Game was Christmas tradition since 1978

Updated: December 7, 2004, 12:56 AM ET
Associated Press

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 games.

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.

Clemson: 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 coordinator.

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.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press