TRAILER OUT FRONT
With all due respect to Bill Walsh (page 42) and all the other geniuses in Division I-A, Mark Whipple of the University of New Haven is doing one of the best—and most outlandish—coaching jobs in the country. Never mind that Whipple runs his Division II program out of a trailer that sits next to the gymnasium parking lot. His Chargers win by scoring a ton of points, and nobody even accuses them of running it up. Maybe that's because one of their winning scores this season was 48-47, another 69-48. "All I care about is how many points we score," Whipple says. "If you score 65 points a game, you should win, and you don't have to worry about what the defense does."
Call it blasphemy, but don't laugh. The Chargers are ranked No. 7 in Division II, and after last Saturday's 56-13 win over Southern Connecticut—Whipple, the softy, rested his starters in the fourth quarter—they are 7-0. Moreover, they are averaging 55.4 points per outing, and they lead all NCAA teams in total offense (626.6 yards per game).
A former quarterback at Brown, Whipple began putting together his playbook in the mid-'80s, when he was an assistant to George Allen with the Arizona Wranglers of the USFL. Last season, in the wake of a six-game losing streak that included a 64-60 loss to Southern Connecticut, Whipple distilled all his coaching theories down to one: The best defense is an unstoppable offense. Now New Haven comes at foes with a no-huddle attack. Says Whipple, "The only words we have in our playbook are 'The one goal is to score 65 points a game.' "
One of Whipple's strengths is finding the right spot for every player. Sophomore tailback Roger Graham, for example, was recruited as a linebacker; now he's averaging more than 180 yards per game rushing. Wisely, Graham gives most of the credit for his success to his offensive line, which averages a whopping 287 pounds per man. Asked how he has managed to recruit players with so much size and talent, Whipple says in mock disbelief, "You mean the trailer office doesn't sell them?"
NO HOLTZ BARRED
Can anybody explain why Notre Dame coach Lou Holtz wasn't kicked out of the Irish's 42-16 win over Brigham Young? With less than four minutes left and the game well in hand, Holtz, angered by what he thought was an uncalled holding violation by a BYU lineman, ripped off his hat and threw down his headset, earning a 15-yard penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct. He didn't stop there. Holtz charged onto the field and, after some animated discussion with the officials, grabbed referee Thomas Thamert around the neck, apparently to demonstrate the lineman's offensive maneuver. The officials should have shown him the exit, if only to send the message that such behavior will not be tolerated. Giving Holtz only a slap on the wrist encourages the notion that there's a double standard in college football—one set of rules for Notre Dame, another for everyone else.
Holtz's headlock, the latest entry on a lengthening list of questionable behavior by the coach, is an embarrassment to Notre Dame. Has the pressure of coaching in South Bend become too much for Holtz? As long ago as 1990, Holtz said, "Sometimes I feel like I'm losing my mind. It's been very, very difficult here. I wish I could explain what it is like to coach at Notre Dame. It's very difficult, and once you win, it becomes really difficult."
In Illinois Wesleyan's 63-8 rout of Carthage, senior wide receiver Chris Bisaillon caught three touchdown passes, giving him a career total of 52 and the alltime NCAA record for all divisions. The previous record of 50 was set by Jerry Rice at Mississippi Valley State from 1981 to '84, before he headed off to his All-Pro career with the San Francisco 49ers. "Chris Bisaillon will always be a nobody," says Bisaillon, "but Jerry Rice is the man to beat. I'll watch him on television and think, Wow, I broke that guy's record."
Bisaillon knows there's no NFL career awaiting him. He's six feet and 170 pounds, and, to put it bluntly, he's slow. But he has good hands and a knack for getting open. "As an athlete, Jerry Rice is head and shoulders above Chris, but you can't beat Chris as a person," says Wesleyan quarterback Tom Monken.
Wesleyan, which is in Bloomington, has a 6-0 record with three games remaining, and Monken is hoping he can keep on clicking with his record-setting wide receiver so Bisaillon's mark will last that much longer. "We play for fun," says Monken. "When we look back 30 years from now, this will be something to talk about, be it me, be it a lineman, be it Chris. We've all had a part in history."
ABC wanted to cover Virginia's home game this week against Florida State, which would have produced $800,000 for ACC schools, but only if Virginia agreed to move the starting time back. Citing a conflict with its Parents Weekend festivities, Virginia told ABC thanks but no thanks. Thomas Jefferson would have been proud....
Slippery Rock was both the opponent and an apt way to describe the football for Indiana University of Pennsylvania. On a rain-soaked field Indiana turned the ball over on its first five possessions but still won 34-17 to improve its record to 7-0 in Division II....
Update: Iowa State linebacker Malcolm Goodwin, who vowed to walk the 450 miles back to Ames if the Cyclones lost to Oklahoma State in Stillwater, took the team plane after his team's 27-21 defeat. He made the promise just after his team's 50-47 loss to Kansas two weeks ago but rescinded it a few days later when common sense prevailed.
The charging Graham and the rest of New Haven's offense keep defenses off-balance.
ED BALLOTTS/SOUTH BEND TRIBUNE
Holtz demonstrated a grip—and also that, embarrassingly, he may be losing his own.
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
Maryland's Marcus Badgett, a senior wide receiver, made nine catches for 218 yards and two TDs, including one with no time left, in the Terps' 27-25 win over Duke.
Linebacker Barron Wortham, a junior at UTEP, was in on 19 tackles and forced a fumble as the Miners ended an eight-game losing streak by beating Utah 20-13.
Senior quarterback John Charles of Portland State completed 33 of 40 passes for 444 yards and three TDs to lead the Division II Vikings to a 51-26 upset of I-AA Boise State.