MARYLAND HIRES COACH: Georgia Tech offensive coordinator Ralph Friedgen was hired as head coach at Maryland.

Friedgen, who is returning to his alma mater and the scene of his first coaching job, was signed to a guaranteed six-year, $1.05 million contract.

The job will be Friedgen's first stint as a head coach after a 29-year run as an assistant at several colleges and with the San Diego Chargers.

Friedgen, 53, takes over a long-suffering program that hasn't produced a winning record since 1995 or earned a bowl bid since 1990.

SMITH TO STAY WITH LOUISVILLE: Louisville coach John L. Smith signed an eight-year contract to stay with the Cardinals.

Smith, the former Utah State coach, guided the No. 22 Cardinals to a 9-2 record and their first Conference USA title this season. Louisville, ranked for the first time since 1993, will play No. 23 Colorado State in the Liberty Bowl on Dec. 29.

JOHNSON TO START FOR FALCONS: Rookie Doug Johnson was given the Atlanta Falcons' starting quarterback job as coach Dan Reeves began looking ahead to next season.

Chris Chandler, the No. 1 quarterback since Reeves took charge of the Falcons in 1997, was dropped to No. 3 behind Johnson and Danny Kanell.

The injury-prone Chandler, who hasn't thrown a touchdown pass in five weeks, has absorbed 36 of his team's NFL-high 49 sacks. He owns a 71.9 quarterback rating, his worst mark as a starter since 1988, his rookie year with Indianapolis.

TEXAS GOING TO HOLIDAY BOWL: The University of Texas has accepted an invitation to play in the Holiday Bowl game Dec. 29.

The Holiday Bowl would like to bring in No. 5 Oregon State (10-1), but the Beavers remain in the Bowl Championship Series picture. If the Beavers receive an invitation to a BCS game on Sunday, the Holiday Bowl will invite No. 9 Oregon (9-2).


NBA/CBA EXTEND AGREEMENT: The NBA and Continental Basketball Association extended their agreement through the 2000-01 season, which could be the final year of their partnership.

The CBA will be paid $2.5 million for training current and future referees as part of Tuesday's deal and for making players available to NBA teams on short notice.

MACLEAN SUSPENDED 5 GAMES: Miami Heat forward Don MacLean was suspended for five games by the NBA for testing positive for steroids.

This is the second season in which NBA players are being tested for steroids. MacLean is the first player to be suspended under the policy.


CORMIER SIGNS WITH PHILLIES: Rheal Cormier agreed to a $8.75 million, three-year contract with Philadelphia, ending the Phillies' search for a left-handed reliever.

FORMER COUGAR HONORED: Just after re-enrolling at BYU this month, former BYU baseball player Gary Johnson was named "Minor League Player of the Year" by the Anaheim Angels. The accompanying trophy has already arrived at Johnson's Atherton, Calif., home, but he hasn't seen it yet. The outfielder who played for the Cougars in 1999 just finished winter ball in Mexico last month.

He hit .313 this past year, splitting time with the Class A Lake Elsinore Storm in California and the AA Erie Seawolves in Pennsylvania. At Lake Elsinore he batted .338 in 70 games with 13 homers and 13 stolen bases. At Erie he batted .287 in 71 games with 10 homers.

"It was a surprise honor for me to be included with past players like Tim Salmon and Ramon Ortiz who have won this before me," said Johnson.

He will continue his studies at BYU through March, when he might be assigned to AA ball in Little Rock, Ark., with the hope of advancing to Salt Lake City.

Johnson will be awarded a ring with an official presentation at Edison Field in a pre-game ceremony during the 2001 season.


BRASHEAR CHARGED WITH ASSAULT: Vancouver enforcer Donald Brashear, the victim of a stick attack by Marty McSorley last season, was charged with assaulting a man at his home. He was issued a summons to appear in court Jan. 2.


MASTERS CUP: With his game looking much sharper, Pete Sampras bounced back to beat Alex Corretja 7-6 (2), 7-5 and remain in contention for the Masters Cup title.

After losing his opening match to Lleyton Hewitt on Tuesday, Sampras needed a victory against Corretja to maintain his chances of winning the tournament for a record sixth time.

Earlier, Yevgeny Kafelnikov rallied past Magnus Norman 4-6, 7-5, 6-1 in his opening match in this $3.7 million tournament for the world's top eight players. And Marat Safin took another step toward wrapping up the No. 1 spot for the year, beating Lleyton Hewitt 6-4, 6-4.


SWIMMING & DIVING: The Cougar women's and the 17th-ranked BYU men's swimming teams will travel to California to participate in the annual Speedo Cup competition, Thursday-Saturday. For the men, teams competing include No. 6 USC, Pacific and UC Santa Barbara. On the women's side, teams include No.1 UCLA, No. 7 USC and Hawaii.

The men's and women's diving teams will host the BYU Diving Invitational, Friday and Saturday.