RECRUITING OVERKILL...WELL-COIFFED MARATHON WINNER... GAMBLING RUMORS AT BOSTON COLLEGE ...USOC CONFLICT... REMEMBERING THE WHIP...HEAVY WITH 300-POUNDERS

November 11, 1996

USC'S LETTERMEN

In the eight years that George Raveling was the men's basketball
coach at Southern Cal, he zealously--and proudly--made use of
the U.S. Postal Service to help him recruit. During one two-week
period in the spring of 1993, Raveling sent 900 letters to the
home of Avondre Jones, a 6'11" center from La Puente, Calif.,
who subsequently signed with the Trojans (he later transferred
to Fresno State). Though Raveling retired from coaching in '94,
the Trojans' practice of churning out correspondence in
stupefying volume continues. It's not uncommon for the missive
masters to send out 500 pieces of mail to one prospect in a
single day.

"One day I got about 250 letters from them," says Michael
McDonald, a Stanford-bound senior point guard at Long Beach
(Calif.) Polytechnic. "I opened about four of them and they said
practically the same thing, so I stopped. They do it once, and
you think, They're really interested. But when they keep on
doing it and keep on doing it, you think they're doing the same
thing to 30 or 40 other players. You're not going to decide on
the school based on the number of letters they send you." By
comparison, McDonald got about 30 letters from Stanford over the
course of one year. Even Kevin Augustine, a guard from Mater Dei
High in Santa Ana, Calif., who has committed to USC and who says
the 20 to 50 letters he got every day from the Trojans made him
feel that "they cared about me," admits he didn't open most of
them.

Basketball Times reported that USC sends out up to 10,000
letters a day to hoops recruits. Miller denies that. But even
the 1,000 a day he owns up to is a lot of ink (not to mention
thousands of dollars in postage each month). How do they do it?
Second-year coach Henry Bibby and his two assistants get into
the office at 5:30 a.m. and write until 8 a.m. "Some are one
line, some two, some may contain a motivational phrase," says
assistant coach Dave Miller, who wields the staff's most
prolific pen. "When we can't think of anything else to write, we
stop." We submit that stop should become the byword of the USC
basketball office.

MANE MAN

In Sunday's New York City Marathon, the rabbit, Lazarus
Nyakeraka of Kenya, botched his job by running first too slowly
and then too quickly, so you might say a hare was out of place.
But not on the head of surprise winner Giacomo Leone. The
25-year-old Italian used patience in his pacing and gel in his
do to beat a field full of marathon luminaries such as Moses
Tanui and Cosmas Ndeti of Kenya and world champion Martin Fiz of
Spain and look good doing it. Leone appeared almost as fresh and
slick at the finish as when he started two hours, nine minutes
and 54 seconds earlier. "He is from the heel of Italy," says
Gianni Merlo, an exceedingly dapper writer for the Italian daily
La Gazzetta dello Sport. "They like a lot to be stylish."

AN UGLY GHOST AT BC

The mood around the Boston College campus last week was somber,
as internal investigators, with the cooperation of the Middlesex
County district attorney's office, began looking into rumors
that Eagle football players were involved in gambling and might
even have bet against their own team. As of Monday night, no
charges had been brought against any player, but in some corners
of the campus, people were expecting the worst, because the
worst had happened before. On Feb. 5, 1982, reserve forward Rick
Kuhn was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison for conspiring
to fix six Boston College basketball games during the 1978-79
season.

It was BC administrators who went public with the gambling
rumors last Saturday night. About two hours after a contentious
meeting among football coach Dan Henning, four senior captains
and four sophomore players, athletic director Chet Gladchuk
called a press conference to announce that he had asked the
D.A.'s office to supplement the college's investigation.

Several sources close to the Eagles' football team say that the
gambling rumors were at the heart of the Henning-players
meeting, at which, according to one of the sources, "there was a
lot of shouting." The only player to comment about the session
was one of the four sophomores, cornerback Kiernan Speight, who
said, "I want my name cleared. I just want justice to be served,
basically." The other sophomores at the meeting were running
back Jamall Anderson, wideout Brandon King (the grandson of
boxing promoter Don King) and linebacker Jermaine Monk. Neither
Anderson (knee injury) nor King (fractured foot) has played a
down this season. Monk and Speight are starters and are expected
to see action this Saturday against Notre Dame--a game that at
least one Las Vegas book had taken off the board as of Monday
night.

BC's horrible performance in a 20-13 loss to 11-point underdog
Pitt last Thursday night fueled speculation about point-shaving
that had been swirling around campus since early in the Eagles'
disappointing season (the team is 4-5). Those rumors were
already dampening the enthusiasm for what should be the high
point of BC's season, the nationally televised game against the
Fighting Irish at Alumni Stadium. "My father, who played
football here, has never forgotten the basketball scandal," says
Brian Kane, a freshman history major whose family has had season
football tickets for 25 years. "And if this is true, I'll never
forget this."

SHEDDING THEIR SKINS

The famously futile football team of Harnett Central High in
Angier, N.C., which went 0-39 over four seasons (1982 to '85)
and scored only one touchdown in '84 (SI, Oct. 7, 1985), has
turned things around. With one game remaining, the Trojans are
7-2, heading for the state playoffs and all but free from their
ignominious history. "We don't think much about the streak,"
says second-year coach Ed Hiatt. "The coach before me took all
the records."

Meanwhile, East Haven (Conn.) High's 3-2 victory over North
Haven in boys' soccer on Oct. 28 left local historians stumped.
No one could remember the last time the Yellow Jackets had won a
game. After poring over microfilm of old game accounts, New
Haven Register reporter Jim Fuller found the answer: The victory
was East Haven's first since 1982, a stretch of 146 games. A sad
footnote: Two days after the historic win, the Yellow Jackets
lost 10-1 to Fairfield Prep.

HE WHIPPED 'EM

He was known as the Falling Tree and the Eel, but the name that
stuck was the Whip. That's because when Ewell Blackwell, 6'6"
and skinny as a foul pole, kicked his long left leg toward third
base and snapped searing sidearm fastballs to the plate,
hitters, then helmetless, recoiled. With his seemingly untamed
delivery, Blackwell--who pitched in the big leagues from 1946 to
'55, mostly as a Cincinnati Red, and who died last week at 74 of
cancer--was the most intimidating pitcher of his era.

At times Blackwell was nearly unhittable. In 1947 he went 22-8
for the Reds and won 16 straight decisions. During that stretch
he no-hit the Boston Braves. In his next outing he held the
Brooklyn Dodgers hitless for 8 1/3 innings before Eddie Stanky
grounded a single through the pitcher's spindly legs.

But what may have been Blackwell's best game came in the summer
of '45, on a military field in Bavaria. Pitching for the 71st
Infantry against the 76th, Sergeant Blackwell threw a perfect
game, striking out 13 and leaving an indelible impression on a
young corporal and Army newspaper reporter. "Anyone who saw
Blackwell in that game never forgot it," says Jerry Tax, who
would be an SI writer and editor for 25 years and remains a
special contributor, "and two days later he pitched a two-hit
shutout." Blackwell also hit .335 in an Army league rife with
major leaguers.

Blackwell finished his big league career at 82-78, fading
unceremoniously into retirement while battling shoulder
injuries. But as so many major leaguers and so many soldiers
knew, when the Whip was right, he was as tough as anyone.

LISTEN UP, CAL

Tired of the job? Feel the boss doesn't appreciate you? Hey,
Seattle SuperSonics superstar Shawn Kemp understands. In an
interview with the Tacoma News Tribune, the power forward/labor
theorist elucidated the philosophical basis for his 23-day
training camp absence (page 120) that stemmed from his
displeasure with his eight-year, $46 million contract. Said
Kemp, "Anytime people are upset about work, they should take a
personal leave. If you're upset, you should take a couple of
weeks off."

HEAD 'EM UP, MOVE 'EM OUT

At 6'2" and 395 pounds, Damien Griffin, a senior tackle and
noseguard for Miami's Northwestern High, runs the 40 in 5.0
seconds, bench-presses 500 pounds and, as his coach, Willie
Goldsmith, puts it, "bounces kids around like they were
Ping-Pong balls."

"My teammates joke around," says Damien, who first caught
Goldsmith's eye when he was 14 and weighed a mere 340. "They say
I'm too big to be playing out there and hurting other people's
children."

Of course his teammates don't have much room to talk--or much
room to do anything else, for that matter. Three of them, all
offensive linemen, also top 300 pounds. There's Jarrad (Giant)
Cummings (6'4", 312), Levert (Twin Towers) Jordan (6'5", 315)
and Shamis (Bubba Fat) Maura (6'3", 325).

That's a lot of weight, but Northwestern carries it well. The
Bulls (6-3 overall) are the reigning class 6-A state champs and,
after a 48-42 win over previously undefeated Miami Central last
Friday, have clinched the district title. Still, Goldsmith says
he has tried to get Damien to trim down to increase the player's
stamina (and possibly to avoid having to continue
special-ordering his practice pants). Earlier this season
Goldsmith asked Damien to try eating a salad at lunchtime. When
no pounds were shed, the coach made inquiries. It seems Damien
had been faithfully eating the salad every day--in addition to
his regular lunch.

The prospective cost of having to feed Damien isn't scaring away
colleges. Schools such as Miami, Michigan, Nebraska and Ohio
State are recruiting him. Wherever Damien ends up, he plans to
study criminal justice. "Ever since I was little I wanted to be
a police officer," he says, pausing and chuckling. "I mean ever
since I was younger."

COLOR ILLUSTRATION: KENT CHRISTENSEN When they show recruits the write stuff, the Trojans don't horse around. [Drawing of letters falling from belly of Trojan Horse onto basketball player]
COLOR PHOTO: PHOTODISC ["DETOUR" sign] COLOR PHOTO: GEORGE TIEDEMANN For 26 miles and more, a little dab did New York City Marathon winner Leone just fine. [Giacomo Leone] COLOR PHOTO: BILL ORCUTT (3) Legendary quarterback Johnny Lujack [Painting of Johnny Lujack by Jessica Gandolf] COLOR PHOTO: BILL ORCUTT (3) RBI king Hack Wilson [Painting of Hack Wilson by Jessica Gandolf] COLOR PHOTO: BILL ORCUTT (3) Heavyweight champion Jack Johnson [Painting of Jack Johnson by Jessica Gandolf] COLOR PHOTO: DAVID BERGMAN Heavy mettle: Northwestern High of Miami's Fearsome Fatsome of (from left) Cummings, Griffin, Jordan and Maura. [Jarrad Cummings, Damien Griffin, Levert Jordan and Shamis Maura]

GO FIGURE

70
Percentage of all autographs on sports memorabilia that are
"fraudulent," according to the FBI.

277
Seconds that Louisville football coach Ron Cooper kept defenders
Tyrus McCloud and Rico Clark out of last week's game against
Cincinnati, after announcing that both would sit out the first
half for violating team rules.

16,300,000
Lost income, in dollars, sought by Monica Seles in a suit
against the German Tennis Federation, which she blames for
security lapses at the 1993 Hamburg tournament at which she was
stabbed.

100-1
Odds, according to British bookmaker William Hill, against
Seville, Spain, landing the 2004 Summer Olympics; Hill favors
Rome (7-4).

0
Miles of the 1997 Tour DuPont that will be ridden in Greenville,
S.C., after organizers voted to bypass the city because of a
Greenville County Council resolution condemning homosexuality as
"incompatible with community standards."

PORTRAITS

Jessica Gandolf's oil paintings of her "American heroes" are on
display at the Baumgold gallery in New York City.

OLYMPICS

A Committee Divided

The U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) rarely lacks for internal
squabbling, but the unrest brewing in that organization these
days is more serious than usual. A bitterly contested election
for president, which took place in Indianapolis on Oct. 26,
revealed that the USOC's 105-member board of directors is deeply
divided between the traditionalists (those close to the national
governing bodies of various amateur sports, or NGBs,
particularly of the high-profile sports like basketball) and the
athlete-advocates (those who believe that the voices of
competitors and low-profile NGBs have not been heard on matters
like the distribution of USOC funds and the access to training
facilities).

Bill Hybl, 54, the choice of the USOC's nominating committee and
a traditionalist, narrowly defeated Michael Lenard, 41, a former
Olympic team handball player and the choice of the Athletes'
Advisory Committee (AAC). Considering that in the past the
nominating committee's choice had always been rubber-stamped--no
one had ever even run against the nominee--the degree of
dissatisfaction with the USOC seems striking. "I voted against
Hybl because he didn't seem to have the athletes at heart," says
Mary T. Meagher-Plant, a three-time gold medal swimmer who was
on the 1980 and '84 Olympic teams. "If he educates himself on
athletes' issues, we can go forward."

Hybl is chairman and CEO of the El Pomar Foundation in Colorado
Springs, which has contributed funds to big-name NGBs such as
USA Basketball and the Amateur Softball Association. Before the
election two members of the AAC, luger Bonny Warner and wrestler
Chris Campbell, had charged that those contributions created a
conflict of interest for two members of the nominating
committee--Warren Brown of USA Basketball and Don Porter of the
Amateur Softball Association. Brown and Porter had refused to
follow a recommendation from the USOC ethics panel that they
resign; this refusal had pushed the AAC to urge Lenard to oppose
Hybl.

Lenard says he wants to remain active in the Olympic movement
but distrusts Hybl, whom he considers a politician. As for Hybl,
his diplomatic and conciliatory skills, which even his opponents
praise, will soon be tested.

THIS WEEK'S SIGN THAT THE APOCALYPSE IS UPON US

As a publicity stunt, Eddie (the Eagle) Edwards, the British ski
jumper who finished last in the 1988 Calgary Olympics, is
planning to perform an exhibition jump wearing only a safety
helmet and his skis.

THEY SAID IT

Alberto Tomba
The three-time Olympic gold medalist skier and bon vivant, on
his future cinema career: "We will make a series of films like
Baywatch, but in the mountains. And I am the star."

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)