ANALYZING THE POLLS
Walter Bingham's article Going to the Polls, Weakly (Sept. 18) was excellent. It's about time the flaws in the college football ranking system were pointed out. Now I wonder how long it will be before anything is done to correct the situation.
Charleston, W. Va.
Now I realize why Penn State has never been ranked No. 1. In reference to your five rules, Penn State fails to observe the last three. Rule 3? Penn State stopped playing the service academies (Army and Navy) and then added Ohio State, among others. Joe Paterno refuses to roll up a score against a patsy, as suggested in Rule 4. Which leaves Rule 5. Because the Nittany Lions play Pitt, in recent years a powerhouse, late in the season, Penn State's bowl bids come in late when the better bowls are usually already booked.
Fort Benjamin Harrison, Ind.
Walter Bingham stopped just short of citing recent football history's best (or worst) example of "ignorance, pride and politics"—the award of the 1975 national championship to Oklahoma (11-1) instead of to Arizona State (12-0), the only one of the contending teams to go unbeaten that year—Ohio State lost to UCLA in the Rose Bowl—and the conqueror of Nebraska in the Fiesta Bowl.
Surely that act of collective stupidity was a factor in the move of Arizona State and Arizona out of an increasingly powerful but unrecognized WAC. Despite fine teams like Brigham Young, the conference is still looked upon as a football backwater with a long way to go.
We have a rating system that seems to have as its principal goal the annual aggrandizement of more or less the same 10 teams, regardless of merit.
PAUL D. MALLAMO
Although Walter Bingham never takes a firm stand, he suggests, like many before him, that the title of No. 1 should be decided by a series of playoff games among the top-rated teams rather than by balloting by coaches, newspaper writers, television reporters and radiomen.
Why is everyone so interested in patterning college football after the professional game? To me, the appeal of college football lies in its distinctive traditions. The bowl games are part of these traditions, as is the controversy that is spawned by the poll system. Healthy arguments among undergraduates, alumni and fans would become a thing of the past if a decisive playoff system were instituted. Such a format would further erode the values upon which the college game was founded.
JOHN H. REDMOND
ONE PLATOON (CONT.)
In regard to the Coach's suggestion of a return to single-platoon football (Half Would Make It Whole, Sept. 11), at least one major college coach has been an advocate of one-platoon football for several years. The University of Iowa's Bob Commings has staunchly maintained—while other coaches snicker at him—that the quickest way to equalize the football haves and have-nots is to return to "real" football. Commings has cited all the reasons listed by the Coach, but he also has another justification, which should be dear to John (Scribe) Underwood's heart: injuries. Commings feels that many injuries are the result of the tremendous force of the collision of two highly trained and well-rested opponents. If players had to play both offense and defense, they would be a lot more tired. If they're tired, they won't be running with such abandon and therefore won't be impacting with such great force. Thus injuries are bound to be reduced.
Commings has done a heckuva job at Iowa, turning a bunch of misfits into a respectable team, but few have called him a prophet in his own time. And yet....
TODD D. TRIPP
CONNORS AND BORG
I agree that Jimmy Connors played very well in the U.S. Open, but you gave him more credit than he is due (He Mowed Borg Down, Sept. 18). Bjorn Borg was impeded by a blister—a severe blister—on his racket hand. Although you mentioned the blister, and that Borg experienced pain and was administered an anesthetic, you let us readers imagine that Connors was unstoppable. Let us not forget how many times in the past Connors has appeared unstoppable, only to bow down to Bjorn. Borg is still No. 1!
R. A. GUERRA
National City, Calif.
At one time I would have relegated an article such as the one by William Humphrey on a giant trout (Prodigy in a Puddle, Sept. 18) to my pile of unread fishing stories. However, since the recent death of my avid fisherman father, I have tried to discover why he found such pleasure in what I considered a mundane avocation. Humphrey's story explained it to me. I look forward to reading his book.
JOHN C. OGLIORE
Prodigy in a Puddle by William Humphrey was, in my humble opinion, one of the best stories about dry-fly fishing that I have read. What memories it brought back!
I am 78 and have been dry-fly fishing in the Esopus, the Beaverkill, the Willowemoc, the Neversink and the Ausable since I was in my teens. What a marvelous, wonderful, relaxing—and exacting—pleasure it is. I lift my glass to Humphrey, and my appreciation to you.
CHARLES M. BROWN JR.
I found William Humphrey's account of the huge trout wonderfully told, but surely he is suffering from that common fisherman's ailment, exaggeration. No brown trout in the Berkshires could be that big!
New York City
•Says Humphrey, "About 40 years ago there was an imaginative fellow on radio who called himself Baron Munchausen. Whenever someone doubted one of the Baron's tales, his stock reply was, 'Vass you dere, Sharlie?' "—ED.
VOICE OF THE WHITE SOX
That was a great article on Harry Caray by Ron Fimrite (The Big Wind in Chicago, Sept. 18). In my judgment, Harry was, and probably still is, the best play-by-play announcer in baseball. No other announcer can describe a home run like Harry can. As a youngster in Southern Illinois who followed the St. Louis Cardinals in the '40s and '50s, I can recall very well his description of a Cardinal homer: "There she goes...way, way back...it might...it could be...it is, a home run...Ho-lee cow!"
MARVIN E. NOWICKI
Hoo boy, you pegged him right. Harry Car-ay sold Cardinal baseball for 25 years. We wanted Stan Musial's autograph, but Harry was our good friend on the Atwater Kent. That's back when his color man was Gabby Street and then Joe Garagiola.
The day Harry Caray left St. Louis, my August baseball turned to September football and my Busch beer turned to Coors.
LINDELL C. GARDNER
Your article about Harry Caray was amusing, simply because it proved how much he knows about women, bars and barbers and how little he knows about baseball. If you want to do an article about broadcasters who are true experts on the game, go north to Wrigley Field and talk to Vince Lloyd and Lou Boudreau. They have probably forgotten more about baseball than Harry Caray will ever know.
There have been a lot of long-shot, inspirational events in sport over the last few months. Three men piloted a balloon across the Atlantic. Muhammad Ali came back to reclaim his heavyweight championship. Catfish Hunter and his New York Yankees rallied to get into the thick of things in the AL East, after falling 14 games behind. Jimmy Connors pulled himself together and won the U.S. Open. But Jim Bouton may take the cake (Old 56 Comes Back at 39, Sept. 18). In the space of a year, Bouton has gone from being an eccentric joke to a capable major league pitcher. By struggling back to the majors after an eight-year absence, he has carved himself a niche in a game that never appreciated his various talents.
SEAN PETER KIRST
If you think Jim Bouton wrote a book exposing baseball before, just wait until he writes one after hanging around with the million-dollar prima donnas of today. If only he were on the Yankees!
KEITH D. SMITH JR.
SEAVER VS. THE LEGENDS
In Melissa Ludtke Lincoln's article regarding Tom Seaver's career as a TV personality, (TV/RADIO, Sept. 18), she states that Seaver, as host of the Greatest Sports Legends series, was supposed to put his subjects at ease by participating in their sports, i.e., "ice-skating with [Gordie] Howe or appearing on horseback with Johnny Longden." Then she continues, "Happily, that hambone touch was abandoned."
Sorry, Melissa, that "hambone touch" has not been abandoned. It will be used to the fullest extent in our new series of shows, which we will begin shooting in December. After six years of filming Greatest Sports Legends with America's greatest athletes, we have learned that professional athletes are not professional broadcasters, and the only way to make the athletes comfortable is to put them in their own element. Seaver falling on his face skating with Howe, or Seaver futilely trying to return a bullet hit off the tennis racket of Rod Laver is really very funny. And not only do our guests enjoy the fun, but the crew also loves every minute of Tom's futility, making for a very happy shooting set. So, long live that hambone touch!
Greatest Sports Legends
Bala Cynwyd, Pa.
CAMPBELL & CO.
In regard to Ron Reid's article on Houston Oiler rookie Earl Campbell, you mention that Campbell ripped through the Kansas City defense for 111 yards, 49 of them in the fourth quarter. Well, Kansas City's Tony Reed dazzled the Houston defense for 141 yards—106 of them in the first half. He had brilliant runs on reverses of 28, 24, 15 and 19 yards. I realize that Kansas City lost the game, but surely such an effort should not be ignored.
Kansas City, Mo.
Thanks to Ron Reid for an excellent article on Earl Campbell. In this age of cocky athletes, it's nice to know somebody is still humble.
In your Southeastern Conference scouting report (Sept. 11) you stated that Ole Miss Coach Steve Sloan got bowl bids after taking over doormats at Vanderbilt and Texas Tech. Before Sloan took over at Texas Tech in 1975, Jim Carlen (1970-74) led the Red Raiders to four bowl appearances. In the 1973 season Tech finished 11-1, including a Gator Bowl victory over Tennessee. Tech was no doormat when Sloan arrived.
MORRIS OLIVER LEWIS
At one point, the article by Jeannette Bruce describing the Hot Tub Set (SHOPWALK, Sept. 18) made my blood run cold. The vision of people immersed in water—or even partially wet—fooling around with television sets (turning them on or off, changing channels, etc.) is terrifying. Electricity and water mix all too well. Hot tubs are fine, but get someone who is completely dry to handle the electrical gadgets.
WILLIAM T. MCGOWAN JR.
ON THE RISE
In your Sept. 4 SCORECARD item on the expansion of the sport of hot-air ballooning, you mentioned several companies, including Seven-Up, that you felt "could hardly resist" ballooning. We just want you to know that Seven-Up has not resisted this sport. Our balloon has been in a number of meets and special programs across the country this year, and we hope to continue our investment in this exciting activity.
RALPH J. ZIPFEL
Manager of Promotion Services
The Seven-Up Company
You missed a few companies in your hot-air balloon report. Already in existence, for instance, are a Colonel Sanders' Kentucky Fried Chicken balloon, shaped like a chicken, and an Orville Redenbacher Gourmet Popping Corn balloon, shaped like a kernel of popped corn.
But the world is still anxiously awaiting the arrival of the ultimate commercial enterprise—the Goodrich balloon.
•For a look at these three existing balloons, see below.—ED.
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