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Stand back, refs, Butterbeans in the house

The near-capacity crowd on hand for the fight card at Chinook Winds Casino on Friday was there for two reasons Ñ Tonya Harding and Eric 'Butterbean' Esch.

Esch didn't disappoint, knocking out Troy Roberts in 54 seconds.

It wasn't a record for the King of the Four-Rounders, who is 64-3-4 with 49 knockouts in his pro career.

'I knocked a guy out in 18 seconds, and that includes the 10-count,' Esch says.

The 5-10 Esch, who claims to have dropped from 400 pounds to 340, accidentally hit the referee Friday Ñ 'he jumped in and I got him in the back. Bad move by him' Ñ but it wasn't the first time that has happened.

'My fourth or fifth pro fight, the referee jumped in, and I was coming way back with a haymaker, and boom!' Esch says. 'I laid him out cold. That's when Jay Leno noted me, and my career pretty much took off.'

Butterbean, 36, says he just worked out a deal with a promoter that will keep him fighting for a while.

'We are going to do a fight about every other week, unless I get hurt,' he says. 'My goal is 100 wins.'

• Portland State has hired Jamaal Fontaine and Saga Tuitele to fill out its football coaching staff.

Fontaine, 26, replaces Nigel Burton, who left to coach cornerbacks at Oregon State. Fontaine is a former University of Washington and NFL linebacker who had been serving as a graduate assistant at his alma mater. Fontaine, who will coach the secondary at PSU, is a native of San Francisco and will help the Vikings recruit in Northern California and Seattle.

Tuitele, a former offensive and defensive lineman for the Vikings, will coach the defensive tackles. Tuitele, 24, succeeds Vic Venuta, who resigned to enter private business.

'Both of them are going to be great coaches,' PSU coach Tim Walsh says. 'Neither has a lot of coaching experience, but they are both more mature than their age would indicate.'

• Portland's Donny Reynolds is with another major league organization Ñ the Colorado Rockies Ñ and is back on the field as hitting coach for the Class A Visalia (Calif.) Oaks of the California League.

Reynolds, 50, had spent the previous four seasons with Montreal, the last two as director of player development. The Corvallis native, who played two years with the San Diego Padres, has spent the last six years on the scouting and personnel side.

'This job gives me a chance to get back on the field and be more involved with the players again,' says the older brother of Harold Reynolds, a former major league player turned broadcaster. 'It's been good Ñ a different pulse than in personnel.'

Reynolds has extensive background in sports counseling and has spoken with Oregon State about creating a position for him. He is a close friend of OSU football coach Mike Riley, with whom he grew up and played football, basketball and baseball at Corvallis High.

• Phil Jackson does a segment on Sporting News radio each week during the NBA season, and in recent weeks he has found time to comment a couple of times on situations involving the Trail Blazers.

The Lakers coach had a mixed review on the rumor that his former cohort in Chicago, ex-Bulls General Manager Jerry Krause, would be hired for that position in Portland. Scottie Pippen, a Krause nemesis, told the Tribune last month that he wants to talk to owner Paul Allen about buying into the Blazers.

'Portland would be very well served if they would be interested in him,' Jackson says of Krause. 'Jerry can do a good job moving personnel and rebuilding teams. However, that Portland team right now is structured in a way he wouldn't want É and especially if Scottie Pippen is going to be part owner, I don't think Jerry Krause would go there. That would immediately exclude (Jerry). The two are not mutually compatible.'

Jackson finds it ironic Portland denied Philadelphia permission to talk with Maurice Cheeks about its open coaching position.

'Portland asked to interview some general managers of other clubs, and they are asking other teams to give permission,' Jackson says. 'How do they assume they can withhold it from Maurice Cheeks, that's the question. Where a player who has ties to Philadelphia like Maurice does É he should have that opportunity to go back there and interview if it's his heart's desire.'

• First-year Kentucky coach Rich Brooks is already making recruiting inroads. He has a commitment to a player hailed as among the top 70 or 80 kids nationally Ñ running back Joe Casey, a prep junior from Paducah, Ky. Ñ and is on the shortlist of several other top prospects from the class of '04.

'Kentucky's name is popping up everywhere with top players,' says national recruiting analyst Tom Lemming. 'I see their name on the top six of a lot of players' lists. They have done a fantastic early job.'

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