NILE KINNICK'S LEGACY
In the eyes of a teenager, Nile Kinnick was even more charismatic than your story suggests (Nile Kinnick, Aug. 31). In 1939 I attended a boys' camp in Wisconsin where Nile was one of the many counselors who were big-time college athletes. There was a special quality about Nile that set him apart. He had a gentleness, a genuine respect for even the most poorly coordinated kid in the camp. He also abstained from the locker room vulgarity and coarseness so often displayed by today's jocks. When choosing up sides for any sport, we all wanted to be on Nile's team.
At a time when recruiting and eligibility violations and drug abuse seem to be the norm in college athletics, I'm glad you reminded me that there really was a Nile Kinnick.
New Canaan, Conn.
I saw Nile Kinnick just once, when he was a very small 15-year-old high school sophomore from Adel, Iowa, playing in a district basketball tournament. Kinnick electrified the fans with his darting, water-bug moves and take-charge manner. Even then we knew he was special.
The Kinnick legend went far beyond his native Iowa. My friend Wendell Kinney of Bakersfield, Calif., named his son after Nile. Thanks for a touching story about a real sports star—and an exemplary human being.
September 20, 1987
Ron Fimrite points out that nowadays the Heisman is won primarily on football ability. Maybe it's time the writers picked a student-athlete hero we all can look up to—someone like Nile Kinnick.
Wappinger Falls, N.Y.
The Best and the Brightest (Aug. 31) hit home in our small town. On Oct. 10, at our 11th annual installation of new members in the Port Huron Sports Hall of Fame, we will induct the following:
David Staiger, 59, football letterman at the University of Wisconsin (1949 and '50), winner of the Big Ten medal for scholastic and academic achievement, recipient of a Rhodes scholarship, one of former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara's Whiz Kids during the Kennedy years and now an executive with the Ford Motor Co.
Ralph Burde Jr., 38. all Mid-American Conference tackle (1969) and Academic All-America ('70) at Central Michigan University, conference heavyweight wrestling champion ('70), Outstanding CMU Student-Athlete of the Year ('71) and now superintendent of schools in Kewaygo, Mich.
Robert Wedge, 40, winner of nine letters in three sports and a 3.6-GPA student at Port Huron High, letterman as a defensive back at Michigan (1966, '67, '68), Big Ten champion in the triple jump ('69), honor student in architecture and now an architect in Altoona, Pa.
Catherine Davis, 74, outstanding bowler for 40 years and treasurer of the local Women's Bowling Association for 26 years, chairperson of the state bowling convention in 1983, and an organizer of local cancer fund-raisers.
JERRY E. LYNCH
Port Huron (Mich.) Sports Hall of Fame
In your college football issue (INSIDE SLANT, Aug. 31), Douglas S. Looney said he would like to hear more about "university presidents who appreciate and understand football in its proper place." He also calls Kansas football "hopeless" and "a joke."
During his two-year tenure, Kansas coach Bob Valesente has raised the team's grade point average from 2.07 to 2.57, reduced the number of players lost through academic ineligibility to zero and, in concert with the chancellor, Dr. Gene Budig, brought an end to animosity between the faculty and the coaching staff. One would hope that Kansas could run a program emphasizing student-athletes and still compete successfully with Oklahoma and Nebraska every year, but it won't happen overnight. Broadsides by national magazines don't help.
TODD L. SUTHERLAND
Mission Woods, Kans.
I hadn't forgotten the ringing of the cowbells at Mississippi State, I just hadn't stopped to remember (INSIDE SLANT). In the early 1970s, win or lose, by the end of the game the cowbells at our so-called Cow College had carried the day. Our arms were sore from hefting the weight of the bells; our hands were raw from the grips. We were hoarse from screaming; our teeth hurt. Our eardrums were mush, and we had headaches. And we couldn't wait until the next game to do it all over again. It was indeed wonderful.
I was delighted by your reference in INSIDE SLANT to St. John's (Minn.) coach John Gagliardi, whose 243 victories are the second-most among active college football coaches. You mention that his players have no physical contact in practice. Here are some other unorthodox rules that Gagliardi observes:
No weight training
No running after practice
No team meetings after classes begin
No pressbox-to-bench telephone
No play-calling from the bench
No grading by game films.
Kings Island, Ohio
The revelations in your story about hostesses for college football prospects (The Fall Roundup, Aug. 31) were appalling. Using young college women to escort high school recruits and persuade them to commit their next four years to a particular school is a low point in recruiting. Cute names and pristine instructions hardly erase the shabby aura surrounding the tasks of these hostesses. The Gator Getters' Betty Ling screening prospects and calling on the right girl from her stable smacks too much of a madam providing the best in entertainment for her clients. With recruiting practices like these, it's not hard to understand why the young athlete regards women as one of the perks of his prowess, along with pocket money and a sports car. What a sad lesson our top universities are teaching these young men, even before they set foot in class.
I was ashamed but not too surprised to see my alma mater, Duke, on the list of schools with hostess programs. Perhaps if Steve Spurrier concentrated a bit more on coaching and a little less on having the "prettiest hostesses," Duke might start winning more games.
LISA HENCH RIST
Your story on athletic hostesses reminded me of my days as a Bama Belle during the Bear Bryant era. Let me tell you, the competition was fierce, but the rewards were worth it. Helping the University of Alabama maintain its football tradition was an honor. I'm sure I speak for all past and present athletic hostesses when I thank you for recognizing the contributions we make to our universities.
Bay Shore, N.Y.
NOT ON PROBATION
Congratulations on another fine college football preview (Aug. 31). However, I must point out an error in your scouting report on the Southwest Conference. Although the Baylor basketball program has been on probation, its football team remains squeaky clean. Bear fans are proud of coach Grant Teaff's quality program, his 15-year 90-76-5 record and Baylor's five bowl appearances over the past eight seasons.
THOMAS K. DAY
When Douglas S. Looney first denigrated the campus of Texas Tech (my alma mater) in your College & Pro Football Spectacular three years ago (Inside Slant on the Colleges, Sept. 5, 1984), I was more amused than upset. Given the state of Texas Tech's football team in 1984, I figured the only way the school could get a mention in your magazine was to have its campus called the ugliest in the nation. But enough is enough. To hit the campus a second time is a cheap shot that must be rebutted.
Realizing that my opinion might be considered biased, I decided to find a comment from an objective observer. I didn't have to search long: "...neither Texas Tech with its elegant campus nor air as clear as Steuben glass has enabled Lubbock to shake its unsophisticated image...." What publication would describe Texas Tech's campus as elegant? Why, none other than SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (A Real Lulu in Lubbock, by Ron Reid, Nov. 8, 1976).
The beauty of the Texas Tech campus is in the eye of the beholder. See my photo of 1976-80 Tech cheerleader Nancy Holt (below).
Letters to SPORTS ILLUSTRATED should include the name, address and home telephone number of the writer and should be addressed to The Editor, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, Time & Life Building, Rockefeller Center, New York, N.Y. 10020-1393.