It is perfectly clear that Georgia's Wally Butts committed an indiscretion when he discussed his team's offensive and defensive formations with Alabama's Bear Bryant. That cannot be denied, but the importance of the information conveyed by Butts to the attentive Bryant has been magnified many times over, most recently by Eugene Cook, the Attorney General of Georgia.
Last week Cook summed up a two-week investigation. Butts, he said, gave Bryant "vital and important information that could have affected the outcome" of the Georgia-Alabama game. Nothing in the testimony Cook heard should have led him to that conclusion. A close examination of an 18-page, single-spaced typewritten transcript of an interrogation of Johnny Griffith, who succeeded Butts as Georgia's coach, does not reveal a single specific instance where Butts's words worked to Alabama's advantage. Griffith's main point—that Butts told Bryant what formations Georgia would use—was vitiated by his admission that not once during the game did he feel that Alabama had any foreknowledge of his plays.
Georgia, Griffith told SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, "called about the usual number of 'audibles' [signals at the line of scrimmage] against Alabama. That would be three or four." In other words, all but a few of Georgia's plays were called in the secrecy of the huddle. As Texas Coach Darrell Royal pointed out in this magazine last week, it is more important for a defending team to know when a particular play is going to be used than merely to know the play itself.
As we said last week, if Attorney General Cook has further evidence against Butts, he should disclose it. If not, his attempt to impugn Butts by press release—rather than due process—is a disservice to football and to justice.
A LITTLE EDUCATION
Fishermen always complain about the tiny fish they catch in stocked streams. You can't blame the fishermen, but neither can you blame the fish. Since they are no longer being fed regularly as they were at the hatchery, they are hungry. They strike at the first lure they see and never grow up into mean, frustrating but delightfully huge old lunkers.
A South Carolina hatchery took steps to solve this problem. Before they transferred their largest bass to public waters, the attendants put the rookies through a vigorous spring training, fishing for them with fly rods and barbless-hook lures. At first the bass slammed the lures with reckless abandon, but after being jerked around on the end of a fly line for a while they smartened up. In a month it was hard to fool them, and they were deemed ready for the big leagues. Now they're sulking around under logs, sneering at the best lures money can buy, and growing into nice, big trophy fish. The fishermen are still complaining, of course, but it's better to have them moaning about fish they haven't caught than fish they have.
Harold Wilson, leader of Great Britain's Labor Party and the winter book favorite to succeed Harold Macmillan as Prime Minister, is a sports fan. Like Macmillan he is a golfer, but his real love is soccer, which sits well on a Labor Party leader. (One would guess that a Conservative Party leader would prefer cricket.) When Wilson was 11 years old, in 1927, his father began taking him to see the local soccer club, Huddersfield Town, and to this day Wilson carries a picture of that year's team in his wallet. He can recite the names of all the 1927 players from memory, and even though Huddersfield Town has fallen into the second division of the English Football League, Wilson's interest in the club continues unabated. "How's Huddersfield doing?" he will ask almost anywhere of anyone who looks as though he might know.
His golf is more of an acquired habit, though like all lovers of the game he is always swinging a club. He practices by chipping golf balls over the roof of his home in Hampstead, London. Golf Writer Henry Longhurst of The Sunday Times of London commented recently: "For a potential prime minister, [Wilson's] action seems very promising. The full turn of the shoulders and the half turn of the hips will commend themselves to all students of the game. But perhaps the most important thing is that Mr. Wilson is a golfer at all, and therefore by definition a tolerant and understanding man."
THE CUSTOMS GAME
One day in August 1961 a German freight car loaded with wooden planks arrived in Lyons, France. A customs official asked an agent of the American Machine & Foundry Company, "What do you intend to do with that imported wood?" "They are floor planks for bowling alleys at the Palais des Congr√®s," was the reply. The customs man slowly thumbed through his thick book of rates. "You must pay a duty of 5% for importing wood to make floors," he decreed.
A year later French customs officials reopened the matter. They demanded another $2,627, on the grounds that the use made of the imported wood put it in the category of "un jeu," that is, a game. Instead of 5%, customs wanted 22% duty, same as for playing cards.
The Lyons agent of AMF appealed. His attorney argued that bowling is not a "game," like cards, but a sport. However, the customs attorney argued that the Customs Cooperation Council in Brussels had ruled that bowling was a game, not a sport.
Judge Fernand Ceccaldi threw out the Brussels document on the grounds that it had never been officially published or officially submitted to him. And, as neither the judge nor the attorneys had ever seen a bowling alley, the court adjourned to the Lyons lanes to watch a few games.
Now the judge has made his ruling. Since the wood was not used for floors, the 5% duty on flooring could not apply. "On the other hand," said this Daniel come to judgment, "bowling involves throwing 16-pound balls down an 80-foot track. It contributes to the physical development of those who participate. Consequently, bowling is not a game but a sport. Therefore, the tariff rate is neither 5% nor 22%, but 17%."
The litigants departed, and the sound of the bowling ball was heard in the land.
THE SEARCH FOR RING SAFETY
With the death of ex-Featherweight Champion Davey Moore still fresh in its mind, the New York State Athletic Commission set down some new rules for boxing last week. From now on gloves used in championship matches will weigh eight ounces instead of six. If a fighter is knocked down, he must take an eight-second count before the fight is continued—the rule may not be waived in championship fights, as was formerly and commonly done. Should a fighter be knocked down three times in a round, he will lose the fight on a technical knockout. The commission also set up an experimental program which it hopes will improve ring safety: four ring ropes in place of the standard three, and two-minute rounds instead of three-minute rounds for four-round preliminary bouts.
The commission's experiments may make boxing a safer sport, but in the New York State Joint Legislative Committee report, from which the commission got its lead for reform, there is a recommendation that could be of far greater long-range value. The report proposes that a clinical study of gloves, headgear and ring materials be undertaken by Cornell University, which has done extensive research on the effects of automobile accidents on the human body. There is a widely held theory that boxing gloves, instead of preventing serious injury, contribute to it, but no one has ever proved or disproved that idea. Some say that an eight-ounce glove is actually more dangerous than a six-ounce glove because the 25% increase in weight in the heavier glove is concentrated in the bulky padding around the wrist, instead of over the striking surface of the fist, so that it merely becomes a heavier weapon. It is also argued that the bandaging used under the gloves, ostensibly to protect the fighter's hands from damage, has become instead part of the fighter's offensive equipment. With bandaging he can hit harder and inflict more injury.
In the last week three more boxers—two in Australia and one in Carbondale, Pa.—were killed in the ring. If the projected Cornell study needs a sponsoring agency, we suggest the World Boxing Association. Here is a way for the WBA to do something significant.
KIN OF CARRY BACK
The 1963 Kentucky Derby is still three weeks away, but nonetheless we have a long shot for you for the 1964 renewal. The colt's name is Lepanto, he is a Puerto Rican and he has won only a few two-furlong nursery races at El Comandante track in San Juan. But what intrigues us is the fact that he's a son of Saggy, who is also sire of Carry Back, the crowd-pleasing, come-from-behind winner of the 1961 Derby. Admittedly, a two-furlong race in Puerto Rico is a far, far cry from a mile and a quarter in Kentucky, but Stanley Sagner, owner of Saggy, says that Lepanto "right now looks as good as any 2-year-old I have ever seen at this stage of development, and that includes Saggy and Carry Back." Lepanto's owner, Dr. Eduardo Maldonado Sierra, declares that he does not intend to overwork the colt, which will interest those who felt that Jack Price ran Carry Back as though he were a taxicab. Dr. Maldonado says that Lepanto loves to run more than any other horse he has ever owned, but he admits that he hadn't regarded the colt as Derby material until critics began to talk of him as such.
Well, we told you it was a long shot, but, even so, arriba Lepanto!
If anybody had told such U.S. golf champions as Gene Littler, Jay Hebert and Tommy Bolt that they would be beaten in the Masters last week by a wispy bit of a Formosan named Chen Ching-po, they would have packed up their cashmere sweaters and vowed never to cross the border into Georgia again. But by last Sunday night Chen had beaten this esteemed trio and a great many others, too, had finished 15th and had won himself $1,100 and a lot of applause.
A 31-year-old pro at the Tokyo Country Club, Chen was invited to the Masters because he was the Japanese Open champion, but nobody expected him to play as if he intended to be the Masters champion, too. Chen started his Augusta visit on Wednesday by tying George Bayer in the par-3 tournament that precedes the Masters play and teaching Arnold Palmer a Japanese description of Arnie's drives: "Ichi-ban long hit." Palmer laughed, the 10,000 fans watching the par-3 event laughed and all was international goodwill. Chen shot a mediocre 76 on the opening day, but on Friday he had a 71, which is pretty ichi-ban. In Saturday's deluge he shot another 71, a score that not one player at Augusta could better. He finished Sunday with a 75 and a total of 293. By ending up among the top 24 he automatically qualifies for next year's Masters. Asked if he would return to Augusta, he said, "Oh yes. Come back when rain is gone. Do better." If do much better, win tournament.
THEY SAID IT
•Jess Neely, Rice football coach, when asked if it isn't tough to open against a strong team like LSU every year: "Well, yes, but then you remember the 70,000 fans who saw us play in Houston two years ago and the 68,000 in Baton Rouge last September—and it isn't so tough."
•Zorro Versalles, Minnesota shortstop, criticized for talking too much last season, to a reporter: "Yes, I would like to heet better—but that ees off the record."
•Serge Boudreault, Baltimore Clipper hockey wingman, when asked what touched off the free-swinging battle with Cleveland Player-Coach Fred Glover in Cleveland: "He had me up against the boards and was holding my stick. I couldn't get loose, so I bit him."
•Red Auerbach, Boston Celtic coach, discussing his basketball team's loss of a playoff game to Cincinnati: "The thing people don't understand is that this team can lose games sometimes. The team doesn't understand it either."
•Paul Richards, Houston Colt general manager: "This business about the old-time players being better leaves me cold. Today's players are more serious, more dedicated and smarter."