The two Knoxville football players who signed with Clemson in early 1981, then changed their minds, deciding they wanted to stay home and attend Tennessee: their $12 million suit against the ACC school, Coach Danny Ford, Tiger booster Thomas Breazale and the conference has been thrown out by a Knoxville judge.

James Cofer and Terry Minor alleged they were lured by promises of cash, homes for their mothers, color TVs and entertainment "such as that provided by Clemson University recruiting hostesses known as the 'Bengal Babes.' " Special Chancery Court Judge William Inman, in dismissing suit (Cofer and Minor have another one pending for Southeastern Conference eligibility) said they "can hardly be expected to profit from conduct in which they readily participated."

Hardly an endorsement of Clemson, that, with the Tigers remaining under NCAA investigation prompted largely by the Cofer-Minor charges . . .

The United States Football League and ESPN have signed a two-year contract that will put 34 games a season at the disposal of however many of the cable TV network's 17 million subscribers need a football supplement--entree?--in their March-July viewing diet. Chet Simmons, who just switched from ESPN chief executive to USFL commissioner, and ESPN mum on financial terms. "We will have one game every Monday," Simmons says, "plus another game at a time to be determined. With ABC-TV doing a game a week plus playoffs, USFL gets national exposure at least thrice a week.

ACC's outstanding athlete of year 1981-82, McKelvin Award, 67 of 110 media votes: James Worthy. Runner-up, fellow basketballer Ralph Sampson, 20.

Denver authorities have four present NBA Nuggets under investigation on suspicion of illicit drug use; say the case is months old . . . Delaware Harness Racing Commission, calling this a first in professional sport, has begun a U.S. Trotting Association cosponsored pilot program of testing sulky drivers for drug abuse. About 10 drivers a week tested at random, any suspicious cases immediately . . .

Soon to be back as Oriole: Don Stanhouse, wrapping up shoulder rehab duty at Rochester; going into a final appearance last night, the Unusual was 1-0, 1.83 ERA in 19 2/3 International League innings . . . Tim Gordon, junior third baseman on Maryland varsity, has turned pro. Drafted fourth round, signed by Boston, assigned to Winston-Salem--Dukes' opponent here Friday. And, notes Ray Ruffing, Terrapin assistant, "Jeff Schaeffer, our second baseman signed by the Orioles a year ago, already is in AA, Charlotte, hitting .280--and our second baseman before him, Frankie Thomas, is Triple-A with Vancouver (Brewers)" . . .

Jesse Phillips has been convicted of robbery, burglary and escape in that Reno jewelry store holdup in April. Sentencing July 23; the former NFL ball carrier with a past record could go back to prison up to 50 years . . .

Andy Robustelli and Dick Lynch, great NFL Giants when Sam Huff was ditto, will join the lunch crowd here Wednesday for Touchdown Club's salute to Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee-to-be Huff . . .This year's Redskin on NFL-United Way TV spot: Joe Washington, for (military) Dependents Youth Association. Filming today, Fort Belvoir football field, 9.