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Mt. Cody wants to take 'Bama to summit

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. - Terrence Cody's unyielding presence works best on the football field.

The 6-foot-5, 354-pound All-American nose guard specializes in clogging up the middle, drawing double teams and generally being a disruptive force on the interior of Alabama's defensive line.

Away from the game, his girth is a mixed blessing. He uses it to help diminutive folks such as coach Nick Saban.

"You do a lot more things that short people can't do. I help coach on and off the bus," a smiling Cody said. "You intimidate a lot of people. I get a lot of attention when I go out."

Big isn't always best, though. His weight scared off teams recruiting him out of junior college in Mississippi. At Alabama, strength and conditioning coach Scott Cochran roused Cody for 6 a.m. cardio sessions in an effort to slim him down.

And using the airplane restroom on the way to California for the BCS championship game against No. 2 Texas was a hassle.

"I got in there, but it took a while because it's not that big of a door," Cody said. "When I got in there, I was like, 'This is it?"'

That's been about the only letdown for Cody since deciding to skip the NFL draft and return for his senior season to help Alabama move into contention for its first national title since 1992.

"I wake up every morning and pinch myself to see if this is real," he said. "Most of us are still in shock we're playing for the national championship."

Thursday's game at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena will cap Cody's college career, something that didn't seem probable growing up in Fort Myers, Fla. He played just two years of high school football because of poor grades. At the same time, he was helping his mother care for his seven younger siblings while running with the wrong crowd.

He returned for his senior season and dominated, with Miami and South Florida offering scholarships. But Cody's grades weren't good enough to qualify, so he went off to junior college in Mississippi for two years.

That's where his weight, which topped 400 pounds and earned him the nickname "Mount Cody," turned off recruiters. He slimmed down, though, and got offers from Miami, Mississippi State and Ole Miss. Soon Saban was contacting him, too.

Cody anchors a defensive line that comes into the BCS game allowing just 77.9 rushing yards per game, second best in the nation. He's recorded 25 tackles and six tackles for loss on the Crimson Tide's total defense, also No. 2 in the country.

Texas WR Collins kicked off team following arrest. Texas receiver Brandon Collins, who was academically ineligible this season, has been kicked off the team following his arrest.

Longhorns coach Mack Brown announced the decision Sunday, a day after Collins was arrested in the Austin suburb of Pflugerville.

Pflugerville police Assistant Chief Jim McLean confirmed the arrest but had no further details.

Florida's Haden leaving for NFL draft. Florida cornerback Joe Haden is skipping his final year of eligibility and entering the NFL draft.

Haden announced his intentions Sunday, two days after No. 5 Florida beat fourth-ranked Cincinnati 51-24 in the Sugar Bowl.

The All-American led the Gators with four interceptions this season and was a finalist for the Thorpe Award, given annually to the nation's top defensive back. He also had 68 tackles, 10 pass breakups, three sacks and two forced fumbles.

LATE SATURDAY

TEXAS TECH 41

MICHIGAN ST. 31

At San Antonio, Ruffin McNeill and Texas Tech closed out a difficult week with a game Mike Leach would've loved.

Finally, the Red Raiders could unwind a little.

With everyone still talking about their fired coach, the Red Raiders blocked out the distractions and rallied to beat Michigan State in a shootout at the Alamo Bowl after a week that left Texas Tech in turmoil.

The Red Raiders fired Leach on Wednesday amid allegations he mistreated Adam James. The wide receiver, son of ESPN analyst Craig James, got a hostile reception all night from the crowd, who booed the sophomore so loud that it drowned out the marching band at halftime.

But when it was over, there were only cheers. The crowd chanted "Ruffin!" in a thank-you to the interim coach who navigated the Red Raiders through a week the school is desperate to forget.

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