Arnold Palmer, 64, says he won't blame Paul Azinger, 33, Fred Couples, 34, and Payne Stewart, 36, if they plot against him in the Skins Game Saturday and Sunday at Bighorn Golf Club in Palm Desert. . . .
"It'll be embarrassing to them if I win a skin or two," said Palmer, who is replacing John Daly in the $540,000 event. "My game is not good. I have difficulty keeping my concentration for three or four days in a row. But, in the Skins, I can still wander time to time and not get hurt." . . .
With his next skin, Palmer will surpass $1 million in earnings during 12 regular and senior Skins appearances. . . .
"Every year the Skins starts off with good-natured banter, but then the tension grows as the stakes become higher," said Vin Scully, who will be an ABC broadcaster. "I remember in 1984 when Jack Nicklaus had an eight-foot putt for $240,000. He made it and then threw his putter 30 feet in the air." . . .
"Yeah, and that putter damn near hit him on the head on the way down," Palmer cracked. "We were hoping it would." . . .
George Raveling has trouble believing that he will be starting his 22nd season as a collegiate head coach Saturday afternoon when USC plays defending Ivy League champion Pennsylvania at the Sports Arena. . . .
"It makes you feel like a survivor," he said. . . .
Raveling yearns for the days when the coaching ranks had more colorful characters such as Bones McKinney, Al McGuire, Lou Carnesecca and Jim Valvano. . . .
"Everyone is a clone now," Raveling said. "Most of the coaches look like they've come off a Xerox machine. If the game ever needed personalities, it's now. Young coaches are insecure and afraid to be who they are. Everyone takes himself too seriously." . . .
No wonder Laker General Manager Jerry West wanted to draft Lindsey Hunter, the point guard from Jackson State. In place of the injured Isiah Thomas, Hunter played 48 minutes and scored 23 points during the Detroit Pistons' victory over the Philadelphia 76ers Sunday. . . .
Hunter was taken 10th overall in the first round, two spots ahead of the Lakers' selection of the currently disappointing George Lynch. . . .
New York isn't happy about Houston's great start because the Knicks have what would have been the Rockets' first-round pick in the 1994 draft. . . .
Every time I see Jerry Rice make a touchdown catch, I'm reminded that he is the greatest wide receiver ever. . . .
None other than Todd Philcox of the Cleveland Browns passed for the most yardage of any NFL quarterback, 316 yards, Sunday. . . .
Only nine quarterbacks have started every game for their team this season. . . .
If 7-3 games are called defensive struggles, how come 63-37 games aren't called offensive struggles? . . .
This is the second time an Auburn team on probation has finished unbeaten. In 1957, the Tigers, coached by Shug Jordan, went 10-0, outscored opponents, 207-28, and were ranked first in the Associated Press poll and second to Ohio State in the UPI poll. . . .
Coach Eddie Robinson, whose Grambling Tigers play Southern Saturday in the nationally televised Bayou Classic, has won 388 games, 65 more than Bear Bryant. . . .
Grambling fullback Eric Gant, the brother of Dallas defensive back Kenny Gant, is expected to go high in the NFL draft. . . .
Thanks to jet planes, bullet trains and the international date line, Gary Stevens will ride in Tokyo's Japan Cup and Hollywood Park's Matriarch Stakes about one hour apart, local times, on Sunday. . . .
Dodger pitcher Jim Gott, a double black belt in hapkido karate, is pictured on the cover of the November issue of Black Belt magazine. . . .
Don't invite Rafael Palmeiro and Will Clark to the same Mississippi State baseball reunion. . . .
New Hampshire, the third-ranked college hockey team in the nation, will be favored in the fifth annual Great Western Bank Freeze-Out Saturday and Sunday at the Forum. . . .
Saturday matchups are Toronto-Miami (Ohio) at 4 p.m. and New Hampshire-Clarkson at 7. The championship game will be Sunday at 4 p.m. after the consolation game at 1. . . .
King winger Dave Taylor was an All-American at Clarkson in 1977 and King assistant coach Cap Raeder an All-American goaltender at New Hampshire in 1974. . . .
The Mighty Ducks have won more games on their current trip (three) than the Kings won on the road during the entire 1969-70 season (two).