IN TWO MONTHS on the job, Walt Gutowski, the Maryland Stadium Authority's NFL expansion coordinator, has learned a lot about Baltimore's chances of getting back in pro football.
That largely has involved learning what the other cities vying for expansion franchises are doing.
"You have to know your competition," says Gutowski, who was the Baltimore Colts' public relations director until the team left for Indianapolis in '84. "Some of the things happening in these other cities could be considered encouraging for us.
"Things have changed in Oakland. The people out there were turned off by the way Al Davis jerked them around. First the Raiders were coming back to Oakland, then they weren't, then they were.
"After Davis finally decided to stay in L.A., the priorities in Oakland were different," Gutowski said. "The mayor there says his first priority now is a new arena for the Golden State Warriors. His second priority is the baseball A's. Getting back in the NFL is third.
"Carolina is a strong candidate for an NFL franchise, but the new World Football League begins in March in London, Barcelona and eight American sites -- including North Carolina. It'll be interesting to see how that affects Carolina's NFL chances."
Gutowski, who recently learned he has passed the Maryland bar exam, does not subscribe to the theory that the NFL, when it adds two franchises in '93, will take in one new locale and one former NFL city.
"I think they'll take the two best markets," Gutowski said, "and this is a pretty good one with 2.3 million people in the greater Baltimore area."
Gutowski's task is a difficult one but he'll never take on a harder job than he had a decade ago with the Colts.
"The first year I did their PR we were 2-14," he said of the 1981 season. "Our losing streak went to 14. Then we won our last game. Trying to find something positive to write in the press release every week when you're losing 14 straight, well, it was a good experience."
* Loyola College (4-4) will go into 1991 with a winning record in basketball if it wins Saturday night at UMBC. That would be quite an improvement for a team that wound up 4-24 last season.
In the Greyhounds' eight games to date, sophomore guard Tracy Bergan has shown he makes a big difference. The hard-nosed Bergan sat out the second half of last season. It's obvious now to coach Tom Schneider and his staff that the Greyhounds might have won several close games last season with Bergan in the lineup.
* Facing No. 3-ranked Syracuse tonight at the Hersheypark Arena is not nearly as scary to Towson State's basketballers as it would have been before last year. Towson played Syracuse last season at the Carrier Dome when the Orange was ranked No. 1. (TSU lost, 105-75.) Towson also played Oklahoma in the NCAA tourney (and lost by nine) when the Sooners were No. 1. An unusual footnote to last year's Syracuse game is that two of its stars, Towson's Kurk Lee and Syracuse's Derrick Coleman, are now teammates on the same NBA team, the New Jersey Nets.
As for tonight's game with Syracuse, Towson assistant coach Michael Hunt says: "We're a lot better off going into this with the momentum from our win Tuesday over Howard than we would have been after losing to Navy."
* There has never been a year when the granddaddy of bowl games, the Rose Bowl, meant less. Washington vs. Iowa? Sheesh! Much more interesting is the first Blockbuster Bowl, which matches up the only two active college coaches with 200 wins -- Penn State's Joe Paterno and Florida State's Bobby Bowden. Each is in his 25th year as a head coach.
Says Paterno, in his 41st year at Penn State, of the coaching adversary he defeated six times when Bowden was at West Virginia: "When Bobby and I get together we try to have a few laughs and not worry about how old we are. I never think of him being old and I hope he doesn't think of me being old."
* Poly's Bucky Kimmett, the dean of Baltimore's public school basketball coaches, says of this year's field: "Dunbar is No. 1, way up here, and whoever is No. 2 or 3 is way down below. DeMatha is rated No. 1 in Washington but Dunbar could beat DeMatha. This Dunbar team is not as good as the one Muggsy Bogues and Reggie Williams played on, but it's a very good team."