Masters of Their Domain
Of all the good coaching jobs this season, the best was turned in not by a head man but by an assistant. Here are the three best sideline performances.
1. Jim Herrmann. During summer workouts Herrmann, who had been promoted to defensive coordinator at Michigan after Greg Mattison left seven months earlier for the same position at Notre Dame, took the measure of cornerbacks Woodson and Andre Weathers and shifted to an aggressive scheme. That's why the Wolverines have the best defense in the nation, which is why they're the best team in the nation.
2. Bob Toledo. By combining motivational hokum with a tougher conditioning program, UCLA's second-year coach made the Bruins, with apologies to Washington State, the best team in the Pac-10. UCLA's bowl opponent—Syracuse in the Fiesta? Florida State in the Sugar? Texas A&M in the Cotton?—will find out for itself.
3. Joe Tiller. So Purdue's 8-3 record is inflated because it didn't have to play Michigan or Ohio State. So it went only 3-3 against teams with winning records. So it beat Michigan State 22-21 on a blocked field goal returned for a touchdown and a missed Spartans field goal to end the game. Tiller, the Boilermakers' coach, did what no one thought could be done: He made Purdue exciting and a winner.
Didn't You Used to Be...?
Among the turnarounds this season were these major resurrections.
1. Pittsburgh. The Panthers won twice in overtime, including 41-38 last Saturday at West Virginia when quarterback Pete Gonzalez converted a fourth-and-17 in the third overtime to set up Pittsburgh's winning touchdown. A year after the Panthers lost four games by 45 points or more, coach Walt Harris led them to a 6-5 record and a possible Liberty Bowl berth, which would be the Panthers' first postseason appearance since 1989.
2. Tulane. Bowdenologists long have claimed that of Bobby's four sons, Tommy is most like the patriarch. Now we know why. In his first season as coach, Tommy guided the young Green Wave to a 7-4 record, five wins better than a year ago.
3. Mike Bobo. Booed and briefly benched as a junior, the Georgia quarterback rebounded as a senior to lead the Bulldogs to a 9-2 season. Last Saturday, with less than a minute remaining, he took Georgia on a four-play, 65-yard touchdown drive to beat Georgia Tech 27-24.