WHITHER THE BIG EIGHT?
Excluding Nebraska and Oklahoma, Big Eight teams suffered a horrendous Saturday, losing four of six games. That was at least better than the previous week, when they won just one of six. So far this fall, the Other Six are 5-11.
What goes with this once proud conference? It's simple. Oklahoma and Nebraska have fully taken it over. The last time another team won the conference championship outright was in 1961, when Colorado triumphed. The Other Six have gone crazy trying to catch up. Most notably they have made myriad coaching changes. Oklahoma's coaches have been in Norman for an average of 8.8 years per man. Nebraska's staff averages 10.9 years. Next? Oklahoma State's, with an average of 2.4 years.
Plus, the caliber of coaching also has deteriorated. Time was, the Other Six had coaches like Johnny Majors, Dan Devine, Eddie Crowder, Chuck Fairbanks, Pepper Rodgers, Jimmy Johnson. Times do change.
DUM QUOTE OF THE WEAK
Oklahoma coach Barry Switzer, after his team manhandled UCLA, a squad with national title hopes, 38-3, and before it faced Minnesota, which hopes only to survive '86: "We were just too big and strong for UCLA. That won't be the case against Minnesota." The Sooners won 63-0.
STANFORD GETS TOUGH
Those effete snobs at Stanford have been accused by Texas of—get ready—dirty play. Late hits, illegal blocking—it's just too good to believe.
We're talking Stanford, which passes a lot, probably to avoid having to get down and dirty by playing real football. And we're talking Texas, the rugged ole boys from out on the ranch who chew and curse and chase and drive pickups and go huntin' and swagger. Naturally, Texas was whining because it got beat by the Cardinals the week before.
Now the swagger is on the other side. Stanford DB Toi Cook says, "People better watch out for us. We have a new attitude on defense." If that means a willingness to get in there and rattle some hats and toughen up and even—even—get their pants dirty, why Stanford, with its growling and filthy defense, which whacked San Jose State 28-10 on Saturday, could be the new bully on the block.
SITTING DOWN ON JOB
For a long while now, the Cornell football program has been—let us be careful here, and, as always, charitable—abysmal. The Big Red? Please. That's an insult to our most renowned fighting color. Cornell is by far the biggest of the Ivys (12,600 students), but since the league was formalized 30 years ago the Little Pink has never won the title outright. Only Brown and Columbia have matched that futility.
This state of affairs distressed a high-rolling New York investment manager named Roger J. Weiss, who received an undergraduate and a law degree at Cornell. "I wanted to see the same level of excellence in our football as in the rest of the university," says Weiss, "where we do all we can to allow students to be as good as their skills allow them to be."
So in 1982 Weiss contributed $750,000 to endow the Roger J. Weiss Coach of Football chair. It's just like the university's other 130 endowed chairs. The return on investments for the Weiss chair has run around $55,000 a year, part of which is used to pay coach Maxie Baughan. How does Baughan, four times an All-Pro linebacker, feel about Weiss's endowed chair? "I like the idea," he says. "After all, we can't support ourselves."
Indeed not. That's because, to Cornell's credit, the university has 35 intercollegiate sports. (It also has an endowed chair in track.) The only sport that makes even a tiny profit is hockey.
So how is Weiss's quest for excellence faring? Not well, thanks. In 1982 the Little Pink went 4-6, and coach Bob Blackman took his leave. Then came 1983's 3-6-1 finish, 1984's 2-7 and last season's 3-7. But Saturday, Cornell opened its '86 season with a 39-8 win over Princeton, which means that with the chair in place, Cornell has gone 13-26-1.
However, let us not be so sour. Endowing a chair for a football coach links the sport more closely to the academic life of a university. In these troubled times, that's precisely where football needs to be. "I know," says Weiss, "that what we're doing hasn't shown up in the won-loss column, but I'm positive it will."
Even if it doesn't, the concept is a laudable one. Fight on, Little Pink.
We shouldn't be so surprised that Miami of Ohio upset 14th-ranked LSU. After all, the Redskins are 5-0 against SEC biggies since 1973....
Possession time is a ludicrous stat. Northern Illinois held the ball 9 minutes, 24 seconds longer than Iowa, but lost 57-3....
Total yards doesn't seem to mean much, either, at least when Baylor and USC play. Last year the Trojans outgained the Bears 388-287 but lost 20-13. On Saturday, Baylor piled up 408 yards to USC's 197 but lost 17-14....
Plans are all but firm for Boston College to play Army in November 1988, in Dublin. That should please Irish Catholics, military personnel in Western Europe and Ireland, which loves amateur sport....
New Mexico coach Joe Lee Dunn is telling everybody, "No matter what happens this season, I'm gone." That's a terrific motivator for Lobo players and fans.
PETER READ MILLER
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
OFFENSE: Wide receiver Cedric Gordon of Division II Ferris (Mich.) State hauled in 10 passes for 264 yards, including 3 for TDs, in a 38-28 win over Clarion of Pennsylvania.
DEFENSE: In a 20-15 win over Notre Dame, Michigan State cornerback Todd Krumm returned one interception for a TD and doomed Irish hopes with another with 1:26 left.