Considering all of the problems in college football today, it is not surprising that the sport attracted the attention of the New York Times’ editorial page this week.
There is trouble at TCU, where a slush fund for players has been discovered, and at USC, where an assistant coach has been fired because he violated NCAA rules, and at Kansas State, where the coach was fired two games into the season for the ultimate sin, losing.
But the trouble that the New York Times found was right there in Gotham City.
After his team lost a 17-point lead in a 49-17 loss to Harvard last Saturday, Columbia Coach Jim Garrett called his players “drug-addicted losers” and said that they were “right back in the sewer again.”
He didn’t stop there, singling out senior punter Peter Murphy for criticism.
“The punting killed us,” Garrett said. “Absolutely killed us. I just told the squad he’ll never kick for us again.
“We’re in this game to win. Don’t tell me it’s a college atmosphere. This is an atmosphere that creates people for the future. I want to see him when he graduates and goes to work downtown on Wall Street and does the things that he did today.”
You can’t possibly succeed on Wall Street without good hang time.
Responding to the outburst, the New York Times editorialized: “Coach Garrett teaches how to lose more than a game and more than a season: how to lose a sense of responsibility.”
Apparently agreeing were Columbia’s executive vice president for academic affairs, Dr. Norman N. Mintz, and Athletic Director Al Paul, both of whom reprimanded Garrett.
Garrett later issued an apology to Murphy, his family and the university. He also said he hadn’t meant to imply that his players were using drugs, only that they were addicted to losing. Columbia has lost 59 of its last 64 games.
But judging from subsequent comments, one has to wonder about the sincerity of Garrett’s apology.
“The conditions now prevent me from being honest,” he said. “I’ll just have to play the role, which is very hard for me because I’m not a role player.”
Garrett, 55, formerly coached the World Football League’s Houston Texans and was a Cleveland Brown assistant for seven years before accepting the Columbia job this year. He has a reputation as a hard-nosed coach who speaks his mind.
For example, he told United Press International this week: “Players are players. All players want to do is play. Coaches are unnecessary evils. If you love to play football, you wouldn’t care if Idi Amin was the coach.”
Murphy obviously cares. He announced Thursday he was quitting the team.
To better utilize running back Bo Jackson, Auburn dropped the wishbone this season and began using the I-formation.
But the wishbone isn’t dead.
Although Auburn is No. 1 in both major news-service polls, Air Force is the No. 1 team in the mathematical ratings devised by Jeff Sagarin, a 1970 MIT graduate, and published weekly by USA Today.
Using the flexbone, a variation of the wishbone, Air Force has the second-highest-scoring offense in the nation. The Falcons have averaged 52 points in their first three games, lopsided victories over UTEP, Wyoming and Rice.
The Falcons’ game in Colorado Springs against Notre Dame Oct. 5 is considered their first real test. But they haven’t exactly been overwhelmed by the Irish in recent years, beating them three straight times.
Air Force Coach Fisher De Berry agrees with Auburn Coach Pat Dye’s decision to switch from the wishbone. What good is an option offense when every opponent knows which option you’re going to use most of the time?
But since Air Force doesn’t have a Bo Jackson, De Berry says he likes to keep defenses guessing.
In 1974, Baylor beat Texas for the first time in 17 years. That night, overjoyed fans slept under the Baylor Stadium scoreboard, which remained lighted through the night.
The reaction in Waco, Tex., was more subdued after the Bears’ 20-13 victory over USC last Saturday night at the Coliseum. The Baylor band and several hundred fans met the team at the airport Sunday morning. Bear Coach Grant Teaff allowed them several moments of euphoria, then attempted to temper their enthusiasm.
“I don’t want us to go around beating our chests about beating USC,” he said. “If we don’t build on it, it will be a hollow victory. But if we continue to get stronger, nobody will be able to look back on that win as a fluke.”
Oregon tailback Tony Cherry, who is listed at 5 feet 8 inches but probably is closer to 5-6, gained 227 yards in 27 carries and scored touchdowns on runs of 21, 80 and 22 yards in the 45-28 victory over Stanford last Saturday, but still drew the wrath of his coach, Rich Brooks. The coach lectured Cherry on the sidelines for taunting Stanford’s defenders as he scored his final touchdown. “As Coach Brooks said as I came off the field, I shouldn’t have been talking but just thinking of hanging onto the ball,” Cherry said. “I was just getting back a little for all the talking Stanford was doing in the first half.”
Auburn Coach Pat Dye casts his No. 1 vote for . . . not Auburn. “The best-looking team I’ve seen has already lost a game,” he said. “Maryland is a powerful, powerful football team.” . . . The first college coach to show interest in Alabama wide receiver Clay Whitehurst was Bear Bryant. After one of Whitehurst’s coaches contacted Alabama, Bryant wrote Whitehurst a letter. “He wrote that he’d heard of me and that I should strive to be the best and to stress academics,” Whitehurst said. The letter also said, “Maybe someday we can interest you in attending the University of Alabama.” At the time, Whitehurst was 12.
BYU quarterback Robbie Bosco’s favorite receiver, Glen Kozlowski, underwent arthroscopic surgery Sunday and will miss several games. . . . Illinois quarterback Jack Trudeau has thrown 10 interceptions in three games. He had only 10 interceptions all of last season. . . . Michigan beat South Carolina, 34-3, last Saturday, but Coach Bo Schembechler still had complaints. Doesn’t he always? “I’ll let you judge for yourselves about the officiating,” he said. “But we are not a penalty team.” The Wolverines were penalized 12 times for 146 yards. All of the officials were from the South. . . . Iowa State Coach Jim Criner has complained that college football isn’t getting its money’s worth out of a seventh official. Six were used until this season, when an additional official was stationed behind the secondary to spot illegal activity on passing plays. “They still seem to be missing what you should be seeing with a seven-man crew,” Criner said.
When the Texas Longhorns went onto the field for their opener last Saturday in Austin, Tex., their mascot, a steer named Bevo, wasn’t there. The rumor was that Coach Fred Akers had had him kidnaped in order to psych up his team. That was denied by a Texas official, who said that Bevo’s handlers were unable to capture him in the pasture. Bevo finally arrived in the third quarter, and the Longhorns beat Missouri, 21-17. . . . One of Texas’ most exciting players this season is freshman tailback Eric Metcalf, son of former NFL running back Terry Metcalf.
Jamelle Holieway, who played at Los Angeles’ Banning High School, has been named the second-team quarterback at Oklahoma. . . . Arizona State’s best freshman so far has been Chip Rish, a kick returner and wide receiver from Marina High School in Huntington Beach. But he wasn’t even interested in the Sun Devils until he took a recruiting trip to Arizona. On the way to Tucson from Los Angeles, his plane stopped in Phoenix. When the flight resumed, the plane flew over Arizona State’s campus. Rish was so impressed he called Arizona State after he returned home and asked if he could visit.