NOTRE DAME'S NUMBER
Number 1 by Just the Number 1 (Jan. 7) was the truth in a nutshell. No team deserved the title more than Notre Dame. From Knute Rockne to Ara Parseghian, the world had been captivated by ND's charisma on the field and off. Now how could Bear Bryant think he could beat that?
Gee, until I read John Underwood's article on the Notre Dame-Alabama game, I didn't realize that the Irish had such a clod masquerading as quarterback. I had always thought that Tom Clements (whose won-lost record as ND's regular quarterback the past two years was 19-3, including 11-0 this year) was a pretty slick runner, passer, ball handler and leader. Apparently, many of his teammates thought so, too. They elected Tom offensive captain for the 1974 season. Pity, too, that Mr. Underwood found this game—which will always be regarded as a football classic—to be neither "artful" nor "pretty." What did he expect, Swan Lake?
DAVID A. WORTHMAN
South Bend, Ind.
I was appalled to note your implication that God, the "you know Who" in John Underwood's article, could be a factor in Notre Dame's biggest victory. The fact that there were a couple of signs in our living room stating "Beat the Poor Ol' Alabama WASPs" and "Notre Dame—Win the Religion Bowl" doesn't mean a thing. And just because I had, on the TV set, a framed picture of Ara with a Christmas candle burning in front of it, individual pictures (framed) of Rockne and Layden, a locket with my mother-in-law's rosary enclosed, a Maryknoll Fathers Missal and a picture of another great Irisher, John F. Kennedy, doesn't necessarily indicate that I thought The Real Number One could truly help Notre Dame. But I admit there was a lot of weight on that TV set favoring ND.
Congratulations to Bear Bryant and his players. Now let's get on with having Ara Parseghian canonized.
JOHN S. MOULDER
South Bend, Ind.
I would like to congratulate John Underwood on his interesting and much-needed article Everyone Likes To Be Bowled Over (Dec. 24). With all the talk of college playoffs, it is good to hear from someone who believes in upholding the tradition of the bowl games. I, too, believe there is some way to match the top teams against each other, and the first step would be to open up the Rose Bowl to other teams. The second step is to let teams other than-the champions from the Pacific Eight and Big Ten participate in bowl games. Mr. Underwood also has the right idea in that bowl invitations should not go out until the end of the season. This would make for better match-ups between better teams. I think the NCAA should take action on this plan and do it before it is too late.
Pike Road, Ala.
John Underwood's perceptive preview of the college bowl games suggested that they probably don't provide the format for the emergence of an undisputed national champion. After watching the games, I couldn't agree with him more. In seeing Notre Dame struggle with USC at home and Ohio State clobber the Trojans on the road, one certainly has to believe that two of the top three teams, namely, Michigan and Oklahoma, watched the festivities on TV.
The answer, of course, is playoffs a la pro football. Finish conference play by the ninth week of the season, then send a flight of 16 teams into the last three weeks to play through the semifinals. Hold the finals in the New Year's bowls—rotate the championship game yearly among the big four bowls with the non-championship games being selected pairings of the consensus Nos. 3 through 8 teams. Fans would drool over such matches as Michigan-Alabama, Ohio State-Texas, USC-Penn State, even if they weren't for the national championship. The "lesser bowls" would provide exposure for second-flight teams that may have been underrated by pre-playoff polls.
By the way, it was a super Sugar Bowl game—between the fourth-and fifth-best teams in college football.
Ann Arbor, Mich.
Now that the college football season is over, I feel I must stick up for Woody Hayes and Ohio State as the No. 1 coach and team. Only one team played this year's top three of Notre Dame, Oklahoma and Ohio State, and that was Southern California. The results? Oklahoma tied USC 7-7 at Los Angeles; Notre Dame beat USC 23-14 at South Bend; and Ohio State defeated USC 42-21 in the Rose Bowl. Further proof of Ohio State's superiority over Notre Dame was shown in their respective Michigan State games. Notre Dame barely escaped 14-10, while Ohio State routed the Spartans 35-0.
WISE TO THE OWLS
I was encouraged to see the article Hounding the Cats for the Owls (Jan. 7). Somehow, Temple teams always seem to be passed over lightly, although the basketball squad is generally a strong one and the football team has taken great strides over the last four years. Perhaps now others will recognize the Owls.
Pearl River, N.Y.
I feel I must dispute the praise afforded the Houston boys' baseball league that employed a JUGS pitching machine in lieu of a human pitcher (SCORECARD, Jan. 7).
I believe you are wrong in feeling baseball will benefit from such a format at the youth level. You say, "The game can look forward to a rich supply of trained hitters." What it will actually produce is a group of players capable only of hitting "nice medium straight balls over the heart of the plate." At age 12, 13 or 14, the players will then face a live pitcher who does not throw fat pitches. They will learn they are .190 hitters, not .390, and grow frustrated to an even greater degree than before.
But then again, I suppose anything that keeps people away from Stewart Brand's pastimes (Searching for Brand New Earth Games, Jan. 7) can't be totally worthless.
JOHN JAY WILHEIM
Given a small research grant, my firm can develop a mechanism that hits, runs and fields. Combined with JUGS, eight of these machines and a "designated human" (for the sake of tradition) would form a complete baseball team. It seems unlikely that the machines would embarrass their owners by swapping wives or going on strike, and they certainly would sign for less. With the money saved, the owners could then go out and rent a sophisticated computer to manage the team, thus doing away with New York/Oakland/Detroit kinds of disputes.
The advantages are manifest. All that is left to do is to figure out where we can find several million mechanical fans.
A. PETER HOLLIS
Francis Rogallo may be interested in this historic footnote to the sport of hang gliding (I'm Icarus—Fly Me, Dec. 10). The following is an English translation from a booklet printed for tourists who visit the Galata Tower in Istanbul. The tower, built in 1348, is 425 meters from the sea on a spot 35 meters above sea level. It is 77.25 meters high from the base to the top.
"In the time of Sultan Murad IV (1623-1640), Hazeriven Ahmet √áelebi made for himself a pair of eagle wings out of wood, and after completing his practice flights in Okmeydani, declared that he would fly from the Galata Tower to √úsk√ºdar (a distance of about a mile and a half). For this he got permission from the government. On that day, the whole of Istanbul was out on the streets, and the sultan and his retinue watched from the shore pavilion of the Topkapi Palace. Hazeriven Ahmet threw himself into space on his wooden wings, from the top of the Tower, where he was carried by the southwest wind all the way to Doƒüancilar Square in √úsk√ºdar. Sultan Murad IV viewed him as one to be feared and gave him a present of a purse of gold and exiled him to the province of Algiers. The flight received great interest in Europe, and in England engravings were made depicting this historic event."
KAYE W. MAGGART
While thoroughly enjoying the exploits of those daring young men on their Rogallo wings, I realized that two timeworn clichés had taken on an added dimension for me: "Go fly a kite" and "Where there's a Wills there's a way."
East Orange, N.J.
NO TIE BREAKERS
Robert L. Dawson suggested in his letter (Dec. 17) that tie games might be resolved by counting yardage gained, first downs, etc., so that some winner will emerge from each contest. If he and those of like viewpoint would rationalize the situation, they might conclude that, despite the occasional Michigan-Ohio State type of rhubarb, the tie game is essential if college ball is to remain a sport.
Football is a brutally punishing game that has been accurately, but too often, compared in its tactical concepts and physical combat to war. Mismatched teams take the field, and if yardage and first downs were to be decisive elements in victory or defeat, there would be no point in the poorer teams even contesting the game. Long-range scheduling in the college sphere produces a cycle of once-great teams on the downgrade pitted against current powerhouses, e.g., Army vs. Notre Dame. When on occasion a brave bunch of outmanned kids rises to the heights and, yielding yardage and first downs, still holds on the goal line like the Russians at Stalingrad, bending but not breaking, why should they be doomed to lose via yardage statistics? Conversely, why should a superior squad, unable despite its manpower advantages to ram over points within the allotted time of the game, be deemed winners? There are not all that many tie games, and victory is not all that important. Tie breakersin pro championships, yes; in college, no.
JOHN F. KENNEALLY
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