, who first hatched the idea, said he believed the alliance was getting close enough that eventually "we'll draw up a contract."

A fourth bowl, probably either the Fiesta or Citrus, would be a part of the mix, hosting two at-large teams to cover all possibilities for a national title game.

Other details to be ironed out include how to select the two at-large teams and which poll will be used for the rankings.

Davidson said he thinks the plan, if adopted, would go into effect for the 1992 season and the 1993 New Year's Day games.

"I don't think we'd put it in force this year because of several factors, like Florida State is not in a conference yet," he said. "I think this whole alliance has a good chance to come to fruition. If not, we're dumb. All of the four bowls will have four darn good games."

Such an alliance would be expected to damage hopes of a national playoff, although no prospective member would comment on that.

Tennessee assistant Sells fired after in-house probe

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. _ The University of Tennessee fired assistant coach Jack Sells, three days before the school's deadline to respond to charges of NCAA violations.

Athletics director Doug Dickey said Sells' actions were judged "inappropriate and unacceptable" during an in-house investigation of NCAA allegations _ including the accusation that Sells improperly recruited three players, then tried to cover up his actions.

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