Bill Mallory, the coach chucked by Colorado to make way for Chuck Fairbanks, says he has reached agreement in principle with UC on a settlement of his contract that had 2 1/2 years to run: sources say a lump sum of $60,000. With that wherewithal, Mallory was able to turn down the defensive coordinator job Earle Bruce had been holding open for him at Ohio State and says he -- just like Mallory assistant Floyd Keith, Howard's new man -- prefers to be a head coach, someplace.

Mallory talked to West Virginia U. about that a few weeks ago, and with good reason: WVU didn't know whether Coach Frank Cignetti, renewed after a disastrous season but fallen seriously ill and hospitalized since Dec. 20, could come back. Now Cignetti has been released from the hospital in Morgantown, after a sudden, dramatic turn for the better in his health.

Cignetti had his spleen removed, then surgery 10 days ago for a bowel infarction. Physicians say they haven't been able to diagnose the exact cause of his ailment, but from rumors of terminal illness the coach has gone, says an athletic staffer, to "a miracle, the way he's turned around in the last seven or eight days... By Tuesday night, he was ordering a pizza and making plans for spring football practice."