When Howard Schnellenberger surprised everyone by taking the head coaching position at Louisville in 1984, not even Churchill Downs could have handled all the experts who were willing to bet that he would be long gone before his five-year contract expired. Well, surprise, surprise. This is the fifth year, and Schnellenberger is right there on the Cardinals sideline.
However, he has refused the university's offer to extend his contract. One scenario has it that if the Cards have a season as good as last year's 8-3—Louisville's best record since 1972—Schnellenberger will threaten to leave unless he gets a new stadium. Louisville now plays in a 35,500-seat baseball park at the state fairgrounds, and the coach believes the seating configuration and atmosphere simply aren't right for college football.
Forget those decisions about whether to run the veer, the wishbone or the pro-set; the toughest thing a college coach has to do these days is produce a winner while making sure that his athletes also make a stab at being students. Too often the price for success on the field is failure in the classroom. Washington State, for example, had a 9-3 record last season, the school's most wins since 1930. Then amid all the good cheer in Pullman came the news that the squad had limped to a collective 1.94 grade point average during the fall semester. The Cougars pulled that score up a tad to a 2.36 during the following term, but departed guard Mike Utley probably spoke for many of his teammates when he said, "Once we saw how good we were, going to class didn't seem important."
While most college coaches howl at the prospect of the National Football League reversing its long-standing policy of not drafting players before their class graduates, Penn State's Joe Paterno has a more realistic attitude. "If a kid wants to go to the pros." says Paterno, "he has every right to go. We don't have the right to expect a kid to stay. I really don't see players leaving in great numbers. I do worry about agents who will exploit kids and try to convince kids who aren't ready. There are some kids who should go. Anybody who says this is going to ruin college football is talking nonsense. If college football is so fragile, then it's not worth very much."
San Jose State's record-breaking tailback, Johnny Johnson, begged offspring practice to rest his aching knees, after having stepped in to play basketball for the Spartans this winter when 10 players quit the team 16 games into the season (he averaged 11.2 points and 6.5 rebounds). That irked coach Claude Gilbert, who thought Johnson should at least have shown up for conditioning drills and punished him by demoting him to third-string fullback on the depth chart. Meanwhile, Virginia landed schoolboy sensation Terry Kirby by promising him that he would also be able to play hoops for the Cavaliers.... At Iowa all the quarterbacks competing for the starting job have illustrious sports pedigrees: Front-runner Tom Poholsky's father, Tom Sr., pitched for the St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago Cubs; Matt Rodgers's father, Jimmy, is coach of the Boston Celtics; and Jim Hartlieb's older brother Chuck last season ended his career as quarterback at Iowa, where he passed for more than 3,000 yards as a junior and senior.... Clemson is the only team in the nation that can claim a conference championship, bowl victory and Top 20 finish in each of the last three seasons.