Frank Deford is either the world's greatest writer or the world's biggest fraud. As I sat reading his story on my old buddy Bill Currie (The Mouth of the South, Jan. 29), I had the strange feeling that Currie had written it himself. Surely, Bill Currie is the greatest and most interesting collegiate sports announcer in the country. And this comes from a fellow who, as a basketball play-by-play announcer for Clemson and later as color man for Furman, had to compete against the Mouth.
The fine article about Bill Currie was the best I have read in your magazine since I started to subscribe. Although I am a North Carolina State fan and not a Carolina fan, I love to hear Bill Currie broadcast the Tar Heel games. He makes me feel like I'm really at the game and not 100 miles away.
As an avid fan of the Mouth of the South, I can tell those who haven't had the pleasure of hearing him that he is fantastic.
There is not much you couldn't say about Bill Currie, but I believe that he is not only the funniest but also the best sportscaster in the country today. Thanks to SI for your captivating article; but even bigger thanks to Bill Currie just for being Bill Currie.
After reading Tex Maule's article on computerized scouting (Make No Mistakes About It, Jan. 29), I was compelled to write you. Salam Qureishi stated that football "will always be dependent upon human inspiration and human error." If this be the case, I see no reason for using computers to determine a team's weak and strong points and give that team an unjust advantage over its opponent. Football definitely is a game in which the results depend on the performance of humans and not on the efficiency of a bundle of wires.
An Indian helping the Cowboys? That's a switch!
San Jose, Calif.
I have to take exception to Bob Ottum's coverage of the recent U.S. Figure Skating Championships (Bold Bourkey for John Misha, Jan. 29) when he characterizes the school figures as "this sort of silly warm-up." Perhaps he allowed himself to be too carried away by the spectacular free-skating exhibition of Petkevich. Freestyle skating might be said to represent the outer art of figure skating, while the intricate tracing of the school or compulsory figures represents its inner art. The latter demands unwavering poise, delicate balance, rare accuracy and the will and patience for ceaseless practice—which some freestyle skaters find irksome, to their detriment. Moreover, there is something quietly inspiring in the way a Peggy Fleming, completely concentrated, gracefully traces the school figures.
New York City
Congratulations on a great article by Bob Ottum. For the second year in a row he has given the public an interesting article on skating, while at the same time making those of us in the skating world laugh at our sanctimonious selves.
Mr. Ottum states that John Misha Petkevich has been coming along unnoticed. We in the Pacific Northwest have been noticing him for a long time. He is undiscovered only to those who have not been following his career. We have a few more like him coming along, but we will keep them under wraps for Mr. Ottum to discover at a later date.
ALAN J. ZELL
U.S. Figure Skating Association
ANCHORS A WEIGH
Captain Robert P. Beebe's Passagemaker (A Boat Built To Go Places, Jan. 29) is the antithesis of today's stock powerboats—ugly boxlike creations that are wholly unsuited for the element on which they bob around. Let us hope he has started a trend toward yachts that are designed and built to go to sea, where they belong.
JERREMS C. HART
I have just finished reading your January 29 SCORECARD article about the Dallas fans who obtained the official NFL watch used in the championship game and claimed that it was slowed down by the cold. Don't get me wrong, I'm certainly not a Packer fan. I just want to point out that these fans used the evidence to their own benefit.
All of the "extra" 123 seconds could not have appeared in the last period. More likely, each quarter was 30 seconds too long, and the first half should have ended about one minute earlier than it did. Thus Danny Villanueva's field goal that made the score 14-10 was kicked during half time and the final score, instead of being 17-14 in favor of Dallas, would actually have been a 14-14 tie, sending the game into sudden-death overtime. Who is to say what would have happened?
DANIEL J. HIGHKIN
New Haven, Conn.
I knew what an exceptional runner Ron Delany was, but I did not realize what a colorful writer he is. Ron and SPORTS ILLUSTRATED are to be congratulated for a remarkably enjoyable series (The Running of the Green, Jan. 15 et seq.).
THOMAS W. COURTNEY
In Part 2 of The Running of the Green by Ron Delany you featured a photograph of the controversial invitational half mile at the 1955 Coliseum Relays. Needless to say, this picture brought back somewhat painful memories. Ron's description was quite appropriate.
I have derived much reading pleasure from this series.
MAJOR ARNOLD M. SOWELL
Fort Lee, Va.
•Olympians Courtney and Sowell both have painful memories of that 1955 race: Sowell was bumped off the track, Courtney was disqualified and Delany was declared the winner—ED.
The three-part article by Ron Delany was pure delight. Once again SPORTS ILLUSTRATED has captured the warm, human aspect of the wonderful world of sport.
However, although I have much respect for Mr. Delany and his greatness, I have to take issue with his statement of Villanova's greatness for the five-year span of 1955-59. It was difficult for me to conceive of five years elapsing without the USC Trojans capturing an NCAA outdoor championship. A check of the record books proved my intuition correct. In the 1955-59 era, Villanova won only one NCAA outdoor championship. When USC won the title in 1958, it was for the eighth time in 10 years. Thank you for letting me set the record straight.
LOUIS C. GARGARO
I was fortunate enough to visit Ireland last November before coming to Vietnam, and I found that Ron Delany is known by his Irish countrymen not only as a great runner but more so as a great sportsman and ambassador of goodwill.
His articles brought me fond memories of the indoor and outdoor seasons of the past and a slight pain in my heart for the Olympic year I will miss.
LIEUT. ROBERT W. O'CONNOR, USMC
U.S. Armed Forces, Vietnam
In his article Unlikely Heroes in Pale Blue (Jan. 22), Joe Jares intimated that this was the first time Columbia ever had a good season or that basketball hysteria prevailed. He probably doesn't recall the 1950-51 season when Columbia entered the NCAA tourney with a 22-0 record. This was the first undefeated team to enter the tourney since its beginning in 1939. The Lions were eliminated by Illinois in the first round, but they had a superb all-round player in John Azary, Ivy League and Metropolitan New-York MVP. Going back a little farther to 1948, the Lions had a 21-1 record going into the NCAA tourney, only to be eliminated by the Olympic-bound Kentucky Wildcats. I think Mr. Jares was trying a little too hard to glamorize the '68 team and to subdue the nostalgia of yesteryear. One player alone, Chet Forte, who was an All-America in 1957, evoked almost the equal of the present "hysteria."
I realize that the teams of 17 to 20 years ago seem like ancient history, but I am sure they fall well within the period between Barnard's establishment and the present. The years sure do flip by quickly in the sports world. I am not a Columbia alumnus, but Mr. Jares should know that the Lion has roared many times before this year.
FRANCIS A. HARDING
East Brunswick, N.J.
I believe that you presented a distorted image of Columbia basketball. You failed to demonstrate how our "collection of studious athletes" has succeeded through determination and faith. Columbia students always have been basketball fans, in spite of their intellectual curiosity.
As Swinburne wrote, "Body and spirit are twins: God only knows which is which."
JAMES M. McHANEY Jr.
New York City