Granted that Penn State was beaten by a highly inspired and extremely fine Colorado squad (For Easterners, Prospecting Doesn't Pay Off, Oct. 5). But for the past three years Penn State has a 5-1 record in games played against teams from the Big Eight Conference, which many now claim to have been the best in the nation during this period. Included are two straight Orange Bowl victories over the best of the Big Eight. Yet there always seemed to be excuses for the victims and never praise for the winner.
DAVID W. BONNER
Willow Grove, Pa.
At last! After three major bowl appearances, a coach-of-the-year award, scads of All-Americas and top draft selections and 31 games without a defeat, Penn State was beaten by the Colorado Buffaloes, who promptly claimed to be No. 1. And well they might. After all, they spared pollsters from the embarrassment of explaining how it is possible that an Eastern team can remain undefeated for more than two years without ever being named No. 1! Can anyone in his right mind imagine a like situation for such non-Eastern powers as Ohio State, Texas, Michigan, Missouri or Colorado?
ROBERT J. DOOLITTLE
It continues to amaze me how nearly every other area of the country has established college football conferences while all the big names of the East remain stubbornly independent. I propose the formation of at least one new conference in the East, to be called the Big Seven. It would include Penn State, Syracuse, Pittsburgh, Army, Navy, Boston College and West Virginia. In many cases these teams play each other annually anyway, so what could the athletic directors of these schools possibly have against such a setup? Only six conference games would be required, leaving four games open for teams from other areas, old rivals, etc.
Such a setup would only strengthen Eastern football. Just think: maybe someday the Army-Navy game could be for a conference title.
GARY G. BRUSH
HOPE FOR PHILADELPHIA
What you said about the Eagles (Growing Weary in Their Aerie, Oct. 5) was totally unfair. You did a good job of listing their faults and failed to mention their good points, which are many. For the time being they may not look very good, but in a year or two I plan to look for the Eagles at the top of their division.
A local ad executive coined the phrase "Philadelphia isn't as bad as Philadelphians say it is." Well, neither are the Eagles. But a few more Gary Pettigrews who are unwilling to graciously accept defeat would be an asset not only to the Eagles but also to Philadelphia.
The Philadelphia Eagles? Who knows. If the Mets could do it, anybody can.
My compliments on a refreshingly unbiased article concerning Montreal Mayor Jean Drapeau (Run It up the Flagpole, Johnny, Sept. 28). Frank Deford has done a superb job of analyzing the man who has done more to put Canada into the sporting limelight than even Bobby Orr.
Smiths Falls, Ontario
Thank you for your article on Montreal and M. Drapeau. Any story on Canada or Canadians is much appreciated. However, please advise Frank Walker of The Montreal Star that I would rather live in dignity and pleasure in Toronto than be able only to "sit down" in dignified and pleasant surroundings, as in Montreal.
Perhaps Novelist Hugh MacLennan said it best: "Hamlet could never succeed in Montreal nor could he be taken seriously, but Falstaff could become the Mayor."
Thanks very much for the story on Jean Drapeau. Montreal and, consequently, Canada are finally getting the recognition they deserve. I was particularly annoyed, though, to read that Montreal was one of the two or three best places in the major leagues to watch a baseball game. It is the best place to watch major league baseball. It's got the best atmosphere, by far; and I dare any bum from Fenway Park or Wrigley Field to defy me.
Carleton Mitchell did one whale of a fine job in his article on the America's Cup races (No Cup for the Lady, Oct. 5). He not only captured the excitement of this very exciting challenge, but he put into perfect perspective the whole matter of the protest.
I'm particularly glad to have a magazine of SI's stature and circulation setting the record straight. Of course, all of the yachting magazines will present the facts, but the general public still feels that Gretel was robbed. Mitch's article, enhanced by your pictorial treatment, will go far in educating them.
ROBERT N. BAVIER JR.
New York City
A KING'S FAIRWAY
Having just returned from Morocco, I especially enjoyed Dan Jenkins' article, Where a Coif Nut Is King (Sept. 28). He certainly captured much of the flavor and warmth of this beautiful country, and I'm sure he caused many a reader to dream of tee-off time in Marrakesh. I can't think of a lovelier place to watch your golf "go away."
My congratulations to Frank Deford for his superb article on the Roller Derby (Don't Tell Your Friends Who Won the Series, Oct. 5). He showed a side of the sport few people realize is there—namely, the pure entertainment of the game itself. I agree with Joan Weston that the World Series gives the fan the best chance to see really great skating.
Although this sport has been around for 35 years, it is just coming into its own.
HARDSHIP CASES (CONT.)
As a fan of sports in general, I would like to make a suggestion as to what may be a solution concerning the signing by the pros of undergraduate college basketball players like Spencer Haywood and Ralph Simpson (SCORECARD, Sept. 28). The NBA and ABA could set up a system whereby players in their junior and senior years who are considered possible pro draft material and who are hardship cases would be eligible for loans from the pro leagues.
An agreement between the player and league could specify that if the player fulfills his expected potential, is drafted and signed, he would repay at least 70% to 80% of the loan (70% or 80% would be fair because the player would be revenue for the league as a performer). If a prospect is not drafted he would be obligated to repay only 25% to 50% of the loan. And a player who decides not to play pro ball even though drafted would repay the full loan.
This kind of system would protect American sports from embarrassment and courtrooms. It would also increase respect for the college player's education. Who knows how far Haywood's college career could have gone if he hadn't signed. Sure, $250,000 is tempting, but look at Lew Alcindor's record at UCLA and his postgraduate $1.4 million contract.
I had planned on writing to ask you why there had been no articles on a very fast-growing and popular sport, sky diving. Then I read Robert C. Grover's article, My Life and High Times in Harness (Oct. 5). But I am still disappointed. This fellow you featured made his first mistake when he found out that his jump zone was not recognized by the U.S. Parachute Association (formerly the Parachute Club of America). If he had located a proper jump club he would not have landed near a pond or in the high wires, because there would not have been any around. The USPA enforces very strict safety rules covering all phases of sky diving. Besides that, Mr. Grover is not a sky diver since he made only 12 jumps—not enough to qualify him to make a 60-second free fall before opening his chute. That free fall is what sky diving is all about.
Rockriver Valley Skydivers, Inc.
I thoroughly enjoyed your article on sky diving. Mr. Grover's description of a first parachute jump was, in my opinion, absolutely perfect.
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