Sportswriters often recount scenes of joy and celebration, but they also tell stories of people at their lowest ebb. The latter was certainly the case last week, when SI's Grant Wahl, George Dohrmann and Don Yaeger reported the parallel unravelings of Iowa State basketball coach Larry Eustachy and Alabama football coach Mike Price (page 38).
Wahl, who has covered college basketball for SI for six years, traveled to Ames, Iowa, and found people talking of nothing but Eustachy, who announced he was an alcoholic after photos of him partying with undergraduate students surfaced in The Des Moines Register. "I haven't been around Iowa during the presidential campaigns, but I can't imagine the amount of buzz for those would be any more than what was going on there last week," Wahl says.
Dohrmann tracked down Eustachy's former players and assistant coaches and found many not surprised by the coach's confession, given Eustachy's mood swings and erratic behavior. Dohrmann, who has been with SI for two years, knows his way around troubled athletic departments: While with the Saint Paul Pioneer Press in 2000 he won a Pulitzer Prize for his reporting on academic fraud within Minnesota's basketball program.
Yaeger, meanwhile, retraced the wild night that cost Price his job and found himself amazed at the coach's behavior. "He came to Alabama because it was a place where football was king," says Yaeger, an eight-year SI veteran who recently reported on Uday Hussein's torture of athletes in Iraq. "When you're part of that legend, you can't live invisibly," Yaeger is the author of 10 books, including Never Die Easy with Walter Payton.
He has written books about Wall Street (Liar's Poker) and Silicon Valley (The New New Thing), but now Michael Lewis (right) turns his attention to a Bay Area wunderkind more concerned with OBPs than IPOs: Oakland As general manager Billy Beane.
Beane has made Oakland a perennial winner despite working with one of the smallest payrolls in the major leagues. In Lewis's new book, Moneyball, which we excerpt in this issue (page 59), he tells how Beane, himself once considered a can't-miss prospect as a player, came to show the old-guard scouts that everything they were doing was wrong.