There is a natural tendency at this time of year to slip into football parlance, and in the case of our college football writers, Dan Jenkins and William Johnson, it is important to note that the two of them have now gained roughly 30,770 miles rushing. This is pretty good yardage for grown men carrying typewriters through crowds, and readers will not be surprised to learn that both of them have accepted bowl bids—which means they will be off somewhere covering college football while most of us are blinking our way into the New Year.
This week Jenkins reports on the Notre Dame-USC game (page 18), which brings his coverage to more than 32 quarters of topflight football. And Johnson writes on page 40 about King Puck, the goat that plays mascot for Navy, a story he chased all the way to Ireland and back.
Everybody knows that a football fan will go to great lengths to see a good game, and by the end of the season Jenkins and Johnson will have run up more than 32,980 and 12,400 miles, respectively, doing just that. This does not include little side trips, which help keep one's perspective: two weeks ago, between his stories on the top professional draft prospects and Notre Dame-USC, Jenkins slipped 4,280 miles away to Italy to write about the World Cup golf tournament, staying just long enough to gain a few pounds from pasta and lose a little more laundry. Johnson came home from the recent Texas A&M-LSU game, did a fast turn around his desk and caught the next flight for Dublin when he learned that Navy was on the trail of a new goat. Add 3,175 miles to Johnson's season.
Since Johnson will be back doing bowl-game previews next week, he paused on his last trip long enough to buy hand-knit Irish sweaters for the whole family, "all my Christmas shopping," he said proudly. Then he went on to play out a sort of dream sequence where, "First, I was driving along a narrow highway from Dublin to Killorglin in County Kerry on a gray drizzly morning, passing houses with thatched roofs and cheery, red-faced people on bicycles. Then, something like 72 hours later, I'm suddenly driving a rental car 198 miles between Lawrence, Kans. and Lincoln, Neb. over that flat, brown landscape. On my way to another football game. No castle ruins in sight. Just silos."
December 9, 1968
Jenkins, meanwhile, had done a fast turn of his own; hardly had he put his football notes away when he found himself playing in the pro-am tournament that accompanied the World Cup. He had not even brought clubs—Dan has learned that a fast traveler travels light—but borrowed a set and teed off with Scotland's John Panton as his partner. "Didn't do too badly, either," Jenkins said. "We finished two strokes behind the winner." Of course, he did not mention that he had twice been champion of The Golf Writers Association of America. Then, that tough assignment over, he was back on football again.
As noted, all this will add up to an impressive set of rushing-around statistics by New Year's Day, maybe even a football-writer record in the journalism conference. It is not without hazard: both Jenkins and Johnson are suffering from that dread injury, Press Box Elbow. But they assure us that with a little taping and typewriter ribbon they will rush on through the season.