How are you with condoms?

Anything you might know about them could help No. 1-ranked Ohio
State win college football's national championship.

If Buckeyes junior All-America linebacker Andy (the Big Kat)
Katzenmoyer does a lousy job on his summer-school paper about
condoms, he might not pass his AIDS awareness course. If he
flunks AIDS awareness, he can't play. And if he can't play, Ohio
State's entire season could go splat.

Also, do you know anything about golf? That's another course
Katzenmoyer has to pass. Also, music. Golf, music and condoms.
Sounds like a weekend with the President.

"It's my fault," says Katzenmoyer. "I know if I don't play, it'll
be all my fault."

It's funny about Katzenmoyer. He can fend off three linemen the
size of small duplexes and grab a 230-pound running back by the
bottom lip and plant him like a rhododendron, but he can't seem
to get his butt out of bed for class. That's why he had to go to
summer school in June and July (he passed tennis, communications
and Arabic culture) and why he's there again this month.

August is the Big Kat's last chance. If the grades for his three
intellectually daunting courses (Golf 1, Music 140, AIDS: What
Every College Student Should Know), which are due on Sept. 4,
don't raise his cumulative GPA to at least 2.0, then the man who
may be the best player in the nation will be academically
ineligible from Sept. 5, when Ohio State opens its season at
West Virginia, until mid-December.

(Aside to Andy: Academically ineligible is French for world's
largest clipboard boy.)

Which is why, if I were an Ohio State fan, I would have stood
outside his apartment window every morning at 6:30 with a brick,
hot coffee and, if necessary, Metallica.

"My only concern," says Ohio State coach John Cooper, "is that
if they're in [summer-school] classes, they're not on the
practice fields, and that affects us, because they're behind."

Then again, maybe if Cooper had made sure more players had done
well in classes during the school year, he wouldn't have three
starters on the academic ledge now.

Andy, these teachers, they're not kidding around. "If he
deserved it, yeah, I wouldn't hesitate to flunk him," says the
golf instructor, Clive Pope. "No hesitation whatsoever. I'm from
New Zealand, so football doesn't mean all that much to me. Now,
rugby might be another matter."

Andy! How tough can it be? The only thing you have to read in
golf are the greens!

"If I had to, yes, I'd flunk him," says the AIDS awareness
professor, Dr. Randi Love. (Seriously, that's her name.) Not
that Love would want to. "I didn't know who he was," she says,
"but my husband did. If I don't pass him, it threatens our
married life."

AIDS awareness is dangerous because it meets at 7:30 a.m. on
Mondays and Wednesdays. Most mornings at 7:30, Katzenmoyer is
dreaming of reaching into a maize-and-blue helmet and pulling
out a Michigan player's skull. To pass AIDS awareness,
Katzenmoyer will have to write two papers, take two exams and
complete two "reaction" projects, one of which is to go out and
research condoms, meticulously recording their variety, size,
color and cost and the reaction of the 16-year-old Rite Aid
clerk when the Big Kat says, "Uh, do you have a fitting room?"

(Aside to Andy: Looking into your sock drawer doesn't count as
condom field research.)

But the biggest roadblock to Ohio State's national championship
hopes this season is the music class. Hey, it ain't Principles
of Lunch. This one must be a bear. It's worth five credits, and
the teacher wouldn't return any of our 10 messages. Not a good
sign. Katzenmoyer is probably studying everything from baroque
to disco.

(Aside to Andy: I'll use baroque in a sentence. If you don't get
your butt to Music 140, a whole lot of guys who bet on Ohio State
are going to go baroque.)

Forget November. Forget the bowls. This is pressure. This is
when it counts. Katzenmoyer's teammates, his fans and the whole
college football-loving nation are counting on him.

"I'm not worried," says the Big Kat, bored.

Uh-oh. Is it too late to change the cover?

COLOR PHOTO: DANA FINEMAN/SYGMA [Rick Reilly]

The biggest roadblock to the Buckeyes' national title hopes this
season is Music 140.

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