'Canes to follow Tide out of bowl picture

THE BALTIMORE SUN

The NCAA ruled Alabama out of the postseason scenario yesterday, and it probably will do the same to Miami today, allowing several bowl matchups finally to fall into place.

The Infraction Appeals Committee backed off on some serious charges against the Crimson Tide, eliminating a third year of probation and restoring some lost scholarships, but Alabama still is barred from playing in a bowl this postseason, which is good news for some other Southeastern Conference bowl wannabes.

Miami, meanwhile, has asked the NCAA to expedite possible sanctions, because if a bowl ban is in the Hurricanes' future, they would just as soon serve their penalty now.

Miami started 1-3, but won its last seven regular-season games to become the Big East Conference's likely representative in the Alliance. The Hurricanes, however, were ready to pass on a $3 million profit from the Alliance in order to lessen the impact on recruiting and the future of what is one of the youngest teams in the nation.

Miami was ready to go as far as predicting NCAA action and self-imposing a bowl penalty, but the Infraction Appeals Committee will get back to the Hurricanes today. It's expected that Miami will stay home, Big East co-champion Virginia Tech will move up to the Alliance and Syracuse will meet Clemson in the Gator Bowl.

The Alliance pairings won't be official until Sunday, but the Orange Bowl is expected to take Notre Dame and the Sugar Florida State. Virginia Tech and the Texas-Texas A&M; winner will fill out the remaining Alliance spots.

Alstott in good company

When Purdue's Mike Alstott couldn't get in the weight room, he would put his Jeep Wrangler in neutral and push it around a parking lot.

The unconventional training method helped Alstott, the best fullback prospect in the nation, finish his career with a school-record 264 yards in a rout of Indiana on Saturday. For the season, he had 1,436 yards, and 3,635 for his career. Leroy Keyes, who just happens to coach Purdue's running backs, was among those Alstott surpassed on the Boilermakers' all-time lists.

One of the Big Ten coaches went back farther than 1966, when Keyes played, in gauging Alstott's play.

"He's a fullback, but he's not a fullback," Penn State's Joe Paterno said of Alstott. "You're not looking at a guy who's just going to run it up the middle. He's not a Gale Sayers or a Ki-Jana Carter, who's going to explode through the line, but he'll eat you alive. I remember Alan Ameche being like that."

Paterno was an assistant in Happy Valley in 1953, when Ameche and Wisconsin beat the Nittany Lions. Penn State's leading rusher was sophomore Lenny Moore, and the two were in the same backfield when the Colts brought Baltimore its first NFL title in 1958.

Real titles

While Florida and the Fiesta Bowl fret about the rankings, the NCAA conducts playoffs and crowns undisputed champions in three other levels.

This is quarterfinal week in Division I-AA, and the matchups include Delaware at McNeese (La.) State. The Blue Hens' lone loss came Nov. 11, when they were handled, 31-7, at Navy. McNeese State is top-ranked and seeded No. 1, but Delaware doesn't mind traveling to Louisiana, since it's 3-0 in NCAA playoff games in the Bayou State.

The Delaware-McNeese State winner will meet Marshall (W. Va.) or Northern Iowa in the semifinals, and it's hard to root against the Thundering Herd.

Last month marked the 25th anniversary of the worst sports disaster in U.S. history, the crash of a DC-9 that killed all 75 people on board, including 37 Marshall players, five coaches, seven university staffers and 21 boosters. Marshall rebuilt its devastated program, won the Division I-AA title in 1992, and will be the host of the this year's title game.

North Alabama is trying to become the first team to win three straight Division II titles. A victory over Ferris State tomorrow would give North Alabama 40 wins in three years, a feat never accomplished in college football.

Miscellaneous

Joe Theismann, Jack Youngblood and Baltimore Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke are among the six men who will receive the Silver Anniversary Award for student-athletes who have distinguished themselves over the past 25 years at the NCAA convention in Dallas next month. Schmoke was a quarterback at Yale. . . . Kevin Foley got plenty of passing yardage, but not many wins, at Division I-AA Boston University this fall. Foley, who started two games for Maryland last year before transferring, completed 288 of 476 passes for 3,192 yards and 14 touchdowns for the 3-8 Terriers. . . . Besides knocking Ohio State out of the Rose Bowl, last week's upset loss to Michigan cost coach John Cooper $60,000 in bonuses.

Game to watch

No. 9 Texas (9-1-1) at No. 16 Texas A&M; (8-2)

Time: 3:30 p.m. tomorrow

Site: Kyle Field, College Station, Texas

TV: Chs. 2, 7

The end: Officially, the final Southwest Conference game will be played later in the day, when Houston goes to Rice, but this is a more fitting farewell to the league that gave us heroes from Sammy Baugh to Earl Campbell and refined the art of cheating. The winner will represent the SWC in the Bowl Alliance, and probably go to the Sugar Bowl. The loser will face Michigan in the Alamo Bowl.

The wrecking crew: Quarterback Corey Pullig struggled and tailback Leeland McElroy's Heisman candidacy fizzled early, but there has been no letup from the Texas A&M; defense. The Aggies lead the nation in total defense.

What rivalry?: Texas-Texas A&M; is supposed to be the most storied rivalry in the SWC, but the Aggies have won 10 of the past 11 meetings. A&M; has the nation's longest home winning streak, 31 games.

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