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THEY ALSO SERVE
Quick, how many service academies can you name? If you said three, you haven't been paying attention. While Army, Navy and Air Force play for the Commander in Chiefs Trophy, the Merchant Marine and Coast Guard academies have been vying since 1981 for the Secretary's Cup, which is not something office temps store pencils in. The cup is bestowed on the winner by the secretary of transportation—when he bothers to show up. He didn't on Saturday, when the Coast Guard Bears beat the Merchant Marine Mariners 35-7.
"We're never given much respect," says Bears fullback Scott Huerter, who rushed for 33 yards on Saturday. The Big Three deride the Coast Guardsmen as buoy tenders, shallow-water sailors, the knee-deep Navy. "Of course, when it comes to respect," says Huerter, "Merchant Marine gets even less than us." Perhaps that's because graduates of the Merchant Marine Academy can't get licensed as ship's officers without Coast Guard approval.
In recent seasons, the Mariners have taken some license with the Bears on the gridiron. They came into Saturday's game with a six-year winning streak against their Division III rivals. "A lot of hatred has built up between the two schools," says Merchant Marine defensive tackle Marc Bromante. "Personally, I'd like to kill them."
That sounded ominous, considering that in 1966, Mariner fans started a near riot by tearing the furry head off the Coast Guard's bear-suited mascot. Order wasn't restored until the Merchant Marine marching band struck up The Star-Spangled Banner. An eight-year cooling-off period ensued before the series resumed amid a tense calm. Now that most of the action is back on the field, all that's needed is for the secretary to show up.
THE HURTING TEN
College football administrators may soon join in a new craze: scheduling opponents from the Big Ten. With the season just two weeks old, an alarming number of cream puffs have squashed teams from that heretofore powerhouse conference. The Big Ten has a collective 3-9 record and is 0-4 against its Rose Bowl rival, the Pac-10. Still, no one was prepared for Michigan State's 17-13 loss Saturday to Rutgers, a school that lists Mr. Magoo as a letterman in its media guides. The Scarlet Knights hadn't faced a Big Ten opponent since 1919, when they defeated Northwestern 28-0.
Over the past few years the Big Ten has been enjoying a refreshing level of parity within its ranks, but against nonconference opponents the league's record has been growing steadily weaker; it was 24-6 in 1985, 20-13 in '86, and 16-12-3 last season. And while Michigan State did defeat USC in the Rose Bowl last January, restoring some measure of pride to the conference, Minnesota tailback Darrell Thompson could be the only Big Ten player with even a ghost of a chance of finishing among the top five in this fall's Heisman balloting.
THE BIG ONE?
Ohio State, under new coach John Cooper, wasn't expected to do much better than break even in his first season. But while the rest of the conference sputtered. Cooper's Buckeyes handed Syracuse its first loss in 22 months, 26-9. Cooper may be personally more flamboyant than his predecessors, Woody Hayes and Earle Bruce—he whirled a small scarlet towel over his head as he triumphantly rode his players' shoulders after the game—but his offense is cut from the same cloth. Ohio State ran the ball 75% of the time in piling up 306 total yards, and it passed on only four of 28 first downs.