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NOW IT CAN BE TOLD Upon visiting UCLA that spring, Wooden was stunned by the poor quality of the leftover players. "Had I known how to abort the agreement in an honorable manner," he wrote in his autobiography They Call Me Coach, "I would have done so and gone to Minnesota, or if that was impossible, stayed on at Indiana State." In fact, help was on the way, thanks to the talent produced by California's junior colleges, a feeder system that was relatively unknown in Big Ten country.
LOST IN THE MIST After Wooden's second season in Westwood, Purdue offered him its head-coaching job. But UCLA wouldn't release him from his contract, and he was forced to turn the Boilermakers down. Later, he would disappoint Notre Dame and both Minnesota and Purdue, again. Meanwhile poor Frank McCormick, eventually did work with Wooden--as the Pacific Coast Conference's supervisor of officials.
The Sports Illustrated cable network
ROAD NOT TAKEN In 1983, after buying Getty Oil, Texaco found itself with an ill-fitting little asset, an all-sports cable network that showed Australian Rules football at 4 a.m. Unable to see how ESPN fit into its plans, Texaco put the network up for sale, and SI publisher Bob Miller urged executives at Time Inc., SI's parent company, to buy and rebrand the network as SPORTS ILLUSTRATED's own. But company president Richard Munro chose to sit out the bidding.
ROAD TAKEN ABC wound up acquiring ESPN for $237 million. Today, as one of the most valuable steeds in the Disney stable, the network reportedly clears between four and five times that in profit each year. Over the next two decades SI launched two TV ventures, both of which eventually folded; one, the sports news network CNN/SI, never got a foothold on cable systems because of ESPN's hegemony.
NOW IT CAN BE TOLD Though Time Inc. had begun to expand into cable in the early '80s, the company still regarded itself as a magazine publisher first and was more interested in deals like the one it made just before passing on ESPN, for Temple Inland, the East Texas paper company that would keep its magazines in pulp far into the future.
LOST IN THE MIST Gerald Levin, the executive whose vision led Time Inc. to rent the satellite space for a pay-cable venture called Home Box Office, was among the executives in favor of buying ESPN. But Levin hadn't yet ascended to the rank that would eventually make him CEO of AOL Time Warner. Munro's caution won out, thereby depriving fans of such potential fruits of synergy as The Life of Berman and Pardon the Swimsuit Issue.