The article about the University of Florida's problems (Partly Cloudy Week in the Sunshine State, Sept. 10) broke my heart for several reasons. First, I'm a rabid Gator fan and a proud graduate of the university, and I don't like to be characterized as "obnoxious." I've never thrown fruit, and I only spit sometimes.
Second, the article brought to public attention the frustration of following an "almost" team. But third, and most important of all, it made me realize that my very own alma mater isn't immune to the football factory mentality, and for that I'm truly sorry. I know that we're going to get socked with NCAA penalties, and I'm sorry for my school and for Charley Pell, who obviously felt he needed to do what he did in order to please fans like me. What Florida needs now is a coach with impeccable credentials who's a proven winner. Think you'd like it in the South, Joe Paterno?
Somewhere out there, Red Parker [the Clemson coach Charley Pell replaced] must be having a good laugh. In 1978, Pell left Clemson for Florida, where he would have "an opportunity for the ultimate goal, the national championship," something he believed he wouldn't get if he stayed at Clemson. Pell bombed in his first year, Clemson won all the marbles two years later and now Pell has thrown himself and the entire Florida football program into the mud. You sure did give 'em hell, Pell.
Thanks to John Underwood for the insightful and ofttimes humorous look at football in the Sunshine State. I'm a proud state of Florida fan who's grateful for any recognition any of its teams ( Florida, Florida State, Miami, the Dolphins and Bucs) can get, favorable or not. Personally, I'd like to see John McKay, a great college coach, at Gainesville, and please, Lord, bring Howard Schnellenberger to Tampa Bay.
I spent my childhood in Gainesville and quickly became one of those Florida loyalists described in your story. Yet, like many other Gator fans, I don't wear silly hats, spill my drinks or throw debris of any kind. I simply cheer very loudly when Florida wins, which is often, and rationalize quietly when it loses. Here's one quiet rationalization: Last year the loser of the Florida- Miami game went on to be the national champ. Go, Gators!
THE HEAVYWEIGHT SCENE
Pat Putnam's article The Champ's in the Pink (Sept. 10) got me to thinking about all the heavyweight champions we've had in the past few years: Spinks, Norton, Holmes, Tate, Weaver, Dokes, Coetzee, Witherspoon and now Pinklon Thomas. We have the WBA, the WBC, the IBF and various smaller sanctioning bodies. So since there is no one real power in boxing, I've decided to lay claim to the IWM (I Want Money) heavyweight title. Of course, being champion entitles me to receive at least $100,000 for my first defense. I know I'm not worth the money, but I want to buy a house. I'll admit I can't fight very well, but neither can the other champions. Thank goodness Ali's hot in his prime or we'd all be ex-champs.
IWM Heavyweight Champion
Forest City, N.C.
Yahoo! Bob Ottum's article on Greg LeMond (Climbing Clear Up to the Heights, Sept. 3) made thousands of cyclists extremely happy. Finally our sports hero (in Europe) has made it into America's best-read sports magazine. Bike racing in the U.S. has been accelerating steadily in popularity and deserves the recognition it's getting.
Los Altos, Calif.
It's about time an American publication recognized the achievements of cyclist Greg LeMond! His accomplishments can be fairly compared to those of Wayne Gretzky, John McEnroe and Carl Lewis. Cycling is ready to explode in the U.S., thanks to LeMond. Bob Ottum's article delineated very well the story behind this fine racer. Bravo!
San Jose, Calif.
I was all set to write you a nasty letter asking why SI hadn't had a feature on John Henry in three years when, to my surprise, I opened my Aug. 27 issue and found William Nack's excellent story (An Oldie but Goodie) and some wonderful photography. But afterward I thought, "This is all very nice, but now I'll probably have to read about John Henry's win in the Arlington Million next week in FOR THE RECORD." You've got me spoiled! There was old John again in the lead article of your Sept. 3 issue ( John Henry Was the One in the Million), along with a fantastic head-on shot of the finish.
I'm 20 years old and have been a fan of this horse ever since I watched in disbelief when, as a 5-year-old, he went wire-to-wire in winning the 1�-mile San Juan Capistrano Handicap in 1980. Now, four years later, I've watched him 15 or 20 times, including traveling to Chicago for the '81 Million. After seeing many heart-stopping victories, I thought his win in this year's Million was almost boring because it was a textbook race. He's the best thing that could have happened to racing. Now if only you could get him on the cover.