Attention college football recruiters: When traversing the nation in search of quarterback prospects that can lead your team into the top 20, forsake the high school and junior college gridiron and head straight to the nearest--or farthest--minor league baseball outpost.
Former minor league farmhands are taking the snaps at 25% of the top 20 schools in last week's Associated Press poll.
No. 7 Georgia's Quincy Carter, No. 8 Florida State's Chris Weinke, No. 10 Arizona's Keith Smith, No. 14 Colorado's Mike Moschetti and No. 15 Oregon's Akili Smith all had their sights set on playing in baseball's Fall Classic before they left baseball and refocused on the Fiesta Bowl.
Carter, the first freshman to start at quarterback for Georgia since 1945, played two years in the Chicago Cub organization. He was the nation's third-rated Division I-A passer after four games.
Carter totaled 385 yards in a 28-27 victory over Louisiana State last week, but completed only 14 of 37 passes for 195 yards with two interceptions in a 22-3 loss to No. 4 Tennessee on Saturday.
Weinke played six years in the Toronto Blue Jay organization before joining the Seminoles. On Saturday, Weinke became only the second Florida State quarterback in 14 years to beat Miami in the Orange Bowl, throwing for 316 yards and two touchdowns.
Keith Smith was a shortstop in the Detroit Tiger system for a year before heading to Tucson, Ariz. Last week, during the Wildcats' game-winning drive against Washington, Smith scooped up a low snap and completed a crucial pass on a gimmick play to Ortege Jenkins. Arizona Coach Dick Tomey said only a former shortstop could have caught and thrown the ball in one motion like Smith.
Moschetti played three years in the Oakland Athletic organization before playing football at Mt. San Antonio College and transferring to Colorado. Moschetti completed 15 of 34 passes for 225 yards in a loss to No. 5 Kansas State on Saturday.
Akili Smith, the nation's leading passer, spent three years in the Pittsburgh Pirate chain before he quit and became the nation's top JC football recruit after two seasons at Grossmont College. Smith split time with Jason Maas last season, but there is no quarterback controversy this year. Smith completed 15 of 22 passes for 280 yards and three touchdowns Saturday in a 51-29 victory over Washington State.
Ivy League sleuths are hot on the case in Princeton, N.J., where vandals spray-painted "Go RU" at midfield in Princeton Stadium only hours before the Tigers took the field and defeated Brown, 31-17.
Gary Walters, Princeton's athletic director, said work crews were able to wash out some of the slogan that was written on the grass field in red paint.
Rutgers and Rider are two universities in the Princeton area.
TEMPLE OF DOOM
Temple fell to 0-6 following a 37-7 Big East loss to West Virginia.
The Owls showed signs of improvement under new coach Bobby Wallace, who won three consecutive Division II national titles at North Alabama. But Temple made the kind of mistakes that have become a trademark of a program that has had only one winning season in 13 years.
The most crushing was quarterback Greg Muckerson's decision to throw a desperate pass right into the hands of West Virginia's Scooter Davis just before running out of bounds in the second quarter.
"I wanted to grab him when I saw he was fixing to throw it," said Wallace, who was standing right in front of Muckerson on the sideline. "I wanted to knock it down. I don't know whether that's a penalty or not."
PULL THE PLUG
It was eerily quiet Saturday at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Ariz., where Notre Dame was en route to a 28-9 victory over Arizona State.
A transformer blew up in the stadium late in the halftime break, cutting power for 45 minutes.
The public address system went out. Television cameras were not working, forcing ABC to switch to the Nebraska-Texas A&M game.
The Irish had to shower in cold water because of the outage, and occupants of the three-tiered press box who left before power was restored to the elevators had to walk down or climb up the equivalent of a seven-story building.
Not an easy feat in Tempe, where it was so hot concessionaires were selling cups of ice for $3.50--a 50-cent increase over soft drinks with ice.
1. Ricky Williams, Texas: Gained 139 yards, scored twice and moved into third place on NCAA career rushing list in win over Oklahoma.
2. Cade McNown, UCLA: Completed 10 of 24 passes for 171 yards and two touchdowns in win over Arizona.
3. Ron Dayne, Wisconsin: Rushed for 127 yards in 33 carries and scored a touchdown in victory over Purdue.
4. Michael Bishop, Kansas State: Completed nine of 25 passes for 148 yards with one interception in victory over Colorado.
5. Ricky Williams, Texas Tech: Gained only 97 yards in Red Raiders' victory over Oklahoma State.
6. Akili Smith, Oregon: Passed for 280 yards and three touchdowns in a win over Washington State.