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Keeping the Books
If you take his answering machine seriously, John Pease, who was hired on Jan. 12 as defensive line coach of the expansion Jacksonville Jaguars of the NFL, took more than hard feelings with him when he left his former employers, the New Orleans Saints, who fired him late last month. The recorded greeting on his home phone now offers callers copies of Saint playbooks.
Happy Valley Trails
After 33 college underclassmen renounced their remaining eligibility last week to enter April's NFL draft, we were struck by how a hidebound attitude, long prevalent in college football, has diminished over the past decade. Remember when Bernie Kosar left Miami in 1985 with two years of eligibility remaining? Though Kosar had already earned his degree, doing so in 3.27 style, and delivered a national championship to Coral Gables, he was labeled an ingrate by the Miami faithful, and the school declined to retire his number. A year and a half later the Hurricanes' Vinny Testaverde, who indentured himself for four seasons, had his jersey retired—even though he didn't graduate or win a national title.
Contrast those reactions with the way Penn State handled the news that Ki-Jana Carter, who intends to graduate with this year's class, will pass up his senior season. Fans, students, local sportswriters and coach Joe Paterno have all wished Carter the best. It has taken awhile, but the college football world seems finally to have gotten the message: You go to college to get your degree. After that it's O.K. to get on with your life, whether or not that life includes the NFL.
Mr. O'Leary's Cow
As we've said, rarely is heard a discouraging word these days from coaches about juniors who come out early for the NFL draft. Rarely, but not never. "I'll be seeing you Sundays if I go to an NFL game," Georgia Tech assistant George O'Leary told Elliott Fortune, the Yellow Jacket defensive tackle who threw his name into the draft last week. "Same as you, I'll be buying a ticket."
With his decision the 276-pound Fortune is severely testing his surname. Last season he started only four games, was suspended for another and spent time on the scout team. Still, he might have expected at least some moral support from his coach. Instead, O'Leary says, "I wish him well in his pursuit of impossibility. I told him, 'You've done some dumb things, but this is the dumbest.' "
As it usually does when enacting its myriad legislation, the NCAA had good intentions three years ago when it passed a rule barring the third assistant on men's basketball coaching staffs from leaving campus to recruit, and restricting his earnings to $12,000 in salary and $4,000 in basketball-related outside income. The restricted-earnings rule, the reasoning went, would reduce costs, encourage the development of young coaches and restore competitive balance by preventing big schools from outspending smaller ones. As with most NCAA legislation, however, there were unintended consequences. And since Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski left his team on Jan. 6 as a result of complications from back surgery, several of those consequences have coalesced into an absurdity.