SI's basketball research rates a top salute! I have just reviewed your 1970-71 Top 20 selections (I kepi the Nov. 30, 1970 issue out of curiosity). You hit on 14 of the 20 in the final standings—with your pick of UCLA for No. 1 and your cover photo of Sidney Wicks also on target. That is superb research!
Thus, I viewed your new Top 20 (College Basketball's Giant Season, Nov. 29) with great interest. I watched Lew Alcindor (Kareem Jabbar) play every frosh game at UCLA, as I did Bill Walton. I thought Walton was better as a frosh, much more competitive. Also, watch Henry Bibby. Again, I salute your reportorial team.
MASON W. FUHR
Thanks so much for finally giving Jimmy Chones and the rest of the Marquette Warriors the praise and credit they deserve. Curry Kirkpatrick's fine article showed Jimmy as the real person he is. Also, thanks for ranking the Warriors No. 1. That's where the deserve to be, and I'm sure they'll show everyone that you are right!
West Allis, Wis.
Since you have said that the Milwaukee Bucks are the best team in the NBA, that the Marquette Warriors are most likely to be the NCAA champions and that the Eau claire Blugolds are probably the best small-college team in America, is it not possible to conclude that Wisconsin has suddenly become the basketball capital of the world?
West Bend, Wis.
December 13, 1971
Congratulations on your selection of the Long Beach Slate 49ers as a member of your top five. It became obvious to West Coast basketball fans after last year's near miss vs. UCLA that Long Beach is becoming the strongest power in Southern California, replacing the young Bruins and the injured Trojans. SI's foresight in placing the 49ers ahead of UCLA and USC will be substantiated when Jerry Tarkanian's team becomes the Cinderella team of the NCAA finals.
JAMES C. FROMM
Long Beach, Calif.
You have put every team in its place, except for one little mistake. UCLA doesn't have Sidney Wicks and Curtis Rowe, but the Bruins are No. 1.
Now that the 1971 football season is coming to an end, I want to thank you for all the chuckles you have given me. I laughed through the first third of the season as each week SI came out ranking Notre Dame ahead of Nebraska, but I roar at the thought of it, now. I was grinning the whole month of November when you insisted on putting Oklahoma above Nebraska, but I absolutely rolled in the aisles when your Nov. 29 issue came out listing Oklahoma No. 1. Now I suggest you all sit back and watch Nebraska make it two years in a row.
I thought the article by Dan Jenkins, This Year's Game of the Decade (Nov. 22), was excellent and can't wait to see how you will now handle the Orange Bowl.
CARL LINDEMANN JR.
New York City
A few years ago Oklahoma won 47 straight football games and you ran a cover story on the Sooners. The next week None Dame Stopped the win streak. A little later, in the mid-'60s, Tex Maule did a cover story on the Dallas Cowboys predicting that they would win the division title, but the Cowboys, alas, didn't read the story. The cries around the land each time were quick and pointedly blunt, "The SI jinx has struck!"
Also during the '60s, Dan Jenkins stuck his neck out and predicted that Texas would be the 1963 season's national champion. Texas proved him right! And a little while later, in the bowl predictions for Jan. 1, 1967, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED said that ferocious Georgia would better SMU in the Cotton Bowl. And Georgia did! Then this year, Dan Jenkins threw his whole body on the line and said that if Oklahoma fumbled three times Nebraska would win. (Man, talk about a writer with guts!) Oklahoma did fumble three times and Nebraska won.
'Tis better to have dared and died than never to have dared at all, especially when you can call the shots ahead of time down to three fumbles! More power to you, SI!
Coach Bo Schembechler was correct when he said that Michigan "will never be No. 1 in the nation because of the press" (FOOTBALL'S WEEK, NOV. 22). Just look at your Nov. 29 issue. The Ohio State-Michigan game was covered in one paragraph, while the LSU-Notre Dame game and the Big Pink of Vassar got the headlines.
Over the past two years Michigan has lost one game (to an unbeaten Ohio State), which is a better record than that of any other major college team with the exceptions of Toledo and Nebraska.
By the way, have you ever heard 104,000 people scream at once?
PAUL VAN BEEK
Grand Rapids, Mich.
Thanks, Lynn Simross! The article Best of the Powder Puffs (Nov. 29) was great. The Vassar Big Pink is a great team to root for. Whoopie! Butch Hirsch for Coach of the Year. And let's salute the champions of the Big Two. Sorry, Sarah Lawrence, but you've got a long way to go to reach Vassar's "big-time" football status!
DENNIS L. SMITH
Copperas Cove, Texas
Three discreet cheers for your brilliant article on the Vassar football squad and its superstar, Broadway Mark Cohen. I have followed this remarkable athlete's career for five years and am glad he is being recognized. He is not only a top quarterback, but a stellar stickball outfielder and three-on-three basketball player as well. But ii is his quarterbacking in the Upset of the Century that is justly immortalized in your article.
Great article on Elmore Smith (Fortunes of a New Tough Cookie, Nov. 22). I'm also glad to see something nice said about the Braves. They certainly will be the team of the future with Elmore in the middle.
Your magazine makes Buffalo's weather sound like we live around the corner from Antarctica. Believe me, this is not the case. We have beautiful skiing weather and fine, warm golfing weather. It really is the perfect climate for an all-round sportsman. Please consider this next time you write an article concerning the "Armpit of the East."
Your 1971 Sportsman of the Year award should go to Lee Trevino. His conquests of the British, Canadian and U.S. opens certainly make him worthy of the honor. More important, however, is Lee's respect for golf and his appreciation of its fans. On the course, he is not only a fine professional but an outgoing personality. The paying customer admires an athlete with these qualities because he (the customer) is repayed a hundredfold for his dollar. Lee Trevino is a superb athlete and a fine gentleman.
Mount Vernon, Ohio
If love of a game and an ability to excel in it constitute a true sportsman, Roberto Clemente must certainly be SI's Sportsman of the Year. For years the Clemente style has been characterized by rifle throws from the outfield, unrestrained hustle on the base paths and line-drive hits that have accounted for four batting titles. It finally took a World Series to give him the recognition he has so richly deserved throughout his entire career.
Even more remarkable is Clemente's un-paralleled love for baseball. Whether the Pirates are winning or losing, Clemente's exuberance and flair are unmatched by any other player in the game. Whenever he appears, teammates and fans alike know that he will do whatever is necessary to get the clutch hit or make the spectacular diving catch. A man of this caliber is something to behold in an age where most ballplayers are more concerned with extracting money and business opportunities from baseball than they are with playing it.
New Brunswick, N.J.
I nominate Vida Blue, the main reason being that he did so much early in the season to revive interest in our slumping national pastime.
Who else but Nader's best raider—Ken Dryden!
Huntington Station, N.Y.
I nominate, in all seriousness, Howard Cosell. I think he is deserving of such an honor. Agreed, Cosell is very controversial and quite often repetitive. But above all, he creates an interest. The world of sport needs more Howard Cosells to stimulate the public and generate enthusiasm. Mr. Cosell has done a terrific job for years.
New City, N.Y.
I nominate Don Garlits. This year Garlits proved once and for all that rear-engine dragsters can compete with conventional slingshot dragsters. Garlits proved his point by winning numerous NHRA and AHRA meets. He turned an unbelievable 6.21 along with many other quarters in the 6.20 to 6.30 range. He also ran his "digger" to speeds well over 230 mph.
Because of what Garlits has done with his rear-engine dragster, drag racing will undoubtedly become a much safer sport.
KRAIG L. WILLIS
The year 1971 saw at least the beginning of the end of Muhammad Ali and the advent of Evonne Goolagong, like a breath of fresh air on the tennis scene. Eddie Merckx made it three in a row in this world's most grueling sporting event, the Tour de France, while Jackie Slew an proved once more to be the best driver on land. And Roberto Clemente played the Star role in the Pirate victory in the World Series. But they must all give way to Lee Trevino, who, with his hat trick of victories in the U.S., Canadian and British opens (a feat unlikely ever to be repeated), was undoubtedly the sports star of 1971. Yes, Super Mex must be your Sportsman of the Year.
Badminton fans were cheered by the fine article written by Dan Levin (What Kind of Racket Is This?, Nov. 22). He captured the true spirit of dyed-in-the-wool badminton players. Badminton is an excellent indoor sport for those who want plenty of exercise and fun.
When Chou En-lai entertained the Ping-Pong delegation in Red China, he observed that badminton was one of the two fastest games played. If the Red Chinese badminton players are invited to enter international competition, they may well march off with all the honors.
KENNETH V. DANIELS
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