West Virginia had its chance for fame in 1970 and finished a disappointing 8-3. This year, however, 8-3 is an objective. "But I don't think it's realistic," says Coach Bobby Bowden. Outside of Offensive Guard B. C. Williams, both 1970 lines are pretty much missing, which means that Running Back Pete Wood will be hard pressed to match his 5.4-yard rushing average. The Mountaineers do have one of their fastest teams, but they can't run away from inexperience. The competition drops off after Syracuse and Penn State, though, and a winning season is possible.
Elsewhere in the East, Pitt, which fielded a .500 team in 1970 after six losing seasons, won't have enough depth to break even again. Strength at quarterback (veterans Dave Havern and John Hogan, 6'3" sophomores Bob Medwid and Rod Huth) should help. At Boston College, Running Back Fred Willis and Quarterback Frank Harris, who rewrote the school's record book last season, are gone, but the defense, led by Linebacker Kevin Clemente, returns 10 starters. Villanova, the major-college team with the minor-league schedule, could match its 9-2 record with 30 lettermen and an All-America candidate in Split End Mike Siani. Quarterback Daryl Woodring, who led the East in total offense, will throw to Siani after Linebacker John Babinecz gets them the ball. Boston University, known as the Terriers, will look more like greyhounds this year with a speedy, streamlined attack. Quarterbacks Bill Poole and Sam Hollo have a fine kennel of receivers. Tight End Alan Durkovic and Split End Mark Chesebro are rabbit-catchers. Fullback Mike Fields and Halfback Pat Diamond also have breakaway speed. The defensive secondary features Mel Priester, who intercepted three passes in one game. The Terriers, however, may be the dogged victims of their schedule, which begins with three games on the road. Rutgers has excellent sophomores but only 13 veterans from last year's 5-5 squad. John Pesce can kick field goals from 40 yards and more—if his teammates work the ball in that close. Colgate had its first undefeated freshman team since 1936, and will need the youngsters to boost the varsity. Holy Cross went from an 0-0 season in 1969 (hepatitis attack) to an 0-10-1 in 1970 and new Coach Eddie Doherty can continue to look ahead.
Today's wars may be won in the air, but today's Air Force is building trenches for its football team. Last year's dazzling aerial show, sparked by Flanker Ernie Jennings, has taken off, so the offense will pivot around something called The Muscle. The Muscle is a 5'9", 191-pound hunk of beef with the no-nonsense name of Brian Bream. Nor is he all bark, having scored 20 times last season, or as often as anyone in the country. The defense is tough. Army should improve on its 1-9-1 record since Nebraska, Notre Dame and Tennessee are off the schedule. The return of seven defensive starters will help, too. Captain John Roth and Steve Bogosian, both 6'2", 215, are "possibly the best pair of defensive ends in the East," according to Coach Tom Cahill. Navy's eight defensive starters include Linebacker Chuck Voith and Tackle Glen Nardi. The Middies, however, have only three games at home—with Penn State, Duke and Syracuse. The easiest game for both Army and Navy may be Navy and Army.
Despite the existence of four major conferences in the South, there are more top independents below the Mason-Dixon line than anywhere else. Tulane, which emerged from neighboring LSU's shadow last year, has gone funky. Signs like "Year of the Green—Plus One" proliferate, and not without reason: 33 lettermen return and the local folk think one of them, Defensive Back Joe Bullard, is comparable to LSU's Tommy Casanova. The secondary is called Bullard's Bandits. Tulane's new coach, Bennie Ellender, who steered Arkansas State to the small-college title, has gone big-time in more ways than one. He has a schedule including Notre Dame, LSU, North Carolina, Georgia Tech and Texas Tech.
Miami of Florida also has a new coach (Fran Curci) and stalwarts on defense (Tackle Dickie Trower, End Mike Barnes), but sophomores and junior-college transfers will not help improve a 3-8 record. Florida State looks stronger. State jelled late last season, winning five of its last six to finish at 7-4. Larry Jones, another new coach, has 37 lettermen. Receivers such as Rhett Dawson, Kent Gaydos and Barry Smith will let Jones steer toward the pro-type offense he likes.
South Carolina was the first state to leave the Union and now the state's football team has become the first to leave the Atlantic Coast Conference. School athletic officials felt the restrictive ACC eligibility rules might just restrict them out of a top football team. South Carolina will still play six games with ACC foes, five at Carolina Stadium. Georgia Tech and Georgia will also play there. There are 28 lettermen back and the loss of alltime school offense leader Tommy Suggs won't be crippling. The most experienced replacement, Jackie Young, beat North Carolina and tied N.C. State. Defensive Back Dick Harris was the only player in the country to score on three runs of more than 95 yards last year.
Southern Mississippi made headlines in 1970 by upsetting Ole Miss 30-14. Now the Deep South's other Bear—Coach Bear Underwood—will try to do it again with 31 lettermen. Three players—Punter Ray Guy, Quarterback Rick Donegan and Defensive End Hugh Eggersman—will have a lot to say about whether he succeeds. The other major Southern independent, Virginia Tech (VPI), also has its sights set on grandeur. Already ex-Arkansas aide Charlie Coffey, the rookie coach, aspires to have the best team in Virginia, for what that's worth. Coffey has also changed the uniform color emphasis to orange, suspiciously like that of Tennessee, his alma mater. VPI fans at least will be able to see their quarterback—Bob German and Don Strock are 6'4" and 6'5" respectively—even if he is getting buried by enemy linemen.
The Midwest is full of Big Tens and Big Eights and Missouri Valleys, but Notre Dame is not the only rugged individualist out there. Another, Cincinnati, has such a burgeoning program that it has scheduled Houston for 1971 and Colorado and Arizona State for future games. For the present the Bearcats have a shot at bettering their 7-4 mark of last year. Cincinnati was weak at linebacker, so Ed Bolis, who intercepted six passes as a defensive end, was moved over. A flanker-slotback was needed, so Steve Cowan, who gained 1,197 yards as a tailback, started running patterns. Cowan shouldn't be missed too badly in the backfield. Quarterback Albert Johnson gained 895 yards rushing, more than any quarterback in the country. Sophomore Reggie Harrison, a junior-college transfer who at 6', 230 has speed and power, will do more running and less blocking than the usual Ray Callahan fullback.
Midwestern strength drops off after Cincinnati. Dayton has next to no depth but will be worth watching for Halfback Gary Kosins if nothing else. He led the nation in four offensive categories before injuries slowed him down midway through last season, and he still finished fourth in rushing (1,172 yards), second in scoring (108 points) and tied for first in scoring average (12 points a game). He set a season record with 51 carries against Louisville and tied Don McCauley of North Carolina with five touchdowns against Xavier. When Kosins was born the family name was Kosinski and his father wanted to call him Blaze. His mother overruled the first name and his father shortened the last. "His parents really blew it," said Dayton Coach John McVay. "With a name like Blaze Kosinski and what he can do on a football field he'd have been a sure All-America. Now it will be a struggle to get recognition." By the end of the season, however, Blaze may be more an ember. As the workhorse of the backfield, Kosins started the season at 213 pounds and finished at a whispy 185. Xavier's defense allowed 30 points a game and is again young and questionable, but almost every offensive starter has returned and Guard Gil Hyland (6'3", 238) is considered a pro prospect.
Two Western teams—New Mexico State and Utah State—though both far from the coast, could make some waves. New Mexico State has Ron (Po) James, whose 3,113 yards rushing in three seasons leaves him just 754 shy of Steve Owens' major-college mark. But the team also has its toughest schedule and only nine other starters back. Po' State. Utah State has an All-America type in Split End Bob Wicks, but otherwise it is full of holes. Versatile John Strycula does wonders filling them. Tailback, quarterback, safety? Pick one, as his beleaguered coaches are trying to. "It may be years before we find another football player as valuable," says Coach Chuck Mills.