Notre Dame's 61-29 win over SMU on Saturday was the first Irish game this season that was not televised. That all the other games were is proof anew of the glitter that emanates from the Golden Dome even though Notre Dame's record is an unglittery 4-4. The reason the SMU game wasn't televised is that the Mustangs are on NCAA probation, a state of affairs that doesn't sit well with Notre Dame.
Prior to the game, Father Edmund P. Joyce, the No. 2 man at the university, complained, "We want respectable opponents, and then we find out we won't be able to televise our game with them because they've been cheating like bandits. It's very disappointing."
WHO'S PASSING WHOM?
It has been interesting to watch Fresno State's Kevin Sweeney close in on Doug Flutie's NCAA passing record of 10,579 yards. Last Thursday, Sweeney passed for 160 yards in a 36-7 win over Nevada-Las Vegas that left him just 303 yards short of the mark with two games to go. So, barring injury, he should easily become the new champ either this weekend against Hawaii or the following week against Utah State.
Not so fast.
For while Flutie is the alltime big-school leader, we should never forget that the all-size alltimers are, first, Portland State's fine Neil Lomax, who amassed a whopping 13,220 yards between 1977 and '80; and second, Mississippi Valley's Willie Totten, who threw for 12,711 between 1982 and '85. Just because Lomax and Totten performed their feats at small schools before small crowds far from TV's bright lights, does that make their achievements less laudable? Nope. So congratulations, Kevin; you're almost No. 3.
DUM QUOTE OF THE WEAK
Before the Miami-Florida State game the other day, CBS commentator Ara Parseghian pointed out that the Seminoles would "have to outscore the...Hurricanes if they expect to win." Miami, lo and behold, out-scored Florida State 41-23, so, if we understand Parseghian correctly, that means the Hurricanes won the game.
HOORAY, CITRUS! HOORAY, FIESTA!
This is just too rich. The big bowls are whimpering that—get this—the Citrus and Fiesta bowls are not playing fair. Man alive, this is a great moment in sports. After all, the major bowls have done everything possible over the years to keep the little bowls out of the New Year's Day party.
No. 1 Miami and No. 2 Penn State are both independents, and because of the major bowls' conference tie-ins, a matchup between them can take place on Jan. 1 only at the Citrus or Fiesta bowl. At week's end the Citrus, which had planned to pay $875,000 per team, was offering about $2.6 million apiece to Miami and Penn State to land the game; the Fiesta, which normally pays $1.1 million per, was offering around $2.4 million and was poised to go higher. (The Sugar, Cotton and Orange all pay in the neighborhood of $2 million.) Hey, big bowls, ain't free enterprise grand?
At the Sugar Bowl, Mickey Holmes whines that the big-money bidding war over Miami-Penn State is "an interesting form of prostitution." At the Cotton, Jim Brock complains that "the whole thing has gotten out of hand. In fact it's utterly ridiculous." And Stan Marks of the Orange Bowl says, "If you want to get rid of the bowls, this is a damn good start."
Well, fine, because the big bowls are the ones standing bullheaded in the way of a college football playoff, which every right-thinking person supports. Ultimately, what we hope will come out of this is, of course, a proper playoff system. This is a strong signal to the big bowls that the Playoff Express may be ready to leave the station; it's up to them whether or not to get on.
THE LONGEST YARDS
Occasionally, numbers amassed by athletes absolutely stun us. It happened again on Saturday, when Denison senior tailback Chris Spriggs became the first collegian to rush for more than 4,000 yards and pass for more than 2,000. In a 49-6 rout of Buffalo State for the Big Red, which still runs the old single wing, Spriggs had 148 yards and two touchdowns on the ground, and 68 yards and three TDs in the air. And he played only half the game. Typically, that is about all he ever plays. Saturday's effort gave Spriggs 4,080 career rushing yards and 2,672 passing yards. The previous running/passing high was by Panhandle State tailback Jerry Linton, who logged 5,973 yards from 1959 to '62.
Nicest of all is Spriggs' decidedly unlofty view of himself: "I think this is great, but gee, I'm just a peon, I don't say me, me, me, me. I did this because we have a really good offense." Somehow, we suspect Spriggs made it an awful lot gooder.
Of the 105 major teams, few are suffering through a more woeful season than 1-8 Memphis State. But the Tigers have come up with an imaginative diversionary tactic. Stamped on the envelope containing the weekly p.r. release about how sad the Tigers are is this: MISS AMERICA'S CAMPUS BY CHOICE. That's definitely putting the best face on an ugly matter.
It has been a tough year for bands. We are all well aware that Stanford's has been barred from on-field appearances for two games because of lewd and raucous behavior. Allegations that some band members urinated on the field seem to have been a determining factor. But this band has a long history of being lewd and raucous.
Elsewhere, Michigan coach Bo Schembechler was angry about the Illinois band being on the sideline during the first quarter. "We shouldn't have the damned band on the field," he said. "If there's no room in the stands, let's not invite the band." Late in SMU's 39-35 loss to Texas A & M a fortnight ago, the Mustangs were penalized 15 yards because their band was playing too loud while the Aggies were trying to call signals. That penalty handed A & M an all-important first down—SMU never regained possession. So the home band sealed the defeat of the home team.
Finally, not long ago the Tennessee Tech band tried to form the letters USA. But the band was a bit short of players and the letters came out USP. A Tech official deadpanned that the formation was meant to be a sincere and heartfelt tribute to the United Parcel Service but the S and the P somehow became reversed.
Yale is always trying to keep up with Harvard, so no Eli should have been surprised when the Yale press box was destroyed by fire last week, just five years after the Harvard press box burned down.... Before beating lowly Utah in Salt Lake City on Nov. 1, Hawaii had lost every game it had ever played in the state. But veteran Rainbow coach Dick Tomey low-keyed the victory: "If you live long enough, you're going to win anyplace."...Leon Burtnett, who had said he would never resign as coach at Purdue, did, and Joe (Zipper) Kapp, who had said Cal would have to fire him, was.... TCU has six players on this year's squad who have gained more than 100 yards in a game at least once in their collegiate careers—which obviously doesn't count for much. Four are injured, the defense is abysmal, and the Frogs are 3-6.... The state of Pennsylvania, long a football hotbed, has undefeated teams in all four NCAA football divisions: I-A Penn State is 9-0; I-AA Penn is 8-0; Division II Millersville is 9-0; and Division III Susquehanna is 9-0.
Pittsburgh's Heyward blew through the Hurricanes for 254 yards on 39 carries.
LIFE IN TOMORROWLAND FOR THE TITANS
Cal State-Fullerton is known derisively as Cal State-Disneyland because it's situated only 15 minutes from the amusement park in Anaheim. Indeed, too often, the kind of football the Titans play is positively goofy; they are 2-9 this year. Still, they do have their moments, as in 1984 when they beat Hawaii for the first time in eight attempts. That prompted defensive tackle Ron McLean to quip, "They called us Cal State-Disneyland and we took them right to the Haunted House."
Once, at Colorado State, Fullerton was greeted with Mickey Mouse hanging in effigy from a goal post. That was enough to incite the Titans to victory. After the game, McLean was beside himself. "They should have known they couldn't get away with that," he said.
Through all the highlights and lowlights, McLean, who is a 6'4", 260-pound fifth-year senior, has been the perfect Cal State-Disneyland representative. For example, he routinely sleeps with his shoulder pads and helmet the night before a game. "They need rest, too," says McLean. "They have a big game ahead of them." Sort of like sleeping with a teddy bear, huh? "Well, no," he sniffs. "I just like to keep a good relationship with my gear. It's more like a carpenter and his hammer."
McLean also likes to practice his pass rush in a local park—against a tree. The tree has yet to juke him successfully. Says McLean, who may have fallen victim to too many visits to Fantasy-land, or perhaps an excessive number of trips down the Matter-horn, "I am a little different, but I live and die for this stupid game."
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
OFFENSE: Pitt's Craig Hey-ward, who had 254 yards in a 37-10 loss to Miami, became the first back to gain 200 yards against the Hurricanes since Tony Dorsett got 227 in 1976.
DEFENSE: In Virginia's 20-16 upset of North Carolina State, safety Mike Pettine, a sophomore, preserved the Cavalier victory by making three interceptions in the last six minutes.