REALITY SETS IN
Purdue has its worst team in memory. And we have a long memory. One of the few bright spots for the Boilermakers is heralded freshman quarterback Jeff George. However, after a 1-3 start, most of which George has viewed while lying on his back, the talented lad from Indianapolis must be wondering why he didn't accept offers from the likes of UCLA and Miami. SI staff writer Jaime Diaz was in West Lafayette on Saturday to see the hapless Boilermakers get pasted 36-9 by theretofore hapless Minnesota. His report:
In starting four games, George has shown the arm strength and quick release that allowed him to set national high school records for career completions (543) and touchdown passes in one season (45) at Warren Central High. At Purdue he has completed 86 of 145 passes for 791 yards and three TDs. But he also has had 10 interceptions and has been sacked 12 times—testimony to his inexperience and to the Boilermakers' porous offensive line and lack of pass-catching talent.
Against Minnesota, George suffered a mild concussion when he was viciously sacked on the game's first series. He was taken to the locker room in a golf cart that also carried his worried mother, Judy. It was not the scene Purdue's recruiters had painted when they lured George to West Lafayette.
Some Wyoming fans are dying to support their team. And from the Cowboys' standpoint, the sooner they do, the better. That's because new Wyoming AD Paul Roach has undertaken asking Cowboy fans to buy life insurance policies that make the Cowboy Joe booster club the beneficiary. "Out of any given 100 athletic donors, two will reach their demise annually," says Roach, cheerfully.
Since the program was laid out last December, some 15 Cowboy boosters have purchased policies, ranging in value from $15,000 to $500,000. One happy day, these policies could give Wyoming an endowment of approximately $1 million. Roach hopes to have some $6 million committed by 1987. The only problem with the plan, says the AD, is that "we don't want anybody to accuse us of going to funerals with smiles on our faces." Certainly not, Paul, but we could forgive you a discreet smirk.
Roach figures these life insurance policies could eventually finance 25% of the school's athletic program. One donor, businessman Harry Ilsley, 46, who looks depressingly healthy and who sprang for a $130,000 policy, said, "Where else would you like to have the money put but in Wyoming athletics?"
Mike Schutte, 45, with rosy red cheeks and disgustingly low blood pressure, is a former Cowboy football player who has taken out a $500,000 policy—with a $45,000 premium. Schutte, whose career rushing total was 233 yards, says, "I'm worth more dead than alive to this university. That is a little scary." Not, however, for the always hopeful Roach.
The AD, a robust angel of death, says he plans to "put up a picture or plaque for each of the donors after his or her demise. We want them in an area where there's lots of traffic."
LOST IN AUSTIN
When Edwin Simmons arrived at Texas in 1983, many considered him the best freshman running back in the nation. In his collegiate debut, against Oklahoma, he had two brilliant TD runs, one stamped Heisman, the other All-Pro.
But before long, everything went wrong. Simmons has had five knee operations and was the subject of an internal investigation into his leasing of a BMW. This fall, he showed up five pounds overweight and explained that it was because he had been in summer school and had studied so hard his brain had taken on weight. But, at last, he seemed ready to play against Oklahoma on Saturday.
Then, at 4:40 a.m. on Sept. 27, Simmons was arrested behind a house in West Austin. A screen had been removed from one of the windows. According to police, Simmons had trouble coming up with his name or what town he was in. However, he did say, "I think I'm a football player.... I think my number is 33." Marijuana, he said, had left him addled. Oh yes, Simmons was nude.
A university spokesman suggested that Simmons might have been sleepwalking. Perhaps. Coach Fred Akers was not amused and suspended the running back indefinitely, even though he wasn't charged. Naturally, the story made quick time to Norman, where Oklahoma coach Barry Switzer congratulated a reporter on asking an appropriate question. "You get the prize," said Switzer. "And the prize is Edwin Simmons's clothes."
Alas, amid the snickers, another starry athletic future seems to be ending atop a pile of broken dreams.
Twenty years ago the young coach at Miami of Ohio, Bo Schembechler, was interviewed for the job at Wisconsin. He was rejected in favor of John Coatta, who failed to win a game in his first two years and left Madison with a 3-26-1 record. Two years later Bo went to Michigan. In the intervening years, the Badgers have not been to the Rose Bowl; the Wolverines have been six times. Michigan has won 15 of 16 games against Wisconsin.
On Saturday, Bo beat the Badgers again, 34-17, to become only the eighth major-college coach to win 200 games. Schembechler, who plays the curmudgeon better than any coach, scoffs at his 200-55-7 career record. "It just means I've been in college coaching a long time," he says. But think how different the college football landscape would have been if Wisconsin had thought more highly of Bo two decades ago.
DUM QUOTE OF THE WEAK
Purdue coach Leon Burtnett: "Our defense can't rest on its morals."
PAYING THE PRICE
San Diego State's new coach, Denny Stolz, has a clause in his contract that rewards him with $10,000—if he doesn't get busted by the NCAA. Fred Miller, the Aztecs' fourth AD in six years, says, "If we bonus people for going into bowls, then we can bonus them for running a clean program." Yes, you can, but no matter how desperate the situation, bribery in pursuit of honesty is absurd.
When Florida returned to Gainesville after its 16-10 loss at Mississippi State, the Gators found that someone had written "Florida football quits" on the windows of the athletic dorm....
After North Carolina coach Dick Crum suffered a broken leg during the Florida State game, Tar Heel kicker Lee Gliarmis said, "Look at it this way, Coach: It's good it happened so early in the season. Now we can redshirt you."
...Maryland coach Bobby Ross is grumbling about the lack of administration support for his program, which leads insiders to speculate that Ross may be looking for a reason to leave....
Rumors are strong that this will be the last year for coach Bill Yeoman, whose 25 years at Houston is the longest tenure at one school in the NCAA. He'll likely become AD....
Wisconsin offensive tackle Rick Streifel insists his favorite book is the Popular Mechanics Home Owners Manual, Volume 3....
Some alumni and sportswriters are calling for coach Joe Kapp's ouster from Cal....
Nebraska QB Steve Taylor, a sophomore who can run, pass, think and leap tall buildings, on what he can do to improve: "I need to work on my blocking."
...Barry Switzer was talking the other day with The Boston Globe's Ian Thomsen about UCLA: "They're not like Nebraska. They haven't discovered steroids yet."
...Word is that LSU coach Bill Arnsparger, who flirted with the idea of becoming the Florida AD several weeks ago, is likely to make the move at season's end....
Oregon State line coach Ed Sowash had planned to call his offensive linemen the Bodyguards. Photos were taken of the guys posing with submachine guns. But the Bodyguards gave up 10 sacks to Fresno State and 8 to Stanford. Then higher-ups protested the guns and the moniker was sacked.
If the rest of the work force toiled as hard as football coaches, productivity would not be a national concern. Michigan State is typical. The Spartan staff generally works from 7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. But assistant coach Norm Parker takes the long hours in stride. "Yeah, that 10 p.m. to midnight is nice," he says. "Gives you a chance to mow the lawn, get a haircut. Maybe fix a faucet or do projects around the house." Florida State coach Bobby Bowden understands. "As a rule, don't ask coaches the ages of their children," he says.
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
OFFENSE: San Jose State's Mike Perez completed 33 of 53 passes for 433 yards and five TDs in a 45-41 upset of Fresno State to end the nation's longest winning streak at 11.
DEFENSE: Michigan linebacker Andy Moeller had three interceptions—one of which set up a field goal and another a TD—and six unassisted tackles, in a 34-17 win over Wisconsin.
SI TOP 20
Nebraska, you ought to be ashamed of yourself for almost losing to a team like South Carolina. You deserve to be demoted for that fluky 27-24 win, but we'll refrain. This time. Iowa, you guys beat a tough Michigan State squad with a fourth-string quarterback, and we salute you. Dang you, UCLA; we worried about you last week and now you have made us mad: Arizona State 16, UCLA 9. Phooey. BYU and Fresno State, R.I.P.
1. MIAMI (5-0)
2. PENN STATE (4-0)
3. ALABAMA (5-0)
4. NEBRASKA (4-0)
5. MICHIGAN (4-0)
6. OKLAHOMA (3-1)
7. IOWA (4-0)
8. ARKANSAS (4-0)
9. ARIZONA (4-0)
10. TEXAS A & M (3-1)
11. AUBURN (4-0)
12. USC (4-0)
13. ARIZONA STATE (3-0-1)
14. WASHINGTON (3-1)
15. CLEMSON (3-1)
16. BAYLOR (4-1)
17. STANFORD (4-0)
18. MICHIGAN STATE (2-2)
19. GEORGIA (3-1)
20. UCLA (2-2)
*Ranking last week