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College football

UM center distracts foes with his jokes

© St. Petersburg Times
published December 30, 2002

PHOENIX -- Miami senior center Brett Romberg might have a career to fall back on if the NFL doesn't work out: stand-up comedy.

He was in his element Sunday morning when the offense met the media.

Romberg, winner of the Dave Rimington Award as college football's best center, has started the past 36 games. He has helped anchor an offensive line that has led the way for explosive playmakers like senior quarterback Ken Dorsey, sophomore tailback Willis McGahee and junior receiver Andre Johnson. But Romberg has never met a microphone he didn't like.

"I say a lot of things I shouldn't," Romberg said.

Although he often raises eyebrows with his frankness -- he predicted Miami's win at Florida -- much of the talking is with teammates, especially the line.

"It's a big family, to tell you the truth," Romberg said. "We knock each others moms and girlfriends and sisters. We can't mess around with any other groups on the football team, but amongst the offensive line, anything goes."

One of his favorite targets is Temple tackle Dan Klecko. "Me and (former UM guard Martin Bibla) used to pinch his (butt) and tell him he's got the prettiest eyes in the world. He would say, 'Why do you guys mess with me all the time?' "

There's a method to Romberg's apparent madness: "I'll do anything to make them not think about what they have to."

His target Friday?

"I'll probably have to talk to (Ohio State defensive tackle Tim) Anderson, give him a few comments here and there to lighten the situation. Laugh him to sleep."

DOUBLE-DIGIT CONCERN: Miami may be a 12 1/2-point favorite, but the 'Canes say they expect the game to be close.

"To be undefeated at the end of a 13-game season, they are doing something right," senior defensive tackle Matt Walters said of OSU. "They've got good players and they are making plays when they need to make plays. If they need to make a play next Friday, they will make a play. I don't see the game getting out of hand. I think it's going to come down to late in the fourth quarter."

NOTEWORTHY: Miami practiced lightly Sunday in shorts and shoulder pads after a full two-hour workout Saturday at Scottsdale Community College. ... Defensive backs Kelly Jennings (thumb) and James Scott (wrist) are recovered from injuries. ... Friday's game will be only the third between UM and OSU. They played in 1977, a 10-0 Ohio State win in Columbus, and in the 1999 Kickoff Classic, a 23-12 Hurricane victory.

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