Mike McCormack met with Colt brass yesterday and the three-ring circus of a Baltimore coach hunt backed away from a scheduled news conference today to who-knows-when, most likely sometime after the Super Bowl.

Big Mac, supposed to have been introduced to Baltimore today as The Man, huddled in Chicago with owner Bob Irsay (that's his home territory) and General Manager Dick Szymanski -- after which Syzmanski called the office to report he was returning and that the press conference was off.

No immediate word as to whether talks would continue with McCormack, Cincinnati Bengal assistant who after coaching on the Redskin staff was for three years head mentor of the Philadelphia Eagles . . .

Dick Vermeil, who took over at Philadelphia in McCormack's wake, has a bit of a fresh problem -- developing a No. 2 quarterback behind Ron Jaworski. The incumbent backup, John Walton, has been named head coach at Elizabeth City (N.C.) State, whence he graduated in 1970 . . .

If the lack of a pact with McCormack or Frank Kush doesn't project Navy's George Welsh front and center in the Colt picture, rev up the Welsh-to-Penn-State-eventually rumors.

Joe Paterno, named to take over March 1 as athletic director while continuing as Nittany Lion football coach and phys ed professor, said he has no intention of relinquishing the coaching chores at 53. But PSU watchers say, maybe next year -- and talk about onetime Paterno assistant Welsh; about Oklahoma staffer Galen Hall, a Nittany alum; about Chuck Amato, N.C. State assistant passed over for Bo Rein's Wolfpack job despite a player petition that Amato be promoted. And about the Rein plane disaster maybe adding its effect to the myriad problems that put more than one year of age on Paterno in the past year (but not enough to send him to the Colts, who would rather have had him than anybody) . . .

So epidemic has the phony course credits bag for athletes become that now we have a cross country runner (!) at Cal-Poly Pomona (!) reported admitting he never earned the passing grade with which he was credited from a Montana college -- never, for that matter, attended the class . . . So questionable has big-time recruiting become that at U. of Arizona, Athletic Director Dave Strack has been reduced to trying to justify a half-dozen flying trips-cum-accommodations, $1,800 in expenditures, as truly recruiting-related -- when five of the junkets involved women (not athletes), one of them owner of a California massage studio. Her trip, Strack told the questioning Arizona Star in Tucson, was a "thank you" for her help in West Coast recruiting, in the form an entertaining visit with the Wildcat football coach, Tony Mason, and wife. But the newspaper says the massage studio owner denied knowing Mason . . . So sick of the mess is a New Mexico state legislative committee it is pushing for more instate recruitment at UNM and New Mexico State, even if it means those schools will not be competitive nationally . . .

Now (that Christmas is over) it can be told: You only thought the Locker Room, the young granddaddy of sports specialty shops, went under with Pennsylvania Avenue redevelopment. It moved practically around the corner, to 1336 New York Ave. NW . . .

In the background of rumbles of moving the Moscow Olympics to Canada have been similar about switching the Lake Placid Winter Olympics north of the border. Lack of snow in New York State is the problem, but IOC President Lord Killanin says tut-tut, "This is a worry we always have as the Winter Games approach. Often in the past there has been a serious shortage of snow, but it has come right in the end." The end.