IF DAVE ARSLANIAN is feeling bad about losing his first game as head football coach at Utah State, he should relax. He's right on course. In fact, the last five coaches at USU have started exactly the same way.

Though John Ralston, Tony Knap, Chuck Mills and Phil Krueger all won or tied their first games, since then it has been a long dry spell. Bruce Snyder, Chris Pella, Chuck Shelton, Charlie Weatherbie and John L. Smith all lost their first games as head coaches at USU.Snyder actually lost his first six games, Smith his first five and Shelton, Pella and Weatherbie their first three. Snyder went on to become head coach at Arizona State, Weatherbie at Navy, Shelton at Pacific and Smith at Louisville.

So what does losing to Utah last weekend mean to Arslanian?

He should be getting a lucrative job offer any day now.

SNAP DECISION: Some coaches yell to motivate. Others do repulsive things like biting the heads off frogs. But motivation took yet a new turn recently when an Australian swimming coach decided to inspire his team by putting a 10-foot crocodile in the pool.

Mark Davis, of Darwin, reportedly planned to get a reptile park to supply the crocodile. It was to be drugged and its jaws wired shut, just in case it got frisky.

Eventually that plan died, but two small crocodiles were brought in and swimmers - ranging from ages 7-20 - were allowed to touch them and have their pictures taken.

Said a wildlife spokesman, "It was not for safety reasons that we didn't put them in, it was just because there were so many people around who might have become worried or scared that something might happen."

Darn parents. They worry about the silliest things.

POINTED REMINDER: Speaking of motivation, consider this testament to fitness. Andre Agassi dropped to No. 141 in the tennis rankings last year, when he realized he needed to get in shape. This year he has the most match victories on the tour, has won four tournaments and has beaten Pete Sampras two of three.

And somehow you wonder if Greg Ostertag is paying attention.

STANDARD OF EXCELLENCE: Ricks College, which has made good use of thousands of Utah athletes over the years, has a tradition of winning. But even by Ricks standards, last year was a landmark.

Viking teams produced the best year in school history. The football team won 10 games and ended the year ranked third nationally. The women's cross country team won the national title and the women's track team finished second in the nation. The men's and women's basketball teams made the national playoffs, the wrestling team finished 7th nationally, the men's cross country team finished sixth and the track team eighth. Lastly, the softball team finished second in the country.

All of which indicates that Ricks has an abundance of fine athletes.

Just one question: Couldn't the Vancouver Grizzlies borrow just a few of 'em?

NAME GAME: In case you didn't notice, Utah kicker Tommy Truhe has changed his name this year. Rather than going with plain old Tommy, he now goes by Cletus. His full name is Cletus Tommy Truhe.

Why would someone change from Tommy to Cletus? Said one publicist, "That's his name. He just decided to go with it."

But somehow it just doesn't fit as well as "Tommy." Who would ever buy a pair of "Cletus" jeans?

DOUBLE TROUBLE: If Alabama looked effective in the passing department against BYU last weekend - throwing for 196 yards - it should come as no big surprise. The Tide has been studying the masters.

Alabama quarterbacks coach Charlie Stubbs, who was hired from UNLV this season, graduated in 1978 from BYU, earning his masters degree there in 1984. He was also a graduate assistant under LaVell Edwards for two seasons.

We thought some of those plays looked familiar.

QUOTEFILE: Chicago Tribune columnist Steve Rosenbloom on reports that Philadelphia Flyer winger Alexander Daigle is dating former "Baywatch" star Pamela Anderson Lee: "Hey, some off-season training programs are better than others."