NO TWO WAYS ABOUT IT
In the South, where the citizenry embraces fallen heroes, Ole
Miss quarterback Archie Manning assured his place in the
region's sports pantheon when he broke his left arm in the
seventh game of his senior year, ending his chance to win the
1970 Heisman Trophy. Injury didn't befall Archie's middle son,
Tennessee quarterback Peyton, but his failure last Saturday to
get the '97 Heisman assures his ascendance to a station
alongside his dad.
At Michigan, in contrast, they're celebrating a remarkable
Heisman triumph. No primarily defensive player had won the award
before, but cornerback Charles Woodson finished comfortably
ahead of Manning in the voting, 1,815 points to 1,543. Woodson
won thanks to his dominant performance in the Wolverines' 20-14
victory over Ohio State on Nov. 22. In the week before the game
Manning had about 32% of the points to Woodson's 23% from the
roughly 100 ballots that had been turned in. But though Manning
threw for 523 yards and five touchdowns against Kentucky in a
59-31 victory that Saturday, against the Buckeyes Woodson surged
ahead on the strength of an interception in the end zone, a
37-yard reception to set up Michigan's first touchdown and a
78-yard punt return for a score that broke the game open.
Woodson's victory is a legacy of the 85-scholarship limit put
into effect five years ago. The restriction forced coaches to
consider using their best defensive players on offense, and that
has given college football an unexpected shot of adrenaline.
"The standard has been set for defensive players," said
Wolverines junior safety Marcus Ray, Woodson's teammate and best
friend, last Saturday night. He then added, half joking, "I'm
telling you right now--as of the spring, I'm playing running
back. I'm going to jump into their drills."
December 22, 1997
BIG RED COACHING MACHINE
The promotion of an assistant to the top job often results in
turmoil and turnover among the remaining staff. But when
Nebraska named assistant head coach Frank Solich to replace the
retiring Tom Osborne last week, none of the other eight
Cornhuskers assistants got mad, and no one had to update his
Six Nebraska assistants have been in Lincoln for more than 10
years, three for more than 20. A few years ago, when then
Huskers linebackers coach Kevin Steele was considering the top
defensive job at another school, Nebraska's defensive
coordinator, Charlie McBride, told him, "Let's go see Tom, and
you can have my title. Let's keep doing what we're doing."
Steele, who turned down that job offer, later became the
linebackers coach with the Carolina Panthers. He remains
impressed by the fellowship he experienced on the Huskers'
staff. "You think of little cliques [on other teams] of guys
riding back from bowl practice: these two coaches, those three,"
he says. "On our Orange Bowl trips, when you went down to the
lobby, you never knew who was driving and who was riding with
The camaraderie on the staff comes from one man. "Tom spends as
much time working on the chemistry of the team as he does X's
and O's," Solich says. "On a daily basis he talks about
unselfishness, togetherness, unity. He does it day after day.
Coaches are in those meetings also. We're like the players. The
same thing happens to the staff."
Solich, 53, had been Osborne's heir apparent for several years.
He came to Nebraska as a fullback in 1962, the same year Osborne
arrived in Lincoln as a graduate assistant. After graduating in
'66, Solich coached high school football in Nebraska for 14
seasons. Osborne hired him in '79.
The Osborne influence will be felt in the daily coaches'
meetings, which Solich will continue to hold at 7 a.m.
"Everybody has to coach through his own personality," Solich
says. "I hope in a lot of ways that I can emulate the kind of
person Tom is."
The first change Solich may make is in recruiting. Without
Osborne as a drawing card, Solich believes he'll need to
identify potential recruits more quickly. So he may hire a coach
to act as recruiting coordinator, something Nebraska doesn't
BEARS WITHOUT LEASHES
As often happens when Northern Colorado takes to the road, the
eve of the Bears' Division II championship game against New
Haven devolved into a lounge act starring coach Joe Glenn and a
smattering of his 10 brothers and sisters. Pat, the eldest of
the Glenn siblings, at 57, and 48-year-old Joe, the sixth, took
turns playing the piano at a Ramada Inn outside Florence, Ala.
"I'll tell you," said Joe the next day, "we had a pretty good
rouser last night."
Glenn's players had a pretty good rouser themselves last
Saturday afternoon. Northern Colorado mauled New Haven 51-0,
even though the Chargers had finished the regular season first
in Division II in points (43.3 per game) and second in points
allowed (9.8). In NCAA championship games at all levels, only
Dayton's 63-0 pounding of Ithaca in the 1980 Division III title
game was more lopsided. Credit the gregarious Glenn, whose
large-family upbringing--"My mother was a Catholic and my father
careless," he says with a laugh--instilled in him an unshakable
faith in two properties most coaches don't believe in: entropy
When one Bear dared disrupt the silence in the pregame locker
room last Saturday by playing AC/DC's anthem TNT on a boom box,
Glenn turned to the culprit and cheerfully barked, "Crank it up!"
"He's just the loosest coach you could ever play for," says
senior punter and strong safety Dirk Johnson, "and that attitude
rolls over to how we play."
Johnson, for example, has had a green light to tuck the ball
away and run on any punt. Entering the title game, he had
converted seven of nine fake punts into first downs. "You let
'em go," Glenn says of his players. "There's a lot to be said
The championship game was only four plays old when Johnson made
the wisdom of Glenn's approach apparent. After New Haven's
defense forced a fourth-and-two at the Northern Colorado 36-yard
line, Johnson took the snap and sprinted 39 yards around left
end for a first down. Two plays later quarterback Corte McGuffey
found wideout Dillon Micus on a 20-yard slant-in for a
touchdown, and the rout was on.
By halftime the Chargers, who had pitched three shutouts and
hadn't allowed more than 26 points in any game this season,
trailed 35-0. Northern Colorado had already attempted a fake
punt, a fake field goal (which went for a touchdown) and even,
with 0:01 remaining in the half, an onside kick.
Said 46-year-old sister Dottie, one of six siblings in
attendance, "Joe likes to say he's never had a bad day in his
life." Certainly not this day. --JOHN WALTERS
Nebraska defensive end Grant Wistrom won the Lombardi Award,
given to the best lineman in the nation. His teammate, guard
Aaron Taylor, won the Outland Trophy as the best interior
lineman. The only other team to have two players win those
awards in the same year: Pittsburgh in 1980, with defensive end
Hugh Green and offensive tackle Mark May....
Mount Union won its 28th straight game last Saturday, beating
Lycoming 61-12 for its second consecutive Division III title.
Maybe the Purple Raiders should be the next team to join the Big
I-AA CHAMPIONSHIP: McNEESE STATE (13-1) VS. YOUNGSTOWN STATE
(12-2) Sophomore quarterback Blake Prejean came of age last
weekend when he drove McNeese State to a game-winning field
goal, but the Cowboys can't match the experience of the
Penguins, who on Saturday will play in their fifth final of the
1990s and should win their fourth title.
LAS VEGAS BOWL: OREGON (6-5) VS. AIR FORCE (10-2)
The Falcons are probably the best team in the WAC but find
themselves in an outpost bowl. The Ducks, who gave up 58 points
to Stanford and 52 to Arizona State, don't figure to stop
quarterback Blane Morgan and the Air Force option.
ALOHA BOWL: WASHINGTON (7-4) VS. MICHIGAN STATE (7-4) Five weeks
off have healed the beat-up Huskies, who ended with three
straight losses. The Spartans want to redeem a season that went
awry, but if they lost focus last year in El Paso--a 38-0 Sun
Bowl pounding from Stanford--what chance do they have in Hawaii
MOTOR CITY BOWL: MARSHALL (10-2) VS. OLE MISS (7-4) A good
matchup: The Thundering Herd moved up from I-AA this year, and
the Rebels have only 61 scholarship players after NCAA
probation. Ole Miss scrapped to get into this Dec. 26 game, but
it's hard to believe the Rebs will have much incentive in a
largely empty Silverdome after spending Christmas in Michigan.
HERITAGE BOWL: SOUTHERN (10-1) VS. SOUTH CAROLINA STATE (9-2)
Southern tailback Steve Wofford (1,274 yards) suffered cracked
vertebrae on Nov. 8, but when he's healthy the Jaguars are
dominant--and he'll be ready to go on Dec. 27.
INSIGHT.COM BOWL: NEW MEXICO (9-3) VS. ARIZONA (6-5) The Lobos'
first bowl in 36 years is a Dec. 27 road game in Tucson, where
the Wildcats are 10-2 over the last two seasons. Arizona's
balanced attack, plus the home field, should be enough. --I.M.