- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
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Chris Ault, football coach at the University of Nevada, Reno, is telling everyone who will listen, "We'll play this fall with enthusiasm and reckless abandon." That's O.K. Summer football talk is cheap. But then he adds, "And if you go to a game and don't think we played with enthusiasm, we'll give you your money back."
With 8,000 fans at $4 a head expected for each contest, a game could be a $32,000 debacle if hustle content is low, the seven-game home season a potential $224,000 disaster. Says Ault, "I just know we aren't going to fail."
Even in depressed moments he only allows himself to think of "maybe one or two" refunds. To get money back, a disgruntled ticket-holder must report to Ault's office Monday morning and explain to the coach what was wrong. But what if 1,000 people are waiting at Ault's door some Monday? "That's no problem at all," he says, "because I will have already been fired."
WAITING FOR BRAD
The name Brad Maxwell may not mean much to many, but it meant nearly everything to the Minnesota North Stars of the NHL and the Birmingham Bulls of the competing WHA. And the other day there was plenty of competition.
It began when Maxwell took a plane from Vancouver to Birmingham to talk terms with the Bulls. In the meantime his agent, Bill Watters, had informed the North Stars that the 20-year-old defense-man would have a two-hour layover in Chicago en route. Perhaps, said Watters, the North Star brass would like to feast their eyes on a kid who might win somebody a Stanley Cup someday. The North Stars' president, general manager and treasurer all discovered they had nothing better to do that particular evening than to go to Chicago.
Maxwell was three hours late getting to Chicago. From time to time Watters would say, "If we can work out a deal, there is no reason for Maxwell to go to Birmingham at all." Then things would sag and Watters would say, "I guess we're going to have to go to Birmingham." The Minnesotans hated that idea, for they feared the size of the Birmingham bankroll. By the time Maxwell showed up, the deal was made and all Brad had to do was sign a three-year contract worth an estimated $275,000, shake a few hands and return home.
In Alabama, meanwhile, the vigil continued. The mayor was ready with the keys to the city, a helicopter was standing by to show Brad the wonders of the Southern countryside, telegrams were there from such Alabama celebrities as Kenny Stabler, Hubie Green, Johnny Musso and George Wallace. And oh, yes, Miss Alabama, Julia Houston, was poised to join Maxwell for dinner at Birmingham's best, The Club.
As impartial observers, we have no opinion on which team young Maxwell should have joined, but we can't help but wish he would at least have visited Birmingham and met Miss Alabama. Who knows what that would have led to.