Counsilman has been competitive, indeed. He has won four straight NCAA championships.
Bell, who went, all unsuspecting, to Indiana from the University of California at Berkeley two years ago, has since won two consecutive Big Ten crowns and was aspiring to Counsilman's national success.
"First of all," said Bell, "I don't talk to anyone who calls track a minor sport. Anyone who calls track, which is the No. 1 sport in the Olympic Games, a minor sport just shows lack of education."
U.S. hopes for gold medals in the distance events at the 1972 Olympics have been diminished—to an extent not easily calculated—by a University of Florida rule that forbids distance runners from training on its golf course. Instead, they must train on roads near campus.
Frank Shorter and Jack Bacheler, two of America's outstanding distance men and both graduate students at Florida, say they don't mind so much except for the alligators, which live in sinkholes around the campus and come out in the evening, crossing the roads to get from one hole to another.
"You learn to keep away from them," says Shorter. "The alligators are slow and lazy, but they have that one quick move. That's how they get so many ducks. The ducks think they're slow and go near them; then it's all over."
No distance runner has fallen victim to that one quick move, as yet. But Shorter has promised to stay off the greens and fairways if only the university will let him return to the golf course.
The possibility of snakes in the rough has not come up.
Marty Pushkin, the Virginia Tech track coach, called the Roanoke Times to report that Steeplechaser Merle Valotto had finished second in a big meet in Kentucky. Valotto's time, Pushkin said, was 8:45. Ten minutes later the phone rang once more in the newspaper office. Again it was Coach Pushkin. "Forget the 8:45," he said. "That's the time of his plane flight home."