THE MORE THE MUDDIER
The NHL will soon be the only hockey game in town. Last week in Chicago, the NHL-WHA merger plan, which was nixed by a single vote in Florida three weeks ago, was brought to life. This time, two vote changes—by Montreal and Vancouver—passed the merger, which for almost $10 million apiece will bring WHA clubs Winnipeg, Edmonton. Quebec and New England into the NHL fold, most likely by next season.
The Montreal Canadiens, owned by the Molson Breweries, had been heavily pressured, mainly by fans in Edmonton and Winnipeg who boycotted Molson's beer. Vancouver switched its ballot because the NHL agreed to change its scheduling pattern and draw up a balanced slate, provided Vancouver would go for the merger.
Instead of nurturing the rivalries—Islanders vs. Rangers, Boston vs. Buffalo, etc.—developed by having teams in the same division meet four times at home, four on the road each season, as at present, all 21 NHL clubs would face off a total of four times, barely often enough to recognize each others' uniforms. Such a schedule might cause less embarrassment for the weaker teams, but for the NHL, says Boston General Manager Harry Sinden, "The balanced schedule will be a giant step backward."
If you happen to be in Stamford, Conn., you might catch sight of a shiny new Jeep. It's a beauty, a real cream puff. It has stripes, CB gear, the right sort of oversized tires, leather steering-wheel cover—the works. Somebody thought up an apt sort of license plate for it, too: NUTOY.
THE ENVELOPE, PLEASE
"For most Americans Feb. 21 was a day like all others. But for college football coaches it was the day to send the tuxedo to the cleaners, dust off the old 'Coach of the Year' speech and arrange for a booking on the Johnny Carson show." So writes Joe Terranova, the Ford Motor Co. marketing researcher from Dearborn, Mich. who watches more than 500 high school game films a year and then, after all the letters of intent and grant-in-aid tenders are signed (Feb. 21 this year), reports on who scored best in the annual scramble for schoolboy flesh.
For the second year in a row Terranova's winner is...Southern Cal. The Trojans landed seven offensive and defensive linemen who average out to 6'5" and 243 pounds—"more pure beef than at Oscar Mayer's Vernon packing plant." Tops among them are 6'5", 260-pound George Achica and 6'7", 265-pound Don Mosebar, the nation's two "franchise" players. "USC will win at least two of the next four national championships," according to Terranova.
The rest of the top 10:
2. Notre Dame: Also got a good haul of linemen and two blue-chip backs, Dave Duerson on defense and Roderick Bone on offense.