Coach Dennis Erickson of the NFL's San Francisco 49ers met with Mississippi's athletic director and chancellor for two hours last night to discuss the school's vacant head-coaching...

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SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Coach Dennis Erickson of the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers met with Mississippi’s athletic director and chancellor for two hours last night to discuss the school’s vacant head-coaching position.

Though Erickson, an Everett native and former head coach at Washington State and with the Seahawks, wasn’t offered the job, both sides agreed their meeting at a hotel went well. They plan to speak again soon, though Mississippi athletic director Pete Boone and chancellor Robert Khayat will head home — and interview more candidates — before making a decision.

“From our perspective, he said all the right things,” Khayat said. “He’s interested in the welfare of the players and wants to do well academically, as well as being competitive in football.”

Boone called 49ers general manager Terry Donahue on Monday to request the interview. After Donahue and owner John York granted permission, Erickson went to the hotel shortly after finishing work for Saturday’s home game against Washington.

“It’s just more me wanting to investigate what’s there, and not do it behind anybody’s back,” Erickson said.

Erickson is finishing his second frustrating season with the 49ers, who are 9-20 during his tenure. Erickson acknowledged an interest in returning to college football, where he has been a longtime success — and Mississippi is interested in a coach with Erickson’s championship credentials.

Erickson was contacted by Ole Miss intermediaries last week before Boone’s interview request.

“It’s interesting. I think it’s a good situation there,” Erickson said.

And it’s not a good situation in San Francisco for Erickson, who has three seasons and $7.5 million remaining on his contract with the 49ers. Erickson, Donahue and York have been frustrated by the Niners’ 2-11 performance this season.

But Donahue has said he won’t fire Erickson, and Erickson has said he won’t quit.

Southern Miss wins New Orleans bowl

NEW ORLEANS — Dustin Almond threw for 247 yards and a touchdown and ran for another score, leading Southern Mississippi to its first bowl victory in four years, 31-10 over North Texas in the New Orleans Bowl.

Linebacker Michael Boley helped put the game away, returning an interception 62 yards for a touchdown early in the fourth quarter. Boley, named MVP of the first bowl of the postseason, finished with eight tackles, including two sacks.

“They ran the same play earlier in the game … and threw it right by me,” the Southern Mississippi linebacker recalled. “I just kind of stopped, got in the throwing lane and luckily he threw it to me.”

Tailback Jamario Thomas, who missed North Texas’ final regular-season game with a sore hamstring, finished with 92 yards. His season total of 1,801 fell 62 yards short of ex-Wisconsin running back Ron Dayne’s freshman record of 1,863 yards.


Heisman Trophy-winning QB Matt Leinart wasn’t even selected the most valuable player on his own team.

That honor went to RB Reggie Bush at No. 1 USC’s awards banquet. Bush finished fifth in the Heisman voting. The award was determined by a vote of the players.

Richard Byyny, chancellor of the University of Colorado’s flagship Boulder campus, announced his resignation after eight years that included a football recruiting scandal and steep cuts in state funding.

Byyny, 65, will become executive director of a new health-policy center at the University of Colorado Hospital in Aurora on March 1.

He and his boss, university President Elizabeth Hoffman, both insisted he was not leaving because of the scandal.

• Oklahoma’s Dusty Dvoracek had been granted a medical-hardship waiver by the NCAA, which will allow the defensive tackle who was kicked off the team in September to play a fifth season with the Sooners.

Dvoracek, a third-team All-American last season, was dismissed after he was involved in a bar fight in Norman.

Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops wouldn’t say when Dvoracek would be reinstated, but it won’t be before the Sooners play USC in the Orange Bowl on Jan. 4.

• Marshall LB Dionte Wilson has been suspended for the Fort Worth Bowl for an unspecified violation of team rules.