Corrigan says ACC banquet doing fine, but Carolina has set a better NFL table


Atlantic Coast Conference commissioner Gene Corrigan had some good news and some bad news when he came to town yesterday to hype the Feb. 14 ACC football banquet at the Hyatt Regency.

The good news is that, thanks largely to the efforts of the sponsoring Quarterback Club here, all is in readiness for the dinner.

Corrigan met new Maryland coach Mark Duffner for the first time yesterday at College Park and arranged for him to appear on the program. Virginia's George Welsh will receive the ACC Coach of the Year award. The all-conference team (no Maryland players are on it) will be honored.

The bad news is that Corrigan, who lives in Greensboro, N.C., site of the ACC offices, believes North Carolina will get one of the two NFL expansion franchises due to begin play in 1994. The other leading contenders for the franchises are St. Louis and Baltimore.

"Carolina is going to get it," says Corrigan, who was born and raised in Baltimore. "Every indication I've had is that Charlotte will have a team in '94.

"The owner will be [former Baltimore Colt] Jerry Richardson. Jerry has done very, very well in business. A lot of people are having problems in this economy, but Jerry is in the hamburger business. The hamburger business is doing great." Richardson is a restaurant magnate, with Hardee's and Denny's to his credit.

Though he lives in Carolina now, Corrigan says it'll be "all right" with him if Carolina does not get a pro team.

"Pro football would change the college picture in the Carolinas," Corrigan said. "Two of our conference members -- Duke and Wake Forest -- are always struggling to draw people and make it financially. They're private schools. Even the state schools will feel it if the NFL comes in."

Tickets for the ACC banquet are available from the Quarterback Club's John McGeehan at 296-7500.

* Though Baltimore is in its sixth year in the Major Indoor Lacrosse League, people continue to marvel at the crowds the team draws at the Arena. Last Saturday night there were 8,742 on hand for the 12-11 victory over New York.

Still, the league does some screwy scheduling. Baltimore doesn't have another home game for a month. The Thunder will play Detroit (with the Gait twins) here Feb. 29.

Also, there are so many Baltimoreans on the Pittsburgh team that it holds all its practices here. The players fly to Pittsburgh for games. A Pittsburgh-at-Baltimore game, therefore, would cost the league nothing in travel expenses. Alas, the teams don't meet at all this year.

"Availability of the arenas is the reason the league's owners [Russ Cline and Chris Fritz] gave me," says Baltimore general manager Darrell Russell.

* The Orioles' honeymoon year in their new ballpark at Camden Yards may not be as much of a honeymoon as people think -- and I'm not talking about wins and losses. The O's are not expected to be contenders.

The club is faced with three serious problems. One, the large number of fans who are unhappy with their new seat locations. Typical of the complaints is the letter received here from Jimmy D. Meacham, who wrote the O's: "I have been misled, left uninformed, my letters and phone calls have been ignored and I have been stuck in an inferior seat with no options."

Second, learning how to get to the park and how to get parked will take people time and cause inconvenience.

Third, Cal Ripken Jr., the bedrock of the franchise, is still unsigned and can become a free agent in the fall. If this hangs over Cal and the club all summer, it will have a negative effect.

* Along the same lines, wait until the Redskins try to sign players who have just won the Super Bowl -- including MVP Mark Rypien, who was on a one-year contract. As convincingly as they won the Super Bowl, I don't expect the Redskins to repeat.

* Joe Durham, the one-time Oriole outfielder who is now a coach with the Hagerstown Suns (he'll serve there again this year with former Orioles Don Buford and Moe Drabowsky), was asked at a sports seminar for Southern High honor students the other day if any of the '91 Suns are ready to help Baltimore.

Durham replied: "None from last year, but two guys who played up there two years ago -- Mike Mussina and Luis Mercedes. If I was the manager I'd make Mussina my Opening Day pitcher right now, but I don't have anything to do with that.

"Mercedes is a bad baserunner and needs work on fielding, but he can hit and he can run. I think he's going to be a good major-league ballplayer."

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