Once again a New York district attorney, William Cahn of Nassau County, has charged in the press that he has evidence that a college football coach has been gambling on his own team.
Cahn, who first made the allegation five months ago during an extensive investigation into a national gambling ring, was quoted last week as saying that the coach netted $11,000 on one bet. "He denies making the bet, but we have established that the betting of this coach changed the betting pattern throughout the United States," Cahn is reported as saying. Cahn has also pointed out that the placing of such a bet by the coach is not against the law.
But one of the things that Cahn has not done in his much-headlined investigation is name the man involved, and in failing to do so he has cast a shadow on all college football coaches.
Cahn could not care less. He is in the grand tradition of some New York district attorneys, one of whom not long ago got his full share of front pages by passing out subpoenas and hauling the great names of harness racing before a grand jury when he was actually investigating some relatively unknown drivers. "No football coach or NCAA organization is going to tell me how to run my office," Cahn says.
The right and the need for Cahn to conduct an important and complex investigation in his own way cannot be disputed. But his cavalier disregard for the professional reputations of men who are public figures is hard to excuse. It was he who revealed that he had caught a coach betting. He should accept the moral responsibility that goes with the revelation by naming the coach. Then the NCAA and the coach's own college, which might take a harsher view of such betting, could consider suitable action, and the public could stop playing the which-coach-is-it guessing game.
Cahn has said he will name the coach when he sees fit and not one minute before. A cynic might suspect that the fitting time will prove to be during the football season.
The birth last week of 8-pound 10-ounce Patrick Lyndon Nugent, President Johnson's grandson, was no blessed event to Brooklyn's policy racketeers.
When the baby's birth was broadcast Wednesday morning, numbers bettors, the world's most avid hunch players, plunged heavily on combinations of 8, 1 and 0. Brooklyn policy bankers pay on the last three numbers of the total mutuel handle at Aqueduct, and combinations of those numbers. If a number is hit directly, the payoff odds are 500 to 1.
So Wednesday afternoon, when the handle at Aqueduct totaled $2,678,081, the numbers men were in trouble. That night runners and bankers were missing from their hangouts. One bettor went down to get his $3,000 payoff and was found several hours later shot dead. The word is that it may be weeks before some of the numbers banks are back in business.
They might have wondered if they were all playing the same game. At the start of the Vikings' recent staff meetings, new Head Coach Bud Grant, who came to Minnesota from Winnipeg in the Canadian Football League, would talk about a hook, totally baffling his assistants. What he meant was a hook pass, which is a turn to Assistant Jim Carr (an NFL player for nine years), a stop to Assistant Bus Mertes (who transferred from the AFL) and a curl to Assistant Bob Hollway (who came to the Vikings from the Big Ten).
"When we first started," says Grant, "we were always asking, 'What do you mean by that?' " A sideline pass might be called a breakout (by Grant), a squareout (by Carr), an out (by Mertes) or a sideline (by Hollway). Flooding a pass defense zone was flex (Grant), trips (Carr), flood (Mertes) or spread (Hollway). Straight ahead one-on-one blocking was sock (Grant), black (Carr), man (Mertes) or smash (Hollway). The long pass was banana (Grant), up (Carr), wheel (Mertes) or circle (Hollway).
What it all better add up to is a little snap, a significant crackle and lots of pop for the sixth-place Vikings.
The proprietor of the Eclipse Tavern in Tunbridge Wells, England is sponsoring a two-week competition (entry fee 14¢) in which contestants push wooden peas up a hill with their noses. The course is 15 yards long—over cobblestones.
Since the pea pushing is being conducted on a street too narrow for more than two of the 30 entries to compete at once, the championship is being crawled off in heats. Forbidden as unsporting is any move to step on, kneel on or otherwise cover an opponent's pea. But in order to allow the competitors some hope of saving face, the rules permit putting a protective tape on the nose.
The contest is the first in what the sponsor says will be a whole galaxy of such events, to be known as the Tunbridge Wells Festival of Tavern Sports.
We recently quoted Joe DiMaggio: "Oh, I just don't give a rap for baseball anymore. It's just too dull." We were misinformed. He didn't say it, and he doesn't think it.
BUCKING A TREND
What with the Arab-Israeli war and all, his name might have been held against him, but Damascus, the Preakness and Belmont winner, was only the fifth choice of the $2 bettors when he won the recent Leonard Richards Stakes at Delaware Park. Although the colt went off at 1 to 10, the shortest price in the 30-year history of the track, the small bettors were lured by the long prices on such also-entereds as Mr. Scipio (10 to 1), I'm Smiley (11 to 1), Misty Cloud (12 to 1) and Favorable Turn (20 to 1), none of whom ran worth a dime—or a dollar. The $2 players risked only $1,508 on Damascus, while betting $3,050 on Mr. Scipio, their favorite, and $2,492 on Misty Cloud. Meanwhile, of the 115 $100-win tickets sold, all but seven were on Damascus. Which is why the rich get richer.
Our man in London is predicting "with absolute certainty" that Cliff Richey will meet Australia's Roy Emerson in the Wimbledon finals July 8 and that the American will win in straight sets. Any fool can see why, he says. Since 1947 the men's singles title has been won every fourth year by an American, and since 1951 it has been won every odd year in straight sets. The straight-set loser in those odd years has won an average of 10 games. That makes it Richey over Emerson 6-4, 6-3, 6-3. Thank you, London.
The first Negro football player signed by the University of Tennessee—and very likely the most publicized prospective freshman ever to announce he was entering the school—was Albert Davis, a 210-pound, 6'2" halfback from Alcoa, Tenn. Davis is considered the best high school prospect in the south, and Tennessee battled more than 50 colleges, including the likes of Notre Dame, to get him. So feverish was the pursuit that Tennessee President Andrew Holt went to visit Davis to assure him how welcome he would be on the Knoxville campus. Alas, perhaps too welcome, for earlier this month Tennessee had to rescind the scholarship it had offered Davis in April.
It was all a question of numbers. Last January Davis scored a 1092 on the College Entrance Examination Board test, much higher than the 760 required by the Southeastern Conference. Quite a few people were surprised that he did so well because Davis had reportedly scored very low on tests he had taken for practice—in fact, beneath SEC and NCAA entrance requirements. When he graduated from high school this month, he ranked only 115th in a class of 127.
In May The Atlanta Journal ran a story that cast doubts on Davis' ability to score a 1092. This story and, perhaps, challenges from several SEC schools prompted the Educational Testing Service, which administers the college board exams, to investigate. The testing service must have found reason to be concerned, for Davis was told he would have to retake the examination.
When Davis declined any further testing, the university rescinded his scholarship. "He is free to take another examination and present it to the committee or is free to enter the university at his own expense," said Tennessee Football Coach Doug Dickey last week.
Meanwhile, for better test scores or worse, Davis is on the college auction block again.
Last week, accompanied by a lawyer and a state trooper who was presumably sent along to strengthen his resolve, Heavyweight Buster Mathis confronted Cus D'Amato, his manager and mentor for the past 18 months, and told D'Amato that their relationship was terminated.
The syndicate of young millionaires that is backing Mathis announced early in June that it was dropping D'Amato, the controversial fight figure who was largely responsible for the successes (and perhaps the failures) of Floyd Patterson and José Torres.
When D'Amato took him over, Buster had won his seven professional fights but looked worse in the last than he had in the first. He weighed 300 pounds and had regressed technically and emotionally. D'Amato moved into an apartment with the fighter in Rhinebeck, N.Y., where last week's meeting occurred, and in 18 months pared 60 pounds off Buster and taught him to throw a solid punch (SI, Jan. 16). He also made sure, however, that nobody got much of a chance to punch Buster back.
During this period the syndicate says it invested $135,000 in Mathis and, though he was undefeated in 12 bouts under D'Amato, he had only been beating fighters like Charlie Polite, Sonny Moore and Ed Hurley. What rankled the money men was that in the same period Joe Frazier, once considered a less promising fighter than Mathis, had knocked out Eddie Machen, Doug Jones and Billy Daniels and had become the No. 4 ranked heavyweight. Mathis is still unranked.
"D'Amato personally refuses to be a loser, so he holds a fighter back," syndicate member Jimmy Iselin said recently. "That is the main reason why we decided to get rid of him." D'Amato has always had the reputation of bringing fighters along slowly. "A fighter's confidence is a fragile thing," he says, "especially in the case of one like Mathis, who is a compulsive eater. I'm not about to wreck it with a stupid match."
MY BARE LADY
Not since Eliza Doolittle had there been such a fracas at fashionable Ascot. "We are closing our eyes to mini-skirts, but women in trousers are banned," a bowler-hatted official declared last week at England's royal race meeting, eyes presumably tightly closed. Although trying to take a firm stand, the authorities were having difficulty drawing the line in women's dress. Hems, in some instances, were eight inches above the knee. Applying their rule of thumb on trousers, officials did manage to evict one girl from the Royal Enclosure who was wearing a mini and pantaloons. A gateman, spying her pink panties, described the outfit as "Bermuda knickers." She herself said she was not sure if it was "a mini-skirt or a maxi-sweater."
An aide of the Duke of Norfolk—who has no peer in British protocol and who decrees the proper attire for Ascot—said, "After all, men make such a tremendous effort to dress smartly, women should make the effort, too."
Obviously overlooked by the distracted Ascot fashion arbiters was the young dandy who appeared in topper, tails—and green argyle socks.
THEY SAID IT
•Charlie Greene, University of Nebraska track star, asked why he wore his dark glasses, even while running at night: "Man, they're not shades. They're my re-entry shields."
•Dick Groat, who is now wearing No. 20 for the Giants: "Last week was the first time I ever walked onto a professional baseball field not wearing No. 24. But there is no way I'll ever get that number in San Francisco."