Oregon State hopes new Coach Craig Fertig (page 72) can pull off some small miracles in Corvallis, but it won't be easy. The offensive line must be rebuilt and Quarterback Kyle Grossart missed spring practice with a broken foot. Fertig calls Defensive End Dennis Boyd "one of the great all-around football players ever to play in the Pac-8." Oregon isn't deep, but Coach Don Read claims the Ducks are "explosive," especially when Jack Henderson is throwing to Split End Greg Bauer. Washington is rebuilding around tanklike Fullback Robin Earl. Washington State is praying around new Coach Jackie Sherrill.
Baylor and Texas Tech are the best after conference favorites Arkansas, Texas and Texas A&M. With eight starters back on offense and seven on defense, the Bears have experience and high hopes. Tailback Cleveland Franklin gained 1,112 yards, and Tight End Ronnie Lee was the best freshman in the league. The defense sparkles with Rover Ron Burns and Linebacker Tim Black. Baylor will surely improve its 3-6-2 record.
Tech has loads of offense but holes on defense. Alternating Quarterbacks Tommy Duniven and Rodney Allison complement each other with their passing and running. The veteran line, led by Guard Mike Sears, gives Tailback Larry Isaac and Fullback Jimmy Williams lots of running room.
The rest of the league seems destined for the second division, but at least there is plenty of enthusiasm down there, generated by new coaches at SMU ( Ron Meyer, page 72) and Rice ( Homer Rice), the debut of conference newcomer Houston and the absence of a losing streak at TCU.
Meyer has problems galore at SMU, among them only nine returning starters, but the worst defense in the conference can only get better, while the offense gets a face-lift, Meyer replacing the I with the wishbone. Rice's Rice hopes a positive thinking program can end the school's 12-season losing streak. He has not coached in seven years, since leaving Cincinnati to be athletic director at North Carolina, but his offensive flair helped make Cincinnati's Greg Cook the nation's leading passer. At Rice he has another fine quarterback prospect in Tommy Kramer.
Houston has loads of experience but not much talent. Tackles Val Belcher on offense and Wilson Whitley on defense are standouts, but a quarterback is needed desperately. TCU ended its season and its 20-game losing streak by beating Rice, and now the Horned Frogs, with Jimmy Elzner throwing to Mike Renfro, are thinking .500.
Despite recent rumors to the contrary, ACC football is still out in the cold. After Maryland, the other six teams will spend the season falling all over each other to separate the 3-2s from the 2-3s in their five-game conference schedule. Thank Virginia, those fine gentlemen, for eliminating some of the confusion by promising another likely 0-5.
Duke could have shared the conference title with Maryland in 1975 if its games with North Carolina and N.C. State hadn't ended in ties. With Art Gore (674 yards in 1974) back from an injury, and option Quarterback Mike Dunn, the Blue Devils are a good bet to have a winning season.