Doug Flutie stood on the sideline as expected Saturday night during the New Jersey Generals' 21-7 loss to the Tampa Bay Bandits. Gene Bradley and then Ron Reeves played quarterback for the Generals. And Reeves wound up peripherally involved in the USFL's first experimental use of a television replay to review officials' calls on the spot.
It was a system set up -- but not announced -- in advance by Cal Lepore, USFL supervisor of officials, at the urging of Harry Usher, the new commissioner.
In the third quarter, Reeves passed to Danny Knight for a 10-yard gain to the Tampa Bay 11. Knight was tackled by Bobby Futrell, the ball popped loose and Kevin McClelland of Tampa Bay fell on it. He was awarded a fumble recovery.
Generals Coach Walt Michaels asked for a replay and Lepore, after a two-minute review process, ruled the play had been officiated correctly. New Jersey was assessed a timeout because the appeal had been denied. If the fumble ruling had been reversed, no timeout would have been assessed.
Lepore said the replay experiment would be tested again next Saturday in Houston's exhibition at Birmingham, then the league will decide whether to use replays during the season.
The NFL tried out videotape replays in seven nationally televised exhibition games in 1978 but discarded the idea, saying it was too cumbersome and could raise more questions than it answered.
If the USFL accepts videotape as policy, it plans to set strict guidelines similar to those employed in Saturday night's game: each coach entitled to one replay of one challenge in each half. Lepore said the replay option, if adopted, would be available only during games that are televised. Most will not be . . .
USFL headquarters, meanwhile, indicates it expects to head off any threat of a players strike.
"We believe we're fairly close to a collective bargaining agreement. There are still a few minor things that need to be worked out," said Jim Byrne, league director of information, in New York. "I don't believe from our standpoint that a strike is likely. It doesn't serve our purpose or theirs."
Earlier, the USFL Players Association said it was bracing for an opening-day strike unless a collective bargaining agreement is reached by Feb. 24.
Without that agreement "we'll all be staring down the barrel of a player strike," said Doug Allen, executive director of the 600-member players association who was touring preseason camps taking strike authorization votes. "The players are willing to fight for their needs. The big mistake, if you're a pro sports owner, is to think these guys want to play so bad that they'll never put down their tools and walk off the job" . . .
Paul Hornung of Notre Dame and fellow Heisman Trophy winner Mike Garrett of Southern California are among 11 players newly named to the National Football Foundation's College Football Hall of Fame.
Also selected for Dec. 3 induction: Tennessee lineman Doug Atkins, guard George Brown of Navy and San Diego State, Baylor guard Bill Glass, Oklahoma halfback Tommy McDonald, halfback Skip Minisi of Penn and Navy, Army tackle Robin Olds, guard Steve Reid of Northwestern, Alabama quarterback Riley Smith (the Washington Redskins' original) and Air Force tackle Brock Strom.