SURPRISE! ATHLETE TREATED LIKE STUDENT
William Harris, a 6'5", 246-pounder with 4.7 speed, is one of the finest tight ends in the country. Make that was. Harris was kicked out of Texas the other day for an unusual brand of academic failure.
Harris, who made a total of 49 receptions in 1984 and '85, met all academic requirements set by the Southwest Conference and the NCAA, but he did not meet the university's standards. Back home in Houston, Harris says his GPA was "1.6, 1.7." In fact, SI has learned his average was 1.384. Still, Robert King, dean of the College of Liberal Arts at Texas, says he threw Harris "one more life preserver" when he told Harris that, if he could earn a B in two correspondence courses this summer, he could remain in school. Harris made a B and a C in two geography classes, so he got the boot.
However sad this is for Harris and Texas, it is a welcome affirmation of a beleaguered concept: academic integrity in dealing with athletes. "I'm as sorry as I can be," says King. "But the NCAA rule says we have to treat athletes the way we do every other student, and there are no footnotes on that rule. This is the way we treat every other student."
"I dug my own hole," says Harris. "If I hadn't screwed up, I'd still be on the team." Says Longhorn coach Fred Akers, "It makes him a better man to have to admit that." Harris didn't make the grade and Harris is history. Because of that, college football is a little better today than it was yesterday.
MOST CREATIVE COACH OF THE WEEK
Weber State coach Mike Price has no defensive linemen to speak of. Certainly none he would want to talk about publicly. Price's solution to his dilemma? "We play a 0-9-2 defensive alignment. We've got lots of linebackers, but they get mad at me if I call them down linemen. So I am calling them 'down linebackers.' "
UCLA plays San Diego State this Saturday in its second game of the season, but Bruin coach Terry Donahue understandably can't get Oklahoma off his mind. He was humiliated, embarrassed, mortified, shocked and dismayed at his team's 38-3 manhandling by the Sooners on Sept. 6 and says, "We had some real weaknesses exposed in our program." Offense and defense are two specific areas that come quickly to mind.
SO MUCH FOR SPARING THE ROD
Temple coach Bruce Arians decided last year that love would conquer all, and he treated the Owls accordingly. Feeling cherished, they went 4-7. So, to hell with that. Booms Arians, "I'm an s.o.b. this year. I am going back to being a tyrant."
ROLL, WAR EAGLES!
Football and politics make strange but frequent bedfellows in Alabama. For example, in 1978 the late Bear Bryant—so popular in the state that he could have been elected governor if not king—endorsed Bill Baxley, then the state's attorney general, in his bid to become governor. Naturally, Bryant was motivated in part by the fact that Baxley's opponent, Fob James, was—yuk—a former Auburn Ail-America halfback. James, however, won easily, which proves Bryant should have stuck to coaching football and selling potato chips.
Anyway, here we go again. Baxley, now lieutenant governor, still wants the top job. But in June he lost the Democratic primary runoff to the attorney general, Charles Graddick. Baxley protested, saying Graddick won only because he had encouraged illegal Republican crossover voting. It was, he said, like Auburn or Alabama playing an illegal player: "They would be penalized and they would expect it. That's exactly what Graddick did, and he should be penalized."
The football analogy evidently convinced a Democratic committee, which reversed the people's choice and gave the nomination to Baxley.
Graddick did not take this change in signals in good grace. He compared the decision with the Kickoff Classic on Aug. 27, when Alabama got two straight pass interference penalties that allowed Ohio State two plays after time had expired. Said Graddick: "The game can't stop on a [defensive] penalty, and we should replay the down." Otherwise known as the election. Although local politicos are still studying the instant replay, Graddick is now threatening an end run with write-ins.
Nebraska noseguard Danny Noonan says he couldn't possibly be involved in handing out tickets to friends who are not authorized to get them: "I don't have any friends."
...When Dick Butkus's Illinois No. 50 is retired next Saturday, it will be only the second Illini jersey so honored. The other? No. 77, worn by Red Grange....
The Micro Ego Award to Mississippi State coach Rockey Felker, who said after a recent winning game, "I had little to say once the game started, since my assistants called both offenses and defenses."
...Jim Wacker, TCU coach who has a way with words, on whether this is a rebuilding year for the Frogs: "Fiddle, no."
...College football's longest winning streak, 37 straight by Augustana, was broken—well, dislocated—Saturday when the Vikings were tied by Elmhurst College, 0-0....
When Vanderbilt coach Watson Brown leads his team against Mack Brown's Tulane squad on Saturday, it will be the first time since the 1971 Gator Bowl that brothers who are coaches face each other in NCAA Division I-A football. In '71, it was the Dooley boys, Vince at Georgia and Bill at North Carolina.
IS PEN MIGHTIER THAN SWORD?
When Northern Arizona opened its season, the team played awful while losing to Southern Utah 27-17. Especially the defensive line.
So, swallowing all pride, the 13 defensive linemen wrote a letter to The Arizona Daily Sun in Flagstaff to "apologize for our poor, lackluster performance...." The players went on to promise "we will be giving a 100 per cent effort in hopes of both rebuilding a winning attitude in our football program and regaining the respect and support of our classmates, fans and community."
In the two subsequent games, a 24-13 win over Angelo State and Saturday night's 28-6 loss to Eastern Washington, the Lumberjack defense showed some improvement. But the point is not whether games are won or lost. The point is that these players admitted to an inadequate performance, without blaming another soul, and were courageous enough to put in writing that they will try to do better. Now that's the old college spirit.
WHAT HATH ROTH WROUGHT?
Rock star David Lee Roth stopped by at halftime of the Iowa-Iowa State game last Saturday, and he turned out to be the afternoon highlight in a game of lowlights. As the Iowa State band played his hit Yankee Rose, Roth raced onto the field and, amid pandemonium, led the musicians.
Wearing a white safari hat, a ripped-up, gray T-shirt, tight stretch pants with psychedelic design and a gold earring in his left ear, Roth looked just darling. Following his entrance, he proceeded to grind his backside up against same of a flag girl, Laura Uhl, a freshman from Kingsley, Iowa. That sort of thing isn't done a lot in Kingsley, so Laura couldn't decide whether to be mortified or thrilled.
Said Uhl, "I thought, Oh, God, that's me he's doing it to. I'm so embarrassed.... And I had even written to my parents and told them to watch the game because the band might be on TV."
LOOKING FOR A NEW MR. NCAA
A six-person search committee is taking cautious steps toward finding a replacement for NCAA executive director Walter Byers, who has announced he will step down as early as the summer of 1988. Secrecy is paramount, but insiders admit they are looking for a dynamic, big-deal type—along the lines of Bart Giamatti, former Yale president and now head of baseball's National League—to take over.
Just as important, the new boss must be able to deal with the media. Byers has been totally ineffective in this area, which has contributed mightily to the NCAA's sagging image.
Another major Byers shortcoming: failing to take the lead in establishing college football playoffs. Incredibly, Division I-A football is the only one of the NCAA-sanctioned sports without a national championship. Why? Because Byers has been unwilling to stand up to bowl interests who don't want their holiday parties ruined by a legitimate playoff series.
THE DOLLAR HUSTLE
Money talks, and sometimes it screams and yells. The University of Idaho knows. Five years ago the Vandals scheduled a game for Sept. 13, 1986, with the University of Washington, in Seattle, a situation in which Idaho, for $125,000, was willing to humiliate itself to boost the Huskies' won-lost record.
But last year mighty Ohio State found itself needing a big game. Bingo. A deal was cut for the Buckeyes to play in Seattle on Saturday—Idaho's Saturday—(the Huskies won 40-7) and for Washington to go to Columbus in 1993.
Had Washington played Idaho, the Huskies would have netted an estimated $475,000. By switching, Washington got half of an $800,000 gate (tickets for Idaho would have averaged $15 each, for Ohio State, $18, a gain of $150,000) plus $260,000 for its share of CBS's TV money. Therefore, the Huskies pocketed about $200,000 more than they would have made with Idaho. "I'd have to be a dummy not to do this," says Washington AD Mike Lude.
Big-time, bottom-line Yuppieball—for everyone except Idaho. The Vandals ended up traveling to Mt. Pleasant, Mich., last weekend to get drilled by Central Michigan, 34-21. Idaho's guarantee for that game was $35,000 but it cost an estimated $30,000 to make the trip from Moscow. Which means the Washington-Ohio State power play cost little Idaho some $110,000.
Ex-Longhorn Harris, now home in Houston, relaxed too much over his books.
As the band tooted, Roth jumped and fans went nuts and bonkers and berserk.
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
OFFENSE: TCU halfback Tony Jeffery set an NCAA record of 21.4 yards per carry as he ran for 343 yards (an SWC mark) and five touchdowns in a 48-31 win over Tulane.
DEFENSE: Junior Greg Clark, Arizona State linebacker, was in on 18 tackles—he had 4 solos including 1 for an 11-yard loss—as the Sun Devils upset Michigan State 20-17.