LOST IN AUSTIN
When Edwin Simmons arrived at Texas in 1983, many considered him the best freshman running back in the nation. In his collegiate debut, against Oklahoma, he had two brilliant TD runs, one stamped Heisman, the other All-Pro.
But before long, everything went wrong. Simmons has had five knee operations and was the subject of an internal investigation into his leasing of a BMW. This fall, he showed up five pounds overweight and explained that it was because he had been in summer school and had studied so hard his brain had taken on weight. But, at last, he seemed ready to play against Oklahoma on Saturday.
Then, at 4:40 a.m. on Sept. 27, Simmons was arrested behind a house in West Austin. A screen had been removed from one of the windows. According to police, Simmons had trouble coming up with his name or what town he was in. However, he did say, "I think I'm a football player.... I think my number is 33." Marijuana, he said, had left him addled. Oh yes, Simmons was nude.
A university spokesman suggested that Simmons might have been sleepwalking. Perhaps. Coach Fred Akers was not amused and suspended the running back indefinitely, even though he wasn't charged. Naturally, the story made quick time to Norman, where Oklahoma coach Barry Switzer congratulated a reporter on asking an appropriate question. "You get the prize," said Switzer. "And the prize is Edwin Simmons's clothes."
Alas, amid the snickers, another starry athletic future seems to be ending atop a pile of broken dreams.
Twenty years ago the young coach at Miami of Ohio, Bo Schembechler, was interviewed for the job at Wisconsin. He was rejected in favor of John Coatta, who failed to win a game in his first two years and left Madison with a 3-26-1 record. Two years later Bo went to Michigan. In the intervening years, the Badgers have not been to the Rose Bowl; the Wolverines have been six times. Michigan has won 15 of 16 games against Wisconsin.
On Saturday, Bo beat the Badgers again, 34-17, to become only the eighth major-college coach to win 200 games. Schembechler, who plays the curmudgeon better than any coach, scoffs at his 200-55-7 career record. "It just means I've been in college coaching a long time," he says. But think how different the college football landscape would have been if Wisconsin had thought more highly of Bo two decades ago.
DUM QUOTE OF THE WEAK
Purdue coach Leon Burtnett: "Our defense can't rest on its morals."