SI Vault
Edited by Robert W. Creamer
October 13, 1975
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October 13, 1975


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An irritated follower of college football writes: "Who do you like to win the Academy Award in 1977? How about Jack Nicholson? He's performed well in the past, and he'll almost certainly be in a movie next year. How about a little support for Jack? What about the National Book Award? Here's a vote for Truman Capote, assuming he writes another book by then.

"Sound ridiculous? Sure, but that's the way we do things in football. Players are called All-Americas in August, before the season begins, and a select few are named as candidates for the Heisman Trophy before they have thrown a pass, avoided a tackier, scored a touchdown. Note that there is no reference to throwing a block, making a tackle or intercepting a pass—since the Heisman Trophy for the outstanding football player of the year is really limited to those who throw or carry the ball. Defensive players and offensive linemen, who make up 73% of those on the field, need not apply, even if the name is Joe Greene or Dick Butkus.

"Everything is so automatic, so cut-and-dried, so preplanned. Regular-season games are scheduled years in advance, with little chance of utilizing late-blooming rivalries. Bowl games are set up well before the season ends. In fact, this year the Orange Bowl Committee came out in September with a list of maybe a dozen teams, one of which it hoped would play the Big Eight champion (which automatically goes to the Orange Bowl) on New Year's night. Suppose the few teams named all have disastrous years? Or are final scores cut-and-dried, too?

"Why don't they go all the way? Why not name an official All-America team on Aug. 15, the Heisman Trophy winner on Aug. 31 and the bowl game match-ups on Sept. 15? Then publicity could be concentrated on the choices ('Bowl-bound State, with Heisman Trophy winner Footsy Swift and All-America Wide Receiver Sticky Fingers...'), while the rest of us sit back at inconsequential regular-season games and thrill to the splendid play of undesignated and unprepublicized heroes."


Although absolutely complete final receipts for the third war between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier (page 20) may never be disclosed, early returns from theater television indicate that Socko, as Variety might put it, is still Boffo. Of the 350 locations in the U.S. and Canada that showed the fight, three grossed more than a quarter of a million dollars, and most of the others did very well with ticket prices ranging from $10 in such places as Kalamazoo, Mich., to $35 in Anchorage, Alaska. Promoter Don King, who decided that the extravagant prices he had charged for earlier TV ventures had been ill-advised, cut theater prices for Fight III by 20% on the average. And he saw to it that people in most of the theaters had three hours of action on the screen, including a good preliminary bout as well as a karate match.

King, not a modest man, did have far too much of himself in evidence, notably during an interminable speech he gave before the main event, most of which was not heard because of the booing that accompanied it. King should worry. Along with the theater TV here and abroad, he also had the fight on home TV in France and Juneau, Alaska; on cable TV on a delayed basis; as a feature film the following day in a number of first-run movie houses; and on transcontinental airplane flights. And viewers at home will probably get to see the fight early next year on ABC-TV. Whatever the final figures, it seems possible that the ultimate gross may approach the estimated $18 million that the first Ali-Frazier fight drew. Not bad. Not bad at all.


A sports mascot is usually a tethered goat, a chained wildcat or something along that line, or else a hyperactive student in a lion costume who dances along the sideline. But the Cooper City ( Fla.) High School football team, nicknamed the Cowboys, has departed from tradition by buying a pig, and the players have taken to calling themselves the Root Hogs, after a drill used during practice. The team, which consists mostly of farm boys, named the pig Big Red, outfitted him with a harness and a five-foot leash and have him on hand at every game.

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