PRIDE OF THE EAST
Congratulations on your Nov. 26 college basketball preview and especially Curry Kirkpatrick's article about David Thompson and the ACC (David Goes After Goliath). With players like Thompson, Bobby Jones, Tom McMillen et al., there can be little doubt that the ACC is the best conference. Coach Bob Boyd of Southern Cal showed a great sense of humor when he said the Pacific Eight teams were better year in and year out than the ACC teams. The ACC's record speaks for itself. Last year the seven conference teams won 72 games and lost 18 against outside competition, a winning percentage of .800. Quite a record.
I would wager that if UCLA played an ACC regular-season schedule and then topped that off by playing in the ACC tournament, the Bruins would not come through undefeated. As for Bob Boyd's statement, I can only laugh, but I believe David Thompson would just smile and wink.
Attaway to tell it, Curry! That was probably the best article ever written for SI, and sure enough, the ACC is ready for another chance this year. Admittedly, the Bruins are the class of the land, but I had to read through all of the Top 20 scouting reports to find another Pacific Eight team listed. Oh, if we only had a crack at Mr. Boyd's Trojans! I don't guess they've got much of a chance, though.
When is the ACC going to stop making excuses and start winning championships? In your latest article we again hear the age-old alibi that the best team doesn't always represent the ACC in the NCAA tournament (you say only 13 times in 20 years) because of the competition in the ACC's own postseason playoff. Doesn't that tell you something about the worth of their playoffs?
As for Curry Kirkpatrick's excuse for Maryland's trouncing in last year's Eastern regionals, Len Elmore was playing on one foot because Providence kept him hopping. Even with Ernie D out for half of the game, and despite playing in ACC country, Providence put Maryland where it belongs.
I find it very sad that a magazine such as yours, which has made a success of covering the world of sport, has seemingly lost track of the spirit of good sportsmanship. How could you print an article in which Curry Kirkpatrick actually wishes the UCLA basketball team an unsuccessful year? Coach John Wooden once came to the microphone during a game at Pauley Pavilion and asked that the home fans root like mad for UCLA but that they not root against our opponent. That is class, Kirkpatrick; maybe you and your editors could learn from it.
I. R. SCHLOSSBERG
If the Atlantic Coast Conference conspired to place David Thompson, Len Elmore, Tom McMillen, John Lucas and Monte Towe on the same team, with North Carolina's bench and Lefty Driesell as coach, it still couldn't beat UCLA in Chapel Hill, Raleigh, College Park—or Oshkosh.
South Bound Brook, N.J.
Surely your ranking of UCLA No. 1 and North Carolina State No. 2 (The Top Twenty, Nov. 26) cannot be knocked. But how can anyone who knows anything about basketball talent leave a perennial Top 20 team unranked and devote only seven measly lines to it? The University of Houston will again be in the NCAA playoffs.
FELIX H. JACKSON
Notre Dame knocked off ex-No. 1 USC in football, and it will knock off UCLA in basketball. This is the year of the Irish.
How can you be so inconsistent? You mentioned defending NIT titlist Virginia Tech, which returns nine of its first 10 players this year. In light of this, how can you place Alabama and Notre Dame, two of the teams the Gobblers knocked off in the NIT last year, in your Top 20 while omitting the resurgent VPI team?
I must say that your 1973-74 Top 20, with Syracuse placed No. 12, is an accurate and fair presentation. But I feel I should remind you that Syracuse will settle for nothing less than No. 1 in the East, while No. 10 Providence will fall from the top spot it occupied last year. They've lost Ernie D, but we've still got Sweet D (Dennis DuVal)—and more.
With All-America candidates Marvin Barnes and Kevin Stacom, and Dave Gavitt, the best coach in the nation, the Providence College Friars are going all the way.
I was astonished when I read the scouting report on the small colleges. The article mainly concerns Assumption, which "would like to become a small-college power." If you are going to write an article about a small-college team it should be about Kentucky Wesleyan.
In postseason play Assumption has only once finished in the top four. That was last season when it came in third. On the other hand, Kentucky Wesleyan, which was not even mentioned, has won the NCAA small-college championship four times in the last eight years, including last season. It has also won more tournament games than any other small-college team in history.
THE BEST PLAYERS
Robert H. Boyle's fine article Only Senior Backs Need Apply (Nov. 26) not only points out the absurdity of the Heisman Trophy awards but the thick-skulled mentality of most sportswriters. The trophy supposedly goes to the best college player in the land for one season's performance. But sports-writers, looking first for hometown or regional favorites and secondly for the player who will make it big in the pros, make a mockery of what the trophy really stands for. Now it is only a popularity contest, where the sleek, the fast and the beautiful win. Maybe someday Bert Parks will get a chance to hand out the trophy. The sportswriters would no doubt like that.
Your article on the formula voting for the Heisman Trophy was right on target, especially since you mentioned the biggest travesty of all—Paul Hornung in 1956. Jim Brown of Syracuse should have won that year, but prejudice prevailed. It remained for Ernie Davis of Syracuse—in 1961—to become the first black Heisman winner.
R. WILSON VIVIAN
Rancho Mirage, Calif.
Robert H. Boyle says that Anthony Davis of Southern Cal has been a comparative bust this season. Davis has gained more than 1,000 yards for the second year in a row, even though everyone was out to get him and he was rotated with Rod McNeill and Allen Carter at the tailback slot. Davis is only the second man in USC history to gain 1,000 yards or more in two seasons; the other was O. J. Simpson. If he is considered a bust in 1973 because he couldn't score six touchdowns in one game as he did last year, something is wrong.
Santa Barbara, Calif.
Not only was San Diego State (9-1-1) snubbed again this year in the bowl bids, Robert Boyle stripped Aztec Quarterback Jesse Freitas of one of his national statistics. Boyle stated that Arizona State Quarterback Danny White led the nation in total offense. Freitas passed White on Nov. 17 to take over the national lead, and also widened his statistics as the nation's leading passer.
In that Nov. 17 game against Fresno State, Jesse completed 33 of 42 passes for 450 yards and four touchdowns in just three quarters. He also has surpassed former Aztec Dennis Shaw's record of 199 completions in one season with a 1973 total of 227.
Chula Vista, Calif.
At the time your article was written Mark Kellar of Northern Illinois University had become the leading rusher in the nation, and he is now the fifth alltime career rusher in NCAA history. Kellar probably won't win the Heisman Trophy, but he deserves it.
After reading your article on Evel Knievel (High Jumping to a Conclusion, Nov. 19), I have come to three possible conclusions about this man: 1) he is the greatest fool in the world; 2) he is the most courageous man I have ever seen; or 3) he is just so blinded by the prospects of financial gain that he doesn't fully realize that he is playing with death. Whatever makes him do the things he does, I'm sure glad I haven't caught it.
EDWIN K. HUDSON
As an avid fan of Evel Knievel, I must say that when you finally get around to writing about him, you do a bang-up job, pictures and all. I only wish that I could see articles on Evel more often. Thank you for recognizing the last of the daredevils.
Why is it that your reportage is so consistently excellent and your editorializing so infuriatingly smug? How I reeled with every cheap shot at the Mets (yet they still almost made it); with each prediction I don't know whether to shudder or just giggle. Now your reviewer (BOOKTALK, NOV. 5) plays the "let's get Howard" game with characteristic lack of imagination. My consolation is the fact that despite SPORTS ILLUSTRATED and Jonathan Yardley, Cosell has finished its first month on The New York Times Best Seller List and has climbed. In this era of sport-as-business, Howard sells it like it is.
HAWG HUNTERS (CONT.)
Mr. W. E. Hintz' criticisms (Nov. 19) of the BASS Masters Classic seem to suffer from the usual myopia of the uninformed purist. True, the high-powered boats used in tournaments bear little resemblance to the average fisherman's rig—but that is irrelevant. Boats don't catch fish; they just get you around big water quicker to permit more fishing time. The professional levels of most sports produce useful information for the amateurs. The techniques of the pros and the knowledge gained greatly contribute to the weekend fisherman's enjoyment of the sport. These techniques, as disseminated in publications such as Bassmaster and Fishing Facts, have tripled my catching fun in two years. For instance, last year I caught—and released—more than 400 bass, keeping a few others for the table. My boat cost only $130, but I used knowledge gained from the pros.
As for "raping" and "plundering" a lake, almost all tournament fish are returned alive to the lake. In addition, BASS 1) cooperates with fishery biologists at each tournament in gathering critical data on bass; 2) is raising $200,000 for bass research; and 3) fights bureaucratic regulations detrimental to the public interest (pollution, habitat destruction, public use fees, etc.). Few organizations are as dedicated to preserving recreational sportsfishing as BASS. As a lay fisherman, I consider my $10 annual dues a very fine investment. I urge Mr. Hintz to join.
JAMES H. MOORE
Thank you for your thorough and enjoyable article on the Masters for fishermen (Hawg Hunt for the Bass Masters, Nov. 5). The BASS Masters Classic deserves annual coverage, since bass fishing is the nation's biggest participant sport. Ray Scott and BASS deserve an accolade, too, for they not only promote bass fishing, they have made great strides in the conservation of our nation's waterways. Thanks for realizing that there is more to the world of sport than football, baseball, basketball and golf.
JOHN M. EVANS
White Castle, La.
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