Your Nov. 28 college basketball cover was your best effort of the year. Indiana State's Larry Bird does indeed look explosive, but the two ISU cheerleaders appear even more exciting.
Indiana State is guaranteed at least one winning team this basketball season.
Forget Larry Bird. Who are those beautiful cheerleaders?
•Sharon Senefeld, a junior, is the cheerleader on the left and Marcia Staub, a sophomore, the one on the right.—ED.
THE TOP 20
I want to thank SI twice. Once for ranking the Kentucky Wildcats No. 1 in college basketball (Scouting Reports, Nov. 28) and a second time for not putting them on your cover.
The Marquette Warriors should have been ranked first.
How can you have teams like Syracuse, Holy Cross and Cincinnati ahead of UCLA and North Carolina? And where is Nevada-Las Vegas?
Sun Valley, Calif.
North Carolina 10th? No way. Dean Smith's Tar Heels (Phil Ford, Mike O'Koren and all) aren't about to settle for that.
You are truly going to regret your decision not to put Michigan in the Top 20. With or without Phil Hubbard, the Wolverines will be heard from this year.
Ann Arbor, Mich.
THE TOP 10
In Nancy Williamson's preview of the women's teams (The Women Cash In, Nov. 28) the emphasis was on large colleges taking over the game on the national level. But don't bury the small colleges yet.
Southern Connecticut State College (enrollment 6,800) is the only team to have earned nine straight berths in AIAW national tournaments, beginning with the national invitation tournaments, and had two players on the 1976 U.S. Olympic team at Montreal. Last season the Owls placed sixth in the AIAW national championships and this season they have lost only one player through graduation, yet Southern wasn't even mentioned in the story.
Let teams like UCLA go to one national championship tournament before giving them a big buildup. The Bruins get attention every year and haven't made it out of their region yet.
RICHARD P. LEDDY
I really appreciated your article about women's collegiate basketball. It is about time the Southeast region was recognized as the toughest in the country. However, the University of South Carolina will be emerging in the next couple of years to contest the powers of the Southeast. South Carolina has made a commitment to upgrade its women's program with the hiring of Pam Parsons. She was responsible for bringing Old Dominion's program into national prominence in only three years.
Virginia Beach, Va.
No longer does Kansas State dominate Midwestern women's basketball. On Nov. 26 K-State was beaten 70-58 by Missouri for third place in the Plainview (Texas) Queens Classic. Missouri also defeated Long Beach State 87-81 in the first round at Plainview. Coach Joann Rutherford's team currently stands at 5-1, with the lone loss coming at Wayland Baptist.
THE AFC'S BIG THREE
AFC superiority over NFC (Vince, You Wouldn't Believe It, Nov. 21)? Correct! It's a matter of cold statistical fact. Why? I think it is very clear. It's the Big Three of Baltimore, Cleveland and Pittsburgh. In 1970 they helped to form the AFC by joining the 10 AFL clubs. In seven complete seasons since then, the three teams have won three Super Bowls, three conference championships, eight divisional championships, three wild-card spots and 166 regular-season games (42 more than they lost). At least one of the Big Three has been in the AFC playoffs each year, and two of them have been in the playoffs in four of the seven years.
The remaining AFC teams have accounted for three Super Bowls, four conference championships and have lost 48 regular season games more than they have won (make whatever adjustment you wish for the records of the expansion teams). As of Nov. 23, the 10th week of this season, the AFC had won 75 and lost 65, but it was 54-56 without the Big Three record of 21 wins and nine losses.
What I think we have is not domination of the NFC by the AFC as much as domination of both conferences by the Big Three. Their seven-year postmerger record of 166 won, 124 lost is a continuation of their premerger record for their last seven years in the NFL—166 won, 116 lost. Their AFC record added to the NFC would make that conference a winner in six of the seven postmerger seasons—subtracted from the AFC, it would make the AFC a loser in all but the 1974 season.
Eleven years of the common draft have equalized the AFL and the NFL, but not the Big Three. Each of them appears to be in the ascendancy now and, except that each currently is coached by a disciple of an "old" NFL stalwart, each has done it differently. Baltimore, with a change in management, has been up and down, but is very much up now under a George Allen disciple, Ted Marchi-broda. Cleveland, under the same management throughout, likewise has been down and is now up again under a Vince Lombardi pupil, Forrest Gregg. Pittsburgh, which never won a championship in the "old" NFL, now has made five straight playoffs under a Paul Brown disciple, Chuck Noll.
The most valid conclusion from all this seems to be a vindication of the judgment of the magnates of the AFL who thought it worth $18 million to join the NFL; of the owners of the Big Three, who wanted $9 million to move in the opposite direction; and of the NFL officials who, once they recognized the need for equalization, "overequalized."
WELLINGTON T. MARA
New York Football Giants Inc.
East Rutherford, N.J.
Having started to play table tennis in 1944 (about one month before the great Marty Reisman) at Lawrence's Broadway Table Tennis Club, I want to thank Ray Kennedy for a brilliant article on the finest natural talent table tennis has ever seen (A Little Night Music. Nov. 21). Whenever U.S. players gather to talk about the greats, past or present, Reisman's name is foremost.
Two minor corrections. My recollection is that the bullet holes were behind table No. 7, not No. 5. And the person who tossed Reisman out of the 1945 nationals was Graham B. Steenhoven, as you stated, but he was only a vice-president of the U.S. Table Tennis Association at the time. Steenhoven subsequently made history when he led the U.S. world team to China in 1971, at which time he was president of the USTTA.
Having been part of the scene at the Broadway club for some eight years, been hustled many times by Marty and been active in the USTTA for about 33 years, I feel Kennedy has caught a unique flavor that no longer exists in table tennis. The modern "sponge" game demands totally trained athletes. There is no gambling to speak of. Ah, for the "good old days"!
JOHN C. READ
•Concerning the bullet holes, here is Reisman's reply: "To my friend and ever-gracious victim John Read, I can only humbly suggest that the pockmarks in the wall behind table No. 7 were not made by bullets but by my forehand blasts."—ED.
Ray Kennedy's article about Marty Reis-man was every bit as colorful as its subject. Well done!
Kew Gardens, N.Y.
I am mystified as to why SPORTS ILLUSTRATED feels hustling is worthy of an article. Taking advantage of unsuspecting people is not a praiseworthy accomplishment. Romanticizing smuggling and the black market is not worthy of your magazine.
DENNIS L. QUIRING
Redondo Beach, Calif.
ANOTHER TOP-ROOKIE TRADE
A letter in your Nov. 21 issue pointed out that 1976 National League Co-Rookie of the Year Pat Zachry was traded by the Cincinnati Reds to the New York Mets in the Tom Seaver deal. Butch Metzger, the other Co-Rookie, was also traded—by the San Diego Padres to the St. Louis Cardinals for John D'Acquisto and Pat Scanlon.
In an editor's note on a letter in your June 7, 1976 issue, you listed a number of basketball free-throw records, including mine. This letter is to let your readers know that on Sunday, Oct. 23 I shot 80 consecutive free throws while blindfolded, which I believe is a world record. There were three witnesses, one of whom is a staff member of the San Jose (Calif.) Central YMCA.
I had been practicing blindfolded four to six hours a week for the previous four months. At one of the practice sessions I made 182 consecutive free throws with my eyes shut, but the throws were not witnessed. I plan to continue shooting before witnesses and expect to improve the record with time.
FRED L. NEWMAN
My nomination for Sportsman of the Year goes to Guy Lafleur.
The Montreal Canadiens.
PAT B. QUINN
Huntington Beach, Calif.
RUSSELL SCHMIDT JR.
New Kensington, Pa.
Speedskater Eric Heiden.
JOEL P. BETZ
Hazel Park, Mich.
Villa Grove, Ill.
The late Tony Hulman.
STEVEN W. SONGER
Terre Haute, Ind.
Good ol' Cale Yarborough.
KEITH (CATFISH) SMITH
George Willig, the Human Fly.
Louis A. CINQUINO
Le Roy, N.Y.
Address editorial mail to SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, Time & Life Building, Rockefeller Center, New York, New York, 10020.