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SQUARE RULE IN A ROUND CONUNDRUM
One of this season's new college football rules specifies that a player fielding a punt must be given at least a two-yard berth by would-be tacklers—whether or not he signals for a fair catch. But as Joe Keeton, an assistant coach at the University of Missouri at Rolla, a school that specializes in engineering and science, tried to go over that rule change at a team meeting, one player raised his hand and asked. "Coach, do we have to give that guy two yards square or a two-yard radius?"
"Just give the guy two yards, O.K.?" Keeton replied. "What's the difference?"
The player explained that a square in which a punt receiver was two yards from each side would encompass an area of 144 square feet, while a circle with a two-yard radius would amount to only 113.1 square feet. In other words, opposing players could get closer to the punt receiver under a two-yard-radius interpretation of the rule. Eventually, Keeton caught on to what his interrogator was saying, but he allows that it took awhile. "Only four people in a room of almost 100 didn't understand what he was talking about," he says. "And they were all coaches."
University of Delaware Athletic Director Dave Nelson, the secretary of the NCAA Football Rules Committee, conceded to SI's Armen Keteyian that the rule wasn't precise on the point. "It doesn't say anything about square or radius," Nelson says. "It just says you have to allow the player two yards." With a laugh, he added, "My question is, 'Does it cover two yards above and below the player?' I think it does, particularly where flying bodies are involved."
ONE LESS CRYSTAL-BALL GAZER
When former Ohio State Quarterback Art Schlichter, who had become a pro with the Baltimore Colts, was suspended by the NFL earlier this year for betting on NFL games, people in Columbus, Ohio recalled that, speaking of gambling, Buckeye Coach Earle Bruce was a frequent racegoer who had accompanied Schlichter to local tracks.
Last week, again speaking of gambling, Ohio State President Edward H. Jennings ordered Bruce to drop from his weekly show on Columbus station WTVN-TV a segment in which Bruce matched wits with fans in predicting the outcome of college games. Jennings acted after the NCAA notified the school that the "I Beat the Buckeye Coach" feature was "contrary to the spirit and intent" of NCAA rules and that "the principles of ethical conduct" prohibited coaches "from providing information to assist individuals involved in organized gambling activities."
Bruce, who had correctly picked 49 of 69 games on the show this season, protested that his crystal-ball gazing was "just a fun thing to do." He also pointed out that other coaches around the country have TV shows on which they pick winners. Nevertheless, he and WTVN-TV agreed to scratch the coach's predictions from the show; the station decided that the picks henceforth would be made by two sportscasters. As for Ohio State, Jennings accepted blame on behalf of the school for "failing to anticipate this problem and...failing to act on this matter sooner." That admission appeared to be, especially in view of the Schlichter matter and the rumors about Bruce's racetrack activities, a clear case of better late than never. Now if the NCAA would only get the word to other coaches who do the same thing.
THEY JUST GRIND IT OUT