The selection of USC over UCLA as Purdue's opponent in the Rose Bowl didn't look any better after the Notre Dame-USC game. But UCLA wouldn't have been much of an improvement. What the AAWU should have done was pick the University of Santa Clara, which neither proselytes nor gives aid to football players. After all, Santa Clara beat San Francisco State. San Francisco State beat Cal Poly of San Luis Obispo. Cal Poly of San Luis Obispo beat Los Angeles State. Los Angeles State beat Long Beach State. Long Beach State beat University of the Pacific. University of the Pacific beat San Jose. San Jose beat California. California beat Washington. Washington beat UCLA. UCLA beat USC.
When Johnny Longden rode his last race at the age of 59 we were duly impressed; of course, at the time we hadn't heard of Khodagholi Agh, the champion jockey of Iran. Agh is 85.
Agh has been race-riding for 65 years and has earned $100,000. He wears a beard and false teeth, has never smoked and drinks nothing stronger than black tea. Agh has fallen off a horse six times in his life, the first time when he was 7. He once fell off in front of Reza the Great, the father of Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlevi, but was given a horse as consolation. "I have not tried the present monarch's generosity," says Agh. Agh has no use for automation and believes horses are the only reliable power for empires. Nonetheless, he owns two tractors, with which he has his cotton farm plowed. Agh has three wives and 70 children and grandchildren, and he says he would marry again if women nowadays weren't so insistent on going to the movies. When asked last week which he prefers, horses or women, Agh replied, "Women," adding, "I could probably ride the same horse for years, but I cannot put up with only one woman."
December 5, 1966
During a race at the October meeting at Tehran, Agh twice held his horse back in order to give a chance to Prince Ali, the son of the Shah's late brother, Prince Ali Reza. A devoted subject, Agh believes he should never precede royalty. Despite the fact that he pulled his mount on this occasion, Agh was again the leading rider, with 11 wins and $2,000. At the end of the meeting, Agh rode past the Shah, Empress Farah and Crown Prince Reza. "See you next year," Agh said, waving. We sincerely hope so.
ABC-TV was criticized for its coverage of last month's election returns, but compared to the job it did on college-football scores this season, the election night show deserves an Emmy. There are only two things to get right in reporting a football score: 1) who won and 2) the score. With dismaying frequency, ABC got one or the other—or both—wrong, although it often played safe by not announcing final scores, despite the fact that many of the games in question had been over for more than two hours. This goes for scores given during televised games as well as those reported on College Football Today, the postgame show in which Kyle Rote and Jim McKay were evidently in over their heads. We recall particularly Dartmouth's 14-13 victory over Harvard, Tennessee whipping Alabama 10-8, Wyoming's 25-8 win over BYU, Southern Mississippi beating Mississippi State 10-9 and Harvard leading Yale 10-7.
Arty closeups of Ara Parseghian, dual isolated cameras and interminable reminders that college football is a pleasant and colorful way to spend an autumn afternoon don't make up for the carelessness.
The ways of TV are, indeed, wondrous to behold. On Thanksgiving night in New York, Channel 11 showed that grand old film, Knute Rockne—All American—or some of it. So what did they cut? Rockne's exhortation to win one for the Gipper, that's what they cut.
OFF AND RUNNING (CONT.)
What has 556 legs and is bushed? The mob of 278 zealots who completed a five-mile run sponsored by the country's newest college, the College of Artesia of Artesia, N. Mex. (SI, Oct. 24). Olympic Champion Billy Mills ran as guest of honor, matching his pace to that of Rich Hotze of Artesia's cross-country team, who won in 27:39. Students ran. Faculty wives ran. Doctors" and lawyers' wives from Artesia ran. Guests from Socorro and Carlsbad ran. Even the working press ran. One student covered the five miles skipping rope. Fourteen students ran pulling a float. Artesia's athletic director, Charles R. Solberg, ran and finished fifth. Artesia's president, Dr. Thomas C. Stevens, ran and finished 138th. Solberg plans to repeat the race next year. He says he won't be satisfied until everyone in New Mexico runs.
PLAYING THE GAME
What could be more placid than a British angler? If you answer 50 British anglers, you're wrong. When 130 scullers racing on the Thames rowed through the lines of 50 fishermen engaged in a competition of their own, the anglers started throwing rocks.
Roger Croome's boat sustained a direct hit, creating "a hole the size of a teacup." Croome managed to row a mile farther before he sank. He got out and, shouldering his boat, ran with it along a towpath for almost another mile to the finish line. He didn't win, but, as Grant-land Rice observed, it's how you play the game. Croome's is one of the more interesting ways of playing rowing that has come to our attention.
One day last month a Florida hunter was shot in the leg by a boy who said he mistook the man's red socks for a turkey comb. The following day a 12-year-old Florida boy was critically wounded by a hunter who said he mistook the boy's red cap for a turkey comb. For some years blaze orange, not red, has been prescribed as the best protective coloring for hunters. We can only be thankful that there is no season on Baltimore orioles.
HAIL THE CONKERING HERO
The Conker Championship of Great Britain was contested recently on the village green at Ashton Wold, Northamptonshire, and the new champion and possessor of the Great Britain Conker Cup and a silver pint tankard is Sid Walden, a retired naval officer.
Mr. Walden took up conkering only last year, but the game has a long and illustrious history. The present version dates back to the 16th century, when the horse chestnut was introduced into Britain from Asia. Before then the sport was played with shells, and the word conker is probably derived from conch.
Nowadays a conker is a horse chestnut attached to a string, and, in its simplest form, the game consists of its two players taking alternate downward swings with their conkers at each other's conkers until one conker is fatally smashed. Each autumn British schoolboys search for "the ultimate conker"; one conker is reputed to have survived 1,143 games—a record.
According to the etiquette of the game, overlooked only by cads, conkers should be played in their natural state, and not be steeped in vinegar, soaked in alum or smeared with butter and baked in an oven. One ardent conkerer, a teacher, once confessed on the BBC that he had resorted to these sharp practices, but excused himself on the grounds that he wasn't a public-school man.
Cheats or not, conker players stand together in preserving their sport from commercialization. Some time ago a manufacturer of a plastic conker had no success whatsoever. He served only to create a sense of national outrage that boiled over into the correspondence columns of the London Times.
The initial blow of a game of conkers is claimed by the first player to quote one of the sport's traditional preliminaries. The most venerated, which, alas, is rarely heard in these indifferent times, goes:
"Obli, obli-o, my first go—
And when the nut is struck
Obli, obli-onker, my nut will conquer."
ODD MAN OUT
Almost unnoticed, Bill Chambers, the basketball coach at William and Mary for the past eight years, has resigned to go into business. Chambers is an original thinker, but his views weren't greatly noticed, either; Williamsburg, Va. hasn't been a major news-dissemination center since 1780.
Chambers' principal contention is that if basketball were played with four men on a side the game would be faster, the floor less congested, and the fans could better appreciate the moves.
"Today basketball is played by three and sometimes two men on any given offensive maneuver," Chambers says. "Never are all five involved. With zone defenses clogging up the court, with players so big, with court width restricted, why not reduce the team to four men? The fifth man almost never figures in a play toward the basket. Coaches plan plays with at least one man told to just clear out, get out of the way, take one man with him. If that's so, why have him on the floor at all?"
A man wearing a blazer with a Dallas Cowboy emblem was walking up the steps of the Cotton Bowl just before the game with Cleveland last week, when a stranger stopped him and said:
"I see by your outfit that you are a Cowboy. I have traveled nigh onto 325 miles getting here, and I can't get a ticket. Is there any way in this sorry world you know of I can get into this game?"
Replied the man in the blazer: "I will let you use a spare box-seat stub of mine to get in the gate, seeing you have come so far."
"Thankee," said the stranger, and into the Cotton Bowl they went. Once inside the gate, the man in the blazer took back the stub and put it in his pocket, saying, "You are on your own now."
Only later, that night, as he emptied his pockets on the dresser top in his bedroom, did the man in the blazer discover that the stranger had wrapped a $10 bill around the stub.
Now somewhere nigh onto 325 miles from Dallas is a fan who tipped Clint Murchison, reputedly the wealthiest man in the U.S., 10 bucks.
FASTEST MOUTH IN THE WEST
Wayne Vandenburg, the new track coach at Texas Western College in El Paso, is a young man in a hurry. In fact, he has been known to shave his head just to cut down wind resistance.
When Vandenburg, 24, hit Texas Western last spring the track team was so depleted by scholastic ineligibility, injury and disinterest that it numbered six lost souls, and the outdoor season had been canceled before it was half over. On May 5 Vandenburg signed his contract. On May 6 he was off on a 55-day transcontinental recruiting tour during which he covered 16,000 miles and stepped on almost as many toes.
Complained one coach, a demon recruiter himself: "There was hardly a high school boy I talked to that hadn't already talked to Vandenburg."
The result of all this fast talking? The Texas Western track team now numbers 36; 10 junior-college transfers will be enrolling next term and five red shirts are running in place in the wings.
"We've got depth," says Vandenburg. "We're loaded in the sprints, the quarter mile and the relays. We're strong in all the jumps and the hurdles. We're more than adequate in the distances. This team is going to win the NCAA championship in 1968."
No way? They laughed last March when Texas Western took the floor in the NCAA basketball tournament.
THEY SAID IT
•Red Auerbach, Boston Celtics' general manager, asked if he had any criticism of Bill Russell's coaching: "He has the players too happy."
•The Rev. Edward G. Hildner, 93, sole survivor of the first basketball game—played 75 years ago this month—on the sport today: "There are too many whistles, too many interruptions because some silly little rule is broken. The same is true about baseball—all that baloney that makes the game too long."