•The Memphis State defense. The Tigers had the season's first big upset, a 16-10 win over highly touted Mississippi. With just a little less than two minutes left, Memphis State stopped Ole Miss twice in a row, from the one, to hang on. The star among the stars was linebacker Damon Young, who made 16 tackles, including the two crucial ones at game's end.
•Louisville quarterback Jay Gruden. There were 28 seconds left, the Cardinals trailed Tulane 40-35, it was fourth down and the ball was on the Green Wave's one. Gruden, a junior who recently had knee surgery, whispered to tight end George Williams that it would be a pass. But Gruden didn't tell his line, which blocked as if the play were a run—and thereby deceived the Tulane defense. "We did block run," said center Allen Douglas. "I was wondering what happened to the ball." Gruden's pass floated softly into the hands of Williams, who caught it while kneeling, to win the game 42-40.
•Alabama coach Bill Curry. Crimson Tide fans had been wondering whether their team's new coach would be a new Bear or a new cross to bear—and putting a lot of pressure on Curry in the process. 'Bama's 38-6 win over Southern Mississippi should have diminished their worries. Of course, Curry didn't make a single play himself. So credit the Tide's brilliant tailbacks, Bobby Humphrey and Kerry Goode: Together they carried 32 times for 154 yards and caught 5 passes for 64 yards.
•Boston College quarterback Mike Power. In BC's 38-20 win over TCU, Power completed 16 of 31 passes for 379 yards and three touchdowns. Six of Power's throws went to Doug Flutie's brother, Darren, including a 44-yarder that broke the game open with 7:22 left in the third quarter. His other 10 completions were distributed among six players. Said Power, "If there's any pressure on me, it will be because I put it on myself."
•Syracuse noseguard Ted Gregory. The 6'1", 260-pound Gregory was the main reason the Orange beat Maryland 25-11, the first time since '75 that Syracuse has opened the season at home with a win. He was credited with four unassisted tackles for losses, to go with three other unassisted hits.
•Georgia tailback Lars Tate. By rushing for 218 yards on 28 carries, with TD runs of 44 and 28 yards, in the Bulldogs' 30-22 win over Virginia, Tate became the first Georgia back to rush for more than 200 yards in a game since Herschel Walker gained 219 against Florida in 1982. "I dig it," said Tate. "I like this."
...AND SATURDAYS GOATS
Southwestern Louisiana was blasted 31-3 by Mississippi State—and the Ra-gin' Cajuns played far worse than the score indicated. Coach Nelson Stokley said, "I hope this isn't an indication of what kind of team we have." The Cajuns now have an 0-30 record against Southeastern Conference opponents.
GETTING KICKS-OF A SORT
When you don't have football, the start of the football season can be tough. Still, SMU—out of the football fraternity until 1989 for assorted misdeeds—is coping as best it can. For example, the big billboard at Ownby Stadium that used to list the home football games now carries the Mustangs' soccer schedule. SMU opened its season last Friday evening in Bloomington, Ind., where it lost to Evansville 2-1. The game wasn't on national TV, and no doubt there are those in Dallas who felt that the soccer matchup couldn't compare with the football opener the Mustangs were scheduled to play against the powerful Oklahoma Sooners on Sept. 19.
To help Southern Methodist students get through football withdrawal, the nice folks at the Willow Bend Polo and Hunt Club in Dallas have invited them to some of the club's fall competitions. That way the students can watch the ponies, if not the Ponies. And the SMU Program Council has come up with something called the Ultimate Alternative, which is actually many alternatives, including a film series, a concert by Ray Charles and an appearance by novelist Joyce Carol Oates.
Some forward-looking students are rushing around the Rolexville campus to all these events—and don't forget homecoming Nov. 7, when the soccer team plays TCU—in BMWs sporting bumper stickers that read: SMU FOOTBALL: A QUALITY PROGRAM SINCE 1989.
DUM QUOTE OF THE WEAK
After his Rams lost 49-3 to Tennessee on Saturday, Colorado State coach Leon Fuller said, "There weren't too many bright spots except for our defense."
•Best Anti-Steroid Observation: Jim Wahler, a defensive tackle at UCLA, says, "Any guy who says he can bench-press 550 pounds is probably on steroids. And the best thing you can do to a guy who takes them is to beat his butt on the field. He'll be saying, 'I took all those steroids, and they still didn't help.' "
•Best Sense of Humor (New Coach Division): Texas Tech's Spike Dykes says that when the Red Raiders recruited junior linebacker Dal Watson, "he'd never lost two games in a row in his life. But we got him adjusted."
•Best Perspective: According to Colorado noseguard Kyle Rappold, "Football is great. You get to kick, bite, sweat, spit, fight, win...and then afterward you get to hug a blonde."
•Loftiest Aim: Says Jim Walden, new coach of Towa State's Cyclones: "My goal is to win a game."
ACADEMICS LOSE AGAIN
Here are two recent examples of universities lowering their academic standards to keep star players on the football field:
1) At Arizona State, senior linebacker Stacy Harvey took an ASU correspondence course in history in hopes of regaining the scholastic eligibility he had lost after flunking a statistics course. But since the late '70s, when several Sun Devil players got credits from a bogus mail-order school, Arizona State has prohibited its athletes from taking correspondence courses—even from ASU.
Since Harvey had violated university rules, faculty athletic representative Marianne Jennings, a professor in the business school, declared him ineligible. No problem. Except that Arizona State president J. Russell Nelson overturned the decision, apparently concerned that the rule wouldn't stand up to a lawsuit and explaining that Harvey's advisers should have helped him follow procedures, and so it wasn't all his fault.
Hogwash. Which is exactly how Jennings saw it. She quit as faculty rep with a flaming rebuke of Nelson. "Whoever comes into this job would have to be a real fool not to see the writing on the wall," she said.
2) At Auburn, quarterback Jeff Burger was charged with plagiarism and the school's Academic Honesty Committee recommended a suspension. He subsequently got into a fracas at four o'clock one morning at a local fast-food restaurant and was charged with being drunk and carrying a concealed weapon.
The drunk charge was dropped, and Burger pleaded guilty to the weapons charge and paid a $50 fine plus $32 in court costs. The recommended suspension was rejected by Auburn's vice-president for academic affairs, Warren Brandt, who said, "It seems to me that Mr. Burger had really been punished by the extensive press coverage.... He's suffered enough." The facts of Burger's plagiarism case are complicated, and the 4 a.m. fracas may be irrelevant to his football eligibility, but Brandt's assertion that Burger has suffered enough because of press coverage is even further from the point.
What seems clear is that both Nelson and Brandt were determined to keep star players in uniform and in doing so have dealt a blow to the integrity of their schools. They've sent out the wrong signals on the proper relationship between academics and football. Auburn football was rewarded on Saturday, as Burger led his team to a 31-3 victory over Texas, passing for 269 yards—the highest game total of any Auburn quarterback since Pat Sullivan in 1971.
DRESSING FOR SUCCESS?
In Kansas State's 91 years of playing football, its most memorable accomplishment is its amassing the losingest major-college record in NCAA history. Almost nothing works for the "Mildcats," who are a dismal 299-490-39. But you've got to hand it to them: They keep on trying. "This is a tough job," says coach Stan Parrish, who was 2-9 in 1986, his first season. "It's tougher than even I had envisioned it." Then, like all his predecessors, he swears he'll get the program flying right.
For one thing, Parrish made sure that the home team's locker room at KSU Stadium at least looks like the home of winners. Parrish, who described the old dressing room as "a loser's heaven," this summer personally oversaw construction of a new facility and had it painted Wildcat purple. It already has been dubbed Hotel Parrish.
The face-lift was complete when K-State players showed up last month. "When they saw it, they were shocked," says Parrish. "Number 1, they didn't expect it to be done on time, and Number 2, they didn't expect it to be done right. They're used to things not getting taken care of around here. It's that attitude we're trying to get rid of."
Alas, last Saturday K-State lost its opener to Austin Peay 26-22 when the Governors scored on a 35-yard pass with 10 seconds remaining, which must have been discouraging to the Wildcats' new locker room.
Miami's Jimmy Johnson is starting his fourth year as coach of the Hurricanes, but 18 of his 22 starters were signed by former coach Howard Schnellenberger.... Michigan senior running back Jamie Morris says he couldn't decide whether to attend Michigan or Wisconsin, so just before signing day he decided he would go to the one whose coach phoned next. Then-Wolverine assistant Bob Thornbladh beat the caller from Wisconsin by two minutes.... New Tulsa coach George Henshaw, formerly an Alabama assistant, is disgusted with his team's lack of toughness: "At Alabama, when it came time for games, guys would throw away their crutches and splints and play full speed. I have a problem having patience with guys who are hurt all the time."
Before Saturday's game against Nebraska, Utah State coach Chuck Shelton promised that his offense—last in the nation in 1986 with an average of only 12 points a game—would be improved this season. "If we can walk to the line of scrimmage, we'll be better," he said. "Last year, we couldn't even get out of the huddle right."
In Lincoln the walk to the line of scrimmage looked good, and getting out of the huddle was superior. However, the Huskers amassed 56 points while the Aggies scored, you guessed it, 12.
Tate became the first Georgia running back since Walker to rush for 200 yards in a game.
KEN REGAN/CAMERA 5
Something was phoney about Morris's picking Michigan.
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
OFFENSE: In South Carolina's 24-3 defeat of Appalachian State, sophomore quarterback Todd Ellis completed a school-record 30 passes—surpassing his own mark—for 329 yards. It was the 11th time in 12 starts he has thrown for more than 200.
DEFENSE: Ezekial Gadson, a senior linebacker at Pitt, was a terror in a 27-17 Panther triumph over Brigham Young with 12 unassisted tackles, four sacks, a fumble recovery, two forced fumbles, a blocked punt and a pair of quarterback hurries.