Is it so painful for you to rate Ohio State No. 1 that you must follow your choice with an indictment of the school's recruiting program (...And the Reason Is Woody's Machine, Sept. 9)? Robert Vare's reference to the fact that a third of Ohio State's squad is from other states makes it seem as though nonresident students should be barred from athletics. Woe to Michigan if that should happen; a third of the Wolverine squad last year was from Ohio.
As to Woody Hayes' sales pitch for the university, it is a fact that Ohio State's medical, dental, business, law and veterinary schools are among the finest in the country.
These kids play ball at Ohio State because they want to play at the best and for the best. It's more a case of success breeding success than the rich getting richer. If Ohio State's recruiting program is so money-fat and PR-oriented, what possible reason would anyone have for leaving the state to play football? Ohio State's recruiting program is a direct response to the heavy breathers from the other football powers that annually swoop down on Ohio's football talent.
The Bucks were No. 1 last year, they'll be No. 1 this year and they'll continue to be No. 1 as long as they continue to recruit with all available resources and do not violate NCAA rules!
Yes, Ohio State football is a big business. It is a system that depends upon such positive factors as intricate organization, financial gain, discipline, hard work, top performance and all those ingredients that serve as a basis for the success of any American business enterprise, including SI.
The results of the Ohio State Machine speak for themselves. Thousands of fans fill the stadium. Other thousands wish they could. Athletes spend hour after hour dreaming of playing in a Buckeye uniform. Many spend hours of practice seeking that goal. Others derive pleasure from emulating Buckeye stars. What's so wrong with an organization that reaches and inspires so many?
It makes sense that such a successful organization as the Ohio State football team is loaded with favorable characteristics. Otherwise, it wouldn't be so successful and attractive to so many for so long.
Just because an organization gains and maintains supremacy doesn't mean that something is wrong. More logically, it means that many things are right.
It seems peculiar that an athletic department business manager from Iowa (0-11) would know that Ohio State budgets $4.3 million for its athletic program. He should be so fortunate! For one who has seen every Buckeye home game for the past 42 years, I say that every penny has been well spent on American youth and the pageantry that make football king. I'm proud to be a member of the team that brings recruits to the Olentangy Circle!
Woody Hayes is correct when he says that those who want to destroy college football are trying to destroy a wonderful American institution. How can anyone in our country be against special interest groups, pressure on our youth, watered-down education, quid pro quo favors and big money—all at the same time?
KENNETH M. SIDOREWICH
Cherry Hill, N.J.
I am a former college football player and one of millions who appreciates the idea of amateurism in the college game and the unsullied enthusiasms it brings to participant and spectator alike. Robert Vare's article lays bare the hypocrisy that is undermining the college game. Woody Hayes, super recruiter, sets the tone nationwide for many a regime in college athletics. As Vare makes clear, coaching alone has little to do with putting the same teams in the Top 20 year in and out.
Yes, there are those who would destroy college football, as Woody so ironically points out. The game is smothered in exploitation and commercialization. The day of the young man who worked his way through school, studied with the rest of the student body and still had enough talent and enthusiasm to block and tackle on Saturday afternoon is fading fast. Fading with it is the admiration of many for an institution that is being bankrupted of its integrity.
As usual, the NCAA fiddles while its empire burns. Congratulations to SI for at least turning in the alarm.
Your story on Ohio State recruiting simply shows how low colleges—all colleges and universities—will sink to get top athletic prospects.
Wildwood Crest, N.J.
Well you've done it again, fearless prognosticators (SCOUTING REPORTS, Sept. 9). Last year you gave us Texas, this year Ohio State. How do you guys keep coming up with these fantastic predictions?
Oklahoma was the best team in the nation in 1973 and will be No. 1 in 1974. Luckily Ohio State doesn't have to play Oklahoma or it would be another embarrassing disaster for the (ahem!) No. 1 team and SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, as it was last season-when Oklahoma demolished Texas 52-13. Boomer Sooners!
Oklahoma No. 2? You've got to be kidding. Let's remember that Oklahoma is still on probation because of serious recruiting violations—violations that have helped make the Sooners the strong contenders that they are.
F. MATTHEW HOFFMANN
In the space of a few paragraphs on Ohio State's football team, there were the following gleeful testimonials to mayhem: 1) "We're going to kill people"; 2) "We make sure we hit somebody...I like to smash them"; and 3) "There's nothing I enjoy more than hitting a halfback...especially when he doesn't see me coming. It feels the best when he hits the ground and you have your helmet stuck in him."
Isn't that a bit much? Such an open display of brutality is the "spirit" of a seething street mob, not a football team. No matter how intense a team's competitive zeal, there is no room in the true definition of sport for such blood-chilling callousness. Unbridled violence appears to be a permanent way of life in this country—even in such otherwise appealing pursuits as college football. It is an unfortunate development that is disheartening, ominous and not a little unsettling.
ROBERT L. HELERINGER
Evel Knievel landed in my lap. What luck and what a show ("We Shoulda Run One More Test" Sept. 16)! It wasn't luck that put me there but careful planning. For months, in order to avoid the $25 ticket, I had intended to sneak onto the Snake River and be under the jump in my kayak. Then, the day before the jump, I scouted the site and the Sky-Cycle and realized I had a good chance of meeting Evel face to face.
At my invitation four top kayakers joined me, and we carefully approached the river through the heavily guarded Blue Lake Country Club. We paddled three miles up river to Pinnacle Falls, which we had to portage. From there we proceeded to the jump site, but only at the last minute in order to prevent anyone from kicking us out. Once there, I had a tough decision to make: either to film the jump from the far shore upstream in good light or to paddle pick-up in the choppy river where a camera was useless. I chose to forget my camera and pick up Evel. As it was, I was the closest person to him. He came in fast despite the drag chute—much faster than slow-motion TV leads you to believe.
I feared Evel would jump free because he was too low for his chest chute to open. He said later that he had tried to get out but couldn't. Thank goodness he was strapped tight and so survived the worst crash one could ever imagine, striking point first on a pinnacle of rock and then dropping free for 100 feet only to be partially snubbed by the chute at the instant of the second crash. The rocket then caromed down the steep vine-covered slope and came to rest on the bank.
I was directly under the ramp at blastoff and approximately 100 feet away as the Sky-Cycle landed. However, before I reached the site I was overtaken by an outboard, which arrived a few seconds before I did. We got Evel out and I checked him over. He was bleeding but O.K.—unhurt except for scratches but in shock. He had no knowledge of what had happened or where he was, although he was glad to be alive. We transferred him to the outboard for the trip to the helicopter. During this ride I found out what he was made of. In spite of his shock and mental trauma he grabbed a Sky-Cycle aileron away from a youngster in the boat and said, "What's your name?" Then he graciously pulled out a pen and wrote, "To Mike from Evel Knievel" and handed the precious souvenir back to the overwhelmed boy. When we reached the copter I climbed in with Knievel, intending to take him to the hospital, but I checked his pulse—it was 78—and decided to let him go back to his crowd and his family.
It was two or three minutes before the people would clear a way for our landing. Immediately we were crushed and crunched by an insane mob which tried to tear him apart, some grabbing for souvenirs, though most were trying to wish him well. One burly hand reached across my face to his helmet and received a well-earned bite—to the bone. I became concerned for Evel's and my own safety and began screaming that Evel was badly injured, that I was a doctor and would they clear a path for the injured man. The crowd parted and we slipped safely through.
The rest of the story has been seen on TV, except that Evel drew tears from my eyes as he threw his $22,000 diamond-studded cane to the crowd below. He is a showman. He is a braggart. But he is as courageous as they make them and a hell of a good guy. No one was really ready to save him in the water and he came within an inch of dying. He is a brave man and this was no programmed stunt. This was a gutty trick by a guy who committed himself too quickly. He probably made more money this way but I can tell you he earned every cent of it. I salute Evel Knievel and will forever be a staunch admirer of his.
WALT BLACKADAR, M.D.
•Dr. Blackadar, a man not unfamiliar with taking risks, was the author of Caught Up in a Hell of White Water (SI, Aug. 14, 1972).—ED.
EYE ON SPORTS
Robert Wussler has a long way to go to make CBS the No. 1 sports network (TV-RADIO, Sept. 2). One big thing in his favor is that he has the TV rights to the NBA. If he can get some good commentators—not plastic but entertaining (and informative, as Bill Russell was for ABC)—viewers may turn on the sound instead of just watching the picture. I hope CBS will also revive the one-on-one competition.
I enjoyed William Leggett's story regarding the appointment of Robert Wussler (Seton Hall, '57) as director of CBS sports. However, I must take issue with the characterization of Seton Hall University as "a campus surrounded by a gymnasium."
There is no question that Seton Hall has a long tradition of sports excellence, especially as a basketball powerhouse in the late '50s and early '60s. Those were the days of Nick (The Quick) Werkman, one of the leading scorers in the nation for three years, and Walter Dukes, who later played in the NBA. This year the Hall's baseball nine played in the College World Series.
Despite all this, Seton Hall, though not nationally known, offers comprehensive educational programs in the arts and sciences, law, education and business. To those of us who trained at Seton Hall University "a campus with a gymnasium" seems a more fitting description.
JAMES A. SBARBARO, M.D.
Seton Hall '69
Belated congratulations to Frank Deford for his masterful word picture of John Newcombe the man (Last of the Awesome Aussies, Aug. 26). Having been privileged to know John well, we are happy that others now have an insight into Newk off the court. For those who have known him only for his dominance in the realm of tennis, Deford has captured his true, free natural spirit. He is a man for all times and for all people.
We agree Newcombe has been relatively neglected, considering his excellence. If other professional athletes could just learn from his integrity and good sense, the sports world would be a happier one for all, particularly the fan. There's more to life for John than the almighty dollar; he has found peace at a young age and is the most complete person we have ever known. Like WTT, John Newcombe is here to stay.
BETTY and E. Z. JONES
Houston EZ Riders
If Robert H. Boyle and the SI staff have heard thousands of dog whistles blowing during the past few weeks, let me assure you they are in tribute to a magnificent story that captured the essence of what dog trials are all about (A Series of Trials and Tribulations, Aug. 19).
My father has been an owner, trainer and judge in this business for many, many years. He owned and trained three field-trial champions, and I shared in some of the trials and tribulations (and joyous rewards, too) that Boyle has written about. Thanks for letting me relive some of those memorable moments.
FRANK (BULLMOOSE) FLETCHER
San Jose, Calif.
Your title says it all. Although new to the sport, I can appreciate the dedication, time and patience required to produce a working retriever. Occasionally, as I stand red-faced with my plastic whistle, I wonder why I do it. The answer is that a well-trained retriever gives more satisfaction than all the living-room trick dogs.
After reading your article on Joe Rudi and other underrated players (A Man Who'd Never Bite a Dog, Sept. 2), my first reaction was to make up an All-Underrated team including unsung players from both leagues. It is as follows:
Catcher: Ted Simmons, Ellie Hendricks
1st Base: Tony Perez, George Scott
2nd Base: Tommy Helms, Jorge Orta
3rd Base: Richie Hebner, Don Money
Shortstop: Dave Concepcion, Toby Harrah
Outfield: Rick Monday, Al Oliver, Ken Singleton, Ken Henderson, Joe Rudi, John Briggs
Pitcher: Jack Billingham, Bill Singer
If I have left anyone out, it is only because I haven't heard of him.
Perhaps Joe Rudi would never bite a dog, but Ron Fimrite sure did when he failed to mention Eddie Mathews as one of baseball's most obscure superstars.
Address editorial mail to SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, TIME & LIFE Building, Rockefeller Center, New York, N.Y. 10020.