Scandal-marred seasons have become the norm

ON COLLEGE FOOTBALL

November 03, 1995|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,SUN STAFF

Begin with 90 or so boys and young men at the peak of their physical prowess.

Mix in unscrupulous agents, conniving boosters, a coaching staff under the gun to win, bogus junior college transcripts and a little steroid rage, and you've got a recipe for another season of scandal, one in which the majority of teams that have appeared in the Top 25 have had a taste of unwanted publicity arising from offenses against the criminal code or the NCAA rule book.

Maryland plays at North Carolina State on Saturday. Even when the Terps were ranked No. 17, the emphasis was on Scott Milanovich, who missed the 4-0 start on suspension for violating the NCAA rule against players gambling on intercollegiate athletics. The Wolfpack was No. 23 in early September, but it was already reeling from an August incident in which five players were involved in a break-in and assault at the apartment of a basketball player.

If the traditional powers aren't coming off probation, they're heading there. Miami and Alabama will take big-time dives for their oblivious approach to the NCAA rule book. Southern Cal's national championship hopes weren't helped by the involvement several starters with an agent, the same kind of violation that got TCU tailback Andre Davis suspended.

The regular season's most-hyped game will send Florida State to Florida on Nov. 25. Steve Spurrier has referred to "Free Shoes University," because of the Foot Locker scandal of 1993 that TC dragged down the Seminoles, but his own house isn't all that clean, as several Gators players have assaulted wives and girlfriends.

Illegal benefits predate the forward pass, but the O. J. Simpson case has shed additional light on large men beating on women.

Do you think there may be a few pickets outside Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, Neb., tomorrow, when Lawrence Phillips returns to the top-ranked Cornhuskers? Phillips' Heisman Trophy candidacy wasn't derailed by a pulled hamstring or grades, but by his admitted assault on a former girlfriend.

Nebraska coach Tom Osborne, his head firmly in the sand, doesn't seem to care if anyone is offended by his reinstatement of Phillips after a six-week suspension.

"I'm concerned about Iowa State [tomorrow's foe] playing well," Osborne said Monday, when asked about the possibility of pickets. "We're going to do what we feel is right. Everyone else can do what they feel they have to do."

ICAND admit they're good

This is very hard for a member of ICAND -- Irish-Catholics Against Notre Dame -- to admit, but Lou Holtz's team deserves to play in the Orange Bowl or Sugar Bowl.

No. 8 Notre Dame is a 29-point favorite over Navy tomorrow and finishes the regular season at Air Force, but complaints about the Irish's schedule don't hold up.

Only the name kept Notre Dame in the Top 25 after early losses to Northwestern and Ohio State, but those two have established themselves as the top teams in the Big Ten.

Notre Dame has beaten the top two teams in the Pac-10, USC and Washington, and Southwest Conference leader Texas. Despite its 2-6 record, Boston College is alive in the Big East, so the Irish could end up with victories over three conference champions.

Miscellaneous

Ohio State's Bobby Hoying is the nation's top-rated passer, but can anyone guess No. 2? It's Donovan McNabb, a redshirt freshman who has fueled No. 20 Syracuse's rise to the top of the Big East. McNabb has completed 79 of 127 for 1,404 yards, 10 touchdowns and two interceptions. The Orangemen meet Virginia Tech tomorrow in a match of the Big East's best to date. . . . The Big East deserves every knock it has received this year, but take away Florida State, and the Atlantic Coast Conference is 6-10 against nonconference, I-A competition. . . . Predictably, Prairie View is allowing more points than any other team in Division I-AA. Among I-AA programs that offer scholarships, however, Morgan State is the most generous, allowing 40.2 per game.

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