Terps-Mids series would sell, but not at expense of Irish

The Inside Stuff

November 02, 1992|By Bill Tanton

State Comptroller Louis L. Goldstein is campaigning once again for the resumption of the Navy-Maryland football series, which ended in 1965.

You don't have to be an expert to see why that makes good sense.

The proximity of the schools makes it attractive if only because there are almost no travel expenses involved. The game should sell out whether it's played in College Park, Annapolis, Baltimore or Washington.

Over the weekend, something else happened that could tie in with Maryland's coming back on Navy's schedule, to wit:

Notre Dame's 29th straight victory over Navy. This one, a 38-7 win for the Irish, was 31-0 at halftime. The final score could have been anything Irish coach Lou Holtz wanted it to be, except that he and Navy coach George Chaump are old buddies from their days on Woody Hayes' Ohio State staff.

Chaump has the only winless team in Division I-A. He's a nice guy and, from all accounts, a good coach. Lou doesn't want to cost his pal his job. Hence the 7-7 second half.

Acts of kindness are one thing. So is the desire of the Navy players to continue to play Notre Dame, hoping for the colossal upset.

But college football at Notre Dame's level is a business. Tickets have to be sold. Notre Dame no longer sells out on the road when Navy is the opponent.

The teams didn't sell out at Memorial Stadium when they played here in '88. They don't sell out at the Meadowlands either. Saturday they sold 58,769 tickets in 77,152-seat Giants Stadium. Only four times in the past five years has Notre Dame failed to sell out. Navy was the opponent three of those times.

The series is pretty lame when Holtz says, as he did after this game: "The second half, we just wanted to get it over with."

Solution: Put Maryland back on the Navy schedule, and take Notre Dame off. The teams would be more competitive. Maryland, at the moment, is 2-7. Navy is 0-7.

It won't happen for two reasons. One, Navy has no intention of dropping Notre Dame, and vice versa. For the Irish, it's a breather during a brutal schedule. Two, the Mids have no intention of putting Maryland back on.

"We have so many ties with Notre Dame," says Navy athletic director Jack Lengyel. "They go back to Tom Hamilton and Rip Miller, to Father [Theodore] Hesburgh and Father Joyce [Notre Dame's retired president and vice president] serving on the board of visitors at the academy. Father Hesburgh has been saying for years he prays that Navy will win one of these games against Notre Dame."

There are even more ties, as one might expect of the schools that have the longest continuous intersectional rivalry in the country. Navy's associate athletic director, Mike Bobinski, is a Notre Dame grad. So is sports information director Tom Bates.

As for Maryland, Lengyel says he believes the time will come when Navy will play the Terps again. Some of his associates at Annapolis are not so sure.

"There are a lot of old-timers around here," said Navy assistant AD for scheduling Carl Tamulevich. "They remember the Maryland player [Jerry Fishman] making the obscene gesture to the brigade in 1964. They remember the Maryland students throwing powder on the midshipmen's uniforms.

"We play Maryland in other sports, but just a few years ago we played them in soccer. There was a disagreement about time remaining in the game and the Maryland coach slapped the timekeeper. The timekeeper was a midshipman. People remember that."

* Before Navy opened its season Sept. 12 against Virginia, Chaump said of his underdog Mids: "Never underestimate the power of the human will." Navy lost, 53-0.

Last week, before playing 38-point favorite Notre Dame, Chaump said: "Never underestimate the power of the human will." Score: N.D. 38, Navy 7. I'm revising my estimate of the power of the human will.

* Maryland lost another tough one Saturday, 31-24, to North Carolina, after having been tied with the favored Tar Heels until 4:10 remained.

The similarity between Maryland football coach Mark Duffner and basketball coach Gary Williams is unmistakable. In Williams' first year at College Park, he was able to throw scares into some of the ACC's top teams -- even though Maryland's talent was down at the time. Super-energized Duffner is doing the same thing in his first year, even though his talent is not that great.

Maryland appears to have two of the best young coaches in the country in the two revenue-producing sports.

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