SI Vault
Edited by Steve Wulf
September 19, 1988
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September 19, 1988


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The Texas A & M football team is 0-2 on the season, but last week it scored a victory of sorts when the NCAA, citing 25 recruiting and other violations committed by the Aggies between 1984 and "87, put them on probation for two years and declared them ineligible for bowl competition and, in effect, the Southwest Conference title this year. There were lesser sanctions, too, including a two-year "administrative probation" for coach and athletic director Jackie Sherrill. "Is this devastating?" said Sherrill. "No. It's not like we will crater." Indeed, the prevailing opinion is that A & M got off lightly.

The most damning charges against the Aggies over the past several years have involved former quarterback Kevin Murray, who set several school passing records before forgoing his senior season to turn pro in 1987. In 1985, Dallas news media reported that Rod Dockery, an A & M alumnus, paid Murray $3,550 for work he never did for Dockery's printing company. Murray was also reported to have received the use of a sports car free through Dockery. In the NCAA's report last week, the only allusion to those charges was veiled: "One of those team members who received substantial extra benefits was instrumental to the team's success in recent years."

After the NCAA handed down its ruling, Sherrill said, "I never told you that we were pure. In college football or basketball, it's difficult to sit there and say nothing has ever happened or ever will happen." That's obviously the prevailing attitude in the Southwest Conference, in which six of nine schools have been touched by scandal since 1985. But there are plenty of teams elsewhere—better teams than Texas A & M—that abide by the rules.

Jamie Quirk, a Kansas City catcher not noted for his speed, was recently sent into a game to pinch-run for gimpy Bill Buckner. Buckner called it "the most embarrassing moment of my major league career." The Boston Globe reported his remark under this headline: WE CAN THINK OF ANOTHER ONE.


Troy ( Ala.) State, the reigning NCAA Division II football champion, defeated visiting Southeast Missouri State 26-13 on Sept. 3, in a game that required 5� hours, two fields and a whole lot of improvisation. The game began at 5 p.m., but during the second quarter, two of six banks of lights went out at Memorial Stadium. There was still some daylight left, so the action continued. But with rain falling and Troy State leading 19-13 with 12:41 to go in the fourth quarter, another two banks conked out. Officials from both schools huddled and decided to continue the game at a lighted practice field a third of a mile away.

The practice field presented certain problems. None of the yardlines was numbered, and because there was a steep embankment just beyond the north end zone, it was decided that both teams would attempt to move the ball north to south on offense. After 2� hours and with some stiffness, the players again took the field. The radio crew broadcasting back to Cape Girardeau, Mo., stayed in the press box and called the distant game with the aid of binoculars. "We could tell first downs by watching the chains move," said Ron Hines, the play-by-play man. "It was fun, but if the lights so much as flicker the rest of the season, I'm jumping from the press box."

The game, which finally ended at 10:25 p.m., was best summed up by Tom Ensey, the Troy State sports information director: "Coaches are always saying that games are won on the practice field. Well, this is one game that really was."


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