Things you won't see in college football this season: a playoff, Washington, Auburn or Texas A&M in a bowl game, Lou Holtz inviting poll voters to dinner.
Things you'll probably see: less fighting, Miami setting the NCAA record for longest home winning streak, the end of Terry Bowden's perfect major college coaching record.Things you'll definitely see: scandal-racked Florida State bidding for a second straight national title, Joe Paterno dressing like a cast member of "Happy Days," many stories about Notre Dame quarterback Ron Powlus.
College football begins its 125th season today when Nebraska meets West Virginia in the Kickoff Classic at Giants Stadium. It's an intriguing matchup between two schools that went undefeated in the regular season last year, complained about a lack of respect, then blew their chances for a national title by losing bowl games.
Florida State beat out Notre Dame for the national championship even though the Fighting Irish defeated the Seminoles and both teams finished with one loss. The decision infuriated Holtz, who can take out his frustrations on Florida State when the rematch takes place Nov. 12 in Orlando, Fla.
The Seminoles have been plagued with problems since winning their first national title by beating Nebraska in the Orange Bowl.
Four players, including All-American linebacker Derrick Brooks, were suspended by the school last month for taking clothing and other gifts during a $6,000 shopping spree with agents in November. Several other players got in trouble with the law, on charges ranging from rape to reckless driving, and athletic director Bob Goin was placed on paid leave while an ethics panel investigated whether he improperly used his position for personal gain.
Despite all those problems, Florida State hasn't been hit with any NCAA sanctions. Three other traditional powers - Texas A&M, Auburn and Washington - are on probation and banned from postseason play. Bowden led Auburn to an 11-0 record as a rookie coach last season, but his unbeaten record probably won't last much longer in the cutthroat Southeastern Conference.
Miami, hoping to rebound from its first three-loss season since 1984, should start on a high note with its 58th straight home victory. If the Hurricanes win their opener against Georgia Southern at the Orange Bowl on Sept. 3, they will break Alabama's NCAA mark for consecutive home wins.
Along with Miami, Florida State and Notre Dame, the list of national title contenders should include Nebraska, Michigan, Florida, Arizona, Penn State, Colorado, Wisconsin and Auburn.
Once again, the champion will be decided by polls rather than playoffs.
In June, an NCAA committee decided not to recommend a vote on the playoff issue at the next NCAA convention. That means there won't be any playoff for at least two more seasons.
However, there will be some major changes in postseason play starting with the 1995 season.
Under a new bowl alliance that will replace the current coalition, the Orange, Sugar and Fiesta bowls will take turns hosting a possible national championship game. You must say "possible" because the Rose Bowl, which isn't part of the alliance, could spoil things if its Pac-10 vs. Big Ten matchup features one or both of the nation's top teams.
The Big Ten, of course, is now a misnomer since the addition of Penn State last season increased the membership to 11.
Starting in 1996, the Big Eight and Western Athletic conferences also will expand.
The Big Eight will become the Big 12 by adding Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech and Baylor from the soon-to-be-defunct Southwest Conference. The WAC will become the largest league in the country, increasing to 16 with the addition of SMU, Rice and Texas Christian from the SWC plus Tulsa, UNLV and San Jose State.
UNLV is one of the teams with a new coach (Jeff Horton) this season. Other programs with new coaches include Boston College (Dan Henning), Clemson (Tommy West), Missouri (Larry Smith), South Carolina (Brad Scott) and San Diego State (Ted Tollner).
Gary Moeller enters his fifth year at Michigan, which will feature preseason Heisman Trophy favorite Tyrone Wheatley. Wheatley passed up a chance for a mega-NFL contract to play his senior season in Ann Arbor, where he should shatter the school's career rushing and scoring records.
Other likely Heisman contenders include running backs Brent Moss of Wisconsin and Napoleon Kaufman of Washington; quarterbacks Rob Johnson of Southern Cal, Steve Stenstrom of Stanford, Eric Zeier of Georgia and Tommie Frazier of Nebraska; and UCLA receiver J.J. Stokes.
Powlus probably won't win the Heisman, but the highly touted Notre Dame quarterback will get plenty of publicity playing the most glamorous position in college football. He missed his entire freshman season with a broken collarbone, but is healthy now and expected to start the Irish opener against Northwestern on Sept. 3.
While many players will be battling for the Heisman, fewer should be fighting on the field. Responding to an outbreak of fighting last season, the NCAA passed stricter rules to combat the problem.
Players who fight during the second half of a game will be ejected and forced to miss the first half of their next game. Players or coaches who leave the bench to participate in a fight will be ejected and suspended from the next game.