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February 22, 1979 - Image 11

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1979-02-22

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Pressing the Issue


The Michigan Daily-Thursday, February 22, 1979-Page 11
Bad ers brace for worst on road

Writing and cheering*
..L.ou Grant style
MENTION THE NAME of Lou Grant, and what is the image that comes
to mind? Probably a guy with his shirt sleeves rolled up, his tie
loosened, a pencil perched on the top of his ear and numerous empty cups of
coffee littering his desk.
This stereotypical scribe is gruff, stubborn, intimidating and cunning.
He is knowledgeable in his field and he likes to call the shots. Realistically, a
reporter blends in well with many parts of this image.'
Now picture Lou Grant with ribbons in his hair, wearing a pleated skirt,
socks that come up to his knees, saddle shoes, and a letter sweater waving
pom-poms in the air and yelling "rah-team-rah!"
That is the way most college coaches would prefer sportswriters to ap-
pear. Now this isn't another attack on college coaches; it is supposed to
describe a situation which is prevalent at the intercollegiate level, but rarely
at the professional level.
The professional coach deals with the press'with a professional attitude.
Win, lose or draw, they speak to reporters and do not stand in the way of any
athlete that wishes to do the same. However, the college coach deals with the
press with a sophomoric attitude, imposing personal rules and regulations
enabling them to call the shots.
For instance, at Michigan the football players are not allowed to talk to
reporters until it is cleared by a coach or the sports information department.
When I covered hockey here, the players were off limits after the games
unless the coach specifically gave us permission to talk to them.
Most sportswriters resent the fact that athletes on the college level are'
not given enough responsibility to handle the press on their own. For some
reason, the, coaches feel it is necessary to protect them from us, and
sometimes from themselves. After all, there's no telling what an athlete
might say in all honesty away from a coach's clutches.
When a coach holds the trump card like that, Joe Falls of the Detroit
News calls it, "building a cotton candy world." Falls is critical of this aspect
of intercollegiate athletics, and singled out Bo Schembechler to illustrate his
"Bo is doing the players a disservice by not letting them speak with the
press. It is part of his (the athlete's) education by and large. When they
leave college and go into the professional ranks, they are going to have to
deal with the'press as part of everyday life."
The problem as Falls sees it, is not with what is written, but with how an
article is interpreted. "If Rick Leach throws a bad pass, I say he threw a bad
pass;" he said. "That is reporting. But all the people at Michigan who view
things through Maize and Blue glasses read that and say 'oh my God, he's
picking on him,"' Falls added in a falsetto voice mimicking righteous in-
Hitting hard is fun

Although the point is well taken, the problem still exists and probably
will continue to do so for quite some time because "a lot of people take sports
too seriously," explained Chicago Tribune columnist David Israel. Woody
Hayes chewed out Israel in the locker room after losing to Michigan last
But if anyone had a right to bitch, it was the reporter, not the coa h.
"Some people involved in sports refuse to let it be fun," Israel said, "it's all
those guys who say it's fun, and then they go out and hit someone. That's not
Hayes' beef with Israel stemmed from the kind of articles he wrote
which made a name for himself. "The cliche they use is 'hard hitting,"'
Israel said. The fact was that Hayes battled an independent thinker, and as
was to be expected, lost.
Sportwriters were well aware that the best (and most likely only) way to
successfully approach Hayes was to appear to be a cheerleader. Paul Hor-
nung of the Columbus Dispatch did it, and earned the dubious honor of
Hayes' trust. Dubious, because many felt he compromised professional
ethics, but Hornung steadfastly disagreed.
"I am probably a throwback to another era before it was popular to 'tell
it like it is,"' Hornung said. "I prefer to dwell on the favorable rather than
the unfavorable.
"I don't think I overlooked things that were bad," said Hornung, reflec-
ting on his 38 years at the Dispatch, "I just didn't emphasize them." If that
style of reporting was acceptable years ago, it isn't anymore, according to
"Sports reporting has grown up a bit. So has the rest of journalism, but
there is no place for a cheerleading reporter today," Israel said adamantly.
Yet Hornung defends his situation. "My basic nature is to be positive,
not negative. I was an Ohio State booster, but I never really thought I was a
cheerleader or an unpaid publicity man for Ohio State and Woody Hayes,"
he said.
"Paul is a man who is totally wrapped up in Ohio State, he is a basic
cheerleader," sayd Kaye Kessler from the crosstown Columbus Citizen-
Ignorance is not bliss
The unsettled conflict serves a purpose. It proves that no coach has to
change his attitude while there are still reporters around who are willing to
comply with his wishes. Kessler didn't have it easy working in the same city
as Hornung, but he didn't feel the problem was unique to just Columbus.
"Bo believes that all the people covering his Wolverines should be
cheerleaders. But he also believes that if you cover Ohio State, you should
cheer for Ohio State and if you cover UCLA, you should cheer for UCLA. I
disagree with him 100 per cent," Kessler said.
I do, too. I covered the Wolverines last season and I was amazed at how
sensitive Bo was to criticism. I also found out how sensitive Rick Leach was.
Unfortunately, neither one ever told me to my face when they were
displeased with anything I wrote.
It is my nature to be positive, however. I refuse to go overboard. Would
Rick and Bo feel any better if I had written, "Michigan fought gamely and
bravely staged a furious rally, but lost to a talented Michigan State squad,
24-15. The normally spectacular Rick Leach had a sub-par day, throwing
three interceptions."
It sounds like a mockery of the facts whether it was intended to be or not.
Unless the press is allowed the freedom guaranteed it by the first amen-
dment, nobody benefits, not the coaches, not the players nor the fans, and
especially not the reporters.
But the writers are aware of this, and they as much as any group bend
and twist with the times. After all, Woody Hayes didn't last forever, just 28
years. And just like coaches, the press is constantly changing.
"We go through phases," Kessler said. "Negative, positive, in-
vestigative reporting. I don't know if we can report just the facts anymore.
We are telling it like we think it is. There is a lot more editorializing in what
used to be straight stories. I realize everything isn't peaches and cream and
sweetness in life."
"My philosophy is to write the true story and the whole story and make
my judgments from there," said Hornung.
"I try to tell the truth and tell it interestingly," Israel said, expounding a
simple, yet extremely effective method.
"I can only report and analyze and give my opinion," said Falls.
"Human nature will show that people will remember the negative and forget
the positive, but I can live with that. I feel as a columnist, it is my job to ex-
press my opinion."



In the jargon of gangsters, they call it
the squaring of accounts. In athletics,
and, in this case, Big Ten basketball,
there's a more simple phrase: revenge
- sweet revenge.
That's what the Michigan cagers will
be seeking tonight at Crisler, when they
take on slumping Wisconsin, in phase
one of Johnny Orr's late-season
retribution program.
It was Wisconsin, you remember,
that applied a second-half buzzsaw to
the Wolverines in a 77-66 humbler in
Madison a month ago. The Wisconsin,
loss followed a similar defeat at Pur-
due, and the two defeats have come
back to haunt the Wolverines this
season in their efforts to vault into the
Big Ten's first division.
Revenge opportunities two and three
take place Saturday at Crisler against
the Boilermakers, then at Iowa a week
from today. The Hawkeyes handed
Michigan its first Big Ten loss this
season back in early January in Crisler,
AT FIRST glance, phase one success
appears a strong possibility. The
Badgers, currently 2-12 in the Big Ten,
have only the Michigan upset and a vic-

tory over cellar-dwelling Northwestern
to show for their efforts, while losing
their last ten games in a row.
Yet while Wisconsin has been pitiful
of late, earlier this season the Badgers
were able to knock off Marquette,
currently ninth in both polls, while also
beating St. John's on the road in win-
ning six of their first seven. So what
gives with the Big Red?
Wisconsin Coach Bill Cofield has little


man press in the second half, which
resulted in. eighteen Wolverine tur-
"HAVING SMITH back, along with
Phil Hubbard's improvement, should
make a big difference for them," said
The Badgers finished at the bottom of
the Big Ten last year with a 4-14 slate.
And with only sfour games to go, and
Ohio State and Michigan State on the

Mike McGee
Alan Hardy
Phil Hubbard
Tom Staton
Keith Smith


(6-3) ..........



Joe Chrnelich
Claude Gregory
Larry Petty
Arnold Gaines
Wesley Mathews

trouble answering the question. It's
simple. Marquette and St. John's are no
problem, compared to the Big Ten
headaches his team has faced.
"Marquette is not the Big Ten," said
Cofield. "I don't think Marquette would
be fighting for the Big Ten champion-
ship 'if they were in the conference.
They'd be towards the bottom."
HMMMM, PRETTY Arong stuff. But
the Badgers were still able to stick it to
the Wolverines earlier. What about that
game, Coach?
"That was at home," Cofield said.
"Whether you beat a team at home is
insignificant in the Big Ten. It's very
tough to win on the road."
Indeed. Both Wisconsin's wins came
in friendly confines, while the
Wolverines are two for seven in their
road contests. In the Madison loss,
Michigan was without the services of
playmaking guard Keith Smith,
enabling Wisconsin to smother the
Wolverine with an aggrbssive man-to-

schedule, Wisconsin will be lucky to
better that mark.
There have been a few bright spots
for Wisconsin this year, including the
improved play of center Larry Petty.
After a disappointing freshman year,
Petty lost weight and has this year
given the Badgers a semblance of con-
sistency in the pivot.
"LAST YEAR, we got almost nothing
from the post position," said Cfield.
"This year, with Petty healthy and
lighter, we're sure to get eight to nine
rebounds and 12 points from that spot."
In addition to Petty, Badger guard
Wesley Mathews is waging a battle with
Michigan's Mike McGee for seventh
place in the Big Ten scoring race, both
having hit for slightly over 17 points per

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Bill Cofield

Pistons rule in OT
over crippled Sixers

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Arnold Gaines, a 6-4 guard, alonge
with forwards Claude Gregory (13.8
ppg) and Joe Chrnelich round out the
Big Red lineup.
AS FOR MICHIGAN, the task at hanxd
is rebounding from last Saturday's
massacre in East Lansing while attein-
pting to square away that first account.
"If we had to play the next day of
even Monday after the Michigan State
game, I think we'd have a lot of
trouble," said Johnny Orr. "Instead we
don't play again until (today), so I think
we'll be ready."
Cofield, who has learned to expect the
worst while on the road in the Big Ten,
readily agreed.

Special to the Daily
PONTIAC-John Long, M.L. Carr,
and Earl Tatum sparked the Detroit
Pistons to a 106-99 overtime win over
Philadelphia at the Silverdome last
Tied at 91 by a Steve Mix tap-in with
just one second left in regulation, the
Pisltons held Philly to just one basket in
the first four minutes of the extra
period, while winning their fourth in a
row and first over the Sixers in nearly
two years.
The Pistons were aided by the absen-
ce of Julius Erving from the visitor's
lineup. Doctor J is currently nursing an
ankle injury.
Kevin Porter and Carr dominated the
extra period, Carr finishing with 20
points and Porter adding 18 assists to
his league-leading total.
"When they made that last shot, I
wondered if it would be another
irritating, frustrating loss," said a vic-
torious Dick Vitale afterward. "But I
thought we controlled thef flow and were
taking better shots from the floor."
Long staked Detroit to a 50-46 half-
time lead with 17 of his 23 game-high
points. The seesaw affair stayed that
way in the second half largely due to the
efforts of the little-used Tatum. The of-
ten-maligned guard canned seven long

range second-half jumpers to keep
Detroit even with the resurgent 76ers.
In the wild last moments of the fourth
quarter, Detroit took the lead with just
five seconds left when Bob Lanier
scooped up a loose ball in the lane and
laid it in to the delight of 10,563 Piston
But Philly tied it on Mix's rebound off
a-Henry Bibby jumper and sent the con-
test into overtime.
Mix was the leading scorer for
Philadelphia with 21 points, while Bib-
by added 20. Porter collected 18 points
along with as many assists, as the
Pistons had six players in double

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