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It's Getting Ugly

Bad unis, bad starts, bad behavior. Pardon us while we rant

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By John Walters

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Lightning-yellow and thunder-green? Not a good combination.
Courtesy University of Oregon

Now earth has two man-made objects visible to the naked eye from outer space: the Great Wall of China and Oregon's football uniforms. We don't want to get all Carson Kressley on the Ducks, but those lightning-yellow and thunder-green ensembles should be worn only during blackouts or a Tour de France afterparty.

Yet Oregon's new outfits were a fitting metaphor for the first few weeks of the football season, which were too frequently ugly -- at times throw-up ugly. In the first quarter of the Tigers' 30-0 loss to Georgia on Aug. 30, Clemson center Tommy Sharpe vomited on the ball, then snapped it to quarterback Charlie Whitehurst, who understandably fumbled it. "That's my fault," Sharpe explained afterward. "I shouldn't throw up."

Ugly uniforms, unsightly spew, unseemly avarice. Last week Ohio State announced that tailback Maurice Clarett the preseason Heisman favorite, may be suspended for the entire season for, among other potential violations, allegedly misrepresenting the value of goods stolen from a car he was driving in April. Meanwhile, the aptly named Buckeyes continued to peddle number 13 jerseys for $50. Apparently Clarett is not the only one in Columbus who can be accused of exaggerating the value of items.

Even the sports ticker has been hard on the eyes. Last Saturday there was iowa 56, buffalo 7; michigan 50, houston 3; and boise state 62, idaho state 0. The weekend before that it was new mexico 72, southwest texas state 8. Two days after that last game, in which kicker Katie Hnida became the first female to score in a Division I football contest -- her watershed extra point put the Lobos up by 57 -- STSU changed its name to Texas State University-San Marcos. Coincidence?

Hnida added a second extra point in that game, which gave her exactly one fewer point than Auburn, the runaway choice for the season's ugliest start by a team. Auburn's point total in its two losses exceeds by one the number of major sports publications that fashionably picked the Tigers to win it all in 2003.

Auburn's meltdown, however, doesn't begin to approach that of Rod Rutherford outside of the nightclub Philthy McNasty's (apparently Shasta had a brother) in Pittsburgh. Early on Labor Day morning, the Pitt quarterback allegedly assaulted a woman and kicked in a window of the car in which she was sitting. Last Saturday, a day after he was charged with indecent assault, simple assault and criminal mischief, Rutherford was held out of the starting lineup in the Panthers' 43-3 win over Kent State. Alas, Rutherford's sentence was really no punishment at all, as he sat out all of one quarter before returning to throw four touchdown passes by halftime. Now that's really ugly.

SI On Campus: September 16, 2003 issue 
SI ON CAMPUS
Sports Illustrated On Campus, a new magazine covering college sports and collegiate lifestyles, is available as an insert in 72 major college newspapers across the country every Thursday throughout the school year. Click any of the links below to see selected content from the latest issue:

Cover story: The Best College Sports Towns
Scorecard: An All-Nighter with College Sports TV
Road Trip: Lincoln, Nebraska
The Final: It's Getting Ugly
Previous week's issue: Sept. 9, 2003

Send your college sports questions to Milo at askmilo@sioc.timeinc.com. Your query might be answered in a future issue of Sports Illustrated on Campus.

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