LOOK FOR THE SILVER LINING
Washington crushed visiting Bowling Green 48-0 on Saturday in a game that never should have been scheduled between an always-have and a seldom-have. Still, all was not lost, because every effort was made to help Bowling Green save face.
First, Husky AD Mike Lude told everyone that Bowling Green is "an excellent institution," an opinion he has backed up: "I have two daughters with Bowling Green degrees." Bowling Green alum Marcia Hays of Fountain Valley, Calif., said charitably, "I predicted it would be 62-0, so this isn't so bad." And a vendor tried to smooth over the debacle by offering a $2 discount on 10 hot dogs to Falcon fans, saying, "Just because you're losing doesn't mean you can't eat."
Bowling Green coach Moe Ankney surveyed the wreckage and took the high road. "Nobody died. Nobody got killed," he said. When put into that perspective, why, the Falcons had a darn successful day.
FOOTBALL THE WAY IT OUGHTTA BE
College spirit can be hard to define, but not to the folks at Division II St. Joseph's College of Rensselaer, Ind.
Seems it rained and rained and rained earlier this month in Rensselaer, and AD Bill Hogan sensed that the upcoming game against Butler might be in jeopardy when he put a football on the 40-yard line at St. Joseph's Field and it floated 10 yards away. Parts of the field were six inches under water.
What to do? Nearby Purdue refused to let the Pumas use an artificial-turf practice field for the game. Then, Puma coach Bill Reagan remembered old Brookside Park, which used to be the local high school field, but which hadn't seen a game since 1972. The field was, to be generous, in awful shape. But it wasn't swampland.
So on Friday, the day before the Butler game, everyone—everyone—at St. Joseph's pitched in to get the field ready. How did the players respond when Reagan had them picked up in vans to go to work? "They said, 'Let's go.' " says Reagan. Go they did. They carried sand to fill in holes on the field; they drove trucks around town to pick up bleachers and transport them to Brookside; they rolled the field; they put a fence around it; they lined the field; they put ribbons on the rusty goalposts so the kickers could see them better.
With all this good spirit, you would think that God would have allowed the Pumas to win. She didn't, and Butler triumphed 32-22. The next Tuesday Reagan and his players went back to Brookside Park and restored the field to its abandoned condition.
Now, class, a pop quiz: Define college spirit.
WHO'S GREAT AND WHO'S NOT
To name the 10 greatest college coaches of all time is an exercise fraught with differing opinions. The NCAA's whizbang director of statistics, Jim Van Valkenburg, has taken a stab at it, and he deserves a hearing, because he established a criterion for coaching greatness: at least eight victories for every 10 games coached over a career that spans at least 10 years. Fair enough.
1. Knute Rockne, 105-12-5 (.881) at Notre Dame, 1918-1930.
2. Frank Leahy, 107-13-9 (.864) at Boston College and Notre Dame, 1939-1953.
3. Doyt Perry, 77-11-5 (.855) at Bowling Green, 1955-1964.
4. George Woodruff, 142-25-2 (.846), at Penn, Illinois and Carlisle, 1892-1905.
5. Jake Gaither, 203-36-4 (.844) at Florida A & M, 1945-1969.
6. Dave Maurer, 129-23-3 (.842) at Wittenberg, 1969-1983.
7. Paul Hoerneman, 102-18-4 (.839) at Heidelberg, 1946-1959.
8. Don Coryell, 127-24-3 (.834) at Whittier and San Diego State, 1957-1972.
9. Percy Haughton, 96-17-6 (.832) at Cornell, Harvard and Columbia, 1899-1924.
10. Barry Switzer, 131-25-4 (.831) at Oklahoma, 1973-1986.
The charm of this list is the scads of great coaches who don't make it. For openers, where's Bear Bryant? Because of a few poor teams early on, he ended up with only a .780 winning percentage over a 38-year career. Where's Joe Paterno? How about Amos Alonzo Stagg, Walter Camp, Darrell Royal, Bobby Dodd, Frank Broyles, Red Blaik, John Vaught, Bud Wilkinson, Bob Neyland, Fielding Yost, Eddie Robinson, Pop Warner?
All this means is that when you figure out greatness with your head, as Van Valkenburg did, and not with your heart, Chuck Klausing and Vernon McCain were a helluva lot better coaches than Woody Hayes and Ara Parseghian. That's absolutely wonderful.
ROCKY MOUNTAIN HIGH
Could it be that, hidden among Colorado's legendary mountains and hard by its legendary trout streams, a football legend is in the making? Say hello to Cory Davis, a junior running back for South Park High in Fairplay, which, in case your geography is weak, is near Alma, Garo and Como. As a sophomore, he ran for 1,904 yards on 104 carries for a whopping 18.3-yard average on his eight-man team.
Earlier this month, he galloped for 567 yards (on 33 carries for a 17.2-yard average and six touchdowns) in a single game. That's thought to be the third-highest total in schoolboy history; eight-man records are spotty. The record is held by John Bunch of Elkins, Ark., who had 608 yards in 1974. Next is 599 by Rudy Rudison of Houston in 1978. In fact, Davis might have all but set the mark in concrete had he not had runs of 80, 87 and 52 yards nullified by penalties. But record, schmecord—neither the 180-pound, 5'7¾" Davis, nor his coach, Tom Thorne, knew anything about either mark. "Really," says Davis, "we're just trying to win games." The Burros are now only 4-3, despite Davis's heroics.
But Davis can spin your head. In one game this fall he carried only nine times—for 263 yards. That meant he averaged 29.2 yards each time he handled the ball. Oh yes, he scored on six of those attempts. Davis does have bad games. For example, against Aurora Christian he had a sprained ankle, which is why he gained only 363 yards and scored only three TDs. Saturday was just another day at the office for Davis, who rushed for 350 yards on 12 carries and had six TDs as South Park mopped up Kiowa 50-30.
"I don't know what it is about him," says Thorne, "except he just explodes right through people." Davis modestly suggests that playing in an eight-man league helps because "there are three fewer guys to tackle me." He does not point out that it also means he has three fewer guys to block for him. What it really means is that college recruiters will soon be checking their maps and their snow tires.
DUM QUOTE OF THE WEAK
Kansas defensive end Phil Forte on the quality of play in the Big Eight, which this season is worse than the Illini-Badger Conference but marginally better than the Little Three Conference: "The Big Eight is the second-best league in the country; the best are the boys that play on Sunday."
RUFFLING THE KICKER
Stanford field goal kicker Dave Sweeney recently had a miserable afternoon against Washington. He blew two attempts, one from 39 yards, the other from 40. Then late in the game, with Washington ahead 17-14, the Cardinal faced fourth-and-one at the Huskies' five. Coach Jack Elway elected to try for the first down rather than to endure another Sweeney adventure. Stanford was stopped, Washington took over, drove the field and emerged a 24-14 winner.
After the game Sweeney stormed into the locker room and flung his helmet at the wall. The helmet bounced and hit tight end Eric Snelson in the head, delivering a gash that required three stitches. Snelson, who gets this week's Good Guy Award, said magnanimously, "I understand, but ouch."
REALITY SETS IN
It's the time of year when most coaches come to grips with the cruel fact that, once again, they have pretty average teams. Still, they persist in acting as if their players are only a minibreak away from starry things. Coaches always hope.
For example, at 2-4 Oklahoma State, Pat Jones told his players after they were mauled 30-10 by Nebraska a fortnight ago: "We had ample opportunity to get slaughtered and we didn't." Somewhere somebody might believe that. At Wake Forest, coach Al Groh had a more realistic view of his team's 0-3 ACC record: "One of these days, one of these teams is not going to play so good and we'll win." And lo and behold, that day came on Saturday when the Demon Deacons beat Maryland 27-21.
While excessive rancor between opponents is marring too many games, at the recent meeting of South Carolina and Nebraska in Columbia, the P.A. announcer twice thanked Nebraska farmers for contributing 12,973 bales of hay to drought-ravaged South Carolina during the summer. Both times the crowd of 73,000 gave a standing ovation.... Word is, Jim Walden may leave Washington State, which means somebody is going to get a premier coach who knows how to build and win in adversity.... Arkansas guard Freddie Childress weighs, oh, 330 or more, and he's doggone tired of having the subject discussed. Says Childress, "It's like hearing Brenda Lee on the radio all the time. You wish she'd shut up."...North Carolina noseguard Tim Goad who comes from tiny (pop. 25) Claudville, Va., says his hometown does have "one stoplight down by the school. But in all honesty, it's just used for drivers' education."...It's difficult to recall a more pallid rushing effort by two teams than the one on Saturday, when Montana State beat Northern Arizona 27-19. The winner ran for 12 yards and the loser for—1.... When Arizona State beat Southern Cal 29-20 after having defeated UCLA two weeks earlier, it marked the first time that a school has beaten both teams in Los Angeles in the same season.
Rockne's stats confirm his legend.
Davis stood tall after running for 567 yards in an eight-man high school game.
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
OFFENSE: In Texas A & M's 31-30 win over Baylor, Aggie quarterback Kevin Murray completed 25 of 40 passes for 308 yards and 3 touchdowns and ran for another score.
DEFENSE: Houston strongside linebacker Gary McGuire had 17 solo tackles, assisted on 5 others, deflected 2 passes and caused 1 fumble in the Cougars' 10-3 defeat at SMU.