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Ohio St. Can Talk To Mason

Minnesota has given Ohio State permission to talk to Golden Gophers football coach Glen Mason about the Buckeyes' coaching position.

"(Ohio State athletic director) Andy Geiger said he'd like to talk to our football coach, and I said I was not going to stand in the way of doing that," Minnesota athletic director Tom Moe said Friday. "I don't know any more than that."

The Buckeyes fired John Cooper on Tuesday, one day after the Buckeyes' 24-7 loss to South Carolina in the Outback Bowl.

Moe said he had "no idea" when Ohio State officials would contact Mason. But, Moe added, "If there's anything I can do to see that he stays, I will."

Also Friday, Pittsburgh denied Ohio State's request to talk to coach Walt Harris. Harris, who in four seasons has coached Pitt to its only two bowl appearances in 11 years, was Ohio State's quarterbacks coach and was offered the offensive coordinator's job before being hired by Pitt in 1997.

Minnesota spokesman Bill Crumley said Mason told him he would be unavailable for comment.

Mason played on Woody Hayes' 1970 Big Ten championship team at Ohio State. He later coached at the school under Hayes and Earle Bruce from 1978-85.

Mason recently signed a seven-year contract with Minnesota worth about $1 million a year. His contract has no buyout clause, but if he leaves before the end of the deal he would forfeit an incentive package worth about $2 million.

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