Navy, which appeared to be in good position for a Holiday Bowl invitation after Saturday's 35-23 victory over Syracuse before an impressed scout for the Dec. 19 event, may not get the bid even if it beats Georgia Tech this Saturday in Atlanta, according to John Reid, the bowl's executive director.
"We have an interest in Navy, but, to be honest, it isn't at the top of our list right now," said Reid. "Navy is a tremendous attraction in this area (San Diego), but this is only our fourth year in existence and we've already had them once. We want to establish ourselves in other areas of the country. We'll know a lot more after this week's games."
Navy beat Brigham Young, 23-16, in the first Holiday Bowl in 1978. It lost to Houston, 35-0, in the Garden State Bowl last season.
Under NCAA rules, no bowl bids can be extended until the third Saturday in November, which is Nov. 21, an open date for the Midshipmen. After Saturday's game they do not play until the Army game Dec. 5 in Philadelphia.
The Western Athletic Conference champion will be the Holiday Bowl host school. Hawaii, Wyoming, Utah and BYU are in contention.
Navy Athletic Director J.O. (Bo) Coppedge said today the academy "would be interested in going to a bowl," even though the game comes during a major exam week at Navy.
Holiday Bowl scout Vinny Vinson said he was impressed with Navy's victory over Syracuse, in which Eddie Meyers rushed for 298 yards and four touchdowns and became the academy's all-time leading rusher. Vinson said he probably would be at Georgia Tech to see the Midshipmen try to bring their record to an attractive 7-3.
Quarterback Marco Pagnanelli, who bruised his back against Notre Dame two games ago and didn't play against Syracuse, has practiced the last two days, "but his movement is still limited," Coach George Welsh said. "We're still hoping he'll be ready Saturday, but right now he doesn't have any quickness and he can't cut or move sharply."
Navy's No. 2 quarterback, Tom Tarquinio, has a sprained ankle and strained Achilles' tendon and it is doubtful he can play. That leaves third-stringer Jeff Korn, who quarterbacked against Syracuse, completing four of nine passes.
"Korn is a very smart quarterback," Welsh said.
Welsh has made two lineup changes for Saturday, one by necessity and the other by choice. Center Dennis McCall had knee surgery Sunday and will be replaced by Pete Oswald while Bob Moore, who has played at tight end and tackle and snaps on punts, extra points and kickoffs, will replace Doug Borrebach at tackle.
Georgia Tech upset Alabama, 24-21, in its opener, but has lost eight straight since. Tech Coach Bill Curry has had his first two quarterbacks injured and has been playing third-stringer Stu Rogers the past month.
Tech's offense centers around 6-foot, 180-pound freshman tailback Robert Lavette, the Yellow Jackets' leading rusher (622 yards) and receiver (37 catches). In high school in Cartersville, Ga., he had 6,870 rushing yards and 49 touchdowns.
"They do a lot of things to get him the ball," said Welsh. "They throw a lot of screens and dump passes to him and he has the power and speed to break one at any time."