When Clemson, the nation's No. 1 college football team last season, was heavily penalized last week by the NCAA and the Atlantic Coast Conference, what did the university president, Dr. Bill Atchley, have to say? He said, "I think we became very sloppy. I think we did things very carelessly without thinking what they meant."
If that doesn't strike you as being an entirely adequate response to the revelations of the multiple recruiting violations that brought on Clemson's punishment, well, here's Atchley last February in an interview that appeared in The Washington Post. At that time he said, "The NCAA will let things build up. To me, a violation is a violation, but they'll let the whole thing pile up until all of a sudden you have a major case. That's like taking a penny here and a penny there, and all of a sudden you have $1,000 and they accuse you of stealing $1,000." And, "At Clemson, I think we have a proper perspective."
JUSTICE AT LAST
Football players rely a lot on instinct, and so, apparently, do football coaches. A case in point is Nebraska Offensive Line Coach Cletus Fischer. When a Kansas lineman was called for holding during the Jayhawks' 52-0 loss to Nebraska in mid-season, Fischer automatically yelled, "Good call, ref. They've been doing it all day!" Fischer appeared not to have noticed that the Jayhawk infraction in question had occurred on Kansas' first play from scrimmage.
THE BEAUTIFUL BALLOON
The most exciting thing that happened at this year's Harvard-Yale game ( Harvard won—yawn—45-7) was the sudden and startling appearance in the second period of a 5-foot weather balloon on the 46-yard line of Harvard Stadium. Although Brent Musburger indicated on TV that the balloon had floated down from the grandstand and "exploded," leaving a 3-foot hole in the ground, actually the balloon emerged from the field, getting bigger and bigger until it burst, spewing white powder around. The hole it left turned out to be the chamber in which the balloon and its inflating device had been hidden. There was absolutely no danger to anyone at any time, the perpetrators insisted.
But what was all this? Who done it? It wasn't hard to figure out; MIT done it. The letters MIT were visible on the balloon before it popped. Lacking a football team of their own on which to expend energy and enthusiasm, MIT students like to do things—or try to do things—to Harvard. In 1948, an MIT student who had been a munitions expert during World War II worked out a scheme to plant small explosives in Harvard Stadium that would, on detonation, inscribe the letters MIT on the greensward. He was caught before he could put his plan into effect, and suspended. Four years ago, another ingenious MIT plot, in which the sacred letters would be traced on the field by a buried network of paint-filled fire extinguishers linked to plastic tubing, was foiled when groundskeepers accidentally discovered the tubing when they were putting down new sod, supposedly to obliterate a crude "Y" that some unimaginative Yale boys had burned on the field with gasoline. Childish. At MIT the idea is to do the thing on game day with thousands watching.
This year, MIT intellect prevailed. Over a three-week period, groups of student commandos in camouflage clothing, their faces blackened, crept into the stadium at night and installed their equipment little by little: a Freon-driven hydraulic press, wiring, the balloon itself (coated on the inside with baking soda to keep the inner surfaces from sticking during inflation), a vacuum-cleaner motor to pump air, a lid, marbles to act as ball bearings to help the lid slide away as the balloon filled. "We thought of everything," said one self-satisfied commando, right down to instructions on how to remove the device and plug up the hole afterwards. On game day, zero hour, standing nonchalantly near a concession stand, they plugged in the electric hookup and Shazam!
Well, free-wheeling minds like these developed the heat-seeking missile, polyester, computers, the neutron bomb and other hallmarks of modern civilization. Harvard may have won The Game, but hail to thee, MIT.
LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON, LIKE GYM