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COLLEGE FOOTBALL / GENE WOJCIECHOWSKI : While Tennessee Lives It Up, Majors Is in the Pits

September 16, 1993|GENE WOJCIECHOWSKI

Johnny Majors has been back at Pittsburgh for two games and already has witnessed history. The wrong kind.

"We were beaten Saturday as bad as I've ever had a football team beaten in my career," Majors said earlier this week, still a bit dazed by Pitt's 63-21 thumping by Virginia Tech. "We were out-whipped, outmanned and out-executed. How else can you lose?"

Majors has coached for 26 years. He won a national championship at Pitt in 1976, then returned home to Tennessee, where, at times, he had enough talent to win another title.

But it never happened. Although he had a team with the best winning percentage--.746, 44-14-3--of any Southeastern Conference program during the previous five years, Majors was coach non grata by the end of 1992. The complaints:

--He couldn't beat hated Alabama. Majors was 0-7 in his last seven tries.

--He couldn't keep assistant coaches--he went through them like Kleenex.

--He couldn't, or wouldn't, keep his mouth shut.

In the end, Tennessee grew tired of Majors, 58, and simply chose not to give him a contract extension. It wasn't the classiest move of all time, but it was either that or lose the coach in waiting, Phillip Fulmer.

So now Tennessee is 2-0, ranked fifth and preparing for its big game against No. 9 and undefeated Florida on Saturday at Gainesville.

And Majors' Pitt team? It gets to have the bejabbers beaten out of it by 11th-ranked Ohio State. That's because a thin and already injury-riddled roster has forced him to stick people in the lineup "who have no business playing," he said.

And after the Buckeyes, Pitt faces Louisville (2-0), fourth-ranked Notre Dame, sixth-ranked Syracuse, West Virginia (1-0), Rutgers (2-0), third-ranked Miami and No. 22 Boston College. The Panthers (1-1) might not win another game until Nov. 20, when they face Temple.

Which brings us back to Majors, who says he will be just fine . . . one of these days.

"I'm well," he said. "I'm able to take nourishment, able to turn on the projector. Other than that, I've been better."

CAROLINA BLUE WITH ENVY

No. 1-ranked Florida State travels to 13th-ranked North Carolina on Saturday for what could be the Seminoles' toughest Atlantic Coast Conference game of the season. At least, that's the official line.

The Tar Heels, who already have three victories, are treating the game as if the Huns are coming. The Seminoles are having a hard time suppressing yawns.

"This is Florida State," said FSU cornerback Clifton Abraham. "Since I've been here, I've played in three 'games of the century.' "

Abraham should be careful about dismissing the Tar Heels. North Carolina is averaging nearly 45 points and Saturday's game is at Kenan Stadium.

Of course, all that sounds nice until you realize that since Florida State began using its so-called "fast break" offense last Nov. 7, the Seminoles are averaging 55 points and about 600 yards.

For a clearer view of Florida State's offensive domination, remember this: Quarterback Charlie Ward has yet to play a single down in the fourth quarter this season.

MOVIE CRITIC, YES. BOOK CRITIC, NO.

Let's see if we understand this correctly:

Notre Dame Coach Lou Holtz made a special effort last week to see the premiere of a feel-good movie called, "Rudy," the story of a Fighting Irish walk-on football player. He later spent part of his postgame news conference last Saturday at Michigan waxing Siskel & Ebert about the merits of the movie's acting and scenery. About the only thing he didn't do was discuss the film's character arc.

But Holtz has yet to take a peek at the book, "Under the Tarnished Dome: How Notre Dame Betrayed its Ideals for Football Glory," which is chock-full of juicy allegations concerning him and his football program? We don't get it.

"I have not read the book," he said in the Notre Dame locker room last Saturday. "I'm not going to read the book. I'm not going to discuss the book. It's very difficult for me not to answer the allegations, but in fairness to our football team, this will not be a distraction. Anything else?"

Well, yes, now that you mention it. . . .

Sunday, during an appearance on CNN's "Coaches Corner," Holtz certainly appeared to have reversed his cone-of-silence stance.

"Look at our graduation rate, look at our drug-testing program, look at the people who have played at the University of Notre Dame and the response that they have had," he said that day. "Look at the way our football players play. Go talk to the millions of people, there are thousands of them, who have done well."

Asked Tuesday why the change of heart, Holtz expressed surprise that his comments on CNN had been linked to the book.

"I really didn't realize that I was saying anything like that," he said.

Oh.

Holtz said that he apologized for any confusion, but that his remarks weren't in actual response to the book itself. And then, for the jillionth time, repeated his mantra: "I haven't read the book. . . . I'm not going to read the book. . . . "

THE REST

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