Senior writer Douglas S. Looney has a reporter's nose that he often sticks in places most noses fear to go. For instance, in this week's College Football Preview issue he has written two stories—one on Kansas State and the other on Brigham Young, the latter a piece that explains why the Cougars are the most-hated team in the country. The BYU story is almost certain to have the Cougar faithful howling for Looney's head. If that happens, he will probably just fold his arms and shrug. "Everybody wants to read the truth in SI," Looney says, "except, possibly, when it applies to them."
He has had plenty of experience with irate football fans. In 1980 SI loosed Looney on the University of Colorado's sagging football program. After the glory years of the early '70s under coach Eddie Crowder, Colorado had fallen flatter than a buffalo chip. From 1979 to '81, the Buffs won just seven games under Chuck Fairbanks.
In one of the memorable pieces of the year (SI, Oct. 6, 1980), Looney described the splendor of Fairbanks's $50,000 office and his penchant for wearing his athletic shoes and shirts just once or twice before discarding them. Wrote Looney of the sedate coach, "Fairbanks has had the world's only successful charisma bypass operation."
As a result of the story Looney was banned from the Boulder campus by university president Arnold Weber. That was a pretty good trick, considering Looney was himself a Colorado grad. When someone asked Looney what he was going to do about the ban, he replied, "I believe I'll fly into town sometime, sneak up there around midnight, go right to the middle of campus and stomp around a few times."
Talk about, You can't go home again. Looney was born in Boulder, attended Boulder High, married a Colorado graduate and graduated from the school in 1963. He was writing about the Buffs for the Boulder Daily Camera before Fairbanks had ever seen the Colorado football office, much less redecorated it. Looney's father, Bob, had reported for and edited the Camera for 42 years. Face it: Looney knew Boulder, and Fairbanks wasn't Boulder.
Now Fairbanks is in the real estate business, and Weber is at Northwestern. But Looney is back. After 22 years of living on the East Coast, he has moved to a house near Boulder, only a few long punts from the Buffs' Folsom Field.
Amid the ponderosa pine Looney is enjoying life in the calm lane. "Out here, I know where the keys to the car are—they're in the car," he says. "Nobody gets locked out of the house, either. The house isn't locked. That does something for your spirit." His only real difficulty is trying to concentrate with all the deer and elk moseying by his window. Looney always could appreciate a good six-pointer.
So here's to the truth and here's to Looney. And here's to being able to walk to your own alma mater and stomp around the campus all you want—right smack in the middle of the day.