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INSIDE TRACK | NOTES ON A SCORECARD

Robinson Can Settle No. 1 but Toledo's Undefeated

August 01, 1996|ALLAN MALAMUD

The topic was Pacific 10 Conference football Tuesday when coaches and star players spoke at the annual media day in L.A.:

John Robinson has an idea that might be the most practical way to decide an NCAA champion. . . .

"Play the four major bowls [Rose, Fiesta, Orange, Sugar] and then have a committee of maybe 10 people pick the No. 1 and 2 teams coming out of those games," the USC coach said. "The following week, they would play for the national championship." . . .

Every coach asked, praised the new NCAA Division I tiebreaker system in which teams exchange possessions at their own 25-yard lines until one has an edge in scoring after an equal number of opportunities. . . .

"It's terrific," Washington State Coach Mike Price said. "My Weber State team was involved in the first tiebreaker in Division I-AA, and we wound up playing five of them. I've never coached a tie game, and I guess I never will. The tiebreaker is lots of fun and very, very exciting." . . .

"We played three ties one year," said Arizona Coach Dick Tomey. "That was really frustrating." . . .

For challenging season openers, try these out: USC vs. Penn State in the Kickoff Classic at the Meadowlands on Aug. 25, Washington State at Colorado on Aug. 31, and UCLA at Tennessee and Washington at Arizona State on Sept. 7. . . .

Terry Donahue's successor at UCLA, Bob Toledo, said, "It's been a great seven-month honeymoon. We're unbeaten. Everybody loves us now. My wife told me that this would be a great job if we didn't have to play any games." . . .

Pac-10 schools, which each got $720,000 from the last Rose Bowl game, will collect $840,000 this season, and $1 million after the 1998 season when the bowl joins the alliance. . . .

Look-alikes: Quarterbacks Pat Barnes of California and Jim Kelly of the Buffalo Bills. . . .

Oregon Coach Mike Bellotti is talking three-peat, as in three consecutive bowl appearances for the Ducks. . . .

Arizona State senior tackle Juan Roque from Ontario High is 6 feet 8, 319 pounds, and considered a good pro prospect. . . .

"No," Roque said when asked if he was tempted to make himself eligible for the NFL draft after his junior season. "That would have broken my agreement with the university and the coaches. It would have been a little selfish. I guess I thought about it for five minutes, but my mom said she would more proud of me with a degree than with $1 million in the bank." . . .

New California Coach Steve Mariucci, who handled the quarterbacks at Green Bay, said taking his first head coaching job was an easy decision, but the tough part was moving his family for the ninth time in his career. . . .

Oregon State Coach Jerry Petitbone doesn't exactly promise an aerial circus from his option offense, but reported that something new happened during spring practice--a quarterback said his arm was sore. . . .

Best name: Washington State kicker Tony "the Toe" Truant. . . .

Washington Coach Jim Lambright, whose team is still feeling the effects of NCAA probation, said, "Our weakness is the loss of 20 scholarships. You'll find us playing more freshmen because of a lack of depth." . . .

Arizona State, which will need every edge it can get that night, will name its playing surface Frank Kush Field in honor of the former coach during ceremonies before the game against defending national champion Nebraska on Sept. 21. . . .

Toledo on defense: "I don't like bend-but-don't-break defenses. I've seen too many of them bend all the way into the end zone." . . .

Tyrone Willingham was voted Pac-10 coach of the year in his first season at Stanford, and offensive lineman Brad Badger said the team was more disciplined and worked harder than it did under four-time Super Bowl winner Bill Walsh. . . .

"A guy 18 sees things a lot differently than a guy 23 who's getting a paycheck to play," Badger said. . . .

"I'm going to answer a few questions and then have Kyle Wachholtz come in and answer some," cracked USC quarterback Brad Otton, who alternated starts with Wachholtz much of last season. . . .

USC won the media preseason poll in a landslide. The results with number of first-place votes in parenthesis: 1. USC (23); 2. Arizona State (4); 3. Oregon (2); 4. Washington; 5. UCLA; 6. Stanford (1); 7. Arizona; 8. California; 9. Washington State; 10. Oregon State.

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