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Huskies quiet on title hopes

By BOB HARIG

© St. Petersburg Times, published November 18, 2000


With all the posturing and politicking that has occurred as part of the Bowl Championship Series standings, one party has been relatively quiet.

There's been nary a whimper out of the Washington Huskies.

True, they need a lot of things to happen to have a shot at playing for the national championship, despite the fact they have just one loss and defeated the current No. 2 team in the country.

Back in September, Washington beat Miami. Since then, the Huskies' only loss came at Oregon, which can clinch a Rose Bowl berth today with a victory over Oregon State. If the Ducks lose, the Huskies could be headed to Pasadena with a win over Washington State.

But why not Miami? Why not the Orange Bowl for the national championship?

Coach Rick Neuheisel isn't making a big deal out of it, but he does believe the Huskies have a chance.

"Shoot, we are still in the national title hunt," he said. "That's not out of reach."

The Huskies are fifth in the BCS standings behind Oklahoma, Miami, Florida State and Florida.

With losses by three of those four teams, why couldn't the Huskies slide into one of the top two spots.

"This is never over until it's over," Neuheisel said.

But he is not lobbying.

"Unfortunately, campaigning usually gets characterized as whining," Neuheisel said. "I would think the proper thing to do is (to let) everybody go ahead and vote. And I promise not to ask for a recount."

RISING UTEP: Put UTEP among the surprising turnarounds of this season. A 38-21 victory last week over Rice guaranteed the Miners (8-2, 7-0) at least a tie for the WAC title, the school's first in 33 years in the conference.

The Miners, who had never finished as high as second, can win the WAC with a victory at Texas Christian (8-1, 5-1) today.

Gary Nord is the first-year coach at UTEP. He spent a year at Oklahoma in 1995 as offensive coordinator in Howard Schnellenberger's only season. The Sooners went 5-5-1.

"I don't hold any grudges and I have no hard feelings," Nord said of his time at OU. "I'm really happy it happened that way it did because I learned so much from it. It made me a better man. It made me stronger and a lot smarter. ... It prepared me to handle the different obstacles that have come across my desk as a head coach. You have adversity in your life to prepare you for other things that are to come."

COACHING CAROUSEL: Virginia Tech's Frank Beamer has been "unofficially" contacted by Alabama about its coaching vacancy, and Beamer has not put an end to the speculation. Already, it is apparent the Tide will have difficulty getting a "name" coach to replace Mike DuBose, if Beamer elects to stay at Tech. ... Virginia coach George Welsh is mulling retirement. ... Not only is Arizona State looking for a new coach after firing Bruce Snyder, but Arizona could be as well. There is disappointment with Dick Tomey, who is 5-5. ... TCU's Dennis Franchione undoubtedly will be mentioned as a replacement at several locations, including Arizona State, although prominent TCU boosters are doing their best to keep him at the school. ... And the heat on Southern Cal coach Paul Hackett figures to get hotter. A win over crosstown rival UCLA probably won't save his job.

AROUND THE NATION: For just the fifth time in Big Ten history, the league champion will have at least two conference defeats. ... No. 1 Oklahoma, fresh off an escape at Texas A&M, gets no breather against Texas Tech today. The Red Raiders defense has posted a nation's best three shutouts. And Tech is coached by Mike Leach, who was Bob Stoops' offensive coordinator and helped recruit quarterback Josh Heupel. ... With a victory over Kansas, Iowa State would have eight victories for the first time since 1978.

- Information from other news organizations was used in this report.

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