Morehead State fires Ballard after 4th straight losing season

Morehead State Athletics Director Brian Hutchinson released a statement Tuesday saying the contract of head football coach Matt Ballard will not be renewed.

"We have not made continual progress on the football field," Hutchinson's statement said. "The program is not performing up to the expectations we have for it. Over the years, we have identified obstacles to our success and have been diligent in addressing them. The results have been consistent for a few seasons now, and it is time to change leadership."

Morehead State finished the 2012 season on Saturday with a record of 4-7 overall and 3-5 in the Pioneer Football League.

The Eagles went 102-105 in Ballard's 19 seasons as head coach. He was an assistant at Morehead State for four additional seasons. The 2012 season marked the team's fourth consecutive losing season.

Hutchinson's statement said a national search for Ballard's replacement will begin immediately.

Ballard led Morehead State to four Pioneer League South Division championships from 2002-2005 and posted school-record nine-win seasons in 1998 and 2002.

Ballard's tenure was also noted for his efforts in the community. In 2010, Ballard became the first collegiate football coach to go barefoot during a game in support of Samaritan's Feet, an organization that provides shoes to underprivileged children.

"It is very important to me that we express our gratitude for Coach Ballard's efforts on behalf of our program for over two decades," Hutchinson said. "He inherited a program that was in shambles, and had an opportunity to coach and lead several hundred young men over the years. I am grateful to him for his dedicated service to our university."

All-OVC teams named

Five Eastern Kentucky players were named Tuesday to the All-Ohio Valley Conference team.

Running back Matt Denham, offensive tackle Aaron Adams, defensive lineman Robert Knowles, linebacker Anthony Brown and defensive back Brooklyn Fox were among the 25 players honored.

Murray State earned two selections: quarterback Casey Brockman and return specialist Walter Powell.

WKU's Smith tears ACL

Western Kentucky defensive end and national sacks co-leader Quanterus Smith is done for the season after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee Saturday against Louisiana-Lafayette.

Smith is tied with Texas A&M's Damontre Moore for the lead in sacks (12.5) and is first in sacks per game (1.25). He's third in sack yardage (84).

Smith's 24 career sacks are tied for the Sun Belt Conference mark and he's just half a sack off the league's single-season record (13). He has drawn interest from NFL scouts who have attended Hilltoppers practices this season.

Sophomore T.J. Smith and freshman Gavin Rocker will see time in Smith's place for WKU (6-5, 3-4 Sun Belt) in Saturday's regular season finale against North Texas (4-7, 3-4).

Cal fires Tedford

Coach Jeff Tedford was fired on Tuesday after 11 seasons at California that began with great promise and ended with a disappointing run of mediocrity.

Tedford engineered an impressive turnaround for the Golden Bears after taking over a one-win team following the 2001 season. He won a school-record 82 games, churned out numerous NFL prospects and spearheaded a facilities upgrade highlighted by a $321 million stadium renovation.

But he never was able to match early success that included a pair of 10-win seasons in his first five years and a share of the 2006 conference title.

"This was an extraordinarily difficult decision, one that required a thorough and thoughtful analysis of a complex set of factors," Athletic Director Sandy Barbour said in a statement. "Ultimately, I believed that we needed a change in direction to get our program back on the right track."

The program bottomed out this season, losing the final five games to finish 3-9 for Tedford's worst season at the helm. The Bears lost to rival Stanford for the third straight season and finished 2-5 in the first year back at remodeled Memorial Stadium.

The final two losses were the most lopsided of Tedford's career, a 59-17 home loss to Oregon followed by a season-ending 62-14 loss at Oregon State.

Cowbell cops at Ole Miss

The University of Mississippi doesn't want to see any cowbells at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium during the Egg Bowl on Saturday.

The school sent out a statement saying that cowbells are "strictly prohibited" from the stadium during the annual football game between Ole Miss and Mississippi State, citing the Southeastern Conference's artificial noisemaker policy.

Stadium gates will open at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday for the 6 p.m. game. Fans who do have cowbells will be asked to take them back to their cars before entering the stadium.

The statement says fans who see cowbells inside the stadium can send a text message to 69050 and write "Rebs cowbell (insert section and row)".

Mississippi State has won the last three Egg Bowls.