I have just finished reading your article on college football's battle for No. 1 (There's a Red Alert, Nov. 12). Douglas S. Looney states that " USC can only hope and wait. Even winning the Pac-10, going to the Rose Bowl and beating, say, Ohio State probably won't get the Trojans back on top if Alabama keeps on winning."
He has a very short memory. When it comes to the voting on the national champion and Alabama is a candidate, strange, indeed phenomenal, things happen. In 1977 Alabama was No. 3 going into the bowls. Texas was No. 1. Fifth-rated Notre Dame blasted Texas 38-10, and Alabama beat a good Ohio State team 35-6. Notre Dame was elevated to No. 1.
In 1978 Penn State was No. 1 and 'Bama was No. 2. The Tide beat Penn State 14-7 in a game that was not as close as the score indicated. So Alabama won the national title, right? Wrong. Only half of it, UPI declared USC the champion.
So when you say USC is probably out of it, especially if Alabama is the logical choice, don't be too sure about it. Logic doesn't enter into it.
HENRY A. RAMSAY
For anyone to say that Alabama's No. 1 ranking is the result of Bear Bryant's "unfair sway over the media and coaches" is sheer nonsense. The polls of the last two years demonstrate this quite well, but the most flagrant example of Alabama's lack of popularity came in 1966. Is it conceivable that Notre Dame or Southern Cal could be a two-time defending national champion, have a perfect season, have an outstanding bowl game and still end up third in the polls? Of course not. Bryant should be working on his eighth national championship instead of his sixth.
You suggest that the Buckeyes of Ohio State faked out preseason pollsters. They haven't surprised me yet. The Buckeyes have more talent than any other team in college football.
Douglas S. Looney says, "Only one thing is certain: to be No. 1 this year a team must wear some shade of red." Nebraska Quarterback Jarvis Redwine, who is shown on your cover, also wears red in his name. Give the national championship to Tom Osborne and his Cornhuskers.
Farmington Hills, Mich.
Perennial small-college power Wittenberg University has had football opponents seeing red for the last 20 years. Since 1960, Wittenberg has rolled to a 165-23-4 record, including seven unbeaten seasons and eight other seasons with only one loss.
This year the Tigers again are unbeaten and ranked No. 1 in NCAA Division III. It should be no surprise then that Wittenberg's school color also is red.
ROBERT E. RIDDLE, D.D.S.
The article was a waste of time. SI should conduct an investigation to find out why the NCAA Division I football champion is selected by writers and coaches rather than settled on the field of play. As long as there is no playoff among the top 10 schools, there is no champion. No. 1 is a myth!