BIG-TIME COLLEGE FOOTBALL
NCAA executive director Walter Byers apparently is having second thoughts about a situation he helped create (SCORECARD, Sept. 17). But we must bear in mind that "cheating" in big-time college sports is nothing new. The so-called tramp athletes of the early part of this century and the veteran-laden teams of the post-World War II era caused much pious breast-beating at the time. Rules were promulgated, some schools were penalized and life soon went on as before. This tempest, too, will pass, as soon as the financial details can be worked out by the schools and the networks.
Why not just start all over, throwing it all wide open? Let alumni and other interested parties sponsor teams under their schools' names. Give the schools a cut and let the players be paid as they are in the NFL and USFL, every man (boy?) for himself. Just require that the players be legitimately enrolled at the school they represent and let them play as long as they stay in school. Under this system Herschel Walker might have earned a Ph.D. in criminology at Georgia and still have been a runnin' Dawg.
Being "semiprofessional" is like being "semipregnant"—it simply isn't possible. Professionalism is strictly an either-or proposition. Introducing any form of play-for-pay on college teams opens the talent market to competitive bidding. If, as Walter Byers believes, America is ready to watch college-age athletes compete openly as "pros," the responsibility for establishing such an "open division" should fall to the National Football League, not the NCAA. After all, the NFL is quite experienced in dealing with individuals who desire to play football for a salary and other benefits.
The purpose of intercollegiate athletics and NCAA regulation is to provide organized sports for those students who choose to compete. The purpose of the athletic grant-in-aid is to allow aspiring students to parlay their athletic talents into a quality education they might not otherwise be able to afford. College administrators who choose to ignore these facts are doing the athletes and their schools a tremendous disservice.
September 30, 1984
Let the NFL set up a farm system—just like major league baseball's—to provide an apprenticeship for those athletes not inclined to seriously pursue a college degree. The superb academic-athletic programs at schools like Notre Dame, Penn State, Stanford, Nebraska and Michigan prove that higher education in this country can indeed "stand the strain of big-time intercollegiate athletics and maintain its integrity."
PETER T. ROETHER
I agree with you that the Giants' Lawrence Taylor is in a league by himself as far as linebackers go (They Lowered the Boom on Hogeboom, Sept. 17). However, I think Paul Zimmerman was mistaken when he said John Ayers of the 49ers gained a standoff against him in the 1981 playoff game. Ayers owned Taylor that day. Taylor was limited to two solo tackles in the entire game (as compared with the 10 or so per game he had been making till then). As far as I'm concerned, that's the main reason the 49ers won the game.
San Jose, Calif.
•In the lexicon of pro football, a standoff between a blocker and a blitzer means that the blitzer didn't do anything. Dr. Z gave the nod to Ayers on that one.—ED.
HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL (CONT.)
Any debate on great high school football teams (Morin Bishop's SIDELINE in your 1984 College & Pro Football Spectacular, and Barry Sollenberger's letter in 19TH HOLE, Sept. 17) is sadly incomplete without mention of the 1927 Haven (Kans.) Wildcats, winners of the most lopsided football game in history. On a student-for-student basis, this tiny Kansas farming community produced what may well have been the greatest high school football team ever assembled. Several of its players went on to star at four-year colleges, so perhaps it's no wonder that the team out-scored its opponents 579-0 that year, including an all-time record trouncing of Sylvia High School 256-0 on Nov. 15, 1927.
According to an article by Fred Mendell in the Nov. 5, 1967 edition of The Hutchinson (Kans.) News, Haven never failed to make a first down in that game, and so of course never punted. It scored a touchdown every minute and a half, 20 in the first half and 18 in the second, plus 28 extra points. Every regular on the team scored, as halfbacks traded places with tackles and ends swapped with the quarterback. Elvin McCoy scored 90 points all by himself.
I write because I'm proud—yes, proud—that my father was a member of the 1927 Turon High team that played Haven in a "close" contest (64-0) the week before that extraordinary Sylvia game.
BILLY AND THE ACES
What happened to the great Oakland A's starting pitchers of 1980 and 1981? I think the stats you printed at the end of Ron Fimrite's article (What Ever Happened to the Class of '81? Sept. 10) tell all. Whether it was because of inspiration, competition, fear, "Billy Ball" or all of the above, every one of these "phenoms," with the possible exception of Brian Kingman, who lost 20 games in 1980, pitched better than he had a right to expect.
Forest Park, Ill.
All the pitchers except for Brian Kingman say Billy Martin wasn't the cause of their injuries, that their own competitiveness and desire were. That makes me feel good because I think Martin is an excellent manager and I'd hate to think he misplayed five aces.
Grand Isle, La.
I'd like to point out that the so-called magic number formula works only when there are two clubs left with a chance to win a major league division title. Often, with three or more teams having a chance, sportswriters incorrectly conclude that when the current second-place club is eliminated, the other clubs will be, too. The club which, at the time, is in third could remain "uneliminated"; all it would require is a sufficiently low number of games won by the leading club, the necessary number of losses by the club originally in second, while the club originally in third wins all its games.
For example, a statement in my local paper on Sept. 12 that the Tigers could clinch the American League East with any combination of Detroit wins and Toronto losses totaling seven was in error. The Blue Jays could have lost four games while the Tigers won only three and the third-place Orioles won all their games. Toronto would indeed be eliminated, but not Baltimore!
GOLF'S MYSTERIOUS MR. X
I had the opportunity to caddie for Miller Barber (The Extraordinary Mr. X, Sept. 17) in the Western Open following his marriage in 1970. Although Mr. X was on the leader board entering the final day, his putting faltered and he finished out of the top 10, but he paid me what the second-place finisher paid his caddie. I always wanted him to know he was one of the top five golfers chosen in the caddie draw. [Tour caddies do not work the Western Open; instead, Chicago area clubs send their top caddies and, through a draw, the best of them have the honor of choosing their pros.] He's a gentleman and a generous man. I'm fortunate that for the last 14 years, Miller Barber hasn't been a mystery to me.
Clarendon Hills, Ill.
Barry McDermott should be applauded. His article on Miller Barber was fantastic. The oldtimers still have it.
J. SCOTT RAY
I enjoyed the Sept. 17 EXTRA POINTS item regarding the Packer cheerleaders. I agree with Max McGee: "There just aren't enough good-looking girls in Green Bay for the Dallas Cowboy cheerleader look." I just hope McGee's wife isn't from Green Bay!
Isn't Green Bay in Wisconsin? I believe that's the state that had 30° below zero weather the last two years. I think the high school skirt-and-sweater look is much more appropriate and sensible.
As for beautiful girls, we have plenty. But is it written in stone that cheerleaders are there only to seduce the fans? Maybe in Dallas, but not in Green Bay. We have something you may not have realized we had: pride.
There are many good-looking girls in Green Bay. Perhaps they don't all want to be cheerleaders. Has Max McGee looked elsewhere? Anyway, Max isn't exactly Joe Namath! People who live in glass houses....
De Pere, Wis.
All of the good-looking girls leave Green Bay for more intelligent men.
ANN M. NELSON
I think your new section, EXTRA POINTS by Jill Lieber, is an exceptional addition to your magazine. I also agree with your choice of Players of the Week in the Sept. 10 issue, especially Dan Marino. He's going to be the great quarterback the NFL has been missing for 10 years.
To make fun of pro wrestling (TV/RADIO, Sept. 17) is to make fun of its fans, and they are legion. Maybe to you pro wrestling and the USA Network show Tuesday Night Titans are fun and fake and a good laugh. But pro wrestlers are athletes. Hulk Hogan, André the Giant, Jesse (the Body) Ventura and Adrian Adonis, make Too Tall Jones, Lawrence Taylor and the Redskin Hogs look like a bunch of wimps. Long live TNT and the sport of pro wrestling.
THOMAS L. WYLIE
With all due respect for the outstanding accomplishments of Greg LeMond, I wish to point out an error in Bob Ottum's excellent article on Greg (Climbing Clear Up to the Heights, Sept. 3). Ottum states that at 18, Greg was the youngest cyclist ever to make the U.S. Olympic team.
In fact, I was. In 1932, at the age of 16, I was a member of the U.S. Olympic road cycling team. I was also the youngest male participant in the '32 Games.
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