Combs named Patriot League Coach of Year; 3rd-place finish recognized; MSU likely to keep Mitchell


Rewarding a surprise third-place finish, the Patriot League handed Coach of the Year honors to Towson's Gordy Combs, who led his team to its best record since 1994.

It was the first distinction of this kind for Combs, who has been at Towson since the 1970s and as head coach for the last eight seasons.

"It's a very nice honor," Combs said. "It's a tribute to our [coaching] staff. I was always comfortable that we were prepared for every game that we went into."

The Tigers entered the 1999 season picked to finish last, as they had done in their previous two seasons in the Patriot League. Instead, Towson went 7-4, and had a 4-2 conference record. Late losses to NCAA Division I-AA playoff teams Colgate and Lehigh separated them from a league title.

Several others with the team earned all-conference honors. Joe Lee, the nation's only 4,000-yard passer, was named first-team quarterback, and wide receiver Jamal White made the same team with 1,322 receiving yards on 82 receptions.

Other first-team honorees were defensive end Andrew Hollingsworth, safety Ricky Crestwell and cornerback Jabari Garrett.

In other football news, Morgan State will likely remove "interim" from the title of coach Stanley Mitchell, despite the Bears' 2-8 record this season.

Mitchell, 51, said he hadn't seen anything on paper, though Morgan State officials say they intend to offer him the job by the end of this week.

Having watched his team lose its last five games of the season, Mitchell seemed energized by the possible opportunity to heal a program that hasn't had a winning season in more than 20 years.

"I intend to turn this program around," he said. "I don't think it would take too much time to turn it around."

Replacing Stump Mitchell, the first-year coach took the job in late March, less than a week before the Bears were to begin spring practice, and well beyond the time to build a coaching staff.

Morgan State lost its first two games, but won two of three at one point, including a 28-22 win over Towson on Oct. 9.

The school's vice president of student affairs, Ricardo Perry, praised Mitchell for what he saw as the coach's ability to elicit effort from the team despite a rash of injuries, most evident at the quarterback position.

"For him to be able to make adjustments and be competitive was quite an accomplishment," Perry said. "It invites curiosity as to what he could do under more favorable circumstances."

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