Four days after Memphis State's players boycotted a practice in protest of coach Chuck Stobart's play-calling and poor communication skills, the winless Tigers defeated Arkansas 22-6. And last Saturday, five days after South Carolina's players met to discuss whether they would ask for coach Sparky Woods's resignation, the Gamecocks ended their nine-game losing streak, the longest in Division I-A, with a 21-6 upset of Mississippi State in Columbia. Question of the week: Is this enough to start a trend?
Speaking of phenomena in the South, let's consider quarterback Steve Taneyhill, a true freshman, who led South Carolina to its defeat of the 15th-ranked Bulldogs. Afterward Taneyhill ran around the perimeter of the field, letting gleeful Gamecock fans hug him, high-five him and slap him on the back. Taneyhill is a skinny, 6'5" kid with as much confidence as energy. While watching South Carolina's spring game in April, Taneyhill predicted he would be starting by midseason. "His personality rubbed me the wrong way," says redshirt freshman Blake Williamson, which is understandable considering that Williamson is also a quarterback. "I think it rubbed everyone on the team the wrong way. But obviously, the guy's real talented."
Taneyhill says he's just your average Altoonan—i.e., someone from his hometown in Pennsylvania—who likes to keep his hair long and who can't understand all the fuss about wearing an earring. "Back home," says Taneyhill, "all the guys and girls have earrings." Gamecock wide receiver Asim Penny, for one, approves of Taneyhill's tonsorial and sartorial sense. "He can wear a dress if he keeps throwing the ball like this," says Penny.
Thrust into the starting lineup after Williamson's poor performance the game before against Alabama, Taneyhill completed seven of 14 passes against Mississippi State for 183 yards and two touchdowns. Under his guidance the Gamecocks piled up 505 yards in offense, their best effort of the season. It remains to be seen if Taneyhill can turn the Gamecocks around and save Woods's job.
"I'm just relieved," said Woods, who doffed his cap to the crowd after the big win. "This is like winning the Grammy—you want to thank everybody."
FIRST STATE FOOTBALL
The Delaware state senate passed a proclamation urging the University of Delaware, which has enjoyed a highly successful Division I-AA program for 27 years under coach Tubby Raymond, to schedule a series with Delaware State, a predominantly black school that has come a long way since it dropped a 105-0 decision to Portland State and quarterback Neil Lomax in 1980. In fact, the Hornets have come so far under coach Bill Collick that some fans in the state think that Raymond's Fightin' Blue Hens would lay a big egg if they had to play the state's other I-AA program.
Last Saturday, Delaware was a 21-20 winner over Villanova, which entered the game as the nation's second-ranked I-AA team, and Delaware State earned a 22-20 victory over Florida A&M, whose only defeat in its six previous games had been to Miami. Both teams are now 5-1. So why not Delaware versus Delaware State, who have never played each other? "We'd love to see it happen," says John Martin, Delaware State's athletic director. "It would probably be the greatest game in the country."
All right, so maybe it wouldn't be the greatest game in the country. It would be the greatest game in Delaware, though, which has no I-A teams. But the Blue Hens aren't interested. Delaware athletic director Edgar Johnson hides behind an old argument: The Blue Hens are scheduled through 2002. "I'm sure the game will come about someday," Johnson says, "but schedules are not easy to arrange."