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College Football
John Walters
September 19, 1994
Hidden Talents
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September 19, 1994

College Football

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It's not whether you win or lose.... SMU, which had its football program shut down by the NCAA in 1987 and '88 for myriad violations, was 2-7-2 last fall under coach Tom Rossley. This summer, interim athletic director Bill Lively tore up Rossley's contract and extended it for five years—with a 25% raise. Why?

"Tom has built the football team with student-athletes who will graduate," says Lively, neglecting to mention that Rossley, who is in his fourth year with the Mustangs, has also turned SMU into a respectable team that almost upset UCLA at the Rose Bowl on Saturday. "This says that we believe in Tom's values and in what he's trying to accomplish."

Yes, it is whether you win or lose.... Three weeks ago Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer, who is in his eighth season in Blacksburg, received a written agreement calling for a five-year contract extension. But unlike Rossley's extension, Beamer's is conditional: It takes effect only if the Hokies finish with a winning record this fall. Never mind that Beamer has made Tech a Top 20 team. "We're just being honest," says athletic director Dave Braine. "Frank's doing what he's supposed to do, and I'm protecting the interests of the athletic department, which is what I'm supposed to do."

Dynamic Duo

What distinguishes Florida freshmen roommates Reidel Anthony and Fred Taylor from Elmer Fudd—other than their athletic talents and their proficiency in pronouncing the letter r—is their success in catching bunnies. "After the sugarcane harvest, the farmers burn the fields," says Taylor, who, like Anthony, grew up in a small town on the shore of Lake Okeechobee. "The rabbits scatter, and we chase 'em."

Like the rest of the Gators, Taylor and Anthony are now chasing records. After two games Florida's offensive numbers are downright mind-boggling: 7.4 yards per snap and 19 touchdowns in 28 possessions. After the Gators routed Kentucky 73-7 last week, Wildcat defensive back Steven Hall said, "It was almost like we were playing a Sega game, but we couldn't press reset."

Against Kentucky, Taylor, a tailback, carried 15 times for 88 yards, and Anthony, a split end, caught a 65-yard touchdown pass. The two have been teammates and friends since the fifth grade. Taylor has always been a running back except for a two-year hiatus that began during sixth grade in Belle Glade. "On one carry Fred got stuffed," recalls Anthony, "and he'd heard a rumor about this kid on the other team who had an iron helmet." Says Taylor, in confirmation, "Yeah, Chris Cunningham. I quit after that game and didn't play again until eighth grade." He came back with a vengeance. At Glades Central High he averaged 10.3 yards per carry.

Anthony had no reason to fear anyone or anything growing up. His dad, Clarence, is the mayor in his hometown of South Bay, and his mom, Kathleen Collie, totes a rifle at work. She's a guard at Glades Correctional Facility. "I've always had someone looking out for me," says Anthony, who returned eight kicks for touchdowns at Glades Central.

So which player is better? "They're both so gifted," says Florida coach Steve Spurrier. "It's impossible to say."

That would be like splitting hares...uh, hairs.

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