Dan Jenkins has been abroad in the land of late, plugging his latest book, Baja Oklahoma (Atheneum, $12.95). He dropped in at WLS-TV in Chicago for an interview with John Callaway, who said, "In your book, TCU is beaten by Texas 85-0, and it reminds me of our problems with Northwestern University, which hasn't won a game in the last 341 years." And Jenkins said, "They both wear purple and white; they have that in common.... They've both been terrible for about 10 years and I think they both ought to get on probation. Then at least we'll know they're trying. SMU's got a winning team this year and they're on probation. They can't go to a bowl. Maybe that means Methodists try harder than Christians. I don't know."
In print and in conversation Jenkins almost never stoops to the commonplace. The man who reported the downhill skiing carnage at the 1968 Winter Olympics for SI thusly—"American boy parts and girl parts were being spread across the slopes like Bela Lugosi's favorite buffet"—has never stopped doing his damndest to put that kind of Jenkinsian originality into everything he utters, whether it be in a bestseller like Semi-Tough or casual chat at the office water cooler or five fast rounds with Carson.
Jenkins is getting boffo reviews for Baja Oklahoma (that's Dan's way of saying Texas), which, like Semi-Tough, will be made into a movie. He's writing the screenplay. Also several other screenplays. After that he may write a novel, a sequel to Semi-Tough. "Probably called Semi-Grown-up" And, as usual, he is writing golf for us. In this issue he reports on the Bing Crosby National Pro-Am tournament (page 26).
Golf, says Jenkins, is "the hardest sport in the world to play well consistently. It requires more practice than any other sport. And the golfer has more enemies than any other athlete. He has 14 clubs in his bag, all of them different; 18 holes to play, all of them different, every week; and all around him are sand, trees, grass, water, wind and 143 other players. In addition, the game is 50 percent mental, so his biggest enemy is himself. That's why golf is the hardest sport to write about. It's hard to make it interesting for someone with no working knowledge of the game. Every time I stagger to the typewriter I know this."
Jenkins does spend a lot of time at the typewriter—so much, in fact, that he keeps discovering surprising things that have happened around him, such as his children having grown up. Daughter Sally is suddenly 21 and sports editor of the Stanford Daily; she graduates in June. Her twin, Marty, works for a TV production firm in New York. And Danny, 20, is studying to be a news photographer.
As Jenkins says, "If I'm not in a locker room, an airplane or a pressroom, I'm at home in New York, working on a book or a movie. Occasionally, a lady sticks her head in the door and says, 'Hi. You may not remember me. I'm June Jenkins. Your wife.' "