Mississippi has hired USC assistant Ed Orgeron to coach the Rebels, Orgeron's father told The Associated Press yesterday. Ole Miss scheduled a news conference today to introduce...

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JACKSON, Miss. — Mississippi has hired USC assistant Ed Orgeron to coach the Rebels, Orgeron’s father told The Associated Press yesterday.

Ole Miss scheduled a news conference today to introduce a new coach, school spokesman Langston Rogers said, though he declined further comment.

“It’s a done deal,” Edward Orgeron Sr. said in a phone interview from his home in Larose, La.

Athletic director Pete Boone was in California but would not confirm the hiring of Orgeron. Boone met with San Francisco 49ers coach Dennis Erickson on Tuesday. Erickson withdrew from consideration yesterday.

Erickson plans to finish the season with the 49ers and still hopes to coach the team again next season.

“I feel like I want to finish this thing, if I have the opportunity,” the former Seahawks coach said. “It was more of an interest in looking into the college situation. It doesn’t really have anything to do with the San Francisco 49ers. I just wanted to look into it, and I did.”

Erickson has three seasons and $7.5 million remaining on his contract with the 49ers, but his future is far from secure. San Francisco’s brass still might attempt to force out the coach or some of his assistants after this dismal season.

The 49ers, who made the playoffs two years ago, are tied with Miami for the NFL’s worst record at 2-11. Erickson, who won two national championships at Miami, is 9-20 in two seasons in San Francisco.

Orgeron, a Louisiana native, has been the defensive-line coach with the Trojans since 1998. This will be his first head-coaching position.

Orgeron’s high profile and his ties to the South made him an appealing candidate for Ole Miss.

He is considered a key recruiter at top-ranked USC, which plays No. 2 Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl for the Bowl Championship Series title on Jan. 4. He won three national titles as an assistant — two at Miami (1989 and 1991) and last year at USC.

He was interviewed by Ole Miss shortly after being contacted on Dec. 6.

The 43-year-old openly expressed his desire for the job during the past two weeks.

His hiring wraps up the school’s 15-day search for David Cutcliffe’s replacement. Cutcliffe was fired Dec. 1 after his first losing season in Oxford. Cutcliffe was 44-29 in six seasons, including 10-3 in 2003.

Solich to coach Ohio

Former Nebraska coach Frank Solich has been hired as coach of Ohio University, The Associated Press reported.

The Athens, Ohio, school has a news conference scheduled today to introduce Solich.

Solich was fired by Nebraska after the 2003 season despite a 58-19 record as the successor to Tom Osborne, who retired in 1997 after winning three national championships in his last four seasons.

Solich, who turned down the head-coaching job at Army after last season, didn’t immediately return a message seeking comment left on his cellphone.

Solich, a Cleveland native, brings instant credibility to a program that has languished at the bottom of the Mid-American Conference the past four years under Brian Knorr, fired Nov. 18. Knorr’s teams were 11-35.

Four Beavers won’t play in Insight Bowl

CORVALLIS, Ore. — Four suspended Oregon State players won’t be reinstated to play in the Insight Bowl on Dec. 28 against Notre Dame.

Coach Mike Riley announced that Joe Rudulph, Brent Bridges, Anthony Wheat-Brown and Whitfield Usher cannot practice with the team as it prepares for the bowl game in Phoenix.

Ryan Rainwater also remained indefinitely suspended, but he was ineligible for competition this season after transferring from Portland State.

The suspensions stem from two separate incidents at the Headline Cafe, including an assault on an Oregon National Guardsman.


• Pittsburgh athletic director Jeff Long plans to interview at least three candidates to replace coach Walt Harris. Former Miami Dolphins coach Dave Wannstedt, Houston Texans assistant Jon Hoke and Oklahoma co-defensive coordinator Bo Pelini are expected to talk with Long, while Pitt defensive coordinator Paul Rhoads also is interested.

• California claimed two of the state’s best junior-college prospects, signing quarterback Joseph Ayoob and linebacker Desmond Bishop to national letters of intent. Ayoob and Bishop were stars at the City College of San Francisco during the past two seasons. Ayoob recently was voted the state’s junior-college offensive player of the year, and Bishop was named the top defensive player.

• Four junior-college players signed letters of intent to play for Arizona: wide receiver B.J. Vickers of Santa Monica Community College; safety Michael Johnson of Tyler, Texas, Community College; tight end Brandyn McCall of Golden West College in Huntington Beach, Calif.; and H-back Paul Nichols of Coffeyville, Kan., Community College.

• Former Illinois players are questioning whether the school searched hard enough for a black or minority coach to replace Ron Turner before hiring recently fired Florida coach Ron Zook. Sixty-two former players wrote to athletic director Ron Guenther asking him to “enact a search process that includes several African-American candidates and other coaches of color.”

• Florida running back Ciatrick Fason said he plans to forgo his senior year and enter the NFL draft.

• Cincinnati quarterback Gino Guidugli has the cast off his broken throwing hand and expects to start in the Fort Worth Bowl on Dec. 23.