Time to defuse fierce rivalries; Maryland's NFL connections

By , Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

A lot of ill feeling surfaced in Saturday's fight-marred Penn State-Pittsburgh game, and the mouthy Boston College-Holy Cross contest was no picnic either, with chips as well as pads carried on some shoulders. There's nothing wrong with a good rivalry, but friction and unpleasantries should never be allowed to spoil good, clean competitiveness. What can be done? Well, the Army-Navy game is a classic example of intensity without visible rancor. That, however, is a special situation in which a strict code of self-discipline is inherent. One way to improve things elsewhere might be to hold a social mixer for the rival teams, perhaps a sit-down meal at which opposing players would share a table and get to know each other better as people. This could result in more respect for ``the other guy,'' and a bit more sportsmanship in Saturday's game. Terps struggle despite familiar names

At Maryland, it's not whom you know, but whom you're related to, that sets certain players apart. People naturally expect a bit more from the five current Terrapins with National Football League connections.

The name that rings the most bells belongs to freshman lineman Frank Namath, whose uncle is Joe Namath, the Hall of Fame passer. The others with notable NFL ties are starting quarterback Dan Henning, linebacker Richie Petitbon, quarterback Drew Komlo, and lineman Chris Gunnels.

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Henning is the son of Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Henning; Petitbon of Richie Petitbon, a Washington Redskins assistant coach and former all-pro defensive back; and Gunnels of Riley Gunnels, a defensive star of the Philadelphia Eagles' 1960 championship team. Komlo, whose father, Bill, was a member of Maryland's undefeated 1955 Orange Bowl squad, has an older brother, Jeff, who played quarterback for three NFL teams, Detroit, Tampa Bay, and Seattle, during a seven-year career.

Though Henning, a junior, has set several school passing records, having name-brand players hasn't guaranteed the team's success. In fact, after playing in postseason bowl games each of the last four seasons, the Terps have struggled to a 4-5-1 record, and need a win over Virginia on Friday (CBS, 2:30 ET) to escape a last-place finish in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Perhaps the team has been indirectly affected by the turmoil surrounding the school's basketball program. Whether or not this has had any impact, Maryland has certainly not seen things go its way on the gridiron. Just observe what has happened in the Terrapins' last three games:

North Carolina kicked a 28-yard field goal with four seconds left to win 32-30.

Maryland had an attempted two-point conversion pass deflected with 14 seconds left in a 17-15 loss to second-ranked Penn State.

Clemson clinched the conference championship by kicking a 21-yard field goal with two seconds left to tie the Terrapins 17-17.

Coach Bobby Ross spent the latter game in the press box, where he served a one-game suspension for angrily grabbing an official after the loss to North Carolina. Palmer and the Whizzer

With 89 yards rushing and 82 in kickoff returns against Rutgers, Temple's Paul Palmer managed to break Marcus Allen's record for career all-purpose yards (running, receiving, and kick returns) with 2,633. But he came up short of one of the oldest records still on the books.

Palmer finished the season averaging 239.4 all-purpose yards, falling just 76 yards shy of erasing the mark set by Colorado's Byron (Whizzer) White, now a Supreme Court justice, in 1937. White's '37 performance, in which he averaged 246.3 all-purpose yards, will go down as one of the most magnificent season-long displays in history.

To gain a proper appreciation of what he accomplished, consider that he single-handedly outgained that year's average team by nearly 48 yards. He led the nation in rushing, scoring, total offense, and all-purpose yards. He was also Colorado's punter, and an exceptional one, with a 42.5-yard average.

The irony is that Colorado was 8-0 and went to the Cotton Bowl, yet White was runner-up to Yale University's Clint Frank in only the third Heisman Trophy election. Briefly speaking

After a slow start, Dartmouth's players sent Joe Yukica, who fought to retain his job, out with a flourish. The Big Green lost their first six games, including a horrifying string of four by 180-26, but beat Yale, Columbia, and Princeton and tied Brown in the last four games.

When the coaches announced their All-America team recently, there was at least one surprise, that being the selection of Stanford's Brad Muster to the backfield. Muster hasn't received that much ink, yet he figuratively lines up alongside Temple's Palmer and Auburn's Brent Fullwood, and behind Miami quarterback Vinny Testaverde. Muster was an all-Pacific 10 selection last year, but few noticed him playing on a 4-7 team. Then, too, people think of Stanford as a passing team, featuring quarterbacks like Jim Plunkett, Steve Dils, John Elway, and this year's signal caller, John Paye.

Muster's rushing statistics aren't sensational (94.5 yards a game), but when selectors looked at his combined running and catching abilities (57 receptions ), he definitely passed muster.

After getting a look at Texas college football for a series on American life, the BBC's David Wickham asked, ``How many blokes can you put on the rug at one time?''

The forward pass wasn't legally adopted until 1906, but according to an account written by John Heisman, a famous figure in the game, the first reception dates to 1895, when North Carolina presumably completed a 70-yard touchdown pass play. Actually, the hasty toss, made by a harried punter, was so short that many observers never realized it occurred. George Stephens was simply credited with a 70-yard run.

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