It was a storybook ending to a college football career for Bend native Tommy Hackenbruck, who played a big part in Utah's Cinderella season.

The 6-1, 225-pound senior middle linebacker had 10 tackles and three sacks in the Utes' 35-7 Fiesta Bowl rout of Pittsburgh that put the exclamation mark on a 12-0 campaign.

For Hackenbruck, whose college career had been marred by injury, it was a chance to be a starter for the first time. The former Mountain View High standout Ñ the state's offensive player of the year in 1999, when he rushed for a state-leading 1,961 yards Ñ made the most of it. He ranked second on the team in tackles with 81, forced a team-best five fumbles and earned honorable mention All-Mountain West Conference honors.

'It's hard to put into words,' says Hackenbruck, whose father, Jerry, was Oregon State's most valuable player on defense as a tackle in 1974. 'People keep asking me, and I keep saying the same thing: It was just a dream season. It probably won't sink in how special it was until many years have passed.'

Hackenbruck came to Utah as a running back but lost most of two seasons to a knee injury and converted to defense last year, when he served as a backup and special teams stalwart. He emerged as a major force as a senior, will play in the Jan. 22 Las Vegas All-America Classic and hopes to play pro football at some level next year.

Hackenbruck grew up with Lake Oswego quarterback Brett Elliott. They played Pop Warner football together and, after Hackenbruck moved to Bend in eighth grade, remained friends. They went to Utah together and Elliott, after losing his job to Alex Smith, transferred to Linfield, where he set a national record with 61 TD passes and led the Wildcats to the NCAA Division III championship this fall. After Elliott decided to transfer, Hackenbruck's father helped steer him to Linfield and coach Jay Locey, a former teammate of the senior Hackenbruck at Corvallis High and OSU.

Combined record of the teams of Hackenbruck and Elliott this season: 25-0.

'I followed Brett's season pretty closely,' Hackenbruck says. 'We talk on the phone all the time. I've never been so happy to see a friend do so well. To see him turn it around É and have such an awesome season Ñ wow!'

Jerry Hackenbruck is retiring after a successful 26-year high-school coaching career that included stints as an assistant to Steve Coury at Lake Oswego and Tom Smythe at Lakeridge and 11 years as a head coach at Redmond, Mountain View and Summit.

'I will continue to teach, but I wanted more family time,' says Hackenbruck, 51. 'I'm sure I'll miss coaching, but the job has become more time-consuming. It's time for me to get out.'

• Turns out Dennis Erickson had a false sense of security last week when he told the Portland Tribune he was certain he would be back as coach of the San Francisco 49ers next year. Erickson says he was caught off guard that owner John York would eat his salary ($7.5 million over the next three years) and buy out the four-year, $5 million deal of General Manager Terry Donahue, who also was let go.

'It didn't go down like I thought it would,' Erickson said as he cleaned out his office last Friday. Erickson and Donahue 'had no chance. I thought for sure I'd be back, but it didn't happen.'

The sticking point, Erickson figures, is that York demanded major changes in the coaching staff.

'I was willing to make one or two, but (York wanted) too many,' says Erickson, whose talent-shy 49ers were 2-14 this season after going 7-9 in 2003. 'I think that was the bottom line.'

Erickson, 57, says he may have to sit out a year before a return to coaching.

'I don't particularly want to be an assistant in the NFL,' he says. 'I want to get back into college. The worst thing I ever did was leave Oregon State for the 49ers. I did it because I was going to the elite franchise in pro football and thought we could win a Super Bowl, the one goal I have not achieved in my career. It blew up in my face.'

• Caught up with Paul Allen at halftime of last Friday's Trail Blazer loss to Miami. Asked him his review of the work done by coach Maurice Cheeks, who is in the final year of his contract.

'He's done a good job, but I always answer that question the same way,' the Blazer owner said. 'We evaluate the coach and his staff at the end of each year.'

So if the Blazers continue to founder, he won't be fired at midseason?

'No, I don't think so,' Allen said.

• Great quip from Portland GM John Nash, who was assistant GM in Philadelphia when Michael Jordan was drafted by Chicago in 1984. Asked by an ESPN Classic interviewer if the 76ers had Jordan rated over another highly regarded college guard that year, Leon Wood, who's now an NBA official, Nash responded, 'We all felt Leon Wood would become the better referee.'

• Departing Oregon State seniors Bill Swancutt and Derek Anderson have gone south to prepare for the NFL draft. Swancutt will work out in Phoenix while Anderson will train with QB guru Bob Johnson in Southern California.

• Ex-Duck QB Bill Musgrave, fired last week as offensive coordinator of the Jacksonville Jaguars, has surfaced as quarterback coach for Joe Gibbs' Washington Redskins. Musgrave, 37, reportedly will become the highest-paid quarterback coach in the NFL next season at $500,000.

• Scottie Pippen has filed a lawsuit against a former financial adviser, alleging he was bilked of $1.7 million in investments. The former Blazer says he lost about $18 million through faulty advice from the adviser over the years.

'It's very stressful,' Pippen, who retired as a player after playing last season in Chicago, tells the Chicago Tribune. 'I retired from basketball and now I have to deal with chasing my own future, and I wonder how long I can chase it. É There isn't any job out there like the NBA where I can just go out there and recoup my money. É I'll be fine, but I planned my future for where I wanted to be financially, and that's what is really wiped away. I guess I'll find another money manager and get taken again.'

Pippen, who is living in Chicago, plans to do some media training in preparation for a possible career in broadcasting. He says he hasn't accepted an offer to audition for ESPN radio.

'I'm not looking for a job yet,' he says. 'But I've done (broadcasting) before and I want to be well-polished if I'm going to put myself on a national stage. It's not that taxing. I can still have a life, still have a family. I know it's a little bit of work, but it's the kind of work I'm ready to go into after being a professional athlete.'

Don't start the violin music for Pippen, who made $19.7 million his final season (2001-02) with Portland and will receive $5 million for doing nothing from the Bulls this season. The guess here: Pippen will find employment as an assistant coach once Phil Jackson resurfaces as a head coach in the league.

• Who, exactly, is Jimmy Jackson to not report to the New Orleans Hornets after his recent trade from Houston? Not that anyone would be thrilled to join a team that might set the NBA's all-time record for fewest victories in a season, but what choice does Jackson have?

Yeah, maybe he'll force another trade. Jackson knows a lot about them, having played with 10 teams in his 13-year career. For now, the one-time Blazer (1999) ought to pretend he's a real pro, suck it up, play for the Hornets and try to earn his $2.475 million salary. The suspended journeyman is being docked $27,500 for each game he misses Ñ an annual salary for a lot of common folks.

• Does Carlos Boozer second-guess his decision to double-cross Cleveland and sign with Utah? The Cavaliers are battling for homecourt advantage in the East playoffs while the Jazz are also-rans in the West. Was the change of scenery worth it?

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