Devoted football fans who have given more than $2.5 million to the National Football Foundation for a collegiate football Hall of Fame have grown increasingly restless over the years because of the continuing absence of a Hall of Fame building, despite elaborate plans to build same in New Brunswick, N.J., site of the first intercollegiate football game between Rutgers and Princeton in 1869. Repeated complaints finally reached the ears of New York Attorney General Louis J. Lefkowitz, who had his investigators look into the situation.
Last week the attorney general's office announced it had obtained a signed agreement from the foundation, and everything seems to be O.K. now, fans. There was no hanky-panky, just inertia. Reacting to Coach Lefkowitz' locker-room speech, the Hall of Fame people raced out of the huddle, snapped a few audibles at the line of scrimmage and revealed not only that they have managed to obtain rights to a shovel but, that before the next football season rolls around it is entirely possible ground will be broken. Way to move that ball, gang.
LABOR OF HERCULES
A favorite spectator sport this winter in the upper Middle West is watching the University of Minnesota fumble its way toward the selection of a new football coach to replace the departed Murray Warmath. First, Paul Giel, the Minnesota football hero of the 1950s who later pitched for the New York baseball Giants, was appointed athletic director. Then, almost before he was named to the post, Giel withdrew, objecting to University President Malcolm Moos' decision to name a committee to help the athletic director pick the new coach. Dick Siebert, Minnesota's longtime baseball coach, referred to this fiasco as another Bay of Pigs. Giel finally agreed to reconsider when Moos assured him that as athletic director he would have the most say whenever the committee got together and pondered the problem.
Whether this proves true or not, Giel has a fascinating cross-section of people on the selection committee to help him come up with the right coach. There are Siebert, a baseball man; Max Schultze, a biochemistry professor; Eloise Jaeger, who is chairman of the School of Physical Education; Stan Kegler, a vice-president of the university; Bruce Telander, president of the M Letterman club, who earned his letter for managing the hockey team; and Ernie Cook, an undergraduate who played on the 1971 team. Have fun, Paul.
Hiring football coaches is precarious business, even without a committee. Take poor old Rice University, the esteemed intellectual center that hired Bill Peterson away from Florida State a year ago in a determined effort to climb back to the top rung of intercollegiate football. Now Peterson has terminated his Rice contract, which had four years to go, in order to become coach of the Houston Oilers. He explained the move by describing his new professional contract as "close to a lifetime deal."
Rice people feel it will have to go that long to beat the deal Peterson had with them. They say the coach's salary was $35,000. They add that the university and alumni combined to ante up an extra $10,000 to compensate Peterson for outside income he gave up when he left Florida. He had a TV show in Houston that reportedly paid him an additional $4,500. Because a coach needs a place to entertain football people, as well as a room to go over game films, a carpeted, paneled projection room was built at Peterson's house for an estimated $8,500 (although the coach says $2,500 is a more valid figure).
"He got a car and free gasoline," an unhappy Rice alumnus said last week. "He was able to buy all of his clothes wholesale. A friend of mine helped him obtain a loan to buy blue-chip stocks with." The alumnus says Peterson was also invited to invest in a real-estate venture in which other football people were involved. "It was already making money," the Rice man said, "but Pete was let in for the same amount the others had put up originally. When he sells out, there's no way he can't make money.
"I don't know what else we could have done for him," the man said sadly. "We helped him every way possible. And he did a lot for us, too. He got us excited. With Pete, we knew Rice had a chance to win."
Now the alumni who went all-out a year ago to hire a name coach are less than enthusiastic about following the same road again. Once burned, twice cautious. This time they favor the idea of promoting a nice inexpensive assistant coach to the top job.
Hidden behind the Los Angeles Lakers' resounding winning streak is the personal accomplishment of the adroit Jerry West. Last season the Lakers won the last four games West played in before he was hurt and sidelined for the remainder of the schedule. This year, with West back in the lineup, the Lakers won their first four games. Then Jerry went out with a minor injury. During his absence the Lakers lost three games. When he came back the team began to win again and by New Year's Day had run off 30 in a row. At that point West had played in 38 consecutive Laker victories and had been undefeated since last February. Has any other professional team athlete ever had a comparable string of successes?
THE SUN ALSO RISES
The Japanese invasion of California, first threatened in 1942 just after Pearl Harbor, seems finally to have begun. The Lodi franchise in minor league baseball's California League, which was turned back to the league by the parent San Diego Padres after two seasons of unprofitable management, has been taken over by the Tokyo Lotte Orions of Japan's Pacific League, one of that country's two major baseball circuits. Japanese teams have visited the States on occasion and have played exhibition games here against U.S. major league clubs, and a Japanese player, Masanori Murakami, pitched for the San Francisco Giants for a couple of seasons, but this is the first time Japanese interests have moved directly into our Organized Baseball scene.
Despite the transpacific ownership, club personnel will remain basically Occidental. Only three native Japanese will be added to the Lodi roster, with the bulk of the players to be provided by whatever U.S. big-league team Lodi effects a working agreement with. Still: three players now, a team tomorrow, maybe Candlestick Park by 1980?
SCHUSS 'EM BY
It probably had nothing to do with Jimmy Hoffa's release from prison, but just about the time the former Teamsters Union boss was walking through the gates to freedom, Teamsters Local 961—better known as the Aspen Professional Ski Patrol—walked off the job at Aspen Mountain and Snowmass in Colorado. The Teamsters ("If it moves, we'll unionize it," Hoffa once said) organized the ski patrol last spring after a salary dispute and have since insisted on a union shop. The Aspen Skiing Corporation—hereinafter known as management—balked. The ski patrol decided to strike and settled on the busy Christmas season as the jolliest time to schuss off the job. Management retaliated by dismissing the striking patrolmen and hiring replacements. The Teamsters looked on this with disfavor. The breach widened. Skiing, which has been good, went on pretty much as usual, with lifts continuing to run, but the labor dispute has downhilled its way into the courts.
The marlins caught in the Hawaii bill-fish tournament last summer were later tested for mercury content by the local department of health, by the University of Hawaii's Community Pesticides Laboratory and by the National Marine Fisheries Service in Maryland. Results are now in, and they are both sobering and, in a way, encouraging. All the blue marlins caught in the billfish tournament were contaminated, exceeding the allowable level of mercury as established by the Federal Food and Drug Administration. What is encouraging about this? The sale of marlin for human consumption is now officially banned by Hawaii, which should mean more marlin being released by fishermen. And, of course, more marlin returned to the sea means better sport. It is a small silver lining, but hang on to it.
THE SMELL OF ROSES
The only time Michigan ever beat Stanford in the Rose Bowl was in 1902, back in the days of innocence. But how innocent? According to a recently discovered letter from David Starr Jordan, then president of Stanford, to Dr. Fred N. Scott of Michigan's athletic board, the NCAA apparently would have been kept busy then, too, policing college football. Dr. Scott had been concerned about what we now call illegal recruiting and had discussed with President Jordan a couple of football players—one of them Michigan's immortal Willie Heston—who had come all the way from California to Ann Arbor to matriculate. On May 26, 1903, Jordan wrote from Palo Alto to Scott: "I learned yesterday some facts which may be of possible interest to you. Mr. Gregory, your foot-ball centre, after being dropped from Stanford at Christmas, went to Washburn School at San Jose to prepare to enter the university as a regular student. It would have taken him about two years to meet our requirements. Mrs. Washburn, herself a graduate of Michigan University, and of Stanford also, told me that he did very good work with them until the spring. Mr. Yost [Fielding (Hurry Up) Yost, Michigan's legendary coach] came and offered him to pay all his expenses if he would go in the fall and enter Michigan University as a student and as a member of his foot-ball team. Mrs. Washburn very much opposed his going, but it was understood that this offer was accepted. It is also locally understood-that a similar offer was accepted by Willie Heston, another member of the same foot-ball team in San Jose, who was then ready to enter the freshman class at Stanford University.
"I think there should be no difficulty in showing these cases to be pure professionalism, and that young men who would in time have done good work were perverted from their college course by this means. I do not criticise their going to Michigan University, of course, but going to Michigan University under these irregular circumstances certainly leaves an unpleasant mark."
Is it too late for Stanford to demand a recount?
THEY SAID IT
•Morris Frank, master of ceremonies at a Houston banquet, introducing John Breen, the Oilers' general manager: "He's been here since the team was founded. In fact, he can almost remember every coach's name."
•Rich Rinaldi, Baltimore Bullets' seldom-used fourth guard, discussing his bench-warming status and Coach Gene Shue's habit of offering postgame congratulations: "After we win, Gene will go around the room to each player and say, 'Way to go, Arch,' 'Way to go, Jack.' What's he gonna say when he gets to me? 'Way to clap'?"
•Fred Kern, an assistant football coach at West Point, in answer to a question about Army's possible return to the big time: "We're big time now. The first four games this year were Stanford, Georgia Tech, Missouri and Penn State. Next year we open with Nebraska. If that's not big time, I don't know what is."
•Henry Blaha, captain of the Baltimore Rugby Club, on the differences among rugby, soccer and football: "They say that rugby is a beastly game played by gentlemen, that soccer is a gentleman's game played by beasts and that football is a beastly game played by beasts."
•Stan Watts, Brigham Young basketball coach, asked if he intends to keep a pair of inexperienced 7-footers on his team: "Oh, yes. We'll really be impressive in the airports."