In case you missed it, the University of Miami football team, which beat Texas 46-3 in the Cotton Bowl on New Year's Day, behaved very badly during the game. The Hurricanes were penalized a Cotton Bowl-record 202 yards—10 times for either personal fouls or unsportsmanlike conduct. And their taunting victory dance at the end of the game was a further embarrassment.
In fairness, though, the Hurricanes had every reason to be exuberant. After all, for the first time in four consecutive postseason appearances, they lasted through an entire bowl week without having a player suspended from the team for disciplinary reasons.
PRO AND CON
January 14, 1991
The debate over whether or not there should be a postseason playoff in college football intensified last week with the split vote for No. 1 by AP (the media said Colorado was the national champion) and UPI (the coaches said Georgia Tech). You're probably tired of the arguments already, but here are two more, one for a postseason tournament and one against.
On the pro-playoff side, consider the delicious possibilities if such a system had been in effect this season. Because of its superior record, Georgia Tech would receive a bye this week, while Miami would play Colorado in Boulder. The winner of that game would then travel to Atlanta the next week to play Tech for the undisputed championship of college football.
Then again, there's something to be said for the current system. Invoking the time demands of entertaining two No. 1 teams, the White House declined to invite either Colorado or Georgia Tech to visit. That means we'll all be spared those tedious publicity shots of the President meeting in the Rose Garden with the team of the moment.
Contrary' to popular belief, Latin is not a dead language. In fact, it's alive and well and riding the best-seller lists in the form of Latin for All Occasions, a lingua-in-bucca book by Henry Beard on how to spice up your conversation with Latin phrases. "Hot enough for you?" for instance, would be "Satine caloris tibi est?" Or if you want to say, "My favorite! Tuna casserole!" why that's "Mea dilectissima! Farrago thunni!"
There are quite a few phrases in the book for sports fans who want to be taken seriously. Let's say you're at a baseball game between the Icteri Galbuli (Orioles) and the Fermentatores (Brewers), and you want to complain about the designated hitter rule. You turn to your companion and say, "Lex clavatoris designati rescindenda est."
Here are some other useful sports expressions from the book:
Huc accedit Zambonis. (Here comes the Zamboni.)
Alterum ictum faciam. (I'm going to take a Mulligan.)
Quid sentis de Undequinquagintis? (How about those 49ers?)
Longius capillo fuit! (It was just a hair long!)
Heu, odi manere in agmine pro sellis volatilibus. (Boy, I hate lift lines.)
Then there's an all-purpose phrase that's useful at the end of many sporting events: Obesa cantavit. That's right. The fat lady has sung.
CLUBHOUSE OF THE GODS
It may not be the Rosetta stone, but archaeologists at the University of California have made a historic discovery. Digging last summer at Nemea, 80 miles southwest of Athens, a team led by classics professor Stephen Miller found the site of what may have been history's first locker room. The 50'‚Äö√†√∂‚àö‚â•50' facility featured a tiled roof and Doric columns and was connected by a tunnel to the stadium at Nemea, one of four sites for ancient Greece's Panhellenic Games. Miller and his associates established that the date of construction was between 330 and 320 B.C.
At the time, athletic contests were becoming increasingly popular as spectator events, and athletes were finding themselves the objects of growing fan worship. Thus, the need arose for a private retreat. Miller believes the first locker room was built in response to competitors' demands. "We who live in the Oakland area are very sensitive to this," Miller said of the discovery. "The Raiders left in part because of inadequate physical facilities."
In their locker room, contestants would have disrobed, anointed themselves with oils and given private supplication to the gods. There would have been no controversy over women in the locker room since females were excluded, even as spectators. All athletic events, by the way, were performed in the nude.
WINNING ISN'T EVERYTHING
Quick, now, who's the best coach in Packer history? WFRV-TV in Green Bay raised that question and invited viewers to phone in their votes. More than 4,000 responded. The winner, with 40% of the tally, was—a drum roll, please—current coach Lindy Infante. The runner-up, with 32%, was some old-timer named Vince Lombardi.
INSPIRATION, A TO Z
By sad coincidence, two people about whom senior writer Doug Looney wrote in recent months, Long Beach State football coach George Allen and Zora Zorich, the mother of Notre Dame All-America noseguard Chris Zorich, died last week: Allen of a heart spasm, Zora Zorich of natural causes. Looney offers these reminiscences:
George Allen and Zora Zorich were as far apart as A and Z, yet in a way they were two of a kind.
Allen, 73, was a celebrity who broke bread with presidents and lived the good life in a glorious oceanside home in Palos Verdes Estates, near Los Angeles. He achieved fame and fortune as an NFL coach—first with the Los Angeles Rams, then the Washington Redskins—and he served as head of the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports. Allen came out of retirement last year to coach Long Beach State, and as he recently wrote in a POINT AFTER for SI (Dec. 3, 1990), the 1990 season, which the 49ers finished with a surprising 6-5 record, was the most rewarding of his long career.
Alternately irascible, brilliant and flaky, Allen expected miracles from people and quite often got them. One night last July in a Portland, Ore., coffee shop, Allen, who was on his way to deliver a speech, recounted a story about the time he drove a milk truck across Nebraska on the way to his first coaching job at Morningside College in Sioux City, Iowa. "If I had a map," he said, "I could show you my exact route."
Just then the waitress appeared and asked, "Can I help you?"
"Yes," said Allen. "I'd like a map of Nebraska."
The waitress left, wearing a puzzled look. "I wonder why she never brought us that map," a disappointed Allen said later. Even from total strangers he asked the impossible. Allen figured that if you aimed for the stars, you would at least hit the moon. That was certainly a secret of success for his 1972 Redskins, the Over The Hill Gang that went to the Super Bowl and gave heart to millions.
Zora Zorich, 59, lived in a very different world from Allen's. Her home was a four-room apartment at 81st and Burn-ham in one of Chicago's toughest neighborhoods. She dined on food stamps, not presidential china; she heard gunshots outside her home, not the lapping of waves. Yet she cherished her world just as much as Allen did his. "I love it here," she said, sitting behind her heavily locked doors. Behind those doors, she raised Chris alone, reading to him, pushing him in his studies, encouraging him to aim for the stars.
Behind those doors is where Chris found her, the day after the Orange Bowl, in which Notre Dame lost to Colorado 10-9. The news of her death brought to mind a catfish supper in her apartment last June. In the middle of the dinner conversation, Zora laughed, threw her arms around Chris's huge neck and said, "I love this boy so much." Chris hugged her back, very hard, and said, "What an inspiration you are."
OLD ACHES AND PAINS
Baseball also suffered a loss last week when Hall of Fame shortstop Luke Appling, 83, died during emergency surgery in Cumming, Ga. Known as Old Aches and Pains because of his penchant for complaining about his health, Appling hurt opponents far more than they hurt him. In his 20 years with the Chicago White Sox—his one and only team—Appling averaged .310, stroked 2,749 hits and won two batting titles (.388 in 1936, .328 in '43). He was also a fine fielder with extraordinary range.
During his career, Appling the hypochondriac claimed he had insomnia, gout, fallen arches, dizzy spells, seasickness, torn leg tendons, a sore throat, a stiff neck, a throbbing kneecap and astigmatism. When, after nine straight seasons of batting .300 or more, Appling hit .262 in 1942, he blamed his falloff on the fact that he had been completely healthy all season.
In '64 he was inducted into the Hall of Fame, and in '69 Chicago writers voted him the greatest player in the history of the White Sox. Oddly enough, the biggest moment of Appling's career may have come 32 years after he retired. During the first Cracker Jack old-timers' game, in Washington, D.C., in 1982, the 75-year-old Appling homered off 61-year-old Hall of Famer Warren Spahn and became a national sensation. "The home run gets more attention than any hit I ever had," he said not long ago. "It's pretty amazing."
In recent years, he served as a minor league hitting instructor for the Atlanta Braves. On New Year's Day, Appling retired from that job, and two days later, he died.
"Luke made me appreciate the game," said Dale Murphy, the two-time MVP outfielder who was traded to the Phillies last summer after 17 years in the Braves' organization. "To see a man his age jumping around.... I'm thankful to I have known him. I can still hear him telling me to keep my front elbow down."
BOYS OF WINTER
Last week, near his ranch in Baker, Ore., Oakland A's third baseman Carney Lansford hurt his left knee and right shoulder when he tried to jump from his snowmobile as it headed toward a barbed-wire fence at more than 50 mph. Lansford's misfortune, which may cost him much of the next season, is reminiscent of the skiing accident that befell Jim Lonborg, the Red Sox pitcher, following his 1967 Cy Young Award season.
Nowadays, most guaranteed player contracts prohibit athletes from skiing. To get their winter fun, many players turn to snowmobiling. Lansford's injury may change that, and none too soon. An informant of ours in Eagle County, Colo., reports that a certain Baltimore shortstop was dashing through the snow last week. Yes, the second-longest consecutive-game playing streak in baseball history was riding on a snowmobile.
THE BULL'S DAUGHTER PUTS UP A GOOD FIGHT
Stephanie LaMotta is a fighter. That should come as no surprise considering that her father, Jake LaMotta, the middleweight champion of the world from 1949 to '51 and the man portrayed in the film Raging Bull, was one of the toughest fighters ever to take—or give—a punch. Stephanie holds no title belts, but clearly she is a chip off the old block.
Stephanie, 31, lives in Los Angeles, where she is an actress as well as a boxing and fitness instructor. She is also a spokeswoman for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. She has had the disease since 1979, enduring bouts with partial paralysis and near blindness. (There is no known cure for MS, a disease of the central nervous system that affects some 250,000 Americans.)
Yet Stephanie, currently in remission, continues to train and to campaign in support of research to combat the disease. In this fight she has vowed not only to go the distance, but also to win. "People paint too tragic a picture," she says. "I get out and do what I have to do. I don't succumb to this stupid thing that's annoying me."
Stephanie is the fifth of Jake's seven children; her mother, Dimitria, was the fourth of his six wives. She remains close to her father, often accompanying him to big fights. She insists that the movie's brutal portrait of her father was raving bull. "They didn't show the sensitive side of him," she says. Stephanie even remembers going with her father to the Metropolitan Opera. Of course, Jake provided his daughter with other cultural advantages as well. "He taught me how to punch," she says happily.
One night in London in 1982, Stephanie KO'd a would-be mugger who demanded money. "I was all set to write him a check, too," she says, indignation in her voice, "until he pulled a knife on me." Instead of a handout, the assailant got a left to the body and a right to the jaw that knocked him cold.
These days Stephanie works out regularly at the Los Angeles Youth Athletic Center Gym under the started five years ago, is thriving. She puts her 42 clients (among them actors, secretaries and executives) through their paces in their homes or at the gym. Her video, Stephanie LaMotta's Boxersize Workout, is scheduled to be released in March, and she hopes someday to open a gym. Her days are full. She gets up at 5 a.m. to care for her horse, a white Appaloosa named Jack. She trains. She goes to auditions. Whenever she can, she squeezes in time with her fiancè, pop musician Jacques Dreyfus. ("I have a Jack, a Jake and a Jacques," she says.) She also answers the guidance of Tony Rivera, a former trainer of Roberto Duran. Her own training business, which she hundreds of letters she receives each week from other MS sufferers.
"I love hearing from them," she says. "I tell them they have to enjoy their lives and be good to themselves. You have to keep fighting, and it's so much easier to fight when you know you're not alone."
THEY SAID IT
•Pat Leahy, New York Jet veteran placekicker, taking issue with the adage that the legs are the first things to go on an athlete: "It's the hair."
•Eddie Delahoussaye, jockey, objecting to the abuse that fans heap on members of his profession: "You never see anybody yelling at the horse."
•Steve Lyons, Chicago White Sox utility man, on his 43-year-old teammate, catcher Carlton Fisk: "He is so old, they didn't have history class when he went to school."