Cincinnati went right back to Central Michigan for its next coach.

Butch Jones was hired yesterday to replace Brian Kelly, who came from Central Michigan three years ago and built the Bearcats' program into national prominence before leaving for Notre Dame.

Jones agreed to a five-year deal. Assistant coach Jeff Quinn will coach the fourth-ranked Bearcats in the Jan. 1 Sugar Bowl against Florida.

USF investigates coach. The University of South Florida has retained an outside investigator to assist in determining the validity of the accusation that coach Jim Leavitt struck one of his players in the locker room.

The school announced that Thomas Gonzalez, an expert specializing in workplace issues, is part of the review that began after the AOL FanHouse Web site reported Leavitt grabbed sophomore Joel Miller by the throat and hit him in the face twice during halftime of a game Nov. 21. Leavitt has denied the accusation.

UConn suspect enters plea. John Lomax III, 21, the man accused of stabbing a Connecticut football player to death in October pleaded not guilty to homicide and waived his right to a probable cause hearing. Lomax is accused of stabbing cornerback Jasper Howard during an Oct. 18 fight outside a school-sanctioned dance.

Commitments. Niyi Adewole, a 6-foot-2, 220-pound linebacker from Upper Darby High, orally committed to play for Temple.

Zamel Johnson, a 5-10, 175-pound defensive back from Hofstra, will transfer to Temple. Hofstra has dropped football.

Honors.

Penn linebacker Jake Lewko was named to the American Football Coaches Association 25-man all-American first team.

Quakers defensive back Jonathan Moore was named to the ECAC championship subdivision all-star team.

Three Temple Owls were named to the ECAC bowl subdivision all-star team: running back Bernard Pierce, a freshman out of Glen Mills School; junior linebacker Elijah "Peanut" Joseph; and sophomore kick returner James Nixon.

Noteworthy. Former Kansas football coach Mark Mangino will be paid $3 million as part of a settlement, the university announced. . . . Louisiana-Monroe hired Todd Berry, the former coach at Army. . . .Illinois receiver Arrelious Benn will skip his senior season and enter April's NFL draft. . . . Tennessee signed quarterback Matt Simms, the son of former NFL star Phil Simms, who played last season at El Camino Community College in California.