Woody Hayes' stormy 28-year career as Ohio State football coach ended on a sour note when he was sacked after punching a Clemson player during the Gator Bowl game. Billy Martin, like Hayes no stranger to controversy, had better luck. Fired 11 months earlier and replaced by Bob Lemon as Yankee manager, Martin returned in June to replace his replacement. He was supposed to be back in 1980 anyway, but owner George Steinbrenner decided a return to the old order—or disorder-was indicated sooner.
College basketball's two finest players met in the NCAA finals, and Earvin (Magic) Johnson and his Michigan State teammates beat Larry Bird and Indiana State 75-64. That ended the Sycamores' winning streak at 33 games. Montreal won a fourth straight Stanley Cup, but clearly the best hockey team in the world was the Soviet club that humiliated a team of NHL All-Stars in a three-game series in New York. All in all, there was perhaps no better exemplar of man's will to excel, to stretch the boundaries of mind and muscle, than a beanpole of a Californian named Bryan Allen. As pilot and engine of a fragile flying machine called the Gossamer Albatross, he flew the English Channel. It was the first such crossing in "human-powered" flight, an ancient obsession.