Imagine some of the athletic teams at the University of Washington being relocated for several months to Washington State. To Gonzaga, to Western...
Imagine some of the athletic teams at the University of Washington being relocated for several months to Washington State. To Gonzaga, to Western Washington, Oregon or Oregon State.
That’s what happened this week to athletes at Tulane, including the many-tentacled operation known as a football program.
Classes were going to start at the New Orleans private school Aug. 31. Instead, in something of a logistical miracle, Tulane athletes were enrolling this week at places like Texas Tech, Texas A&M, Rice and, in the case of the football team, at Louisiana Tech, five hours north in Ruston.
“They’re going to be Tech students in every sense,” Louisiana Tech athletic director Jim Oakes told The Times.
The athletic director at Tulane is Rick Dickson, former AD at Washington State. No doubt Dickson had significant challenges at WSU, but he has never faced anything like the past two weeks.
“Somebody said it was a week ago Sunday this all began,” Dickson said earlier this week on a conference call. “It seems like many years ago.”
National high five
Tomorrow’s top college football games on TV
9 a.m. (Ch. 4)
No. 20 Notre Dame (1-0) at No. 3 Michigan (1-0): Irish eyes are smiling over Charlie Weis’ high-octane offense, but Notre Dame hasn’t won in Ann Arbor since 1993.
12:30 p.m. (Ch. 4)
No. 16 California (1-0) at Washington (0-1): Bears coach Jeff Tedford returns to the school that tried to woo him away from Berkeley.
3:30 p.m. (FSN)
Boise State (0-1) at Oregon State (1-0): Looking for payback from last year’s lopsided loss in Boise, the Beavers will try to stay undefeated in newly renovated Reser Stadium.
5 p.m. (Ch. 4)
No. 2 Texas (1-0) at No. 4 Ohio State (1-0): The most compelling intersectional matchup of the day, and possibly the season. Note to Longhorns quarterback sensation Vince Young: You have never seen linebackers like these.
5:45 p.m. (ESPN)
No. 5 LSU (0-0) at No. 15 Arizona State (1-0): In a game that was originally scheduled for Baton Rouge, keep an eye on ASU freshman running back Keegan Herring, who rushed for 134 yards in his debut last week.
Nationally, Hurricane Katrina has probably had a broader impact on more lives in college football than any event since World War II. The terrorism of Sept. 11, 2001, shocked sensibilities, brought into focus a growing menace, and postponed games, but the thousands of deaths were largely distant from the sport.
Not so Katrina, which has piled homelessness on top of death. Just a few of its effects:
• Auburn freshman Alonzo Horton lost two brothers and an aunt in the devastation.
“I get off the bus, and he’s the first one I see, this 18-year-old standing there crying,” said Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville, describing the moments before the Georgia Tech game, from which Horton was excused. “It takes you back.”
• Mississippi State tight end Eric Butler’s mother “lost everything” on that state’s coast. MSU tight end Jeremy Jones played his first college game five days after his family’s home was destroyed in New Orleans, and an extended family of 25 fled for Houston in three vehicles.
• Michigan center Adam Kraus was joined in Ann Arbor by his family from New Orleans, climaxing a period of several days in which Kraus didn’t know their fate. His sister has transferred from Tulane to Michigan.
On the SEC coaches conference call, LSU’s first-year coach, Les Miles, talked about the futility of trying to pretend it’s business as usual. The Tigers’ game with Arizona State this week has been moved to Tempe.
“We had families of our players staying in the dormitory with them, and still do,” Miles said. “A young man leaves practice, comes home and there’s 10 family members in his apartment.
“As a coach, you work hard to mask really insignificant distraction. It’s easy to do. You deny it, you work beyond it. Here, you don’t do that.”
Coaches dote on routine and detest surprises. So imagine the challenge for Tulane’s Chris Scelfo.
The Green Wave will live at Caruthers dorm, which had been cleared out and earmarked for demolition until the hurricane hit, on the Louisiana Tech campus.
“Within a couple of days, the air conditioning was back on, the elevators were working and students were carrying mattresses and bedspreads in for evacuees,” says Oakes.
“We’re going to put together a makeshift locker room out of space in our assembly center that ordinarily houses both basketball programs. We’re going to come up with makeshift offices in our hall of fame room.”
What about housing for coaches?
“My phone started ringing at 7 this morning,” Oakes said. “People saying, ‘Hey, I heard Tulane is coming to town. My apartment’s empty and the Tulane coaches are welcome to use it.’ “
The hope is Tulane can resume classes on campus next semester, but the athletic directors of the receiving schools have indicated they could probably host those home games if necessary. Tulane’s opener with Southern Mississippi last week was postponed and it has a bye this week. The Green Wave might play home games at Tech, or more likely in Shreveport, 60 miles from the Tech campus.
But at least Tulane football has a temporary home.
“This is really not a big deal, what we’re doing here,” Oakes said. “I can already tell it’s being made out to be a big deal. We’re all Louisianans.”
Don’t tell that to Dickson.
“This isn’t about professionalism, it’s about humanitarianism,” he said. “I’ll never in my lifetime be able to express the amount of appreciation we have.”
Some will tell you it doesn’t get any better than a football Saturday at Michigan or Ohio State. So how about a “doubleheader” like this week’s?
In the first game, Notre Dame, coming off its thrashing of Pitt, visits Michigan. That evening in Columbus, Texas and Ohio State have their first meeting in history.
“We’ve looked at a lot of film of Charlie’s teams at New England,” said Michigan coach Lloyd Carr, referring to first-year coach Charlie Weis. “We’ve talked to a number of people who have coached against him, done as much research as it’s possible to do.”
So good was Notre Dame in the three-touchdown victory at Pitt that only one play in 77 went for negative yardage. Only once in the past four years did the Irish score more than 42.
Texas and Ohio State match not only top-shelf programs, but Heisman candidates: Longhorns quarterback Vince Young and Buckeyes receiver/returner Ted Ginn.
Young’s throwing has been widely questioned, but his running — see Rose Bowl, Michigan — is otherworldly.
“He’s gotten a lot more proficient picking apart the defense when it comes to the passing game,” said Texas guard Jonathan Scott, “besides the incredible athleticism.”
Referring to some bold comments by the Buckeyes, Young says, “To me, it’s like a Texas-Arkansas game. They were doing a lot of trash-talking, and they had their [commemorative] shirts. To me, it’s just a fun game, two great schools going at it, trying to get a victory.”
Trouble in paradise?
When LenDale White got only a handful of meaningful carries at Hawaii, and was replaced on the goal line by Reggie Bush, the Daily News characterized White in the locker room as “angry and upset.”
White was careful with his words afterward. And this week, USC coach Pete Carroll responded sharply to the notion that White was disenchanted.
“LenDale White got asked about 30 questions to try to get him to say something,” Carroll said. “He was true to his word the whole way through and somebody thinks they got something out of him. Our guys are great, competitive kids and they want to play and they want the ball. I think that’s a really good attribute.”
And what’s more …
• Denver Broncos backup QB Brad Van Pelt apologized for wearing a shirt with an obscenity on it, and for flipping off Colorado fans at the Colorado State (his alma mater) game last week. Broncos coach Mike Shanahan discussed it with Van Pelt, saying, “We don’t do that here. It won’t happen again.”
• Nebraska fans used to crunching the ball didn’t get much of that in a 25-7 victory over Division I-AA Maine, when the Huskers rushed for 2.9 yards a carry and had one offensive TD.
• Northwestern players said their coaches, in preparation to play Ohio, mentioned how ex-Nebraska coach Frank Solich, now at Ohio, had run up the score in a 66-17 victory in the 2000 Alamo Bowl. Nice sportsmanship. None of the Wildcats remain from that game, nor did Ohio players have anything to do with it.
• Arizona WR B.J. Vickers, expected to have a big impact, might be ineligible, pending a review of courses he took at a technical school. Coach Mike Stoops refused comment on it this week.
• Parting shot from Mike Ditka, one of the Pitt grads invited back to welcome new coach Dave Wannstedt, who replaces Walt Harris: “You have to have a Pittsburgh guy here. You don’t need any more California guys here, gang. We don’t need any of that crap. They come and go like flies.”
Bud Withers: 206-464-8281 or firstname.lastname@example.orgPac-10 rankings
1. USC (1-0)
Appealing to coach Carroll’s background, LenDale White threatens to play out option
2. Arizona State (1-0)
Les Miles comes to Tempe, meaning less miles for ASU
3. UCLA (1-0)
Some of most popular entertainment in Los Angeles is Drew carry
4. Oregon (1-0)
There’s belief Ducks might be looking past six opponents to game against Huskies
5. California (1-0)
Last week, Pappy Waldorf completed as many passes as Ayoob
6. Washington State (1-0)
Will forgo Nevada pregame talk, just play baccarat
7. Oregon State (1-0)
A win-win: Beavers triumph, no sheep stolen Saturday night
8. Stanford (0-0)
It’s just like Cardinal to arrive fashionably late
9. Washington (0-1)
In kind move, coach Willingham puts rules-compliance guy on scholarship
10. Arizona (0-1)
Still, Stoops even with brother in 2005 victories
Cal 27, Washington 20
But better QBs than Ayoob have faltered at Husky Stadium.
WSU 31, Nevada 24
Cougars have a lot of areas to improve upon.
Oregon State 33, Boise St. 26
Wounded Broncos won’t get any sympathy at OSU.
Oregon 35, Montana 20
Ducks’ Jonathan Stewart figures for more action this week.
Stanford 24, Navy 20
But Middies have a game edge on the Cardinal.
UCLA 34, Rice 17
Bruins might have second-most talent in Pac-10.
Arizona State 23, LSU 21
Site switch might tilt advantage to Sun Devils.
Arizona 27, N. Arizona 3
Next three for Wildcats: Purdue, California, USC.