Meyer spoke at length on how hard it is to stop a gifted runner like Dickerson. The caller then asked him to compare Dickerson to other great backs in NFL history, but just as Meyer was about to oblige, the man interrupted. This time his accent was more familiar.
"Hey, Coach, it's me, Eric...."
A FROSTY PEACE
The NBA's regular referees, who have been locked out by the league since Sept. 1, will return to work this week, thanks to a new collective-bargaining agreement signed last week. But the signing ceremony was almost as nasty as the labor dispute it was mercifully bringing to an end. Richie Phillips, general counsel for the NBA referees association, showed up 35 minutes late, after which he and NBA Commissioner Larry O'Brien engaged in recriminations and exchanged stiff handshakes and frosty smiles for the cameras. "How much longer do we have to keep this up, Larry?" Phillips asked at one point during the ordeal.
"I can assure you, longer now than any time in the future," said O'Brien, who is retiring on Feb. 1.
Despite the incivilities and three pens that wouldn't write, the league and the refs signed a three-year contract that increases the refs' pay from a starting salary of $18,146 and top salary of $65,000 to $28,000 and $90,000, respectively, by the third year of the agreement. The refs will also receive from $3,000 to $27,000, depending on rating and length of service, in playoff revenue. In return, the union dropped its demand for a decrease in the authority of Vice-President of Operations Scotty Stirling in the league's ref rating system.
After their long layoff, some returning referees will no doubt be slow getting back into the swing of things on the court. "I think it's fair to say that it's going to take a few games," Stirling said. "But I don't think the process is going to impact negatively on the game." While they are getting reacclimated, the regular refs can scarcely do worse than their substitutes, who often lost control of games and, with a few exceptions, failed to win the respect of players and coaches.
SORRY, WRONG NUMBERS
Women's college basketball has its own version of the Pine Tar Affair, a rules controversy that affected the outcome of a game and could hang over much of the current season. The dispute involves the numbers on new uniforms that players for Avila College of Kansas City were issued just before a game last week against Missouri Valley College. When Avila Coach Henry Newell entered his lineup in the official scorebook, he listed team members as having the same numbers they'd worn in previous games. What Newell hadn't noticed was that for nine of his players the uniform numbers had been changed.
No sooner did the game begin than Missouri Valley Coach Marlene Joy protested that some of the Avila players weren't wearing the numbers listed in the scorebook. Referee Debbie Brown promptly assessed nine technical fouls against Avila, one for each of the players involved in the mix-up, and Missouri Valley's Joy Swadley sank eight of the nine resulting free throws. Newell objected in vain that Avila should only have been charged T's for the five players on the court at the time. Missouri Valley won the game 46-44.