Army, Navy and Air Force can play for an inter-academy championship this season because the joint chiefs of the athletic staffs have finally put together a round-robin schedule. Unfortunately, they also face the likes of Nebraska (Army), Colorado (Air Force) and Notre Dame (Navy) as well as assorted Penn States, Arizona States and Michigans. There's a Catch-22 to that kind of schedule-making but the academy teams seem more able than usual. At Army, Tom Cahill has 27 lettermen back, and among the 14 starters is Quarterback Kingsley Fink, who led the Cadets to four wins in their last five games, including a one-point victory over Navy, and a 6-4 record. King Fink has a bonus awaiting him Sept. 30 when Army plays at Texas A&M. Prior to kickoff he'll be made an honorary citizen of Fink, Texas.
Navy Coach Rick Forzano believes this year's team will surpass the previous four, which together won only eight games. He too has experience—just three starters missing. Quarterback Fred Stuvek is a fine passer and Receiver Larry Van Loan is the "best Navy athlete since Roger Staubach," according to Forzano. Van Loan caught 41 passes for 589 yards as a sophomore. Air Force retains half its 6-4 team but offensive punch is needed to assure a fifth straight winning season. Two players are particularly impressive, Center Orderia Mitchell and Defensive End Gene Ogilvie. Coach Ben Martin says Mitchell is the best offensive lineman ever at Air Force, while Ogilvie already has All-America recognition.
Over the past six seasons Houston developed into college football's most exciting offensive machine, winning more than 70% of its games and never failing to make the final top 20. The Cougars will again swing out of the Veer T, but with 16 starters gone from a 9-3 team, the results shouldn't be as devastating as in the past.
Running Backs Robert Newhouse and Tom Mozisek will be replaced by Marshall Johnson, a prized sophomore, and Leonard Parker, a capable junior. Gary Mullins' successor at quarterback, D. C. Nobles, affords quickness and speed in the option series but his passing is inconsistent. In fact, except for an offensive lineman here and a defensive back there, everyone is green. The right side of that offensive front does have guitar-picking Guard David Bourquin back for the third year along with Tackle Luke Stungis. The three defensive returnees are End Bill Stohler and Halfbacks Burl Fuller and Randy Peacock. Linebacker O. R. McGallion is also highly considered but with so many holes to fill it is probably fortunate that Houston's Southwest Conference participation does not begin until 1976.
The folks at Utah State are intoxicated by the return of Quarterback Tony Adams, but may not have noticed the absence of 19 offensive and defensive regulars who also contributed to a fine 8-3 season. The last we saw of the Aggies they were bombing a couple of Japanese all-star teams 50-6 and 46-6. "We hope that a year from now the scores are forgotten, but sportsmanship and friendship are remembered," Coach Chuck Mills said afterward. Mills should hear something similar after his team plays Oklahoma and Texas. So solly.
In the Midwest, Cincinnati will have a few new assets as it seeks to reach or surpass the 7-4 level of the last two years. The addition of redshirted Quarterback Mike Shoemaker gives the Bearcats a passing orientation. He showed well in the spring game, completing 16 of 34 attempts, and Zeke Harden caught 13. There is also more defensive size and strength as a result of beefier personnel. Northern Illinois is a team of the future with young, second-year Coach Jerry Ippoliti counting 18 starters back from a surprising 5-5-1 team. Quarterback Terry Drugan will mold the new I formation around the talents of Fullback Mark Kellar and Wide Receiver Willie Hatter. Dayton, a loser last year, should have even more trouble this fall. The running game will miss Gary Kosins, and Receiver Larry Nickels won't be worth five cents without help at quarterback.
When Xavier defeated Bowling Green 42-27 last November it ended a 27-game losing streak against college teams and gave the Musketeers their third straight 1-9 season. The only victories in 1969 and '70 came against the Quantico Marines. Xavier, at last, may be improving. Experience abounds, the offense has a new pro look and 6'4", 240-pound Guard Gil Hyland is back after a yearlong injury bout. Even more encouraging for those fed up with 1-9 records is the schedule. It has 11 games.
Moving South we find Georgia Tech, about whom it was said last winter: "Georgia Tech is a Ramblin' Wreck in a helluva, helluva mess." The main problem was a disappointing 6-5 record which led to the dismissal of Bud Carson. This earned him the unique distinction of being the only Yellow Jacket coach ever fired, although the proceedings had the unfortunate smell of a public hanging. The election-year duty of healing wounds fell to Carson's successor, Bill Fulcher. He deemed his team "intelligent, willing to work and confident of its ability," and declared his assistants to be "as fine a staff as any school's in the nation." Is everybody happy? Probably, since Fulcher has 14 veteran starters and an offensive coach, Steve Sloan, who should help talented but erratic Quarterback Eddie McAshan. Also returning are Tailback Greg Home, the No. 1 rusher, Tight End Mike Oven, the leading receiver, and End Brad Bourne, the most menacing defender. The schedule isn't too hard to swallow, with a lot of cream cheese between rugged Tennessee on Sept. 9 and Georgia on Dec. 2.
Tampa also has a new coach because Georgia Tech's Fulcher was the previous one. Earle Bruce, a Woody Hayes assistant for seven years, joins the Spartans as they make the transition from college-division to major-college status. "Suits me," says the coach. "I still have the same team with the same schedule." It is in fact nearly the same team as last year, with 15 starters returning. The offense needs only to plug the tackle slots, vacated by two early departures for the Canadian League. Seven defensive returnees are headed by 275-pound Tackle John Matuszak.
Another former Tampa coach is Fran Curci, who checked out of the 82-year-old Moorish-style hotel which serves as the Tampa campus and packed off to Miami. The Hurricanes were 4-7 in Curci's first season but they should breeze easier this fall. Curci is running out of nice things to say about Chuck Foreman, who last year broke the school rushing record with 971 yards. Curci has already called the 6'3" 215-pounder "the greatest running back in the United States" and the "greatest offensive player I have ever seen." Foreman also plays the trumpet. The leader on defense is Linebacker Harold Sears, a 26-year-old Vietnam veteran who plays no musical instrument but made 21 unassisted tackles against Notre Dame last year.
Virginia Tech won only four of 11 games in 1971 although Quarterback Don Strock was second in the nation in passing and third in total offense. Strock returns to direct Coach Charlie Coffey's new "Gobble-Wobble" offense, which puts more emphasis on the running game. There is also an inordinate amount of machismo, as displayed by Defensive Tackle John Sprenkle. He drew Coffey's praise following the spring game because he played "and played well, despite the fact that he had dislocated a shoulder the previous Wednesday. That's the kind of mental toughness we need more of, and as things get better their pain level will tend to rise a little." The Gobble-Wobble somehow seems more sensible.
Bennie Ellender of Tulane, like Miami's Curci, had trouble when he stepped up from the college-division level. Coach of a national champion at Arkansas State, he wound up 3-8 with the Green Wave last year. Seven defensive returnees and five from the offense could pick things up a little but the schedule is again a problem. Linebacker Mike (Moon) Mullen, an offensive guard at Oklahoma in 1969, and End Mike Truax are highly regarded. Quarterback Mike Walker will miss the three pass receivers who ran graduation routes, so hardworking Tailback Ricky Hebert could be even busier. Will Paul Dietzel ever get it going at South Carolina? Probably not this year, although the schedule is much more reasonable, with Tennessee and Georgia dropped and Appalachian State and Miami of Ohio added. Experience, especially on offense, is badly needed. Dietzel's bleak report is: "We have to find running backs, become more efficient at quarterback and we need to improve the offensive line." The few plusses are with the defense, where Tackle John LeHeup and Linebacker Rick Brown sparkle. Dietzel keeps adding seats to Carolina Stadium but the Gamecocks rarely seem to improve. Southern Mississippi has a good pair of running backs in Doyle Orange and Wilson Plunkett, an improved defense and the impetus of five straight closing victories in 1971.
Coming East we find Syracuse, which last year sank to its lowest rushing total since 1957. Another problem area was scoring, since nearly one-third of the season's points (63 of 197) came against lowly Holy Cross. Following spring practice, Coach Ben Schwartzwalder was feeling perkier about his 24th Syracuse team. "We are physical again," he said. "We have started the transition back to hitting and if it continues we'll be a football team again. We haven't been tough for the past four years. This year we should put some points on the board." That settled, look now to the defense, where five of the 12 returnees from a break-even team can be found. The best is Tackle Joe Ehrmann, a consensus All-America who was redshirted last year after a first-game injury. His return would boost any defensive unit.
West Virginia enjoyed a 7-4 season in 1971 and with only five positions vacant the Mountaineers have lofty hopes for the top 20. Most of the holes are in the offensive line. Otherwise, the backfield, guided by Quarterback Bernie Galiffa, and the defense, paced by Tackle Frank Samsa, appear set. Kerry Marbury is a fine runner and Coach Bobby Bowden is claiming "maybe the best group of receivers in the country." Boston College should return to earth after its 9-2 season. Six departures from the high-powered offense, including the entire backfield, and seven more vacancies in the defense make for concern. The schedule is tougher, too. Pittsburgh hopes to improve its 3-8 record by installing the Wishbone, which seems suited to the talents of Quarterback Bob Medwid. A defense that allowed 388 points last year remains a headache and the schedule is again chock full of top 20 contenders.
Pittsburgh might like the Wishbone success enjoyed last year by Colgate, which was ninth in the country in rushing and 11th in total offense. Eight of those offensive regulars are back, including top rusher Mark van Eeghen, who set a sophomore record with 846 yards. The trouble with the 6-4 team lay with the defense, so a few of the six returning starters could be benchbound. Only Tackle Dave Palmer and Guard Ray Helbling can be sure of their positions.
The highlight of Temple's 6-2-1 season was the defeat of college-division champion Delaware. Among the Owls' key performers are Quarterback Doug Shobert, who completed 63% of his passes, and Guard Skip Singletary. Plenty of other veterans could make for another good year. Rutgers also has a lot of returnees—10 on offense and seven on defense—who enter the year with a three-game winning streak. It might reach four following the season opener against Holy Cross. The Crusaders have made real progress, however, since the 0-2 hepatitis year of 1969 and the winless 1970 campaign. They climbed to 4-6 last year, an improvement that won New England Coach of the Year honors for Ed Doherty. His main concern is finding a quarterback to hand the ball to Fullback Joe Wilson. No one has yet determined why the ground-oriented Crusaders line up with two wide receivers.
Inexperienced Villanova has only seven starters back. The offense is sagging with the passing game gone, but there is hope on defense where Frank Polito led the nation in interceptions. Marshall, still rebuilding after the 1970 air tragedy, enjoyed two unexpected wins over Xavier and Bowling Green last season. Defensive standout Charles Henry, the nation's youngest varsity collegian last year, is, like everyone else, a year older.