San Diego State was well-enough known as a small college (two championships in three years) to go into the big time in 1969, when the Aztecs shot to the top of their newly formed Pacific Coast Athletic Association. Everyone knows Dennis Shaw after a shower of All-Star Games, but they probably don't know that the Shaw-led alumni lost in the Aztecs' spring game 31-6, which should tell something about the 1970 team.
University of the Pacific (7-3) and San Jose State (2-8) are the conference's other major schools. Fresno State, Los Angeles State, Long Beach State and the University of California at Santa Barbara are still in the college division.
In his second year Coach Carl DePasqua could give Pittsburgh its first winner since 1963. Ralph Cindrich, a linebacker, and Lloyd Weston, a defensive tackle, are All-America candidates. The running backs are strong enough to compensate for the quarterback spot, which is still an empty pocket. But Dave Havern, a 5'9" junior, set three school passing records in throwing for 1,810 yards two years ago before sitting out last season with mononucleosis, and John Hogan might be even better. Except for a mere 190-pound split end, the offensive line weighs in at 215 or more. The time is coming when a game against the Panthers will no longer be thought of only as a Pitt stop.
Florida State, which has hovered in or around Top 20 rankings lately, is blessed with something most coaches would be happy to have—a whole reception line of returned passcatchers. Trouble is, there may be no passer. Tommy Warren doesn't have the strong arm to show off the receivers, but his short game is good. Rumor does speak of another Ron Sellers. Barry Smith is supposed to be a near equal of the All-America wide receiver, and he's only a sophomore. He caught 39 passes for 702 yards and scored five touchdowns in as many games as a freshman last year. Defensive Tackle Robert McEachern led the team in tackles last season with 69 and had half again as many assists. With him as a building block the defensive line will be no toy.
At the other end of the state, Charlie Tate's hard-luck Miami team of last year gave up only a few more TDs than it scored, yet ended the season at 4-6. Now Miami has Quarterback Kelly Cochrane, who has experience under his belt and two tough receivers in front of it. Cochrane didn't appear on the scene until the third game last year and still managed to break George Mira's passing records for touchdowns in one game (4), yards in one game (343) and touchdown passes in one season (11). He also managed to be in on four of the losses. Don Brennan and Joe Schmidt are the front men. Brennan was a junior college All-America, and Schmidt is considered one of the school's best receivers—ever.
Marching up the coast to Georgia, one finds sophomore Quarterback Eddie McAshan as Tech's first varsity black athlete. McAshan has a passing percentage below .500, but seems able to score. On defense. Brad Bourne should burn opponents if the knee injury that forced him out last season doesn't flare up.
Syracuse Coach Ben Schwartzwalder is working on his 21st straight nonlosing season, but he may have trouble unless he can restore harmony with the black players on his squad. Ever since present-day collegians can remember, the Orangemen have always had one of those extra big, strong, barreling fullbacks. A name fullback. Last year's name, replacing Csonka, was Januszkiewicz, Marty (or Jan the Man, since three words in this case are shorter than one). His playing time was shorter still. After 59 yards and two touchdowns in the first game he was injured and redshirted. Now that he's back he'll give the Orange offense a lot more polish. Split End Tony Gabriel is the only starter coming back from the offensive line, but Quarterback Paul Paolisso, who missed all of last season with an injury, returns from 1968, when he threw for six TDs and 939 yards on a team known for grinding it out.
Holy Cross is wondering how groovy the Age of Aquarius is going to be. Somehow the water system on the practice field backed up last year, sending everything the team had been practicing down the drain. Thanks to a hepatitis epidemic thought to be connected with the failure of the water system, the season's last eight games were canceled. Then on the first day of the school's first spring practice in 19 years rain kept the team indoors. Coach Bill Whitton is optimistic despite the omens. "I just can't say enough about these young men and this team," he beams. "We're lacking for experience and lacking for depth, but we're not lacking for spirit, enthusiasm, dedication and guts."
Air Force will not treat fans to as many last-second thrills as it did last year. The lightest moments of the season may come during periodic weighins in the training room. The team averages out to less than 200 pounds. Coach Ben Martin will have to get his kicks someplace else. He faces 1970 without Placekicker Dennis Leuthauser (who was the leading tackier as well as the leading scorer). He also misses a good split end, quarterback and fullback, all of whom played better than the 6-4 record shows. Ernie Jennings is back, however, to add to the 51 passes he caught. Defensive strength looks like the key, but the best defense will be to escape injury, no mean feat against early-scheduled Wyoming and Missouri.