- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
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Tex Winter, basketball coach at Northwestern, is against the increase in physical force in the college game. "I'm concerned about no-harm, no-foul officiating," he says. "What happens is that one team experiences national success doing one thing or another, and then everyone else mimics it. It happened with UCLA's full-court press, and now everybody is going to the strong physical players, like Indiana's Kent Benson and Kentucky's Mike Phillips and Rick Robey.
"I'm for college basketball remaining a game of finesse, not brute force. As it's played now, it's becoming like the pro game. Every time you try to make a move, you get knocked over. We don't need that. We've got a game like that already—football."
The NCAA rule restricting traveling squads (to 10 in basketball, 48 in football) is unpopular among coaches, probably unfair to individual players and almost certainly destined for revision at the NCAA convention later this month. Before it is changed, one surprising set of statistics must be reported.
When Alabama Coach Bear Bryant carried his protest against the restriction into court and obtained a favorable—if temporary—ruling from Judge Sam C. Pointer in Tuscaloosa, Ala., the judge said among other things that the rule was contrary to NCAA bylaws stressing "fair competition." The implication was that visiting teams, limited to 48 players, would be handicapped in games with home teams, allowed 60 players.
However, the Lakeland ( Fla.) Ledger has come up with figures that contradict that assumption. It compared results of road games played by Southeastern Conference teams ( Bryant's conference) after the 48-man rule went into effect with road games played by the same teams a season earlier. Bowl games, games played at neutral sites and games played early this season before the rule went into effect were not included. Even though the conference's overall won-lost record was down from 69-37-4 (.650) in 1974 to 63-44-4 (.588) in 1975, road game performances improved greatly. From 15-25-2 (.375) on the road in 1974, the conference teams jumped to 21-14-1 (.600) in the 48-man era.
Why? Shug Jordan, who recently retired as coach at Auburn, says 48 players are enough for a game. "The ones you eliminate," he says, "usually are the ones who stand around and do everything but get their minds on the football game." Yet Jordan is still against the rule as an unwarranted intrusion, and Bryant, who admits he was surprised by the results of the Ledger survey, says his objection to the 48-man limit is not connected with its effect on winning or losing but on its limiting the number of men who get a chance to play.
It is disappointing to report there is no truth to the rumor that Muhammad Ali will fight Mitzi Gaynor in Minsk on Feb. 20, a full 15 rounds for the title. Disappointing because the facts are worse than that: the scheduled opponent is Jean Pierre Coopman of Belgium. Site to be determined.
For those who do not recoil in instant recognition, Coopman is also known as the Lion of Flanders. Seriously. After the first flurry of press releases about the match, the chief of the European Boxing Union banned it, allowing that it wasn't so much a fight as an assassination. Next, Coopman's camp said it would ignore that veto since the Lion holds a World Boxing Association license. He is unranked by the WBA (and the WBC, for that matter).