SEEING NO EVIL IN THE BIG EAST
This is an article from the Jan. 20, 1986 issue
Last week an ugly bench-clearing brawl broke out during Georgetown's 70-66 win over Connecticut; one player from each team was ejected. Such a fight at a Big East game is no longer unexpected. Already there have been at least eight scuffles involving Big East teams this season, including a wild melee in Georgetown's exhibition against the Puerto Rican national team and another in the Boston College-Arizona game.
Big East commissioner Dave Gavitt seems oddly reluctant to deal with the violence. Gavitt is a hands-on executive who has made his league powerful, guiding it into large arenas and lucrative television deals. Yet two years ago, in one of his relatively few published comments on conference violence, he dodged responsibility: "There's no power that I know of for me to do that [suspend players for fighting]. And I don't desire it. And I don't think we have to deal with the problem until it's a problem."
It's clearly a problem, and to deal with it Gavitt should look to the example of Ohio Valley Conference commissioner Jim Delany. After a brawl at a 1980 football game between Middle Tennessee State and Morehead State, Delany suspended nine players, some for as long as four games. Last week a fight at the Middle Tennessee-Tennessee Tech basketball game led to Delany's suspending three players for a total of six games. "What we're saying is 'You can play hard and aggressive, but if something goes wrong, you can't fight,' " says Ohio Valley spokesman Jon Verner. "Flagrant fighting is not a recurring problem here."
Big East assistant commissioner Tom McElroy claimed last week that violence was a growing concern among league officials and coaches and that Gavitt was working "within the family" to find a solution. "This time you saw ejections," McElroy told SI's Greg Kelly. "Last March you didn't see that. Let that be the measure of our concern." So far, that concern just doesn't measure up.
WHEN MADISON AVENUE GOES MAD
There's at least one thing super about the Super Bowl: the hoopla surrounding its TV advertising. Last year, Apple Computer took out full-page newspaper ads to herald a new Macintosh commercial that would debut during the game. It turned out to be a spectacular (if poorly received) spot—it showed IBM-type executives following one another off a supposed cliff—but it was no more spectacular than its buildup.
This year, the talk has been about NBC's plan to turn between one and two minutes of advertising time during the Super Bowl pregame show into a moment of silence. During that moment America can head for the fridge, or wherever else it wants. It's been dubbed The Big Flush.
Now comes news that Timex has spent a million dollars to produce a new ad, and $1.1 million more to secure a Super Bowl slot for it. Just before halftime, we'll see a 60-by-22-foot replica of Timex's new Atlantis 100 sport watch submerged in the Red Sea. With more than two million bucks already spent, you can be sure the watch will keep on ticking when it takes its licking.
The Pittsburgh media have selected punter Harry Newsome as the Steelers' top rookie of 1985 and presented him with the annual Joe Greene Great Performance Award. It was obviously a lean year for Pittsburgh rookies: Newsome's 39.6-yard average placed him 27th among 28 punters in the league.
When it comes to offbeat training methods, we haven't heard of one yet to match the dogged workouts once performed by Joe Buchanan, a junior guard for the University of California-Irvine basketball team. In his days as a prep All-America at O'Dea High in Seattle, Buchanan would go out to the school track with his older brother, Jim, and three dogs: two Dobermans, Brutus and Amin, owned by a cousin and a neighbor, and the Buchanans' own family pet, Laddie, a combination German shepherd-collie. Jim would line his brother up on the track, send him off on a run—and then sic the three dogs on him. "If you got tired you couldn't stop," says Joe Buchanan.
The workouts consisted of runs as long as a mile. Jim Buchanan had trained the dogs to snap at his brother's heels and to bite him if he stopped running; to liven the chase, he often dipped the heels of his brother's shoes in a soupy bowl of Gravy Train. Jim would call the animals off as soon as his brother had completed the necessary distance, and Joe claims the dogs never actually bit him. "It's just as good as putting a tire around you and dragging a sled," Joe says. "You should put a gorgeous female in front of you if it'll motivate you."
TORTS AND SPORTS
Following her appointment two weeks ago as dean of Columbia Law School, Barbara Aronstein Black, the first woman ever to head an Ivy League law school, was asked what title she would next like to add to her résumé. "Good golfer," she replied. Black, 52, is by her own account a "passionate and terrible" golfer and an all-around sports aficionado. According to The New York Times, Black, who grew up watching the New York Giants baseball team, actually got mildly annoyed when someone questioned her knowledge of the national pastime. "Come on," she said. "If you can read a statute, you can read a box score."
CONSPIRING NOT TO CONSPIRE
Baseball owners, adamant in their refusal to bid for free agents this off-season (SI, Dec. 9, 1985), had reason to celebrate last week when every big-name free agent chose to re-sign with his 1985 team. Contract terms were comparatively modest. For instance, Detroit's Kirk Gibson, who had sought a five-year, $8 million deal, settled for just three years and slightly more than $4 million.
The free agents apparently feared they might receive no serious offers whatsoever if they waited beyond Wednesday's midnight deadline, after which they couldn't have signed with their '85 teams until May 1. Gibson, honeymooning in New Zealand, made his decision by taking out a New Zealand 20-cent piece and flipping it—heads he would sign, tails he wouldn't. But when the coin came up tails, Gibson decided to make it two out of three. The next two flips showed heads. He called his agent just minutes before midnight with his decision to sign.
Donald Fehr, executive director of the Players Association, continued to suggest that the lack of interest by other clubs in free agents like Gibson was the result of collusion among the owners, a violation of the collective bargaining agreement. Fehr said he planned an investigation because "there does not appear to be a free market operating." But one man's collusion is another's encounter group. As Yankee owner George Steinbrenner told the New York Daily News, "This is a reawakening of owners, and if anyone deserves credit here, it's the commissioner, Peter Ueberroth, who got us together on numerous occasions—always with four lawyers in the room to guard against anything that might be construed as collusion—and made us tell each other how stupid we'd been in the past."
The January issue of Hoof Beats, a harness racing magazine, tells the story of a horse breeder who desperately needed a mare's colostrum (her first milk) one day last fall to feed the newborn foal of a mare unable to give milk. After several frantic phone calls, the breeder located a veterinarian who kept an emergency supply of the milk in his freezer.
The breeder brought home the frozen concoction and told his wife to thaw it on the stove. A few minutes later, she visited him in the barn. "Does colostrum have a thick texture?" she asked suspiciously. He shook his head and told her to thaw it some more. Soon, however, she returned again, this time with a puzzled look. "Do you think colostrum should have carrots in it?" she asked.
The breeder immediately called the vet, who was terribly embarrassed. He apologized for having given the breeder a container of frozen cream-of-potato soup his wife had made the previous weekend.
THERE'S A REASON FOR EVERYTHING
Last Wednesday in Indianapolis, around 8:40 p.m., Indiana Pacer Herb Williams threw a basketball the length of the court and swished it through the net to set what is thought to be an NBA record for the longest successful shot ever: 81 feet. At about the same moment in Kansas City, Danny Salisbury of the Continental Basketball Association's Detroit Spirits scored a basket from 65'2", establishing a record for that league. CBA commissioner Jim Drucker credits "cosmic influence" for the coincidence, noting, "There's a mystic guru of long shots somewhere in the universe."
PLEASE, LEE, RESTRAIN YOURSELF
In announcing that the University of South Florida had landed three basketball recruits, coach Lee Rose said, "Given the fact that these three young men have signed national letters of intent with USF, I'd say, if they remain academically successful and if they deport themselves properly, stay healthy and injury-free, we will look forward to their coming to USF with enthusiasm next fall and being part of our program."
A VISION OF SAFETY
A week ago, after the Boston Bruins' Charlie Simmer suffered an eye injury that may keep him out of action until next month, we called upon all NHL players to start wearing helmets with protective eye shields. We're pleased to report that five Bruins have since donned the visors for the first time, among them defenseman Mike O'Connell (No. 20, pictured above), who hadn't even worn a helmet before. "My family has been after me to do it for a long time," noted O'Connell. Added right wing Dave Pasin, another new visor-user, "It's so crazy, man, what can happen, and so innocently. It's just not worth it."
THEY SAID IT
•Margie Backman, wife of Mets 5'9" second baseman Wally Backman, on giving birth last week to an 8-pound, 9-ounce boy: "He's bigger than Wally already."
•Woody Hayes, on the heart specialist who's been attending to him since his heart attack two months ago: "The only problem is, he's a Michigan man."
•Mike Weisman, the executive producer who has said NBC will not carry President Reagan's call to the Super Bowl champions, on the reaction to his decision: "The IRS has asked for my returns for the last five years."