Skip to main content
Original Issue

Inside College Football

A do-it-all freshman led Georgia past LSU to the head of the SEC

Over the last three summers, Quincy Carter hit .218 in the
Chicago Cubs' farm system and became the answer to a trivia
question: Which minor league outfielder was the No. 2
quarterback on Parade's 1995 high school All-America football
team, behind player of the year Tim Couch, now starring at

Carter is trivial no longer. In the fourth game of his college
career, the Georgia freshman quarterback, who turns 21 on Oct.
13, had one of the most remarkable performances in SEC history.
Facing undefeated LSU at Tiger Stadium--the loudest, most
hostile venue in college football--the 6'3", 225-pound Carter
completed his first 15 passes, finished 27 of 34 for 318 yards
and two touchdowns, led his team in rushing with 41 yards and
even caught a 36-yard pass in the Bulldogs' 28-27 victory, which
lifted them to 4-0.

Only after he had finished off the Tigers with a masterly drive
that burned the last 4:59 off the clock did Carter show he still
has some baseball in him. After an on-field TV interview, Carter
hustled to the south end zone for a curtain call. He waved to
the 7,500 Georgia fans in the stands, pumped a fist and did
everything but tap his heart and point at Sammy Sosa's mother.

Though the Bulldogs actually have two multidimensional
threats--against LSU, Champ Bailey played 96 snaps at
cornerback, wide receiver and on special teams, racking up two
tackles, seven receptions, 195 all-purpose yards and one
touchdown--it's Carter who leaves coach Jim Donnan groping for
words. "Whatever you want," Donnan says, "Quincy's got it: arm
strength, great quickness, knowledge of the game, smooth
delivery, the confidence of his teammates. He's given us a
chance in a rebuilding year."

Now Carter's rightful place looks to be behind center, not in
center--and at Georgia, not Georgia Tech. In February 1996, as a
senior at Southwest DeKalb High in the Atlanta suburb of
Decatur, Carter signed to play football for the Yellow Jackets,
but he never enrolled. The Cubs drafted him in the second round
that June, and shortly thereafter they signed him to a minor
league contract with a $450,000 bonus. But Carter came to miss
the camaraderie of football. Last year he began calling Georgia
guard Jonas Jennings, a friend who had played at rival
Tri-Cities High in East Point. "He kept coming up to Athens and
hanging out with me," Jennings says. "He was throwing hints
around, saying, 'Tech won't give me my release.' Finally he
said, 'I'm trying to get back in football.' I didn't take him
seriously, but then I realized Georgia wasn't the only school he
was looking at, so I said something to the coaches." After an
NCAA committee released him from his letter of intent, Carter,
who didn't want to sit on the Tech bench behind quarterback Joe
Hamilton for two years, enrolled at Georgia for the '98 spring
quarter, with the Cubs paying his way. Chicago expects him to
continue playing baseball next spring.

In his first workouts with the team in August, Carter quickly
stood out among the four candidates to replace the departed Mike
Bobo at quarterback. "After several practices we knew who the
best athlete was," Georgia strong safety Kirby Smart said after
the defeat of LSU. "Yet to be proven was whether he could handle
himself under pressure. Now he's proved he can handle that."

Donnan, who first coached against Lou Tepper, the Tigers' new
defensive coordinator, in the early 1980s, knew just how to
attack the LSU defense. On Saturday, Tepper's read-and-react
scheme looked as old and decrepit as Tiger Stadium. Time and
again, Carter threw in front of the deep zone coverages. "We had
to take what they gave us," he said. What were they giving?
"Pretty much everything."

Louisiana State began blitzing more and playing some man-to-man
defense in the second half, but Carter beat that, too. With 4:05
left, Georgia facing third-and-six at its 24 and the Bulldogs
leading by one point, he noticed man coverage on Bailey. Carter
began his throwing motion as 290-pound LSU nosetackle Anthony
(Booger) McFarland bore down on him. "I saw Champ, and then I
saw big Booger," Carter said afterward. "I just had to take the
chance." Carter floated the ball toward the left sideline just
before McFarland bodyslammed him. Bailey caught the pass for a
21-yard gain, and Georgia ran out the clock from there.

"All I know is, I hit him as hard as I could," McFarland said
later. "I'm thinking, 'I got a sack.' I look up, and Bailey's
caught the ball. That's just a big play. Carter is a big player."

Chris McAlister

Jerry Tarkanian's quarter-century battle with the NCAA has
nothing on the run-ins between the McAlister family and college
sports bureaucracies, which span two generations. The latest
update from the front involved the suspension served by Arizona
senior cornerback Chris McAlister last Saturday for having
received what the NCAA deemed an improper benefit. McAlister, a
leading candidate for the Jim Thorpe Award, borrowed $10,800
last summer from an Austin bank to pay the insurance premium on
a catastrophic-injury policy for this season. That was O.K. with
the NCAA. He then borrowed another $14,500, which, the NCAA
ruled, was secured solely by his athletic potential. That was
not O.K.

As a high school star in Pasadena, McAlister dreamed of playing
at UCLA, where his father, James, had been an All-America
tailback in 1973. As it turned out, Chris would follow in his
father's footsteps in another, unintended way. In spring 1971,
the NCAA ruled that James's SAT scores were invalid because his
test sheet showed too many erasures. UCLA held him out for his
sophomore season. In 1995 the Educational Testing Service, which
is the clearinghouse for the SAT, declared Chris's score invalid
because of what ETS said was evidence that he copied from
another test taker. That made him ineligible to receive a
scholarship from UCLA.

The McAlisters sued ETS, questioning its evidence, and Chris
enrolled at Mount San Antonio, a junior college in Walnut,
Calif. After a year there, he went to Arizona, where, as a
sophomore in 1996, he returned a kickoff 100 yards for a
touchdown against UCLA to seal a 35-17 Wildcats victory. Last
year the McAlisters and ETS officials met with a judge, and,
after being told his would be a tough case to win, Chris retook
the math portion of the SAT. When his score improved by 70
points, the McAlisters dropped their lawsuit.

Arizona's appeal of McAlister's loan suspension was denied last
Friday. Wildcats officials decried the NCAA's decision, but the
language in the NCAA manual governing McAlister's violation is
unambiguous. McAlister didn't travel with Arizona to Washington,
where the Wildcats yielded the most points they've allowed this
season but pulled out a thrilling 31-28 win. This week McAlister
will play against UCLA for the last time. It should be quite a

Arkansas Ticket Sales

As a growing number of schools take unclaimed seats away from
their student sections and sell them to alumni, Arkansas has
adopted an approach that is every retailer's dream: It sells the
same seats twice and keeps both payments. If students fail to
pick up their prepaid tickets by three days before a game, the
school sells those seats to the public and does not reimburse
the students. (While most schools give buyers the actual game
tickets upon purchase, Arkansas gives out coupons, which must
later be redeemed for the tickets.)

About 500 student tickets for the Razorbacks' game in
Fayetteville on Sept. 26 against Alabama, sold as part of a
three-game, $20 package, went unclaimed by the deadline.
Arkansas resold them for $25 apiece--a nice $12,500 windfall.
Last week, before their game in Little Rock against Kentucky,
which they won 27-20, the Razorbacks resold about 200 student
tickets for $20 apiece.

Florida Quarterbacks

Florida coach Steve Spurrier has buried his grand experiment of
switching quarterbacks from snap to snap. Frustrated after a
16-10 escape at Alabama in which the Gators committed three
turnovers--two fumbles and an interception--inside the Crimson
Tide's five-yard line, Spurrier announced after the game that
this week he will name either Doug Johnson or Jesse Palmer the
starter. "I'm hoping one guy will give us a spark," he said.
"They have played almost identically, but I need to give one guy
an opportunity to lead the team and see where it goes from there."

The quarterback shuttle, which worked in Florida's 32-29 upset
of Florida State last November, will go down as one of
Spurrier's most radical coaching experiments. Does his
abandonment of the dual system mean he believes it failed? No.
"If you look at it statistically, both guys have played well,"
Spurrier said. Johnson and Palmer have a combined 175.2 pass
efficiency rating, which would rank fourth in the nation. Here's
another stat to look at, though: In addition to the three
turnovers, the Gators made three other trips inside the red zone
and failed to score a touchdown. Their lone six-pointer came on
a 32-yard pass from Palmer to Travis McGriff.

Coaches Who Care

--After Ohio State's Michael Wiley scored a touchdown with 23
seconds left in the first half of a 28-9 win over Penn State,
Buckeyes quarterbacks coach Tim Salem, in his excitement,
shattered the window in the coaches' box, sending shards of
glass spraying onto reporters in the press box below. No one was
seriously injured.

--Miami coach Butch Davis was so distraught when the Hurricanes
led woeful Rutgers only 13-3 at the half that he put his fist
through a blackboard in the locker room. Miami outscored the
Scarlet Knights 40-14 in the second half to win 53-17. Said
Davis of his display, "I think we had a good meeting."

Extra Points

Two players at I-AA Nicholls State, who were ruled ineligible for
a year by the NCAA after they tested positive for androstenedione
in August, have filed suit against their school in state district
court in Louisiana. The players claim that neither they nor
officials at Nicholls State knew the substance was banned.... The
last time neither Auburn (1-3) nor Alabama (2-2) finished with a
winning record was 1951.

Read more from Ivan Maisel and cast your vote in our Top 25 fans'
poll at

COLOR PHOTO: BOB ROSATO Tigers defenders always seemed a step behind the versatile Carter. [Quincy Carter with football being pursued by defender]

COLOR PHOTO: ROBERT BECK With its clawing defense, UCLA should grab the Pac-10 lead. [UCLA players tackling opposing player in game]


--Tennessee (4-0) at Georgia (4-0); LSU (3-1) at Florida (4-1)

It's cut-down Saturday in the SEC, time to trim the roster of
contenders for the championship game. Tennessee's charge for a
second consecutive title may have been cut down during last
Saturday's 17-9 win over Auburn when sophomore tailback Jamal
Lewis tore the lateral collateral ligament in his right knee.
Lewis, the Vols' leading rusher, had 497 yards on 73 carries,
with three touchdowns.

The injury puts additional pressure on first-year starting
quarterback Tee Martin, who will no longer have the luxury of
handing off to the team's top offensive threat.

If the Vols beat Georgia for the eighth consecutive year, the
East race is all but over. If Florida hands LSU its second loss,
the West race narrows, astonishingly, to 4-0 Arkansas, 3-1
Mississippi State and 4-1 Mississippi.

The Gators have been waiting for a year to exact revenge for the
28-21 upset the Tigers pulled off in Baton Rouge last October.
Florida has the speed on defense to match LSU quarterback Herb
Tyler and tailback Kevin Faulk, but the Gators are a mess on
offense. Unless the Gators do a 180 on offense this week, they
will be out of the SEC East race.

The key for Georgia against Tennessee: Center Miles Luckie, who
missed the fourth quarter against LSU with a hyperextended knee,
must be available to shore up a thin line. As for the Vols, they
must hope linebacker Al Wilson's injured right shoulder, which
kept him out of the Auburn game, heals sufficiently for him to
play. Even if he does, the Bulldogs will have the momentum, the
vociferous home crowd and, in all likelihood, the final score in
their favor.

--UCLA (3-0) at Arizona (5-0)

The Wildcats' 31-28 victory over Washington last Saturday night
extended Arizona's winning streak to nine games. The Bruins are
on a victory binge of their own, with 13 straight. UCLA's young
defense should slow the Wildcats' quarterback tandem of Ortege
Jenkins and Keith Smith enough to let Cade McNown & Co. outscore
Arizona and take control of the Pac-10.

Upset Special
--Washington State (3-2) over Oregon (4-0)

The unbeaten Ducks have had two weeks in which to hear how
important their Oct. 17 game at UCLA is. First, though, they
must go to Pullman, never an easy place to play. The defending
Pac-10 champs win this one on pride.