Originally created 08/29/98

Nebraska coach set for debut



A year ago at this time, Frank Solich and Bobby Newcombe were cushioned in relative anonymity. Now they're big names on the college football landscape, leading Nebraska into a new era.

When the No. 4 Cornhuskers cross Tom Osborne Field in Lincoln, Neb., to play Louisiana Tech in today's Eddie Robinson Football Classic, it will mark the debuts of Solich as coach and Newcombe as quarterback.There's been a lot of attention on Solich, a 19-year assistant who succeeded the retired Osborne this spring, and Newcombe, the sophomore whose dazzling talent was displayed last fall on punt returns and as a receiver.Finally the buildup is over and the butterflies begin.

"I expect Bobby will be a little nervous. .°.°. The head coach is going to be a little bit nervous, too," Solich said.The 53-year-old Solich, hired to maintain a Nebraska system that has produced a 60-3 record and at least a share of three national titles since 1993, is stepping beyond one of the longest shadows in coaching.Solich insisted it's no big deal to replace Osborne.

LITTLE EXPERIENCE:Colorado State coach Sonny Lubick's theory is that there aren't any bad college quarterbacks.The 15th-ranked Rams and No. 23 Michigan State will both be starting relatively new quarterbacks when they open the 1998 season today in the Black Coaches Association Classic. Ryan Eslinger and Bill Burke have both been around, but neither has played much.Eslinger takes over the Colorado State offense now that Moses Moreno has moved on. It's a big step, considering that Moreno led the Rams to an 11-2 record last season, including a convincing win over Missouri in the Holiday Bowl.Eslinger, a senior, played in all 12 regular-season games as Moreno's backup. But in limited playing time, he completed just 13 of 18 passes for 144 yards and one touchdown.Burke, a junior, is finally getting his chance at Michigan State after two years of backing up Todd Schultz. He has slightly more playing experience than Eslinger, but not much.As a backup, Burke has completed 48-of-96 passes for 654 yards and seven touchdowns with three interceptions.

TOLBERT OUT FOR SEASON: Former Josey High star Armark Tolbert tore the medial collateral ligament in his right knee for the second time during the first week of workouts this fall and is out for the season. He tore the MCL last November when the Warriors faced Montgomery (Md.) College, had surgery and missed the remainder of the season.Middle Georgia, located in Cochran, Ga., has hired a new coach and built a new stadium for this season.

"I hate it for Armark," said Middle Georgia coach Randy Pippin. "But we've lost a couple of really good guys this season. We're going to be really young. That's the scary part."Tolbert helped lead Josey to the 1995 Class AAA state title with a 15-0 record and was The Augusta Chronicle's Player of the Year in 1995 and in 1996. He signed with Georgia Tech, but failed to qualify academically.MCCONATHY QUITS LSU TEAM: Freshman linebacker Adam McConathy, a West Monroe High standout who was Louisiana's Mr. Football in 1997, has left the LSU football team, head coach Gerry DiNardo announced Friday.McConathy, 6-foot-5 and 226 pounds, left the team after practice Tuesday, spoke with athletic director Joe Dean on Thursday and met with DiNardo on Friday morning to inform DiNardo of his decision."We wish Adam the best in his future," DiNardo said. "We hope he has success both on and off the football field."

DiNardo will have no further comment regarding McConathy's decision to leave LSU.McConathy's future plans were not immediately disclosed.

CARTER AUBURN'S STARTER: Demontray Carter took Auburn coach Terry Bowden's threats seriously. The tailback buckled down in the classroom and on Friday was named the 25th-ranked Tigers' starter for the season opener against No. 16 Virginia.

LUXURY A SELLOUT: For the first time in Death Valley history, Clemson has sold out its luxury boxes.

Memorial Stadium has had 100 executive suites since construction on the north upper deck was completed in 1983. The luxury boxes, which make up about 2,500 seats, run from end zone to end zone on both sides of the stadium.Death Valley has six suites with eight seats that cost $10,000 for the year, 20 suites with 12 seats each that cost $14,000, and 74 that have 22 seats apiece and cost $20,000.The seven-game home schedule has only one real marquee game, Nov. 21 against South Carolina. The Tigers open Sept. 5 against Furman.