Combs is ready for start of a new era

February 02, 1993|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,Staff Writer

Gordy Combs thinks he has the players and the schedule to get Towson State into the NCAA Division I-AA playoffs next fall.

After that, the goals and the opponents will change.

In 1994 the Tigers will face a mishmash of opponents from divisions I, II and III. They'll be down to their last class of scholarship players, but it's one group too many for the Eastern College Athletic Conference-sponsored alignment that Towson State will join in 1995. No scholarships, no spring practice and two full-time coaches are the core of its constitution, and Towson State isn't welcome until it complies.

One of the reasons Towson State plans to enter the ECAC's Intercollegiate Football Conference was the group's guarantee of six games for all of its members, who will number 20 for their first season next fall. The group will offer postseason opportunities that could be announced in April.

The conference's genesis came at the 1991 NCAA convention, when legislation prohibited members of divisions I and II from playing football at a lower level. The 1992 season was the last in which Division I colleges could play Division III teams.

The ECAC's disenfranchised are falling into three sub-groups. With Georgetown and St. John's already aligning with four other Catholic institutions from the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference and eight Division II members seeking each other out, Towson State figures to be grouped with the ECAC's other six members.

Towson State's schedules in 1995 and beyond probably will include Central Connecticut, Duquesne, Marist, Monmouth, St. Francis (Pa.), and Wagner, the NCAA Division III champion in 1987.

Combs hears the rumors of programs in New England considering Towson State's lead -- Boston University has approached the ECAC group -- and thinks that the Tigers won't be the only I-AA program de-emphasizing. He'll accept membership in the ECAC in 1995, but he's thinking bigger.

"I know the plan is non-scholarship football here, but we don't feel that's etched in stone," Combs said. "So many changes have occurred in I-AA, and I don't think they're done.

"You hear about the concept of limited scholarship football, with a maximum of anywhere from 10 to 30 scholarships. A lot of the Yankee Conference schools -- Boston U., Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island -- don't want to deal with I-AA football and 70 scholarships, and are exploring that possibility.

"Now that would be a great league to be in."

1993 schedule

Opponent.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..Date

Central Connecticut.. .. .. .. ..Sept. 11

at Delaware State.. .. .. .. .. .Sept. 18

Charleston Southern.. .. .. .. ..Sept. 25

at Connecticut.. .. .. .. .. .. ...Oct. 2

at Hofstra.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .Oct. 8

Howard.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .Oct. 16

at Buffalo.. .. .. .. .. .. .. ...Oct. 23

at Delaware.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. Nov. 6

Bucknell.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..Nov. 13

at Morgan State.. .. .. .. .. .. .Nov. 20

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