For Iowa State quarterback Man Seiler, a fifth-year senior, the good news was that coach Jim Walden was giving him the first start of his career in his last home game. The bad news was that the opponent would be 29-point favorite Nebraska. "We never thought about beating them," says Seiler. "We just wanted to play them tough." The result, a 19-10 upset for Iowa State, guaranteed Seiler a celebrated spot in Cyclone history.
Until Saturday, Seiler seemed destined to be remembered for a play He had made two years ago against Oklahoma, when his pass on a fake punt set up an important touchdown in a 33-31 victory. But that was nothing compared with beating the seventh-ranked Cornhuskers, who hadn't lost to the Cyclones in 14 years. What's more, a week before this year's game, Husker athletic director Bob Devaney, who coached Nebraska to national championships in 1970 and '71, said that the 1992 team was the best in his 31 years in Lincoln.
Amazingly, Iowa State, which is now 4-6, beat Nebraska at its own game—running the ball. The Cyclones outrushed the Huskers 373 yards to 192. And while Iowa State was holding Nebraska's vaunted I-backs, Derek Brown and Calvin Jones, to 64 and 28 yards, respectively, Seiler led all runners with 144 yards on 24 carries.
As a systems information management major who plans to go to work for his father's lumber company in Joliet Ill., Seiler will probably never again do anything before 42,008 people, which is how main turned out for Saturday's game. Still, when he went to Tazzles, his favorite hangout in Ames, alter the game, nobody treated him any differently. At least now, though, he knows he'll have a special place at class reunions. Says Seiler, "That was a great way for me to go out."
A MAJORS LOSS
Tennessee's decision to oust Johnny Majors after 16 years as coach of the Volunteers further reduces a breed that has become almost extinct—the football coach as larger-than-life folk hero. Nobody has ever bled Volunteer orange quite like Majors. The last in Tennessee's long line of terrific single-wing tailbacks, he led the Vols to a 10-1 record as a senior in 1956 and finished second to Paul Hornung in the Heisman balloting. When Johnny came marching home again, in 1977, having just coached Pitt to the national championship, he was viewed as the perfect choice to lead the Vols back to the heights they had reached under General Robert Neyland in the 1930s, '40s and '50s.
The 57-year-old Majors did not fail in Knoxville. After Tennessee went only 21-23-1 in his first four years, he began winning big and often. Entering this season he was 60-20-5 since 1985, and his teams had won three SEC titles and played in six bowls in that seven-year period. Yet even Majors fell victim to the unreasonable expectations that plague bigtime college football today.
Although this was supposed to be a rebuilding year for Tennessee, the fans became so excited when the Vols got oil to a 3-0 start under offensive coordinator Phillip Fulmer, who served as interim coach while Majors recovered from heart surgery, that Majors probably should have sat out the season. Instead he returned, and after two wins the Volunteers dropped three straight games, to Arkansas, Alabama and South Carolina. The losses caused such outrage, especially among influential donors, that university president Joseph Johnson caved in and refused to grant Majors the contract extension he requested. Last Saturday, Tennessee improved to 6-3 with a 26-21 win over Memphis State, but the deed was done.
So ends a sorry episode at a school where the motto should be, "What have you done for me lately?" This is the same place that was so eager to hire Majors in 1977 that it dismissed Bill Battle, who had achieved a not-so-shabby 59-22-2 record during his seven years as coach. Now, apparently, the job will go to Fulmer, whose silence grew increasingly conspicuous as fans turned up the heat on Majors.