All-America Quarterback Champaign Tony Eason, who set or tied nine NCAA records in 1982, has left Illinois for the New England Patriots, but have no fear, Illini, Mike (Magician) White is still around. In three years as IIlinois's coach. White has demonstrated a knack for pulling gifted quarterbacks out of his hat—first Dave Wilson, now a New Orleans Saint, and then Eason. At Cal, White produced Steve Bartkowski and the late Joe Roth. And before that, as a Stanford assistant, White coached Jim Plunkett. This season White has three potential stars—Jack Trudeau, Ken Cruz and Kris Jenner—from which to choose. White's not saying who will be the toast of Champaign this year, but he is saying, "He'll be better than Tony Eason." Order a magnum.
Northwestern Coach Dennis Green has 'em bubbling over in Evanston, too. Last season the Wildcats ended their 34-game losing streak, almost beat Ohio State and, believe it or not, actually had a player picked fourth in the NFL draft, Offensive Tackle Chris Hinton. Northwestern should keep improving. Quarterback Sandy Schwab, who hit 234 of 416 passes for 2,735 yards and 14 touchdowns last fall, setting three NCAA freshman records, heads a cast of 18 returning starters. Order two magnums.
Last season Dave McClain accomplished something no Wisconsin coach had ever done: He led the Badgers to victory in postseason play, a 14-3 defeat of Kansas State in the Independence Bowl. Quarterback Randy Wright (a transfer from Notre Dame), three veteran pass catchers and 26 redshirts carry Wisconsin's hopes in '83.
Purdue returns Quarterback Scott Campbell, who in three seasons has completed 426 of 755 passes for 5,605 yards and 33 touchdowns, running backs Mel Gray and Rodney Carter and a crew of first-rate receivers. But the Boilermakers have a brutal schedule. After opening at home against Notre Dame, Purdue must play Miami, Ohio State, Iowa and Michigan on the road.
Cross off Minnesota. After winning their first three games in '82, the Gophers lost eight straight. Even Coach Joe Salem's kid, Tim, the starting quarterback in 1980, has packed his bags and headed for Arizona State.
Indiana and Michigan State will continue to struggle as well, but with new hands at the helm. Sam Wyche, who had been the San Francisco 49ers' quarterback coach, takes over in Bloomington, while George Perles, former assistant head coach of the Steelers, returns to Michigan State, his alma mater. Quipped Wyche after signing on, "It's a 19-year contract." In Hoosierville, where basketball is king and the hoops coach is a Knight, that might not be long enough.
As a freshman at Bowling Green last year, 6'6", 200-pound Brian McClure led the conference in passing efficiency, completing 113 of 176 throws for 1,391 yards and eight TDs. If Coach Denny Stolz can find some halfbacks and receivers, the Falcons should repeat as champions. In 1982, Western Michigan put together its best record since 1941, when the Broncos were undefeated. The Bronco defense, headed by returning Linebacker John Offerdahl (149 tackles last fall), yielded fewer points—7.1 per game—than any Division I-A or I-AA team in the country.
Ohio returns all but one member of the offensive and defensive lines and Donny Harrison, who last year threw for 1,308 yards and ran for another 341. Before undergoing knee surgery in 1981, Toledo's Jim Kelso was an option-style quarterback. Last year Kelso's mobility was reduced, so he became a drop-back passer—and led the conference in total offense. Mobile now, Kelso will again be an option quarterback. Central Michigan will rely on Curtis Adams, who ran for 1,090 yards in '82 and was named the Mid-American's Offensive Player of the Year.