Like Father, LikeSon
Ohio State freshman guard Mike Conley Jr., son of the 1992 Olympic triple jumpchampion, attempted a monumental leap of his own in trying to score overFlorida's Dan Werner on Dec. 23 in Gainesville, Fla. Conley and the Buckeyescame up short against the Gators 86--60, but the schools meet again—infootball—on Monday, for the BCS championship (page 50).
Twenty-seven of this season's record 32 college bowl games had been playedthrough New Year's Day, and here are some of the players and coaches whoemerged victorious from all 27 (page 46).
TCU 37, Northern Illinois 7 12/19/06 • Jeff Ballard
BYU 38, Oregon 8 12/21/06 • John Beck
January 8, 2007
Troy 41, Rice 17 12/22/06 • Omar Haugabook
South Florida 24, East Carolina 7 12/23/06 • Pat Julmiste (left) and S.J.Green
San Jose State 20, New Mexico 12 12/23 /06 • James Jones
Utah 25, Tulsa 13 12/23 /06 • Kyle Whittingham
Rutgers 37, Kansas State 10 12/28/06 • Ray Rice
Cal 45, Texas A&M 10 12/28/06 • Marshawn Lynch
South Carolina 44, Houston 36 12/29/06 • Sidney Rice
Texas Tech 44, Minnesota 41 OT 12/29/06 • Graham Harrell
Texas 26, Iowa 24 12/30/06 • Colt McCoy
Georgia 31, Virginia Tech 24 12 /30/06 • Tony Taylor
USC 32, Michigan 18 1/1/07 • John David Booty (10)
Boise State 43, Oklahoma 42 OT 1/1/07 • Ian Johnson
Wisconsin 17, Arkansas 14 1/1/07 • John Stocco
West Virginia 38, Georgia Tech 35 1/1/07 • Pat White
Auburn 17, Nebraska 14 1/1/07 • Brandon Cox
Penn State 20, Tennessee 10 1/1/07 • Tony Davis
Miami 21, Nevada 20 12/31/06 • Larry Coker
Boston College 25, Navy 24 12/30/06 • Steve Aponavicius
Maryland 24, Purdue 7 12/29/06 • Lance Ball
Oregon State 39, Missouri 38 12/29/06 • Yvenson Bernard
Kentucky 28, Clemson 20 12/29/06 • Andre Woodson
Central Michigan 31, Middle Tennessee State 14 12/26 /06 • Jeff Quinn
Hawaii 41, Arizona State 24 12/24/06 • Colt Brennan
Florida State 44, UCLA 27 12/27/06 • Lorenzo Booker
Oklahoma State 34, Alabama 31 12/28/06 • Bobby Reid
GERALD R. FORD
Even when his golf game had slipped and he no longer skied, Gerald Fordwondered whether he should have turned pro. Alone among our presidents, he wasa genuine big-time athlete. After riding the bench for a couple of very goodMichigan football teams, he came into his own as the Wolverines' MVP in 1934and played center in two All-Star games, going against the Chicago Bears backwhen college kids played the pro champs. Professional football was in itsrelative infancy then, but this was during the Depression and the leagueoffered real paychecks: $110 a game. Still, Ford passed up the Green BayPackers and the Detroit Lions, choosing to become an assistant football coachand freshman boxing coach at Yale, where, a few years later, he attended lawschool. He often mused on the road not taken. "I've wondered if one year ofplaying pro ball might have been a good thing," he told SI's MichaelBamberger in 2005, for a story that appeared in The New Republic. "Good forthe résumé."
For most of hispolitical life Ford, who died on Dec. 26 at age 93, was a steadfast presence inthe House of Representatives; elected 13 times, he served 24 years, eight asRepublican minority leader. That career more than fulfilled his politicalambitions, which had never gone beyond becoming speaker of the House. But aseries of events catapulted him to the presidency during a singularly toughperiod. President Richard Nixon, who had always enjoyed Ford's backing, turnedto him in 1973, when Spiro Agnew resigned the vice presidency in disgrace. Andthen the nation relied on Ford when Nixon resigned the presidency in 1974 inthe wake of the Watergate scandal.
As an accidentalpresident, Ford hardly enjoyed a mandate, yet he sorted through the politicalmess and set a new agenda for the country. Secretary of State Henry Kissingersaid of Ford, "He was called to heal the nation's wounds after... theVietnam War and Watergate had produced the most severe divisions since theCivil War." One step toward that healing was his blanket pardon of Nixon.Though it was characterized by some as a political payoff, Ford always insistedthat the pardon was necessary to save the country years of trauma.
History hasjudged him kindly in that regard, even if he was sometimes presented unfairly.America's most athletic president and one of the best football players of hisgeneration was relentlessly portrayed—and will therefore be remembered by toomany—as a klutz. Ford had the misfortune of coming along at the same time asSaturday Night Live. All presidents have been fair game, but Ford, whoseMidwestern decency might have frustrated lesser satirists, became a favoritetarget for the show and, in particular, for cast member Chevy Chase. It didn'tmatter that Ford, in his presidential years, remained a dignified man (even ifhe did stumble while deplaning); hardly a week passed when "President"Chase didn't walk into a door, fall off a stool or somehow injure innocentbystanders.
Ford was hardlyembittered by the skewering. His son Jack says the caricature bothered hisfamily far more than it concerned the president, who probably understood, afterall those years spent around athletes, then politicians, that if comedy wasn'ta bit cruel, it wouldn't be funny. "It wasn't his personality to takehimself so seriously," Jack says.
After losing toJimmy Carter in 1976, Ford segued into political retirement. He served oncorporate boards and golfed near his home in Rancho Mirage, Calif. But he neverstopped speaking out, whether supporting his wife, whose Betty Ford Centerhelped revolutionize the rehab movement, or criticizing President George W.Bush and Ford Administration wunderkinds Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney forthe war in Iraq.
Visitors to hisdesert retreat were surprised to discover a man so at peace with himself. Butwhy wouldn't he be? Until the end he remained an athlete—swimming, golfing,challenging his physical self—and he maintained friendships with fellowathletes from several generations. He had the satisfaction of knowing that hehad always played hard and by the rules; the wins and the losses were what theywere.
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A star at Michigan, Ford (in 1934) turned down offers from the Packers and theBears but never abandoned sports.