History certainly is on Barr's side. He is the fifth assistant S.I.D. to work at Bowling Green. The first, Bob Boxell, is now the S.I.D. at the University of Evansville in Indiana. Steve Shutt, who followed Boxell, is the S.I.D. at New Mexico State. Sherk, Barr's current boss, was the third. And John Farina, the one Barr replaced, has moved on to become the assistant S.I.D. at Michigan State. Now all Barr has to do is find a way to move on without taking a pay cut.
CHICAGO BEARS: Signed quarterback Ben Bennett.
At about seven o'clock on Monday night, Nov. 28, Ben Bennett returned to his apartment in Durham, N.C., and noticed that the red light on his answering machine was flashing. The first message, from a woman he had been seeing in Durham, was routine—"Call me if you want to do something tonight," she said—but the next voice he heard so stunned him that he could feel his hands begin to sweat:
"Ben, this is Bill Tobin of the Chicago Bears. Please call me. I need to talk to you tonight." Tobin is the director of player personnel for the Bears, and Bennett knew the call could mean only one thing. The third message that night strengthened his feeling. It was from Perry Moss, the head coach of the Chicago Bruisers of the Arena Football League. Last summer, playing quarterback for the Bruisers, Bennett threw 49 touchdown passes, led the Bruisers to a 10-1-1 regular-season record and at season's end was voted the league's most valuable player.
Just the day before, Bennett had been watching the Cincinnati-Buffalo game on television when one of the commentators mentioned that Mike Tomczak—the Bears' second-string quarterback, who was playing for the injured Jim McMahon—had suffered a possible shoulder separation in a game against Green Bay and that Chicago's third-string quarterback, Jim Harbaugh, was now running the show. "The wheels started turning in my mind," Bennett says. "I knew McMahon was banged up. Now Tomczak gets banged up. I wondered if I had a shot to play."
So Bennett called Moss, an old friend of Tobin's, in Chicago, and asked him to call Tobin for him. Moss did, telling Tobin that Bennett was available. On Monday, Tobin decided to sign Bennett, and just that quickly—literally overnight—Bennett's whole life began to change. Moss knew the decision had been made, and when Bennett returned his call, the coach simply told him, "You've got a job. The Bears want you."
Bennett, 26, went limp. "I sat there for a second," he said. "I couldn't believe it. I was ecstatic. I was nervous. I was numb." Driven by a need to share the moment, he knocked on the door of a neighbor, a longtime friend, but no one was home. Looking around, he saw a woman walking down the street, a total stranger.
"I ain't got anybody to tell all this good news to," he told her, "but I just got called to play for the Chicago Bears."
"Really?" the dumbfounded woman said. "Congratulations."
Bennett didn't sleep all night. One day he was an unemployed former college football star with some very big stats who had never made it in the NFL, and the next day he was a Chicago Bear. Lying in bed on Monday night, he kept thinking. This can't be true; something bad is going to happen; it always does.