McAlister, a good student, took and passed the test. But he took it a few weeks late. Apparently, McAlister and two other testees had arrived for the test, but without authorization slips. Although their names were on the list, a testing officer refused to let them in. They went to their high school counselor, who gave them the slips and told them of a new test date, which was set up by the test administering body in Iowa. On that day, with the same officer in charge, the trio took the test. McAlister alone passed. UCLA reported the circumstances to its conference, and for eight months no one said a word. McAlister took part in spring football practice; he competed in track.
"Then, last week the NCAA took action," said Bush. "James did nothing illegal, but someone pulled out a technicality and put on the pressure. They didn't hurt UCLA; they hurt no one but a fine, decent kid who has worked harder, was more dedicated than any athlete I've ever seen. It's cruel, and I can't say anything else without being nasty."
On that souring note, the UCLA team left Los Angeles. Behind, McAlister, in tears, put his right hand through a door panel. (It is hoped that UCLA will leave the hole in the door as a memorial to the absurdity of the NCAA. This is the same august body which previously ruled that California would have to forfeit its 1970 track and field championship because of a similar incident involving sprinter Isaac Curtis.)
"I don't know how this will affect our kids," Bush said upon arriving in Seattle. "Right now they are determined to win the championship for James. But James could have won the long jump, and would have finished no worse than third. That's anywhere from six to 10 points we lose before we even start."
Minus his long-jump star, Bush added up his point potential and decided the Bruins could finish no better than one point behind crosstown rival USC.
"I can't give you any projected scores," said Trojan Coach Vern Wolfe in turn. "I can't tell you that much about the other teams, but I can sense a victory. A lot depends on our long jumper, Henry Hines. If he can put 10 points up on the boards early, it will ignite us."
Hines didn't ignite anyone. With one attempt left he led, but then Oregon's Bouncy Moore took the runway. "Bouncy," Hines said, "you'll never beat me."
Hines was both a lousy prophet and a lousy psychologist. The inspired Moore jumped 25'9�" to beat Hines by 3�". But most surprising of all, UCLA's Finn Bendixen finished third, giving the Bruins six points they didn't expect. "That lit our fire," said Bush.
"Well," Hines said, looking ahead, "if it isn't us, I don't mind UCLA winning the championship. I'd like to keep it in the family. In L.A. that big rivalry between us, that's between the coaches, the press and the alumni. On the track, sure, we're rivals. But off the track we go to the same parties, go out with the same girls, talk the same jive. I just don't want Villanova or Kentucky or Oregon to win it. If all those other people are mixed in it, man, that's like having raisins in your chocolate-chip cookie mix. And I don't want any raisins in my chocolate-chip cookies."
Later, someone told Villanova's Marty Liquori, who would win his third straight NCAA outdoor mile in a meet record 3.57.6, that he had been accused of many things, but never of being a raisin in a chocolate-chip cookie. "Aw, heck," said Liquori, "you can't tell about them raisins until you've tried them."