Shofstall's half-mocking proposal was inspired by a fuss going on over proposed use of the university's Sun Devil Stadium by professional football. Pro promoters want to rent the stadium but the board of regents is against it on the grounds that pro football there would undermine the college football program. Shofstall suggested that the university sign a contract with a pro team in much the way that it does with, say, food concessionaires. The concessionaires agree to supply the university with food and other services. The pro team would supply a football team, use the stadium and other facilities and represent Arizona State in competition. Student football would be restricted to intramurals, and coaches would return to physical education duties.
Shofstall says the arrangement would give Arizona State a competitive team, earn more money for the university and get rid of the hypocrisy now inherent in the football program. As for pro football's side of it, it might not be such a farfetched idea. As Lamar Hunt pointed out a week or so ago, Arizona is one of the very few rich markets in the country still waiting for a pro team.
Frank Szymanski, basketball coach of the University of Baltimore, wrote his master's thesis on "A Cinematographical Analysis of the Mechanics of the Jump Shot as Performed by Professional Basketball Players." It's been a few years since Szymanski did his research but he feels his study still holds up. Its basic finding was that the jump shot does not necessarily come naturally to a player, but can be taught. "What I discovered," he said, "is that while players move into position for the shot in many different ways, there is marked similarity in the way they execute it once they are airborne—the way the good ones do it, anyway. In the air each guy's elbow is pointed right at the basket. That's the key, the elbow."
Of the subjects he studied and filmed, the best percentage shooter was Don Ohl, then with the Baltimore Bullets. Szymanski said, "The films showed that Ohl never deviated more than one degree in the angle his elbow, wrist, shoulder and hip joint made with the basket. On the other hand, Wali Jones was an erratic shooter, and I'm convinced the reason was that his shooting position deviated anywhere from two to 15 degrees. Jones never mastered the true mechanics of the shot."
The attention paid to minute details by pro football coaching staffs is remarkable, but sometimes it seems to be carried to infinite extremes. Scouting, for example, the continuing appraisal of players and teams, attempts to be so precise that it masquerades as an exact science. But do you know that scouts are scouted, too? Bobby Beathard, director of player personnel for the Miami Dolphins, says, "One scout may be better at grading wide receivers than offensive linemen. We try to learn each scout's strong points and his weak points."
The question is, who scouts the scout scouts?