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College Football / Richard Hoffer : Irish-Miami II Might Be a Fiesta Brawl

The Fighting Irish--and when’s the last time they lived up to their team name, anyway?--have a chance to put a melodramatic finish on the season, but only if they lose to USC on Nov. 26.

With 1 loss, Notre Dame would loom as a likely postseason opponent for that other team with 1 defeat, Miami.

The Fiesta Bowl is said to be in favor of presenting such a rematch. The buildup would not include national championship ramifications, but given the recent history between these schools, that would have amounted to little more than a footnote, anyway. Their angry rivalry, which just got angrier, is plenty enough.

Notre Dame fans, if you recall, last week took to wearing “Unfinished Business” T-shirts, referring to a rout that Miami had applied 3 years earlier. But after Notre Dame’s 31-30 victory over Miami last Saturday, there may be a new market for the slogan.

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The Hurricanes are now smarting over--take your pick--the loss of their top ranking on a disputed call, a pregame fight of undetermined origin and/or just general disparagement from the Notre Dame community, where “Catholics vs. Convicts” T-shirts were also a hot item last week.

The Hurricanes, who outgained the Irish but committed 7 turnovers, still think they’re the better football team and maybe even the holier one--the Miami offense has seven Catholics, no convicts. And except for choosing to go for 2 points instead of 1 in the last 45 seconds, they might have made everybody think they were at least as good.

So we’ve got motive and opportunity for this rematch. The problem might be Irish Coach Lou Holtz, who was calling for a cooling-off period for the teams immediately after the game. Sounds as if this is finished business as far he is concerned.

Of course if the Irish win out their season, they may end up playing somebody else come bowl time, for more than melodrama.

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Last add, blown call: Nobody has come up with anything, either film or testimony, to prove that Cleveland Gary’s fumble at the Notre Dame 1-yard line was anything more than a close call. Miami Coach Jimmy Johnson has even cooled off about it. Lou Holtz, of course, is willing to live with it. “I’ve never seen officials make more mistakes than I have as a coach,” he said, “and I’ve made some dumb ones.”

And if you think officials are dumb: Fifth-ranked Florida State beat East Carolina, 45-21, and West Virginia, idle, moved ahead of the Seminoles in the Associated Press poll. How do you figure that?

Uh, one of the sportswriters voting in the poll forgot about Florida State last week. The sportswriter, unidentified, said he would have voted for Florida State fifth. If he had just remembered.

But dumber yet: Washington Coach Don James has barred certain reporters from practices for reporting a player’s injury.

For those reporters, who saw quarterback Cary Conklin holding his thumb in ice, it was a case of what they were going to believe--their eyes or James. James told reporters if they wrote anything about the injury, they would no longer be welcome. They did, they’re not.

James explained that he had asked for “protection” from reporters “hundreds of times.” It apparently has been a policy at Washington. He said the reporting of practice injuries “helps the opponent, and I think it hurts us.”

The truth often does.

Cute story of the week: Major Harris, quarterback at West Virginia (6-0), returned to Brashear High School in Pittsburgh last week, an open date for his Mountaineers. He wasn’t accorded a hero’s welcome. In fact, he ended up holding the first-down marker during the game. He told his old prep coach, somewhat flabbergasted at the sight, that he wasn’t doing anything anyway.

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Harris, a sophomore who is having a pretty good season--nearly 1,100 yards in total offense, 4 touchdowns passing and 3 rushing--now has something to do. West Virginia must play Boston College, Penn State and Syracuse the next 3 weeks.

Alabama was not too happy with CBS-TV’s promotion of this week’s game with Penn State. The TV commercial, which was shown last weekend, said something about Penn State tradition and Alabama troubles, referring to several preseason incidents involving players and some dissatisfaction with Alabama Coach Bill Curry.

Said Tommy Limbaugh, Alabama associate athletic director: “The best I can tell, (Penn State’s) tradition is no deeper than ours.”

Surprises (midseason):

--Ohio State is 2-3 under John Cooper.

--Louisville, which hasn’t had a winning season since 1979, is 4-3.

--The Pac-10’s best quarterback, statistically, is Timm Rosenbach, the Washington State passer who ranks No. 1 in efficiency.

--Indiana and Illinois lead the Big Ten.

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--And, of course, Columbia finally lost last week.


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