Ford: "Who did?"
Kiffin: "I never did. I never turned you in.... They came up here. I don't know how they got here."
Asked about this exchange with Ford, Kiffin at first denied it had taken place but changed his tune when informed that the tape existed. Ford was a bit slippery, too. After first trying to claim that his confrontation with Kiffin had been "a private conversation"—a curious objection, considering it had occurred amid a milling crowd—Ford said, "Ain't no telling what I said after the game. But if I said it, I said it." Having thus acknowledged (well, sort of) that the conversation had taken place, Ford and Kiffin next addressed themselves, with equally enigmatic effect, to the substantive issue of whether Kiffin had, in fact, blown the whistle on Clemson. The word from Ford: "I don't know if he did it or not. If he did, that's his business, and if we turn them in, it's our business." And Kiffin: "I didn't turn him in. But if I had, I wouldn't have been wrong." On the fact that Ford had dared accuse him of such a thing, Kiffin added, "I don't think he probably necessarily meant it."
A BIRD DOG MAKES SOME POINTS
In a speech in New York the other day, George Steinbrenner got off a good one. Referring to Willie McGee, who starred in the World Series after being traded by the Yankees to the Cardinals, Steinbrenner said, "He's with St. Louis now—and so is the scout that told us he'd never make our team." Even before the quip could find its way into THEY SAID IT, however, a story in the Long Island newspaper Newsday put the McGee deal in a somewhat different light.
It turns out there really is an ex-Yankee scout with the Cardinals, Wilfredo Calvino. Contrary to what Steinbrenner joshingly implied, it also happens that Calvino left the Yankees in 1980, well before McGee was traded and, of course, before he became a World Series star. Far from counseling the Yankees that McGee would never make the team, Calvino said he told then-Yankee General Manager Gene Michael that McGee had the makings of a "great player." After Calvino joined the Cardinals last October, he recommended McGee to Cardinal General Manager Whitey Herzog, who heeded his advice.
Besides setting the record straight concerning McGee, Calvino told of another onetime Yankee prospect. "We had an opportunity to get him for $40,000," Calvino said. "Some time later the Dodgers had to pay over $100,000 to sign him." The prospect: Fernando Valenzuela.
NONBOXERS OF THE WORLD, UNIGHT!
If you liked the baseball and NFL strikes, you'll positively love the walkout staged in Fort Lauderdale the other evening by a fighter—make that a nonfighter—named Dennis Marsella. Just four days before Marsella was scheduled to enter the ring for a four-rounder at War Memorial Auditorium, the bout was canceled because, the promoters said, they'd belatedly discovered that Marsella had never fought before. Marsella, a 31-year-old lifeguard, admitted to this small gap in his curriculum vitae, but claimed that the real reason the fight was scrapped was that he'd alienated the promoters by making too many demands. For example, he wanted to be paid $300 instead of the $150 he was offered. He also was unhappy because his name had been misspelled "Marcella" on the card's posters. At any rate, after the decision to cancel the match was announced, Marsella carried his protest to the streets. On the night the fight was to have been held, he picketed the auditorium in his boxing trunks for more than two hours.
We can't help admiring the nerve of a fighter who's never fought going on strike. Ordinarily, we'd even argue that such a stalwart had an inalienable right to help proofread fight posters for possible spelling errors. But we admit to being a little uneasy on that particular score after receiving a letter from Marsella in which he enumerated his many grievances against the promoters and signed off with this ringing declaration: "Someday, I will fite!"