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DOING PENNANTS

Maybe they should make that Rick "Use Your Noodle"-heisel.
In any event, when the smoke cleared at spring practice in Boulder last week, Rashaan Salaam was still wearing a Chicago Bears jersey, Archbishop McCartney was still marking X's and O's on a chart of the heavens, and Neuheisel was, in all likelihood, still on Jesse Jackson's doodoo list because he has blond hair.

But CU football marches bravely on, into huge footsteps. Since 1989 the Buffs have the fifth-best record in the major college game (58-11-4), trailing only Miami, Florida State, uh, Nebraska and Alabama, and they currently have 26 former players in the NFL. They've shared a mythical national title with Georgia Tech, knocked mighty Notre Dame off in two major bowl games and turned Boulder into one of the hottest destinations for blue-chip high school prospects.

Can first-year head coach Neuheisel and a new cast of characters keep it up?
Maybe, but look at the starters CU lost--offensive tackles Tony Berti and Derek West, tight end Christian Fauria, Heisman Trophy tailback Salaam, quarterback Kordell Stewart, Miracle-in-Michigan wide receiver Michael Westbrook, defensive tackles Darius Holland and Shannon Clavelle (who now has fatherhood to think about), cornerback Chris Hudson and inside linebacker Ted Johnson.

That's a lot of vanished talent, even for a talent-rich program, and the departure of McCartney after thirteen seasons surely raises questions about CU's stability. Give Neuheisel this: He's leaping in with both feet. For the first time since 1971, the Buffs will employ a 4-3 defense (this experiment produced seven sacks in this January's Fiesta Bowl win over the Irish), and the air is sure to be full of footballs, courtesy of Koy Detmer. The younger brother of former Brigham Young star Ty Detmer, this strong-armed, pinpoint passer was groomed and seasoned for two years behind starter Stewart, and the ascendance of Neuheisel should do him nothing but good.

After all, the rookie head coach was a quarterback at UCLA, and when he later joined his alma mater's coaching staff as a volunteer assistant, he became personal tutor to Troy Aikman, now one of the NFL's premiere performers. But will Detmer have good receivers at the far end of the Buffs' new three-wideout sets? That remains to be seen. Juniors Rae Carruth and James Kidd and sophomore Phil Savoy will be looking at the big shoes of Westbrook and Fauria all season long. Look also for a swift walk-on, redshirt freshman James Davis.

In the end (and it's a long time before we even reach the beginning), it's always the Nebraska game that looms largest on the CU schedule. Carve it in stone: Boulder, October 28, 1995.

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