YOU WANT to know why perennial football also-ran Virginia suddenly is in the nation's top 10? Jack Scarbath, the former Maryland All-America quarterback who has kept close ties with College Park, says there are 13 players at Virginia -- eight starters -- who were not able to be admitted to Maryland academically. As Scarbath says: "It's hard to win when you're not on a level playing field."
* Danny Ferry, the former basketball great at Duke and in Rome, has a bad knee that is causing him and the Cleveland Cavaliers concern. The injury is not considered career-threatening.
* Lacrosse fans who can't wait for spring will be treated to a rematch of the '90 NCAA championship game when Loyola plays Syracuse at the Carrier Dome Oct. 19. Those schools met for the NCAA championship on Memorial Day with Syracuse winning its third straight title. It'll be more even this time. Loyola is loaded and Syracuse's Gait twins have run out of eligibility.
* A week earlier, on Oct. 13-14, Loyola will take part in the second annual Choice-Visa tournament along with Johns Hopkins, Towson State and host UMBC.
* Don't sell Pam Shriver short when she says she intends to pack the Arena Nov. 27 for teen sensations Jennifer Capriati and Monica Seles. Last December Shriver and the Cystic Fibrosis people packed the 6,000-seat Towson Center in a snowstorm. Shriver's goal this time: 11,000.
* Boston writers who were here for this week's Orioles-Red Sox series were surprised at the poor condition of the field at Memorial Stadium. The Maryland-Clemson football game took a toll, but could that have caused the field to look so brown?
* Santa Clara athletic director Tom O'Connor, who tried unsuccessfully to get the Maryland AD job, will not be a candidate for the vacancy at Loyola College, where he was the director until 1986. O'Connor also says Andy Geiger, who will take over as Maryland's AD Oct. 1, is "a great fit" there. O'Connor has known Geiger 20 years, since his days at Brown and Penn. He thinks the world of Geiger.
* As Americans, we rejoice for Atlanta for landing the '96 Olympics. After all these years of suffering with the Braves and Falcons, Atlanta is entitled. But the Olympics are for the world, not just for the United States, and the feeling is that American big money -- Coca-Cola, CNN, all those Fortune 500 companies -- won out. With NBA players competing, the Olympics are becoming just another pro show instead of the uniquely amateur spectacle it was. I feel sorry for Athens.
* George Franz, who works a ticket window for the Orioles, reports he has not only written Baseball Hall of Fame president Ed Stack recommending Chuck Thompson be honored in '91 but has received a reply. Says George: "It was very positive. They told me they're considering Chuck."
* The starters on the Maryland football team, which hosts North Carolina State Saturday at noon, can stand up to any in the ACC. It's when the Terps have to go to the bench, as all teams do as the season wears on, that Maryland suffers.
* With colleges switching conferences so fast we can barely keep up, Texas football coach Dave McWilliams is telling his athletic director, DeLoss Dodds: "We'll win the conference championship. Just tell me which conference."