Rose could wilt title-game plan

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Say hello to Charlie Weatherbie and goodbye to the Southwest Conference, but please, no tips of the helmet.

Believe it or not, it's less than two weeks to the start of the college football season. It will all end Jan. 2, with a real, live national championship game in the form of the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl . . . unless the Rose Bowl delivers a distraction in the form of a 12-0 team.

Here's an idea as to what will happen in college football in 1995.

Put her in

For the first time, a woman might play major college football, and it could happen against Maryland.

Duke and Louisville both have female kickers. Heather Sue Mercer kicked the winning field goal in the Blue Devils' spring game, but she's fifth on the depth chart. Kathy Klope is listed No. 3 at Louisville.

85 just isn't enough

Someone from the College Football Association will point to Mercer and Klope as progress in the gender-equity debate.

While administrators continue to wrestle with the difficulty of balancing opportunities for men and women when football gets 85 scholarships and 10 full-time coaches, the majority of football coaches will forget that across-the-board scholarship cutbacks would create more parity by steering some of the prep All-Americans away from Florida State, Notre Dame and Tennessee.

Too much fun

By Labor Day weekend, a game will be decided because an exuberant 19-year-old took his helmet off after returning a kickoff for a touchdown and got hit with an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. The NCAA rules committee, in an attempt to make the game as bland as the NFL's, has mandated that all celebrations be spontaneous.

A second unsportsmanlike conduct penalty now calls for automatic ejection.

Plenty of new faces

Howard Schnellenberger (Oklahoma), Butch Davis (Miami), Rick Neuheisel (Colorado) and Lloyd Carr (Michigan) will get the most national attention among the 21 new coaches in Division I-A.

Closer to home, there is interest in Weatherbie, who will try to stop Navy's string of losing seasons at 12. He knows that service academies and winning aren't mutually exclusive, because he was an assistant at Air Force for six years.

Southwest goes south

The 81st year will be the last of the Southwest Conference, the folks who brought you Sammy Baugh, the wishbone and Earl Campbell.

Expansion elsewhere killed the SWC, starting with Arkansas' departure to the Southeastern Conference in 1992.

Baylor, Texas, Texas A&M; and Texas Tech will turn the Big Eight into the Big 12; Rice, SMU and Texas Christian will shift to the Western Athletic; and Houston becomes part of the newest major league, Conference USA.

And the winner is . . .

Ron Powlus is ready to become the fifth Notre Dame quarterback to win the Heisman Trophy, but Nebraska's Tommie Frazier, Florida's Danny Wuerffel and Florida State's Danny Kanell also have able publicists.

Nebraska and Florida State have premier rushers in Lawrence Phillips and Warrick Dunn, respectively, but Texas A&M;'s Leeland McElroy has the makings of the game's next 2,000-yard rusher.

Sports Illustrated will campaign for a two-way end from Ouachita Baptist and put him on its cover Oct. 18.

Irish fight back

Notre Dame, which won only two of its last seven games in 1994, will challenge again for the national championship behind a more experienced Powlus.

Before the Navy game Nov. 4, Lou Holtz will bemoan the Mids' "4,000 scholarship athletes."

Probation purgatory ends

The national championship chase also will be enhanced by the return to good graces of Auburn, Texas A&M; and Washington, which have completed their NCAA probations.

Texas A&M; has a huge game at Colorado Sept. 23, but few other serious challengers. Auburn has gone 20-1-1 over the last two seasons.

Alliance at last

The powers that be moved closer to a national championship game when they replaced the Bowl Coalition with the Alliance. The game will rotate between the Fiesta, Orange and Sugar bowls, with the Fiesta getting the two top-ranked teams.

It's getting more difficult to get through the Southeastern Conference unbeaten, so how does Florida State, with what Bobby Bowden claims "is as good a group of athletes as we've ever had," against Texas A&M; and McElroy sound for the national championship?

Thorn in the plan

It sounds interesting until you remember that the Rose Bowl will remain outside the jurisdiction of the coalition for the rest of this century.

Southern Cal is one magazine's choice as the preseason No. 1. Penn State is working on a 17-game win streak, and Michigan, Ohio State and Wisconsin all must go to Happy Valley.

The Rose Bowl could provide the Alliance with an unwelcome gift in the form of its own 12-0 team.

AP FOOTBALL POLL

(1994 records)

No. School, Record, Pts.

1. Florida St. (31), 10-1-1, 1,498

2. Nebraska (15), 13-0-0, 1,439

3. Texas A&M; (6), 10-0-1, 1,366

4. Penn St. (1), 12-0-0, 1,308

5. Florida (6), 10-2-1 1,299

6. Auburn (2), 9-1-1 1,238

7. Southern Cal, 8-3-1, 1,151

8. Tennessee (1), 8-4-0, 1,024

9. Notre Dame, 6-5-1, 1,011

10. Alabama, 12-1-0, 974

11. Miami, 10-2-0, 893

12. Ohio St., 9-4-0, 863

13. Colorado, 11-1-0, 689

14. Michigan, 8-4-0, 642

15. Oklahoma, 6-6-0, 527

16. UCLA, 5-6-0, 517

17. Virginia, 9-3-0, 516

18. Texas, 8-4-0, 368

19. Arizona, 8-4-0, 337

20. North Carolina, 8-4-0, 290

21. Wisconsin, 7-4-1, 270

22. Boston College, 7-4-1, 263

23. West Virginia, 7-6-0, 215

24. Virginia Tech, 8-4-0, 196

tie. Washington, 7-4-0, 196

* Other receiving votes: Illinois 166, Oregon 166, N. Carolina St. 141, Kansas St. 119, South Carolina 116, Brigham Young 94, Colorado St. 79, Mississippi St. 48, California 32, Texas Tech 24, Duke 10, Fresno St. 10, Syracuse 9, Baylor 8, Bowling Green 8, Clemson 8, Louisville 8, LSU 6, Arkansas 3, Georgia 2, Iowa 1, Nevada 1, Southern Miss. 1.

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