WILLING AND ABLE
Despite an awkward search process, Notre Dame ended up with the
This much is true: On New Year's Eve, Notre Dame made the most
of an unfortunate mulligan when it hired Tyrone Willingham as
football coach to fill the void left by the disgraced George
O'Leary. Willingham, the coach at Stanford for the past seven
seasons, is tireless, principled and respected by his peers.
Putting him in the corner office at the Joyce Athletic and
Convocation Center, across the street from Notre Dame Stadium,
gives the school reason to congratulate itself for finding a
Once that feeling subsides, however, thorny issues will confront
the Irish. Athletic director Kevin White has a reputation as a
slick, image-conscious administrator, but his search for a coach
was clumsy, making Notre Dame appear ill-prepared and out of the
loop. For instance, White first contacted Willingham shortly
after firing Bob Davie yet didn't interview him until after
talking to at least five other current head coaches. Two of
them--Alabama's Dennis Franchione and Washington's Rick
Neuheisel--were never plausible options, and one, Mike Belotti
of Oregon, was 1-4 against Willingham.
White's rationale for hiring O'Leary--that he was "something out
of central casting...second-generation Irish Catholic, great
passion to be at Notre Dame"--is embarrassing. You don't cast a
football coach, unless it's Pat O'Brien. More pointedly, while
O'Leary was the guy who fluffed up his resume, White was the guy
who didn't check it out. Notre Dame came out of the episode
looking small-time. Willingham must make recruits forget that.
January 7, 2002
Willingham has other personal challenges ahead. He was 44-36-1
in seven years at Stanford, a winning percentage of .549 and
good enough to be considered a success with the Cardinal. Davie
was 35-25 in five years at Notre Dame, a percentage of .583,
which was good enough to get him fired. Still, Willingham is the
right fit. The Irish didn't hire him to advance the cause of
minority coaches (although it might have that effect); they
hired him because he's able. He's a voracious recruiter who got
talent to Stanford despite more stringent admissions standards
than those at Notre Dame. He motivated athletes to perform and
is relentlessly organized.
In many ways Willingham's arrival in South Bend mirrors Lou
Holtz's hiring in 1985. Holtz took over a slothful team and
shook it to life with discipline. At the first squad meeting he
famously commanded a returning starter to take his feet off a
chair or be removed from the program. Similarly, Willingham
demands maturity. "He sits so straight in the chair that he
makes you sit straight too," said Stanford linebacker Chris
Draft (now with the Atlanta Falcons) in the fall of 1995. "He's
a little man, but you respect him immediately."
The mention of Notre Dame once commanded respect. Now, the place
could use some.
How the last five Notre Dame coaches fared in their first season.
Ara Parseghian (1964) Went 9-1; lost to USC in final game.
Dan Devine (1975) An 8-3 record included surprise losses to
Michigan State and Pittsburgh, both unranked.
Gerry Faust (1981) Ranked No. 1 early but finished 5-6 for the
Irish's first losing season since 1963.
Lou Holtz (1986) A 5-6 record was the only below-.500 season of
Bob Davie (1997) Started 1-4 but finished 7-6, including a 33-15
loss to Willingham's Cardinal.
DICK SCHAAP, 1934-2001
A FATHER'S GIFT
Dick Schaap, who wrote nearly 30 sports books and was the
avuncular host of ESPN's The Sports Reporters, died on Dec. 21,
at age 67. His son Jeremy, 32, a reporter for ESPN since 1996,
shares this remembrance of his dad.
My father saw Bill Mazeroski end the 1960 World Series with a
home run, he saw Jerry Kramer throw the block that won the Ice
Bowl, he saw Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier pummel each other in
Manila, and he saw Reggie Jackson hit one home run in Game 6 of
the 1977 World Series. Jackson, of course, hit three home runs
to help the Yankees beat the Dodgers in that game. My father saw
him hit the first, off Burt Hooton. When Jackson hit his second,
my father was at a concession stand buying me popcorn. When
Jackson hit his third, my father was buying me a soda.
Eventually, he forgave me. I think.
A year after Jackson's big night, my father took me to Fenway
Park for a one-game playoff between the Red Sox and the Yankees.
I was too young to sit in the press box, so he asked some
players if anyone had spare tickets. "Sure," said Yankees
shortstop Bucky Dent. "You can have mine." That's how we came to
be sitting in Bucky Dent's seats when he hit the game-winning
three-run home run that Boston fans still cry over.
I was privileged to spend those moments with my father, to tag
along at Super Bowls, Olympics and World Series. But the moments
I remember best were the quieter ones watching him at work. For
me, my father is a sound: the steady click of his fingers on the
keyboard, a cadence I remember awakening to from earliest
There was always something that had to be written, usually at
six in the morning. A book, a television script, a magazine
article, a theater review, a radio or TV commentary. He loved
writing. My father often said that when you love your job as
much as he did, it wasn't work. That's why I wanted to be a
sports reporter--I wanted to have as much fun as he had.
I would love to go with him to one more game at Lambeau Field or
Madison Square Garden. But what I'd really like is to wake up
once more to that sound, the clack-clack of the keyboard--the
soundtrack of his life.
Q In Muhammad Ali's first bout with Sonny Liston, in 1964, did
Liston doctor his gloves in order to blind Ali, as depicted in
the movie Ali?
A That Ali temporarily lost his vision in the fourth round is
well documented; Ali returned to his corner after the round and
told trainer Angelo Dundee that "dirty work [was] afoot." But
Liston, who died in 1970, never admitted cheating. Dundee
believes the blinding was accidental and that either medication
applied to a cut on Liston's cheek or liniment rubbed on
Liston's shoulder got into Ali's eyes.
Conspiracy theorists are plentiful, however. "There's a general
belief that doctoring did happen," says boxing historian Bert
Sugar. In David Remnick's 1998 Ali biography, King of the World,
Philadelphia Daily News reporter Jack McKinney says Liston's
cornerman Joe Pollino admitted applying something--Pollino never
said what--to his boxer's gloves. "Immediately after the fight
Joe, who was very close to me, unburdened himself to me,"
McKinney says in the book. "He told me Sonny had told him to
juice the gloves, and he went ahead and did it." What is
evident, at least, is that Ali's eyes cleared in the fifth
round, and two rounds later he was heavyweight champion of the
How to score on Patrick Roy
The Avalanche's crooked-nosed, quick-shinned MVP won his 500th
career game on Dec. 26, a milestone that no other NHL goalie has
neared. (Terry Sawchuk's 447 victories are second alltime.)
Roy's butterfly style is causing shooters to gnash their teeth
as much now (through last Wednesday, he had a league-best 1.83
goals-against average) as it did 16 years ago when as a rookie
he led the Canadiens to the Stanley Cup. What's a scorer to do?
Here are four ways to try to beat him.
1. LURE HIM FROM HIS CAGE When Roy thinks he can reach a free
puck, he'll skate far from the net to play it. If he mishandles
it, as he did in Game 4 of last season's Cup final against the
Devils, the shooter has an open net. "The best thing might be to
give him the puck and see if he gives it right back to you,"
says Flyers' sniper John LeClair.
2. BE YOURSELF Roy's swaggering presence can get a scorer off
his game, and as the Red Wings' Brendan Shanahan says, "The
worst thing you can do is change your style. His biggest
advantage is that shooters do something they're not used to
3. PERSEVERE Roy likes to drop down and seal the goal at ice
level. That can leave the top corners unattended, but those are
the hardest places to direct a puck. Also, since Roy is 6'2" and
has a quick glove, you won't beat him high without a perfect
shot. "I can't think of a weak spot," says Jarome Iginla, the
Flames' best scorer. "So you just shoot enough and hope he makes
a mistake on one." If even that fails....
4. LOOK TO THE HEAVENS In the words of Toronto Maple Leafs right
wing Mikael Renberg: "Shoot and pray."
Word for Word
So you're an English soccer fan rooting on your team at this
summer's World Cup in Japan, and you want your taunts and
epithets to have an authentic local ring. What do you do?
Picking up where Berlitz leaves off, Expedia, an online travel
company, has thoughtfully prepared a handbook of Japanese
phrases for traveling soccer fans. Here are some excerpts.
Come on referee--are you blind?
Referee, mewa mieteru no?
Who ate all the sushi? [To be directed toward an overweight
player on the opposing team.]
Sushi o zembu kutta nowa dareda?
You're not singing anymore. [To be directed at an opposing
Mo koe mo denai daro.
Stand up if you hate [fill in opposing player's name].
[Player name] ga kirai nara tachiagare.
Always look on the bright side of life.
Itsudemo maemuki de iyo ze.
It's coming home, it's coming home, football's coming home.
Kuru zo, kuru zo, Foot-ball ga yatte kuru.
To be an NFL players' agent, baseball's ruthless superagent
Scott Boras, who will take an NFL Players Association
certification test later this month. Boras's prospective first
client: former Stanford QB Chad Hutchinson.
By Queen Elizabeth II, the title of Commander of the Order of
the British Empire upon boxer Lennox Lewis. The title, which is
one rank below knighthood, was also conferred upon Barry,
Maurice and Robin Gibb--a.k.a. the Bee Gees.
In Los Angeles Superior Court, a suit claiming that Lakers guard
Kobe Bryant owes $362,156 to Calex Engineering, a company that
remodeled Bryant's Pacific Palisades property. Two other suits
by construction companies accusing Bryant of nonpayment for
services are also pending against him. Lawyers for Bryant told
the Los Angeles Times that the suits are "without merit."
Stefan Teelen, a player for Belgium's First Division soccer team
Racing Genk, of waving his genitals at opposition fans from the
team bus; the exposure was allegedly seen by an off-duty
policeman and could result in a 12-month prison sentence.
A hip-hop concert that was to be held at an East Hartford,
Conn., nightclub on Dec. 30, due to poor attendance. Rap fan
O.J. Simpson. had been scheduled to host the event, for which
800 tickets were available. Only 100 people showed up.
The Jan. 1 inauguration of New York City mayor Michael
Bloomberg, by Mets pitcher Al Leiter, who, in light of former
mayor Rudy Giuliani's passion for the Yankees, said he was
representing "constituencies that may feel they've been ignored."
Another good omen for the Wizards: Michael Jordan is looking to
put down roots near Washington, D.C. Jordan and his wife,
Juanita, have reportedly started shopping for houses in Potomac,
Md., an exclusive area featuring large properties close to good
private schools. The couple toured a $4 million, 10-acre
residence that boasted seven bedrooms, a pool and a tennis
court. Last October, Jordan came close to buying a $3.9 million
house in D.C.'s ritzy Palisades neighborhood but decided instead
to lease a condo in the Ritz-Carlton Hotel and Residences....
With Dennis Miller's second year on Monday Night Football ending
on Monday, now may be a good time to ask: Is he a hit with his
comic peers? The answer is a clear and unfunny no. "Could I do
that job? Could I make obscure references designed to prove how
smart I am rather than make people laugh?" asks Fox NFL Sunday's
Jimmy Kimmel. "No, but I also think he's not good at the job. He
got it into his head that he has to prove how much he knows
about football, and that's not important. What's important is
making people laugh." Jay Mohr, whose talk show, Mohr Sports,
debuts on ESPN in February, has also been disappointed. "A guy
that just got off a double shift at Napa Auto Parts doesn't want
to go through a dictionary to look up a word," says Mohr. "I
think I'm of above-average intelligence, and he loses me a third
of the time." ...The Super Bowl is the most-watched show of the
year, so rival networks usually offer little competition. Not
this year: NBC is fighting back against Fox's telecast of the
big game with...frightened Bunnies. During halftime NBC will air
a special edition of its popular reality show, Fear Factor,
featuring six Playboy Playmates as contestants. "Instead of
rolling over and playing dead on Super Bowl night, we thought
we'd have a little fun," says NBC Entertainment president Jeff
Zucker. In past episodes contestants have had to eat sheep
eyeballs and lie in a vat of snakes. No word yet on what stunts
the Playmates will do, except that one will be
underwater--guaranteeing the sight of Bunnies in swimsuits.
Consecutive games in which the Islanders have failed to defeat
the Capitals--New York is 0-18-3 in those matches--after a 3-2
loss on New Year's Day.
Racers who died on the Daytona International Speedway in 2001, a
track record: NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt, two motorcyclists
and go-kart driver Michael Davis Jr., who crashed during a Dec.
Generations of the Shea family (SI, Dec. 17) to qualify for the
Olympics now that Jim Jr. has made the 2002 U.S. skeleton team,
following the paths of grandfather Jack, a speed-skater, and
father Jim, a cross-country skier.
Salary for Yomiuri Giants outfielder Hideki Matsui (.333, 36 HR,
104 RBI last season), a Japan League record for a one-year
This Week's Sign of the Apocalypse
An interactive poll in the midst of ESPN's bowl coverage asked
viewers, "From which bowl sponsor would you most like a gift
"My father is a sound: the steady click of fingers on the
They Said It
GEORGE W. BUSH
U.S. President, upon meeting Diamondbacks general manager Joe
Garagiola Jr.: "I'm always suspicious of guys who've got a famous