The thing that keeps many of us vitally interested in sports is the unpredictability of it.
Take the University of Maryland and its teams. Nobody can predict anything at College Park with assurance these days. Especially after the Terps' 32-18 football upset of North Carolina last week.
With regular quarterback Scott Milanovich sidelined for the first four games because of gambling involvement, it looked as if this were going to be a disastrous season. I figured coach Mark Duffner would have been wise to work on his resume.
Maryland had no other experienced quarterback. Even with Milanovich, the Terps didn't figure to beat Carolina, which coach Mack Brown has developed into one of the ACC's best teams.
So Maryland won without Milanovich -- and with sore-ankled Brian Cummings at QB.
It looked to me as if the Terps players sparred with Carolina for a half and trailed, 10-7 -- and then said to themselves, "Hey, we can beat these guys." So they did.
Who thought Maryland would be 2-0 at this point? Nobody.
When the Terps won at Tulane in their opener, the general feeling was that the Green Wave had to be terrible. But Tulane came back last weekend and walloped Wake Forest, 35-9.
Next test for the Terps: West Virginia Saturday night at Byrd Stadium. Look for a crowd well in excess of 40,000. The win over Carolina has awakened a lot of people. There will be close to 5,000 West Virginians there.
If Cummings can get Maryland to Game No. 5 at Georgia Tech on Thursday, Sept. 28 with a winning record, the Terps, with Milanovich back, should wind up having a very respectable year. Duke is the opponent in Game No. 4.
Almost as unpredictable as Maryland's football win was its 2-2 soccer tie with Virginia Sunday. Virginia is the four-time NCAA champion.
"There is no shame in tying Virginia," said Maryland coach Sash Cirovski.
That was the first game in Maryland's new, $2.5 million soccer facility, Ludwig Field. An overflow crowd of 2,500 was on hand.
Perhaps more surprising than the results from College Park last weekend was one from Dallas: Navy's 33-2 football victory over SMU. The week before that, SMU beat Arkansas, which never has a bad football team.
Last week I met first-year Navy coach Charlie Weatherbie for the first time and asked him how he expected to win at Annapolis when a succession of coaches had failed before him.
"We have to change people's attitudes," Weatherbie said. "We have to get these players to expect to win."
That sounded too simplistic to me. But it worked.
At Rutgers Saturday (6 p.m.), Navy no doubt will expect to win. After that comes a 7 p.m. home game against Wake Forest. If Navy is 2-1 after that, its followers will be delighted and people will be saying athletic director Jack Lengyel has made a good choice in Weatherbie.
A word of warning: Navy and Maryland were able to sneak up on their opponents last week. They won't be able to do that this time.
By the way, does everyone agree with me by now that the ACC made a mistake in admitting Florida State to the conference?
Florida State is ranked No. 1 in the country and does not belong in a league with the likes of Wake Forest and Duke. And Maryland. Florida State was a natural to join the Southest Conference with Florida (No. 4) and Auburn (No. 5).
A simple solution to the Florida State problem: A trade, with the Seminoles going to the SEC and Vanderbilt coming to the ACC.
A surprised bunch of people are the telephone operators at this newspaper. Yesterday they were still swamped with requests for the special Cal Ripken souvenir paper -- just one more thing about Streak Week that exceeded all expectations.
One thing that probably was no surprise to followers of the Orioles was the club's uninspired play in being swept in Cleveland, right after the home runs and the victories and the euphoria of the club's inspired play in Cal's record-tying and record-breaking games.
That has been the Orioles' pattern all year -- a sudden surge of promise, followed by a disappointing spell.
People are waiting now to see who will exit the Orioles' scene after this disappointing year. GM Roland Hemond is out, as everyone knows.
As for first-year manager Phil Regan, there's one school of
thought that says the man deserves another year after the difficult circumstances of this strike year and the abbreviated spring training.
That's the patient, dispassionate way to look at it. Those who know and understand owner Peter Angelos know better. He won't sit still for failure.
Besides owning the Orioles, Angelos has a string of racehorses. As one racing official told me: "Pete fires his trainer every six months."
That can't be comforting news to Regan.