I have just finished reading your article on college football's battle for No. 1 (There's a Red Alert, Nov. 12). Douglas S. Looney states that "USC can only hope and wait. Even winning the Pac-10, going to the Rose Bowl and beating, say, Ohio State probably won't get the Trojans back on top if Alabama keeps on winning."
He has a very short memory. When it comes to the voting on the national champion and Alabama is a candidate, strange, indeed phenomenal, things happen. In 1977 Alabama was No. 3 going into the bowls. Texas was No. 1. Fifth-rated Notre Dame blasted Texas 38-10, and Alabama beat a good Ohio State team 35-6. Notre Dame was elevated to No. 1.
In 1978 Penn State was No. 1 and 'Bama was No. 2. The Tide beat Penn State 14-7 in a game that was not as close as the score indicated. So Alabama won the national title, right? Wrong. Only half of it, UPI declared USC the champion.
So when you say USC is probably out of it, especially if Alabama is the logical choice, don't be too sure about it. Logic doesn't enter into it.
HENRY A. RAMSAY
For anyone to say that Alabama's No. 1 ranking is the result of Bear Bryant's "unfair sway over the media and coaches" is sheer nonsense. The polls of the last two years demonstrate this quite well, but the most flagrant example of Alabama's lack of popularity came in 1966. Is it conceivable that Notre Dame or Southern Cal could be a two-time defending national champion, have a perfect season, have an outstanding bowl game and still end up third in the polls? Of course not. Bryant should be working on his eighth national championship instead of his sixth.
You suggest that the Buckeyes of Ohio State faked out preseason pollsters. They haven't surprised me yet. The Buckeyes have more talent than any other team in college football.
Douglas S. Looney says, "Only one thing is certain: to be No. 1 this year a team must wear some shade of red." Nebraska Quarterback Jarvis Redwine, who is shown on your cover, also wears red in his name. Give the national championship to Tom Osborne and his Cornhuskers.
Farmington Hills, Mich.
Perennial small-college power Wittenberg University has had football opponents seeing red for the last 20 years. Since 1960, Wittenberg has rolled to a 165-23-4 record, including seven unbeaten seasons and eight other seasons with only one loss.
This year the Tigers again are unbeaten and ranked No. 1 in NCAA Division III. It should be no surprise then that Wittenberg's school color also is red.
ROBERT E. RIDDLE, D.D.S.
The article was a waste of time. SI should conduct an investigation to find out why the NCAA Division I football champion is selected by writers and coaches rather than settled on the field of play. As long as there is no playoff among the top 10 schools, there is no champion. No. 1 is a myth!
Thanks to SI and Rick Telander, a great football coach, Edward J. (Doc) Storey, finally is getting his due (When in Doubt, Punt! Nov. 12). As a graduate of Storey's 1975 River Falls kickers' camp, I can relate to Telander's account. Even now, after an undistinguished high school punting-and-kicking career and an attempt at college ball, I still remember Doc placing a football on my extended ankle and stressing familiarity with that ball. One of his favorite tricks in the course of showing us the fundamentals of punting was to blindfold us and send us walking down the boundary line. After 50 yards, he let us remove the blindfold to see where we had ended up. We strayed about 10 yards to our non-kicking-leg side of the line every time. This showed us how much pull we had to allow for when we aimed our kicks.
What bolsters my admiration even more for this master of the secrets of football kicking are the postcards Doc still sends me. His genuine interest in kickers and punters as humans, too, makes him truly a great man.
A STONE'S THROW
Congratulations to you and to Terry Todd for his article on lifting stones in Scotland (A Legend in the Making, Nov. 5). It happens that in Greece, at Olympia, there is a similar lifting stone that scholars almost unanimously agree cannot be lifted. It weighs 315 pounds and has the dimensions of a medium-size suitcase, 27" x 15" x 13", with a recessed "handle." While it is heavier than the Inver Stone that Bill Kazmaier lifted, its shape and the "handle" would be a help. A 6th century B.C. inscription reads BYBON, SON OF PHORYS, THREW ME OVER HIS HEAD WITH ONE HAND. I interpret this to mean that Bybon lifted the stone with two hands to his chest or shoulder and then pushed it away with one hand. To my knowledge no one in modern times has tried to duplicate Bybon's feat. Perhaps someone will furnish funds for Todd and friends to go to Olympia and vindicate Bybon.
WALDO E. SWEET
Professor of Latin
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, Mich.
•Terry Todd, who says that he and his fellow Chub Club members would be delighted to take a crack at Bybon's stone, points out that there are a number of famous lifting stones, including several dating from the classical period that bear inscriptions similar to Bybon's. For other examples, Todd cites Switzerland's 185-pound Unspunnen Stone, which is brought out from Unspunnen Castle every 10 years so that men may see how far it can be thrown. In Bavaria, there is the 560-pound Steyrer Stone, named for Hans Steyrer, who lifted it with one finger, thanks to an iron ring anchored in the stone. In Basque settlements, contests are held to see how many times in succession a man can lift stones of up to 350 pounds from the ground to his shoulders. And more examples of this ancient sport exist in such places as India, Iran and French Canada.—ED.
I have some sad news for Bill Kazmaier: he was far from the world record with his 16'2" in the 56-pound weight throw for height. A fellow named Patrick Donovan set the record at 16'9¼" in 1913 and then improved it to 16'11¼" in 1914, both marks being accomplished in California. The 16'11¼" lives on as the record.
Kazmaier's feat does not even match the Madison Square Garden record. Matt McGrath did 16'3" in the Garden in 1911 to win the national AAU championship.
New York City
•In 1968 James Hannefield threw the 56-pound weight to a height of 17'6½" in Long Beach, Calif., setting an American record and bettering Donovan's mark. However, Hannefield, Donovan and McGrath were competing under American rules, which allowed two-handed throws. American rules also required that the throw be made from a circle seven feet in diameter and that the weight (or handle) hit a barrelhead three feet in diameter that was suspended horizontally in the air and raised in height by the field judges. The height of the throw was measured from the ground up to the lowest part of the barrelhead. In contrast, Kazmaier's throw in Scotland was made one-handed over a crossbar placed on a set of pole vault standards.—ED.
Frank Deford makes no secret of the fact that he abhors runners, running and this "narcissistic" Me Decade, so I'm sure a more objective review of Running is possible (MOVIES, Nov. 12). For myself, I thoroughly enjoyed the film. My only complaint was with the running sequences. As we marathoners all know, the leaders of a race are generally not bunched together like that.
I could not agree more with Frank Deford's views. Running (a hyped-up version of Rocky II) is a disgrace to all who participate in the sport. I have been running for two years. I am 17 years old and have participated in track, cross country and some road races. Runners are not mixed-up hippies searching for an answer. Runners have to be at peace with themselves and their environment or they cannot compete on a high level. The money-hungry movie makers have butchered yet another sport.
Frank Deford's review of Running displayed, if anything, his total misunderstanding of that sport. He called it "selfish" and "narcissistic." as if it alone is egocentric in nature. Has he not heard of the 76er whose idea of a give-and-go is "Give me the ball and go to hell"? What about the slugger whose teammates accuse him of going for the long ball when he should be hitting to right? In all sports, on whatever level, there are players who would rather shoot than pass, who prefer to swing rather than take. Distance running makes no pretense of teamwork. But in the few races I have run, I have seen good runners slow their pace to help struggling participants. As in any sport, one participates for a reason: to win, or at least to fare well. To strive for any victory is a form of vanity, because winners traditionally have been regarded as heroes.
Terre Haute, Ind.
FROM BEAUMONT HIGH
The appointment of St. Louisan Bobby Mattick as the new manager of the Toronto Blue Jays (FOR THE RECORD, Oct. 29) brings to two the number of Beaumont High School alumni now managing in the major leagues. Earl Weaver of the Baltimore Orioles, recently named 1979 Manager of the Year, is the other alumnus of that northside St. Louis high school.
While Weaver never played major league baseball, Mattick was with the Cubs and Reds for five years and is the 12th player with big league experience to have graduated from the athletic fields of Beaumont. Righthander Roy Branch, called up in September by the Seattle Mariners, is the latest. Other former big leaguers with a Beaumont background are Buddy Blattner, Chuck Diering, Jack Maguire, Bobby Hofman, Jim Goodwin, Roy Sievers, Bob Wiesler, Lloyd Merritt, Lee Thomas and Bob Miller.
Is there any other high school in the country that has had so many of its graduates reach the major leagues? Maybe the location of the school has something to do with this. From the 1890s until June 1, 1920 it was the site of the home park of the St. Louis Nationals (named the Cardinals in 1899), and during this time it was named Robison Field and then League Park. In 1920 the Cardinals were granted permission to move to nearby Sportsman's Park as tenants of the landlord Browns. The old wooden stands were torn down and Club President Sam Breadon sold the plot to the local board of education. Beaumont High was erected in 1925, its first class entering in February 1926.
GEORGE F. WALDEN
Ps, Qs AND AUSTRALIANS
Poor Jamie Quirk! No sooner did SI crown him the leading career home-run hitter with a surname beginning with the letter Q (BASEBALL, Oct. 8), than a campaign was orchestrated to strip him of that honor.
First, someone attempted to substitute Jack Quinn, who, as a perspicacious reader noted in a letter in your Nov. 5 issue, isn't even a genuine "Q," having been born John Quinn Picus. Then in that same Nov. 5 issue another anti-Quirkian boldly proposed Joseph J. (Joe) Quinn. a slugger who hit 30 homers in 17 seasons.
Further research reveals, however, that this interloper was born in Sydney, Australia!
Rest easy, Jamie. You still hold the record for most homers by an American-born player whose real name begins with Q.
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