Events and Discoveries of the Week

December 05, 1960

THE INSIDE TRACK

•Far Westerners are furious because Minnesota accepted the Rose Bowl bid in fact but insisted it would continue to oppose bowl participation on principle at Big Ten meetings. An official of the group that invited Minnesota says off the record: "I am appalled and shocked at the bad grace. We wanted Minnesota but we didn't expect a left-handed acceptance. It's like saying, 'We'll approve now but please tell those Rose Bowl people not to ask us again.' "

•Kansas may lose the Big Eight title it has just won when the conference meets next week. If Jayhawk Halfback Bert Coan is ruled ineligible (SI, Nov. 28), Kansas will have to forfeit six conference games.

•Mississippi All-America Quarterback Jake Gibbs, drafted by Bud Adams' Houston Oilers, will be given a trial with Houston's prospective major league baseball team as well as with the Oilers and will then decide which sport he prefers.

HOW THEY PLAY THE GAME

In 1984, when Harvard's computers play Yale's computers in the annual Calculus Bowl, and MIT and Cal Tech are the sports giants of the collegiate world, one constant will remain. Little knots of fans will gather and debate the bromide: Is it whether you win or lose that counts, or how you play the game? Even contemporary literature sometimes addresses itself to this perennial question. In John Updike's current bestseller, Rabbit, Run, a drunken old coach says, "Give the boys the will to achieve. I've always liked that better than the will to win, for there can be achievement even in defeat."

Indeed there can: witness two events of last week. The University of Virginia ran its consecutive losing streak to 27. The alumni, predictable as Pavlov's dog, demanded the firing of Coach Dick Voris. University President Edgar Shannon replied, Nothing doing, and Voris' three-year contract will be honored. Similarly, President William Friday of the University of North Carolina thumbed his academic nose at alumni who were after the scalp of Coach Jim Hickey. Friday extended Hickey's contract through 1964, despite a Tar Heel record of 3-7.

Does this mean that sanity is returning to campus athletic programs?

Not necessarily. Cornell has just fired George (Lefty) James for not winning. In 25 years on the football staff, 14 as head coach, Lefty James had tried to instill "the will to achieve" in his athletes, had watched with satisfaction as they won four Ivy League titles and compiled an over-all record of 66-58-2. But this year Lefty's backfield went to the hospital almost en masse and the team wound up winning only two games. Goodby Lefty. Said Cornell Athletic Director Robert J. Kane: "He did a good job for Cornell.... Cornell is indebted to him for long, faithful and dignified service." Or, in the words of almost any dedicated football alumnus: what had he done for us lately?

TOMORROW THE WORLD

Willie Bouchard of Eagle Lake, Me., is 70 years old, and for most of those years Willie has been a trapper. Last week he found something new in one of his traps on the Nadeau Thoroughfare. It was a ratlike animal midway between a muskrat and a beaver in size. It had long whiskers, coarse outer fur and four great big orange teeth. Willie gave the animal to Game Warden Maynard Pelletier for identification; Pelletier himself had to call in help, and finally the awful truth was out. The big rat was a coypu, or nutria, or swamp beaver, or troublemaker.

Nutrias are hardy, beagle-size animals with only one apparent aim—to take over the world. They used to call Argentina home, but then E. A. McIlhenny, the maker of Tabasco sauce, imported a few pairs to Avery Island, La. He planned to raise nutria for fur.

Unfortunately, McIlhenny's "escape-proof" fences were blown down in the hurricane of 1940, and the nutria took it on the lam. In Louisiana they found almost no natural enemies (a hungry alligator will eat a nutria, but there are very few hungry alligators left in Louisiana) and pleasant conditions for breeding. One pair of nutrias can produce 15 offspring a year, and these in turn produce more. In a mere 20 years, they shoved mink and muskrat almost completely out of the bayou country; nutrias have migrated to Texas and Alabama and halfway up the Mississippi Valley, eating rice, corn, sugar cane and tree bark.

But no one expected to find them as far away as Maine. Game wardens who set about solving the Willie Bouchard mystery soon found that Maine has its own McIlhenny. A Washburn man had started raising nutrias and some had managed to escape. This may lead to as much trouble on the creeks down East as in the bayous down South. As for the rest of the country—well, it's at least flanked and maybe enveloped.

THE DEFECTORS

There used to be a vaudeville song with the refrain, "Fish don't perspire—hello, hello, hello." However that may be, it is possible that fish are sometimes discontent, environmentally or perhaps even politically. Recently, some odd-looking salmon appeared along the northern shores of Scotland and Norway. They were pinker and blunter than they should have been. Investigation proved that they were hatched from eggs which the Russians had picked up in the Pacific and planted in the cold water near Murmansk. Apparently seeking sanctuary, the salmon swam south and west toward the warmer water of democracy. They are of the species Oncorhyncus gorbuscha, akin to the quinnat or king salmon, and they are of course welcome in the free world.

CODDLING THE BOYS

In case you have gone through life wondering what star athletes eat, and how, here is a memo distributed to hotel dining room staffers by Baltimore Colts Coach Weeb Ewbank:

"Please serve beef bouillon to all persons eating the pregame breakfast. Also French, Roquefort and Russian dressing is to be available on each table, along with toast, butter, honey and pitchers of coffee. No milk is to be served at the pregame meal.

"No one is to be served the lettuce salad or the baked potato, since a number of the boys do not want either. Therefore, please place on a separate table 15 baked potatoes and 30 lettuce salads—and those who desire either may help themselves.

"Please place the steaks on the respective tables promptly at 9 a.m., making sure that the well-done meat is really well-done and will not have to be returned to the kitchen for additional cooking. If it is necessary for you to hire more help to get this meal out on time, then please do so—at our expense."

A HORSE'S LIFE

The recent death of Bally Ache, winner of the Preakness, 15 other races and $758,522, gave sports page readers an intriguing glimpse of a little-known facet of horse racing. Bally Ache, it developed, had been insured for $1 million. The policy was carried by the Animal Insurance Company of America, which listed assets of $368,605 as of Dec. 31, 1959. This, however, is only the beginning. The Animal Insurance Co. hangs onto only 10% of what it underwrites, reinsuring the other 90% (laying it off, so to speak) with Lloyd's of London. That hoary institution, which is itself a conglomeration of more than 1,000 underwriting syndicates, handles a great deal of horse insurance, spreading the risk around among its many members.

The amount for which a horse may be insured is determined strictly by Lloyd's, and Lloyd's thinks of everything. If a horse runs in a claiming race, the insurance automatically is reduced to the amount for which the animal may be claimed. Policies vary, but most indemnify against loss through natural causes, accidents, inoculations and humane destruction on advice of a veterinarian. If a horse dies after an operation not approved by Lloyd's veterinarians, there is often no payoff. Premiums run between 3¾% and 6% of the policy's face value.

An estimated 25% of U.S. race horses are insured, several for a half million each. Nasrullah, sire of Nashua, Bold Ruler and Never Say Die, dropped dead in his paddock last year and brought a $600,000 payoff, the record till Bally Ache.

CAST OF CHARACTERS

•Britain's Dr. Barbara Moore, the marathon walker who plodded across the U.S. last summer, went before an English court to have her house assessment reduced. The reason: there is no public transportation between her house and the towns of Frimley and Camberley, two miles away, and Babs doesn't feel like walking. She won the case and her assessment was cut by ¬£5.

•San Francisco Coach Red Hickey, displeased with the 49ers' 4-4 record, revealed a lineup change in the back-field: "We'll give C.R. a chance with J.D., R.C. and Y.A." The new lineup: C. R. Roberts, J. D. Smith, R. C. Owens and Y. A. Tittle.

•Ernie Broglio, the Cardinals' 21-game winner, has a winter job in California, loading beer cases. "The brand isn't Budweiser," confided Ernie, "so I wish you wouldn't mention it. Mr. Busch might get sore."

•Murray Warmath, Minnesota football coach who last year was hanged in effigy and this year has been idolized (SI, Nov. 14), received this letter from a fan: "Mr. Warmath, you are a great coach and your team has come a long way. You're a helluva lot better than the coach we had last year."

•Earle B. Mayfield of Tyler, Texas, one of the winners in a national letter-writing contest ("25 words or less..."), is not sure what he'll do with his prizes: a basketball, a football, a baseball, a handball and a skin-diving rig. He is 79.

ILLUSTRATION

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)