She steers them into new roles

Times Staff Writer

Author Pamela Britton, who mixes pistons and passion in such NASCAR-themed Harlequin romance novels as "In the Groove" and "On the Edge," recently gave the Atlanta Journal-Constitution five drivers who'd make good characters for her books.

Her selections:

"1. Carl Edwards. Because he's an awesome driver and an even more impressive athlete ... and I better stop right there before I get myself in trouble.

"2. Tony Stewart. Because I hear he's worried he might end up in one of my books, to which all I've got to say is a very diabolical, 'Bwahahahaha!'

"3. Bobby Labonte. Because he's a hunk and, sadly, he's one of the few drivers left on the Nextel Cup circuit who's close to my age.

"4. Rusty Wallace. Because if he's not driving in real life, I'd like to see him drive in fiction.

"5. Dale Earnhardt Jr. Because I'm not too old to imagine myself 10 years younger and 40 pounds lighter."

Trivia question

UCLA is the only school to produce five quarterbacks to have played on Super Bowl teams. Name those quarterbacks.

You don't have to see to believe

The usual names have reached the quarterfinals of an international soccer tournament in Argentina: Brazil, Argentina, England, France, Spain.

But this is no usual international soccer tournament.

All of the players except the goalie are blind.

The World Cup for the Blind is a five-a-side competition -- four sight-impaired field players and a sighted goalkeeper on each team. The field players wear protective masks and play with a ball that contains small pieces of metal so the players can hear it.

According to BBC News, "Coaches shout instructions from the sidelines, and so the crowd is expected to keep its excitement silent."

Some things are universal in world soccer, regardless of seeing ability. The favorites to win the Blind World Cup? Argentina and Brazil.

But, we're better than Mali

If you go by the world rankings alone, Juergen Klinsmann's anticipated move from Germany to the United States as national soccer coach looks to be the shakiest career decision since Edgerrin James jumped from the Indianapolis Colts to the Arizona Cardinals.

According to the latest FIFA world rankings, Klinsmann is about to trade a job with the No. 6 team in the sport to No. 31 -- the U.S. being rated outside the top 30 for the first time since 1999.

And it has been a virtual free fall for the Americans. Rated fifth in the world as late as May, the U.S. placed fourth in its World Cup group, finishing 0-2-1 with losses to the Czech Republic and Ghana, with a draw against Italy that, in hindsight, suggests a minor miracle.

With no results since its Cup-closing 2-1 defeat to Ghana, the United States has dropped in the latest world rankings to just behind Ecuador and just ahead of Tunisia -- and five slots clear of Mali.

The U.S. has not been ranked so low since June 1999, when it was also No. 31 -- one year after it finished the 1998 World Cup ranked 32nd, out of 32 teams.

Klinsmann has his work cut out for him, that's one way to look at it. On the other hand, he stands to inherit a no-lose situation -- unless he fails to keep this team ahead of Mali, Serbia and Slovakia.

Trivia answer

Troy Aikman, Steve Bono, Billy Kilmer, Tom Ramsey and Jay Schroeder.

And finally

Speaking at last week's Bo Schembechler tribute at Michigan Stadium, ex-Wolverines offensive lineman Dan Dierdorf noted the hundreds of former players and coaches in attendance and said, "If [Schembechler] saw this, he'd say, 'You shouldn't have done it.' And then he'd be looking around, to see who didn't show."


For The Record Los Angeles Times Tuesday November 28, 2006 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 56 words Type of Material: Correction UCLA football: The Sports section's Trivia question in Monday's Morning Briefing stated that "UCLA is the only school to produce five quarterbacks to have played on Super Bowl teams." In fact, UCLA produced seven. Five were listed -- Troy Aikman, Steve Bono, Billy Kilmer, Tom Ramsey and Jay Schroeder. Missing were John Sciarra and Tommy Maddox.
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