SI Vault
Douglas S. Looney
October 20, 1986
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October 20, 1986

College Football

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Our Top 7 did us proud. Way to go. But when Arkansas gets humbled 17-7 by humble Texas Tech—yuck. LSU reenters the elite by thrashing Georgia, but its earlier loss to Miami of Ohio restricts our expectations for the Tigers. Mississippi State makes its Top 20 debut, but the Bulldogs will lose three of their last four games and sink back into oblivion. Over-achieving Air Force also is making its '86 poll bow.

1. MIAMI (6-0)


2. PENN STATE (5-0)


3. ALABAMA (6-0)


4. NEBRASKA (5-0)


5. MICHIGAN (5-0)


6. OKLAHOMA (4-1)


7. IOWA (5-0)


8. TEXAS A & M (4-1)


9. AUBURN (5-0)


10. ARIZONA STATE (4-0-1)


11. WASHINGTON (4-1)


12. CLEMSON (4-1)


13. ARKANSAS (4-1)


14. ARIZONA (4-1)


15. LSU (3-1)


17. USC (4-1)


18. AIR FORCE (5-1)

19. BAYLOR (4-2)


20. UCLA (3-2)


*Ranking last week


Oklahoma's 42-7 rout of Texas probably means that Longhorn coach Fred Akers will be leaving Austin sooner rather than later. After all, last week a major Texas booster, Mack Rankin of Dallas, (who naturally is an oilman) announced, "Akers is gone. If it's DeLoss's [athletic director DeLoss Dodds] responsibility, and he can't correct it, then we'll have to get rid of the athletic director, and I've told DeLoss that. He said the press in New York would crucify us for firing a guy with that kind of record, and I said, 'DeLoss, who gives a bleep what the press thinks?' "

Well, regardless, here's what we think: It's crummy if a few guys with large bucks can hijack a college football program and announce whether a coach gets to stay. We have a quaint notion that universities should be run by university people. We also think football coaches should report to athletic directors, who should report to university presidents. Nowhere do we see a significant role in the chain of command for big-bucks, big-mouth contributors.

Akers' record in almost 10 years at Texas is 83-27-2. That's a winning percentage of .754, second only to Darrell Royal's .774, which is the best ever in the Southwest Conference. Akers has won the conference twice, been to nine straight bowls, finished in the Top 10 four times and averaged nine victories a year.

What's wrong is that Texas people are still mad that Royal isn't coaching the team. Royal was charismatic and Akers isn't. He can chill people with an ice-water personality and put them off with arrogance. These qualities, however, don't separate him from a host of other major coaches. What we have here is a problem of style, not substance.

The private Akers, who is seldom seen by the fans, is very different from the public one. For example, every Friday morning during the football season, Akers goes out to his small ranch east of Austin for a few hours of solitude. He makes coffee, and then he looks over his longhorn cattle, checks the fences and ponders an inoperable gate—just one of the guys wearing jeans and boots and wondering if it will rain soon. Conversation is about everything—except football. There's a rule against it. And there emerges a classy man who deserves a classier judge than Mack Rankin & Co.


At Weber State, coach Mike Price has been having a tough time. So, like all too few coaches these days, he has tried to take the edge off the harsh reality of a lackluster season (2-3) with a lighthearted approach. For example, several weeks ago Price was getting his team ready to play at Portland State, a place known for small crowds. So he told the media he had the Wildcats practice with earplugs to get used to the sound of silence. Just a quiet little joke. But, because the Vikings' artificial turf is rock hard and it rains a lot in Portland, Price really did hold two workouts in the rain on the asphalt parking lot outside Dee Events Center. Thus prepared, Weber went on to blow a 16-3 lead and lose 27-22.

Next up was Nevada-Reno, the nation's top-ranked I-AA team. "We practiced out on I-15," swears Price, "to get used to being run over by semis." Again, nice preparation, for the Wildcats are still sporting all kinds of tire tracks after having been rolled over by Reno 38-24.

Worse, Price somehow ruptured a disk during the game. "I just can't seem to get things right," he says. "A coach is supposed to get carried off the field after a victory."

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