UCLA AND OTHERS
Congratulations on an outstanding article concerning UCLA basketball and Coach John Wooden (UCLA: Simple, Awesomely Simple, Nov. 30). As a player who saw little action from 1966-68, I'm very happy to see you deal realistically with Coach Wooden's player relationships. I'm referring particularly to those comments made by Mike Warren and Fred Slaughter. Coach Wooden is, without doubt, a great coach, but I sincerely feel he could make more of an effort to show an interest in his players as human beings.
Manhattan Beach, Calif.
Perhaps what is more awesome and more simple than the UCLA way is the battle, silent and deep-rooted, waged between Coach Wooden and the young men wearing the Bruin jerseys. One cannot help but marvel at (and at the same time, raise a question about) the undeniable six-season record of the UCLA mentor. But while he has not been untarnished, Coach Wooden does seem to present himself unscathed as a prevailing force of character and discipline in the midst of these changing times. Hats off to Curry Kirkpatrick for a reporting job par excellence.
I enjoyed your article on college basketball. The story about UCLA was excellent and showed me that Coach Wooden and his players are human after all. The UCLA Bruins will and should be No. 1—until South Carolina beats them for the national championship. The Gamecocks are definitely not a second-place team in anybody's league.
North Charleston, S.C.
Congratulations to SI for being the first magazine to give Long Beach State (No. 8) the recognition it deserves (The Top 20 Teams, Nov. 30). The 49ers also do quite well in other sports. They recently upset San Diego State in football to earn a trip to the Pasadena Bowl to face Louisville. During the past year the swimming team finished fifth, the water polo team third and the volleyball team second in NCAA competition. The baseball team also made the NCAA playoffs. Athletics are on the move in Long Beach.
I realize that you will be swamped with revenge letters regarding your preseason college basketball rankings, but let me make one thing perfectly clear. Kansas (No. 18) has already sacked No. 8 Long Beach State. Keep your eyes on the Jayhawks and the rest of the Big Eight.
Shame, shame. Your offensive team overlooked half of the game of basketball—defense. Army's is and has been tops in the nation. Hold the ball? Only to work for the good shot and then take it and keep the opposition from scoring. Sound logic? It must be, since Army has played in five NITs in six years.
MAJOR G. L. GUNDERMAN, USA
West Point, N.Y.
THE GAME IN UTAH
Congratulations on the fine article about the Utah Stars (The Stars Earn Their Stripes, Nov. 30). I'm glad the theory that Utah could not support a major professional basketball team was finally disproved. We've known we could for a long time.
Salt Lake City
It was interesting to note that two things have not changed in Utah: 1) The basketball fans are still the greatest, based on a working knowledge of the game; and 2) Jack Gardner of the University of Utah is up to his old tricks of trying to belittle the competition to gain interest in his running Redskins. (I coached at Weber State for eight years.) If he wants to fill his arena he should take a long hard look at his own program instead of decrying professional basketball.
The Chicago Bulls
OHIO STATE'S REVENGE
Many things have been said about Ohio State Coach Woody Hayes, but his record speaks for itself. What better tribute to a great coach than a 20-9 victory over arch-rival Michigan? And congratulations to Dan Jenkins for his article, Revival and Revenge (Nov. 30). I think Woody would agree that the sportswriters finally got with it.
DOUGLAS R. ANDREWS
New Concord, Ohio
Woody Hayes has been perhaps the most positively influential man in my life. I greatly regret Dan Jenkins not only misquoted what I had said but also took the thoughts I expressed completely out of context in such a manner as to derive their exact opposite meaning. What I actually said was: "...it is a strange thing playing for him. When you are a sophomore, you are scared of him. When you are a junior, you absolutely believe in him. And then, when you become a senior, I don't know what it is, but you start to question some of the things he does. But I'll tell you this. The more I am away from that man, the more I appreciate him. He taught me things about myself that I never realized until later years, when I started getting out into life."
It is too bad that Woody's powerful influence over the hundreds of players that he has coached has never been fairly or accurately presented by any sportswriter.
The E. F. MacDonald Company
Yes, Mr. Jenkins, the Buckeyes of Woody Hayes may have "retreated" this season from the dazzling attack of 1969, but never did they look "mediocre," and never did the players or fans lose confidence in the greatness of the coaching. Call it ennui with the schedule and winning or whatever; the passing and option plays were not working as of old, so Woody went back to the game he knows best—the game all coaches know to be the toughest to teach. That is "grinding meat," as you so aptly put it. The late Vince Lombardi exposed the myth that you can't run in the pro game, and built a dynasty in Green Bay. Woody Hayes has built a dynasty at Ohio State with the same tactics. Any coach can put the ball in the air but, as Woody has often said, the team that can move on the ground is the team that wins.
To the initiated fan, the intricacies of coaching ground play from tackle to tackle is a thing to behold, and when you have a master like Woody Hayes at the helm and the success he begets, who can ask for more?
C. E. LINEBAUGH
LEVIAS VS. THE LEVIATHANS
Thank you for the excellent article on the Houston Oilers' Jerry Levias (Too Small to Be Overlooked, Nov. 30), and congratulations to Morton Sharnik for capturing on paper Jerry's unique feelings and emotions as he competes against men much bigger than he. His frank interpretations of his fears and challenges as a professional football player show the true greatness of Jerry Levias.
THE GIRLS' VERSION
I first turned to the 19TH HOLE column of your Nov. 30 issue and read Pat Robertson's letter praising three of your past articles—on the Heidi incident, Booth Lusteg and Alex Hawkins—as the funniest in the history of pro football and asking. "What will SI ever find for an encore?'' Then I read Pick Up Your Purse, Coach, and Let's Go by George Packard. I see you have found your encore.
It was a fine article, showing that girls can play the sport, too. But, Mr. Packard, lady coaches are not shaped like pieces of athletic equipment. They are skilled and pretty women doing their own thing, which is basketball.
Pompton Lakes, N.J.
I am very glad they revised women's and girls' basketball rules. It is much more exciting and enjoyable with five players.
It is my belief that the Sportsman of the Year should be the one who best exemplifies man's ability to excel. He doesn't have to be a winner, as many of the best and most courageous athletes are members of losing teams. My nominee, Jerry West, is not a loser by any stretch of the imagination; however, during his tour in the NBA he has never been on a real winner. Last season he was almost singularly responsible for leading the Los Angeles Lakers to the playoffs and then on to the finals.
FRANK C. VIVIER
I would like to nominate Gordie Howe. He retains the stamina of a 25-year-old in the quickest and probably the most enervating of all team sports, and although he is a member of the 40-plus club, he is no part-time player like Hoyt Wilhelm or George Blanda. Howe is a true team player; Detroit's mediocre records and failure to become a champion have never quelled Gordie's desire to endure long winters in smoky arenas, which he has done for 25 years.
I would like to nominate Roberto Clemente. He inspired the Pittsburgh Pirates toward victory only to be defeated, but he does not complain.
I would like to nominate Christos Papanicolaou for Sportsman of the Year. His 18-foot pole vault went largely unnoticed in this country, yet this feat will rank as one of the greatest athletic accomplishments of all time.
I would like to nominate Tom Dempsey for Sportsman of the Year. His courage and drive should be an inspiration not only to those like him but to the whole world. He proved that the "impossible" can be accomplished.
GARY L. ROSS
What better candidate can be offered than Margaret Court? She has won all of the major tennis titles in fine sportsmanlike fashion and has distinguished herself as the year's best tennis player.
I would like to place in nomination the names of my co-candidates for Sportsman of the Year. Half my nomination is Dandy Don Meredith. The other, Keith Jackson, is not an athlete, but he is a sportsman nonetheless.
Why do these two deserve the award? Because, probably just a little more than the rest of us, they must put up with Howard Cosell every Monday night on national television.
DAVID S. HERBEIN
I would like to nominate that old sport himself, Howard Cosell. His views aren't agreeable to everyone, but at least he stimulates opinion and gets the public thinking about the issues in college and professional athletics.
Evergreen Park, Ill.
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