Off-Season Filled With Stings, Stunts, Promotional Blitzes

What have you missed since the lights went out on the last college football season? These tidbits probably went unnoticed to all but the most fervent of fans:

Craziest Off-Season Stunt

Louisville Coach John L. Smith and longtime assistant Art Valero ran with the bulls in Pamplona, Spain.

Biggest Regret

Former Kansas athletic director Bob Frederick, on what he would have done differently if he could do it all over again: "One year, the theme of our football poster was 11 great dates and there was a picture of 11 coeds. Big mistake."

Best Recruiting Job

Pete Carroll of USC, who got a commitment from Frank Candela of Peabody, Mass., while Christmas shopping. Carroll popped a tape of Candela into a VCR at Best Buy and called the player from the store. "I heard shoppers in the background cheering the tape. I told him, 'You've got my 100% commitment!' " Candela said.

Most Turbulent Off-Season

Georgia's Mark Richt has reprimanded seven players since he became coach in December, and seven of his 16 freshman recruits failed to qualify academically.

Creative Scheduling

Nebraska. When option-minded Notre Dame comes to Lincoln, Neb., on Sept. 8, the Cornhuskers already will have played option-minded Texas Christian and cream puff Troy State.

Best Playbook, Bar None

Purdue Coach Joe Tiller, on where his staff gets plays: "We take plays any place we can find them. Bathroom walls in taverns, wherever. We have no pride when it comes to copying someone else's success."

Grass Isn't Always Greener

Illinois, which traditionally opens fall practice at Rantoul, Ill., had to move back to campus because a fungicide killed the grass at the Rantoul facility.

Home Improvement

Penn State completed a $93-million renovation of Beaver Stadium that brought the capacity to 106,500, surpassing Tennessee's and making the stadium the nation's second largest, behind Michigan's. When Joe Paterno arrived at Penn State as an assistant coach in 1950, the Lions played at 30,000-seat New Beaver Field.

Money Down the Toilet?

Work was completed on Ohio Stadium, home of the Buckeyes, at a cost of $195 million. Among the amenities: 723 bathroom fixtures for women, up from 91 two years ago, and 437 for men, up from 186.

His Favorite Musician? Sting

Florida center Zac Zedalis overcame tendinitis in his left knee with the help of bee venom. Zedalis takes five to seven bees and freezes them for 10 minutes. Then he grabs each bee by its wings and revives it by blowing on it. He holds the bee to his knee and flicks its head until it stings his knee.

Worst-Dressed List

First came Brigham Young, then Oregon. Now add Washington to the list of schools adopting the new-age uniforms designed by Nike.

No Business Like Shoe Business

Speaking of Nike, Kansas State will get 400 pairs of shoes from a new deal. The Wildcats get an additional 140 pairs if they play in a bowl game. The school also gets 200 footballs, travel warmups, coaches' polo shirts, jackets, 48 pairs of slacks and 150 turtlenecks. Coach Bill Snyder has rights to $10,000 worth of Nike products every year. His offensive and defensive coordinators get rights worth $1,500 and the other assistants get $1,000 in rights. Nike also pays the school $55,000.

Oldie but Goodie

Dale Stoner, 42, is believed to be the oldest player in the college ranks. The 6-foot-2, 240-pounder, who could not compete as a youngster because of a heart murmur, enrolled as a graduate student at Edinboro University in Pennsylvania. He passed a physical and is third on the depth chart at defensive tackle. Stoner is married and a father of three. Before chasing his football dream, he was a financial planner.

Spoken Like a True Fan

ESPN commentator Beano Cook in July: "The good news is, the 133rd season of college football is rapidly approaching. The bad news is, we still have almost three months of baseball left."

Does Size Matter?

Thickest-media-guide award: Michigan came in at 450 pages, but it is crushed by Texas' 568-page tome.

Shake, Rattle and Roll

California's 75,028-seat Memorial Stadium, which was built in 1923 and resembles a concrete version of the Roman Colosseum, is built on the active Hayward Fault. Retrofitting the structure will cost $100 million, which is 100 times more than it cost to build the facility.

Magic Carpet Ride

Oregon found OmniTurf to its liking at Autzen Stadium, where the Ducks have won 20 in succession. But OmniTurf is no more. The school replaced it with NeXturf, becoming the first college to use the surface. The NFL's Philadelphia Eagles are still working out the NeXturf bugs. The surface, installed before the baseball season at Veterans Stadium, has become matted down and slippery after less than a season of baseball. In an attempt to get the blades to stand back up, members of the Eagle staff are raking the surface daily.

Go West, Young Men

Hawaii and Grambling are discussing opening the 2002 season in Japan. "We feel like Japan is an area where we can market ourselves and become their team," Hawaii Coach June Jones said.

Ski Whiz

Colorado's Jeremy Bloom, expected to earn playing time as a receiver and return specialist, will skip the season, now that U.S. ski team coaches have convinced him he could make the 2002 Olympic squad as a freestyler.

The Price of Success

After winning a national title, Oklahoma hiked the price of a season ticket 55% and Coach Bob Stoops was given a raise to a guaranteed $2 million a year. A couple of statistics the Sooner Nation might want to ponder: Oklahoma is the eighth-poorest state in the nation and Gov. Frank Keating's yearly salary is $101,140.

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