Joe Pascale is the coach and he wants to set everyone straight on priorities. True, Steve Stanislav is his quarterback. Sure, Stanislav broke the lifetime mileage record for Catholic University quarterbacks. Yes, 3,747 yards is a lot of passing yardage, not to mention a nice piece of property.
"But he's a great kid!"
And in Division III football, nice kids finish school.
I came to Catholic to get my degree," says Stanislav. "You think about all the possible recognition of big time football but there are a lot of disappointments. I played four years here. In the big time, you sit two or three years to play one or two."
This isn't the big time. Its Catholic University, late Monday afternoon, and most of the school's population is oozing onto Metro's Red Line. Stanislav is waiting for practice with the rest of his teammates outside the Brookland Gym. This building, the hub of Cardinal athletics, appears to be standing thanks only to its status as an historical landmark. In a few minutes the team will have an "informal" practice.
"I'm playing here for fun," says stanislav. "When you're in high school you're thinking about different things, like going to a big school and everything that goes along with it. But now I'm here to get my degree."
Those in the know around the Eastern Division III scene think Stanislav could play on any college level. Scotty Glacken, coach of Catholic's arch rival, Georgetown, says, "I know how great it is to have someone on your team like Steve. When you get a special player like that on a Division III team, it has a tremendous impact on the team."
"Almost every coach we've played against," Pascale said, "has said something about how good he is."
But stanislav has never seriously considered transferring and taking his show closer to the limelight. "In my first year I thought a little about transferring because I wasn't happy with some things about the program here, but all of that improved. I'm not that curious to see how I would have done somewhere else. The guys I knew from high school (Good Counsel in Wheaton) who went to big schools were pretty disillusioned."
"Again, its a question of priorities", Pascale said. "I never worried about him transferring. I do know a lot of people would like to have him. But we get a special kind of kid here. More mature, I think. They have the kind of priorities you'd like to see in NCAA sports. It helps that we win because that's the reason a guy like Steve has fun here. iI've never seen a losing team have fun."
None of which is to say that Stanislav is Franz kafka with a rocket arm. He's a finance major, "not that bright . . . well, not a 4.0." Stanislav said. "Let's put it that way. "Football is a major piece of the bargain for him at Catholic.
"Football has made college easier," he says. "I can just go to my classes during the week and look forward to Saturday. Classes are tough here. It must be nice in some of the big schools where there are professors that will give football players an easy time. If I was there, I'd look for those classes. But I wouldn't waste my time looking for them around here."
Pointedly, Pascale said, "Let's put it this way. You're not going to see many articles in Sports Illustrated about players at Catholic University missing football practice because of a chemistry exam. Steve could be getting a lot of recognition somewhere else."
Early into this season, Stanislav is continuing his passing magic. In last week's 28-6 victory over Niagara, Stanislav threw touchdown passes of 24, 47, and 57 yards. He calls his own plays most of the time and about 50 percent of them are passes. Needing only 253 yards to reach the 4,000 mark, Stanislav is still not getting his share of attention. "Personal recognition is nice but not a goal," he says. "Going to the Division III playoffs or going undefeated are goals. I'd rather be 8-0 and have a mediocre season personally than go 4-4 and have a great season."
Pascale would like to see the 8-0 record and the recognition for Stanislav.
"Yeah, I think he (Stanislav) could play at Maryland. I'd even say Jerry Claiborne (Maryland head coach) would like to have him . . . although he probably doesn't even know who Steve is."