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It's First Things First for This Collection of Novices

September 02, 2001

Maryland Coach Ralph Friedgen's career as a head coach was less than two minutes old when Willie Parker ran 77 yards for a North Carolina touchdown.

Friedgen's first thought: "This is a great way to open up."

His second: "This is the last time they score today."

Friedgen was right on the second count as the Terrapins used an otherwise stellar defensive performance in a 23-7 victory against North Carolina, a school led by a first-year coach of its own, John Bunting.

Friedgen, a Maryland alum hired to turn around a team that hasn't played in a bowl game since 1990, became the first coach to win his first game with the Terrapins since Tom Nugent in 1959.

"It was special, but hopefully one of many," said Friedgen, who could have been speaking for any coach in his position.

In all, 22 new coaches opened the season in Division I-A, including some at high-profile places such as USC (Pete Carroll) and Alabama (Dennis Franchione) and others at lesser-known programs such as Boise State (Dirk Koetter) and Buffalo (Jim Hofher).

Another matchup of first-year coaches saw Missouri (Gary Pinkel) play host to Bowling Green (Urban Meyer) and Tiger fans might be longing for the good old days of Larry Smith after a 20-13 loss.

Al Groh's debut at Virginia nearly turned disastrous, a common occurrence during his days with the New York Jets. It took a missed extra point by Richmond to let Groh's Cavaliers escape a tangled web for a 17-16 victory.

He's Gone South

The last time Howard Schnellenberger was seen stalking the sidelines in South Beach, the Miami Hurricanes were winning a national championship against Nebraska in early 1984.

Saturday the stakes weren't quite as high, but Schnellenberger was in Miami again--at Pro Player Stadium instead of the Orange Bowl--this time leading a nondescript collection of players at Florida Atlantic, a school playing its first-ever game.

The Owls will have to wait a bit longer for their first victory. Florida Atlantic lost, 40-7, to Slippery Rock in front of an announced crowd of 25,632.

Schnellenberger, who last coached in college football at Oklahoma in 1995, came to Florida Atlantic in 1999 to create the program from scratch. Last season, the Owls occupied their time playing scrimmages against one another in preparation for 2001.

And after the drubbing they absorbed, Schnellenberger seems to have another major project on his hands.

But that's what many said when he arrived at Miami in 1979 when that school's program seemed on the verge of extinction.

Let's check back with him in about five years.

Getting Her Kicks

It's been almost 85 years since Cumberland lost to Georgia Tech, 222-0, in what remains the most lopsided score in college football history.

On Thursday, the school found itself in the record book again at the hands of another. This time it was an individual doing the damage.

Ashley Martin became the first woman to play in an NCAA game during Jacksonville State's 72-10 victory against Cumberland when she kicked three extra points.

After the game, teammates chanted "Ashley! Ashley!" as Coach Jack Crowe presented her with the game ball.

"I didn't do a thing, all these guys put all the heart and hard work in it," Martin said.

The NCAA doesn't keep such records, but Martin by all counts was the first female to play in Division I. At least two other women have suited up in Division I games without playing. Kathy Klop dressed for Louisville in 1995 and Katie Hnida for Colorado in 1999, but neither saw action.

The only woman to previously score in a college football game was Liz Heaston, who kicked two extra points for then-NAIA Williamette University in 1997.

"This has been one of the most awesome nights in my life and one of the best experiences of my life," Martin told the Huntsville Times. "It's not because I made that kick. It's because I was a part of something that was very special, and that's the football team in there."

Falcons Grounded

Air Force, third nationally with 295 yards rushing per game last year, managed only 137 yards on the ground and lost its home opener for only the third time in 18 games under Coach Fisher DeBerry.

DeBerry, who wore an Oklahoma T-shirt for motivation during the week, saw his team suffer through a 44-3 defeat to the Sooners.

"I'm going to burn that dang thing," DeBerry said of the shirt.

The Badgering Begins

Folks in Eugene, Ore., better keep tabs on Rob Prince to assure he shows up for his wedding.

Prince, a Wisconsin alum, is to marry Amy White, an Oregon graduate, in ceremonies today.

"They're always saying that the Big Ten is overrated," Prince said before Oregon won, 31-28.

"I say, we'll just have to wait and see when the football game is done."

White, who met Prince at a seminar on outdoor skills for women two years ago, is just glad that Prince isn't a Washington grad.

"I don't know if I could marry a Husky."

Compiled by Jim Barrero

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