Game was Christmas tradition since 1978

MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- The Blue-Gray All-Star Classic has been
called off for the second time in three years because officials
couldn't find a corporate sponsor for the Christmas Day showcase
for aspiring NFL players.

The Blue-Gray game was a Christmas tradition since 1978,
featuring college seniors from teams that didn't qualify for bowl

Organizers had attempted to move the game from Christmas Day to
Jan. 8 after the bowl games were completed, Blue-Gray Association
President Mahlon Paulk said Monday.

"We thought this was really going to be an answer, because we
were going to be able to get more name athletes that the public
would have identification with," Paulk said. "I think it would
have worked. I think it would have really brought a lot more people
into the stands having it a day other than Christmas Day."

Paulk wasn't ruling out a return for the game.

Tigers coach Tommy Bowden fired three
assistant coaches, including offensive coordinator Mike O'Cain and
defensive coordinator John Lovett.

Thielen Smith, a linebackers coach who had been with Bowden for
eight seasons, also was let go, Bowden said Monday.

O'Cain, the former North Carolina State coach, had been with the
Tigers for four seasons, although this was his first as offensive

Lovett finished his third season leading Clemson's defense.

The next offensive coordinator would be Bowden's fourth since
arriving at Clemson before the 1999 season. O'Cain, who also worked
with the quarterbacks, was given the offensive coordinator duties
last winter.

Bowden, known for his background in offense, said he would not
take over coordinator duties.