While the transferred Colts are thriving in their new stomping grounds in Indianapolis, bereft Baltimore keeps pining for its departed team and hoping that pro football will return to the city. Currently, its best bet is the USFL, which apparently would like to move a team there. The faltering Washington Federals, who were set to switch to Miami until the USFL's planned shift to a fall schedule upset those plans (SCORECARD, Sept. 3), were considering a move to Baltimore before settling instead on Orlando, Fla. But Baltimoreans were said to be cool to the Federals, hoping instead reports were true that the fall schedule would prompt the Philadelphia Stars, the USFL champions, to move south. In the long run, Baltimore still wants the NFL, and the feeling seems to be that the Stars would stand a better chance of getting into the old league if the USFL eventually forces a merger.
Dreams, surely, but dreams are what they're selling in Baltimore these days. A determined group of die-hard fans called Baltimore Football Associates, Inc. is selling "season tickets" at $120 a seat. The money is to be held until a pro team returns to Baltimore, at which time contributors would get top priority on real season tickets. The idea is to demonstrate to pro football people that despite the city's disenchantment with Robert Irsay's ownership of the Colts, a strong core of dedicated fans still exists in Baltimore and is eager to embrace a new team.
A GERMAN RETREATS, BUT THE HOOP INVASION CONTINUES
The University of Kentucky's announcement last week that its 7'4" West German prize, Gunther Behnke (SI, March 12), had quit school and returned home before playing a single basketball game for the Wildcats refocused attention on the trend in American colleges to enroll foreigners to help their programs. Stars like Akeem Olajuwon ( Nigeria) of Houston and Detlef Schrempf ( West Germany) of Washington have demonstrated that it's possible for these outsize aliens to adjust socially and excel athletically.
But Behnke had a tougher time of it after arriving in Lexington on Aug. 24 (he was welcomed at the airport by a local TV station's minicam crew). In an effort to ease his transition to life in the bluegrass. Behnke was introduced to several German-American families in the area, including one named Rupp (though not related to Kentucky's famous Baron, Adolph Rupp). But the youngster just couldn't cut it. After he lost his way to a math class on the morning of Aug. 28, he told the Wildcat coaching staff that he wanted to leave. In a statement released through the university, Behnke cited "circumstances at home," among them, apparently, a father with lung cancer and a girl friend. "Gunther's a good kid," says Jim Hatfield, the Kentucky assistant who recruited him, "but he was so homesick for his girl friend it was unbelievable."
Despite Behnke's departure, most of last season's West German imports will be back on American courts this winter. The 7'2" Uwe Blab returns to Indiana, while Jens Kujawa (6'11") and Olaf Blab (Uwe's 7-foot younger brother), who were exchange students at rival high schools in Illinois last season, will play for Illinois. Thomas Deuster, a 6'9" transfer from Centralia (Wash.) Junior College, has begun his sophomore year at Oregon. The 7-foot Christian Welp, Washington's Pac-10 Freshman of the Year last season, rejoins Schrempf, with whom he combined on the West German Olympic team to give America's gold medalists their toughest game at Los Angeles. And Wake Forest, which needs size underneath, plucked 6'8", 225-pound Hartmut Ortmann out of a metropolitan Philadelphia AAU league. Only 6'6" Lutz Wahden of the University of Puget Sound has emulated Behnke and returned home—Wahden did so in part because he misses his girl friend. He may come back next season.
And as far as Behnke's defection is concerned, fans at other SEC schools should give pause before indulging in too much Schadenfreude at Kentucky's loss. Three other West Germans, all 6'7" or taller, are currently enrolled as exchange students in Kentucky high schools.