In the first 21 years of the conference's existence, Southern Cal won or was co-winner of no fewer than 17 Pac-8 and, later, Pac-10 swimming championships, thanks to an abundance of standout performers like Joe Bottom (1974-77) and his brother Mike (1975-78), each of whom swam on four conference championship teams. A third brother, Dave, is now a freshman at Stanford, having decided not to follow Joe and Mike to USC. At the Pac-10 meet two weeks ago in Los Angeles, Dave was Stanford's leading scorer, placing second in the 100-yard butterfly and in the 100- and 200-yard backstrokes, as the Cardinal won its first team swimming title in conference history. USC placed fifth.
SAVE YOUR BEAR MEMORABILIA, THE PRICE WILL RISE AGAIN
Following a 1981 season in which he became the winningest coach in college football history—he has 315 career victories, one more than Amos Alonzo Stagg—Bear Bryant is now suffering the postmilestone blahs. Bryant's top administrative aide, Charley Thornton, has up and taken a job at Texas A&M, and the Crimson Tide appears to have been out-recruited for next season by, among others, cross-state rival Auburn. One recruiting pitch used against the 68-year-old Bryant was that he faces mandatory retirement in two years, and unless some of his influential boosters succeed in making that retirement unmandatory, well, who would want to become part of a program as unsettled as that? Another pitch was that Bryant's grip on his players was slipping, as evidenced by the fact that several of them had scrapes with the law in 1981, leading to jokes around Tuscaloosa that the school's cheer should be changed from "Roll Tide" to "Parole Tide."
But none of this prevented 1,000 well-wishers from assembling in the ballroom of the Sheraton Washington (D.C.) Hotel last week for a $125-a-plate dinner billed as " America's Tribute to Paul (Bear) Bryant." Bob Hope and the Rev. Billy Graham were at the head table, so you knew right away that something important to America was going on, and the ballroom was decorated to resemble a stadium, complete with artificial turf on the floor, a lighted scoreboard, a replica of the Goodyear blimp hovering overhead (it was adorned with Bryant's name in lights) and "vendors" dispensing peanuts. Equally lavish were the words of Alabama Senator Jeremiah Denton, one of the dinner's sponsors, who said, "In Alabama, Coach Bryant is second only to God. We believe that on the eighth day the Lord created the Crimson Tide."
The dinner, the proceeds from which were earmarked for a scholarship fund at the school in Bryant's name, gave Alabama fans every reason to be confident about the future—if not necessarily on the gridiron, then certainly in the marketplace for Bryant memorabilia. All the guests at the function received limited-edition souvenir programs, each of them individually numbered, presumably in the expectation that historical documents chronicling the Bryant era will one day fetch a pretty price. Guests also received 10-ounce bottles of Coca-Cola bearing Bryant's likeness on the label. The commemorative Cokes went on sale in Alabama last December for, typically, 692 each and are in such demand around the state that some stores reportedly are now asking—and getting—up to $3 apiece. Instead of drinking the Cokes, many guests slipped the unopened bottles into pockets and purses and took them home for safekeeping. For his part, Bryant was presented with two paintings of Alabama football scenes, keys to a new van, a couple of stuffed bears and a small bronze bust of himself.
Three days after New Jersey Senator Harrison A. Williams Jr. resigned under threat of expulsion following his conviction on federal bribery and conspiracy charges, what was billed as "Williams Day" was held, as previously scheduled, in the Garden State. Don't worry, the disgraced politician wasn't the one being honored. The festivities, which took place before the New Jersey Nets' 98-97 loss to the Seattle SuperSonics in the Byrne Arena's in East Rutherford, N.J., recognized Ray Williams, one of the Net newcomers who have helped give that team new life this season (page 64), and his brother Gus, who plays for the Sonics. Neither ex-Senator Williams nor Bill Bradley, who succeeds him as the state's senior U.S. Senator and who has earned some honors in the NBA in his day, was on hand for the ceremony.
ONE OF A KIND TAKES A MATE
Since winning the three-meter springboard diving championship as a teenager at the 1976 Olympics in Montreal, Jennifer Chandler has attended college ( University of California at Irvine), retired from amateur athletic competition, done some coaching and become the answer to the following trivia question: How many American women have won individual Olympic gold medals in swimming or diving since 1972? Owing to her countrywomen's poor showing in '76 and the U.S. boycott of the 1980 Games in Moscow, the answer is exactly one—Jennifer Chandler. Something else that Chandler, now 22, has done since her triumph in Montreal is become engaged to Samuel Edgar Ainslie, 24, a golf teaching pro whom she'll wed in Birmingham on April 3. We congratulate her on taking the plunge.
CONSIDERED TOGETHER, THEY'RE IDEAL
Contrary to anything else you may hear on the subject, the starting guards on the San Diego Clippers aren't Oscar Madison and Felix Ungar. They're Charlie Criss, the NBA's shortest player, and Joe (Jelly Bean) Bryant, quite possibly the tallest guard in league history, and they've been the Clippers' regular back-court combination for almost a month now. Criss is 5'8", Bryant 6'9�", and if the height disparity strikes you as bizarre, look at it this way: They average around 6'3", which is probably pretty close to normal for an NBA backcourt.