THE SKILL OF THE IRISH
Deep in the bowels of Michigan Stadium late Saturday afternoon, Wolverine coach Bo Schembechler was steaming over his team's 26-7 thrashing by suspiciously regarded Notre Dame. "The story of the game was turnovers," fumed the coach who fumes better than any other. "Eight."
Well, actually, it was seven—four interceptions and three fumbles, the most by a Michigan team in 27 years. But that Schembechler was wrong about the number of Wolverine errors was a fitting climax to a day in which almost everything else went wrong for Michigan, too.
Perhaps because this was only the second opening-game loss of Schembechler's 19-year career and his worst defeat at home since a 40-17 loss to Missouri in 1969, he was especially ungracious. The Irish, he said, were "probably not as good as they looked." And, he groused, "If you give us eight turnovers, we'll beat a lot of teams."
Amid the joyful chaos of the winners' locker room, Notre Dame coach Lou Holtz was understandably more charitable: "Let's keep it in the proper perspective. We were fortunate. This was so untypical of Bo's teams. They'll get rid of those mistakes."
The Wolverines probably will, but that was small consolation to Schembechler, who was taking Saturday's mishaps all very personally. He shook his head and said sadly, "I don't recall a team ever doing that to me before."
Notre Dame scored 23 of its points after Wolverine miscues. The Irish built a 10-0 halftime lead on a 44-yard field goal by Ted Gradel (after an interception) and an 11-yard TD pass to wide receiver Tim Brown, who made an all-world catch (after a fumble).
Meanwhile, the new Irish quarterback, senior Terry Andrysiak, was 11 of 15 and played with surprising discipline. Holtz said of Andrysiak's performance, "Thirteen days ago, not only were we not on the same page, we weren't even in the same book." Andrysiak said he felt things got better between him and Holtz only in the last week, when "he started to teach me a little more instead of pulling me off to tell me he might have to get another quarterback."
Meanwhile key Michigan players were performing poorly. Jamie Morris, whom Schembechler likes to single out for lavish praise, gained 128 yards, but fumbled twice early on. Quarterback Demetrius Brown completed only 4 of 15 passes for 54 yards and had three interceptions. His replacement, Michael Taylor, threw an interception on his first try. "Our quarterbacks are better than they looked," said Schembechler hopefully. But again he was heard to mutter, "Eight turnovers."
•Oklahoma senior quarterback Jamelle Holieway. After a horrendous season opener against North Texas State two weeks ago, when he fumbled four snaps, Holieway bounced back in the Sooners' 28-0 trouncing of North Carolina. He carried 25 times for 170 yards—the most gained by an Oklahoma quarterback since Thomas Lott in 1976—and he scored four times. Twice in a row he tied Tar Heel strong safety Norris Davis in knots with brilliant displays of stutter-stepping and sleight-of-hand. Crowed Holieway, "Faking be the baddest part of my game."
•William & Mary. The Division I-AA Indians not only thumped Navy 27-12, but they almost made the game a rout by the second quarter. The defense kept Navy quarterback John Nobers submerged all day as he completed only three of 12 passes for 46 yards and two interceptions. Though the Middies played with characteristic enthusiasm, new coach Elliot Uzelac grumped, "Enthusiasm is great, but if you don't funnel it into something, it can't help you a bit."
•Missouri. Yup, poor downtrodden Mizzou. The Tigers were 4-18 the last two years under coach Woody Widenhofer and seemed to be getting worse. Then, in their opener, they beat Baylor 23-18. Widenhofer, like many others, had turned in desperation to the wishbone, and the move paid off as the Tiger offense rolled up 289 yards. Said Baylor defensive back Mike Welch, "Missouri was very physical, and we were not quite ready for that."
•Senior quarterback Todd Santos of San Diego State. True, Santos was playing against Utah, which had the nation's worst defense last year. Still, to connect on 35 of 42 passes for 462 yards and four touchdowns, as Santos did in a 52-34 win over the Utes, would be impressive against anybody. He must average 249 yards a game to break the NCAA passing record of 10,623 yards set last season by Kevin Sweeney at Fresno State. In any home game in which San Diego State passes for 249 yards, a local pizza parlor offers free slices to ticket holders. For Aztec opponents, 249 yards is just a slice of life.
...AND SATURDAY'S GOATS
•Kansas. Last year the Jayhawks were 104th among 105 Division I-A teams in scoring, 103rd in rushing defense, 102nd in total offense. This year they may be worse. Meanwhile, coach Bob Valesente keeps talking about bringing a national championship to Lawrence. The day started badly as the Jayhawks' team bus ran into an airplane as it was attempting to leave the tarmac at the Montgomery airport en route to Auburn. Running into Auburn was an even bigger mistake. The Tigers breezed 49-0.
•Colorado. The Buffaloes, 17½-point favorites, got off to a horrid start by losing 10-7 to Oregon. Said winning coach Rich Brooks, "Whoever the oddsmakers are, they better check their hole card. We're not that bad of a football team." The Buffs shot themselves in the hooves with three fumbles, two interceptions and three missed field goals.
THE TIE THAT BINDS
Whattaguy, this Paul Roach.
Roach, the Wyoming athletic director, got our attention last year when he urged fans to make the Cowboy booster club the beneficiary of their life insurance policies. Whereupon he no doubt started reading the obit page with new enthusiasm.
This year Roach has put his nimble mind to the problem of how to keep Wyoming football coaches from making Laramie just a quick cup of coffee en route to full-course meals elsewhere. Fred Akers, now at Purdue, spent only two seasons with the Cowboys in the mid-1970s before leaving for Texas; Pat Dye was the Wyoming coach for just one season before taking over at Auburn in 1981. And Dennis Erickson fulfilled a measly 13 months of his five-year contract before bolting for Washington State last January.
First, Roach, 59, who was once Wyoming's offensive coordinator, had to find another football coach. He considered applicants from around the country before finding his man staring back at him from the bathroom mirror one morning.
The next thing he did was put a novel clause in his contract (and that of basketball coach Benny Dees as well) stipulating that if a coach decides to leave after only one season, he must pay the school $100,000, and if he leaves after two years, $50,000. Says Roach, "I decided we needed to be a little creative to assure some continuity in the program. I wouldn't be surprised to see some other schools do something along these lines so some of these guys can't walk so quick."
Quickness was among the attributes Wyoming lacked while getting bashed 43-28 Saturday by Erickson's mediocre Cougars. Among the lowlights for Wyoming was a six-minute stretch in the second quarter when Washington State scored four touchdowns. No wonder Erickson gloated, "There are people who thought I wasn't too bright when they heard my professional goal was to be the head coach at Washington State."
Meanwhile Roach, whom nobody accuses of being a dim bulb, is curious to see how long the new football coach stays on. Unless the scores force athletic director Roach to can coach Roach, he thinks it will be awhile—because, he says, "Ol' Paul is a dependable guy." And a financially prudent one.
WAY OUT OF THEIR LEAGUE
A fortnight ago, Cal State-Fullerton was beaten 44-0 by Hawaii, a team nobody accuses of being a power. Then last week the Titans lost 56-12 to LSU, as the potent Tigers scored on their first seven possessions.
Said Fullerton coach Gene Murphy, "I told the players if they want to quit, they can pick up their scholarship money and leave, and we can call off the season. Nobody said he wanted to quit." But what were they thinking in their hearts?
And another question remains: Why schedule the likes of LSU and subject young men to the humiliation of such a predictable defeat? That Cal State-Fullerton received a $200,000 "fodder fee" isn't a fit answer. Maybe Murphy had a better one. "I'm Irish and people say I have extensive hail damage in the attic," he said.
KING OF THE HILL
Which conference can most reasonably claim to be the best? It has to be the Pac-10, no matter how much the Big Ten and the Southeastern Conference maintain otherwise. And not just because the Pac-10 representative has won the Rose Bowl 16 of the last 18 years.
Consider that when the NCAA put its computer to the task of figuring which teams have the toughest schedules this season, six of the Top 10 turned out to be from the Pac-10: Oregon State (2), UCLA (4), Washington State (5), California (6), Oregon (9) and Stanford (10). (Toughest: Notre Dame.)
Taking on such formidable opponents apparently produces quality players, because the NFL drafted 45 players from the Pac-10 this year, four more than from the runner-up SEC. There are 43 more former Pac-10 players on NFL rosters than there are from any other conference. Against regular-season nonconference opponents last year, the league was 25-11, with no conference holding an edge over the Pac-10. Are there any challengers?
DUM QUOTE OF THE WEAK
Iowa coach Hayden Fry, after his Hawkeyes edged Dick Tomey's Arizona Wildcats 15-14: "I know Dick has assembled a fine staff from all parts of America and Hawaii."
Doug Flutie, who put Boston College on the football map, might be interested to hear what his brother Darren, the Eagles' senior wide receiver, says of current BC quarterback Mike Power: "He has great talent, probably more than anybody who's played here." We'll see, but Power did throw a 65-yard TD pass to Flutie as the Eagles swamped Temple, 28-7.... When Texas, under new coach David McWilliams, lost 22-17 to BYU, it was the first time the Long-horns have started 0-2 in 20 years. But things are looking up; after an off week, the Longhorns get to play hapless Oregon State.... While nobody can prove that former Florida State halfback Burt Reynolds has convinced a single player to attend his alma mater, coach Bobby Bowden says he knows one constituency Reynolds has definitely impressed: "We've gotten a lot of mothers." ...The University of Central Florida Knights call their defense the Knightmares.... When new Purdue coach Fred Akers was asked last week if he had mixed emotions about his first game being against No. 9-ranked Washington, he said, "I don't have any mixed emotions. I wish we were playing somebody else." The Boilermakers lost 28-10.... Evaluating his Miami of Ohio team that lost 33-17 Saturday to Eastern Michigan, coach Tim Rose said, "Whatever I thought we could be, we are better than I thought we would be at this time, probably." ...Wouldn't you know that the new slogan at brainy Berkeley is High Velocity Football? ...Cheating seems to be an accepted part of the game in the Southwest Conference, where four of the nine football programs are currently under some sort of punishment. At Arkansas, which is not on probation, athletic director Frank Broyles explains how spiteful the member schools can be: "We get investigated by the NCAA all the time. We turn everybody in, and to get even, they find something silly to turn us in for." ...Say it ain't so, Joe. Listen to what noted Penn State disciplinarian Joe Paterno says about his senior linebacker Trey Bauer: "With Trey, you don't talk, you listen. He tells me when he wants to practice." Somehow, we have a hard time believing that.... Baylor coach Grant Teaff has been on the job longer than his counterparts at the eight other Southwest Conference schools combined (15 years to 13). During Teaff's tenure, the Bears' rivals have had 31 coaches.
When Irish fullback Braxston Banks scored from the one, Andrysiak added the exclamation point.
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
OFFENSE: In just over two quarters of action, Florida State's talented but frequently injured tailback, Sammie Smith, carried the ball 19 times for 244 yards, including a touchdown run of 83 yards, to lead the Seminoles to a 44-3 win over East Carolina.
DEFENSE: In Missouri's 23-18 defeat of Baylor, strong safety Erik McMillan had six unassisted tackles, giving him a school career record of 157. McMillan also returned an interception 13 yards for a momentum-turning, third-quarter TD.
SPECIAL TEAMS: One of the few bright spots for Virginia Tech in its 22-10 loss to Clemson was freshman Jon Jeffries, who, upon receiving his first collegiate kickoff with 10:05 remaining in the game, returned it 92 yards for the Gobblers' lone touchdown.