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Original Issue


With all due respect to the multitude of bowl games, those of us with insight know there is only one game to watch after this regular season: Florida versus Alabama in the SEC championship game.

Rex M. Lowe, Naugatuck, Conn.

In your article on SEC football (The Place to Be, Oct. 19) Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt is quoted as saying, "I watch the other conferences all the time and think, Boy, I'd like to play them." Think again, Coach Nutt. Over the past five years, your Arkansas and Ole Miss teams are 1--6 against schools from other BCS conferences. The SEC is definitely a tough conference, especially at the top. But the idea that mid-level SEC schools would dominate other conferences is simply not true.

Scott Sitter, Oshkosh, Wis.

Nutt watches other conferences and wishes he could play them? Funny, I watch Nutt's pedestrian offense and think the same thing about his team.

Jeff Davis, McDonough, Ga.

According to the most recent data from the NCAA, the SEC has the lowest graduation rate for football players of any of the BCS conferences. Perhaps schools such as Alabama (55% graduation rate), Tennessee (54%), LSU (54%), Arkansas (52%) and Georgia (48%) should spend as much time striving to succeed in the classroom as they do on the field. On the other hand, kudos to Vanderbilt (91%) for making a commitment to helping athletes succeed academically.

Kevin Bird

Georgetown, Mass.

The SEC may have been the place to be over the last few years, but if you were a black football player before the late 1960s, it was not. They may play some good football down there—good for them—but national championships won't wash away the stain of segregation.

Pamela Mason

Lawrenceville, N.J.

The Journeyman

Thanks for Tim Layden's piece on Jeff Zgonina (8 Teams, 17 Years, 208 Games, One Long Road, Oct. 19). He embodies something forgotten in our glitzy, money-focused, celebrity-entranced society. I dream of a nation populated by people with Jeff's integrity, spirit, work ethic and unselfish attitude.

Chris Fruitrich, Seattle

Every fall I check to see if Zgonina is still playing, and every year I am not disappointed. He coached me at a football camp when I was in high school; I am now 34, and he is still in the NFL.

Josh Whicker, Corydon, Ind.

If I had my own team, I would want Zgonina on it, not because he is a great player but because he is loyal and helps create great team chemistry.

Nick Meilak

Dove Canyon, Calif.

A Coach's Coach

After reading about young NFL coaches who exhibit boorish behavior (Scorecard, Oct. 19), I am convinced that the model for the modern NFL coach should be the Steelers' Mike Tomlin. He is tough but fair, firm but not inflexible, direct but not blunt, and above all he's a great communicator. He has balance in his life and admits that although coaching football is his passion, it is simply what he does, not who he is.

Thane R. Kolarik

Allison Park, Pa.

Second Looks

There is nothing worse to a fan than seeing a plain-as-day call blown by an umpire, particularly game-changing mistakes in the postseason. As Joe Sheehan suggests (SCORECARD, Oct. 19), baseball should expand its use of instant replay with an umpire up in the booth reviewing close calls on high-definition monitors—just the way we see it at home. Blown calls could be overturned and close plays verified. It's time to take the next step.

Jon Bogle, Alpharetta, Ga.

I understand the call for more instant replay, but postseason games already last 3½ hours. With the extra commercial time between innings and the endless pitching changes, additional use of instant replay would make the games even longer. Besides, the human element is more important in baseball than in any other sport.

Eric Larson, Brooklyn

Instant replay interferes with the natural flow of the game. Players make errors all the time; managers make mistakes. Why are the umpires expected to be perfect on every call? Bad calls are part of the game just as player errors are. The technology is there to fix the bad calls, but the cost of perfect officiating is a disruption to the game.

Derek Pencak, Kenosha, Wis.

Charitable Finish

The photo of Chrissie Wellington rolling across the finish line as she won the Ironman World Championship (LEADING OFF, Oct. 19) has probably done more for her cause of raising money for ALS research than she ever could have imagined.

Kevin Connors

Mechanicville, N.Y.

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