The nation's football coaches are fans of Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, because of his sponsorship last year of a bill that gives their high-turnover profession the right to a pension program.

The American Football Coaches Association sent a representative to Hatch's office Wednesday to thank him for sponsoring the bill - which BYU head football coach LaVell Edwards convinced him to push when Edwards was association president."The coaches wanted to be here to personally thank you, but they're getting ready for the weekend games, so they passed the football to me," said Robert Rosenberry, government-relations director for the coaches' association.

Rosenberry was talking literally, because he gave Hatch two footballs. One was autographed by Edwards.

Hatch said that before the legislation, "Hundreds of coaches throughout the nation were losing their jobs and had no pension. In fact, in the last four years alone, 2,000 coaches were left with families and responsibilities, but no retirement.

The bill, signed into law last year, allows coaches and their employers to pay into a pension plan that is portable, following them from job to job. Hatch said, "They like all Americans need to feel security in their pension programs. I was proud to have been a part in securing that need."