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COLLEGE FOOTBALL SPOTLIGHT / WEEK 8

Sooners Stoop Even Higher

October 15, 2000

Coaching feuds?

Not at all, if you believe the staffs at Kansas State and Oklahoma. Talk to fans and you might get a different answer.

Saturday's game between the No. 2-ranked Wildcats and the No. 8 Sooners at Manhattan, Kan., had all the makings of a classic matchup without the sidelights.

Still, it was hard to ignore Oklahoma Coach Bob Stoops' first visit to Kansas State since taking over the Sooners and plucking away three Wildcat assistants--Mike Stoops (Bob's brother), Brent Venables and Mark Mangino--from Bill Snyder's staff in December 1998.

Fans in the Little Apple certainly remembered.

But in the ultimate role reversal, Oklahoma--one of college football's most storied programs--gave Snyder and the Wildcats a comeuppance of sorts in a 41-31 victory that had to leave the locals steaming.

This is the same Kansas State team that before Snyder hadn't had a coach leave the school with a winning record since 1934. It's also the same team that many are critical of for playing a creampuff schedule and not being able to win when it counts most. In games against opponents ranked in the top 10, Snyder's Kansas State teams are 1-18.

Leading up to the game, no one on either staff made a false move when asked about any underlying bitterness.

"That's your job, to create interest for people who grab the paper," Bob Stoops told reporters. "But as a staff, I think there's mutual respect."

Still, it's hard to ignore subtle comments from the Oklahoma assistants regarding a more relaxed atmosphere in Norman and that the pace isn't so frenetic as it was under Snyder.

Mike Stoops was quoted in Sports Illustrated last summer as saying: "I don't know if anybody leaves Coach Snyder on good terms. He simply doesn't accept that you would leave. But then again, there's no having a personal relationship with him even when you are there."

Snyder, to his credit, gave Stoops the benefit of the doubt on that one.

But you can't help but believe that tasting victory Saturday was just a little bit sweeter for Stoops and Co. and that Snyder had to be tearing out a few more hairs than normal.

IRISH EYES ARE . . .WATCHING THEIR BACKS

It's either an example of how times have changed at Notre Dame or Coach Bob Davie is starting to show the early signs of Lou Holtz disease, the fictional condition named for the lovable former Irish coach who never met a bad opponent he didn't like.

Here's what Davie had to say after Notre Dame defeated Navy, 45-14, for the Irish's 37th consecutive victory over the Midshipmen:

"You're always paranoid, but I always believe that players follow the coach's lead," Davie said. "We as coaches worked harder, if that's possible, and spent more hours [preparing] than we did for Nebraska."

Perhaps that's part of the problem in South Bend. Spending more time on Navy than on the No. 1 team in the country surely can't be construed as a favorable practice in alumni circles and other places of influence.

Or maybe Davie simply let a Holtz-like statement slip out.

Still, can you imagine Knute Rockne ever exhibiting these sort of sentiments against a clearly inferior opponent?

DE LA MOTTE'S BACKUP PLAN TAKES STRANGE TWIST

Marcus Outzen's misfortune was just the ticket Stephen de la Motte had been looking for. Although he didn't figure the planets would align quite so soon.

The freshman walk-on from San Luis Obispo, who led his high school team to the Division IV Southern Section title game last year, relieved starter Chris Weinke in the fourth quarter of Florida State's 63-14 rout of Duke at Tallahassee, Fla.

And why him and not some Seminole hotshot? Chalk one up to circumstance.

Outzen, the team's regular backup, was serving a one-game suspension for his involvement in an off-campus fight early Friday, and blue-chip recruit Chris Rix, from Santa Margarita High, is redshirting this season.

"Tonight was a dream come true," said the 5-foot-8, 180-pound de la Motte, who had written Coach Bobby Bowden years ago hoping he could some day play with the Seminoles.

Against Duke, de la Motte threw long twice, but both passes were incomplete.

Somehow, we doubt he went to bed Saturday night feeling disappointed in himself.

BULLDOGS WON'T HEDGE ANY TIME SOON

Saturday afternoon college football in Athens, Ga., used to be known as games "Between the Hedges" when the Georgia Bulldogs played host to an opponent at Sanford Stadium.

But that all ended last week. At least temporarily.

Georgia's uninspired 29-19 victory over visiting Vanderbilt on Saturday was the first time the team played without one of college football's most hallowed traditions staring the players in the face from all angles.

And they have their fans to blame.

The famous hedges that have surrounded the field since the stadium opened in 1929 suffered a season-ending injury after an out-of-control celebration following a victory over Tennessee the previous Saturday.

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