Naturally, everyone connected with the Georgia Tech and Navy footbal teams is flattered that President Jimmy Carter is expected to attend their game at Annapolis today.
After all, neither is in anyone's Top 20. Georgia Tech is building and is 5-4: Navy has problems with its defense and injuries and is 4-5 - hardly a matchup worthy of presidential attention.
But this will be the first game of the year witnessed by Carter, special because, for him, it's a double homecoming. He attended both schools, transferring from Tech to Navy.
Asked if Navy would be striving to win for alumnus Carter, coach George Welsh said, "No. We better win one for Welsh."
The Maryland Terrapins will play at Richmond today amid considerably less fanfare. For the 5-4 Terps, it's "let's-not-embarrass ourselves" time, finishing up the season against Richmond and Virginia, who-have four wins between them. The Spiders are 3-6.
Howard has a chance to mold a modest three-game win streak at North Carolina Central, which has attempted 247 passes in posting a 1-8 record.
Ben on forgetting last week's night-marish 69-14 loss to Notre Dame. Georgia tech went touring in the White House yesterday.
Tech's coach, alumnus Pepper Rodgers, has become a new man since he packed his wishbone into his controversial purse and came to Georgia Tech from UCLA and Hollywood three years ago.
Rodgers alarmed the Tech alumni somewhat with his working attire - blue jeans, T-shirts and, of course, a shoulder bag. But what could be better to wear when he come to work on a motorcycle?
Now Rodgers is a suit-and-tie man. He comes to work in a Cadillac. And his football highlights show actually shows a lot of footage of football highlights instead of interviews with movie stars, as is once did.
Rodgers not to rock the boat while his team is in the serious early steps of rebuilding. The Yellow Jackets already have improved on last year's 4-6-1 record, and next year Rodgers can look forward to his first season coaching no one but players he recruited.
Rodgers normally starts only six seniors, but today there will be seven with an addition of quick linebacker Lawton Hydrich of Springfield, Va., in place of injured Mackel Harris, who leads the team in tackles with 107. Harris has a sprained ankle but may play.
Welsh is concerned about his defensive, which in the last four games has given up an average of 35 points a contest.
"We obviously have problems defensively," Welsh said. "Now we have a new problem. The wishbone is an entirely new offense for us to defend."
Rodgers is concerned about Navy tailback Joe Gattuso, who rushed for 81 yards, caught passes for 91 and scored twice in Navy's 34-28 victory over Tech last year.
Maryland defensive back Lloyd Burruss, who is psyched for the game because it's near his hometown and 15 relatives are coming, summed up the reason in one word.
Tight end Eric Sievers, who has played most of the year with a half-dozen injuries, said, "It's tough to get up for these last two. Most of our goals are gone. Now it's a matter of winning it for ourselves, finishing respectable."
Wingback Chuck White, a team captain and a senior who'll start in place of Vince Kinney (broken leg), said, "You don't want to lose to Richmond. And definitely not to Virginia.
"If we beat them by large margins, everyone will say it means nothing because Richmond and Virginia aren't any good. If we win by a small margin, or if we lose, everyone will say we aren't any good. We won't really win either way we go."
Senior safety Jonathan Claiborne added, "Personally, I think this team still has a lot to prove. I think we're better than our record. This game means a lot to me.
"This year has not been a total loss like the spectators and the writers seem to think. I've learned a lesson in life - that you don't always win, no matter how bad you want it."
Terp coach Jerry Claiborne is making a change in his kicking game (one of the few shifts he's made all year that is not the result of an injury), letting punter Mike Sochko try the placekicking while Ed Loncar is in a slump.
Linebacker Brad Carr will start but probably won't play the whole game because he is still recovering from a hyperextended elbow. Tailback Steve Atkins will stay at home and rest his pulled armstring, but Preacher Madox' ankles are well enough that he'll get some action behind George Scott.