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COLLEGE FOOTBALL SPOTLIGHT / WEEK 13

Their Memories Live On

November 19, 2000

More than 25,000 people weathered driving rain Saturday in College Station, Texas, to observe the one-year anniversary of the collapse of a log bonfire that killed 12 Texas A&M students.

"It was a healthy night for our university," student Ricky Wood told the Associated Press. "For some it brought closure."

Students and others huddled under umbrellas on the muddy campus polo fields for a memorial ceremony at 2:42 a.m.--the exact place and time A&M's 59-foot log stack collapsed Nov. 18, 1999.

The log stack, weighing more than two jumbo jets, toppled while it was being assembled for the school's annual pep rally on the eve of its football game against archrival Texas. Besides those killed, 27 were injured.

Family members of each student who died in the accident sat together under umbrellas in rows of seats in a 150-foot circle. Behind each set of seats stood a five- to six-foot wood pillar bearing each victim's name and the year they were to graduate.

At the start of the 40-minute ceremony, lights on the fields were turned off and a memorial flame atop a platform in the circle's center was lit. A cannon was then fired 12 times.

The flame will be kept lit until 8 p.m. today, to correspond with the time the last victim died.

Texas A&M President Ray Bowen said in June that the traditional bonfire would continue, but not until at least 2002 and only with greater school supervision and a professionally engineered design.

In May, a five-member commission appointed and funded by the university blamed the collapse on flawed construction techniques and the lack of adequate supervision of students assembling the stack.

Texas A&M plays Texas on Friday at Austin, Texas.

NO RECOUNT HERE

George W. Bush got some good news Saturday: His alma mater defeated Al Gore's in The Game, Yale outscoring Harvard, 34-24.

Against the backdrop of a presidential campaign that landed Bush (Yale, Class of '68) and Gore (Harvard '69) in a virtual dead heat, the schools played at Boston. It was the 117th game in the 125-year-old rivalry.

Other than a few jokes by the bands at halftime, though, the day was devoted to football, and the full house of 30,898 saw the teams play to four ties before Yale outscored Harvard, 17-0, in the final 8:35.

Although no one is suggesting that The Game has an impact on the presidential race, there has been an uncanny correlation: In every presidential election year since 1980, a Harvard victory has been followed by a Democratic inauguration, and a Yale victory coincided with the election of a Republican president. Since 1936, the trend holds 12 of 15 times (there was no game in 1944 because of World War II).

"I think it should be the opposite," said Yale receiver Eric Johnson, a Gore backer who caught 13 passes for 113 yards and two touchdowns. "I'll take the Harvard guy. Just this time, though."

Regardless of whether the victory will mean good news for Bush, who went to Harvard Business School, his school celebrated on the field long after The Game was over.

Yale, which has defeated Harvard three consecutive years, leads the series, 64-45-8.

Harvard leads Yale, 5-2, in producing U.S. presidents.

GOOD TO SEE Y'ALL

Johnny Majors returned to Tennessee for the first time since his dismissal as coach to honor his three Southeastern Conference championship teams.

Majors, embittered over his dismissal, has not spoken to his successor and former assistant, Phillip Fulmer, since 1992.

He entered Neyland Stadium before the Kentucky game to be reunited with the 1985, 1989 and 1990 teams. Majors walked to the middle of the field with about 30 former players.

The crowd stood and cheered when Majors was introduced. He waved to the fans and shook hands with the players.

"[The fans] always treated me nicely and fairly," Majors said. "I have many friends in Tennessee."

But none named Phillip Fulmer.

GOODBYE AND GOOD LUCK

It was a day of goodbyes for Brigham Young's LaVell Edwards and West Virginia's Don Nehlen, two of the nation's top five winningest active coaches, who are retiring at season's end.

At Provo, Utah, where BYU defeated New Mexico, 37-13, in the final home game of Edwards' 29-year BYU career, Cougar Stadium was renamed in his honor.

It hardly mattered that BYU (5-6) may end the season with a losing record for only the second time in Edwards' career.

"The board of trustees and the administration of the university, in recognition of a remarkable and wonderful man, has determined to name this LaVell Edwards Stadium," Mormon church President Gordon Hinckley said in announcing the name change. "The full name is LaVell Edwards Stadium, home of the BYU Cougars."

To mark the occasion, the two blue cougar silhouettes in the south end zone were painted with the initials "LE" and the No. 29. The band's tuba players had letters covering their instruments, spelling Edwards' name. In a pregame ceremony, Hinckley gave Edwards a football autographed by each member of BYU's 1984 national championship team.

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