The green eggs we're not sure about. The Ham, however, has graduated. Tracy Ham, Georgia Southern's splendid vest-pocket quarterback—who hamboned the Eagles to two straight national titles—is one of 11 Georgia Southern starters scattered to the real world.
Much of last year's Holy Cross team may be gone, but its best player remains. Gordon Lockbaum, who excelled on offense, defense and special teams, led the division in scoring (he had six touchdowns against Dartmouth) and stood two-platoon football on its ear. The Crusaders figure to be the best team that doesn't make the playoffs this year. The Colonial League says thanks-but-no-thanks to postseason play: Playoffs interfere with finals, say the six member schools. Indeed, Lockbaum, an economics major, had his best academic semester ever last fall.
At Colgate, Kenny Gamble rushed for 165 yards a game in 1986, best in the country, and defensive end Kyle Warwick had 54 tackles. Both return, as does head coach Fred Dunlap, who underwent heart surgery during the season but was never really out. He coached six games from the press box and during one week stayed in touch with his assistants from a hospital bed.
In the Ivy it should be Penn, again. Chris Flynn wasn't a Quaker starter last year but was named an All-Ivy runner, anyway. As Rich Comizio's backup, Flynn rushed for 917 yards. Only Cornell, where coach Maxie Baughan has recruited well, could give Penn a scare.
A last-second loss to Connecticut kept Massachusetts out of the playoffs last season. The Minutemen have a better defense now, but no big back. They feature Kevin Smellie, whose 11 touchdowns showed he has a nose for the end zone. Also returning is the fine Pan-Mediterranean kicking tandem of punter Dimitri Yavis and kicker Silvio Bonvini. But the team with the best chance of ruling the Yankee Conference roost is Delaware. With eight offensive starters gone the bodies are different, but coach Tubby Raymond's patented offense, with its multiple misdirection—the seemingly chaotic Delaware wing T—should still be going strong. Middle linebacker Darrell Booker, Delaware's all-time leading tackier, starts for the fourth straight season.
Nevada-Reno led the nation in scoring (55 touchdowns), and Lucius Floyd and Charvez Foger were the rushing scourges of the Big Sky Conference, combining for 1,893 yards. Marty Zendejas kicked 14 field goals. "He would've had more," says Wolf Pack coach Chris Ault, "but most times we got the ball down there, we'd get a touchdown." That won't change much; seven offensive starters are back.
Arkansas State has a lean and hungry look. The Indians seceded from the Southland Conference after last season—leaving Northeast Louisiana and North Texas State to fight it out this year—while preparing to move up to Division I-A. Indian coach Larry Lacewell will need to mess up royally not to make the playoffs. He has 12 returning starters, including Dwane Brown, whose play-action fakes fool his own teammates and who can throw a football 80 yards in the air, on the run.
Appalachian State is still the team to beat in the Southern Conference, although it won't be as fearsome as last season: Six of last year's players signed with pro teams as free agents.
Darrell Mudra gets 38 lettermen back at Northern Iowa. "If there was ever a time," he says, "this year is it." Mudra's quarterback, Mike Smith, "has a strong arm and a great mind," according to his coach. He has not-so-great ankles, though. Allen wrenched one in spring drills, then injured the other so badly two weeks later that surgery was required.
If it doesn't turn out to be Mudra's year, Eastern Illinois probably will reign in the Gateway Conference. The Panthers lost most of their skill players, but gained a new coach in Bob Spoo, who comes from Purdue, where he coached Mark Herrmann, Scott Campbell and Jim Everett. Considering Spoo's rèsumè, will the new Panthers look like junior San Diego Chargers? Nope. Give Spoo defense and a good kicking game, any day. "My ideal team is Michigan," Spoo coos.
Elroy Harris rejoins James Crawford in the Eastern Kentucky backfield. Two years ago they rushed for a combined 2,416 yards, but then Elroy had grade troubles. Now he's back, and the Colonels won't need to throw more than a dozen times a game. Their toughest competition in the Ohio Valley Conference will be either Middle Tennessee State, if quarterback Marvin Collier recovers from shoulder surgery, or Murray State, which lost just two starters on offense.
Lockbaum scored 22 touchdowns, caught 57 passes and pulled a 3.3 in his classes.