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Penn State's Paterno Chasing That Pot of Gold but Don't Look for Any Rainbows

August 26, 2000|CHRIS DUFRESNE

Off-seasons are never easy things and often spell nothing but trouble.

Hawaii, stricken by an acute case of island fever, decided to drop "Rainbow" from its nickname Rainbow Warriors because of the word's association with gay pride.

Dumb, dumb, dumb.

We can't wait for the Hawaii marching band's halftime rendition of Judy Garland's "Somewhere over the arc that exhibits, in concentric bands, the colors of the spectrum."

Penn State quarterback Rashard Casey was set to lead Coach Joe Paterno past Bear Bryant on the major college victories list until he stopped last May at a Hoboken, N.J., bar, at which Casey and a cohort allegedly kicked an off-duty cop unconscious.

Seven victories short of eclipsing Bear Bryant's record of 323 wins, Paterno is standing by Casey while the rest of us wonder whether Paterno needs another upgrade on those prescription lenses.

Arizona State lost starting quarterback Ryan Kealy to a DUI, which means Coach Bruce Snyder can put out an S.O.S. on his future.

And did you hear about the fight that broke out at the OK Corvallis corral, leading to the suspension of four Oregon State players on the heels of the school's first winning season in 30 years?

The news wasn't all Miranda related.

Chris Weinke decided to return for one more year as did the Pacific 10 Conference, Weinke after leading Florida State to a national title at age 27 and the Pac-10 after completing a 12-step program at Football Anonymous.

Weinke, the Seminoles' senior (citizen) quarterback, is older than 15 NFL quarterbacks but still much younger than his coach, Bobby Bowden.

This is also the year to take one last look at Brigham Young's legendary coach, LaVell Edwards, who announced he will retire at season's end. To honor Edwards, former Cougar quarterback Jim McMahon will reportedly return to Provo and break curfew one last time.

We can also report that, since Florida State beat Virginia Tech to win the national title in the Sugar Bowl, Florida Coach Steve Spurrier underwent successful back surgery, during which doctors also repaired some intestinal fortitude; Notre Dame did not lose a single game and ousted Louisiana State coach Gerry DiNardo elected not to seek a U.S. House seat from Baton Rouge.

Good thing, because DiNardo would have had to run on his record, 4-7 and 3-8 the last two years.

Wisely, DiNardo became coach of the XFL's new Birmingham franchise.

The upcoming season, as always, promises to be, well, played.

A few streaks to note:

South Carolina enters the year having lost 21 consecutive games, the last 11 under Coach Lou Holtz.

If the Game(y)cocks don't end the skein at home Sept. 2 against New Mexico State, or Sept. 16 at home vs. Eastern Michigan, Notre Dame might win another game before Holtz does.

Notre Dame and Florida enter the year with a combined seven-game losing streak.

The Irish lost their last four games in 1999; the Gators dropped their last three. This prompted Spurrier to convene what is known in the South as a "Come to Jesus" meeting in which the Florida coach put his coaching staff on red Swamp alert.

Which team is going to win it all at the Orange Bowl?

The most talented squads are Nebraska and Florida State.

The department of Mindless Facts and Figures loves to note the Cornhuskers won both their 1990s national titles in the Orange Bowl.

We love to note that some people thought Notre Dame was going to win the 1999 national title because the Irish won in 1966, 1977 and 1988.

We've settled somewhat comfortably on a Texas-Florida State title game, believing the Longhorns will steal the national-title slot from Nebraska in the Big 12 title game.


Texas does not face Kansas State or Nebraska in the regular season and has knocked off Nebraska three times since 1996.

The Heisman Trophy contenders are, in order of personal preference and coolest-looking uniforms: quarterbacks Michael Vick (Virginia Tech), Chris Weinke, Drew Brees (Purdue), tailbacks LaDainian Tomlinson (Texas Christian) and Deuce McAllister (Mississippi) and quarterback Quincy Carter (Georgia).


The quick on Vick: He's only a sophomore but is already a transcendent talent with Jordanesque upside.

Weinke: It's a joke he doesn't get more Heisman consideration.

Brees: A splendid talent, but Brees' campaign may grind to a halt during a brutal six-week stretch in which Purdue faces Penn State, Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio State and Michigan State.

Tomlinson: He led the nation in rushing last year and could make some real Heisman noise if TCU rides a fluffy-soft schedule to an 11-0 mark.

McAllister: He's head and shoulders better than Deuce Bigalow.

Carter: Seems to have everything it takes except enough big plays versus Florida and Tennessee.


Mark this down. There will be a playoff in college football beginning with the 2006 season.

Logic: The Rose Bowl's recent awarding of the 2006 national title game completes the BCS cycle in which the four major bowls--Rose, Orange, Sugar and Fiesta--will have each hosted two national title games.

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