SI Vault
Jaime Diaz
October 03, 1988
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October 03, 1988

College Football

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Stewart says he is quite comfortable residing on a four-foot-wide ledge 40 feet above the ground. He is equipped with phones for his evening call-in show on WSIX, a lean-to with a mattress, a reading light and a cooler. His food is being supplied by a local McDonald's, and a fair portion of his liquids by a local beer distributor. There is a portable toilet at the base of the billboard.

Stewart has to be hoping for Indian summer in the Volunteer State, because if Tennessee loses to the Cougars they are not scheduled to play again until Alabama visits Neyland Stadium on Oct. 15. "I'm in for the long haul," said Stewart on Sunday, the sixth day of his vigil. "Of course, if we go oh and 11, I'm going to look like the biggest jerk that ever lived."


Kansas, which hasn't won a game since last October, suffered through a 52-21 pasting by California last Saturday, one week after a 56-7 shellacking by Auburn. The Cal game was more painful because it lasted longer. At Auburn's Jordan-Hare Stadium, Kansas was down 42-0 at the half when Jayhawk coach Glen Mason asked referee Jimmy Harper if, in the interests of mercy, the second half could be expedited. Sure, said Harper, if it was O.K. with Auburn coach Pat Dye. "Fine," said Dye.

So the clock was discreetly fast-forwarded. Harper, for example, would hesitate between five and seven seconds after an incomplete pass before signalling to stop the clock. Harper would also signal for the clock to start when the offensive team broke the huddle, not at the snap of the ball, as the rules dictate. In the end, a game that had nine touchdowns, 37 first downs and 17 incomplete passes took less than two hours and 20 minutes to play.

"It happens a lot more than people think," said Harper, an SEC official since 1963, "but we don't publicize it." The idea of speeding along the laughers seems practical—even humane—but is it legal? Apparently so. A clause in the NCAA rule book reads: "Anytime during the game, the playing time of any remaining period or periods may be shortened by mutual agreement of opposing head coaches and the referee." Spectators were not informed of the speed-up, though it's unlikely that Tiger fans would have felt shortchanged.

The gambit is actually listed in the Holy Cross playbook as "Kickoff Return Touchdown," and it gave the Crusaders an unbelievable 30-26 win—their first of a so far disappointing season—over Princeton. With two seconds left at Princeton's Palmer Stadium, the Tigers' Chris Lutz, who had just kicked a 35-yard field goal, apparently to give his team a 26-24 comeback victory, had his kick fielded at the 23-yard line by Holy Cross's Darin Cromwell. Cromwell started toward the left sideline, trailed by Tim Donovan. Just as Cromwell was about to be tackled at the Crusader 42 by Princeton's Brian Wietharn, he pitched back to Donovan, who used his 4.48 speed to race into the end zone past the momentarily stunned Princeton defense. That bit of razzle-dazzle marked the first time a Division I-AA game has ever been won in the final seconds by a kickoff return for a touchdown. "It's a play we work on in practice," said Holy Cross coach Mark Duffner. "We could probably do it 100 times and it would never work again."

[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]

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