The two teams finished the game virtually even in total offense (201 yards for the Cowboys and 200 yards for the Penguins) and time of possession (28:27 to 31:33). But feeding off last season's bitter disappointment and with a coach who knows more than most others about winning, Youngstown State again showed how dynasties stay dynasties.
When Mike Garrett won the first of USC's four Heisman Trophies, in 1965, he was known as Ten to Two for his splay-footed running style that left defenders wondering which way he was going. Garrett has retained that style in his five years as athletic director at his alma mater, albeit without the success he enjoyed as a player.
The awkward manner in which he fired coach John Robinson on Dec. 16 is a case in point. It's not so much that Garrett informed Robinson of the dismissal by leaving a message on his home answering machine—Robinson probably sniffed out what was in the wind and knew better than to be home—but that Garrett left Robinson and his staff hanging for 3½ weeks after the Trojans' last game while he tried to find someone he thought better suited for the job.
Garrett's choice of a successor for Robinson was a surprise too: Paul Hackett, who made a mess at Pittsburgh from 1990 to '92. When Hackett was dismissed after going 13-20-1, he left the Panthers with less talent than when he arrived. Hackett, who had been an assistant with four NFL teams, returned in the pros as offensive coordinator in Kansas City, where before this season all anyone could talk about was the Chiefs' lackluster offense.
It's rare that a coach is forced out of one school for losing and resurfaces later at a more prestigious program. Hackett, like Garrett, has a unique way of doing things.
Dropping the Ball
Last summer, while sweating out whether senior wide receiver Joe Jurevicius, a human development and family studies major, would attain the grades necessary to be eligible for the 1997 season, Penn State coach Joe Paterno said. "My problem with Joe is, he's got to go to class. He's a good kid. You've basically got to have a baseball bat and beat him on the head. I've tried to impress upon him that he has an obligation to the whole team." Obviously, Paterno tailed. Or, more accurately, Jurevicius failed. After bringing his grades up in summer school, he let them slip again this fall, and last week Paterno decided not to take Jurevicius to the Florida Citrus Bowl for the Nittany Lions' matchup with Florida, even though Jurevicius had not yet been declared ineligible. It's a big loss, especially to quarterback Mike McQueary, who usually looked to Jurevicius (39 receptions for 817 yards and 10 touchdowns) in the clutch.
Here's our guide to the coming college football feast.
[THREE STARS]: Worthy of your couch time.
[TWO STARS]: Worthy of a glance.
[ONE STAR]: You have our permission to watch college basketball.