Crowds on the field; UCLA and the Rose Bowl; Notre Dame's so-so season
Has the time come to build moats around college gridirons or leash guard dogs to the goal posts? Some people may think so based on recent incidences of crowds rushing onto the field before games are over, often to tear down the uprights.
It's really not unusual for spectators to swarm the playing surface; they've been doing so for years at many stadiums. And goalpost demolitions are nothing new either, although now fans of whichever team wins, whether home or away, get into the act. What is new, or seems to be, is the total disregard for the game crowds are exhibiting when they interrupt the final seconds of play. Unfortunately, some of these intrusions have been seen on TV, perhaps planting the idea that such behavior is somehow fashionable.
Game officials are empowered to handle these situations however they see fit.Generally they just stop the clock until the field is cleared, only occasionally penalizing the home team as Nebraska was last weekend. Officials, though, hesitate to mete out penalties since the players aren't at fault and rowdy fans aren't necessarily those of the host school. Crazy run for Roses
For UCLA, backing into the Rose Bowl was like backing into its own garage. The Bruins, unhappy playing at the Los Angeles Coliseum, used the Rose Bowl for home games this season, but weren't given much chance of appearing there New Year's Day. Either Washington or Arizona State was expected to win the Pacific- 10 championship and show up in Pasadena.
After beating Arizona State, Washington momentarily had the inside track on a third straight Rose Bowl berth, but blew it with a shocking loss to Washington State. Elevated to the favorite's role, Arizona State then followed suit, squandering a chance for its first Rose Bowl trip by losing to Arizona for only the third time in 17 years. That gave idle UCLA (5-1-1 in the conference) a half-game margin and the right to play Michigan Jan. 1.
In 1976, when the Bruins last made the granddaddy of bowl games, they upset Ohio State as coach Dick Vermeil closed out his UCLA career. Now, despite the odd way in which it carted off Pac-10 honors, fifth-ranked UCLA will be favored against the Wolverines, whose 18th-ranking is embarrassingly low for such a major bowl. Notre Dame below par, again
Second-year Coach Gerry Faust hasn't convinced Notre Dame rooters that he's the right man for the job. They were willing to forgive and forget last year's 5-6 record, so long as he could quickly produce something much better. But a rollercoaster 6-4-1 season, with no more highs than lows, is not what people had in mind.
Victories over Michigan, Miami, and Pittsburgh shook down some thunder; losses to Arizona and Air Force and a tie against Oregon stirred rumbling of another kind. Some of it could have been silenced if Notre Dame had beaten Southern California last Saturday, but USC came from behind in the last minute to take an emotion-charged victory.
The Trojans hardly needed any extra incentive against this old intersectional foe, but their coach, John Robinson, provided some anyhow by announcing his retirement before the game. Robinson attempted to keep his players loose by telling them to ''win one for the fat man,'' a line ironically inspired by the ''win one for the Gipper'' pep talk given by Notre Dame coach Knute Rockne years ago. Army-Navy to hit road?
Army versus Navy in the Rose Bowl stadium? It may happen as early as next season, according to reports filtering out of the service academies. This traditional rivalry, which will be renewed Dec. 4 in Philadelphia, has been played in that city since 1944. Crowds have been dwindling, though, and taking to the road might generate new enthusiasm for a contest between what are, after all, national academies. Carl Ullrich, Army's athletic director, says the idea is to move the game out of Philadelphia once every four or five years and not to turn it into a ''traveling circus.''
Attendance by thousands of Cadets and Midshipmen has given the game a special flavor, and a tentative plan exists for transporting them across the country.