SI Vault
Edited by Jerry Kirshenbaum
October 15, 1979
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October 15, 1979


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After a football luncheon last week in Ann Arbor, Dan Perrin, a 21-year-old reporter for The Michigan Daily, approached Coach Bo Schembechler with a tape recorder. Michigan had made only one of 10 field-goal attempts this season and Perrin asked Schembechler whether he was considering recruiting placekickers, something he hadn't actively done in the past. Schembechler began to answer, then exploded. According to Perrin and others who were present, the coach jabbed him with a finger, knocked his microphone away and gave him a shove. "Don't try to make me look bad, son," Bo fumed. "You understand what I say or I'll throw you the hell out of Michigan football."

Michigan had played on the West Coast 48 hours earlier and Schembechler was short of sleep, so perhaps it was not surprising that he should be showing signs of strain. Still, five days later he had yet to apologize to Perrin. Nor had anybody in Michigan's administration publicly expressed any regrets. Asked about Schembechler's conduct, Athletic Director Don Canham said, "I don't condone it but by the same token I've been irritated myself." Canham concluded, "I don't think there's a problem."

Schembechler is not the first prominent college coach to blow up. Nor are Michigan administrators the first to wink at such incivility. Too many college officials seem willing to follow the lead of Ohio State's administration, which for years studiously refrained from criticizing Woody Hayes for his excesses. It can be argued that had his superiors let him know in earlier years that such conduct would not be tolerated, Hayes might have learned to control himself and might not have ended his career in disgrace.

It may or may not be relevant that Schembechler was an assistant to Hayes at Ohio State in the 1950s and was known there as "Little Woody." What does seem relevant is something Canham said after the 1971 Michigan-Ohio State game in Ann Arbor, during which Hayes ripped a 10-yard chain from officials, tried to break it over his knee, and threw it onto the field. "That guy packs people in," Canham enthused. "He's great for the game."

"Prices are going through the roof," exulted Harmon Cooper as he looked out over a sea of buyers crowding the booths at a baseball-card convention held last weekend in Manhattan's Prince George Hotel. Cooper, the convention's co-director, was right. A 1933 Goudey bubble-gum card of Babe Ruth that fetched $35 five years ago was now being offered for $125. And a 1952 Mickey Mantle Topps bubble-gum card that sold for $600 six months ago was, startlingly, going for $1,200 (because that was Mantle's first appearance on a Topps card and the number of cards printed was relatively small). Dealers attributed the runaway prices in general to soaring demand by collectors who see baseball cards as an ideal hedge against inflation.


Concerned over the years about what it felt was an excess of one-sided games, the NFL nevertheless resisted the temptation to let poorer teams use 12 men. But last season it did something similar. In a move some critics thought more worthy of a touch-football league at Camp North Woods, the NFL began drawing up its regular-season schedules according to an "equalization" formula that tends to pit weak against weak, strong against strong.

Say this for the NFL's scheme, though; it apparently works. The average victory margin, which had been 14.5 points over the three previous seasons, declined to 10.8 last year and is up only slightly, to 11 points, so far in '79. The trend toward closer games has inevitably sown uncertainty among Las Vegas oddsmakers, whose average spread for NFL games has shrunk during the same period from nearly eight points to less than a touchdown. This season's point spreads have averaged a scant 5.6 per game. In other words, if you thought you've been noticing fewer 10-points-and-over quotations than in the past, you're right.


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