"Coaching basketball at UCLA has become like the presidency, maybe too much like it," says Senior Writer Curry Kirkpatrick, whose story on Bruin coaches starts on page 98 of this, our annual college basketball issue. "The job isn't fun. And beyond money, power and fame, your job should be fun—or else why do it?"
We've been able to keep Kirkpatrick happy just by letting him cover college basketball: Except for four seasons on the NBA beat (which he found dull by comparison), he's been writing about the college game for us since the late 1960s, even before current UCLA Coach Larry Farmer was one of John Wooden's starting forwards.
While Kirkpatrick was working on the UCLA piece (he also wrote the essay that leads off the basketball package, beginning on page 36), he crossed paths with Staff Writer Jack McCallum, who joins him on the college beat this season. Kirkpatrick was in Coach Gene Bartow's office at the University of Alabama at Birmingham when McCallum walked in. Because Kirkpatrick lives in Hilton Head, S.C. and McCallum lives in Bethlehem, Pa. and has been on SI's staff for less than a year, the two had never met. "Jack looked pretty scruffy," Kirkpatrick says. "I thought he was maybe the guy delivering lunch." Actually, McCallum, who has profiled Georgia Forward Dominique Wilkins in this issue (page 44), was in town scouting UAB for our Top 20 report and looked disheveled because an airline had lost his luggage. Kirkpatrick, no doubt with the reputation of the magazine in mind, loaned McCallum shampoo and deodorant for the next two days.
Our two writers didn't share a game of one-on-one, however, which was too bad. Kirkpatrick was a forward at DeVeaux prep school (now extinct) in Niagara Falls, N.Y., where his claim to fame was scoring 16 points in a varsity game despite having chicken pox at the time. McCallum made it through a full season (1967-68) as a guard on the junior varsity at Pennsylvania's Muhlenberg College, "but I was looking at perennial eighth-mandom," he says, "so I gave it up to be an intramural star."
November 30, 1981
McCallum would have had two advantages over Kirkpatrick on the court: At 6 feet he's at least two inches taller than Kirkpatrick, who stubbornly insists he's 5'10", and he practices more. Kirkpatrick's edge would seem to be psychological: His alma mater, North Carolina, is our No. 1 team—McCallum wrote the scouting report. College Basketball Editor Larry Keith is also a UNC alumnus, but this doesn't mean that our rankings are the product of a Carolina cabal. The Tar Heels were the overwhelming choice for No. 1 in a poll of SI's correspondents.
While on the subject of old school ties, we might add that the cover, featuring Tar Heel Coach Dean Smith, was shot by his former University of Kansas classmate Rich Clarkson.