Like Cats and Dogs
The NCAA's stringent new rules concerning brawls must be working. After five weeks this season there have been few of the ugly fights that players—and coaches—have engaged in far too often in recent years. Now if we can only get the mascots to behave.
During halftime of last Saturday's game between Jackson State and South Carolina State in Columbia, the schools' mascots sent the fur flying right on the 50-yard line. "We were just playing around at first," says South Carolina State's Thaddeus Chestnut (a.k.a. Bully the Bulldog), "but he kept coming over to our side of the field. I didn't appreciate that."
A shoving match between Bully and the Jackson State Tiger—better known as Eric Ransom—turned into a five-minute bout. "I'm only 5'7", and he had to be over six feet, but I put him on his back," says Chestnut, who happens to have a black belt in taekwando. "That was the turning point of the game. We were down at halftime, and the fans were dead. But after that they were into it, and we came back and won (by a 26-22 score]. And that tiger never came to our side of the field again."
What a Kick
Last season West Virginia finished 13th in the country in total offense; this season the Mountaineers are 67th. A lot of players are happy about this development, but most of them suit up for West Virginia's opponents. One does not: Todd Sauerbrun, the Mountaineer punter.
"To be honest, I do root for fourth down," says Sauerbrun, whose 50.7 yards-per-punt average leads the nation. He was particularly thrilled with West Virginia's 31-0 loss to Nebraska in the Kickoff Classic. "I loved it," says Sauerbrun, who punted nine times in that game for a 60.1-yard average. "I can't wait until we play Miami in a few weeks."
"Following the Nebraska game," recalls backup punter Brian West, "Todd skipped cloud nine and went straight to cloud 15. He couldn't wait to go out when we got back to Morgantown."
And Sauerbrun doesn't even like Morgantown. After all, says Sauerbrun, a senior from Setauket, N.Y., "it's so not, like, suburban."
As high as Sauerbrun has been this season, he was just as low last year, when West Virginia went 11-1. In his team's most dominating win of 1993, a 43-0 pasting of Syracuse, Sauerbrun didn't even get to punt. "Todd was not a happy camper that day," says West. "In fact, he was going nuts. I remember him telling Jake [Kelchner, the West Virginia quarterback], 'Take a sack! Take a sack!' "