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September 24, 2004

College Athletics Prominent In SI’s 50th Anniversary Issue

FROM SI’s SUPERBLY WRITTEN, EDITED AND ILLUSTRATED 50th ANNIVERSARY ISSUE comes an abundance and richness of the best, worst and most pivotal people and events of the past half century.

The special issue is a thick one—202 pages—and it creditably highlighted all the superlatives in all the world of sport.


The section entitled “The 20 Great Tipping Points” included:

• Listed 6th was the spanking that USC and the great Sam (Bam) Cunningham inflicted on lily-white Alabama. SI said that Cunningham’s performance and the decisive 42-21 triumph “did more to integrate the state of Alabama in 60 minutes than Martin Luther King did in 20 years.”

• 17th on the Tipping Points list was Title IX, because it increased the number of college female athletes fivefold and high school female athletes ninefold.


In the section “It Was Their Year,” SI selected one athlete for each year. College athletics selections were the following:

1955: Bud Wilkinson

1966: Don Haskins

1982: Herschel Walker

1983: Jim Valvano

In the section entitled “Signs of the Apocalypse,” were the following college entries:

• Oct. 20, 1997: Mississippi St. noseguard Eric Dotson missed a game because of injuries sustained in a fight with a teammate over who was first in line to have his ankles taped.

• Jan. 18, 1999: After his Gators defeated Syracuse in the Orange Bowl, Florida coach Steve Spurrier awarded himself a game ball.

• Feb. 10, 2003: A woman is suing a Lexington, Ky., surgeon and Univ. of Kentucky booster because he cauterized UK onto her uterus before removing it in a hysterectomy.


In the “Really Good Sports” section was a touching description of the colorful Abe Lemons, Texas Longhorns basketball coach, who won the NIT in 1978. He was described as “every sportswriter’s dream: tall tales told in a droll drawl.”

In the “Mars vs. Venus” section were the following college tidbits:

• “I’ve dated a cheerleader” 35% (men), 3% (women)
• “I’d encourage my daughter if she wanted to be a cheerleader” 80%

• “Title IX has been great for men and women” 33%
• “Title IX has been great for women, bad for men” 17%
• “Title IX hasn’t gone far enough” 24%
• “Title IX is a joke.” 26%


In the “Best of the Best” section, the best college football coach:

• Bear Bryant: 37%
• Joe Paterno: 26%
• Woody Hayes: 9%
• Steve Spurrier: 7%
• Bud Wilkinson: 6%


In the “Best of the Best” section, the best college basketball coach:

• John Wooden” 28%
• Mike Krzyzewski: 20%
• Bobby Knight: 17%
• Dean Smith: 12%
• Pat Summitt: 7%
• Geno Auriemma: 1%


In the “They Said It” section:

• Billy Tubbs, Oklahoma basketball coach, 1979: “This year we plan to run and shoot. Next season we hope to run and score.”

• Torrin Polk, Univ. of Houston receiver, 1991 (praising his coach, John Jenkins): “He treats us like men. He lets us wear earrings.”

• Pete Carril, legendary Princeton basketball coach, on why he wouldn’t move a player from center to forward, 1995: “He has the shooting range. What he doesn’t have is the making range.”


(this 503 word excerpt—with attendant commentary—was distilled from the 202 page, 50,000 word, 1100 photograph masterpiece that was Sports Illustrated’s 50th Anniversary issue of 9-27-04)