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Original Issue


Coach Cooper's dignity and decency have won him my long-standing
SHERI HART, Columbus, Ohio


In your article about the lackluster attendance at the home
opener of the Tennessee Oilers (Home Alone, Sept. 8) you missed
two fundamental aspects of the situation. First, Nashville hates
Memphis, and Memphis hates Nashville. This is an ongoing family
feud that unfortunately must now be played out in the national
spotlight. The lack of support for the Oilers derives from
Memphis's lack of enthusiasm for supporting a team that will
ultimately be Nashville's.

Second, we are new to this NFL thing. You're talking about a
state that has for years migrated to Knoxville every fall
Saturday, wearing orange and white. Allegiances don't change
overnight, but I am proud to have the Oilers in my state.
C.D. WOLFE, Nashville

Had the Oilers played their home games this season and next in
Nashville instead of in Memphis, the issue of no support would
never have come up. The majority of the Oilers' 42,000
permanent-seat license holders come from the middle Tennessee
area, and the 41,000-seat Vanderbilt Stadium would have been
sold out for the season in advance. However, the Liberty Bowl
had about 21,000 more seats in addition to more luxury suites,
and greed won over common sense.

Also, asking fans in Nashville to make eight round trips of 420
miles each to Memphis is absurd. When the Oilers actually play
in Nashville, in 1999, they will play before enthusiastic,
sellout crowds.


Despite your glowing piece on Ohio State coach John Cooper
(Cooper's Town, Sept. 8), his horrendous record in games that
really count--1-7-1 versus Michigan and 3-13-2 in the final two
games of the season--would lead most observers to conclude that
he is the Dan Reeves of college football, i.e., its most
overrated coach. However, those of us who have seen both coaches
in action know that Cooper is more comparable to former Colorado
coach Bill McCartney: a superb recruiter, organizer and planner
whose abysmally boneheaded tactical decisions on game day could
usually be overcome by his wealth of on-field talent and able

Cooper may be an honest, decent, industrious and genuinely
likable guy, but he is a mediocre football coach.

It has become clear that anyone wishing to be the football coach
at Ohio State should have his head examined. Even after a
terrific season last year, the local paper was deluged with sage
advice for the Ohio State trustees, such as, "John Cooper can't
beat Michigan. Fire him and hire Lou Holtz." Cooper is a winner
who has built an excellent program, but some fans would trade
all of last year's victories for a win against Michigan. Maybe
when the fate of Western civilization ceases to ride on one
game, the players will be able to settle down, and winning will
take care of itself.

One football coach who beat the Buckeyes' tradition of leaving
under a cloud was Paul Brown. Before becoming Ohio State's coach
in 1941, Brown led his alma mater, Massillon High, to four
mythical national championships. After a three-year record at
Ohio State of 18-8-1, including a national title, he left
Columbus after the '43 season on good terms to enter the Navy.
He coached there for two years before going on to become a Hall
of Fame coach in pro football.


It's fitting that your story on New York Yankees pitcher David
Wells went on for eight pages (The Unvarnished Ruth, Sept. 8)
and your article about Baltimore Orioles first baseman Rafael
Palmeiro (A Star in the Shadows) was only half as long. This is
an example of the kind of respect that Palmeiro has received.
What I can't believe is that you would spend so much space on
Wells--and also that I read it.
JOHN CUMMINGS, Stafford, Va.

Thank you for the article on Rafael Palmeiro, my favorite
player. I entered Mississippi State in the fall of 1982 with
Palmeiro and Will Clark and have watched them through their
collegiate and pro careers. I thought it was unfair that
Palmeiro received little recognition while Clark received the
1985 Golden Spikes Award for being college baseball's best
player. Palmeiro owns or is tied for nine Bulldogs hitting
records; Clark has only two.

First it was Kevin Mitchell, and now it's David Wells--two
slightly above average players with few redeeming social
qualities. What's next, a where-is-he-now story about Dave
LUC HATLESTAD, San Francisco

COLOR PHOTO: HEINZ KLEUTMEIER College teammates Clark (left) and Palmeiro. [Will Clark and Rafael Palmeiro]