After spending the last two years of my undergraduate days at Arizona with the school under the specter of NCAA probation, I expected a different type of atmosphere in Baton Rouge as I prepared to start graduate school at LSU. However, judging from your special report in the Nov. 18 issue ("Isn't This Unbelievable?" by Curry Kirkpatrick and Hello, Trouble, I'm Dale Brown by Gary Smith), it seems as if I have gone from a school in the frying pan to one in the fire.
The situation only serves to amplify coach Dale Brown's criticisms of the NCAA. Changes need to be made, and they must be made now. I do not agree with all of Brown's proposals, but I am proud of the fact that someone connected with LSU is taking a stand on the issue. My only regret is that Brown, someone I have respected and admired for many years, is receiving such shoddy treatment when he is actually trying to accomplish some good.
PETER A. PETITO
I always did like Dale Brown, and I like him even more after reading Gary Smith's feature on him. However, I must point out that neither Brown nor athletic director Bob Brodhead is from Louisiana, so you can't add them to our state's list of embarrassments.
For the life of me, I can't figure out what Governor Edwards's trial, the Baton Rouge Department of Public Works and Tulane, for Pete's sake, have to do with LSU. What happened, did Curry get a bad batch of gumbo down here? Good grief!
December 2, 1985
As a former assistant to LSU athletic director Bob Brodhead during his days as a World Football League general manager, I must come to his defense. He deserves better than the cheap shots and insinuations found in your article about LSU's troubles.
Only grudgingly, and in a backhanded way, do you acknowledge that Brodhead inherited a projected department deficit of $1 million and that, through the application of sound business principles, he turned things around and produced a healthy surplus. Your pat explanation for this fiscal miracle was that it was done by raising ticket prices and by dropping wrestling and men's gymnastics. It might have been pointed out that wrestling is a sport not provided by the Southeastern Conference, and that Brodhead went so far as to approach other conferences for wrestling-only membership in hopes of saving it.
I am a diehard LSU fan, but Dale Brown's attitude makes me sick. I commend him for wanting to help the underprivileged and those who are not so lucky. But who is he to throw out the threats he did in that article? And where does he get off thinking college athletes should get paid?
Bob Brodhead bugs me too! All that he is concerned about is the bottom line. What about the good old LSU traditions? I want wrestling and men's gymnastics back!
NAME WITHHELD BY REQUEST
College coaches and administrators who insist on cheating to attract quality athletes should read very carefully Douglas S. Looney's article on the Air Force Academy football team (Soar, Falcons, Soar, Nov. 11). The story lends support to the notion that a school can attract good athletes who are also good students and have a winning season without resorting to cheating.
JUNE E. COOLEY
San Jose, Calif.
IN THE KNICK OF TIME?
I just loved Jack McCallum's article Horror Show In The Big Apple (Nov. 18). Patrick Ewing has the toughest task in the world: making the Knicks a winning team. But I think he will be all right; just give him time to develop.
The Knicks do remind me of the old TV hit show M*A*S*H, however. You never know when someone will come running in yelling, "Incoming wounded! Incoming wounded!"
I feel that McCallum was too harsh on Hubie Brown and his Knicks. Although they were 0-8 at the time your story was written, their performance has not been bad enough to call their games "horror shows." Their scrappy defense and the consistent play of Ewing have been good signs in this early part of the season. If you want to find a team that really deserves to be called a horror show, take a trip to Phoenix.
KEVIN P. O'MALLEY
HOLD THAT BALL!
Jill Lieber's Quick Count (EXTRA POINTS, Nov. 18) lists the NFL players who are best at holding on to the ball—the players with the fewest fumbles in 1,500 or more possessions. Three out of the first seven listed—Pete Johnson, Tom Matte and John Brockington—were ex-Ohio State backs, and all three played for coach Woody Hayes. This year, under coach Earle Bruce, Ohio State played its first eight games without a fumble. This should tell you how important fundamentals and execution are at Ohio State.
DONALD E. GEISER
•In the three games that have been played since then, Ohio State hands have grown slippery. The Buckeyes fumbled twice against Northwestern, three times against Wisconsin and three more times in last Saturday's loss at Michigan.—ED.
I am not a hunter, and I will never understand what compels others to hunt. Yet David E. Brown's story about his dog Rosie (FIRST PERSON, Nov. 11) reached deep into my heart. I, too, spent countless hours in the Arizona desert with my four-legged friend. We did not hunt birds. Rather, we hunted for those elusive moments when a boy and his dog communicate as one. I, too, had tears streaming down my cheeks when my parents took my childhood companion of 13 years to the vet for the last time. The tears flowed again as I read about Rosie.
Thanks to Brown for bringing back my childhood. With our memories intact, the dogs are never truly gone.
The fact that David E. Brown feels his article is a tribute to his dog tells us all we need to know about his intelligence. Many of his statements, including, "She was fed by the reward and punishment method," and those describing her condition just before her death, rank this article as the most disgusting description of an alleged love for man's best friend I have ever read.
Since Brown also appears to feel every bird known to mankind should be legalized for hunting, let's hope they legalize a "bird" like him. The world would be a better place.
RICHARD B. HIGGINS
Can you slice the '85 SPORTS ILLUSTRATED Sportsman of the Year award four ways? I nominate the following people to share both space and pride when the cover of your year-end issue is unveiled:
1) All the members of the Glenville, Minn. high school football squad, for their perseverance as athletes and as farmers ("Like Being Slugged In The Gut," Nov. 4).
2) Pete Rose (SI's Sportsman of 1975), for enduring both the Ty Cobb chase and the pennant chase with astounding style (On Deck For The Big Knock, Aug. 19, et seq.).
3) Grambling coach Eddie Robinson, for passing Bear Bryant and also for allowing us to share with him his success in developing football players and young men (Here's To You, Mr. Robinson, Oct. 14).
4) The 1985 NCAA basketball champion Villanova Wildcats, for giving their best effort when nearly all of America, including me, did not believe that they could endure "gut-check time" against a great Georgetown team (Shooting The Lights Out, April 8).
BLAIR J. ELLIASEN
Rolling Meadows, Ill.
RATING THE PASSER (CONT.)
In regard to the NFL formula for rating the passer (19TH HOLE, Nov. 11), there is a mathematical formula that can replace the NFL tables. It is as follows: [5/6] X (completion percentage + 4X touchdown percentage - 5X interception percentage + 5X average gain + 2.5). The following changes are occasionally required: 1) If completion percentage is less than 30%, use 30%; 2) if completion percentage is greater than 77.5%, use 77.5%; 3) if touchdown percentage is greater than 11.9%, use 11.9%; 4) if interception percentage is greater than 9.5%, use 9.5%; 5) if average gain is less than 3.00 yards, use 3.00 yards; and 6) if average gain is greater than 12.5 yards, use 12.5 yards.
Here is an example: In 1984 Dan Marino completed 64.2% of his passes with an 8.5% touchdown percentage, a 3.0% interception percentage and an average gain per pass try of 9.01 yards. Plug the numbers into the formula and you get [5/6] X (64.2 + 4X 8.5 — 5 X 3.0 + 5 X 9.01 + 2.5), all of which equals a 108.9 rating, enough to lead the NFL.
•Right. However, although this equation results in the same pass-rating total as the NFL's more exhaustive formula, it is less informative. Separate ratings for completion, interception and touchdown percentages and average yards per pass get lost in this mathematical shortcut.—ED.
It is commendable that the NFL developed a passer-rating statistic. The four key categories are certainly sensible. The illogical parts are the table point numbers and the conversion to a 100 scale. Why would anyone create a table that goes from 0 to 2.375? Why have such an extended decimal? And then why switch to a 100 scale by dividing by .06? Dumb!
A better way would be to make the tables run from 0 to 25, with only one decimal (a factor of 10). A passer might pick up a rating of 17.2 on a 0-to-25 table, instead of a 1.65. And the four top scores would add up to a maximum of 100, not the present 158.3. Further, a small amount of tinkering with the tables would make 50 the theoretical average, not 66.7.
Still, it figures. You put a bunch of statisticians in charge of something and they can make the simple complex in a couple of minutes, or, as the statisticians might say, in .0333 of an hour.
San Jose, Calif.
It is starting to get a little cold here at the University of Texas, but we are getting warmed up thinking that it is only about two months until the 1986 swimsuit issue. We are counting the days!
"Lionhearted" you called them (Lion-hearted, At Least, Nov. 11), but in the Nittany Lions' case, that is enough. Jack McCallum's intentions were good, but I think the real point was obscured by his emphasis on the lack of superstar talent on the Penn State squad. Considering that the Lions are undefeated, something must be working for them. That something is courage and cooperation. It is refreshing to see a real team effort in a college football world of one-man franchises. Isn't that what the game is all about?
BRADLEY J. MITCHELL
A friend and I have been debating about a picture of No. 31 of Penn State, who is shown wearing a jersey that is drawn up in back. My friend says that it is illegal to tie a jersey tight. I disagree. Please clear up our confusion and show the picture again.
•"There is no rule violation," says Dave Nelson, secretary of the NCAA Football Rules Committee. "The only things that make a jersey illegal are if it doesn't cover the pads, if the numbers and insignia aren't to specification or if any greasy or slippery substances have been applied to it. As long as these things don't happen, you have no problem."—ED.
While perusing Jack McCallum's article on Penn State, I noticed that each member of the Nittany Lion squad had the number 85 on the back of his helmet. What is the reason for this?
•The "85" on the left side of the helmet and the slash that appears on the right side are being worn in memory of two Nittany Lions who died in an auto accident last spring: Gene Lyons, a sophomore backup defensive end, who wore 85; and Billy Chris James, a walk-on freshman in 1984 who didn't come out for spring practice in '85 and thus didn't have a number.—ED.
Letters should include the name, address and home telephone number of the writer and be addressed to The Editor, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, Time & Life Building, Rockefeller Center, New York, N.Y. 10020.