- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
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Rather than take the rebuff sitting down, Cubby and 12 of his mascot brethren—including Sparky, the Sun Devil mascot from nearby Arizona State University; the Phoenix Suns' gorilla; and Prickly Pete Cactus, from a local sporting-goods store—picketed HoHoKam before the Cubs faced the Oakland Athletics on March 16. Kopf and Company carried signs saying MASCOTS ARE PEOPLE TOO and generally lent interest to what turned out to be a 6-0 Chicago loss. "I don't think a mascot is as important as a 20-game winner," says the 30-year-old Kopf, "but it was fun for the kids."
On one hand there was Bill Frieder, unable to wait until his University of Michigan basketball team's season had ended before announcing that he would be taking a much higher paying job at Arizona State (page 18). On the other there was Ed Zubrow, the football coach at Pennsylvania. Zubrow, who was appointed coach three years ago at age 35 and led the Quakers to a 23-7 record, including two Ivy League crowns, was on coaching's fast track. With another one or two such sterling seasons, he would have been ripe for a Division I-A job, a bigger salary, his own TV show....
Instead, Zubrow resigned last week. Next month he starts work as a special assistant to the superintendent of the Philadelphia school system. He will coordinate programs to prevent drug abuse and dropouts. "Please don't make me out to be Saint George looking to slay the dragon," said Zubrow. "I just saw this as a chance to solve some problems more pressing than Harvard's base defense. I live in West Philly, and I see lives ruined by drugs, whole communities in danger of being swallowed up. I started to realize that it's not somebody else's problem."
WHO'S ON TRIAL?
Among the questions arising from testimony at the federal trial of sports agents Lloyd Bloom and Norby Walters, now in its third week in Chicago, is: What does it take to get your scholarship revoked at Michigan State? Under cross-examination by defense attorney Dan Webb, former Spartans wide receiver Mark Ingram, who now plays for the New York Giants, admitted that, during his junior year, he had served 30 days of a 90-day sentence for breaking and entering. Ingram did not lose his scholarship. "I did not consider it desirable behavior, but I don't think it was enough to lose a scholarship," said former MSU faculty athletic representative Gwendolyn Norrell.
The charges against Bloom and Walters include extortion, mail fraud and racketeering. If convicted, each faces a maximum 70 years in jail and $2 million in fines. The two allegedly paid players to sign contracts with them while the players still had collegiate eligibility, thereby defrauding universities who had given them scholarships. According to testimony, when the athletes tried to back out of their contracts, Walters and Bloom threatened to have them maimed.
But Bloom and Walters are not the only ones on trial in Chicago, even though they are the only ones at risk of being convicted. Webb ticked off the classes taken at Iowa by former Hawk-eye defensive back Devon Mitchell, who now plays for the Detroit Lions. They included ancient athletics, billiards, jogging, recreational leisure, advanced bowling and advanced slo-pitch softball. An Iowa athletic official also admitted that after three years at Iowa, running back Ronnie Harmon, who did not graduate and is now with the Buffalo Bills, had taken only one course toward his major, computer science.
Former Michigan fullback Rob Perryman, now a New England Patriot, testified that when coach Bo Schembechler asked him if he had signed with an agent—as Schembechler had heard he had—Perryman lied and said no. "I had no other ties to Bo," Perryman said, "so I didn"t have to tell him the truth anyway."
As Webb had said before the trial began, "This case will be based on testimony from prominent men and women who will talk about the preservation of amateur athletics. I intend to attack the hypocrisy of this sanctimonious, holier-than-thou position."