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Columbia Spectator Staff

Cornell head football coach Jim Knowles denied Thursday that he was a finalist for the Western Michigan head coach position, as was reported in Thursday's edition of the Kalamazoo Gazette.

"Not true," Knowles said in a telephone interview, "don't know anything about it."

Knowles, who served six years as an assistant coach at Western Michigan, including three as defensive coordinator, led Cornell to a third place finish in the Ivy League this season, his first as the Big Red's head coach.

Cornell went 4-6, 4-3 Ivy, a dramatic turnaround from the team's previous campaign. In 2003, under Tim Pendergast, the team finished 1-9, 0-7 Ivy, including a nine-game losing streak to close the season.

The Gazette article cited an unnamed television report that listed Knowles among three finalists. Stanford assistant Bill Cubit, a former Western Michigan offensive coordinator, and Notre Dame assistant Greg Mattison, a former defensive coordinator, were also named in the report. Mattison, whose head coach Tyrone Willingham was fired Tuesday, is still employed by Notre Dame, an athletics communications official said Thursday.

Western Michigan Athletic Director Kathy Beauregard would not name any candidates, the Gazette's article reported. She did not return Spectator's phone calls on Thursday. In 2004, Knowles led his team to Ivy wins over Yale, Princeton, Dartmouth, and Columbia. The Big Red were anchored by their defense, which finished first in the Ivy League in rush yards allowed per game, with 101.7. Their scoring defense of 18.1 points allowed per game ranked third, behind Harvard and Pennsylvania. In 2003, Cornell had ranked last in the Ivy league in both categories, surrendering 200.5 yards rushing per game and allowing 30.4 points per game. The Big Red went 3-1 at home, losing only to Pennsylvania 20-14 in the season's final week.

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