TIM & HIS TEAMMATES
This magazine will announce its Sportsman of the Year next week, but we can tell you in advance that the winner won't be any of the South Miami (Fla.) High School football players who turned their wrath on a teammate the evening of Nov. 28. With only seconds remaining in a regional championship game against Columbus, South Miami leading 20-14 and in possession at the Columbus 47, Running Back Tim Anderson fumbled. A Columbus player recovered, ran for a touchdown, and South Miami lost, 21-20. Crushed by the stunning turnaround, angry teammates tried to prevent Anderson from getting on a bus that was taking the team from Tropical Stadium to South Miami High. He finally got aboard but later, in the school's locker room, teammates shoved and cursed him, threw football helmets at him and threatened him with a baseball bat. Coaches had to arrange for police to escort the beleaguered Anderson to safety.
As one might guess from all this, South Miami didn't have the most stable football program to begin with. The team is roughly 40% black and racial tensions surfaced this season after Head Coach Dave Mosure gave the job of defensive coordinator, which had been held by a black assistant coach, to another assistant, who, like Mosure, happened to be white. Black players walked out once during the season and threatened to do so on other occasions. Though Anderson and the teammates who abused him were all black, the emotions triggered by the bitter loss to Columbus quickly took on a racial edge when some black players, not content to taunt and menace Anderson, also derided several white assistant coaches as "honky crackers." And when Mosure tried to address his troubled team in the locker room, the players refused to listen, forcing him to abandon the effort.
Friends describe Mosure as a caring man who honestly tried to deal with the turmoil on the team. Others, however, suggest that Mosure placed too much emphasis on winning, his idea of motivating players being to run at a door and knock it off its hinges. Although he insisted the decision had nothing to do with recent events ("It's been on my mind a while"), Mosure quit last week as South Miami's coach, leaving it to others to try to straighten out the situation. As for Anderson, he may or may not find solace in the fact, now generally acknowledged, that he fumbled at least partly because South Miami's quarterback turned the wrong way and pitched out to Anderson when he was supposed to hand off. In other words, the fumble probably wasn't Anderson's fault.
December 15, 1980
NO WONDER THEY'RE WRECKS
Going into last week's regular-season finale, a 17-13 victory over Florida (page 68), Florida State could officially claim the toughest college football schedule, followed in order by those of Miami, Penn State and USC. This, anyway, was the word from the NCAA, which rates a schedule's difficulty on the basis of opponents' won-lost records. But with all due regard for the Seminoles, we believe Georgia Tech, which stood fifth in the NCAA ratings, had the toughest path to travel this season as it struggled to a 1-9-1 record. On Sept. 6 the Yellow Jackets opened the season with a 26-3 loss to defending national champion Alabama, which became the No. 1-ranked team for '80 a week later. On Nov. 8 Tech played to a 3-3 tie with Notre Dame, which by that time had supplanted 'Bama as the nation's top team. And two weeks ago Tech lost 38-20 to the current No. 1, Georgia. Besides having the distinction of playing three top-ranked teams in a single season, Tech can boast—or complain—that no fewer than seven of its 11 opponents are headed for bowl games.
What's the best pro sports town in North America? Bob McMahon, a Media, Pa. stockbroker who annually compiles data on the subject, polled 184 athletes to get this year's ratings and found that when it came to the "most enthusiastic" fans, Houston was tops in the NFL, Portland in the NBA, Philadelphia and New York in baseball (National and American Leagues, respectively) and Philadelphia (again) in the NHL. Since hometown enthusiasm often means hostility toward visiting teams, it's not surprising that some of the same cities also have the "unfriendliest fans." In this category, the athletes ranked Philadelphia No. 1 in both the NFL and the NHL, New York in both the National and the American Leagues and San Antonio in the NBA.
McMahon also asked the players which cities' fans were the most knowledgeable. The leading vote-getters were Pittsburgh in the NFL, New York in the NBA, Philadelphia and Boston in baseball and Montreal in the NHL. The favorite cities for food, entertainment and accommodations were Los Angeles in the NFL, New York in the NBA, San Diego and Boston in baseball and Montreal in the NHL.
So what's the best sports town of all, everything considered? Well, McMahon also examined won-lost records for the 1979 NFL season, the '79-'80 NBA and NHL seasons and baseball's 1980 season and found that Philadelphia's teams had an overall regular-season winning percentage of 67, followed by Boston's 62. Philadelphia was the runaway winner in postseason play, trailed in order by Los Angeles, Houston and Boston. On the other hand, computing attendance by how close crowds came to capacity (which he deems more meaningful than simply totaling the number of fans), McMahon rated Boston first (87%), followed by Green Bay-Milwaukee and Philadelphia (both 80%). If that makes Boston the best sports town, it leaves Cleveland the worst. Although the spaciousness of Municipal Stadium (baseball capacity 76,713, football 80, 385) and The Coliseum (19,548) may make such a statistic slightly misleading, the fact remains that Cleveland fans filled only 49% of the available seats at Brown, Indian and Cavalier games.
Niki Lauda, the well-born Austrian who became a two-time world auto-racing champion before retiring from the sport last year, has launched his own charter airline. With two 44-seat Fokker F-27s (and an option on a 300-seat DC-10), Vienna-based Lauda-Air operates weekly flights to Venice and Paris under contract with travel agencies and also runs charter flights to Greece, Yugoslavia, Italy and West Germany. The company has 32 employees, including six pilots, one of them being Lauda himself. During his auto-racing days, Lauda owned a share of a Lear Jet, which he sometimes flew to Grand Prix events, and he has since upgraded his pilot's license to cover commercial airliners.
Remember when athletes became beer distributors when they retired?
CALLING OFF THE DOGS
It's an unwritten rule among college football coaches not to run up the score against outmanned opponents, but the rule is often honored in the breach. During the 1930s Ohio State's Francis Schmidt, who wasn't dubbed Close the Gates of Mercy Schmidt for nothing, made a practice of running it up against Buckeye foes, scores like 85-7, 76-0 and 61-0 being the result. More recently, when Lee Corso was coaching at Louisville he found himself on the wrong end of a lopsided score and unavailingly waved a white handkerchief on the sideline. When Pepper Rodgers was at Kansas he was similarly moved, during a shellacking by Missouri, to flash the peace sign at Tiger Coach Dan Devine. Rodgers later reported that Devine "shot one half of it back at me."
Charges of pouring it on have been particularly rife in 1980, partly, no doubt, because the wide-open offenses now characterizing the college game make it possible for some teams to score almost at will. Among those accused of running up the score were bowl-bound Nebraska, Florida State, Brigham Young and, not least, Baylor, which tried an onside kick with eight seconds left and a 42-7 lead over Lamar University. The Lamar coach, Larry Kennan, cracked, "Maybe they were afraid we'd run it back all the way, then line up and go for 30 points" (SCORECARD, Oct. 20). In fact, coaches are resourceful in offering excuses for being slow to pull starters and otherwise offending against accepted mismatch etiquette. Criticized for calling a fake punt in the fourth quarter with a 39-15 lead over Connecticut, Massachusetts Coach Bob Pickett hastened to explain that he was merely "trying to take pressure off my kicker," who, he added, had recently suffered a couple of blocked punts. Stanford's Paul Wiggin justified his tardiness in pulling his first-stringers in a 54-13 win over Oregon State by noting that his team was playing USC the next week and had to stay sharp. Then there's Delaware Coach Tubby Raymond's classic explanation for trying a two-point conversion despite a big lead in a game a couple of seasons back. "A run is less likely to succeed. That's why it's worth two points."
But the commonest justification for running up scores is that no lead is safe these days. When Bobby Bowden was coaching West Virginia, his team led Pittsburgh 35-8 in the third quarter, only to lose 36-35, a fact that Bowden, now at Florida State, was quick to mention this season after calling for a two-point conversion, a long pass and a "blooper" kickoff late in a 41-7 win over Boston College. But Bowden at least had put his reserves in the lineup, which is more than sometimes could be said of Brigham Young's Lavell Edwards, who frequently complained that he couldn't relax during one-sided games because the Cougar defense was weak. But after keeping star Quarterback Jim McMahon in the game until the closing minutes of a 54-14 win over Nevada-Las Vegas, Edwards finally admitted that he merely wanted to fatten the quarterback's stats.
Few schools more shamelessly ran up big scores this season than Portland State, which shelled Cal Poly Pomona 93-7 and Delaware State 105-0. "No matter who is in the game, our approach is to throw the ball," says Coach Mouse Davis, but this scarcely explained why Davis sent his first-string defensive linemen back into the game when Cal Poly, trailing late in the fourth quarter, 93-0, began moving toward its lone touchdown. Roman Gabriel, who coaches Cal Poly, said bitterly of Davis, "He rubbed our nose in the dirt. Down the line we'll get a shot at him." And perhaps they will. One of the biggest mismatches of 1979 was Houston's 63-0 romp over Rice, a humiliation that the losers had good reason to try to avenge as quickly as possible. It didn't take long. The Owls ended their '80 season the other day by whipping Houston 35-7. There's a lesson there somewhere.
YANKEE HORSE TRADER
Two Boston pro teams, the Bruins and the Celtics, are considering moving to a proposed new sports complex in Salem, N.H., 30 miles up Interstate 93 from the Hub. If they do, they'll find that somebody has already beaten them to the most logical new nicknames for the transplanted teams, the New England Bruins and the New England Celtics. The owner of those names in New Hampshire is Mary Lou Cook, general manager of Data-Search, a small paralegal firm in Concord, N.H., who enterprisingly registered them with the Secretary of State as soon as she got wind of the contemplated franchise shifts. Although she says she has no interest in personal gain. Cook isn't above a bit of Yankee horsetrading. She says she'd gladly surrender rights to the nicknames if the Bruins and Celtics promise New Hampshirites they'll hold an annual party for children, another party for the disabled, autograph sessions before home games and frequent clinics. And one more thing: they'll have to pledge never to move their franchises from Salem. Says Cook slyly, "These are things most teams promise to do anyway, so I'm sure the Bruins and Celtics will be only too willing to meet my terms."
THEY SAID IT
•Doug Plank, Chicago Bear safety, on what he expected to achieve at a hearing before NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle on his appeal of a $1,000 fine for spearing: "I hope to at least get an autographed picture."
•Lou Holtz, Arkansas football coach, opening his weekly TV show after the Razorbacks' 31-7 loss to SMU, the team's fourth defeat in five games: "Welcome to the Lou Holtz Show. Unfortunately, I'm Lou Holtz."