West Virginia isn't the type of place where people like to ask for favors, but the Mountaineers got one anyway in the form of Quarterback Jeff Hostetler. a transfer from Penn State and the answer to problem No. I in Morgantown: How do we replace Oliver Luck, the 5,765-yard passer, Rhodes scholar candidate and No. 2 pick of the Houston Oilers? No one quite believed West Virginia was for real in '81, until the Mountaineers mauled Florida 26-6 in the Peach Bowl to finish with a 9-3 record. The defense (No. 3 against the pass in '81) is led by Outside Linebacker Darryl Talley, while, on offense, Hostetler's main target will be All-America Tight End Mark Raugh.
Boston College, loser of four out of five games to start the 1981 season, figured it was time to look ahead and gave a freshman quarterback named Doug Flutie a chance to settle in. He engineered four Eagle victories in the last six games and ended the season ranked No. 9 in the country in passing efficiency with a 54.7% completion average. The Eagles have a potential All-America in Defensive Tackle Junior Poles, but they start the season with two toughies—at Texas A&M and at Clemson. Good luck, Flutie.
"We weren't hungry after Notre Dame. We filled our bellies. We got fat." That's what Florida State Coach Bobby Bowden had to say after the Seminoles' "Oktoberfest," a remorseless stretch of four games last fall that seemed to have been scheduled by someone in Gainesville, not Tallahassee. The Seminoles lost to Nebraska (34-14), beat Ohio State (36-27) and Notre Dame (19-13), then lost to Pitt (42-14). This rugged slate took its toll, though, and FSU lost its final three games. Bowden will rely on the Allen boys again. No relation to Marcus or to each other, the two tailbacks are Greg, who set an NCAA single-game record by gaining 417 all-purpose yards against Western Carolina, and Billy, who averaged 5.2 yards per carry. The defense should return to form with Alphonso Carreker (6'6", 250 pounds) at tackle.
Look for improvement at Tulane. The Green Wave opened 1981 with four losses, then came on to win six of seven games. The final triumph was only Tulane's third win over Louisiana State in 33 years and was by the largest margin (48-7) ever (CULTURE 48-AGRICULTURE 7, said the bumper stickers). Fourteen starters are back, plus Wide Receiver Robert Griffin, who sat out 1981 with a knee injury after catching 45 passes in 1980. Mike McKay, a transfer from Santa Monica Junior College, is the quarterback.
Only Herschel Walker returns with more career rushing yardage than Virginia Tech's Cyrus Lawrence. He gained 1,403 yards last year, hiking his total to 3,415. Army Halfback Gerald Walker, the Cadets' leading rusher for two years, needs only 726 yards to surpass the team record of 2,957 career yards set by Glenn Davis from 1943 to 1946.
"I don't think my name is accurate," says Gary Tranquill, the new coach at Navy. "I think I'm more to the other extreme." The Midshipmen's schedule, which includes Arkansas (Sept. 18), Notre Dame (Oct. 30) and an opening game against Virginia and Coach George Welsh (who guided the Middies to a 55-46-1 record in his nine years at Annapolis), may drive Tranquill batty.
South Carolina also has a new coach. He's Richard Bell, who got his promotion after seven years as a Gamecock assistant to Jim Carlen, who was let go. His best player is Defensive Tackle Andrew Provence, who had six pass deflections and an interception to go with his 157 tackles in 1981.
During Memphis State's 1-10 season, Head Coach Rex Dockery refused to give interviews to a reporter from the Memphis Press-Scimitar. The Tiger coach responded to the requests of Wallene Dockery, who writes a weekly column about MSU sports, with sayings like "A husband should be allowed to eat his breakfast in peace."
TRUE DIVISION I-A STAT: According to the NCAA, the three toughest schedules in 1981 all belonged to independents—in order, Penn State, Temple and Boston College. Other independents making the tough guys club were Miami of Florida (No. 5), Florida State (7), Pitt (9), South Carolina (12), Syracuse (13) and Cincinnati (22). Temple responded by dropping Georgia from its '82 slate and substituting BC; Syracuse is standing pat; while Cincinnati is shooting for the top in '82 by adding Florida State, Miami and Alabama.
DIVISION I-AA: All that stood between Lehigh and the I-AA playoffs last season was Lafayette, its partner in the "most-played" rivalry in college football; they've met 117 times since 1884. Lehigh had beaten Lafayette 32-0 in 1980 and 11 times in the last 13 games. But the Leopards upset the Engineers (10-3) and Lehigh stayed home after two straight years of postseason play. Now the Engineers face a rebuilding year, while Lafayette, which finished with a 9-2 record, comes back strong with Running Back Rodger Shepko, who had 1,280 yards rushing, and six starting returnees from I-AA's No. 3 defense against scoring. That defense features Middle Guard Tony Green, who stands 5'11" and weighs 240 pounds.
Colgate had a 7-3 record, thanks to freshman Quarterback Steve Calabria, who played the position for only two years in high school. Looking toward the Red Raiders' meeting with Syracuse on Oct. 30, a 91-year rivalry that was resumed only last year after a 20-year hiatus (Syracuse had won the previous 11 games when the series was suspended in 1961), Coach Fred Dunlap promises, "The sun will set Maroon, not Orange, on that day."
Lefty Rick Scully is the quarterback at Delaware, which led I-AA in scoring with 34.1 points a game. His immediate predecessors—Jeff Komlo and Scott Brunner—both play in the NFL. With 18 starters back—10 of them from the defense that allowed just three yards per rush in '81—the Blue Hens should make it to the playoffs for the seventh time in 10 years.
Tennessee State went 9-2 and gained the I-AA playoffs behind the passing of Brian Ransom, who was No. 2 in I-AA in passing efficiency with a 59% completion average and 2,873 yards. The Tigers have 15 starters back, but the best news is that Coach Big John Merritt is in good health. Merritt, whose 215-64-9 record puts him behind only Eddie Robinson and Bear Bryant on the list of winningest active coaches, was treated last November for an erratic heartbeat, diagnosed as being caused by hypertension.
IVY PRETENDER: Last fall Holy Cross came within a point (a 29-28 loss to co-champion Yale) of the de facto Ivy League title. The Crusaders were 4-1 against the Ivies, beating Harvard (33-19), the other co-champion Dartmouth (28-0), Brown (34-24) and Columbia (14-7).