Tough Love

I'll be framingyour Oct. 16 cover and hanging it on my wall at work. I'm in the U.S. AirForce, and wherever I'm stationed, I tell college football fans that the SEC isthe toughest conference. I'd like to see Michigan, Ohio State, Texas or USC getthrough a season in the SEC and come out undefeated.
Tech. Sgt. Mark Godwin, U.S. Air Force
RAF Lakenheath, U.K.

As a Tennessee fanI loved the cover, but, more important, you described the near impossibility ofwinning the national championship as a member of the SEC (Battle of the South,Oct. 16). Auburn went undefeated—including a conference championship gamewin—two years ago and did not even get a chance to play for the nationalchampionship.
Mike McGowan, Canton, Ga.

Why did Battle ofthe South ignore how weak the lower part of the SEC is? If it's true thatFlorida, Tennessee, Auburn, and LSU are the toughest top tier of teams in anyconference, then it's equally true that no major conference has a worse lowerdivision than Ole Miss, Kentucky, Vandy and Mississippi State.
Steven C. Silverman, Englewood, Colo.

Maybe if SEC teamsstopped playing Wofford, Florida International and Western Carolina, they wouldnot have to whine about being left out of the BCS championship every year.
Ryan Krench, Seattle

Eye on theTigers

Your story on theAmerican League Division Series was a prime example of why I read SI (BlownAway, Oct. 16). Instead of writing endlessly about the Yankees'"collapse," Tom Verducci focused on the Detroit Tigers—the team thatwon—a welcome relief for me and many others.
Craig Keeton, Ashland, Va.

Running It Up

I can't believeDan Lawrence, a high school football coach in Connecticut whose team won bymore than 50 points, got a one-game suspension (HIGH SCHOOL PLAYERS, Oct. 16).Is it the winning team's job to keep the score close? Good sportsmanship isseen in how the players play the game, not on the scoreboard. I am curious asto what Connecticut plans to do to coaches of individual sports like golf andtrack. I don't look forward to seeing a sprinter slow down to a jog to"keep it close" or a golfer purposely miss putts to make the opponentfeel better. Those situations would be ridiculous, and so is taking a knee inthe third quarter of a football game to keep from being suspended.
Todd Schumacher, Pasco, Wash.

What is the coachsupposed to do if he is winning by a lot: put in the flute section from theband and have them punt on first down? Maybe Connecticut needs a new rule thatrequires a mandatory group hug after any game that doesn't end in a tie.
Robert F. Weidman, Newark, Del.

The PopularityGap

One reason the NFLgets a pass from fans in response to the boorish and criminal behavior of somany of its players is simple: NFL football has morphed from a sporting eventto an entertainment spectacle (SCORECARD, Oct. 9). Today's NFL has more incommon with reality TV than with the game pioneered by Paul Brown and GeorgeHalas. The NBA should be grateful it is being held to a tougher standard;that's an indication that their fans—and the media—still view basketball as anathletic endeavor, unlike Survivor NFL.
Tom Griffo, Hillsborough, N.J.

As a black man Iam infuriated that, once again, some people are playing the race card to excusebad behavior on the part of professional athletes. If the facts show that themajority of misbehavers in the NBA are black, then we should look within to seehow we can correct this malady, rather than blaming others for racist opinions.In the past year the sports with the most negative news have been baseball andcycling. If someone were to say that they were viewed negatively because theywere mostly white, we would laugh.
Bill Lawson, Reston, Va.

Operation Push

Thank you for yourarticle on Patrick Henry Hughes and his father, Patrick John Hughes, who pusheshis son's wheelchair during performances by the Louisville marching band (LIFEOF REILLY, Oct. 16). My wife and I have a two-year-old son, Matthew, who has agenetic disease called spinal muscular atrophy (type 2) that devastated ourworld. At best Matthew will be relegated to a wheelchair, and the worst issomething I cannot stand to describe. I am a research scientist dedicated tofinding new drugs to extend and enhance human life, and to be unable to help my"little man" is unfathomable. Reilly's column made me think of thebright future that I hope Matthew and I will have together. If Matthew and Ican grow up to be half the men that the Hugheses are, we will surely be asuccess.
Tim Reilly, Manlius, N.Y.

Wouldn't thisfather-son team be a refreshing TV reality show? It's much more inspiring thanThe Bachelor or any show about Paris Hilton and her friend. Hats off toLouisville and the Hugheses.
John C. Hayes, Albany, N.Y.

Eureka Moments

I was fascinatedby A Brief History of Bad Ideas (SCORECARD, Oct. 16). The blue glowing puck,which you cited, produced no real change, good or bad, for the players or thespectators in the arena, but it did make the puck easier to see on TV. It alsoturned red and produced a "comet tail" when hit toward the net with aslap shot. Following the puck made it more enjoyable to watch hockey on TV andwould have, eventually, led to more fans watching at home. Bring back theglowing puck!
Tim J. Cooper, Lonaconing, Md.

Valuev Added

L. Jon Wertheimquestioned whether 7-foot, 328-pound Nikolay Valuev can actually fight (SizeMatters, Oct. 9). After seeing Valuev's destruction of Monte Barrett, however,I think that's like asking if Shaquille O'Neal can man the point. Whatdifference does it make? Valuev brings a different dimension to the fight game.Just seeing him step over the ropes was worth the price of admission.
William Leslie, Chicago

ChemicalReaction

I suspect that,yes, Patrick Arnold is Dr. Evil (Is This Dr. Evil? Oct. 9). Arnold says,"They are superstars making millions, and I'm getting a pittance. I'm theone getting maligned in the press and going to prison, and they are stillplaying. I got the raw end of the deal." Shame on all theperformance-enhancing drug manufacturers and distributors. They should face thefull penalty of the law.
Matt Bonachea, Fair Oaks, Calif.

Fresh Faces

Great coverage onBrigham Young, Missouri, New Hampshire, Northern Illinois, Rutgers, TexasChristian and Wake Forest (Mighty Surprising and INSIDE COLLEGE FOOTBALL, Oct.9). Thanks for acknowledging that college football is about so much more thanthe usual subjects.
Marty Lange, Austin

What a joy to beable to tell my friends, "Rutgers is in SI," and not have the articlebe titled, Why Can't Rutgers Ever Win? (Aug. 25, 2003).
Matthew Taylor, Alexandria, Va.

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PHOTODAVID BERGMAN

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