THE NATIONAL SPORTS DAILY, frustrated that the college football establishment won't conduct a real national championship tournament, has taken matters into its own computer.
Beginning today, and proceeding almost daily through Dec. 30, The National is presenting "The National's Championship." A total of 15 games will be played between those teams ranking one through 16 on The National's college football computer. The opening game is between No. 1-rated Colorado and No. 16-rated Oklahoma. The second game is supposed to be the closest of the opening round and features No. 8 Washington vs. No. 9 Brigham Young.Other opening-round games are No. 6 Penn State vs. No. 11 Clemson, No. 4 Georgia Tech vs. No. 13 Tennessee, No. 3 Miami vs. No. 14 Louisville, No. 5 Notre Dame vs. No. 12 Florida, No. 7 Florida State vs. No. 10 Houston and No. 2 Texas vs. No. 15 Michigan.
A computer expert named Lance Haffner fed hundreds of sets of individual and team statistics to first determine the 1-through-16 seedings, and will use that same statistical information to determine the scores of the games.
Attractive as they appear, the games will not be played in the Rose Bowl, or the Cotton Bowl, or the Orange Bowl. They'll all be played in the same place. In Haffner's Nashville home.
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ADD TOURNAMENT: The National admits that its tournament has one flaw. While the computer can take into account everything from weather to coaching tendencies to personnel, the one thing it can't take into account is emotion.
"Take BYU at Hawaii," said Haffner, referring to BYU's final regular season home game two weeks ago in Honolulu. "Ty Detmer had already won the Heisman, the team was already in a bowl and it probably wasn't going to win the national championship. On the computer, BYU probably wouldn't have lost 59-28."
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ON THE RUN: The Denver Nuggets are scheduled to arrive in the Salt Palace Thursday night to play the Jazz - the Nuggets first appearance since new coach Paul Westhead fitted them for track shoes at the start of the season.
While the Nuggets are scoring fewer points than at the start of the season - when a 200-point game wasn't out of the question (especially for the Nuggets' opponents) - it doesn't mean they've abandoned their breakneck-pace style.
"If you talk to Westhead, he'll tell you they're not doing anything different," said Mike Monroe, who covers the Nuggets for the Denver Post. "All they've done is make changes in how they're playing defense. They're getting back better and it's cut down on quick baskets by the opposition."
Monroe says the change in coaching philosophy, and the Nuggets' lack of wins, hasn't affected morale.
"It's the happiest 4 and 15 team you'll ever see," he says. "Nobody's back-biting. Nobody's pointing figners. They're not bad-mouthing the system. Part of it is they've got all these young guys who are just happy to be in the NBA. The other part is nobody's got a lot of reason to complain. (Orlando) Woolridge is leading the league in scoring; Jerome Lane is starting and getting more playing time than ever before, and he's well on his way to realizing the incentives in his contract; Todd Lichti is playing more than ever; and Blair Rasmussen is playing nearly 40 minutes a game and Doug Moe's not screaming at him anymore."
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HOLIDAY NO CRUSADE FOR LEWIS: Darren Lewis, the Texas A&M running back who will face BYU in the Dec. 29 Holiday Bowl, made college football history when he rushed for more than 5,000 yards this season and didn't win the Heisman Trophy. Any other back who's had that many yards in a career has also won the award, including Tony Dorsett, Charles White, Herschel Walker and Archie Griffin.
Lewis finished ninth in this year's Heisman balloting, well behind the winner, BYU's Ty Detmer.
Lewis says he won't use the Holiday Bowl as a Lewis-Detmer comparison.
"Just because we're playing against Ty Detmer it doesn't mean I'll try to open people's eyes and make them say 'This should have been the man,"' said Lewis. "I'll just play as hard as I can and let it go. The Heisman voting is already over and I give Ty Detmer all the credit he deserves."
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QUOTE OF THE WEEK: BYU basketball center Shawn Bradley, who is 7-foot-6, telling the Los Angeles Times how he dances with women under 6-feet tall: "I stand them on a chair. If people start to make fun, that's their problem."