Whether they will admit it or not, the 62 sportswriters and broadcasters who vote in the weekly Associated Press poll must have been relieved when Washington was upset by Arizona (page 32). In ending the season-long dogfight between the Huskies and Miami for No. 1, Washington's defeat eased the pressure on the voters, whose picks are being scrutinized as never before. Not only are the voters' selections being made public for the first time, but the new bowl coalition is using them to determine a number of bowl pairings.
Understandably, a lot of fans have been concerned about whether the poll is in good hands. Well, relax. After taking our own poll, we are pleased to reassure everyone on the following points:
?Most voters seem to have acceptable credentials. Even Pittsburgh Pirate beat writer John Perrotto of the Beaver County Times, who inherited a vote only because the Pittsburgh newspaper unions are on strike, covers some Pitt football games and watches a lot of college football on TV. He put the Hurricanes No. 1 on his first ballot and, unlike some of his wishy-washy fellow voters, has kept them there ever since.
?Unlike some voters who in the past would send in their ballots before they got the late scores from the West, most current voters claim to put considerable thought into their rankings. Says longtime voter Dave Campbell of the Waco ( Texas) Tribune-Herald, "I cover a game weekly, see a couple of others on TV, see highlights shows and talk to quite a few coaches and sportswriters." A glaring exception is columnist Corky Simpson of the Tucson Citizen, who says, "What you don't want to do is give it any thought. If you research the thing, you look like an idiot." Simpson, by the way, is the only voter who has picked Alabama No. 1 every week.
?Finally and most hearteningly, the voters are unanimous in their advice for those run-it-up coaches—you know who you are—who operate under the delusion that the voters reward teams that win by big margins and penalize those that don't. Says Ronnie Christ of the Harrisburg (Pa.) Patriot-News, "I tend to be turned off by schools that run up a score. I rate a three-touchdown spread the same as I would a 45-point margin."
NO PENN PALS
Bragging rights are more meaningful when the rivals are neighbors, so it's no wonder that a crowd of 9,106 braved snow and wind to see Lycoming and Susquehanna tee it up at Lycoming's 4,000-seat Person Field in Williamsport, Pa. Fans who couldn't get tickets to the game between the two undefeated Division III teams peered through the fence or looked over it from the tops of cars or from porches across the street.
Lycoming and Susquehanna are only 30 miles apart, and heading into the game their series was even closer: 15-15-1. A victory was especially important to the Lycoming seniors, whose only regular-season loss in four years had been to Susquehanna 24-17 in 1989. On Saturday the lead had changed hands five times when, with three minutes left and Lycoming trailing 19-16, Warrior wide receiver Ron Wiest caught a 28-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Ellio Domenick to give his team a 23-19 victory. One of the keys for Lycoming was holding Crusader tailback Frank (Night Train) Lane to 42 yards, 26 fewer than his average.
The win brought the Warriors' record to 7-0-1 and kept alive their chances for a berth in the Division III playoffs. But the Lycoming seniors, who began exercising their rights to brag as soon as the final gun went off, were more excited that the team had all but nailed down its fourth straight Middle Atlantic Conference title. Said senior tailback Cory Sheridan, "What other team in the country, at any level, can boast of that?" Michigan can, and Pittsburg ( Kans.) State may soon be able to, but still, you can't blame him for being proud.