Hootie & the Blowhards
Because of the stiff sanctions the NCAA has levied against the Alabama football program (SI, Aug. 14), Crimson Tide athletic director Cecil (Hootie) Ingram resigned last week. As he took his leave he said, "No tradition at Alabama is more cherished than that of winning within the rules."
Hold that line. The Southeastern Conference has been accused again and again of being the nation's cheatingest. There was the 1990 study in which sociologist Allen Sack asked former college football players whether they had received any improper benefits or inducements; this year's survey by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer in which college basketball coaches were asked which league is most riddled with improprieties; and the numbing frequency with which SEC schools have been paraded before the NCAA's Committee on Infractions. It would be naive to think that all other SEC teams took liberties with the rules but ' Bama didn't. Most telling, Bear Bryant himself owned up to the Tide's wrongdoing. Bryant liked to say that, while he avoided personal involvement in the purchase of talent, he wasn't reluctant to direct boosters to pay the prevailing rate.
In light of all this, Ingram might have simply said, "No tradition at Alabama is more cherished than that of winning," and left it at that.
Dog Bests Man
Stateside we're familiar with dog tracks, but across the Pond there's something that might be called a track dog, and he has mastered the inexact science of playing the horses. For the past two months a purebred terrier, a young Westie named Steptoe, has been going nose-to-nose with a big-shot London prognosticator named Derek Thompson.
Once a day, dog and man each wager about $50 on several races at different tracks. Thompson, who runs a phone service offering turf tips, bases his choices on extensive study of past performances and the information he gleans from jockeys and trainers; Steptoe selects from a row of chicken pieces, each set down beside the name of one of the day's entrants. As of last week, horseplaying had gone to the dogs: The Westie held a $325 lead.
Get Ahold of This
Pro tennis player Jim Grabb may have to put up with punny headlines every time he snatches a victory, but others in his family also have to deal with double entendres. Robert Grabb, Jim's brother, is a personal-injury lawyer. Their father, Dr. Samuel Grabb, is a urologist.
Once Is Enough Already
We could understand matching up Hall of Famers Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Julius Erving for their one-on-one pay-per-view match in Atlantic City in 1992. Sure it was trashsport, but at least there was novelty value in seeing how a couple of old favorites had held up over the years. But pairing Hakeem Olajuwon and Shaquille O'Neal in the War on the Floor, a $1 million Showtime pay-per-view extravaganza set for Sept. 30, has no such appeal. The matchup can't even claim to settle the question of who's better. We know who's better: Olajuwon and the Houston Rockets easily schooled the O'Neal-led Orlando Magic in the 1995 NBA Finals, the only games that count.