Colgate was rolling along with a 5-1 record last October, when its president, George D. Langdon Jr., announced that because of a conflict between playoff dates and exams, the Red Raiders would not take part in the Division I-AA playoffs. Langdon reversed himself within the week, and though the Red Raiders lost two games thereafter, they recovered to make the tournament, beating Boston University before losing to Delaware. The board of trustees has decided to let the Raiders compete in postseason play just one more year, which may be all Colgate needs to win the national title. Fourteen starters return, including 6'5", 202-pound junior Quarterback Steve Calabria, who completed 54.8% of his 374 passes for 2,768 yards last year.
In the title game Colgate may well meet Idaho, an aerial circus that reached the '82 quarterfinals on the arm of Ken Hobart, who threw for 3,058 yards and 24 touchdowns and was intercepted only eight times. To go all the way Idaho must get by Big Sky rival Nevada-Reno, which won six of its last seven games in 1982 after a 0-4 start. "Everybody thinks the quick fix is passing," says Wolf Pack Coach Chris Ault. "We run to win." The offense is known as Ault's Infantry, and it stars Fullback Anthony Corley, a bodybuilder who last year carried for 1,198 yards. The linemen call themselves wo-hogs (half wolf, half hog), and they're led by 6'3", 265-pound Tackle Derek (Boss Hog) Kennard.
Handling placements for Nevada-Reno will be Tony Zendejas, who has converted 47 of 57 field-goal attempts over the last two years, including five of seven from beyond the 50. Zendejas' older brother, Joaquin Jr., kicked for the University of La Verne from 1979 to '82; his cousins Max and Luis kick for Arizona and Arizona State, respectively; and his younger brother, Martin, is a redshirted kicker for Nevada-Reno this fall.
The most exciting player in the Big Sky is Northern Arizona Flanker Pete Mandley, a 4.3 sprinter who averaged 21.7 yards per reception on 49 catches, 24.5 yards on 22 kick-off returns and 12.7 yards on 27 punt returns. But without Quarterback Scott Lindquist, who was drafted 12th by the Los Angeles Raiders, the Lumberjacks aren't likely to improve on their 4-7 record.
Eastern Kentucky has qualified for the Division I-AA championship game each of the past four seasons, winning it in 1979 and '82. The Colonels must replace their entire defense and the better part of the offense, which means they will likely finish second in the Ohio Valley Conference, behind Akron. The Zips return virtually every starter, including multitalented Tailback James Black, who carried the ball 34 times a game for 1,188 yards last fall. Black also plays jazz piano, sang the national anthem before two basketball games last winter and, at 5'11", 185 pounds, won the Most Beautiful Male Body on Campus contest in April. Last season Quarterback Ken Banks completed only 25% of his passes, hitting the long throws—he averaged 16.7 yards per completion—but misfiring on the short ones. This year the Zips are banking on a Banks who can hit receivers long and short.
Delaware Coach Tubby Raymond relaxes by painting with oils. He especially enjoys limning landscapes and head-and-shoulders portraits of his players. Still, Raymond finds plenty of time to draw variations on the Fightin' Blue Hens' wing T, a misdirection offense designed to keep all the options open. It has earned Delaware a berth in postseason play eight of the past 11 years. The formation also enabled Delaware to score a I-AA-high 34.1 points per game each of the past two seasons and to rush for a division-leading 230.4 yards in 1982. The Hens' player losses are substantial, but Delaware has plenty of depth and eight games at home. Don't worry about the Hens.
Lafayette, rich in football heritage, is the birthplace of the huddle (in 1924, after Penn figured out the Leopards' signals) and the behind-the-line-of-scrimmage lateral (in 1925, when a fellow named Dinty Moore ran for a 19-yard touchdown against Washington & Jefferson). Lafayette is also well stocked with high-quality players. One of the best is Quarterback Frank Novak, the No. 1 passer in the division last year. Novak completed 59.92% of his 257 throws for 2,257 yards and 20 TDs, and his offense was No. 2 in scoring (33.5 points a game) and overall yardage (432.2 a game). The Leopards return six of their front seven on defense and two 1,000-yard tailbacks, Nick Kowgios, who had 1,018 and 15 TDs last year, and Rodger Shepko, who gained 1,280 yards in '81 but sat out '82 with a broken ankle. Ryan Priest, who set a I-AA punt-return record by averaging 22.6 yards, also comes back.
Another quarterback to watch is Kenneth Biggies of Tennessee State. As a sophomore last year Biggies was the No. 2 passer in I-AA, throwing for 2,001 yards and 20 TDs to lead the Tigers to a 10-1-1 season. Tennessee State has a top receiver in Golden (Elmer Glue) Tate, who averaged 25.2 yards on 32 catches. But the Tigers lost 14 starters: Five were drafted by the NFL and four others signed with NFL teams as free agents. As a result, Coach Big John Merritt, the winningest active coach in the country (225-65-10 over 29 seasons) behind Grambling's Eddie Robinson (page 124), has his most inexperienced group since 1963.
Ranked No. 3 in passing last season was Rich LaBonte of Maine, who completed 54.9% of his throws for 17 touchdowns and 1,640 yards. The Black Bears would be clear favorites in the Yankee Conference were it not for Boston University's 1,316-yard Tailback Paul Lewis, the No. 1 scorer in the division in '82 with 18 TDs.