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Oklahoma's Stoops rewarded with a contract extension

Oklahoma gave coach Bob Stoops a contract extension through 2005 that will pay him from $900,000 to $1-million a year, the school said Wednesday.

Stoops, 39, has turned Oklahoma's fortunes around in his two seasons. The Sooners are 2-0 and ranked 18th nationally after going 7-5 in 1999, their first winning campaign in six years, and earning a berth in the Independence Bowl.

The agreement includes deferred payments of $150,000 a year if he is coach on Dec. 31, 2004; an $80,000 increase in outside compensation to $530,000 annually, and an increase of $70,000 in performance-based incentive clauses to a maximum of $200,000 a year.

"I want the university to send the strongest possible signal of our support to coach Bob Stoops," Oklahoma president David L. Boren said. "There is no one in the country better suited to be the head coach at the University of Oklahoma."

Stoops was named coach in 1999 after three seasons as defensive coordinator at Florida and eight years as an assistant at Kansas State.

GEORGIA TECH: Coach George O'Leary plans to use more players as the Yellow Jackets host Navy on Saturday, and particularly wants more playing time for sophomore tailback Sidney Ford.

"I want to play more people," O'Leary said after practice. "We played 47 against FSU, and I want to be in the high 50s.

"Sometimes you get so wrapped up in the game that you forget about getting other kids in there. I just want to make sure we are getting enough kids reps because you never know when they're going to be needed," he said.

Last season, Ford played in three games and gained 69 yards on just 11 carries.

"Sidney Ford needs to play," O'Leary said. "I like the way he's hitting the holes right now, and he's going to get his opportunity this week."

INDIANA: The Big Ten Conference fined coach Cam Cameron $10,000 for criticizing officials after Saturday's 41-38 loss to North Carolina State.

Cameron broke Big Ten rules by publicly criticizing the Atlantic Coast Conference crew that worked the game.

"I was wrong in criticizing the officials," Cameron said in his weekly new conference. "Obviously, I got going and probably went a little too far. I just wanted to let everyone know that in the future that's not how we'll handle things."

The Indianapolis Star reported Cameron was upset after the game with at least six questionable calls.

With 1:54 left and Indiana ahead 38-33, the Hoosiers were called for defensive holding on fourth down. North Carolina State scored the winning touchdown with 54 seconds left.

"We played well enough to win the football game on the scoreboard, period," Cameron said after the game. "(The team) still had the game won and it was taken from them. You can slice it up anyway you want, that football game was flat taken from Indiana University. I have never seen anything like that in my life."

Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said Indiana and the conference would evaluate the officiating concerns raised by Cameron.

MISSISSIPPI: Eddie Strong, the team's leading tackler last season, will be out indefinitely after a stress fracture was found in his injured left foot.

The injury, believed at first to be a bone bruise, had forced Strong to miss the Rebels' first two games. Further tests revealed the fracture.

TENNESSEE: Travis Henry isn't known for elusive quickness or weaving around defenders. He's at his best breaking out of tackles, running full-speed into blockers and sometimes flipping over them.

That type of toughness has kept the senior tailback at 11th-ranked Tennessee, plugging away to this season, when he finally gets the rushing spotlight all to himself.

His first start ever against No. 6 Florida comes Saturday.

He missed the game in 1997 recovering from knee surgery. He was Jamal Lewis' backup the next year and again in 1999.

Henry makes no promises, though, of setting a new career-high in rushing. He just wants to run and see how far it takes him.

"I'm very excited for this football game, but I'm just trying not to get overhyped and try to take this game as a game that I just have to have the best game of my career. I'm just going in to have fun and do what I do," Henry says.

If all Henry does against Florida is what he normally does, then Tennessee is in for a good showing.

Don't forget this is the man who ran for 4,087 yards and 42 touchdowns in just one season _ his final year at Frostproof High. It broke Emmitt Smith's Florida high school single-season rushing record. His goal this season is to rush for 2,000 yards.

Tennessee needs his help on the ground.

It has been well-documented that the team in the Tennessee-Florida series that gained the most yards rushing has won each game since 1990. Tennessee has averaged 111.5 yards rushing in those games.

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