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Niki Lauda, the well-born Austrian who became a two-time world auto-racing champion before retiring from the sport last year, has launched his own charter airline. With two 44-seat Fokker F-27s (and an option on a 300-seat DC-10), Vienna-based Lauda-Air operates weekly flights to Venice and Paris under contract with travel agencies and also runs charter flights to Greece, Yugoslavia, Italy and West Germany. The company has 32 employees, including six pilots, one of them being Lauda himself. During his auto-racing days, Lauda owned a share of a Lear Jet, which he sometimes flew to Grand Prix events, and he has since upgraded his pilot's license to cover commercial airliners.
Remember when athletes became beer distributors when they retired?
CALLING OFF THE DOGS
It's an unwritten rule among college football coaches not to run up the score against outmanned opponents, but the rule is often honored in the breach. During the 1930s Ohio State's Francis Schmidt, who wasn't dubbed Close the Gates of Mercy Schmidt for nothing, made a practice of running it up against Buckeye foes, scores like 85-7, 76-0 and 61-0 being the result. More recently, when Lee Corso was coaching at Louisville he found himself on the wrong end of a lopsided score and unavailingly waved a white handkerchief on the sideline. When Pepper Rodgers was at Kansas he was similarly moved, during a shellacking by Missouri, to flash the peace sign at Tiger Coach Dan Devine. Rodgers later reported that Devine "shot one half of it back at me."
Charges of pouring it on have been particularly rife in 1980, partly, no doubt, because the wide-open offenses now characterizing the college game make it possible for some teams to score almost at will. Among those accused of running up the score were bowl-bound Nebraska, Florida State, Brigham Young and, not least, Baylor, which tried an onside kick with eight seconds left and a 42-7 lead over Lamar University. The Lamar coach, Larry Kennan, cracked, "Maybe they were afraid we'd run it back all the way, then line up and go for 30 points" (SCORECARD, Oct. 20). In fact, coaches are resourceful in offering excuses for being slow to pull starters and otherwise offending against accepted mismatch etiquette. Criticized for calling a fake punt in the fourth quarter with a 39-15 lead over Connecticut, Massachusetts Coach Bob Pickett hastened to explain that he was merely "trying to take pressure off my kicker," who, he added, had recently suffered a couple of blocked punts. Stanford's Paul Wiggin justified his tardiness in pulling his first-stringers in a 54-13 win over Oregon State by noting that his team was playing USC the next week and had to stay sharp. Then there's Delaware Coach Tubby Raymond's classic explanation for trying a two-point conversion despite a big lead in a game a couple of seasons back. "A run is less likely to succeed. That's why it's worth two points."
But the commonest justification for running up scores is that no lead is safe these days. When Bobby Bowden was coaching West Virginia, his team led Pittsburgh 35-8 in the third quarter, only to lose 36-35, a fact that Bowden, now at Florida State, was quick to mention this season after calling for a two-point conversion, a long pass and a "blooper" kickoff late in a 41-7 win over Boston College. But Bowden at least had put his reserves in the lineup, which is more than sometimes could be said of Brigham Young's Lavell Edwards, who frequently complained that he couldn't relax during one-sided games because the Cougar defense was weak. But after keeping star Quarterback Jim McMahon in the game until the closing minutes of a 54-14 win over Nevada-Las Vegas, Edwards finally admitted that he merely wanted to fatten the quarterback's stats.
Few schools more shamelessly ran up big scores this season than Portland State, which shelled Cal Poly Pomona 93-7 and Delaware State 105-0. "No matter who is in the game, our approach is to throw the ball," says Coach Mouse Davis, but this scarcely explained why Davis sent his first-string defensive linemen back into the game when Cal Poly, trailing late in the fourth quarter, 93-0, began moving toward its lone touchdown. Roman Gabriel, who coaches Cal Poly, said bitterly of Davis, "He rubbed our nose in the dirt. Down the line we'll get a shot at him." And perhaps they will. One of the biggest mismatches of 1979 was Houston's 63-0 romp over Rice, a humiliation that the losers had good reason to try to avenge as quickly as possible. It didn't take long. The Owls ended their '80 season the other day by whipping Houston 35-7. There's a lesson there somewhere.
YANKEE HORSE TRADER