Monday, September 15, 2003

Clarett seeks NFL eligibility in 2004



The Associated Press

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Suspended Ohio State running back Maurice Clarett has asked the NFL to change its rules and make him eligible for the 2004 NFL draft.

Commissioner Paul Tagliabue said Sunday that the league received a request last week from Clarett's lawyer, Alan C. Milstein.

Tagliabue said a lawyer from his office would meet with a lawyer for Clarett to discuss the case, probably the week after next.

Last week, Clarett was suspended by Ohio State for at least one season for violating NCAA bylaws concerning benefits for athletes and for lying to investigators. Also, Ohio State is investigating charges that athletes received improper help in classes.

Clarett, who rushed for 1,237 yards and 18 touchdowns last season as Ohio State won the national championship, is in his second year at the school. Under NFL rules, he would not be eligible for the draft until his third year out of high school, which would be 2005.

Tagliabue said the NFL remains opposed to changing that rule.

"I think it would be better if he stayed in school," the commissioner said.

NOTRE DAME: Tyrone Willingham's patience for quarterback Carlyle Holiday appears to be running thin.

The Irish coach hinted for the first time Saturday following Notre Dame's 38-0 loss to No. 3 Michigan (3-0) that he might consider a change at quarterback.

"It's very easy for us. It will always be the same: We play the best player," he said.

Holiday was just 5-for-14 passing for 55 yards with one interception. He was 1-for-7 for just 1 yard in the first half.

"I am disgusted at myself," Holiday said.

Since the third quarter of Notre Dame's 42-0 win over Rutgers last season, a span of four games, Holiday has led the Irish to one offensive touchdown - the same number of TDs freshman Brady Quinn has guided the Irish to in four series.

Holiday said he doesn't know what the problem is.

"I didn't do what I needed to do to win today," he said.

The Irish (1-1), who fell out of the polls Sunday for the first time since beating Maryland in the season-opener last year, have sputtered offensively since Holiday was named the starter for the third game of the 2001 season. The Irish finished that season with the 110th-rated offense out of 117 Division I-A teams. They finished last season ranked 108th and are 116th this season, averaging just 228 yards a game.

MICHIGAN STATE: Spartans quarterback Jeff Smoker remained uncertain for next weekend's game at Notre Dame.

Smoker injured his right big toe in the first quarter of Saturday's 20-19 loss to Louisiana Tech. He also sustained a rib injury during a hit and left the game in the second quarter.




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