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...AND SATURDAYS GOATS
BENDING IN SOUTH BEND?
Notre Dame has always refused to redshirt players unless they're injured. To hold a kid out of competition for a season, and thereby extend his college years to five, just so he can gain in size and football knowledge has been considered contrary to the school's educational purposes. But Notre Dame's unwritten policy on the subject is now being reassessed. "Sometime before the fall is over, we hope to put together something to better define where we are concerning redshirting," says associate sports information director John Heisler.
For many years Notre Dame has been at a disadvantage with its no-redshirt policy. Schools like Oklahoma, USC and Penn State routinely play fifth-year seniors, who benefit from having had an extra year of college football training. Some Irish players and fans would welcome a change in the same direction. For example, Terry Andrysiak, Notre Dame's starting quarterback until he suffered a broken collarbone three weeks ago in a 30-22 loss to Pitt, is a senior who saw virtually no action as a freshman. He says he would like to return next season, and Heisler says there is a possibility of a redshirt year being declared for Andrysiak retroactively. However, he also says that coach Lou Holtz is not actively campaigning for it.
Our question: Might it not be better for others to emulate Notre Dame than for Notre Dame to join the pack?
Maybe you read that before USC played at Washington two weeks ago, Trojan coach Larry Smith had his offense work with a sopping wet football to prepare for the soggy Northwest weather. And maybe you thought, Hey, this guy is all wet. But Smith happens to be a master at offbeat preparation, as he further demonstrated before the game with the Huskies when he ordered each of his players to bounce a tennis ball around campus all week. A reflex drill? No, Smith wanted the Trojans to concentrate on bouncing back after their 34-27 loss at Oregon the week before. Says Smith, "The bouncing-ball theory is simply this: When you're down, you can't do anything but come up." Don't laugh...well, go ahead and laugh, but tennis balls have worked for Smith before. After his Arizona team lost a big one in 1983, he ordered 100 tennis balls dropped from a helicopter onto the practice field. The Wildcats rebounded the next week—and so did USC against Washington, 37-23.
Many coaches also take measures to acclimate their players to hostile crowd noise. Before playing at Tennessee this season, Auburn coach Pat Dye had players stand behind the practice huddle and scream while the quarterback called plays. In anticipation of their game against Texas A & M two weeks ago, Baylor coaches played the Aggie War Hymn during practice. And before Western Carolina hits the road, loudspeakers often blast players during practice with a tape of fight songs and stadium clamor. "Then I throw in rock," says Catamount sports information director Steve White. "I've also played a Prince album—it was a racket."