THE RECRUITING GAME
The magazine Coach & Athlete recently surveyed major colleges to see which had done best in the annual football-recruiting sweepstakes. It found that No. 1 was UCLA, which signed no fewer than 10 high school All Americas, nine of them from beyond the borders of California.
Ordinarily, California high schools are loaded with prospects, but not this year. "We felt there was a lack of quality football players in southern California," says UCLA's head coach, Terry Donahue, "so we decided it was advisable for us to look out of state. We acquired information about kids who supposedly were good players. The list was huge—maybe 300 kids."
The Bruin coaches boiled the list down to an elite of about two dozen. "We cut the list a bit more when evaluation of transcripts differed from what we had been told," says Donahue. "Some kids weren't interested in UCLA, some had ties to other universities we felt could not be changed. We figured our first year of heavy out-of-state recruiting would be strictly an experiment. We wanted to get our name known around the country and hoped we'd get one or two. I can't believe we got nine!"
For UCLA it was the largest number of out-of-state recruits in many years. And to what does Donahue attribute his success? "We have a great academic program," he says. "We have an attractive campus. We had great exposure on television last season [four games] and we have kids who are great salesmen."
All of the above are important, no doubt. Yet when pressed, Donahue believes that a major role was played by the weather. "It was awful back east last winter," he says. "Whenever I went there I was greeted by 15° or 20° below zero. And every kid we brought out here found beach weather—75° or 80°. It was a beautiful winter in California. The kids were really impressed with the difference."
For the record, the other schools in Coach & Athlete's Top Ten recruiting institutions were: Oklahoma, Houston, Florida, Ohio State, Pittsburgh, Washington, Colorado, Auburn and Michigan. As for the theory that California weather was all-important in UCLA's success, how come USC isn't in the Top Ten?
SHOTS IN THE DARK
U.S. District Court Judge Gerhard Gesell of Washington has ordered the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to re-examine its long-standing regulations that permit waterfowl hunters to begin shooting half an hour before sunrise. The order is a result of a suit filed by wildlife lovers who claim that pre-dawn shooting in marginal light results in the misidentification of species and, ultimately, in the killing of protected birds—or worse, of endangered species.
The judge ruled that the shooting hour regulations were arbitrary in that they did not show sufficient concern for the impact of hunting in relative darkness on protected species. He added that predawn shooting should not be prohibited simply because some protected species were being killed accidentally, "by inadvertent action of hunters or otherwise. But there must be evidence in the record that hunting hours under the new regulations are so fixed that such killing is kept to the minimum consistent with other obligations imposed on the Service by Congress."
The Wildlife Service expects to have its studies finished before the 1977 waterfowl season begins.
HITTING THE NAIL ON THE HEAD
Before the California Angels' first game in the Seattle Kingdome, this year's opener against the Mariners, General Manager Harry Dalton asked USC football coach John Robinson for advice about playing in the massive new covered stadium. Robinson, whose Trojans had beaten Washington State there last fall, thought about it, considered it, weighed it, then delivered his learned advice.
Recalls Dalton, "This sounds silly, but the only thing he could recommend is that we have the players cut their toenails real short. Robinson said that the traction in the Kingdome is so good that sudden stops caused his players' feet to slide in their shoes and those with long toenails suffered cuts and bruises."
In case you think the evangelists preaching physical fitness at you everywhere you turn these days are a modern phenomenon, we call your attention to an editorial written by Lucius C. Bryan, editor of the Southern Enterprise of Thomasville, Ga., for the issue of June 13, 1860: "Why don't you take exercise? You, we are speaking to you—you emaciated, energyless, lifeless, shrinking, imperfect specimen of humanity. Why do you sit all day motionless in your seat, or lounge upon a sofa, looking and acting as if born for somebody else to support? Do you mean to be all your life a sickly, senseless automaton...?
"You get up in the morning wrong end foremost, and, with wretched impatience, mutter and growl all day long. Your very friends have forsaken you, and so they ought; for who could be a friend to so unmanly a creature, with not one solitary redeeming quality? Out upon such illness, indolence and imbecility! Go into the field and take the plowhandles or the hoe, or if you have none, go out into the street or the woods—anywhere rather than miss—and run, jump, turn summersets, haloo! at the top of your voice, until out of breath.
"Suppose you do come off now and then minus a coat-tail, bottomless, and caved-in beaver, are not these preferable to your sickening, contemptible, everlasting complaints? Go, then, give health and vigor to those injured bones and muscles, and store that empty cranium with useful knowledge."
William W. Rogers, professor of history at Florida State, who came across this exhortation, notes that Editor Bryan closed down his paper a year later to join the Confederate army. "His combat record," says Rogers, "indicates that he was in good shape for fighting Yankees."
When Art Schilling, the golf coach at the University of California at Riverside, heard that one John Mash, a junior majoring in business administration, had a six handicap, he invited Mash to try out for the team. Mash is now the No. 3 man and has lowered his handicap to four.
None of this would be particularly noteworthy except that John Mash is a retired Air Force colonel and is 52 years old. Thus, he is almost certainly the oldest intercollegiate athlete competing in the U.S. And not only that. When UCR Sports Information Director Bill Scott asked an NCAA historian to verify this fact, the historian said flatly, "He may well be the oldest ever to compete. We had a couple of football players in their 40s, but no one can recall anyone winning a letter when he was 50."
When Secretariat was sent to stud, there was some concern that the superb runner might prove to be an infertile sire. With his first crop of foals now two years old and beginning to race (page 68), that fear is long gone, but a new one has risen. Citation, the last Triple Crown winner before Secretariat, was pretty much a failure as a begetter of outstanding horses, and Seth Hancock, the master of Claiborne Farm in Kentucky, where Secretariat stands at stud, has told Bill Nack of Newsday, "I know I'm a fool to say this in a newspaper, but I don't have complete confidence in Secretariat. I just didn't like his foals the first year. One was swaybacked. One was over at the knees. Another was straight in the knees. One was very light-boned. One was real small. One was too big."
Hancock is much higher on the foals of Riva Ridge, Secretariat's stablemate, who won the Kentucky Derby and the Belmont in 1972. Breeders of thoroughbred horses like sires that put their "stamp" on their foals, certain characteristics of color, size and shape that are sort of a trademark of the sire. Secretariat's hugely successful sire, Bold Ruler, had this quality, and so apparently does Riva Ridge, whose foals tend to look like him. "The Secretariats were all different," Hancock said.
"Still," he went on, "I have seen some foals from his second crop, the ones that are yearlings now, that look very promising to me. I suppose it's everybody saying Secretariat is a living cinch that makes me worry he won't make it. There's no way he can do as well as everyone expects him to do."
For seven years the names Immaculata and Cathy Rush have been synonymous, but no more. Rush has resigned as women's basketball coach at the tiny (500 students) Catholic college in suburban Philadelphia, saying it is time to move on. She made up her mind to leave last fall but, unlike Al McGuire, requested that her pending departure be kept confidential to avoid putting pressure on her team.
Only 29, Rush said she was "physically tired" and "basketball saturated." She might have added "highly accomplished." She led her Mighty Macs to national titles in 1972, '73 and '74, finished second to Delta State in '75 and '76 and was fourth in this year's AIAW tournament; hers was the only team to make it to the final round in all six championships. Immaculata was the first women's basketball team to appear on national television—against Maryland in February 1975—and a few weeks later, along with Queens College, was the first to play in Madison Square Garden. Rush also coached the U.S. women's team to a gold medal in the 1975 Pan-American Games.
She moved the women's game from the punch-and-cookies, play-for-the-fun-of-it level to center court. Her assistant coach this season, Marianne Crawford Stanley, a former Immaculata All-America, says, "She took women's basketball out of the shadows and she put Immaculata on the map."
Now Rush hopes to go into broadcasting, writing and promotion. Despite the fact that coaching left her with too little time to be with her husband Ed, an NBA referee, and their two young sons, a bid to coach at a major school would be tempting. Sue Gunter. coach at Stephen F. Austin University and a U.S. Olympic team assistant, says, "I hope Cathy will be back. It's more fun to compete against the best."
DUCK SANS L'ORANGE
You may find this hard to believe, but University of Rhode Island students have been working on an experiment that tests the willingness of ducks to swim through eight different colors of water. Researchers deprive the ducks of food for up to 48 hours, then bring them out on a ramp leading to a pool of water that has been dyed black, yellow, blue, green, violet, indigo, red or orange. Across the water there is food. The ducks dash quacking into the colored water and paddle toward the food with varying degrees of enthusiasm. When the water is dyed orange, however, the ducks show an obvious reluctance to get in the swim.
And what possible value might all this have for man or duck? The students surmised that in the event of an oil spill, orange dye spread around the slick might keep waterfowl from swimming into the oil, thus saving their lives.
THEY SAID IT
•Sal Bando, Milwaukee Brewer third baseman, observing that Vida Blue is one of two remaining members of the Old Guard with the Oakland A's: "We look upon Vida as a hostage."
•Vitas Gerulaitis, New York-born tennis star, on why the rubber indoor court is his favorite tennis surface: "The guys from Europe like playing outdoors on clay because of the sun and the birds that sing. We don't have birds in New York. We just have honking horns."
•Phillies sportscaster Richie Ashburn, discussing rookie First Baseman Dane Iorg: "The kid doesn't chew tobacco, smoke, drink, curse or chase broads. I don't see how he can possibly make it."
•Frank Howard, 6'7" former major league outfielder, now a 350-pound Milwaukee coach: "If I could hit my weight, I'd still be playing and I'd be in the Top Ten."
•Lou Brock, asked what his teammates call Cardinal Pitcher Eric Rasmussen, who last year changed his name from Harry: "It's a little confusing. It usually comes out something like 'Airy."