Baltimore's timing is perfect in hosting the annual Atlantic Coast Conference football banquet for the first time on Feb. 15 at the Omni.
With a national champion and four bowl teams -- Georgia Tech and Clemson won, Maryland tied and Virginia lost -- the ACC is coming off the best football season in its history.
The affair here, after being held for 25 years in South Carolina, will feature a star-studded head table including:
Bobby Ross, whose Georgia Tech team won a national championship (propelling Ross to win two national Coach of the Year Awards); George Welsh, coach of the Virginia team that was ranked No. 1 in the country for a while; and Bobby Bowden, coach of Blockbuster Bowl winner Florida State, which is coming into the ACC.
The conference has announced that the winner of the annual ACC Alumnus of the Year Award, which will be presented at the banquet, will go to an old Baltimore favorite -- ex-Colt Mike Curtis. Curtis is now very successful in commercial real estate in the Washington suburbs.
This completes the cycle for Curtis, who, as a Duke undergraduate in 1963, was an All-ACC fullback and a member of the conference all-academic team. Although Curtis also had an outstanding pro career, he will be remembered primarily for tackling the fan who tried to run off with the football during a Colt game at Memorial Stadium.
Tickets are available through the sponsoring Quarterback Club at 296-7500.
* Our town lost one of its great people this week when Dr. Ron Michels died of heart complications. Dr. Michels was the surgeon who corrected Sugar Ray Leonard's detached retina five years ago -- when people were screaming for Leonard to hang up his gloves. Sugar Ray is still fighting. Dr. Michels, who leaves his wife, Alice, and three children, was 47.
* The Blast, averaging 6,800 at the gate after Monday night's turnout of 5,779, doesn't look as if it will finish the year with the 9,000 average it would take for the team to break even.
There's one good thing going for coach Kenny Cooper & Co. -- four of the next five games will be played at the Arena. That includes back-to-back games this weekend vs. Tacoma Saturday at 3:05 p.m. and Sunday at 6:05 p.m. vs. Wichita. The gate Sunday might be boosted by the appearance of Wichita's Chico Borja, a villain in Baltimore after twice injuring Blast goalie Scott Manning.
* It's one thing to charm a new town at an introductory news conference as the Orioles' Glenn Davis did here this week, but it's another to stand the test of time with teammates on a daily basis. Davis has done that, too, according to O's pitcher Dave Johnson, who was in the Houston organization in 1988 but didn't play a game for the Astros. Says Johnson: "Glenn's a terrific player, and what a human being! The things he does in the community are unbelievable. He'll be a great addition to our ballclub."
* Joe Namath was considered bold for predicting one victory. How bold is Edie Brown, the Arena's publicity maven? She's predicting not only that the 0-2 Baltimore Thunder will beat New England here Saturday night, but she also says the Thunder will win all eight of its remaining Major Indoor Lacrosse League games.
"On paper," Brown says, "we've got a good team. I don't know what happened in Pittsburgh last week, but this Baltimore team is ready to start winning."
Says Thunder general manager Darrell Russell: "We know we've had a slow start but we'll be back in our next game. I'm confident we can beat New England. We continue to look to our young veterans like Tim Welsh, John Nostrant and Ricky Sowell."
* Why does UMBC go halfway across the country to play a power like Kansas and lose by 51 points, as the Retrievers did last week? It's because UMBC received a $14,000 guarantee. UMBC, with a 1-13 record, hosts coach Butch Von Breda Kolff's Hofstra team tonight.
* One of the young Washington College players who played well in the 74-65 basketball loss at Johns Hopkins last night -- the Shoremen started two freshmen and three sophomores -- was Geoff Ruppert. His dad, Gary Ruppert, once coached Hopkins and now works in development at UMBC. Young Ruppert had 14 points and played like a coach's son -- smart.