He's the top rusher in Division I-AA, most likely good enough for a shot at the pros. But Brown's Nick Hartigan would gladly set the NFL aside for the chance to study at Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar.

What he won't do is abandon his teammates with the Ivy League title on the line.

So, with his two big dreams on a collision course, Hartigan is crafting an ambitious travel plan.

The senior running back from W.T. Woodson has made the finals in the Rhodes selection process and will have to interview Nov. 18 in Pittsburgh for the scholarship. Then he'll have to jump on a plane for New York, where Brown plays Columbia in its season finale the following day; at least a share of the Ivy League title could be on the line.

Afterward, he might have to fly back to Pittsburgh for another round of interviews that night.

But missing the game is not an option, even for a chance at Oxford.

"These kids are my brothers," said Hartigan, who's averaging 163 yards a game. "I've spent four years killing myself -- we all have -- to get this Ivy League title. It's not something I can skip."

Hartigan's lucky he even has a chance to both interview and play: Rhodes committees are famous for refusing to accommodate scheduling requests. But he caught a break. Unusually, his selection committee planned to start interviewing some candidates Friday afternoon. Late Wednesday he got word he could have one of those slots.

That means Hartigan will have a shot at one of the two scholarships being awarded from the Pittsburgh region, out of 32 nationally. Hartigan is the biggest reason Brown (7-1, 4-1 Ivy League) is guaranteed a share of the Ivy title if it wins its last two games; the Bears play Dartmouth (2-6, 1-4) tomorrow. Last week, he ran for 192 yards and scored four touchdowns against Yale, winning conference player of the week for the fifth time. He has rewritten Brown's record book and will likely finish as the Ivy League's third all-time leading rusher. Ed Marinaro, a 1971 Heisman Trophy finalist, tops the list followed by another Cornell back, Chad Levitt.

-- From News Services