There's still lots of life after George Washington University football, extinct for going on two decades.

It's goodbye USM, hello SMU, for ex-GW assistant Bobby Collins, and with the deal Southern Methodist is giving him to leave Southern Mississippi to coach Mustang football, Collins at 48 should worry if he was only No. 4 choice, at best.

Southern Methodist, the Dallas entry in the Southwest Conference, got turndowns from Emory Bellard (Mississippi State), John Mackovic (Cowboys assistant, ex-Wake Forest) and Tom Osborne (Nebraska) to succeed New England NFL-bound Ron Meyer. Then it turned to Collins, 18-5-2 with two bowl appearances the last two years bringing his log for seven years to 48-30-2 at Hattiesburg, where he was earning $62,000 salary plus about $10,000 from a TV show. At SMU, he gets a five-year contract estimated at $100,000 a year, plus ???.

Southern Mississippi didn't even wait for the official announcement in Dallas before hiring Jim Carmody to succeed Collins (whose background also includes quarterbacking Mississippi State and six years coaching under Jerry Claiborne at VPI). Former Collins staffer Carmody returns to USM after a season's stint as defensive line coach on the Buffalo Bills. At 47, he has 20 years experience as a college assistant, including North Carolina (1967-73, with Collins) . . .

Now will Jackie Sherrill do battle with Collins in the SWC?

Sherrill visited Texas A&M and huddled with its regents last night, after Pitt Athletic Director Cas Myslinski granted his request to check out the Aggie offer. Meanwhile, A&M Coach Tom Wilson was meeting with his players and reportedly telling them he was on his way out, very soon, from the post he inherited at midseason 1978 from Bellard. That could leave Sherrill to weigh what the College Station, Tex., campus has to offer (a reported $2.25 million for 10 years) against his four-years-left commitment at Pitt and such attractions as the city of Pittsburgh "man of the year" award bestowed on him Sunday night plus the prospect of 18 returning starters in '82 from his 11-1 (again) Sugar Bowl champions . . .

While Sherrill would be coach and athletic director at A&M, his Keystone rival, Penn State's Joe Paterno, last night gave up his a.d. role, "to concentrate on his coaching tasks and to spend more time with his family" . . .

Bob Knight, Indiana's basketball coach, embroiled again: sent an assistant to Columbus yesterday with videotape to show why he was so exercised over a flagrant foul by Ohio State freshman Troy Taylor as Jim Thomas made a layup capping IU's 66-61 victory over the Buckeyes Saturday in Bloomington. Knight didn't care for Taylor's version in the Sunday papers of the goings-on.

Thomas was hacked--and, Knight said, leg-whipped--and fell hard with 11 seconds to play. Knight withheld postgame comment until learning Taylor said the IU coach "started screaming at me and called me everything in the book." Actually, Knight relates, "I didn't say anything for several seconds. Then the kid (Taylor) came up and . . . said, 'I'm sorry, I'm sorry.' I then said something like, 'There's no excuse for that, get him the hell out of here,' and then went to the officials (who called a two-shot foul on Taylor, technical on Knight) . . . The basket was already made so how necessary was it for (Taylor) to kick his legs out from under (Thomas)?"

Oh. OSU alumnus Knight did not deny tossing an expletive toward Ohio State Coach Eldon Miller, courtside, or that on his Sunday TV show, "I said I didn't see any concern at all from the Ohio State staff --and I didn't say team, I said staff--for Thomas. But I said I've come to expect that from that operation" . . .

At Richmond, Dick Tarrant was thrown into the breach as interim coach of Spider basketball when Lou Goetz suddenly quit in July and now--with the school at 11-4 for its best start in 27 years--Tarrant has been given a four-year contract . . .

Holly Flanders of Deerfield, N.H., kept the North American assault on European skiing supremacy rolling by capturing the downhill at Bad Gastein, Austria, yesterday . . . Barbara Potter, another New Englander, followed up her fine 1982 tennis start as a semifinalist in the Avon of Washington by winning the circuit's second stop, Cincinnati. Potter, 20, beat comebacking Billie Jean King and Bettina Bunge in the last two rounds for a $30,000 payday, her biggest . . .

A. Successive 0-0 football ties: Pitt-Fordham, 1935-36-37 (since 1968, Pitt has been shut out once, 17-0 by Navy in '75) . . . Q. Virginia's only ACC athlete of the year, any year?