Baylor was a surprising 5-6 last year, and "I think we'll be as good or better," says Coach Grant Teaff. So, too, is the list of Bear opponents, and .500 is optimistic. Arkansas Coach Frank Broyles must replace 14 starters from a Razorback edition that disappointed at 6-5, worst in Fayetteville in half a decade.
Rice's Al Conover threw a chair through a window, directed the band from his bench and even hired a hearse for players to symbolically bury their troubles. Amused or angered, the Owls awoke to 5-5-1. But Quarterback Bruce Gadd and the better part of both lines have departed. Rice fans can watch for more chairs, etc. At Texas Christian five new offensive linemen will be baptized by fire.
North Carolina has won 15 straight ACC games, and Coach Bill Dooley has no reason to hang down his head now. In fact, given their easier outside schedule, the Tar Heels are better able to concentrate on a third straight title than favored N.C. State. Dooley lost six All-ACC performers, but he was deeper than the Deep South in competent subs last year. Quarterback Nick Vidnovic, who would rather run but led the ACC with 10 touchdown passes anyway, returns with seven of nine top rushers and six of seven receivers, including long-ball threat Earle Bethea. The defense, while thin, will rally nicely around All-ACC Linebacker Jimmy DeRatt.
Maryland and Duke represent other challengers, with the Terps the more viable threat. The Terrapins are the league's most improved team, boasting a defense that went from last in 1971 to first in 1972, thanks largely to Guard Paul Vellano (6'3", 240 pounds). Kicking specialist Steve Mike-Mayer accounted for 55 points last year on the most prolific Terp offense since 1954. Duke will miss conference MVP Steve Jones at tailback, but the defense is a big Blue Devil.
The defense at Virginia returns nine starters, but the Cavs need a passing quarterback to complement the running of Kent Merritt. Harrison Davis or Scott Gardner are in line for the job.
Clemson's rookie Coach Red Parker plans to run more, but has a shortage of quality people to do so; while Wake Forest's new coach, Chuck Mills from Utah State, insists the Deacons will throw more, but lacks a Tony Adams-type passer to do that. Which is why both should finish at the bottom of the ACC.
Pass-happy San Diego State won 10 of 11 games and the conference championship last fall. Under new Coach Claude Gilbert, who succeeds Don Coryell (now of the St. Louis Cardinals), the goals are the same, but the methods will be modified. Quarterback Jesse Frietas will still have plenty of opportunity to throw—"about 25 times a game," says Gilbert—but the Houston Veer should make the attack more versatile.
University of the Pacific went to the Veer last year and finished 8-3, its best record since 1949. The offense rushed for 265 yards a game while shunning the pass almost entirely. Coach Chester Caddas must now choose between Bruce Keplinger, who guided the Veer, or Carlos Brown, who sat out last season with an injury after passing for 1,600 yards in 1971. Larry Bailey, a 6'6", 250-pound tackle, leads a defense that was fifth best in the country against the rush.