A CASE OF POTS AND KETTLES
The Southwest Conference used to at least pretend it wasn't laden with crooks. Now the conference celebrates them. At Saturday's game in Dallas between SMU and TCU, which the Mustangs won 31-21, the T-shirt of choice read THE PROBATION BOWL on the front and NCAA JAIL on the back. Both schools are on probation for myriad dirty dealings. Each team suspects the other turned it in, which is probably true. They hate each other for it, which is why SMU offensive tackle David Richards complained of the Frogs, "The only thing that has bothered me is they called us crooks, and they turned out to be what they called us."
Boston College coach Jack Bicknell, who always has country music playing in his office and who will talk at the drop of a hoof about his horse, is having some tough times trying to win without a quarterback named Flutie. Last year the Eagles were 4-8; this season they are off to a 1-2 start.
So the other day Cowboy Jack, one of the game's most decent men, found solace in talking about his horse, Face, which he stables near his home. "I really enjoy the time we spend together," said Bicknell. "Horses don't care who you're using at quarterback or how many games you've won. To them, it's just. Here comes Jack with the carrots."
CHANGING PHILOSOPHY, MOMENTARILY
As everyone knows, Michigan coach Bo Schembechler hates the forward pass. So it was no wonder that many of the 105,507 fans at Michigan Stadium went nuts last Saturday when, on the first play against Florida State, Schembechler ordered up a 50-yard pass attempt from Jim Harbaugh to flanker John Kolesar. That the pass was broken up by cornerback Deion Sanders didn't diminish fan approval. And get this: On the very next play Schembechler called for another pass. That one, too, failed to connect.
Alas, this wasn't the unveiling of a new Bo. After the Wolverines' 20-18 victory, the old Bo groused to the media—which has often been critical of run, run, run in Ann Arbor—"You guys have always wanted me to do it, and now you've seen it. We got two incompletions." In other words, don't expect more of such nonsense any time soon.
FANS SABOTAGE WISCONSIN FOOTBALL
Wisconsin fans thought they were doing the right thing. After all, despite the Badgers' 5-6 record, an average of 71,614 of them showed up for each home game last season. At Wisconsin's two home games this season, 63,294 dutifully appeared to see the Badgers trounce Northern Illinois 35-20 and 64,945 showed up to watch them fall to Wyoming 21-12. Further testimony of Badger fan loyalty came a fortnight ago, when some 20,000 went to Las Vegas to see the guys lose to UNLV 17-7.
So guess what? The fans are being blamed for Wisconsin's not winning enough. First-year coach Jim Hilles says that in recent years the players have become "too satisfied with seasons when they won seven games." Indeed, from 1981 through '84 the Badgers won seven games each year. So?
"The fans have gotten to be somewhat of a problem," says Hilles, who seems to be serious. "They sell out the doggone stadium often and keep telling the players that they're doing a great job."
There you have it, Wisconsin fans. So stop filling up those seats. Stop being nice to the players. In other words, quit being such jerks. If you ever want to see your team go to the Rose Bowl again, you've got to get with the program and do what the coach wants: Stay home and criticize.
Georgia Southern's players were predictably blasè not long ago as they sat through a round of, yawn, antidrug talks by a variety of people. Coach Erk Russell ended the session by summoning a man with a large bag into the room. The bag was opened, and out came a large rattlesnake. Collegiate cool was replaced by shrieks and heart-thumping retreats into the corners.
"Tell me," said Russell, "how many famous athletes do you think this snake has killed lately? The next time someone brings drugs into a room, I want you to react the same way." A thoughtful silence ensued.
THE FAT LADY SINGS
Competition for this year's Heisman ended on Saturday in Miami. The vote is unanimous. Balloting is closed. The dinner will be in October this year instead of December. All you other guys, go home and stop whining. Attaboy, Vinny.
AT WITS' END
With two months still left in the season, two coaches already have determined that their players are the pits. Iowa State boss Jim Criner is enraged over off-field problems. The NCAA is investigating Cyclone recruiting. In addition, two Iowa State players have been charged with passing bad checks; others are under investigation in connection with a burglary at the home of an assistant coach. Last week Criner booted two starters, split end Hughes Suffren and defensive end Marques Rodgers, off the squad for having missed practice since Sept. 17. Another first-stringer, cornerback Milon Pitts, was suspended for last week's Wichita State game. He had spent two days in jail after having pleaded guilty to the assault of another student. "If I knew we would have players causing these kinds of problems," says Criner, "I don't think I'd have gone into coaching."
Jim Walden of Washington State feels the same way. Last week he yelled, "I've never had a bunch of kids in my life who went right in the tank after a victory the way this team did. I wouldn't even recruit these players again."
Walden was upset because after beating UNLV 34-14, the Cougars were beaten by San Jose State 20-13 and Cal 31-21. Of the Cal loss, Walden said, "I don't mind getting run over by a tank, but we got run over by a damn moped."
So, Walden got tough, ordering full-scale scrimmages. Result: The Cougars' leading ball-carrier, Steve Broussard, suffered a shoulder separation and is out indefinitely. Too bad, said Walden: "This is a game played by very tough people. It's not a parlor game. It's getting your face knocked off or knocking somebody else's off." It all worked. Sort of. On Saturday Washington State tied Arizona State 21-21.
Let's count how many things you can find that are wrong with the cover of this year's Minnesota press guide. For openers, the photo shows a nifty railroad tunnel...but it's in South Dakota. Home for the Gophers is Minneapolis. You mean to say the Gophers have to go to the Black Hills for their tunnels?
Further, what are those two players, quarterback Rickey Foggie and center Ray Hitchcock, doing practicing snaps in the track bed? What would happen if a train.... Holy Wile E. Coyote! Look behind you, men! Here comes one now! The billing on the cover reads THE GOLDEN GOPHERS ARE BACK ON TRACK. Looks more like they've gone off the rails.
Anyway, the entire Minnesota team found out what it feels like to be blindsided by a hurtling freight train last month when Oklahoma flattened the Gophers 63-0. Saturday the Little Engine That Could (a.k.a. University of the Pacific) ran over the Gophers 24-20.
DUM QUOTE OF THE WEAK
Illinois coach Mike White, after being swamped by Nebraska 59-14: "It was what it was, but what can you say?"
In Harvard's 34-0 romp over Columbia on Sept. 20, Crimson coach Joe Restic used all eight of his quarterbacks. Four of them appeared in one series. Said Restic, "It's Harvard, it's different." And best understood by millions of American men and boys, who know what it's like to practice all week and then not get in the game.
Peter Marciano of Brockton, Mass., a nephew of the former heavyweight champ, plays football for the Hawkeyes (at 5'9", 165 pounds, he's the smallest player on the team) in Iowa City, just 85 miles from Newton, Iowa, where his uncle was killed in a small-plane crash 17 years ago....
While Stanford QB John Paye is certain to be picked high in the draft, some pro scouts are privately wondering about his sturdiness....
Notre Dame coach Lou Holtz, who beat Purdue 41-9 for his first win in South Bend, keeps saying flanker Tim Brown is the most intelligent player he has ever coached. Says Brown, "I'm not going to let it go to my head...."
ACKNOWLEDGING THE CROWD
When LSU field goal kicker Ronnie Lewis was jeered by the crowd during the Tigers' loss to Miami of Ohio a fortnight ago in Baton Rouge, Lewis responded with an obscene hand gesture—actually he delivered it with both hands—as he ran off the field.
Later, LSU coach Bill Arnsparger denied Lewis had done it: "Ronnie Lewis is a very religious person. His dad is a chaplain for the U.S. Army." And the coach said that maybe it was a high five gone wrong. However, a photograph in the Baton Rouge State-Times clearly showed Lewis signing off with vigor. One observer, trying to be helpful, suggested that Lewis might be signaling "We're No. 11."
Lewis later apologized. Said the kicker: "My philosophy is that you've never been at your best until you've been at your worst. I've been at my worst." Ditto for Arnsparger, who would do well in the future to emphasize the character-building aspect of the game and avoid the dissembling.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Bob Barrett, who was an FBI agent before becoming the Southeastern Conference's assistant commissioner for institutional relations, says, "We found out from our sources that, after Las Vegas, there is more gambling per capita in Birmingham than anywhere in the United States...."
JOHN D. HANLON
At Michigan, passes don't have to be completed to win the approval of the fans.
The Gophers get derailed regularly.
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
OFFENSE: Holy Cross tailback Gordon Lockbaum, who also plays cornerback, gained 147 yards on 13 carries, scored 3 TDs and hauled in 5 passes in a 41-0 defeat of Harvard.
DEFENSE: Baylor free safety Thomas Everett intercepted two passes and, while blitzing, tipped another that was returned for a TD in the Bears' 45-14 win over Texas Tech.