The Navy football team is having so much fun in this friendly port full of battleships and sailors that it's almost a shame the players have to be interrupted by the academy's first football bowl appearance in 15 years.
The Midshipmen will have to break in on their busy schedule of zoo-hopping and aircraft carrier wing-dinging long enough to meet Brigham Young in the first Holiday Bowl on Friday night (9 p.m. EST, WDCA-TV-20).
If the Mids aren't careful-and better prepared than they say they are-the showtown with the aerial circus from The Y could be the low point of a nice leave.
Today, Navy managed to squeeze 30 minutes of footabll practice between the largest Kiwanis luncheon in history (attendance 6,000, including Gerald Ford) and the Grand Official Dinner at the Hotel Del Coronado.
hat has been typical of a nerve-racking four-day Navy stay here that has included steak fries, queen contests, tours and luncheons. Navy coaches, accustomed to the 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. regimen of the academy day, are pulling their regulation-length hair because they're 10 hours behind schedule in pregame skull-session planning.
BYU, similarly playful in preparing for this Distraction Bowl, seems unworried.
"We don't have to practice to get ready for them," said BYU's defensive captain at today's luncheon, as Navy Coach George Welsh did a double-take and stare. "We're seen everything they do before."
No BYU defender thinks he can be surprised by any formation, man in motion or trick play.
"We see everything imaginable in our practices," said BYU linebacker Rod Wood. "I swear our offensive guys lay awake at night dreaming up the stuff we pull."
Navy, which has lost three of its last four games, despite an 8-3 record and a 28-0 victory over Army, was hoping for three heavy practice days here. Annapolis exams limited the Mids to two days of BYU-oriented drilling.
San Diego has greeted them with rain, soggy practice fields and a city-wide welcome mat that they find hard to refuse.
"My players are small, slow and smart," said Welsh today. They will need to be smart to assimilate the constant blitzes and stunts that have been the only proven way of stopping BYU's constant passing show.
"That's too bad for us," poormouthed BYU Coach LaVell Edwards. "We're better against the guys who are big, fast and dumb."
Rarely has any bowl, especially an inaugural one, had so vividly contrasting matchup. It's billed as Mormons vs. Middies, Church and State, Anchors Away vs. Bombs Away.
In football styles the teams are opposites: Navy is seventh in the nation in defense (10.9 points per game); the Y is ninth in the country in passing.
Navy has its biggest offensive line in history tackle to tackle (238-pound average) and runs the ball three-quarters of the time. BYU built its 9-3 record by passing more than 400 times in games from Hawaii to Yokohama this season.
The Y is so passing-rich that it has not announced sophomore Mark Wilson (1,584 yards total offense) or junior Jim McMahon (1,555) as its quarter back. For one of the few times, both are healthy.
After seeing the way Florida State's Jimmy Jordan passed Navy dizzy in a 38-6 rout, BYU is expected to go with the stronger-armed Wilson, rather than the more nimble McMahon.
Most tactical oments favor BYU. The Cougar's large defensive line stops the run well; ball control has been Navy's forte.
"Teams have had trouble driving on them," Navy quarterback Bob Leszcynski said today. "They' re more likely to give up the long play," said Welsh, indicating that he may turn the Leszczynski-to-phil McConkey combo loose a la 1977.
Navy's one conspicuous weakness has been its makeshift defensive secondary. Only rover back Gregg Mile should cause Byu ANY CAUTION. NAVY SELDOM BLITZES, YET THAT TACTIC, FIRST EMPLOYED CONTINUALLY BY SAN DIEGO STATE, HAS BEEN THE ONLY WAY TO CONFUSE THE RUNLESS COUGARS.