Besides North Carolina State, the ACC last season had three other bowl teams and the most noted face in college football, that of Clemson Middle Guard Charlie Bauman, the guy whom Woody punched. Clemson also had the nation's only undefeated coach, Danny Ford, who took over the Tigers just before their 17-15 Gator Bowl defeat of Ohio State. But he'll be hard pressed to duplicate 1978's 11-1-0 record and conference championship. Fifteen starters from that team, among them All-America Wide Receiver Jerry Butler, are missing. North Carolina Coach Dick Crum is praying for a "sound" football team. After last year's slew of injuries—eight key players were out for at least one game—who can blame him? The two men Crum most needs to have healthy are Quarterback Matt Kupec, who has completed 58.7% of his passes, and Running Back Amos (Famous) Lawrence, a junior who has already rushed for 2,254 yards. Maryland's two indispensables figure to be Charlie Wysocki, a sophomore tailback, and Mike Tice, who at 6'7" may be America's most altitudinous quarterback. Tice hit on 20 of 37 passes for 227 yards as a sophomore and moves up to first team to replace the departed Tim O'Hare. Hoping to improve on the Blue Devils' 4-7-0 record, new Duke Coach Red Wilson has junked the power I in favor of the veer. Now he must settle on a quarterback to run it. Stanley Driskell and Craig Browning are both up for the job, but Browning could have the inside track because of the long-range picture—he is a sophomore; Driskell's a senior. Despite Wake Forest's 10-game losing streak, Coach John Mackovic is optimistic. In his view, all the Demon Deacons need is a bit of balance. Wake Forest led the ACC in passing last fall, but was last in rushing. Running backs Albert Kerby and Kenny Duckett have the speed to take the heat off Quarterback James McDougal. Virginia managed a few "almost wins" late last year, but a porous defense left it 0-6-0 in the ACC. This year, a breakthrough into the win column is almost certain because 16 starters are back. Georgia Tech is in its first year in the ACC but isn't eligible for the title, which should make a lot of its rivals happy.
"The play's the thing" might hold true onstage and in most conferences, but this year the drama in the Big Eight is provided by casting changes—specifically, the wholesale turnover of head coaches as the perennial also-rans try to break the death grip Oklahoma and Nebraska have held on the title. Between them the Sooners and Cornhuskers have won 33 of 34 possible titles since 1946. Colorado made the most publicized coaching change, hiring the New England Patriots' Chuck Fairbanks. Fairbanks, who as the result of switching jobs now has a stock portfolio as thick as his playbook, is not saying whether the Buffs "will be a wishbone team or a what." Even a "what"—which rivals suspect is a Patriot-style pro set, heavily laced with wishbone-type options—should provide some improvement on last season's 2-5 conference record. Fairbanks does have a real concern—aside from the sluggish market: Who will run the ball out of whatever offense he chooses? Oklahoma State begins its second year of NCAA probation (because of recruiting violations) with Jim Johnson taking over as coach for Jim Stanley. Johnson is a defensive specialist, which is fortunate; he must find some way of shoring up a unit that allowed 24.2 points and 339 yards per game. Johnson's task isn't hopeless, since John Corker, the Big Eight Defender of the Year, is still on hand at linebacker. Kansas State is an exception to the Big Eight new-coach syndrome—Jim Dickey survived his first year there with a 3-4 conference record—but it stays in step by also being on probation. Besides the two-year no-bowls-or-television sentence imposed on the Wildcats for giving too many scholarships, the NCAA cut by 20 the number of grants-in-aid State may dish out over the next three years. Iowa State has only eight holdover starters to greet Donnie Duncan, who replaces Earle Bruce as head coach. Kansas, which is used to following everyone else, also has a new coach. Well, not really new. Don Fambrough, who resigned four seasons ago, is back, and has brought former NFL and Kansas Quarterback John Hadl along as his offensive coordinator. The joy of homecoming for both was no doubt tempered a bit by the knowledge that the Jayhawks were 0-7 in the conference last season.
September 9, 1979
The real question around Dartmouth is whether or not Joe Yukica can repeat himself. In his first year Yukica steered the Big Green to a 6-1-0 Ivy season, up from 4-3-0 in 1977. Quarterback Buddy Teevens is gone, but whoever replaces him—either Jeff Kemp or punter Larry Margerum—will still have Dave Shula (who caught 49 passes) as a target. Now that its Mark Whipple-Mark Farnham battery is a thing of the past—Whipple graduated—Brown's major concern is finding a quarterback who can whip the ball to Farnham. The top applicants for the spot are lefthanded Larry Carbone, who has tossed exactly one pass in varsity competition, and Scott Dumont, who has tossed exactly one fewer. With only one starter returning on offense and three on defense, Yale is deep into reconstruction. Most likely to be tapped to play quarterback for the Elis is Montana State transfer Dennis Dunn. Although he is new on the Ivy scene, Yale has gone all out to make him feel at ease by scheduling its first four games at home.
Cornell comes off its first winning season (5-3-1) in six years. The 1978 Big Red led the league in rushing, but Tailback Joe Holland, second nationally in per-game rushing with 155.1 yards, and his backups have graduated. Nonetheless there is a suspicion among the Ivies that Coach Bob Blackman, now in his third season, at Cornell, is ready to unleash a powerhouse. Penn, virtually wiped out by graduation, plays its 1,000th intercollegiate game, against Columbia, next month. That will have to serve as the season's highlight. Harvard, too, lost most of its offense, but if senior Quarterback Burke St. John can absorb Coach Joe Restic's complicated offense fast enough, things may still come up roses for the Crimson. After a 2-5-2 year, Princeton has high hopes for 649-yard rusher Cris Crissy and no hopes of contending for the Ivy crown. Columbia climbed to a 3-5-1 record last year, but the Lions remain the premier reason why their rivals keep singing "I love New York."
Mustang Mania: Year 2. Year 1 saw the average attendance for Southern Methodist's games at Texas Stadium soar to 51,960 from 26,635 in '77. It was the third-largest one-season increase in the annals of college football. Not bad for a team that lost five of its last six games. What, then, accounts for it?
Simple. Over the last four years Coach Ron Meyer has recruited some of the most exciting offensive players anywhere. For example, this season's additions include such highly sought running backs as Craig James and Eric Dicker-son; Eric rushed for nearly 6,000 yards in his high school career in Sealy, Texas. They could take some of the pressure off junior Quarterback Mike Ford, who last season completed 224 of 389 passes for 3,007 yards and 17 touchdowns and led Division I schools in total offense. Ford's favorite target will continue to be Emanuel Tolbert, who in three years has caught 143 passes for 2,408 yards and 21 TDs.
Though the SWC is top-heavy with Top 20 teams, the conference's bottom half can't be written off too quickly. True, Texas Tech must open against USC, but last year the Red Raiders had a 7-4 record and still have sophomore Ron Reeves at quarterback. In '78 Reeves hit on 77 of 161 for 1,195 yards and nine TDs. An erstwhile tight end now playing fullback, James Hadnot caught 20 of those completions, in addition to rambling for a conference-leading 1,369 yards rushing. While Hadnot will have some new backs lining up beside him, he'll have a sound veteran line working in front of him. Last year Baylor beat only three teams, one of which was Texas—a stunning 38-14 season-ending upset. The Bears figure that is a portent for this season. The main reason for the optimism in Waco is Running Back Walter Abercrombie. After becoming a starter midway through the '78 season, he rolled up 661 yards. While the Bears' schedule—Texas A&M, Houston, Alabama—is better suited to the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Longhorns are again the opponents in the finale, so if all goes awry, Baylor diehards can always hope for another upset. Rice was outgained and outscored nearly three to one last season, even though Quarterback Randy Hertel completed 156 of 279 for 1,677 yards and 12 TDs. Hertel is back, but he needs help in the form of a receiver or two and something that can be described as a defense.
Texas Christian didn't win a conference game in 1978 but had injuries, operations and excuses aplenty. The miracles of modern medicine and some feverish recruiting may have improved the Horned Frogs' lot a bit, but not enough to make a significant difference in the team's record.
Utah State celebrated its inaugural season in the PCAA by sharing the '78 title with San Jose State, and both schools have the bulk of their squads back. San Jose's biggest concern is keeping Quarterback Ed Luther's interceptions (24) down. Still, his average of 17.17 completions per game was fourth best in the NCAA. Utah State counts on Tailback Rick Parros and Tackle Rulon Jones. Pacific hopes new Coach Bob Toledo can apply some of USC's winning ways. Toledo spent three years guiding the Trojan defensive backs and has never been involved with a team on any level that lost more than four games. He'll be hard pressed to continue his streak; Pacific dropped twice that many last season. Fullerton State rushers gained 5,053 yards in '78, but a leaky defense negated that accomplishment by giving up 5,226—that works out to 475 yards per game. Maybe that's also why Safety Eric Bullock has become a quarterback this year. By his lonesome, the best that Quarterback Paul McGaffigan, the nation's ninth-ranked passer (170 completions and 2,164 yards), could do for Long Beach State last season was a 1-4 conference record. But he now has help in the form of Running Back Dan Duddridge, a junior-college All-America. Fresno State went 1-4, too, so Coach Bob Padilla has junked the Bulldogs' veer offense. Sadly, that won't prevent Fresno from finishing last.
Joggers in East Lansing often come across a lone figure clad in a T shirt emblazoned: MICHIGAN STATE, ROSE BOWL, 1980. The wearer is Marsha Rogers, and her shirt tells the world that after three years the team her husband Darryl coaches is off NCAA probation and will once again join the lucrative world of TV and bowl appearances. But it may be a year early for the Spartans, who shared the 1978 Big Ten championship, to become TV regulars. The battery of Eddie Smith to Kirk Gibson is gone; sophomore Bert Vaughn will replace Smith at quarterback and senior Eugene Byrd will switch from split end to Gibson's flanker spot. At 6'4", 215 pounds, Vaughn is big but inexperienced—he was supposed to be Smith's backup last season, but suffered a shoulder separation in the second game. Byrd, however, should adapt to his new position quickly, having made 43 receptions for 718 yards in '78. Elsewhere the Spartans look set with only five 1978 starters, aside from Smith and Gibson, among the missing. Michigan State's most serious concern is a block of crusher games in midseason. On consecutive Saturdays, the Spartans will face Notre Dame, Michigan, Wisconsin, Purdue and Ohio State.
It is an indication of the growing balance in the Big Ten that the Little Eight of two seasons ago has now shrunk to the Other Six. Minnesota might even cut that to five. Certainly new Coach Joe Salem knows what it's like to win, having been a backup quarterback for the Gophers in the 1961 Rose Bowl. Salem's first chore will be to choose either Mark Carlson or Wendell Avery as his No. 1 signal-caller. Whomever he picks, the veteran offense will be strong, particularly at tailback, where Marion Barber gained a Gopher-record 1,210 yards. The defensive units at Indiana and Wisconsin were sorely depleted by graduation, but the Hoosiers could be a surprise—if Fullback Tony D'Orazio and Tight End Dave Harangody recover from injuries the way Tailback Mike Harkrader did last season, when he rambled for 880 yards. Wisconsin was pleasantly surprised in 1978 by Ray Sydnor, a 6'8" basketball player who showed up to play tight end and had 27 receptions for 392 yards. Sydnor is back. As Iowa seeks its first winning season since 1961, it would seem that Coach Hayden Fry could build around his offensive unit, which is back mostly intact. He can't, because the Hawkeyes' attack scored only 125 points last year. Illinois Coach Gary Moeller admits, "We must become more balanced offensively." He could stand a little more equilibrium on the defense, too, considering that the 1-8-2 Illini were outscored 317-103 in '78. At Northwestern, Coach Rick Venturi has been saying, "I won't sleep till we're a winner." Get out the NoDoz, Rick. Except for a Sept. 15 game against Wyoming, this season looks like it's going to be one big eye-opener.
After two years of sharing the conference title, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga figures this is the season to go it alone. The key will be how often Quarterback Dennis Berkery can connect with Joe Burke, whose average gain of 28 yards a catch led the country in '78. Furman, the other defending co-champ, must undergo a drastic overhaul, its receivers corps, both lines and the secondary having been virtually swept clean of starters. Still, Quarterback David Henderson is back for the Paladins, and he was conference co-Player of the Year in 1978. East Tennessee State, which is eligible for the conference title for the first time, has a real crack at going right to the top with Mark Hutsell—eighth-ranked nationally in both passing (58.2% completions) and total offense in '78—taking the honors. The only way Appalachian State will better its 1978 record of 7-4 is if its defense can hold opponents to fewer than the 27 points a game it allowed last year. VMI needs a steady quarterback and consistent defense to bring it up from the Southern's second echelon. Western Carolina has a solid one-two punch in Quarterback Mike Pusey (14 TDs, 2,045 yards in '78) and Gerald Harp, the nation's No. 2 receiver (1,145 yards, 11 TDs), to go with an experienced defense. Sonny Randle, Marshall's new coach, says he loves a challenge, which is exactly what the Thundering Herd, 0-5 in league play a year ago, presents. The Citadel lacks aggressiveness on defense, having allowed an average of 28 points a game to conference opponents. However, the Bulldogs' strong rushing, featuring Tailback Stump Mitchell, could keep them in conference contention.
Besides having to face front-runners Alabama and Georgia, Auburn's woes have been compounded by an NCAA probation for recruiting infractions. Yet the Tigers are looking forward to the season, largely because Joe Cribbs is hale. Cribbs rushed for 1,205 yards in '78 despite having been injured early in the season and having started only seven games. Why then is Coach Doug Barfield contemplating a switch from the I to a split back-field? In order to get the ball more often to James Brooks, Cribbs' replacement, who was averaging 134 yards a game before breaking his right foot. LSU lost the Liberty Bowl to Missouri, Charles Alexander and his 4,035 yards rushing to the Cincinnati Bengals and the interior offensive line to graduation. And to virtually ensure that retiring Coach Charlie McClendon's farewell year will be a tearful one, the Fighting Tigers must also meet both Alabama and USC, a dolorous prospect no other SEC school must face. At Mississippi State, Coach Emory Bellard, late of Texas A&M, is introducing the wishbone, but this clearly isn't change for change's sake. Bellard invented the run-oriented offense in 1968, and he probably had someone very much like James Jones, who averaged 5.3 yards per carry in 1978, in mind. One Bulldog player who might not be happy with the switch is Mardye McDole, who led the SEC with 48 receptions for 1,035 yards. Kentucky's Fran Curci has headaches on and off the field. In addition to suspending eight players after they were charged with rape and sodomy, he must replace more than 30 others with an assortment of redshirts and freshmen. In contrast, at Florida, an experienced squad—18 starters are back—is breaking in a new coach. Charley Pell has been impressed with what he has seen so far, particularly Linebacker Scot Brantley, who is almost sure to be an All-America. Ole Miss, 5-6 a year ago, dropped to eighth in the SEC. In his second season at Mississippi, Coach Steve Sloan, who turned around the football programs at Texas Tech and Vanderbilt, will be hard pressed to effect a similar transformation. A porous defense is the trouble spot for the Rebels. Another coach who may start to feel a bit of pressure is Tennessee's Johnny Majors. In the two years since he guided Pitt to the national championship and left there for his alma mater, his Vol teams have gone 4-7 and 5-5-1. This season, behind outstanding Quarterback Jimmy Streater, Tennessee should have a .500-plus record. Which is a lot more than can be said for the state's other SEC team, Vanderbilt. The Commodores appear to be headed for a fourth consecutive 2-9 season.
USC's lone defeat in 1978 came at Arizona State, then just a new kid on the Pac 10 block trying to earn a little respect. The victory over the Trojans got it for the Sun Devils. But the league's other newcomer, Arizona, didn't fare so well. The Wildcats went 3-4 in conference play and now must look to Nov. 3, the date of their first conference outing against USC, to make a name for themselves. They might do just that if Quarterback Jim Krohn remains healthy. Until he suffered bruised ribs midway through the '78 season, he was leading the Pac 10 in passing. The Wildcat defense features Tackle Cleveland Crosby, an All-America candidate who transferred from Purdue.
After losing 23 seniors from the squad that tied Arkansas 10—10 in the Fiesta Bowl, UCLA will have the conference's youngest team. No wonder Coach Terry Donahue says he's rebuilding "from the foundation on up." The keystone could be junior Running Back Freeman McNeil, who gained five yards per carry while performing spot duty last season. California enjoys the dubious distinction of becoming the first Pac 10 school to play all nine of its conference rivals in one season, and Michigan is one of the Golden Bears' non-league opponents. Trying to navigate that minefield will be junior Quarterback Rich Campbell, who was 164 for 293 for 2,287 yards as he made Cal the NCAA's No. 4 passing team. Although he may sound like a character from Saturday Night Live, Washington State Quarterback Samoa Samoa is in reality a junior hoping to fill the slot vacated by Jack (the Throwin' Samoan) Thompson. Samoa—who is Samoan—has a long way to go: Thompson's career total of 7,818 yards passing is the highest in Division I history. Also operating in the Cougar backfield will be Samoa's countryman Tali Ena, who rushed for 728 yards last season. No, Dorothy Lamour is not the head cheerleader. Oregon finished 2-9 last year but was impressive for its fine runners—led by Vince Williams—and its storming defense. For example, the Ducks sacked Thompson six times. Those assets are still in evidence, but any progress this young Oregon team makes probably won't be reflected in its record, because the Ducks face Colorado and Michigan State before opening conference play. Oregon State has experience and an easier schedule than Oregon, but its prospects of climbing from the depths of the Pac 10 standings aren't much better.
Arkansas State and Louisiana Tech, which shared the Southland championship a year ago, figure to battle it out again. The edge goes to Tech because of its quarterback, Eric Barkley, who is an excellent runner. Former Oklahoma defensive coordinator Larry Lacewell, who is now the head man at Arkansas State, inherits the best defense in the conference, but the Indians may be undone by the inexperience of Quarterback Gene Bradley. In contrast, Southwestern Louisiana needs defensive strength to complement the deft work of signal-caller Hal King. Texas-Arlington's notable asset is its running attack, and it has no liabilities of consequence. The bottom line: an outside shot at the conference title. In '78 McNeese State had an off year (7-4) by its lofty standards. Still, the Cowboys had their moments, as when Coach Jack Dolan was named president of the school. If his successor, Ernie Duplechin, can tighten up the defense, McNeese could challenge for the title again. Lamar has won only one conference game in the past four years. New Coach Larry Kennan and Quarterback Larry Haynes, the league's passing leader, figure to at least double that total this year.
In '78 New Mexico State had its first winning season in 11 years and, with a 5-1 conference record, earned its first championship. No wonder rookie Coach Gil Krueger was named Missouri Valley coach of the year. To get those honors again, the Aggies will rely heavily on the running of Fullback Ray Locklin, who gained 863 yards on 179 carries, and the throwing of transfer Butch Kelly, who passed for 2,100 yards and 22 TDs at Garden City (Kans.) Community College last season. If this duo falters, the Aggies will be in big trouble, because the defense yielded an average of 26 points a game. Tulsa has taken a "leave of absence" from the Valley and has no conference games on its schedule. In addition to being temporarily out of the MVC, the Hurricanes seem to be out of their heads, having lined up games against the likes of Arkansas and Oklahoma. Southern Illinois has conference rushing leader Burnell Quinn (939 yards), who should soon break the Salukis' career rushing record this season. The mainstay of Drake's offense is Running Back Dwaine Ball, the team leader in rushing and receiving, but the lack of similarly talented performers on defense should make it impossible for the Bulldogs to improve on their .500 conference record of '78. Things just kept getting worse for West Texas State, which went 3-8 last season and then had its athletic budget reduced and the number of its scholarships cut in half. Indiana State finished last in the Valley, but at least its wealth of frosh starters survived the experience and now look ready to exact a small measure of revenge. At Wichita State rookie Coach Jeff Jeffries inherits a program that has produced only one winning season in 14 and a schedule that includes outside games with Alabama and Southern Methodist.
Making a debut in a league can be rough, as San Diego State, a perennial winner in seasons past, found out while going 4-7 as a new member of the WAC last year. The Aztecs should be more successful the second time around, with such holdovers as Quarterback Mark Halda, the nation's third-leading passer, and All-America Guard Pete Inge on hand. Steve Stapler, who had 35 receptions, is also back and is joined by outstanding junior-college transfer Bobby Taylor, who led the nation's JCs in receiving yardage. Brigham Young has the pair of quarterbacks who took the Cougars to the 1978 conference title as well as eighth place on the national passing-offense list. Marc Wilson was 121 for 233 for 1,499 yards and threw for eight TDs while Jim McMahon hit on 87 of 176 for 1,307 yards and six TDs. But the Cougars have only four returning starters on defense, and that could keep them from winning another championship. Utah led the WAC in total defense, thanks in large part to Cornerback Jeff Griffin, who returned three interceptions for TDs, tying an NCAA record. He's back, but many of his teammates aren't. New Mexico's offense features 9.4 sprinter Mike Carter at tailback and Quarterback Brad Wright, whose 1,925 yards passing and 478 rushing made him fifth in the country in total offense. The Lobos don't have much of an offensive line, however. Colorado State has depth at quarterback with Keith Lee and Steve Fairchild—together they accounted for 13 TDs and 1,608 yards—and the Rams will need both of them and more because of a brutal schedule that opens with Arizona and then pits State against Arkansas. At Texas-El Paso, Coach Bill Michael is succinct: "We need a quarterback, an offensive line and some defensive ends." The stats prove he's right—UTEP, 1-11 a year ago, gave up 424 points and scored only 151. Wyoming, which finished second in '78, may be merely second-rate in '79, because it must replace its entire offensive back-field. Conference newcomer Nevada-Las Vegas, which will play a full league schedule but is ineligible for the title until next season, welcomes back a whopping 46 lettermen and a wave of transfers. Another new entry, Hawaii, will stretch the WAC's previously wide-ranging territory even farther. The Rainbow Warriors will travel 3,000 miles for their road game at UTEP, but they won't go far in the conference standings.
Having won two of the last three MAC titles, Ball State will again be in the thick of the battle. And again the toughest challenger figures to be Miami. Last year the Cardinals-Redskins game decided the conference winner, with Ball State rolling to a 38-14 victory. Cardinal Quarterback Dave Wilson, who has passed for 27 TDs and 2,667 yards in his three seasons, is back, but gone is most of a defensive unit that gave up only 7.5 points a game and led Ball State to an 8-0 league record. In trying to fill the quarterback void left by Larry Fortner's departure, Miami got a bad break when leading candidate Chuck Hauck fractured his thumb in spring practice. That slowed Hauck's progress, but he's in top shape now. So is Halfback Mark Hunter, who rushed for 1,046 yards last season. Two-time runner-up Central Michigan could go all the way this season. Last year, Coach Herb Deromedi's Chippewas were 9-2-0 and allowed only 139.4 yards rushing and 101 passing per game. All-Conference Safety Robert Jackson is back, as is Tackle Bill White. But Central's schedule starts with nine straight conference games, and that might prove to be too many too soon. Western Michigan lost Tailback Jerome Persell—4,190 yards rushing in three seasons—but eight starters from a defense that ranked 14th in the nation are on hand. So is Quarterback Albert Little, who passed for 828 yards and rushed for 358. At Bowling Green the situation is status quo: Quarterback Mike Wright will again lead an offense that last year topped the MAC in yards gained (394.8), but the defense will still be something less than stalwart. Tailback Allen Ross is shooting for his third straight 1,000-yard year at Northern Illinois. At Ohio the Bobcats are rebuilding around Fullback Kevin Babcock, who rushed for 861 yards a year ago. Kent State is also embarking on a reconstruction program; Quarterback Jeff Morrow and Split End Bob Whitt, two junior-college transfers, should provide a good foundation. Toledo and Eastern Michigan meet on Sept. 29 to decide which will end up in the MAC cellar.