August 04, 1995

The longest season, the longest list of participating teams
since 1982, even the longest All-America candidate in the
sport's history. Compared with college football '95, previous
seasons have a hard time measuring up.

Head to toe, the schedule spans 130 days, which eclipses by one
day the previous record length of the 1990 and '92 seasons. It
begins on Aug. 26, when Virginia travels to Ann Arbor to face
Michigan in the Pigskin Classic (a.k.a. the Onside Kickoff
Classic; it deviously usurps the role of the more august Aug. 27
Kickoff Classic), and ends on the night of Jan. 2 in Tempe,
Ariz., with the Fiesta Bowl, which--if all goes according to the
new bowl alliance blueprint--will be the national title game. In
fact, because that game begins at 8:30 p.m. EST, the season will
most likely not end until Jan. 3 for folks on the East Coast.
And because the NCAA recently adopted an overtime playoff for
all postseason bowl games, by which the outcome cannot be
decided until one team scores, the season could conceivably
never end. Or at least not until Jan. 28, when the NFL will
stage Super Bowl XXX on the selfsame Sun Devil Stadium turf.

Head to toe, the Division I-A roster expands by one team, to
108. (Welcome, North Texas!) Head to toe, Nevada senior
offensive tackle Mike Rockwood, an All-Big West selection last
year, measures 84 inches, making him Division I-A's first
All-America candidate to stand seven feet tall or, in gridiron
parlance, "a long two." And lest we forget, 21 new head coaches
will toe the sidelines this fall.

Overhead? About 10,000 feet overhead is where UNLV second-year
coach Jeff Horton will begin 1995. By leading the Rebels to a
share of the Big West title in '94, he prolonged his honeymoon
in Vegas; now, as part of a publicity stunt, he has agreed to
recreate a scene from the film. Instead of taking the field by
running through a tunnel, he (provided the logistical details
can be ironed out) will parachute into Sam Boyd Stadium,
escorted by the Flying Elvises. So thanks to Horton, UNLVIS has
a chance to make its first touchdown of the season before the
opening kickoff.

Directly overhead, the NCAA has instituted some funky new helmet
rules for '95. First, players will no longer be allowed to
remove their helmets while on the field. This should shave at
least 10 minutes off Miami games.

Second, following much heated debate, the NCAA has voted to
"require all players on a team to wear helmets of the same
color." (Had this been a problem?) Failure to adhere to the
helmet-removal ban will result in a 15-yard personal-foul
penalty; a player wearing a different-colored helmet will cost
his team a timeout and, when those are gone, a five-yard penalty.

Under toes? A retro movement, a grassroots movement, actually.
Six schools--Arkansas, California, Georgia Tech, Missouri, Utah
and Virginia--have returned their stadiums to grass surfaces for
1995, bringing the total of such I-A venues to 58. The pendulum
has swung: For the first time since the mid-1970s, more than
half of the teams in I-A will be playing on the potentially
muddy stuff. While we're on the subject of mud, has anyone
figured out a way to solve the muddled national championship
mess? And what else is in store for the upcoming season? Here's
what you need to know:

1. The alliance replaces the coalition. Webster's defines
coalition as "a temporary alliance," so it is only fitting that
after three years and but one true incontrovertible national
champ (Alabama, in '92), the bowl coalition has ceded its power
to the bowl alliance. The difference? "Three tier-one bowls--the
Fiesta, Sugar and Orange--but no host conferences," says Atlantic
Coast Conference assistant commissioner Tom Mickle, one of the
plan's architects.

Had the bowl alliance been in place a year ago, it still would
not have effected a national championship showdown between
unbeatens Nebraska and Penn State. As Big Ten champ, the Nittany
Lions were obligated to play in the Rose Bowl. Similar confusion
could arise this year, but fans shouldn't be too worried,
because ...

2. There is a road to the national title. In 1995 it is
Interstate 10, which runs three miles west of Sun Devil Stadium
and seven miles south of Pasadena. The two top-ranked teams will
definitely play at one or both of these sites, and only 370
miles of desert--traversable via I-10--separate them. But assuming
you start your journey near the midway point in Blythe, Calif.,
in which direction should you head? Here are a few road signs
that may help point the way.

FLORIDA: In all but one of the last 10 seasons, the state of
Florida either hosted the national title game or had a
representative in the game that produced the champion (the
exception was 1988, when Notre Dame defeated West Virginia in
the Fiesta Bowl). This year's national championship will not be
settled in the Sunshine State, so if form holds true, look for a
Florida school--specifically, whoever emerges victorious from
the Florida State-Florida game in Gainesville on Nov. 25--to be
in Tempe on January 2.

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J.: The last two national champs, Florida
State and Nebraska, began their campaigns at the Meadowlands in
the Kickoff Classic. This year's game pits Boston College
against Ohio State, both long shots for a ring. However, Penn
State visits Giants Stadium on Sept. 23 to play Rutgers. And as
if coach Joe Paterno needed any help fueling up for the '95
season, his Lions could also find themselves at the ...

BOBBY BOWDEN SERVICE AREA: the place where, whenever two schools
are tied with the nation's best record after the bowls, the
institution whose coach is seen by the voters as most deserving
is awarded the title. Christened in 1993 after FSU finished with
one loss--as did both Notre Dame and Nebraska--and was voted No. 1
largely on the charisma of its beloved coach, Bowden, this oasis
was visited by the Huskers last fall when Tom Osborne led them
down the same highway. Now Paterno, whose undefeated '94 season
was his fourth in 29 years to go unrewarded with a title, can
see it on the horizon. Come Jan. 3, it will not be enough for a
school to have a record unsurpassed by anybody else in I-A; that
school must also have one more win or one fewer loss than Penn

Three contenders for the crown, by the way, are schools that
serve as vivid proof that ...

3. Probation is not the end of the world. Far from it. The '90s
have witnessed eight schools navigate through a season unbeaten.
Three of them--Auburn, Texas A&M and Washington--were on probation
last year. All three are playing for keeps in '95.

Funny that the only difference between the words probation and
approbation are the letters a and p, as in AP poll. A year ago
that was the only poll that recognized the Tigers, the Aggies
and the Huskies. This year the coaches' poll will acknowledge
them as well, and will not waste any time doing so: Auburn and
A&M should begin the season in the Top 5, and UW, sporting a new
look--purple helmets instead of gold--will certainly be in the Top
20. And all three should conclude the season in the Top 20 as
well ... unless, of course, a helmet imbroglio erupts in
Seattle, leaving Husky players divided over which color helmets
to don, thereby resulting in a rash of equipment-violation
penalties that could very well determine the outcome of a few

It's more likely, though, that the outcomes of Washington games
will be determined by Husky quarterback Damon Huard, who will be
airing it out this season. And he won't be the only one. Which
is why...

4. Defenses will be loading up to stop the pass. Look for many
secondaries to switch from three-deep to four-deep zones this
season. The reason is twofold: The hash marks were moved closer
to the middle of the field two years ago, and as a result,
wide-open passing attacks such as those successfully employed by
Colorado, Florida and Oregon have come into vogue.

On offense, you can expect multiple formations to multiply.
These formations have already produced a salmagundi of
nontraditional names for backs used in nontraditional ways:
Tulsa has an F-back position, Maryland a superback and Arizona
State a flyback. Purdue's Mike Alstott, who led the Boilermakers
in rushing (1,188 yards) a year ago from his fullback spot, is a

The buzzword, however, is still speed. "Washington State and
Arizona had two of the best defenses in the country the last
couple of years," says USC receivers coach Mike Sanford. "They
weren't very big, but they were very, very fast."

Coaches are obsessed with speed. Florida and Washington headline
a growing list of schools switching back to white shoes because,
as a Nike representative says, "their coaches think it makes
their players look faster." Coaches will seemingly do anything
to add speed to their rosters. Witness Kentucky quarterback Jeff
Speedy, who has good speed; and Akron guard Greg Goodspeed, who
does not. But not even Speedy is as speedy as Navy strong safety
Joe Speed, who runs the 40 in 4.67.

Some coaches, especially the new ones, just want to get off to a
fast start, which reminds us that ...

5. You can't tell the coaches without a scorecard. Most of
Division I-A's 21 first-year head coaches (chart, above) will
hit the road on Labor Day weekend, though it will be no day at
the beach: Tommy Tuberville takes Mississippi to Auburn, Gerry
DiNardo takes his LSU crew to Texas A&M, and Michigan's Lloyd
Carr is planning a father-son outing (his son Jason is the
Wolverines' backup quarterback) at Illinois.

Other intriguing Labor Day weekend coaching debuts: Rick
Neuheisel and Colorado travel to Madison, his birthplace, to
play Wisconsin. Miami's Butch Davis returns to the Rose
Bowl--where he won a Super Bowl ring as a Dallas Cowboy assistant
in 1993--for the Hurricanes' showdown with UCLA. And Jim Grobe
and Dan McCarney, the new fall guys at Ohio and Iowa State,
respectively, face off to decide which school will win its first
game since 1993.

Of course, those aren't the only games we'll be looking forward
to, because...

6. There are several very intriguing intersectional matchups
this season. Call them college football's version of Must-See
TV; these new or long-dormant regional clashes will be well
worth tuning in for: Sept. 9, Nebraska at Michigan State; Sept.
23, Texas A&M at Colorado; Sept. 30, Notre Dame at Ohio State;
Oct. 7, N.C. State at Alabama.

One that is not: Sept. 2: Houston at Florida.

And one that was scheduled this off-season (to be played in
1999), which will most likely pit son against father: Auburn at
Florida State.

Auburn, incidentally, is one example of another interesting
trend this season...

7. Don't be surprised to see several national title contenders
change quarterbacks. Flashback to last September: Florida
quarterback Terry Dean has tossed 13 TD passes in the Gators'
first three games, Florida is atop the polls, and Dean is the
leader in the Heisman straw vote. Flashback to last October:
Dean throws four picks against Auburn, and Danny Wuerffel is
Steve Spurrier's new starter. While no other coach of a highly
ranked team wields the hook like Spurrier (amazing, isn't it,
that his wife, Jerri, has remained first string for 28 years?),
many a coach among the Top 20 teams will be tempted to dial the
bullpen this fall if the offense stalls.

Does USC's John Robinson replace probable starter Kyle Wachholtz
with Brad Otton? Will Auburn's Terry Bowden nix Patrick Nix in
favor of Dameyune Craig? Will the Tommie Frazier-Brook Berringer
tug-of-war continue at Nebraska? If Miami's Davis benches Ryan
Collins in favor of Ryan Clement, will rapper Luther Campbell

And don't forget Wuerffel. Last spring Spurrier coyly remarked
that his backup, Eric Kresser, had come a long way and has a
stronger arm. Think Danny might be a little anxious about that
game at Auburn on Oct. 14?

And while we're on the subject of tough games ...

8. Ohio State has the No. 1 killer schedule. There are
nonconference dates with Boston College, Washington and Notre
Dame; Big Ten sojourns to Penn State, Wisconsin and Michigan.

Two that aren't far behind: Vanderbilt, whose new coach, Rod
Dowhower, opens with Alabama and Notre Dame and closes at
Florida and Tennessee (no wonder Gerry DiNardo abandoned ship);
and Houston, which must journey to Florida, USC and Texas A&M.
(Houston, you have a problem.)

And while we may have a problem with some of the rules
committee's off-season doings, don't get the wrong idea,

9. There are a few NCAA rules we like. Aside from the confusing
mandate that players not remove their helmets (after all, how
else are you supposed to check whether yours is the same color
as your teammates'?) and the killjoy ban on player celebrations,
the NCAA has done some sensible tinkering. A player will now be
ejected after his second unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty in one
game. And defensive players who cross the line of scrimmage in
hopes of spooking offensive linemen into an illegal-procedure
penalty will themselves be hit with a five-yard flag.

And here's one for the point-spread mavens: If a touchdown is
scored on the game's final play, the PAT must be conducted
unless the trailing team deserts the field.

But wait, before you go...

10. Here's a little more news you can use:

--In the spirit of Lew Alcindor, UCLA tailback Sharmon Shah, a
lifelong Muslim and a star Bruin who wears number 33, recently
reaffirmed his Muslim faith. Concomitant with his pledge is the
adoption of a new Muslim name, selected not by Shah but by his
imam, or prayer leader. And judging from the imam's choice, we
may conclude that he must be either a) oblivious to the L.A.
sports scene or b) a humorous fellow--because Sharmon Shah is
now Karim Abdul-Jabbar.

--LSU, which for three years had been trying to persuade the
NCAA to permit home teams to wear white jerseys as long as it is
okayed before the season by the visiting school, finally
succeeded. So white Tigers will not be rare in the bayou this

--Minnesota, which plays its home games in the Metrodome, has
just one road game among its first five--in the Carrier Dome at
Syracuse. The Golden Gophers will not play outdoors until Oct.
21 in East Lansing. So much for fall colors.

--Mississippi's Tuberville--who was Texas A&M's defensive
coordinator last year and spent the previous eight years as a
Miami assistant--has a personal 58-game home unbeaten streak.
That mark will most likely not grow beyond 61: Alabama visits on
Oct. 21.

And that's a peek at the '95 season. Though it may appear
supersized, '96 may be even bigger. At least three more I-AA
teams will foray into I-A. The Big Eight will become the Big 12,
and the WAC will add six new teams. Both conferences will likely
also stage championship games.

"How many frontiers remain?" asks Colorado's towheaded
Neuheisel. Perhaps only Earth itself. Next season Ireland will
play host to Navy-Notre Dame, and New Zealand will serve as the
site for the inaugural Haka Bowl on New Year's Day. North to
south, head to toe, any way you measure it, college football is

COLOR PHOTO: ROBERT BECK All signs suggest that Paterno won't be a secondhand Rose this season. [Fan holding sign showing Joe Paterno with rose in his mouth] TWO COLOR PHOTOS: ROBERT ROGERS (2) There'll be no hats off for the Hurricanes (left), but the Florida State-Florida game will impact the title picture. [Two University of Miami football players, one holding his helmet in his hand; University of Florida football player tackling Florida State University player] COLOR PHOTO: BILL FRAKES The Huskies will abandon their gold headwear, though speed seekers believe the secret lies in white shoes. [University of Washington football players holding up their helmets] COLOR PHOTO: JOHN IACONO [See caption above--legs of University of Washington football players] TWO COLOR PHOTOS: PHIL HUBER (2) Schnellenberger (top) will skipper the Sooners, and Simmons has ridden into town to lead the Cowboys. [Howard Schnellenberger; Bob Simmons] COLOR PHOTO: JON SOOHOO/BERNSTEIN ASSOCIATES Where will this season's quarterback controversies erupt? (From left) Otton, Craig, Berringer and Kresser are men in waiting. [Brad Otton] COLOR PHOTO: PATRICK MURPHY-RACEY [See caption above--Dameyune Craig] COLOR PHOTO: PETER READ MILLER [See caption above--Brook Berringer] COLOR PHOTO: BEN VAN HOOK [See caption above--Eric Kresser] COLOR PHOTO: AL TIELEMANS "T" is for "trouble," which aptly describes the brutal schedule confronting Bobby Hoying's Buckeyes. COLOR PHOTO: RICHARD MACKSON Jabbar's jersey number and aptitude for offense--and, oh yes, his new name--call to mind another UCLA great. [Karim Abdul-Jabbar (formerly Sharmon Shah)] COLOR PHOTO: NEIL LEIFER [See caption above--Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (formerly Lew Alcindor)]

Nov. 1


Former coach
Tom Lichtenberg (fired)

New coach (alma mater,class)
Jim Grobe (Virginia '75)

Previous position
Linebackers coach, Air Force, 1984-94

Nov. 4

Iowa State

[Former coach]
Jim Walden (resigned)

[New coach (alma mater,class)]
Dan McCarney (Iowa '75)

[Previous position]
Defensive coordinator, Wisconsin, 1989-94

Nov. 8

Georgia Tech

[Former coach]
Bill Lewis (resigned)

[New coach (alma mater,class)]
George O'Leary (New Hampshire '68)

[Previous position]
Interim head coach, Georgia Tech, 1994

Nov. 8

Michigan St.

[Former coach]
George Perles (fired)

[New coach (alma mater,class)]
Nick Saban (Kent '73)

[Previous position]
Defensive coordinator, Cleveland Browns, 1991-94

Nov. 15


[Former coach]
Curley Hallman (fired)

[New coach (alma mater,class)]
Gerry DiNardo (Notre Dame '75)

[Previous position]
Head coach, Vanderbilt, 1991-94

Nov. 19


[Former coach]
Gerry Faust (reassigned)

[New coach (alma mater,class)]
Lee Owens (Bluffton '77)

[Previous position]
Assistant tight ends coach, Ohio State, 1992-94

Nov. 19


[Former coach]
Bill McCartney (resigned)

[New coach (alma mater,class)]
Rick Neuheisel (UCLA '84)

[Previous position]
Quarterbacks coach, Colorado, 1994

Nov. 21


[Former coach]
Gary Gibbs (resigned)

[New coach (alma mater,class)]
H. Schnellenberger (Kentucky '56)

[Previous position]
Head coach, Louisville, 1985-94

Nov. 22

Oklahoma St.

[Former coach]
Pat Jones (resigned)

[New coach (alma mater,class)]
Bob Simmons (Bowling Green '71)

[Previous position]
Assistant head coach, Colorado, 1988-94

Nov. 28


[Former coach]
Bill Walsh (resigned)

[New coach (alma mater,class)]
Tyrone Willingham (Michigan State '77)

[Previous position]
Running backs coach, Minnesota Vikings, 1992-94

Dec. 2


[Former coach]
Joe Lee Dunn (interim, replaced)

[New coach (alma mater,class)]
Tommy Tuberville (Southern Arkansas '76)

[Previous position]
Defensive coordinator, Texas A&M, 1994

Dec. 4


[Former coach]
George Chaump (fired)

[New coach (alma mater,class)]
Charlie Weatherbie (Oklahoma State '77)

[Previous position]
Head coach, Utah State, 1992-94

Dec. 13


[Former coach]
Chuck Stobart (fired)

[New coach (alma mater,class)]
William Scherer (William & Mary '74)

[Previous position]
Head coach, James Madison, 1991-94

Dec. 13


[Former coach]
Gerry DiNardo (took job at LSU)

[New coach (alma mater,class)]
Rod Dowhower (San Diego State '68)

[Previous position]
Quarterbacks coach, Cleveland Browns, 1994

Dec. 17

E. Michigan

[Former coach]
Ron Cooper (took job at Louisville)

[New coach (alma mater,class)]
Rick Rasnick (San Jose State '82)

[Previous position]
Offensive coordinator, Utah, 1991-94

Dec. 17


[Former coach]
H. Schnellenberger (took job at Oklahoma)

[New coach (alma mater,class)]
Ron Cooper (Jacksonville State '83)

[Previous position]
Head coach, Eastern Michigan, 1993-94

Dec. 23

Utah State

[Former coach]
Charlie Weatherbie (took job at Navy)

[New coach (alma mater,class)]
John L. Smith (Weber State '71)

[Previous position]
Head coach, Idaho, 1989-94

Jan. 12


[Former coach]
Dennis Erickson (took job with Seattle Seahawks)

[New coach (alma mater,class)]
Butch Davis (Arkansas '73)

[Previous position]
Defensive coordinator, Dallas Cowboys, 1989-94

Feb. 10


[Former coach]
Rich Brooks (took job with St. Louis Rams)

[New coach (alma mater,class)]
Mike Bellotti (UC Davis '73)

[Previous position]
Offensive coordinator, Oregon, 1989-94

Feb. 15

Ball State

[Former coach]
Paul Schudel (took job as offensive coordinator at Illinois)

[New coach (alma mater,class)]
Bill Lynch (Butler '77)

[Previous position]
Quarterbacks coach, Indiana, 1993-94

May 4


[Former coach]
Gary Moeller (resigned)

[New coach (alma mater,class)]
Lloyd Carr (Northern Michigan '68)

[Previous position]
Defensive coordinator, Michigan, 1980-94

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