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INSIDE TRACK | PAGE TWO / RANDY HARVEY

Holy Toledo, Let's Give the Coach Some Credit

September 15, 1997|RANDY HARVEY

My Heisman Trophy vote this week goes to James Brown.

With its star quarterback, Texas was, according to the Associated Press poll, the nation's 11th best team. Without him, well, you saw what happened to the Longhorns on Saturday against UCLA.

Brown would have made a difference. The Longhorns would have displayed more poise, picked up more blitzes, committed fewer turnovers, established the running game and lost by only 56-3.

The Bruins were that good. Since halftime of the loss to Tennessee, they've been as impressive as any team anywhere, earning rare recognition for a 1-2 team Sunday with their No. 24 AP ranking.

Let's give credit, for a change, to Coach Bob Toledo.

Virtually all the decisions he and his staff made Saturday worked to perfection. But his most important decision came about 72 hours before the kickoff in Austin.

Toledo began last week under siege. Two losses in games the Bruins could have won led to questions in the media about the play calling, and, by extension, his ability as a coach.

He claimed his players weren't paying attention, but you can bet they were aware their coach wasn't getting much respect from the media.

The players might not have been aware, however, that he wasn't getting much respect from them, either.

Intramural teams practice with more intensity than the Bruins did Wednesday. Toledo was so fed up he threw them off the field 20 minutes before the workout was scheduled to end.

If there was any chance of him losing this team, it vanished after that.

So did any chance of the Bruins returning home from Texas with an 0-3 record.

From Thursday on, they were totally committed to beating the Longhorns.

If they remain as committed, we might all look back on that practice as the defining moment of UCLA's season and, maybe, Toledo's growth as a coach.

*

UCLA and USC have traded places. . . .

Now the Bruins are in the Top 25 and the Trojans are the best 0-2 team in the country. . . .

USC fans who booed Delon Washington on Saturday should be caned. . . .

No, that's not harsh enough. They should have to run behind the Trojan offensive line. . . .

If USC had a heritage of offensive lines like this one, there would be no Heismans in Heritage Hall. . . .

John Robinson didn't blame the offensive line entirely, saying the Trojans "choked in 1,000 ways." . . .

The last coach to claim his team choked was the Philadelphia Flyers' Terry Murray. You know what happened to him. . . .

That's absolutely the last comment I'm going to make on Robinson's job security for at least two weeks. . . .

Yes, it has already started. . . .

No, I didn't start it. . . .

Carol Lewis was the Fox Network's sideline reporter for the USC-Washington State game. . . .

Since she couldn't be in Houston for brother Carl's farewell race, she said the next best place for her was the Coliseum because that's where he equaled Jesse Owens' feat with four gold medals. . . .

The Houston Cougars should have suited up Carl Lewis to run down Chiffon Allen on the 97-yard interception return with 22 seconds left that clinched the victory for Pitt. . . .

Houston plays UCLA at the Rose Bowl on Oct. 4, the same day UNLV plays USC at the Coliseum. . . .

I don't think we'll be calling that day Super Saturday. . . .

The Big 12's big three, Nebraska, Colorado and Texas, were outscored, 117-44, Saturday. . . .

It was thoughtful of Peyton Manning to have pizza delivered to fellow students. But they'd be more pleased if he delivers a victory over Florida. . . .

I believed Mike Ditka would be worth just enough victories to prevent the New Orleans Saints from getting Manning with the first draft choice, but I'm beginning to wonder. . . .

The initial reviews from Jack Kent Cooke Stadium are that it lacks the electricity of RFK. . . .

Maybe they should name it Edison International. . . .

I'm beginning to hear from the critics who say Terry Collins couldn't bring his team home in first place, just like he couldn't in Houston. . . .

Knock it off. Without injuries to Chuck Finley and Todd Greene and the distraction caused by Tony Phillips, the Angels would have been in the race until the end. . . .

His knocks on Mike Piazza prove that Don Baylor was hit by a pitch once too often.

*

While wondering why Tony Dungy didn't get a head coaching job sooner, I was thinking: I don't have to wonder too hard, Dennis Erickson can come back for another week, so can Steve Young, Jeff George acts like a loser even when he wins.

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