The area's three 1-A colleges introduced new football coaches Saturday and all three had reason to smile a bit. Navy's Gary Tranquill was the only one actually beaming, however -- there might have been a mixed feeling of relief -- because he was the lone winner.
Outgained 430 yards to 226, Navy made Tranquill's head coaching debut a success with a 20-16 decision over Virginia, guided by the man who left Navy after nine seasons, George Welsh.
"Our offense was a little lethargic, a little nervous," Tranquill said. "That yardage isn't enough to win many ball games. We've got to get a lot better."
The Midshipmen need some instant improvement, because their next assignment comes Saturday night in Little Rock against an Arkansas team that amassed 549 yards in a 38-0 rout of Tulsa.
"I figure we'll need to be 100 percent better, maybe more," Tranquill said. "And I haven't even seen their offense yet. I've been watching films of their defense and they've got a lot of big, strong people."
Bobby Ross, who brought the excitement back to Maryland football as the Terrapins fell at Penn State, 39-31, will be making some defensive adjustments this week.
Penn State's Todd Blackledge hurt the Terrapins' secondary for 262 passing yards. Saturday at Morgantown, Maryland goes up against West Virginia and another onetime Penn State quarterback, Jeff Hostetler, in a game expected to be a CBS-TV regional selection.
Hostetler, who transferred to West Virginia to get some playing time, threw for four touchdowns and 321 yards in the Mountaineers' 41-27 upset of Oklahoma at Norman.
"It didn't surprise me that West Virginia moved the ball and won the game," Ross said. "I saw film from last year and they're a good football team."
Ross was perturbed when his films of Saturday's game did not reveal enough of the field to confirm his argument that Penn State had 12 men out there when Maryland punted in the fourth quarter. Ross protested and was assessed an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty by Donald Guman, an official who also happens to be the father of former Nittany Lion Mike Guman.
"I don't want to make a big deal out of it, because I don't think it cost us the game," Ross said. "But I really do take issue with assigning the father of a former Penn State player to the game.
"We did some stupid things after we went ahead, 24-23. We got a little tired and some players lost their concentration, and I don't think we tackled as hard as we had been.
"We had been concerned about their passing and we started playing pass when we should have been playing run. We were backing off the ball and giving them too much room. We need to get more consistency both offensively and defensively. We turned the ball over to many times in good field position. You don't do that against a good team like Penn State and get away with it."
Virginia fans were pleased with the Cavaliers' effort at Annapolis, particularly that 430-yard offense by a team that averaged 289 yards a game in a 1-10 season a year ago. But six trips inside the Navy 10, with only three field goals resulting, kept Welsh from any positive thinking.
"We got a lot of yards, but we also had a lot of long passes," Welsh said. "We didn't execute that well and it showed up at the goal line. We had some good individual efforts, but it was not that sterling a performance as a team. Our kicking game hurt us and penalties (127 yards) hurt us, too. They offset a lot of our offense."
At least Welsh does not have a nationally ranked team in his immediate future. But James Madison, Saturday's Scott Stadium opponent, enjoyed one of the biggest victories in its history Staurday, 39-35 over Appalachian State.
"I just hope we can convince our players that this wasn't that good a performance against Navy," Welsh said. "This was our 18th loss in three seasons (14 in the last 15 games) and we have to think about winning a game."
Another who moved voluntarily, Jerry Claiborne, is in a similar situation. The former Maryland coach saw his new Kentucky team pass for an unaccustomed 243 yards against Kansas State. State nevertheless spoiled Claiborne's debut, 23-9. Next Kentucky assignment: Oklahoma.
Aside from the Sooners' pratfall, the only other upset involving top 10 teams Saturday was a mild one, as Florida beat Southern California, 17-9. There were some results that provided food for thought and future rankings, however.
Southern Methodist overpowered Tulane, 51-7, with a school-record rushing total of 519 yards in Bobby Collins' debut as the Mustangs' coach. Tulane's Vince Gibson, a head coach of 15 years' standing, was left counting a flock of injuries and commenting, "SMU has as good a football team as I've ever played against."
Washington, a challenger for No. 1, beat Texas-El Paso, 55-0, while Nebraska routed Iowa, 42-7, and Alabama gave Bear Bryant a 69th birthday present with a 45-7 victory over Georgia Tech.