On the third Friday in March, as a fierce snowstorm gathered in the bleak central New York sky, Syracuse football players trudged through a 2�-hour practice inside the Carrier Dome. Linemen whaled on each other in vicious one-on-one drills, while punters ripped high spirals that clanged as they rained down on nearby aluminum bleachers. At one side of the field stood an offensive assistant from another major college, ending a two-day reconnaissance trip by trying to glean as much as he could from the Orange attack.
Customarily, it would be easier for a 14-year-old girl to get Leonardo DiCaprio's home phone number than it would be to get a rival coach to share his precious X's and O's. However, from the end of recruiting in early February through the close of spring practice in late April, college football goes co-op as coaching staffs visit one another's campuses and trade playbooks like memorabilia collectors swapping wares at an autograph show. My blitz package is your blitz package. "Hell of a lot different from the fall," says Washington State coach Mike Price.
Only in the dead of football's winter will you see such sights as:
?Notre Dame defensive coordinator Greg Mattison walking the halls of Ohio State's Woody Hayes Center, breaking bread and breaking down tape with Buckeyes defensive assistants.
? Florida State assistants not only on the practice field at Nebraska, but also in the Cornhuskers' huddles.
?National champion Michigan calling SEC doormat Vanderbilt in search of defensive refinements.
? Ohio State's offensive staff visiting Nebraska to refine its short-yardage package. (Suggestion: Steal the Huskers' linemen.)
? Nebraska quizzing—we swear—Army and Navy on the option game.
? Colorado visiting Arizona State, even though the Sun Devils have become the Buffaloes' bitter recruiting rival.
Or imagine this: On certain weekends the hot coordinators are flown to enemy campuses and paid to tutor the host staff, which leads to the likes of Nebraska defensive boss Charlie McBride cashing checks from Florida State, Georgia and Ohio State, as he did in the winter of '97. In February, March and April paranoia goes on spring break.