OH, TO BE NO. 1
After "considering the evidence," as John Underwood suggests (Shake Down the Thunder, Jan. 9), I find it perfectly easy to "resist the argument" that Notre Dame is No. 1. In my opinion, Alabama brought the argument to its logical conclusion with a stellar Sugar Bowl performance.
JOHN K. CABELL
Once again the Irish mystique has prevailed over Alabama, just as it did at the conclusion of the 1966 season, during which the Crimson Tide fielded probably its best team ever. Notre Dame "poll" vaulted from fifth place to first, but not exactly the way Alabama did it to end the 1965 season. Then Alabama earned its No. 1 ranking, as all three teams rated above the Tide in the polls were defeated in bowl games. Similarly, this time No. 3 Alabama soundly defeated a good Ohio State team, while No. 1 Texas and No. 2 Oklahoma lost.
FRED NELSON JR.
I would like the coaches and sportswriters of America to explain to an 8-year-old third-grader I know why Notre Dame is No. 1. She is third in her class and is wondering if she makes an A and the No. 5 student also makes an A, whether No. 5 will skip over her to No. 1.
The coaches and sportswriters can spell it out for her. I won't try, for I'm only her aunt who takes her to ball games.
Here is a hypothetical—and probably paranoid—question from fans in the Deep South: If Alabama had been ranked fifth in the final regular-season polls and beaten Texas 38-10, and Notre Dame had been ranked third and beaten Ohio State 35-6, which team would have been ranked No. 1 in the postseason polls?
The final college football polls prove one thing: the Southeastern Conference must be very strong. Its eighth-place team. Mississippi, beat national champion Notre Dame.
ROBERT L. PENCE
I wish someone would explain-to me why the Penn State Nittany Lions were not given serious consideration for the No. 1 ranking this year.
Pennsylvania Furnace, Pa.
Best 11-1 team, based on toughest schedule—Texas; best bowl team—-Arkansas; media national champion—Notre Dame.
W. DENNIS CLARK
STANLEY D. SMITH
Do you think we may finally lay to rest the myth of Big Ten football supremacy?
G. DANIEL McCALL
Instead of having an NBA title game or a Super Bowl game or the Indy 500, why not let sportswriters (AP) and coaches (UPI) vote for the champion?
Green Lane, Pa.
Notre Dame, you're beautiful!
So Denver's Rob Lytle did fumble the ball (Wholly Moses for Denver, Jan. 9). Maybe Oakland was rooked by the officials. But television replays also showed that Jack Dolbin did make the catch on a pass that was ruled incomplete. His hands were under the ball when it touched the ground, thus the call of a trap by the official was evidently incorrect, costing Denver a possible seven points, since Dolbin got up and ran the ball in for a "touchdown." So let's give Oakland the recovery and Denver a touchdown and, most likely. Denver still would have won 20-17.
SUPER REF (CONT.)
Your suggestion of a super NFL referee (SCORECARD, Jan. 2) overlooks one crucial factor. Play stops, and all players must stop when the whistle blows. A super referee watching a television camera can determine that another official made an error, but he cannot determine what might have happened if the official had not made the error and play had continued.
This argument holds in the case of the Colts-Patriots "non-fumble," but it becomes even stronger when you think of a case in which a player makes a diving catch—or non-catch—and gets up to run. On the basis of your suggestion, if the official blows the whistle here, everyone on both teams would have to ignore it, lest the television camera show that the official was wrong. The potential for serious injury in the confusion that would surely follow is overwhelming.
Officials are human and therefore fallible, but they are the best we have. Let us train, evaluate, pay and support them properly.
RICHARD W. MECHEM
Granted, officials have made some costly mistakes, and television replays, when properly used, can resolve controversial calls. However, exploring the action from every possible angle by way of cameras can only lead to the detection of holding, clipping, head-slapping, tripping and other rule infringements that would otherwise have gone undetected. Because a penalty can change the outcome of a game as much as a fumble, it would become necessary for your "super referee" to rule not just on calls but also on penalties and fouls.
KEVIN L. FISHER
Your super referee would lead to a rash of super refs in sports other than football. Can you imagine a super umpire overruling a missed tag at third base or a super ref calling an obvious three-second violation? I agree that we would get near-perfect officiating, but then what would the armchair ump or fan have to harp on at the local pub after the ball game?
North Huntington, Pa.
Amazing! Your Jan. 2 issue contained feature stories on New Jersey's Meadowlands—the nation's greatest racetrack—Princeton Basketball Coach Pete Carril and Montclair State basketball star Carol Blazejowski, not to mention passing references to New Jersey's Giants, Cosmos, Nets and Rutgers University. Perhaps New Jersey will now be recognized as more than just a swampy demilitarized zone separating Yankee fans from Phillie rooters.
RONALD H. REISMAN
South Amboy, N.J.
As a proud New Jerseyite, I take offense at your entire Jan. 2 issue. In three articles concerning New Jersey sports, you have managed to insult our air, our soil and our women. The air around the Meadowlands is no more foul than that around New York's Yonkers Raceway. Pete Carril's Pennsylvania parents need not have worried about New Jersey dirt—after all, we are the Garden State. And Montclair State's Carol Blazejowski doesn't shoot off her mouth, she simply isn't afraid to speak her mind as she excels for a small home-state school.
You gave yourself away, however, in the final paragraph of the Meadowlands story. The big New Jersey bucks that for so long have supported New York and Philadelphia franchises and tracks have decided to stay home. Now the teams are beginning to come to us (Giants, Nets) and the state colleges are beginning to retain the native talent. No, the Meadowlands isn't about to move, and the old New Jersey jokes will soon be a thing of the past.
FREDERICK E. PARTRIDGE
West Paterson, N.J.
Carol Blazejowski is just what women's basketball needs: a superstar, crowd pleaser and genuine gate attraction (No One Is Hotter Than the Blaze, Jan. 2). She might do for her sport what Babe Ruth did for baseball and what Joe Namath did for pantyhose.
Bravo, Blaze! Remember, it isn't bragging if you can do it.
Kent Hannon is to be congratulated for the revealing insight into Princeton Coach Pete Carril, one of college basketball's most profound personalities (Blue-Collar Coach in a Button-Down League, Jan. 2). As a member of the 1966-67 Lehigh University basketball team, which, as you aptly stated, "Carril put...through the wringer," I was especially moved by the portrayal of Carril as the no-nonsense purist that he is.
The message Carril conveys through his coaching reaches beyond the confines of the basketball court and is accented by his commitment to hard work and team play. Carril's street-fighter instinct reveals a no-frills approach to life, perhaps best symbolized by his short-sleeve shirts, worn as if to eliminate the need to roll up his sleeves before entering a battle. SI has performed a great service for college athletics by zeroing in on a great coach and a heck of a man.
New York City
VIEW FROM BURKE MOUNTAIN
I have been at Burke Mountain Academy for six years now, four as an undergraduate and two in the college program. I was pleased to see Burke get the national recognition it deserves (It's All Downhill from Here, Jan. 2). As the article said, it was the first ski academy in the U.S., and after six years I believe it is still the premier ski academy, despite tough competition from Stratton in Vermont and Mission Ridge in Washington.
However, there are a few things I would like to point out:
1) We are not a school for rich kids. Though the sport of skiing is expensive, Warren Witherell, our headmaster (and mentor), has made a concerted effort to open the way for talented but not wealthy ski racers. Close to one-third of the student body is on some sort of scholarship.
2) Looney's emphasis on skiing above schooling is mostly unjustified. Our curriculum is basically the same as that of a regular high school, yet it enables us to delve into areas of greater interest to us, too. It requires more self-motivation, but if you want a good education, you can get one.
3) We do have a blackboard and it is in our dining room, where we hold classes.
4) Burke Mountain Academy is not a Utopia, but it is a place where kids can go who have a direction and want to follow it. It is also a place where they can learn responsibility and experience community living and a closeness to people that can't be learned in the "big, cruel world." Then they can carry what they learn out into the "real" world and maybe make it a little better.
5) Burke Mountain Academy is a fantastic experience.
East Burke, Vt.
TOM AND TED
Regarding Tom Seaver's interview with Ted Williams (SCORECARD, Jan. 2), you stated it was "for a syndicated series to be called Greatest Sports Legends." Let me just say, with a measure of pride, that this series is not a new production; it has been on the air for five years! We have filmed 70 Sports Legends, with Paul Hornung as host for the first three years, Reggie Jackson as last year's host and Tom Seaver as our new host. Furthermore, we are the most successful syndicated televised sports show today based on five consecutive years on the air and the more than 100 stations that carry the series.
As for Williams' comment on Joe DiMaggio, he also stated, "I've always said he was the greatest player I ever saw." And while setting the scene for Williams' last at bat, you failed to mention how it turned out. After missing one Jack Fisher fastball, Williams sent another one into the Fenway Park bullpen for a home run. As re-creator Harry Kalas says on the Sports Legends show, "Who else could do it but Teddy Ballgame!"
Greatest Sports Legends
Bala Cynwyd, Pa.
Address editorial mail to SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, Time & Life Building, Rockefeller Center, New York, New York, 10020.