The Michigan Daily - Sports Monday- February 19, 1990 - Page 3
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* The columnist and talk-show host
discusses the abuses of college athletics
Rick Telander has been involved
with college athletics since his days
at Northwestern as a wide receiver
and defensive back from 1968-71.
Ever since that time Telander, au-
thor of Heaven is a Playground and
the recently published The Hundred
Yard Lie, has written for Sports Ill-
ustrated. Telander, a featured sports
journalist on the popular Sports-
writers show on Sportschannel,
holds strong views regarding college
athletics and its place in society.
In October, excerpts of Telan-
der's new book in Sports Illustrated
provoked the wrath of ex-Michigan
football coach Bo Schembechler,
who lashed out at Telander. On
Thursday, Telander spoke with
Daily Sports Editor Steven Cohen.
Daily: Why is your show so
Telander: I really do think that
we come out there without any
pretensions of being on TV at all,
and believe me, that's very hard to
do. At some point you'll find
yourself acting to the cameras,
you'll start acting to the medium
you're in. But what we try to do is
work our asses off as journalists dur-
ing the week and then have a lively
debate on it on Monday when we do
it. That may sound simple but very
quickly many of these talk shows
* the people become the TV people,
they're no longer journalists. We
fight that like hell. We're just com-
mon guys with uncommon access.
And I think that's what people like.
D: Why do you think Bo Schem-
bechler took issue with the portrayal
of Alex Agase (Telander's coach at
Northwestern and a former assistant
under Schembechler) in your book.
* 'Here's the thing.
Before you ask
anybody what their
opinion is ask what
their vested interest
T: He's like a lot of coaches who
are invested in the system. They
don't like anybody telling them any-
thing about the system which they
think they own and run and a lot of
these guys think they preexist the
universities. It took some of the
university presidents to finally tell
these guys, 'Hey, you only exist
because we allow you to.' It's a
bittersweet look at him, it's am-
bivalent. It's not I hate Alex Agase
and it's not I love him, it's that he
is a human and has his flaws like the
rest of us. Alex was flabbergasted
that anybody could ever say anything
negative about him, and Bo in a sort
of knee-jerk, 'I'll protect my buddy'
kind of response refused to read any
part of the book, and just read two
paragraphs and immediately just
trashed me. There are three things
coaches always do to undermine
anybody under their power: they call
them a loser, a quitter, or a coward,
one of those three, guaran-
teed... Well, he called me a loser, he
didn't know whether I was a coward
or not. I laughed, I really laughed.
D: You're a Northwestern alum,
do you take pride in the way things
are done there?
T: I don't take pride in them
losing. I don't take that much pride
in them winning. I would be very
reluctant to see Northwestern's foot-
ball team go 11-0 because I would
know the players they had to bring
in to win. What I got out of college
was what I learned and the assoc-
iations I had with other students
there. Those are the things that will
stick with you a lifetime. Whether
your team wins or loses, for Christ's
sake, is unimportant, it's irrelevant.
D: Were you upset to see Bo
Schembechler step down?
T: Well I don't take personal
credit for it. I don't think there will
be guys like Bo anymore. The era of
the big time coach at the big time
school for a quarter of a century - I
just don't know if those days will be
with us all that much longer or if
they will ever be with us again. I
wasn't really happy to see him
leave, I think he's a man of integrity
but his integrity is largely the type
of integrity that he understands, that
makes sense to him. And more and
more I get the feeling that he wasn't
really dealing with the way times
have changed. Big-time college sport
is not just the extracurricular activity
that it may once have been, it's big,
big business - big entertainment. I
think it was good that he got out
when he did. I don't know how he is
going to stand baseball but I think at
the time it was right.
D: I recall watching the
Sportswriters one day and I heard
you address the issue of Bill Frie-
der's contract. Can you discuss what
T: Well I don't have the figures
in front of me but I know that he
had bonuses for games won, for
finishing over .500, for every game
that they advanced in the NCAA
tournament. He got something like
$20,000 if he recruited a top-20
class. The point was the stupendous
amount of money that this man can
earn. But he doesn't earn that for
educating or for anything like that.
He earns the money for filling
the stadium, that was another part of
it, He earns incentive for winning,
which is exactly what a coach
probably should be rewarded for. But
we have this false belief that these
coaches are educators and that they
have something to do with the
educational system but they just
don't. How would you feel if you
were a player for Frieder, and I'm
sure other basketball coaches have
this too, where he's giving you a
pep talk to win your next game and
you know what he is really saying,
or is at least subliminally thinking,
'you guys better win so I can make
all that money.' What it gets down
to is who is Bill Frieder? These are
just sort of ornery, aggressive men
makir.g three-quarters of a million
dollars. Lou Holtz makes a million.
'The era of the big
time coach at the big
time school for a
quarter of a century
- I just don't know if
those days will be
with us all that much
longer or if they will
ever be with us
Jim Valvano makes over a million. I
That is nuts. Believe me, trust
me, being a coach is not brain
surgery. People think that these
guys are geniuses. That word should
never be used in regards to a
coach... Somehow if you coach a
team and they win, you're a genius.
It's crazy, it's nuts. Lou Holtz called
me last week to bitch about me
talking about how much money he
makes, and finally he said, 'Well
you know I am embarrassed by all
the money I make.' And I said, 'I
think that's healthy, I think you
should be embarassed.'
D: What is so objectionable to
you about the money they are mak-
T: The whole problem here, and
there is only one problem and that is
this stuff occurs on a university
campus. Otherwise it's just normal
business and it's no big deal-it's
like the CBA, or minor league
baseball...The purpose of a uni-
versity is to educate its students, to
pass on information from one
generation to another, not to fill up
a god-damned stadium with a
106,000 screaming people. This
may sound naive but I have asked
(several University presidents) very
succinctly to address what is the
purpose of the university, is it to
provide entertainment for the
masses? and to a man, they have all
said, 'Absolutely not.' Now that has
become the role of many of these
sports teams. But because it has
happened does not justify it. It is
D: It would appear, then, that
you are diametrically opposed to
people like Dick Vitale, Al Mc-
Guire, and Billy Packer, essentially
cheerleaders for college basketball?
T: No, I like those guys. Here's
the thing. Before you ask anybody
what their opinion is ask what their
vested interest is. Dick Vitale, and
all those guys make hundreds of
thousands of dollars off of this sport.
The same is true with the coaches.
The same is true with the NCAA.
All these people have vested inter-
ests. If somebody can come up with
my vested interest I'd like to know
what it is, how I profit from
whatever happens in college sport. I
don't cover it, I'm not making
millions off of the book. My book
was a distant, distant seller, way
behind Bo's book, way behind Joe
Paterno's book, and way behind Lou
D: You may have had a vested
interest in writing an article in
Sports Illustrated about the Sports-
T: Oh I definitely have a vested
interest in that. That's why I wrote
it like I did, I put my cards on the
table, I told exactly how much
money I make...but at least I
acknowledge it. You talk to these
coaches and they act as if it's divine
right that the system stay exactly the
way it is and quite clearly they're the
ones that benefit from it...Lou Holtz
told his players at halftime of the
Orange Bowl that how they did in
the second half would determine
whether they would be successes in
life or not when in fact it meant
nothing. It has nothing to do with
how they'll be in life, it has a hell
of lot to do with Lou Holtz's future
but nothing to do with theirs.
So it's that kind of misplaced
interest and misplaced alleged con-
cern for the athletes when really, as I
said in my book, everything is done
to benefit them if they really think
about it. It's done to benefit the
coaches. They just aren't aware of it.
They see themselves as men out
there working good, sort of like
Mother Theresa. (UNLV coach) Jerry
Tarkanian sees himself as Father
D: Well, coaches like Tarkanian
see themselves as taking impov-
erished kids from the inner-city and
giving them an education.
T: The argument is specious
because there are millions of under-
privileged Black kids in the ghettos,
if they want to help them they're all
out there, waiting, begging for help.
They just want the one's that are 6-
feet-10...There's no question Black
athletes are getting screwed, abso-
lutely no question. Universities are
incredibly white establishments and
they'd like to have more black
students. But in some cases most of
the Black students are athletes and
they are there to be used.
D: This may be impractical, but
do you think that for every Black
athlete admitted, a certain number of
other Black students should be ad-
T: I think that's a great idea. And
he gets to choose them. They say
this billion-dollar NCAA contract,
the schools will use it for a good
purpose. Well, screw that, let the
athletes decide how its going to be
used, they're the ones that are
generating it. Now if I were a player
I'd say very simply there's nothing
wrong with making money if that's
what everybody is doing but 'Coach,
I want mine. What's going on, why
do I make money for you?'
State fans take away
icers home advantage
On Saturday night, the Michigan State Spartans travelled to Yost Ice
Arena to play what should have been an away game in an unfriendly CCHA
So, of course, it came as no surprise that for the eighth straight time in
my career at this university, Spartan hockey fans clearly outnumbered
Michigan fans in Ann Arbor.
That's funny; on my handy-dandy wallet sized Michigan hockey
schedule, it had the words Michigan State in bold, to signify that Michigan
did indeed have a home game against the Spartans on February 17.
Too bad it never came to pass because the student body on this campus
seems to hold an incredibly apathetic attitude toward its hockey team.
Year after god-forsaken year, the students on this campus allow
thousands of slobbering State fans to pack Yost Ice Arena when their team
is in town. And now, it must stop.
It must stop because not only does it hinder Michigan's chances to win,
but it also represents a major source of embarassement and frustration for a
program trying to reconstruct Michigan's winning reputation in college
As I sat in my seat last Saturday, I saw sea of green and white amidst the
hockey banners and tradition of Yost Ice Arena. While the ghosts of Al
Renfrew, Dave Debol and Bill McFarland watched -probably in disgust -
the MSU fight song drowned out Michigan fans trying to muster a
modicum of spirit for their hockey team.
Whenever the Spartans scored, and they did so five times Saturday night,
the stands shook with thunderous cheers and applause that should only be
reserved for Michigan goals. That is the point of having a home ice, isn't
Behind the south-end goal, a group of fans dressed in Spartan hockey
uniforms bought up five rows of general admission seats. And to add insult
to injury, they held up a huge sign that read "M Go Blows."
How can these people just barge in from East Lansing and snap up five
rows of seats for the biggest college hockey game on Michigan's home
schedule? I hope those Michigan fans who didn't get off their duffs to buy a
damn ticket are satisfied.
Because it does hurt.
"Home ice advantage means a lot," Michigan coach Red Berenson said
after he heard "Go Green, Go White" drown out his alleged fans for sixty
straight minutes Saturday.
"We go up there and face 6,000 of their fans. And then we come down
here and its 4,000 of us and 4,000 of them," he said.
It's just not fair. How can fans tell Michigan players they support them
and then let them down for the most crucial game on the schedule?
It has even come to a point where the Spartans themselves expect to
have an advantage in Yost. I don't blame them; it happens every damn time
the Spartans come into Ann Arbor.
Imagine, if you can, Wolverine fans getting off their duffs in November
to buy tickets for this game. Imagine, if you can, not one speck of green in
Yost Ice Arena for the Michigan-Michigan State game.
If that ever came to pass, the Spar:ans wouldn't have a chance. First, the
Spartan players would be so shocked, they would probably forget how to
skate. Second, Michigan players would be so geeked, they'd forget about
losing. Third, this is all a dream.
For some reason, drawing Michigan students into Yost seems about as
tough as getting people to live on Three Mile Island. Come into Yost for
China Syndrome Night against Lake Superior. Redeem your stub and get a
free nuclear fission!
In fact, the athletic department has tried to make Michigan hockey more
desirable, offering Rowdy Rags, their version of the Homer Hankies, to
fans. Unfortunately, the Rags look more greenish than maizish.
Plus, the Michigan Pep Band has ballooned to a nice-sized group of
tooters. My first year here, there were five people who played for the hockey
team. Now, there's over 50. It's nice to see but, unfortunately, this is not
I think Michigan should pour more money into its hockey program and
finally renovate Yost Ice Arena. The barn has too many problems. '
First, the ice stinks. There's more chips in the ice at Yost than there are
in a Las Vegas casino. Do something to smooth it out.
Second, it's too damn big and dreary. In Bowling Green, the ceiling is so
low that you can touch it in the last row of the arena. This causes the noise
to reverberate and make the crowd sound much larger than it is. The same
goes for Western Michigan's home ice arena. It's not big, but it sure is loud
In Yost, the rafters go on as far as the eye can see. All the sound gets
caught up in there, causing Michigan fans to sound as quiet as church mice.
When the Pep Band tuba player begins to slowly blat the opening bars to
"Let's Go Blue," it echoes through the rafters and sounds like Wally Walrus
with a gas problem.
So, let's round out the corners and lower the ceiling at Yost. It might
lower the capacity slightly, but who cares if you have the "largest crowd in
college hockey" if you can't fill the barn for the big games.
Maybe the hockey team should get more promotion than just placing
their schedules in barber shop windows. If more people on this campus
knew we had a competative, interesting hockey program, we would not have
to deal with those obnoxious State fans taking over the place twice a year.
But, of course, the first step must be taken by the student body. Get off
your behinds, already. It's your hockey team.
Anyone who likes hockey has no excuse for not showing up to the
games. Anyone who hates Michigan State has no excuse for not getting a
ticket last Saturday.
Believe me, if it stinks to watch your team lose on home ice and hear
cheers coming down from the crowd, imagine how the players must feel.
"There's always a lot going on here."
Name: Laura Bernard$
Position at the DaIly:f
"It's a great experience to be working at a place that s completely
student-run, where students manage everything that's going on.
There aren't many jobs you can get during school where you
actually have management responsibilities."
Gophers take out NU
by Phil Green and Ryan Schreiber
Daily Basketball Writers
EVANSTON - Using a bal- Newburn all 13 of his points i
anced scoring attack that saw all five second half dominated by Minn
'Xf starters score in double figures, No. Northwestern coach Bill F
17 Minnesota beat Northwestern, though crediting Minnesota's e
90-72, Saturday in Welsh-Ryan was disappointed by his teams
Northwestern (8-15, 1-12) trailed
the Gophers (17-6, 8-5) by only one
point at halftime, 29-28, behind
Walker Lambiotte's eight first half
points and five rebounds.
Surprisingly, the Wildcats outre-
bounded Minnesota, 14-11, in the
game's first twenty minutes. The
Gophers entered the contest avera-
ging over nine rebounds per game
over their opponents.
After the Wildcats tonk a-1
"I think it's the worst game we've
played here in some time," he said.
"In the second half, we played like
our feet were in cement. They played
quick and we just totally came
The win was Minnesota's first in
Evanston since a 74-48 victory in
Haskins believes that his
Gophers are finally tough on the
road, but in his first few years, "we
were terrible. We couldn't beat five