President Bush's advisers were wrong when they assured him earlier this year that an economic recovery would bail him out before Election Day, and Treasury Secretary Nicholas Brady may have been wrongest of all. According to The Wall Street Journal, Brady suggested last summer that euphoria over the U.S. Olympic basketball team's exploits in Barcelona would increase consumer confidence, thereby boosting Bush's reelection prospects. No wonder it was called the Dream Team.
The NCAA placed Oklahoma State's wrestling program and Lamar University's women's basketball program on probation last week and indicated that the sentences in both cases would have been stiffer had the schools not cooperated in the investigations. At Oklahoma State, whose 29 national titles make its wrestling program the most successful in the land, cooperation included the departure of coach Joe Seay, who was in charge when illicit payments were made to Cowboy athletes; the school suspended Seay with pay in 1991 and didn't rehire him when his contract expired last summer. Similarly, Lamar got credit for the fact that coach Al Barbre, who led the Cardinals to a 29-4 record and the NCAA final eight in 1990-91, quit under pressure after that season, when evidence of improper payments to players came to light.
All of which makes one wonder how much longer Auburn football coach Pat Dye will remain on the job. Rounding out a busy week, the NCAA charged Auburn with making improper payments to former defensive back Eric Ramsey, who last year released tape recordings indicating he had received cash from Tiger coaches; on one tape Ramsey tells Dye an assistant coach "helped me out a little bit" and Dye agrees to try to help Ramsey obtain a car loan. Although Dye said last week that he didn't intend to quit, he seemed to leave the door ajar when he also spoke of wanting to act "in the best interest of Auburn." For his part, Auburn president William Muse was strikingly noncommittal. When asked if he supported Dye, Muse replied, "I think it would be inappropriate for me to make any evaluation of that relationship." That less-than-ringing endorsement suggests that NCAA investigators might find Auburn to be just as cooperative about its coach as Oklahoma State and Lamar were about theirs.
During his 10 seasons as coach of the Denver Nuggets, Doug Moe routinely finished near the bottom of USA Today's list of worst-dressed NBA coaches. Last week Moe made his debut both as coach of the Philadelphia 76ers and as a sideline pretty boy, having submitted his once rumpled self to a make-over by a Philadelphia clothing store, a promotion that turned him into a newly minted fashion plate. It seemed fitting that in the Sixers' home opener, a 114-111 loss to the New Jersey Nets, Moe found himself going pocket square to pocket square against the Nets' new coach, Chuck Daly, a clotheshorse of such pedigree that he could probably stand at fashion stud. "I'm the perfect mannequin," says Moe. "Disgusting, isn't it?"
Moe allows that he isn't sure how long it will be before he forgets to pack properly for a road trip and has to go sockless on the bench for a week, as he once did. "Sometimes I'll still throw on the old comfort clothes," he says—and then he lapses into a metaphor more mixed than plaids and stripes: "Let's face it, they're trying to make chicken salad out of a sow's ear."
Putting stubborness ahead of sanity, the NFL returns to federal court in Minneapolis this week for more legal skirmishing arising out of September's antitrust verdict that struck down the league's Plan B free-agency scheme as too restrictive on player movement. Considering its horrendous losing streak in litigation with the NFL Players Association, isn't it time for the league to negotiate a settlement with the union on free agency and other issues? Consider:
•In February the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a lower-court ruling ordering the NFL to make payments to the players' pension fund totaling, with interest, $40 million.
•Last month a federal court jury in Washington. D.C,. awarded a total of $30 million to 235 players because teams had illegally fixed wages of taxi-squad members in 1989.
•Also last month the National Labor Relations Board upheld a 1991 decision that the NFL had violated labor laws by refusing to let players return to work immediately after their 1987 strike. The ruling will oblige the league to pay $30 million to 1,100 players.
•The verdict in Minneapolis resulted in a relatively meager award of $1.63 million to four players, but litigation covering 1,075 other players whose rights were also restricted by Plan B will likely cost the league at least $200 million more.
•A pending antitrust suit by Philadelphia Eagle defensive end Reggie White and three others seeking free agency for 600 players in 1993 could cost the NFL more than $300 million in treble damages.
Throw in another $10 million or so that the NFL has to pay for the NFLPA's legal fees and perhaps $40 million for its own, and the league's tab could easily exceed $700 million. And, oh, yes, the NFLPA is plotting a challenge to the NFL college draft that could lead to open bidding for rookies, potentially a further drain on team coffers.
You can't help wondering if maybe the NFL owners enjoy getting slammed around by their players.
Hands Across the Ice
In a profile by B.M. Swift in the Oct. 12 SI, Pittsburgh Penguin forward Jaromir Jagr recounted that as a lad in Czechoslovakia, he had kept a photo of his hero, Ronald Reagan, pressed in one of his schoolbooks. Last week Jagr received a phone call from Reagan, who said he had read the story and wanted to say hello. Jagr said that the conversation was disjointed, partly because his own English is not perfect but also because Reagan had alluded to the Gipper, a reference Jagr did not fully understand.
"He must be old," Jagr said of Reagan. "He started talking about something and then forgot what he was saying." But, added Jagr, "it was my best day. I never talked to a guy like him before."
Tale of Two Capitals
The Ottawa Citizen noted that after 14 games the record of the NHL's new—and reeling—Ottawa Senators matched that of the 1974-75 expansion Washington Capitals:
And here we thought folks mellowed with age.
They Wrote It
•Bernie Lincicome of the Chicago Tribune: "The Heisman Trophy race could use a candidate with a bareknuckle name; Garrison Hearst and Marshall Faulk sound like necktie designers."
Last week the 300-millionth jockstrap—it will be bronzed, to commemorate the occasion—rolled off the production line at the Bike Athletic Co., the Knoxville, Tenn., firm that lays claim to having invented this particular article of apparel in 1874. The people at Bike want to thank customers for their continued support.
They Said It
•Vlade Divac (right), the Los Angeles Lakers' 24-year-old center, who reported to training camp at 250, 15 pounds more than last season's weight: "We all get heavier as we get older because there's a lot more information in our heads. Our heads weigh more."
•Bill Clinton, after a postelection round of golf in Little Rock, Ark., that unfolded much like his election campaign: "I finished a lot better than I started."