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Group Title: Edwin Pope
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Table of Contents
    Interview
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    Summary
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Full Text






EDWIN POPE


Interviewer Julian Pleasants (P)
Interviewee Edwin Pope (E)

P: Discuss your early life in Athens, Georgia and tell me how you got interested in

sportswriting.

E: My early life in Athens, Georgia was paradise. I don't know how anybody could

have had a better place to grow up because we had the University of Georgia there and

all the attendant sports. Everybody in town was a football nut, but times were tough.

We had a standing saying that we had no coal for the stove, no food for the kitchen,

holes in the roof, holes in our shoes and no socks, then came the Depression. But

everybody was poor so nobody knew the difference.... I learned to type when I was

about six and when I was eleven, he gave me a an old, used Underwood. I'll never

know where he got the ten dollars to buy it because ten dollars was a lot of money. In

1940, you could get a meal for a dime at the Varsity,... so ten dollars was a fortune

back then. I just turned on the Georgia Tech-Missouri Orange Bowl game of 1940 and

copied down every word that Ted Husing, ... a very famous sportscaster, ... said,

including the commercials. It was about twelve pages single spaced. In my ignorance I

got on my bicycle the next morning, rode it down to the Athens Banner-Herald and

looked around for a guy who looked powerful and authoritative, and kept asking

everybody, who's the editor? Who's the editor-in-chief here? I was eleven years old, I'm

barging around this office. It got to be a joke, they'd say he's over there, he's over there.

Finally, I got the editor-in-chief. I said, do you need a running story on the Orange









FNP 60 Pope Page 2

Bowl? He said, well, what do you mean? I said, here it is. I thought copying over the

radio was a running story because I'd read them in the Atlanta Journal and the [Atlanta]

Constitution. I didn't know from anything. He looked at it and he said, no, we don't

need a running story, but who typed this? I said, I did. He said, you want a job? I said,

yes, sir. He said, we can't pay you anything, but we'll give you a lot of good experience

and they did. He kept his promise on both counts....

P: At one point you were supposedly the youngest sports editor in the country.

E: Supposedly, and there was a reason for that. It wasn't because I was the most

expert by any means. [In] 1943, every able-bodied man was in the service and nobody

ever heard of a woman sports editor. That would have been laughed out of the town it

was so outlandish, although they are all over the country now. Everybody was either

drafted or gone off to work in the big town. They made me sports editor when I was

fifteen....

P: Tell me about your journalism courses.

E: Frankly, I took journalism because they would excuse my classes when I would go

off with the football and basketball and baseball teams and that kind of thing. We had a

great journalism school. I don't think I got nearly as much benefit out of it as I could

have and should have because I was getting up to go to work at 6:00 in the morning at

the Banner-Herald. I'd have to make the fire and then light the fire. In the wintertime it

gets cold in Athens. It would be so cold, I'd have to type with those old cloth gloves on.

Just about the time the office was getting warm, before anybody else came in, I'd have

to run off to school....

P: Do you think it's necessary for people in sportswriting or newspaper work today to









FNP 60 Pope Page 3

have a journalism degree or is it just as good to learn by experience?

E: It hurts me to say this, but I do not think it's necessary to have a journalism

degree. In a lot of cases, you can learn just as much in six months, a year, out of

college about practical journalism as you could have [if you had] taken your major in

that over a long period of time in college. I don't regret the journalism [degree]. I regret

that I didn't apply myself more to it. I wish that I had taken more English and history,

English literature, political science.... When you get out of college, you can learn the

journalism, but once you get out of college, you're not going to learn the other stuff.

You can't go back and get the other stuff....

P: Was working for the Red and Black [campus newspaper} pretty good training for a

journalism career?

E: I think so, yes it is. It's really on-the-job training, where you have to make up and

lay out and really get down to the nitty-gritty of reporting who, what, when, where,

why.... I was working on the Red and Blackwhile I was working on the Banner-Herald

and I was also sports editor of the Pandora, which is the yearbook.... Then I was

stringing for about five or six papers: the Albany paper, Macon Telegraph, Atlanta

Constitution and Atlanta Journal, Augusta Chronicle. I was also sports information

director of the university for a brief time, which would now be considered a gross

conflict of interest, but nobody thought anything bad about it then because we weren't

going to print anything bad about the University of Georgia football team in the Athens

Banner-Herald. That's just the way it was then....

P: What kind of athlete were you in high school?









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E: That's an interesting question. I wasn't any kind of an athlete in high school.

When I was little, at the Athens Y until I was about twelve or thirteen, I was a pretty

good athlete, but I just didn't grow.... When I got to the university I was on a boxing

team.... I did have a wonderfully tragic-comic experience as a boxer, though. While I

was boxing I was also juggling all these other jobs, going to journalism school, working

on the Banner-Herald, SID [sports information director], stringer for all these papers. It

was a pretty tight schedule. I'd leave the Banner-Herald early in the morning. I'd go

over and do my road work. Then the season rolled around and I happened to be up in

the SID office. Went to the information director's office one day, leisurely opening a

letter from LSU [Louisiana State University]. It said, LSU boxing team will make its

seasonal debut this Saturday night in the Cow Palace or whatever kind of a convention

hall they had, mostly devoted to agriculture, also to some boxers. I guess the University

of Georgia were the featured event as undefeated NCAA champion Doug and Little

Adam Elwood slated to make his 1947 or 1948 whatever year it was, debut. Unbeaten

in 250 fights. I realized that that was who I was going to have to fight. I said, oh, God.

They had just had a little article about me in the Atlanta Constitution about the fighting

writer or the writing fighter, whatever. I was trapped. I went down and went to work out

that afternoon. I told our coach who was an old professional lightweight named Pete

Tarpley. I didn't say anything to him, he came over to me and he said, Edwin, I don't

think you ought to fight Saturday night. This guy's had a lot of fights. He was like

twenty-nine years old and I was about eighteen. I'd never fought anybody, except

around town, a couple of college bouts. To say I was pedestrian as a fighter would be









FNP 60 Pope Page 5

giving me all the best of it. I said, Pete I know I shouldn't fight this guy, but they've had

this story in the paper. If I don't fight now, everybody will say I'm yellow. I said, I know

I'm yellow and you know I'm yellow, but we don't want all those people out there to

know it. He says, okay. Then he said something which greatly added to my self-

esteem. He said, it's your funeral, and walked away. I was the smallest guy on the

team, so I always had to spar with somebody bigger than me. I arranged to spar with a

middleweighter first, trying to get myself incapacitated. Failing in that, I asked for the

heavyweight who happened to be a good friend of mine, but he had a terrible temper

and I hit him as hard as I could upside the head while he was just toying with me. [He

was] so infuriated with me, he just launched this right hand and hit me in the nose and

blood started pouring everywhere. To make a long story less long, they took me to the

hospital and x-rayed me and found my nose was broken and it was the happiest day of

my life when they told me. The guy comes out and he says, Mr. Pope he said, solid line

all the way down there. He said, I'm afraid you won't be able to fight Saturday night. I

said, oh that's too bad.

P: You were really counting on having to fight.

E: That was the happiest day of my life. That's so much for my athletic ability.

P: I often hear professional athletes talk about sportswriters. They claim that many

of the sportswriters are frustrated athletes and then when they come to report on

football or professional basketball, they are not as good as they should be

because they haven't played the game. How do you answer that charge?

E: First of all, I would say that they're right in that almost all the sportswriters I know

are failed athletes. I have seldom run into a sportswriter in sixty years, or









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whatever it's been, who didn't either try to be an athlete or want to be an athlete

or had some ambitions thwarted. As for the professional athletes saying they

don't know what they're doing, I mean, a doctor doesn't have to have cancer to

diagnose it. That's my answer to that. A lot of times the people who are the

sportswriters know more than the athletes do about what they're doing.

P: When you left Georgia, you went to work for the UPI [United Press International]

first and then the Atlanta Constitution.

E: It was the United Press back then and then it merged later with the international

news service, they're hence UPI. It was just the United Press then. Went to

work for $42.50 a week. And that was two dollars-and-a-half more than the

starting salary was supposed to be.

P: Were you always doing sports?

E: At the UP, I had to do a little bit of everything. There was no such thing as just a

sportswriter then, had the press associations. I'd do the overnight, have to

rewrite all the news from all over the South. I was like the Southern overnight

editor at the same time I was Southern sports editor. But that was good, that

was a great learning experience and it was tough. They were tough on you if

you messed up or didn't do a professional job, you heard about it, even though

you were starving in the process. That's the most beneficial thing, career-wise

I've ever done. I was only there for a couple of years, but then a new

sportswriter came to town, Furman Bisher. You know of him?

P: Yes.

E: Right, of the Atlanta Constitution. I was just so taken and enchanted by his









FNP 60 Pope Page 7

writing. I had never read anybody who wrote that well. I just threw out all of my

ambitions to go on with the wire service and I decided that's what I wanted to try

to be. I chased him until he caught me or vice-versa. The couple of years I was

with UP were educationally the best. I don't mean any offense to the University

of Georgia, but I probably learned more in three months at the UP than I did in

four years of journalism school.

P: In 1950, you do go to work for the Atlanta Constitution?

E: That's right.

P: Did you work directly for Furman Bisher.

E: I did.

P: Tell me what your responsibilities were in that position. At that time, Atlanta has

no professional sports teams.

E: No, we didn't have much space. I was assistant sports editor. Everything was

different then. Everybody doubled up back then. They didn't have specialists

like they do now, except for the one person who was the sports editor and

columnist like Bisher was and the outdoor writer. We didn't even have an

outdoor writer on the Atlanta Constitution. Everybody doubled up, you'd go out

and cover things in the afternoon. Very few things were at night anyway. Then

come in and work on the desk, editing copy, stuff like that at night or vice-versa.

You'd come in the afternoon and work on the desk. You didn't have any slack

time, I assure you. I meant to tell you one thing that was sort of funny in a

nostalgic way about the Athens Banner-Herald. It was an old wooden building

and the editor was a fellow named Hugh Rowe and he was sort of a distant









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figure. He didn't truck with the guys on the second floor. [The] second floor was

sort of second-class. He had his own office downstairs. His daughter married

the famous University of Alabama coach, Frank Thomas. Hugh Rowe wrote a

column called A Little Bit About Everything and Not Much About Anything, which

I thought was a great title for a column. Everything was so technologically

backward. The composer room was on the first floor, we were on the second

floor and to get copy down, they sawed a hole in the floor and had a rope with

one of these big huge paperclips on the end of it. If you had copy, you'd pull up

the rope, put the copy on the paperclip and let it down and then lean on the bell

to the great distress of the head of the composing room. They'd take it and

spread it out among the linotype operators. Then when they'd have proofs for

you to read, they'd send them back up to you by putting them on the clip at their

end and leaning on the bell until you felt like going down there and killing them.

That's how we got the copy from the so-called newsroom to the composing

room. As ancient as it was, it was fascinating and it had a romance that's pretty

hard to attach to journalism today. Every Saturday night I would go down and

watch those old flatbed presses run. You couldn't sit too close to them because

people have fallen in those things.

P: This is hot type?

E: Yes, and people fell into those flatbed presses and just got mangled and killed

so you'd take a safe distance. I'd watch those things running across their, boom

boom with my picture in every paper. I was absolutely enchanted, just in

rhapsody watching that. The whole thing was a great adventure.









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P: When you were at the Atlanta Constitution, were you still covering the University

of Georgia sports?

E: Occasionally. [I] covered everything, Georgia, Georgia Tech. I was doing stunts

like riding with stockcar drivers and going up on flagpoles with flagpole sitters.

Anything that came along. As I say, it was the last thing from specialization. It

was a small staff, we only had, I'd say, maybe ten people on the whole staff.

Now a comparable paper would probably have at least forty, with all specialists.

You'd never see a writer doing any desk work. Very seldom would you see a

copy desk person doing any writing. You only had, say, ten or eleven columns

where today, they'd probably have forty to fifty, on up.

P: Who was the editor of the Atlanta Constitution when you were there?

E: When I first went there it was Ralph McGill [editor, Atlanta Constitution, 1942-

1961; publisher, Atlanta Constitution, 1961-1969] who was a fantastic guy, a

wonderful friendly, old, rumpled, burly, bear of a guy. Just had no illusions about

himself. Didn't have as many illusions as he should have had for the kind of

writer and the kind of influence he was on the South because he was a great

part of the new South. A very worthy student of Henry Grady [reporter, editor,

Atlanta Constitution]. Right down on the corner from the paper, we were on

Forsyth Street both the Journal and the Constitution before they merged. Right

on the corner of Marietta and Forsyth, they have this huge statue of Henry Grady

which was very appropriate although ninety-nine percent of the people who pass

there didn't have a clue as to who Henry Grady was. Ralph McGill was the









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editor. He was a terrific writer and he probably didn't make any money. He was

probably lucky to make $150 a week. He was the one I remember, let's put it

that way.

P: In 1956, you leave Georgia for the Miami Herald. Given your comments on

Georgia and Athens, why would you leave the state to go to Miami?





E: First of all, I had just written a book called Football's Greatest Coaches which

turned out to be surprisingly successful largely because Ed Sullivan [newspaper

columnist and broadcaster, host of radio and television variety shows] plugged it

on his radio show one night. I called up Ed Sullivan, again in my youthful

ignorance, just about like when I took that radio account down to the Athens

Banner-Herald. I read in an article in Look magazine where Ed Sullivan lived at

the Delmonico hotel in New York. I said, well, I got this book Football's Greatest

Coaches, the thirty greatest coaches that ever lived and about twenty-five of

them are still alive. I call him up, got him on the phone, which you could never

do today. I said, look, I got this book, etc. etc., why don't you put on all these

spectaculars, why don't you bring about twenty-five of these coaches from all

over the country around and have them on the stage at one time. It would be a

first. Nobody's ever done that. He said, it's a great idea but it sounds like a big

logistical problem. He says, I'll tell you what, send me a copy of your book and

I'll see what I can do. He says, maybe I can mention it next Sunday night. I









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made sure the publisher in New York sent him a copy of the book. I was sitting

at home, watching the Ed Sullivan show on a tiny little black and white TV,

[which] was just really coming out then. He goes on and on through the show.

They got about one minute to go, two minutes to go and I said, aw geez, he's

never going to get around to it. He said, and now we're going to bring on the

Purdue Glee Club. [I thought,] oh no. They come out in full voice and I figure I'm

dead. But with about five seconds to go, he says, I want to show you a great

new book by a friend of mine. Of course, he didn't know me from Adam's off ox

and [he] held up the cover of the book. The next day it really took off. The

reason I mention that is because it gave me a grub stake to come to Miami.

Also, I was very irritated over something so small you can't believe it. The

Journal and Consitution were not benevolent employers, to put it bluntly. At one

time, I put in a requisition for a pencil sharpener just a manual pencil

sharpener. You have to understand there was a critical period of about an hour

in the morning where you had to get all the sports copy out from about 6:30 to

7:30 and we only had one pencil sharpener in the entire newsroom. You had to

walk about seventy-five yards to it. By the time a guy would walk out there and

shoot the bull with everybody on the way there and back, you would lose ten

minutes of valuable time, so I put in for a pencil sharpener which I was going to

screw down to my desk on my own. The requisition comes back with a big X.

I'm not going to say who the fellow's name was because he turned out to be a

great benefactor of the University of Georgia. They figured some ingenious way

where he could give them a small amount of money which turned into millions.









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He's the only boss I ever had thought that I didn't like. One of the reasons I

didn't like him was that this requisition came back with a big X and a No on it. I

went in there and said, is this a joke? He said, no, that's not a joke. That's what

I'm in here for, to prevent unnecessary extravagances. On top of being

redundant, that was very insulting to me. I said, hey you're talking about $1.75

pencil sharpener. No, no, he was adamant. I said, how about the $250 you owe

me for excerpting Football's Greatest Coaches. I also sold it around the country.

I was very enterprising in those days. I sold it to metropolitan papers all over the

country for $250. I'd sell a chapter on John Heisman for whom the Heisman

Trophy was named when he was at the Downtown Athletic Club [in New York

City], to one of the New York papers for $250. I said, when are you going to pay

me for excerpting Football's Greatest Coaches. He said, I'll either give you a

voucher and you can go down to the cashier and get it or I'll put it on next week's

paycheck. I said, how about a voucher, so he gives me a voucher and I go down

and collect the $250. Then I went back in the sports department and called the

executive sports editor of the Miami Herald who I knew and said, can you use a

man? He said, what man? I said, me. He said, when can you be here? I said,

tomorrow. I said, I'll be there. He didn't have to go through all this battery of

psychiatric tests back then like you do know, else there wouldn't have been any

newspapers back then because everybody was crazy that worked for them back

then. Then I walked back in and told the managing editor I got the $250 and by

the way, I quit. I was executive sports editor and my biggest job, in addition to

putting out the daily paper, I didn't write very much, was putting out this massive









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Sunday football edition. His reply was, who's going to put out the football

edition? I said that's your problem. I refuse to commit my career, whatever it

may be, or my life, to a paper that won't supply me with $1.75 pencil sharpener

and I took my stuff out of the desk and left. Coming to the Miami Herald was the

luckiest thing that ever happened to me and it was sheer luck. The Miami Herald

has treated me as well as my own family would have if they could have.

P: You wrote this book, Football's Greatest Coaches. When you look back now,

who was the greatest coach?

E: I don't know if I could answer that.

P: I know Paul Bear Bryant [football coach, University of Alabama, 1958-1982] was

a great one.

E: Bear Bryant hadn't even coached long enough to even be in the book, that's how

long ago it was. I guess probably somebody like Pop Warner [football coach,

Carlisle Indian School, 1899-1903, 1907-1914; University of Pittsburgh, 1915-

1923; Stanford University, 1924-1932] or Amos Alonso Stag [football coach,

University of Chicago, 1892-1932; College of the Pacific, 1933-1946] who

introduced a lot of new tactics and innovations. Maybe [Knute] Rockne [football

player, Notre Dame; football coach, Notre Dame, 1918-1931] who really, when

he was playing at Notre Dame with a fellow named Gus Dorais, they started

throwing the ball around down at the beach in Indiana one summer and they

really popularized the forward pass.

P: Let me ask you a different way, if you look back now, who would you think would

be the greatest college football coach?









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E: The popular answer would be Bear Bryant because he won so many games,

although Joe Paterno [football coach, Penn State University, 1966-present] has

passed him now. But Bryant had much more charisma. Bryant had this amazing

stage presence where when he walked into a room everything got quiet and he

had this gruff stentorian voice and he was much more physically impressive with

a great deal more presence than Joe Paterno has, although Paterno is a great

man, I think. Those would probably be the popular choices. I'm not sure but

what Eddie Robinson, the coach at Grambling for all those years, given the

resources he had, wasn't the best coach that ever lived. The truth is, we'll

probably never know. The best coach that ever lived could have spent his life at

East Muscogee High School or Junior High for fifty years and nobody ever heard

of him. It's just a catonation of luck and resources and timing. Bryant was at the

right school with all the resources and great recruiting resources.

P: If he'd stayed at Kentucky, it might have been a different story.

E: If he'd have stayed at Kentucky, he would never have achieved the notice that

he did at Alabama. [There is] so much luck that enters into it.

P: You come down to Miami as a sports writer. In 1967, you become sports editor.

Is that correct?

E: That is correct.

P: What did you do prior to becoming sports editor?

E: I was assistant sports editor. I basically did a lot of the same stuff I was doing in

Atlanta, except I was also writing a column. I would write a column, then I would









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work on the desk, processing copy. I might go out to Hialeah and write about a

big race, then I'd have to run into the office when the race was over and write my

column about it, then handle the art for the race, which doesn't happen anymore.

You had to be a lot more versatile then. On the other hand, the standards were

not nearly as high as they are now.

P: What was a typical day like in the life of a sports editor and what were your

responsibilities?

E: That's a good question, but there's no right or wrong answer to that because

every day is different. You very rarely knew what you were going to be doing

that day until you got up. My idea was always, I'm going to write about what

most people are talking about this morning. By noon, it might be something else

and by 3:00 it might be something entirely different. By 6:00 it might change, by

9:00 it changed again, so you made a lot of false starts during the day. Unless

you were specifically going to a football game or something like that.

P: As sports editor, did you try to cover a lot of the events yourself or did you assign

somebody to cover those events?

E: Sports editor was just an honorarium. It meant nothing. We had an executive

sports editor. The Herald is probably the only paper in the country except maybe

the Newark Star-Ledger or the New York Post, that had fewer executive sports

editors than anybody. We had three in about fifty years. Bob Elliot starting in

1945. Ed Storin who's still retired, but [is] the Secretary Treasurer of the

Associated Press Sports Editors, he was sports editor from 1965 to about 1980,









FNP 60 Pope Page 16

then Paul Anger was sports editor from about 1980 to 1995. We had three in

nearly fifty years. By the way, Paul Anger is now the executive editor of the

Dade Morning Register Tribune. Bob died and Eddy Storin is retired. There was

a story I was going to tell you about executive sports editors, but I've forgotten.

P: Would you go out and cover sports?

E: Yes, I would write a column. I had very few other duties other than writing a

column.

P: How many times a week?

E: I was writing a minimum of five columns a week for about thirty-five years. One

day, Carl Hiaasen [writer/columnist, The Miami Herald; author], you know Carl, of

course you do. Carl came back in my office. I hated interruptions, so I asked to

have an office as far back in the newsroom as they could give me, right next to

the mail room. I was hard to root out of there. Unlike most columnists, I enjoyed

going into the office, but I didn't enjoy a lot of distraction. Anyway, Carl Hiaasen

comes by there. He has a rare kind of a job. When he has to really bear down

on a new novel, they'll give him time off or he will write fewer columns than usual.

He came back by and we chatted. He said, I'm going back to work full-time

today. I said, what is full-time, Carl? He said two columns a week. I went in to

the then-executive sports editor. I said, all the other columnists around here

consider full-time two columns a week, why am I writing five? So they cut it

down to four and eventually I got them to cut it down to three. Now that I'm

semi-retired, I'm down to fifty columns a year which is a far cry from 250. I feel

like I'm on vacation, which literally I am. [End of side 1, tape A] When I look









FNP 60 Pope Page 17

back, I don't know how I did it. On the other hand, there were people all over the

country who were doing seven columns a week. We had a real old timer named

Jack Kofoed. He was from Philadelphia from the old days. He wrote seven

columns a week until he was way up in his mid-80s. Paul Galaco and

Grantland Rice and a lot of classic sportswriters would write five and even six

columns a week. There was no such thing as being sick. You weren't allowed to

be sick. I think in forty-five years at the Herald, I might have had to take a day off

for being sick, maybe twenty-five or thirty times. I'm proud that I never took more

than one day off at a time. If you were sick you might get away with being sick if

you had some fatal disease or something, but you better be back there the next

day, even if you came in your coffin.

P: What makes a good sportswriter?

E: A lot of things. I think obviously the first thing that makes a good sportswriter is

just raw, natural ability. I certainly can't lay any claim to that because I think I

had a lot less raw, natural ability than a lot of my peers. I tried to make up for it

by working harder and working longer hours. We have a columnist now, Dan Le

Batard, who is in his early thirties, has as much talent as any sportswriter I've

ever read in my life. Furman Bisher was an unbelievably talented writer.

P: Jim Murray was a good one.

E: Jim Murray was probably the most talented of all time. Jimmy Cannon was one

of my idols. I was fortunate to be befriended by these fellows, all of whom were

older than I was. They sort of semi-adopted me. When I would go to New York I









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would stay with Jimmy Cannon and then I knew Jim Murray very well. We

became close. Bill Corum who was a famous, not only sports columnist for the

New York Journal American, but he was a well-known sports announcer. People

seem to think this is new, sportswriters being on television and radio. It's not

new because people like Bill Corum would do fights, the Kentucky Derby and

eventually got out of sportswriting altogether to become president of Churchill

Downs and the Kentucky Derby [1950-1958].

P: Did a lot of people like Bill Stern who were announcers also do columns?

E: No, I don't think so. I knew Bill Stern. I know Bill Stern had a terrible reputation

but I spotted for him in a Georgia-Alabama game in 1944. He couldn't have

been nicer. I was sixteen years old, fifteen years old. He couldn't have treated

me nicer. I remember something he said. People were talking about television

then, although I never had seen any. He said, there's going to be a time when

there won't be any announcers, there won't be anybody like me. We're just a

necessary evil. When they bring in television they won't need any announcers.

I've never heard anybody else say that or refer back to that. Unfortunately, he

had lost a leg in his youth, I think at Pennsylvania Military Academy. He got

addicted to morphine and had some bad times. The last time I heard from him,

he was actually looking for a job in Miami in the 1960s and he died not long

thereafter.

P: Going back to what makes a good sportswriter, the first thing is raw talent. What

else makes a good sportswriter?

E: I'd say attitude. You have to take for granted that a guy is willing to put in some









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murderous hours. Sometimes they're murderous, sometimes they're very easy.

You've got to be ready to pull up stakes and take off and leave your family and

everybody else and cancel every kind of social obligation you might have or even

family obligations. I find that there are fewer and fewer who are willing to do that.

I can't say that I blame them because flying is not what it used to be. Fewer and

fewer like to travel. I'll give you an example. Covering a major league baseball

team used to be the most coveted job in sports next to being a metropolitan

sports columnist. Now they have a hard time finding that many people to do it

because it means traveling four or five months constantly. People are just not

willing to do that much. Where were we? We were talking about natural ability

and you had to be ready on a minute's notice. You didn't have time to pack half

the time when they sent you somewhere. You just had to stay there and be

willing to stay there until the last dog was dead.

P: Would it be harder to write about sports or to write about something like politics?

E: Well, it evens out, I think. Sports is easier to write about because there's always

something you can see and put your finger on and there's always a final score

up there. In politics, it's so subjective. Half of it is guess-work. You don't know

which are the crooks, which are the bad guys. You're pretty sure ninety percent

of them are crooks, but you don't know for sure. In sports there's always a

winner and a loser. On the other hand, a sports columnist almost always has to

go somewhere. That's the killer part of it. That's what I was going to get back to

a minute ago about being willing to travel. You almost always have to go

somewhere, whether it's fifty miles or five thousand miles to write a column. Not









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many days when you can just sit in the office and write off-the-wall like the

political columnists or the general columnists do. That's the great advantage

they have over the sports columnists, but I think what balances out the other way

is that they have to scrounge for ideas. Being a sports columnist can by

physically very wearing. It's not a healthy job.

P: A lot of people I have interviewed have ended up being editors or publishers, like

Fred Pettijohn [sports editor, managing editor, Fort Lauderdale News], started

out as sportswriters. Did you ever have any desire to be in management or a

radio announcer or a TV announcer?

E: No. Never, never. In fact, every day, every minute, every hour that I worked on

the desk, I sort of liked it but I felt like I was on a treadmill and my life was ebbing

away every minute that I couldn't be writing. The last thing in the world that I

would ever aspire to is any sort of management or high editorial position. I have

been able to do exactly, precisely, not an iota less than what I wanted to do, all

this time. The problem is, I was a pretty good editor and that's a big mistake to

ever let them know that you can be a good editor because they immediately want

you to start editing. I made the mistake of letting them know that without saying

it. I was just a good copy editor. A lot of copy editors are good because they're

just as meticulous about other people's copy as they are about their own. It's a

big mistake to let them know that if you want to be a writer.

P: You won the Red Smith Award which is generally considered the highest award

for sportswriters. What was your reaction to winning that award?

E: I was just stunned. I was at the Master's [golf] tournament when they announced









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it. I was just absolutely blown away because I never thought, never even dared

think about it or dream about it. Never.

P: Do you think a sportswriter will ever win a Pulitzer?

E: They have, it's very tough though because for a long time they had a lot of old

fuddy-duddies from the New York Times who regarded sports as too frivolous.

Only one person from the non-New York Times has ever won a Pulitzer as a

sportswriter and that's Jim Murray. Arthur Daly from the New York Times won

Pulitzer for his coverage of the 1968 Mexico City Summer Olympics. Dave

Anderson of the New York Times won a Pulitzer in the either late 1980s or early

1990s. There was some guy who won a Pulitzer for sort of a combination of

writing and I don't remember his name. Jim Murray was the only non-New York

Times person to win a straight-out sports commentary. Red Smith was the other

New York Times writer. They gave it to him about thirty years too late. He had

been through more between five or six papers before he finally just

wound up with all these other papers folding by being on the Times and he had

to be on the Times before he got it which was a disgrace that he never got it

earlier. He was in his 70s.

P: I notice that you were elected to the National Football Hall of Fame. What was

your reaction to that?

E: I was thrilled because college football is sort of my lifeblood. I was just very

happy. As I told you, I grew up on college football. I cut my teeth on college

football. It's not as much fun now as it used to be. It's a lot different, it's a lot









FNP 60 Pope Page 22

more big business than it used to be. It's still more fun than anything else, in my

book, so that's why I enjoy it.

P: That's a pretty big honor for an old Bulldog fan. Are there other Georgia players

in the Hall of Fame? Charlie Trippey, Herschel Walker?

E: Charlie Trippey, Herschel Walker, Frank Sinkwitch. A lot of players get in the

Hall of Fame, a lot more get in the College Football Hall of Fame than get in the

Pro Football Hall of Fame, so I couldn't begin to name all of them. Bill Stanfill,

he played for the Dolphins in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Georgia has

probably got Coach Wally Butts. We're trying to get a guy who slipped through

the cracks, in there as an old-timers candidate now. Johnny Rauch.

P: Did he also coach at Stanford?

E: No, you're close though. He coached the Oakland Raiders in Superbowl II. He

coached the Buffalo Bills when O. J. Simpson [football player, Heisman Trophy

winner, University of Southern California; professional football player, Buffalo

Bills, 1969-1979] first came there. He should be in the Hall of Fame. He was an

all-American. He had an undefeated season in 1946, he started every single

game and played offense and defense for four years. He was the first player in

NCAA history to start four straight bowl games. He was the number one draft

choice of the apparently short-lived all-America conference, a pro conference,

1947 through about 1949. He deserves to be in there. It is hard to get

somebody in there outside of the normal avenue.

P: In your book, The Edwin Pope Collection, James Michener [author] wrote a very









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laudatory forward to that book. Michener wrote a good book on sports, and in

that book he was trying to ascertain the importance of sports in American life.

How would you make that assessment?

E: It amazes me that there are so many people that take sports so seriously. But I

really should not be amazed because sports, to most people, now more than

ever, is pure escapism. It is just escapism.

P: It is entertainment.

E: It is entertainment, it takes your mind off whatever terrorism, bad marriage, bad

job, not being able to pay the mortgage. You can just leave your work-a-day

world and walk into another world. That is what sports is. It is understandable to

me that there are so many people hooked on it. [It is] still hard for me to absorb

the intensity by which some people approach sports as fans.

P: As you know, if it's Georgia vs. Florida and your team loses, for some people it is

like the end of the world.

E: Absolutely.

P: In some cases, they are not even graduates of the university. Why do they take

it so seriously?

E: Well, that is like Sigmund Freud said that he spent thirty years searching for the

answer to one question, what do women want? So, I would put your question in

the same category as Freud's what do sports fans want? I like sports fans,

and I think they are a lot smarter than most writers give them credit for being,

especially with all the new ways to see sports and expose yourself to it. It still

baffles me and befuddles me, your very question as to why are they that way. I









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guess that everybody needs something outside of his everyday life to attach

himself to, or devote himself to, or to be fanatical about, whether it is your

church, charity, philandering, stealing money, hating someone or whatever.

P: There is a camaraderie to this, being together in a stadium with 85,000 people. I

think there is some unity that is generated by being a fan of the same team. Is

that true in pro-sports as well?

E: It is, surprisingly. It didn't use to be, like in the pro-football. The whole thing has

changed. When I was a kid, there were really sixteen pro sports teams that you

had any reason to pay attention to. Sixteen major league baseball teams. Now

there are over one hundred between football, baseball, basketball, and hockey.

Nobody paid any attention to pro-basketball, they played it literally in cages

where the players had to hang their clothes on nails driven in the wall. Pro-

football offered people such a pathetic living. Art Rooney of the old Pittsburgh

Steelers, probably the greatest man in pro football history, used to have to go

down and beg the sports writers to put in a little notice that the Pittsburgh

Steelers were going to play that Sunday. There were only sixteen teams that

you paid any attention to until the mid-1950s. Then [came] this gigantic

proliferation of them, and along with it, cable TV and all this stuff, it is just a little

much.

P: How has that changed sports? Now you have ESPN, ESPN 2, the Golf Channel

and you can see everything from pro football to curling twenty-four hours a day.

E: One way it has changed sports is that it has created a lot more millionaires

because every time those TV shows come on, they have to pay fees to









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somebody. Those people that get those fees pay a lot of those fees to the

players. In dealing with the players is entirely different from what it used to be.

P: How important are profession sports teams for Miami?

E: That is something that we are endlessly debating in this go-round about whether

they are going to get a new dome stadium for baseball, which they desperately

need. My contention is that people who do not have any interest in baseball or

going to the games should not have to pay a penny of their tax money. Of

course, the baseball owners think that the public should pay for everything. I

think that the teams themselves and, even in some cases, the players and

certainly the owners should pay for all the stadiums. They have been getting a

free ride forever.

P: Certainly, Wayne Huizenga [businessman] would have enough to build a new

stadium.

E: He would, but my question would be, if Wayne Huizenga is worth 1.5 billion

dollars, is it fair to ask him to spend a third of that to build a dome stadium, to

give up a third of his net worth just so a lot of people could enjoy it? That is the

attitude of the owners. A lot of people who want a new stadium, that is their

attitude. They say, well, Huizenga has the money. He does have the money,

but I don't see that he has an obligation. Actually Huizenga gave baseball every

chance here before the 1997 season, he said, I am going to pay as much money

as it takes to have a winner here. That is the year that he brought in all the

World Series championship players and see if Miami can support the team.

Well, Miami didn't support the team. They only averaged about 30,000 people a









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game, they didn't even sell out the first play off series against the [San

Francisco] Giants. After that he concluded that it was bad business and sold

out.

P: He made a huge fortune when he sold out. He sold it for a lot more than what he

paid for it.

E: Well he sold it for $150 [million dollars] and by the time he paid the initiation fee

and the rest of it, it was about $110 [million dollars] or $120 [million dollars], so

he probably made $30 or $40 million dollars. He also lost a lot of money each

year. There was a considerable debate over whether he really lost that much

money because he owns the stadium too. There is no question that he lost

money on an annual operating basis.

P: Do you think in cases where the city or state builds a professional sports

stadium, that it is economically good for the community? Does it produce

enough money and tax money and revenue to overcome the costs of building it?

E: Time and again, it has been shown by expert economists that it does not have a

commensurate economic benefit to the city. Baseball doesn't bring anybody into

town. It is just a huge non-taxable white elephant sitting there that very often

brings down the quality of life around the stadium. You don't see any baseball or

football stadiums in upscale neighborhoods. It doesn't really create very many

jobs, except minimum wage or people who sell beer and popcorn and carry in

the goods and carry them out. No, I don't think it even comes close to equaling

the public out put. As you can see, I am not supportive of the public paying all

the freight for a pro franchise. Did you ever see a movie called the Blob?









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P: Actually, I did. [Laughter]

E: Some have, some haven't. It has Steve McQueen in it where this piece of

protoplasm came rolling through town and it was about that big. It was picking

up little pieces of dust, that was like the Dolphins when they first came to town in

the 1960s. Then it gets bigger and it starts going around, it goes through grocery

stores, picking up cans of groceries, well that was in the 1970s the [Miami]

Dolphins [professional football team] in the 1970s when they had those great

teams and they got bigger. Then, the Blob starts picking up whole automobiles,

well that was when the [Miami] Heat [professional basketball team] came in too.

Now we had two sports. Then the thing got to picking up houses and all that,

then we got hockey and then we got baseball. There is no questions that pro

sports adds to the quality of life. It is an adornment to the lifestyle of the people

who live in towns, but it also takes its toll on other things. It is taking a huge toll

on college and high school sports and other amateur sports. To me it is like the

Blob that rolls through town. Everybody talks about [how] the entertainment

dollar only goes so far, that is no doubt true. But there is also the question about

the entertainment hour, how many hours people have to spend. Where are they

going to choose to spend them? Are they going to go out and do something that

benefits everybody like the optimist league or high school football game or a little

neighborhood basketball game, or are they going to pay fifty-eight dollars for a

seat at the hockey game?

P: I noticed in the paper today that the Dolphins have just raised their ticket prices.

E: For the fourth straight year.









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P: It now costs forty-three dollars a ticket. If you are a man and you have two boys,

and you want to go to a Dolphin game, with parking and hot dogs, it has to be a

minimum of $150. Who can afford to do that?

E: Well, I ask myself that question all the time. I see these people going in there

that I know are not rich. They do without or borrow the money. It has gotten way

out-of-hand. Baseball is particularly a game of fools, both players and owners.

To me, Huizenga got out when he did, because he perceived it as a game of

fools. Now, he might be the most reviled sports person in the history of south

Florida.

P: Because he sold the [Florida] Marlins [professional baseball team]?

E: Yes, because he broke up a championship team. I don't blame him. I have a

hard time blaming him.

P: He brought hockey, and he brought the Marlins. At least they had a team.

E: They would never have had a team, much less a world championship, if it had

not been for Huizenga. He has been a great owner for football. He was a good

owner for hockey. Baseball, for as long as he was in it, he was a good owner.

P: Why is baseball not nearly as popular as it used to be?

E: My personal opinion is that life has gotten so much faster, every movie you see

wants to be so much louder than the last one, the cars to go faster, the

explosions to be noisier, the fatalities to be more numerous, life has gotten to be

so much faster that, especially young people, demand everything at a fever pitch

and baseball is not played at a fever pitch. Baseball is played at the same pitch,

even slower pace than it used to [be] because they have ever more









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commercials. The World Series game has forty-five minutes [of commercials]. I

can remember not that long ago, in the late 1970s, when I used to keep tabs on

this, that a lot of the games were over in two hours, two hours and six minutes,

one hour and fifty-six minutes. When the Yankees had Reggie Jackson, the

Dodgers had Tommy John and the Yankees had Ron Gidrey, the games were

getting over in less than two hours. Now it is an event when a World Series

game gets over in less than three hours. You can just about count on them

lasting three-and-a-half hours. That just doesn't tie in with the pace of American

life.

P: Do you think that the popularity of college football and basketball has to some

degree taken away from the interest in baseball?

E: No, I think other factors, like movies, television, just life in general the speeding

up of life, whether in the movies or whatever, has diminished the appeal of

baseball.

P: I know some old baseball fans who are friends of mine resent the fact that a

short-stop who hits .230 gets $4.5 million a year. They see this as an

extraordinarily commercial high price for average baseball players. Their attitude

seems to have gotten worse they won't sign autographs and this has turned

them off. Do you think that is a fair assessment?

E: Yes, I don't blame the players for taking the money. That is why I say that it is a

game of fools. The players ruined it by insisting on so much money, but the

owners didn't really have to submit to their demands, but they did. So, it is a









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question of who are the biggest fools? The owners or the players.

P: I would say it would be the television people who spend millions of dollars and

lose money broadcasting.

E: Another huge factor. To try to jazz up the baseball games, they play this

insanely, riotously loud music between innings which a lot of baseball

traditionalists truly resent. You go to a pro basketball game, even the coaches

are complaining because the players can't hear them when they have time-outs

on the sidelines. The marketing people run the games now. They are the ones

who insist, horse racing is a great example. Horse racing is still conducted at the

same leisurely pace with twenty-five minutes between races. The lottery really

killed horse racing and dog racing and Jai-Alai. Now the only chance that horse

racing seems to have is blend it in with concerts. At Gulfstream Park up here,

they have concerts every weekend. A lot of people who go to the concerts never

bet a dime.

P: So earlier interest was as much for gambling as anything else?

E: I think so. The state of Florida made a huge mistake in never passing the so-

called minors bill, where parents could take their children with them. They

couldn't bet. It always seemed to me that an afternoon at the race track, for a

kid with his parents, beat hanging around the 7-11 [convenience store] or doing

something else where they might get in trouble. That is where Florida and a lot

of states blew it in not allowing parents to take their children with them.

P: Getting back to baseball. Should Pete Rose [professional baseball player] be in

the Hall of Fame?









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E: I don't think so. I think he bet on baseball. I think the evidence is

incontrovertible that he bet on baseball or otherwise he would have gone to court

which he never has. He has never been tested in court. It is generally thought

that Bart Giomati knows and has evidence that he bet on baseball. I don't think

that there should be a place in the Hall of Fame for anybody who ever bet on

baseball. If you bet on baseball, it follows that there is a chance that you might

have bet on your own games. The way that Pete bet, I won't think it unusual

because Pete is sort of, not so much a scoundrel or saint as he is amoral, he

doesn't see the difference. No question that he loves baseball and was a

wonderful asset to baseball. But I can see where Pete Rose wouldn't see the

difference in betting on baseball or worse, betting on his own team as well as

other teams. No, I don't think he should be in the Hall of Fame.

P: What is your view of college baseball today and aluminum bats?

E: I think that the aluminum bats is a big mistake. It takes too much of the defense

out of the game. It is too easy to hit the ball. It is purely an economic measure

because they were breaking too many bats and they just couldn't afford it. I like

college baseball, we particularly like it here because the University of Miami does

a great job of promoting it as well as playing it. I don't think aluminum bats have

been good for baseball and I don't think traditionists really like them. Maybe it is

the only way they can survive. They do not make money. The University of

Miami has won, I believe, three college world series, either three or four.

P: And Ron Frazier was certainly a great coach.









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E: Absolutely, and so is Jim Morris, and they don't support themselves. The only

Miami sports that support themselves are football and surprisingly, basketball.

P: They are doing a lot better now than they did years ago.

E: You only have to have a few players, that is the reason. None of themselves

could support themselves if they didn't have a tuition waiver from the University

of Miami.

P: Did you cover Rick Barry when he was at Miami?

E: I did.

P: What did you think of him?

E: I was so wrong on Rick Barry. I have been wrong on a lot of things, but that was

probably one of the worst. I never thought that he would make it as a

professional player. I thought he was too skinny and couldn't stand up to those

heavier, stronger guys that they would bat him around. I sold him real short.

He not only made it, but he was an all-time great player.

P: He could shoot foul shots.

E: He was a fantastic free-throw shooter. He wasn't a great shooter from the field,

but he was a great scorer. He could pick up all kind of garbage balls and

somehow find a way to get them in the net. Another reason I didn't think that he

would make it was because I thought he was fragile. He had a sort of a fragile

psyche, and he did, but he overcame it. He was an absolute worry-wart,

anything that happened he would go around shaking his head and worrying

about it. He did the same thing in the pros, the ABA [American Basketball









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Association] and NBA [National Basketball Association], but he survived. But,

that is one of the reasons that he can't get a job as a coach now.

P: I remember him shooting that red, white, and blue basketball. What did you

think about the ABA league?

E: I loved it. I thought they did some great things, like Larry Brown when he was

coach, he came out one time in farmers overalls. He had the colored basketball,

I thought it was good for basketball. They wound up helping the NBA.

P: Didn't they start the three-point shot?

E: I believe they did. I am pretty sure they did. They had some great characters in

there. You could be yourself in the ABA. They weren't quite as stiff-necked and

pompous as the NBA.

P: I presume that college football is still, to some degree, your favorite sport. How

have the athletes changed in the years that you have been reporting college

sports in general, but college football in particular?

E: They have changed negatively. There are reasons. The demands by the media

have increased almost exponentially. You used to go out to a University of

Miami practice or press conference and there might be four people there. You

go out there now there are thirty-four people. If a guy is a good football player it

is a heavy burden on him, dealing with the media. Although this has always

been the case in some way, it has been more marked in recent years. If a kid

has athletic ability, he has a free pass in life, just about from the time that he is

six or eight years old on. He can get away with anything.

P: Both in and out of school?









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E: Oh, yes, absolutely. This always [been the case] to some degree, but not like it

[is] now. If some fourteen year-old kid gets in trouble, and the high school coach

knows that he is going to be a great football player, he will intervene and a lot of

times [it is] with the sufferance of the teachers. Let's say that they are much less

humble than they once were. A lot of them are pretty arrogant, but they are still

much better to talk to than the any of the pro athletes, except for hockey players,

race-car drivers, and horse racing people.

P: Those people are easier to talk to?

E: The three pro sports I mentioned are the easiest. Horse racing trainers,

owners, and jockeys. Hockey players mostly, but coaches too. Automobile

racing, those guys would let you ride on their fenders if it wouldn't slow them

down. They are terrific. I notice that the hockey players, as the salaries go up,

the hockey players tolerance for medical demands is going down.

P: Have you been insulted and demeaned by professional players many times?

E: You know, I never have been insulted or demand by an athlete in sixty-two

years, not once. I have had few very modest, minor confrontations of the oddest

kind that you can imagine. Like Garo Yepremian, I blamed him for the Dolphins

losing a game.

P: He was a place-kicker for the Dolphins.

E: I blamed him for the Dolphins losing a game in Baltimore in 1974 or there about,

which is wrong. In my opinion, you should never blame a field-goal kicker

because [and] I violated one of my basic precepts if they have to rely on a

field-goal kicker to get them out, then the rest of the team didn't do their job. But









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I blamed him. The next week Garo confronted me in the dressing room, he is

not as tall as I am and I am only 5'6". He wore a size five shoe, I wear a size

nine. He more or less threatened to beat me up and then the ultimate insult was

that he called me a hillbilly. I said, that is a riot you are calling me a hillbilly and

you are from Cyprus [island in the Mediterranean Sea], the biggest rock in the

world.

P: I hope that he later gave you a tie to make up for it.

E: Oh yeah, Garo was such a great guy that it was all over in ten minutes. The

other one was a little more a generic form of degradation at the Olympics in

Albertville. I was standing in what they called the mix zone. [End of Tape A, Side

2.] A mix zone is a little tiny area where very few select athletes and a very few

media can get together for an informal battle royal press conference. It is not a

formal press conference, but you had the opportunity to shout a question and

they could shout back an answer. In Albertville, the mix zone was not only

absolutely freezing, but it was made for about twenty people, it was a tent, and

there were about 300 people trying to force their way in there. The only way I

could hear them was to get up on a table, and then somebody else, eventually all

four corners of the table were occupied. So, there are four veteran, professional

journalists, or at least we liked to think that we were journalists, up there risking

life and limb on this table. One of the guys weighed about 300 pounds that was

standing on there. We were trying to elicit some intelligent answer from a figure

skater who had just barely learned to wave bye-bye. I thought to myself, this is it

for me, this is degrading. I would be damn if I would do this again. So, finally we









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get down and go back to what we were doing and the big guy comes to me and

says, you know what, that was degrading. I said, you are absolutely right, and

you can consider this my winter Olympics, or any kind of Olympics, farewell.

P: Was that Hubert Misell?

E: Yes, Hubert Misell. So I went back to the winter Olympics finale and I haven't

been back.

P: Give me your opinion of the current imbroglio when the IOC [International

Olympic Committee] has now awarded a gold medal to the Canadian pair.

E: I thought that was great because the Canadians, wrote a column

about this and he read my mind or I read his. I thought that it was the greatest

thing that could have happened. Now the Canadians will be in demand

everywhere. They will command these huge honorariums.

P: And they still get the gold.

E: And they will still get the gold. It turned out great, it looked like a terrible thing,

but it turned out to be terrific.

P: Let me go back to college sports, particularly college football. Do you sense that

the athletes today are less intelligent, less articulate? More articulate? How do

you access them?

E: Well, can you turn that off for a minute?.....The athletes today are much more

media-savvy. They give you better answers, in part because the journalists ask

better questions, and a lot more of them, they give you better answers than they

would have ten years ago, twenty years ago, forty years ago, [because] nobody









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even asked them any questions. People didn't go to the dressing rooms after

the games, you wouldn't have thought of it. Personally I think the biggest waste

of time and space on a sports page is all these innocuous quotes from athletes,

few of whom ever say anything worth repeating.

P: Saying, "we really got to step up for this game....we've got to focus."

E: "We didn't execute." Yes. "We just got to regroup." We print all that garbage.

P: Are there more cliches in sports in anything....

E: Cliches are cliches because they are so true. But now you hear them like the

one, "we control our destiny." You can't control your destiny, destiny is destiny.

Or fate, "we control our fate." You cannot control fate. Fate is fate, it is

preordained.

P: But they take them "one game at a time." I don't know how else you would take

them.

E: We compound the felony, they are bad about cliches, but I don't blame them as

much as us for printing them.

P: One thing that disturbs a lot of academics at universities is this rather lax attitude

toward athletes' irresponsible behavior. Without getting into specifics, there was

wide receiver at FSU who stole something, there was a wide receiver who also

caught stealing, not only were they not kicked out of school, they remained on

the football team. They were suspended for one or two games. What is your

reaction is to that?

E: Well, I look at that in the context of society as a whole. Now, when I grew up in

Athens, Georgia, about the worse trouble that you could get into was knocking









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out a streetlight with a rock. You couldn't be drunk, because you couldn't buy

anything to drink. You couldn't be drugged, because there were no drugs.

There were much fewer opportunities to be a bad guy. As a result, we didn't

have much misbehavior. I don't know how we would have reacted if we would

have had the opportunity for misbehavior that they have today. I think that there

is a great division of how the coaches handled this. For example, I think

Spurrier, even though I don't carry much for him personally, he is too arrogant

and thin-skinned for my taste, is a pretty good disciplinarian. And just the

opposite, I love Bowden as a person, but I think Bowden is a bit too light on the

players. If you ask him about it, his answer is, well, that is the way kids are these

days. Well, that is not the right way to confront this. Butch Davis at the

University of Miami was a chronic liar. Football coaches in college and pros are

the world's biggest liars, except for politicians. It would be a dead heat if you had

a lying race between head football coaches and politicians. Maybe because it is

that they have to lie. All I know is that they would climb a tree to tell a lie. Butch

Davis is the worse of the whole field of worst. Yet, he was a wonderful

disciplinarian, a very decent and honorable man in every other respect. One of

his old coaches, Jimmy Johnson, once told me, he just can't help it. Some

people just have to tell a lie a day. He is tough with those players. If they got out

of line or did something, he would crack down.

P: That reminds me I want to go back to the Miami team, 1986, when they wore

fatigues and they had gotten in fights and had been accused of rapes. They

really had this bad-boy image.









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E: Actually, the severity of their malfeasance was overrated. Most of the things that

they did wrong was not terrible, but their attitude was so arrogant and they

taunted and showboated and hot-dogged and I thought it had reached its apex,

of course, at the Fiesta Bowl, the 1987 Fiesta Bowl. That is an insult to all of

football, to me, the way that they acted there. Then walked out of a steak fry and

then they were cursing the Penn State fans from the door of their locker room

before the game. Jimmy Johnson let them get by with it. Actually I think Jimmy

Johnson encouraged them to do it. I thought it was shameful and I wrote

columns to that effect. I wrote that Jimmy Johnson should apologize or be fired.

His answer to that was to go in and offer to resign to President Tad Foote. As

it happened, the athletic director, Sam Jancavitch, talked him out of it at the last

minute. But after he went to Dallas, Jimmy Johnson told me that, you know, you

almost made me quit. We were back on good terms by then, and I said, what do

you mean? He said, when you said that I should apologize or resign, I took the

second course; I tried to resign, but they wouldn't allow me too. The whole

scenario of the Fiesta Bowl was a blight on college football and just shameful. It

was everything that college football should not be. I know that there are a lot of

abuses in college football, anybody would be terrible guilist or naive to think that

there are not, but it also does a lot of good and it also has a lot of good, the way

that it unifies alumni, I think that it is very healthy.

P: You think that there is a lot cheating going on, particularly recruiting? We notice

that sanctions have been recently handed down against Alabama and Kentucky.









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E: You know, I really don't. I know that a lot has gone on, but I think that just the

fear factor...

P: The death penalty? [Referring to stringent sanctions handed down to the NCAA

for recruiting violations.]

E: Right. It stops a lot of this. I don't doubt but what hundreds, maybe thousands,

of coaches, including some of whom I am absolutely positive of, kept stacks of

$10s, $20s, $50s, and $100s in their desk drawer. And if a guy needed a new

suit, he would go by the coach's office and he would dip in there and hand him

the money. The money was furnished to him by affluent alumni. I don't think

that happens near as much any more. I think that the University of Miami now

has four compliance officers. They didn't use to have any. Now they have four

people who do nothing but to see that they are in compliance [with] this tangle of

NCAA regulations. I am sure there is a lot of hanky-panky going on, but it is not

like as open and as wild as it was, like when Max McGhee (the old Green Bay

Packer wide receiver that caught seven passes in Super Bowl I) told me, when

he went to Tulane, he had any kind of car that he wanted any time that he

wanted it. When SMU [Southern Methodist University] got the death penalty,

one of the higher officials told the athletic director he had do something about

these abuses. The athletic director's response was, I don't have time or the

resources to do that, Mr. President, we have a payroll to meet. They were just

paying out and out.

P: There is a tremendous amount of pressure on college athletic directors to be

successful and fill the stadiums. One of the criticisms from the academic









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community is that college sports have become too commercialized. The

University of Florida has an athletic budget over $70 million or something like

that.

E: Someone told me yesterday that they were enlarging the stadium again.

P: They are again. They are putting in luxury boxes.

E: How many seats?

P: I don't think many seats, probably another 5,000, something like that. Is that a

problem in terms of athletic programs representing the universities and being so

commercial, so much a business?

E: Oh yeah, any time you take the amateurism or amateur aspect of it, I think it is a

problem. But it is something that emerged from public enthusiasm. It is not good,

I think it is a problem. But it is not a felonious...I wish it weren't that way, but I

don't see it as something that is going to bring down the whole [FINISH

THOUGHT, PLEASE]...Its hard to be happy when it goes from a game to a

business.

P: What about the idea that some people have said, why don't we make these

semi-pro teams? We will make it the Gainesville Gators, they can keep the

stadium and pay rent, but they don't have to worry about getting into school or

going to class.

E: Well, that won't work. Actually, an old coach, one of the coaches that I used in

Football's Greatest Coaches, who had a fabulous record. He had like six or

eight perfect seasons, Gloomy Gill Dobbie at Cornell and University of









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Washington and other places, he actually suggested that football players not be

required to attend classes, seriously, during season. He didn't get very far with it

obviously. I don't think that he would work, because then you would take the

school element out of it.

P: What about stipends for players?

E: It is not financially feasible. If you had to pay, first of all, you couldn't just confine

it to football players, you would have to pay every athlete, which would be, how

many, 300 athletes?

P: Oh, more, if you take women's sports.

E: Say 500, you paid them all, nothing less than $200 a month would not even

make a difference these days, do the math, it would not work. Besides, they are

already getting paid. At the University of Miami, you are getting a $35,000 tuition

free. So they are getting paid, basically for four years, $140,000.

P: When we look at the whole process of carrying on sports, it is expensive. Should

coaches and players accept money from Nike for wearing their shoes? I know

that they get million-dollar contracts.

E: I see a lot of flaws in the coaches accepting the money. It compromises the

university and makes it even more commercial. But the colleges themselves aid

and abet this by using this as part of the coach's compensation. When you get

into the pros, it is just business to me. I don't really see anything wrong with it in

the pro sports. The only thing that I see wrong with pro sports is it enables

thieves like Nike to charge kids from the ghetto $160 for a pair of Jordans

[shoes].









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P: Are you disturbed by players turning pro early after one or two years of college?



E: Absolutely, I think it is terrible. Now we are seeing that they do not redshirt

nearly as many players, because they know that they are only going to have

them for a short length of time. That is not all that disturbs me. I probably would

not be as disturbed about it as I am if the NFL...in fact, I think that the pro

leagues should compensate the colleges for every player they use. I am not just

talking about the guy turning pro early. I think that if like, let's say, Dan Morgan,

who went from the University of Miami linebacker to the Carolina Panthers. In

effect, the University of Miami is a factory that produce Dan Morgan for the larger

company, the Carolina Panthers. I think that the Panthers, should have to pay a

fee.

P: Like a minor-league team.

E: Should have to pay a fee, based on a set fee. If the guy goes early, they should

still have to pay the fee based on the time.... The pros get such a free ride from

the colleges.

P: Is there a way to keep these kids in school? One person has proposed that

there ought to be a contract that these kids sign. The argument against that is

that none of them would go to college, they would all turn pro.

E: I don't think a contract would stand up in court, because it would be preventing

someone from making a living. I think that the colleges should make a greater

effort. They are never going to stop a guy from turning pro if he wants to turn

pro. I think that colleges should make a greater effort to some sort of









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compensation for them. A lot of times, these guys are not doing themselves by

turning. What happens if they don't make it? Half of them have no way of

making a living.

P: Is there some qualms about having high school students going directly to the

NBA?

E: For some reason that really doesn't bother me. The ones that go, if they had

gone on to college instead, they certainly would not have been taking part in

college life or doing anything academically that would benefit them. So it is sort

of a wash to me.

P: What about coaches' salaries?

E: Oh, that is a sore point with me. I think that coaches are just as overpaid or

more so than the players. I think that it is just absolutely ridiculous to pay a

college coach $2 million like Spurrier was getting, or $1 million like Bowden. Two

million is getting to be the going rate for top coaches like Bob Stoops [head

coach, University of Oklahoma]. As soon as Bob Stoops hit $2 million, Butch

Davis hit the ceiling and started thinking that he was a $2 million coach. That

was part of the reason that he left the University of Miami to go to Cleveland. I

think that is a terrible abuse. Doesn't bother me about the pro coaches, I mean

it's gross, crass.

P: Spurrier does make a little bit more than the average history professor.

E: Yes.

P: I wonder also if there needs to be more NCAA control about grades. I know that

some schools have very low admission rates, some schools have higher









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admission rates. Should there be some sort of standard?

E: There is a standard, is there not?

P: Yes, but it varies to SEC...

E: I thought it was an NCAA.

P: Let me put it this way, Plaxico Burress, [wide receiver] who couldn't get into the

University of Florida, played at Michigan State. A player we just had at Florida,

couldn't get in Florida, is playing at Oklahoma. So there are different standards.

E: I certainly think it should be standardized and higher. I don't think you should

take a complete academic washout, accept him as a regular student. I think this

should be done on an NCAA level and I really don't understand why it hasn't

been done that way.

P: The entrance exam, they have increased, and the grade point average, they

have increased. Obviously I know at many schools, for example, the University

of Florida president can admit students on his own, without going...there are little

ways to get around...

E: Excuse me just a second. As far as national standards, I can see an

immediate... well, we could sit here and agree that there should be a national

standard, I can see an immediate holdup where the president of the University of

Florida would say, it's wrong for you to try to hold us to the standards of

Princeton or Yale or Harvard or MIT or Tulane. Our function is as a public

university, we shouldn't be that elitist as to demand these high admissions

standards such as the Ivy League schools and others.

P: There's a distinct difference, for example, the University of Nebraska, if you can









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find the campus, you can get in. Whereas if we look at Stanford, which has a

good football team... other schools are much higher. I wonder, the average

sports fan does not know that. Should that information be made available?

E: I think so, absolutely.

P: How about graduation rates? You never hear that from sports announcers.

E: Well, you see, those figures are released pretty often. The ones that have high

graduation rates rush into print with them. Miami has increased its graduation

rates tremendously in the last ten or twelve years. Oddly enough, one of the

guys who increased them was Jimmy Johnson.

P: But schools like FSU don't have very high graduation rates, particularly for

basketball and football.

E: I must say, in all honesty, that I think, and it's quite patently obvious to me, that

the teams that don't have very high graduation rates don't put a very high

premium on character or academic ability when they're recruiting. I don't think,

with all due respect for Bobby Bowden, I don't think he's going out looking for

many Rhodes scholars or anything approximating it. All he's interested in is

whether they run a 4.3 or 4.9. There are other coaches, which Davis would be

one of them, [Larry] Coker [Davis's replacement as head coach of the

University of Miami football team] would be one of them I don't know much

about Spurrier's attitude toward that who believe the two go hand in hand: a

good student is a better football player and that you have far fewer problems with

a guy who has shown through high school that he is an honorable person who









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does his best academically and has a chance academically.

P: But then there's always a Randy Moss [wide receiver] that somebody's going to

take a chance on right?

E: Or Deion Sanders [cornerback]. He doesn't go to classes his whole last

semester.

P: Because there is so much pressure to win. I notice that universities brag about

their national championships, but they don't often brag very much about their

graduation rates.

E: Because it's sort of an inverse proportion.

P: Let me talk about the University of Miami football, you've covered them for a long

time. When you look back, there's been some rather extraordinary coaches at

that campus. Who do you think would be the best coach you have?

Schnellenburger, Jimmy Johnson, Larry Coker of course has done pretty well in

his first year.

E: That's a great question. Oddly enough, I've never been asked that question and

I'd be hard-pressed to give you an answer. I probably would have to saw

Howard Schnellenburger because he took it from... he didn't start the upturn,

Lou Sabin [did].

P: I know he wouldn't be on your list.

E: No, Lou would not be on my list, because he's on about his fiftieth job now. He's

coached at Chowan College in North Carolina up in his 80s. But Lou did start

the turn-around at the University of Miami. He started going out and recruiting









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Jim Burt, who went on to play for the Giants and 49ers, was a great nose tackle.

Jim Kelly, he got those guys. No, I'm sorry, Schnellenburger got Kelly. Sabin

started it, but it was just barely kicking in when Schnellenburger came in and built

it up from almost nothing to a national championship. I'm convinced had he

stayed, he would have won numerous... just as many national championships as

other coaches there wound up winning.

P: Why do you think he left?

E: His life has been full of poor career decisions. He was having a power struggle

with the athletic director, Sam Jankovich. Obviously Jankovich won. So

Schnellenburger went to the short-lived U.S. Football League thinking they were

not going to play against. He went under some false assumptions. That was a

bad mistake, then he went on to Louisville and did a great job there and then

made another poor career decision in leaving there to go to Oklahoma. Now

here he is at Florida Atlantic, but he is indomitable. If he weren't quite so old, I

would freely predict that he would win another national championship, I just don't

know if you can start out at that age. I don't see how you could get to be a better

coach than Schnellenburger. Everyone of them has been an intriguingly different

person.

P: Almost every one of them went on to coach in the pros, or at least the most

successful ones.

E: Jimmy Johnson was a great inner-city recruiter. Had a wonderful rapport with

the African American players. Had the best rapport with the players of any

coach I've ever seen out there. He left only because the Dallas Cowboys came









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after him. When he left, he had just recruited the best recruiting class they ever

had.

P: Then Dennis Erikson took over.

E: Then Dennis Erikson took over. Dennis was a great offensive coach in many

ways, but Dennis got in a lot of drinking problems. I used to be a sociable

drinking partner of Dennis, but he got too wild for me. He lied. He's one of those

liars up to the last minute. Went to the Seattle Seahawks. Dennis at the top of

his game was one hell of a football coach, I'll tell you. The problem was keeping

him at the top of his game. When game time came, not that he was drinking

during the games, but he just didn't take care of himself. Worse than that, he

dragged the whole coaching staff along with him when he was out at night. The

whole coaching staff is barred from a bar out here on 57th Avenue called

Dawfish Tavern. Now I've heard of plenty of individuals being barred, but I've

never heard of a whole staff being barred. Then Butch came in and Butch was

the best recruiter Miami ever had. Just a wonderful recruiter. Maybe he lied to

them, maybe he got them all by lying. Maybe that's the way he got them. He

was a great recruiter, great disciplinarian, really cracked down, as I said earlier.

Wasn't the greatest game-day coach of all time. A lot of confusion down there

on the sidelines. Coker, of all of them, is the most admirable, likeable, and very,

very capable, as evidenced by the national championship. How capable, we

don't know yet. If you just sat down here at this table with him, you would

immediately like Coker more than any of the others.

P: Who was the best Miami quarterback? You've got [Jim] Kelly and [Bernie] Kosar









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and [Vinnie] Testaverde and [Ken] Dorsey and Turetta and on and on and on.

E: As a college quarterback, I would say Testaverde, because he was much more

mobile than he looks now with the Jets. He was just like an oak tree back there.

He was 220 pounds, 6'4". They have had some great quarterbacks. Turetta

was probably, even though he won the Heisman Trophy, gets a lot of scorn

because he never made it in the pros. We're not talking about that, we're

talking about college. Turetta was the most underrated. Hell, he probably would

have been the best, except he was hurt his senior year and missed all of his

senior year. Kelly, Kosar, Erikson, Walsh, Turetta, now Dorsey, nobody knows

how good Dorsey is because you've got a fantastic offensive line and you had no

idea how good he'd be if he had to run for his life back there. Might be great,

might not be great.

P: Almost every one of these has had a successful pro career. Except for Turetta.

E: That's the thing about the difference between Miami and Florida. Even with

Spurrier there, they have never had a player who has had a great pro career.

They've had some who've hung around, Doug Johnson and Shane Matthews.

P: They've always been kind of journeyman quarterbacks.

E: They have. They've never had an outstanding pro quarterback.

P: While we're on that, I know you mentioned how you feel personally about

Spurrier, how would you evaluate his career at Florida?

E: Spurrier's career at Florida? Fabulous. I don't think... it's hard for me to imagine

anybody doing any better job at any college over the same period of time, except

maybe Tom Osborne at Nebraska, and Osborne had advantages involving









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academics that Spurrier didn't have and they have a system at Nebraska, a very

sinister system there, walk-on systems where they use walk-ons as scholarships.

Say there's a player in west, big-nose Nebraska that they just don't have a

scholarship for. The local 4-F club or something like that will pay his way. It's a

very organized network. He effectively has a scholarship, so they have an

unlimited number of what amounts to scholarships, which gives them a huge

advantage. Osborne was also a fine coach. Other than that, I don't see how

anybody could have been a better coach for the period of time than Spurrier.

Dennis Erikson won two national championships, but he inherited...

P: An established program.

E: He inherited terrific material. Toward the end of it, you could see it.

P: How influential was Spurrier's style of play on the SEC?

E: There've been a lot of people...what do they say? Often imitated, but never

replicated. I think people tried to do what Spurrier did, but they can't do it,

because they just don't have the knack for it and the mental quickness that

Spurrier has for it. The things that Spurrier has been doing at college, I'm not all

that convinced that he's going to be that successful in the NFL. Those guys

have seen all of that stuff. That's not going to cut any ice up there. Besides, I

think Spurrier's thin skin and super-sensitivity to criticism and his aversion to

doing outside things, part of the reason, I think, he didn't like dealing with the

alumni, going to alumni functions. Didn't like recruiting, can't blame him for that.

I don't think he'll stay very long. I don't think he'll last five years in the NFL.

P: I was talking to a football coach the other day and they said, in college, you









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always had one cornerback that might be a little weak. There might be one

linebacker that you could pick on. In the pros, if you play the Baltimore Ravens,

he said, there's no weaknesses. It doesn't matter what play you call with them,

it's going to be hard to be successful.

E: And his offense is largely based on speed, which means his players are faster,

and speed is the answer in college football. That's what Bowden has used to

such great advantage. That's what Jimmy Johnson used at such great

advantage, it almost changed all of college football. Spurrier's not going to find

that he can out-speed people in the NFL.

P: Let me switch a little bit now and talk about some other sports and just very

briefly go through some of these. I know you have obviously always been

interested in horse racing. Why is the Kentucky Derby such an important sports

event? I think you've been to how many?

E: I've been to about... even though I started covering sports early, I was late going

to a lot of things. I didn't go to the Kentucky Derby until I was forty-one or two

years old. Didn't go to the Masters until I was about thirty-seven, thirty-eight.

Didn't go to the World Series until I was about thirty-five. Guys now going to

these things when they're twenty-four, twenty-five years old. The Derby

transcends horse racing. It doesn't really have much to do with horse racing. It's

just a great happening. The Derby is the Bourbon Street of sports. People do

things on Bourbon Street that they wouldn't do anywhere else in the world.

People do things in the Kentucky Derby in the infield that they wouldn't do any

place else in the world.









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P: Horse race is incidental.

E: Horse racing is almost incidental. Gives them a chance for one more way to

degrade themselves, lose a lot of money. It's almost incidental. You have to

realize too that this is something that's built up over 125 years, 127 years. It's

just a great opportunity for people to... something, I suppose, everybody deep

down wants to do is just make a complete damn fool of themselves, every so

often, without any inhibitions whatsoever.

P: What's a stooper? The horse-racing, the guys who pick up...?

P: Stoopers. It used to be more prevalent than it is now. Stooper is a person who

would stoop down and pick up discarded Mitchell tickets and find ones that

people mistakenly discarded. I'd forgotten all about that stooper column I wrote,

but that used to be a big thing. People would actually make a living doing that.

Now because they put all your bets on one ticket, everything on new technology,

and you just had one winner out of maybe ten bets, you'd have to give them the

whole ticket, so you don't have a whole stack of that many tickets.

P: They would have either gum on their shoe?

E: Or a tack.

P: So they could pick it up.

E: Especially prevalent at dog tracks.

P: What's the status of Ocala in terms of horse breeding and horse racing?

E: Can't claim much expertise on horse racing in general anymore. While I used to

follow it avidly, the readership has gone down so dreadfully for all the reasons

we earlier discussed. I think Ocala is just like it's always been. Nobody can









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challenge Kentucky for breeding. The grass that they have in Kentucky, which is

bluegrass, comes out of millions of years of evolution of the soil under there.

Ocala has the same type of grass [end of side 1, tape B] and dirt. I don't know

about Kentucky, but Ocala is changing drastically because of the popularity of

Ocala as a retirement home. A lot of horse farms are being sold off over there

for development.

P: What's the greatest or most exciting sporting event you've ever attended?

E: No question, the 1980 Olympics at Lake Placid; the U.S. victory over the Russian

ice-hockey team. I don't know much about hockey now, but I knew even less

then. The funny thing was, everything was so screwed up in Lake Placid, at

least half of the media had gone home. There was a transportation strike. The

bus drivers struck, so there was no transportation. You had to hitchhike in. For

about the first week of the two weeks, you had to hitchhike everywhere you went.

You couldn't drive, they wouldn't let you drive your own car in the city limits.

There was a transportation strike, so you were on your own, it was tough. So a

lot of the guys just left. You'd see a guy there one day and he'd say something

to you about he had the flu and he'd be gone the next day. Only about half the

media even were still around for this wonderful, wonderful event. I went and sat

beside a fellow named Tim Horgan from the Boston Record, I guess. I'm not

absolutely sure the paper, but it might have been the Boston Globe. Anyway, he

was a terrific guy and he explained to me what was happening during the whole

thing and then I went as crazy as everybody when the U.S. got the winning goal.

I remember I got so excited, I apparently threw a very expensive pair of









FNP 60 Pope Page 55

prescription glasses into the air. Went back the next day trying to find them,

never found them. It was just the most riotous, ecstatic event. Nothing else

could even come close.

P: Because it was so unexpected?

E: Unexpected and patriotic. They were not giving... no chance whatever.

P: I think you made some analogy, like a high school team beating the Yankees.

E: That's about what it was like. That would be number one absolutely.

P: Again, it's still the Cold War is on and so...

E: It's not us against the Soviet Union anymore. That's a distinction we have not

made in the paper lately. We keep saying U.S. against the Soviet Union. Well,

it's not. It's U.S. against Russia or Uzbekistan or whatever. So that was

wonderful and to have it take place in this tiny little town in the Adirondacks.

That was great. That was the most exciting event I've ever seen. The second-

most exciting would be Jack Nicklaus winning the Masters when he was forty

years old in 1980. It's easy to keep track of the ages of Palmer, Nicklaus, and

Watson because they're exactly ten years apart. Palmer was born in 1930,

Nicolas in 1940 and Watson in 1950. That was wonderful. I said at age forty? It

was age forty-six in 1986. He won the U.S. Open at age forty in 1980.

P: Is the Masters the most challenging test of golf?

E: No, I don't think so.

P: U.S. Open courses are usually harder.

E: I think the U.S. Open is much harder. The Masters is tailored to people who hit

the ball a long way with no tremendous premium on accuracy off the tee, but a









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shocking premium on putting ability, just absolutely treacherous. The U.S. Open

is just... you never know what to expect from one day to the next.

P: One at Pinehurst, Robert Trent Jones greens really...

E: You don't know what you're walking [into]. At least at the Masters you know

what you're walking into; except for the pin placements at the U.S. Open, you

have no idea whether the grass is going to be three feet high or a tenth of an

inch high. The Masters is something like the Derby in that it transcends its sport.

P: And it's a beautiful setting and perfectly manicured and all that.

E: It's more than golf, it's more than golf.

P: What would be the most courageous performance by an athlete?

E: Boy, that's tough. It would probably have to be... wow, I've never been asked

that. I just can't answer that. Never even given it a thought. Great question.

P: I was sort of thinking about in the Olympics yesterday, this kid who had a liver

transplant ended up winning a bronze medal. You often see distance-runners, I

remember when Frank Shorter won the medal and took tremendous endurance

and courage.

E: Those would be a couple of others I [can] think of. One, Lance Armstrong

winning, after all those Tours de France, after having the testicular cancer.

Another one which probably nobody remembers is at the end of the women's

marathon in the 1984 Summer Olympics at Los Angeles, there was a woman

named Gabriella Shice hyphen something. You might have seen it on TV. At

the end of the race, she was completely disoriented and just staggering around.









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I don't know what made her keep going. You can't go out there and help them.

Something just drawed her on past the finish line. I've never seen anything like

that. I think I've seen a lot of fighters. I'd have to eventually go to some fighter,

who had just been battered almost senseless, coming back. Or probably second

would be some racehorse.

P: Joe Frazier [boxer] hanging in there.

E: Yes, something or somebody nobody had ever heard of.

P: What's wrong with boxing?

E: It's just wall-to-wall sleaze, always has been. It's no worse now than it's ever

been. They keep saying that it won't last, it will sleaze itself out of business.

People don't care.

P: Is it the promoters?

E: Yes, mostly, but the managers. Managers are just as crooked as anybody else.

The fighters are the victims. The promoters... reminds me of a fellow we had

here on Miami Beach. He really was a terrific guy. His brother, Angelo Dundee

is a great trainer. He trained [Muhammed] Ali and trained Sugar Ray Leonard

and six other world champions. He's still alive but Chris died. Chris was an

honest man, by promoters' standards. He had to be a little bit crooked to stay

alive in there. He had very selective hearing. He was not above dissembling a

little bit when the occasion called for it. One time as the story goes, a manager

called him from Chicago and he was supposed to come down and fight the

following week. He says, Chris, I need $400 up front to bring my fighter down.

Chris says, I can't. This is back when an operator had to place your call. Chris









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says, I can't hear you. The guy said, I need $400 up front to bring my fighter

down for next Friday's match. Chris said, I can't hear a word you're saying. The

operator cut in and says, I can hear him perfectly, Mr. Dundee, there's nothing

wrong with this line. Chris said, okay, you can hear him, you send him the $400.

Sports people are just as horrific and as disgraceful as the sport is. Any sport in

which the object is to maim or kill the other person couldn't possibly have very

many redeeming virtues.

P: This is a bad segue but I'm going to do it anyway. What about NASCAR? I

mean, they're not trying to kill each other, but it's a dangerous sport.

E: I keep hearing people say that people don't go to see crashes, but I used to be

convinced that they do and I'm still not quite unconvinced. There must be more

to it than that though, because it just keeps growing like topsy. There's no

stopping it.

P: It is as I understand, the biggest spectator sport in America, is that right?

E: As far as I know, yes. I think a lot of these people are just like carburetor freaks.

I wouldn't know. If the car doesn't start when I turn on the key, forget it. I've got

to call AAA or something. I can't even change a tire. I think all these people are

really into mechanical things. I can't imagine somebody going to a car race that

doesn't understand everything about a car.

P: It also goes back to something you were saying earlier. It's fast, it's exciting.

E: It's loud.

P: And people look at the power.

E: It's loud, it's deafening. It blocks out the whole rest of the world for that few









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moments in time, or few hours in time, you don't have to worry about the

mortgage or who your wife has taken up with or how far behind you are on your

payments. It just blocks out everything.

P: Plus, I think they look at those individuals who are driving at incredible speeds, it

takes an extraordinary amount of skill and courage, because you back down, you

lose. In some ways, I think race fans see Dale Earnhart sort of as heroic figures.

Is that...?

E: Yes, absolutely. I think it's way too fast, almost criminal, the way they allow so

much speed.

P: Let me ask you some general questions overall. How have sports reporters

changed since you started in the business?

E: The main way they've changed is you hardly ever used to see a sports reporter

who wasn't a drunk. Now you hardly ever see one who will even take a drink.

Standards are much higher these days. There's much more at stake with the

companies, because the company is almost always publically-owned. First

obligation is to the stockholders. They're much, much more knowledgeable

about sports because of TV, they start watching TV when they're five or six years

old and they know everything there is to know about a sport by the time they're

twenty years old, when we had to see it all first-hand. So they're much more

knowledgeable. Much better behaved. They have to be because they have to

be.

P: How has the audience changed during this period of time?

E: Great question. Audience is much more tolerant of bad behavior. Again, that









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might be just microcosmic of society in general. Audiences won't even react to

something they would have been outraged by some years ago.

P: Now when you are writing, you are trying to get an audience that is essentially

wedded to television or listening to the radio. How do you get people to read

your column and read the newspaper? There is obviously competition.

E: I don't really think about that a lot, but obviously that's a big [issue]. I think the

thing I try to do mostly is address and deliver an opinion on what the people have

found most interesting on television. I want to be writing about what they're

going to be talking about when the column comes out the next morning. That's

so basic. You'd say the same thing about a furniture maker.

P: Do you try to give more analysis, a little more in-depth coverage, a different

slant?

E: In what sense?

P: If you watch a basketball game and everybody knows the result obviously.

E: Yes, that's the biggest thing. You used to be able to go... a long time ago, go to

an event and more or less tell them what happened. Now, you have to tell them

why it happened, more why it happened that what happened.

P: Most people would have already seen it or gotten a report on it.

E: I think we go way too far in that sometimes. We assume that a lot of people

have seen things that they haven't. Like the World Series game now doesn't get

over until between midnight and 1:00 and not a lot of people have seen it.

P: What do you think of USA Today as a type of newspaper that's shorter, more


precise, a lot of color?









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E: Gosh, don't get me started on color. I think color photography is the worst thing

that ever happened to newspapers. It just eats up these enormous amounts of

space. It's just eye candy. I've never yet heard anybody say, honey, let's run

down to the 7-11 and see what great color photographs the Herald has this

morning. I've heard them say, let's see what Dave Barry [syndicated humor

columnist] says about winter Olympics or something. I think USA Today has had

a salubrious influence on sports journalism if for no other reason than the

emphasis is put on tight, bright writing and the proper use of graphics, not this

helter-skelter all-encompassing hunger for gigantic space-eating photos. I really

have a phobia about that. I used to look at the old Miami Heralds on the wall out

in our foyer on the 5th floor. Some hurricane, 1926 or something. They'd have

maybe at least thirty stories on the front page.

P: I've seen those.

E: You've seen those. I used to think, those are terrible front pages. Man, I could

make up a page that looks so much better than that. You look at our front page

today, it's got four or five stories on it. The rest of it is all this gingerbread keys to

inside stories, all this waste of space, color art. I'm getting four stories where I

used to get forty and I don't like that. I don't like it at all. I think we're cheating

ourselves. The Miami Herald is largely to blame for this, because we pioneered

color photography. At one point in the late [19]50s or [19]60s, we ran more color

art than all the newspapers in the United States and Canada combined. So we

have only ourselves to blame. Newspapers shouldn't be a beauty contest in my









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opinion. I'll get off the soapbox after this. The most successful newspapers in

the country, LA Times, New York Times, Wall Street Journal run almost no color.

P: And not many photographs.

E: Yes, not great emphasis on photography in the first place, and no color. People

can run good photographs without going nuts about it. There seems to be

something about color that gets to be a disease. It's looks. It's a beauty contest.

P: Have you ever had any problems from either Knight-Ridder publisher or an editor

about anything you've written?

E: I had two problems, which is not very many for forty-five years, I think. One time

I wrote something rather cutting about Hialeah Racetrack when it was starting to

go down way back in the [19]60s, late 60s. I referred to it as a rich folks country

club and I got a note from John S. Knight that said I was being arrogant. He took

issue with what I said because he was one of the rich folks whose country club it

was. Naturally took issue. He was a great man, there's no question about that.

P: At that time, he was publisher, right?

E: He was publisher, I think that was before we were Knight-Ridder. We were just

Knight Newspapers Incorporated. Anyway, he took issue and said I was

arrogant. I wrote him back that if he just wanted a sports editor who would be a

mirror for his own opinion that he was going to have to find somebody else. I

wasn't going to do it. I never heard a word back from him. That's the kind of guy

he was.

P: What was the second instance?

E: Second instance was, I wrote a column about Joe Robbie, the [Miami] Dolphins









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owner, that was so vicious as to be just on the verge of reprehensible. It was

pretty bad. Believe me when I say that you couldn't describe viciousness in

terms that would fit Joe Robbie, who, given another opportunity and another

time, could have been Hitler, Caligula, Stalin, or Mussolini. A horrible, horrible

human being. Anyway, I wrote this thing and I got a note from the chairman of

Knight-Ridder. Again, the chairman of Knight-Ridder, Alvah Chapman, great guy

too, totally different from John S. Knight, but a terrific guy. He devotes all his

time now to the homeless people downtown.

P: Does he live in Miami?

E: Yes. He's getting a little... did he die? Gosh, he might have died, I can't

remember. If he didn't, he's in bad shape. What happened was, he wrote me a

note on his personal stationary, not Knight-Ridder, not Miami Herald, but his

personal home stationary, saying that he didn't think that that kind of a column

should have been in the Miami Herald.

P: Was he right?

E: Well, let me finish by saying, he emphasized that he was writing this as a friend

and not as chairman of Knight-Ridder and somebody who had always thought a

lot of me. He might have been right. Chances are, he was right. However,

there was a principle involved there. I went to the publisher and said, I'm going

to write Alvah back such-and-such. I went to our editor and I said, I'm going to

do this...[he said,], no, no, don't do that. I said, I'm going to do it anyway.

There's a principle here. I wrote to Alvah and I said, I realize that you wrote me

back as a private person, not as chairman, and you made that clear and I









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appreciate that. I said, however, I find it impossible to consider communication

of this sort as not coming from the chairman; I think what you have done here in

intruding into the journalism process goes squarely against every tenet that this

company has held dear for its entire existence. Again, as I told John S. Knight

one time, if you want somebody to give your opinion, then you will have to find

someone other than myself. As long as I'm in this job without being arrogant

about it, I hope, I'm going to say what I believe to be true. I think I have fairly

good judgement about things. I'm going to do the decent honorable thing as

often as I possibly can. I didn't hear back, didn't hear back. About two weeks

later, I see the publisher, Dick Capen, Richard Capen, out in the hall and I said,

hey Dick, I never heard back from Alvah. He said, leave it alone. Everything's

great, you've done us all a terrific favor. Alva has completely butted out of the

newsroom now. He came back and said he will never again write a letter or

express himself about anything that's in the newspaper that's not in the business

purview. So you've done a great thing, don't push it any further. So I didn't and

Alvah and I remained wonderful friends. He's been a great man for south

Florida.

P: You talked earlier that you could never have a female sports editor. Now at least

there are an increased number of female sportswriters. Are there any female

sports editors?

E: Yes. They're all over the place. Philadelphia has had several of them. The New

York Times has had at least one. It's not at all unusual to have a female.

P: How has that changed reporting, do you think?









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E: I don't think it's changed it at all. I don't see any marked change. I will say that I

think, I hope this doesn't sound sexist or reverse-sexist, I think females are quite

often better than men in administrative and editing jobs, because they're much

more meticulous. They have a much better feel for detail. They will labor over a

sentence or a paragraph or a whole section of a story, sensing there's something

wrong with it and trying to make it better, where a man tends to be impatient and

would after awhile just say, oh the hell with it, and go on to something else. I

think in many ways, I would tend to think, as a group, women editors are better.

It's awful hard to generalize on this, are better than men, male editors.

P: What about African-Americans and minorities in the profession?

E: We don't have near as many of them as we should have. Obviously the ones

who do come in and are very good rise to the top very quickly. Most of the

newspapers I know, certainly Knight-Ridder and Gannett, are very diversity-

conscious and are always looking for minorities. African-Americans, Hispanics,

although Hispanics aren't a minority in Miami. Hispanics are, for some reason,

hard to find gifted Hispanic newspaper writers. I don't know whether I should say

that or not, but it's true. The Florida Marlins, when they were looking for

somebody Hispanic to put on their public-relations staff who could write a

release, had to go to Venezuela to hire someone. I've forgotten the original

question now.

P: Mainly African Americans in sportswriting and editing. There are so many

African American athletes, you would think there would be more African

American sportswriters.









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E: You would, wouldn't you? Some of the best in the United States are. Michael

Wilbon of the Washington Post, also has a show on ESPN which is very, very

good Pardon the Interruption is the name of it. Sam Smith covers the Bulls

for the Chicago Tribune. I can't really answer why there are so few. That is a

puzzle. May or may not be germane. I've never heard anybody else express it

although they probably have, why there are not more African American writers

and editors. As far as I'm concerned the key to good writing and good editing is

reading. Read, read, read. People ask me, young people: what can I do to be a

better writer, better editor? Read, read, read everything you can get your hands

on. Teach your children to read. It certainly is what got me started. I think that

tragically many fewer African Americans have the opportunity to grow up, the

luxury of growing up in bookish surroundings. It's a combination of their parents

are so busy and have to work so hard at so many jobs, they don't have time to

read. Quite often the offspring don't either. I think it's a lack of basic reading

background. Which is not their fault, it's just the way the things are. From the

time I even knew my ABCs, my father was buying me books and bringing them

home to me. I think a hardback back then cost a quarter. He'd bring me the

Tom Swift books, the Hardy Boys, the Rover boys. I had a terribly... just off the

subject... I had a terribly disillusioning experience. I used to write to these

authors. I'd write to Victor Appleton, who wrote the Tom Swift books. Boy, I

really liked Tom Swift and his electric runabout; I thought that chapter about this









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that and the other was really terrific; just wanted to tell you, [and I'd] send it off to

Grosset and Dunlap [publisher] in New York. A couple weeks later, I'd get a

letter back, it might be from the Virgin Islands or someplace, [saying,] glad you

liked it, keep reading, etc. etc. Did the same thing to Franklin W. Dixon, who

wrote the Hardy Boys, Rover Boys. Got a nice letter back. In one case, in one

absolutely remarkable case. I was always writing these little stories at my

father's cotton warehouse from the time I was about six on. They're usually cop-

and-robber stories. One author named Leo Edwards wrote a series of books

called and Jerry Todd series.. Nobody has ever heard of them

but me. Author Leo Edwards lived in Racine, Wisconsin. So I wrote him and

told him. Probably critiqued him, knowing my personality at that age and sent my

story to him. He sent... my father got a letter back from him, I didn't. He had sat

down and completely rewritten this story to put it in wholesome sports terms.

Taking out all of the blood and gore and killing and kicking and scratching and

screaming and said, Mr. Pope, I find your boy's letter interesting but I think you

ought to encourage him to write in a more wholesome genre. My daddy shared

it with me and I did start concentrating on sports. I've always thought, what a

wonderful thing to do. This guy sat down and rewrote ten or twelve pages. He

had to be struggling to make a living. Guys back then didn't make anything.

Then I got a call. I'm about twenty-one years old, I work for the Atlanta

Constitution. I get a letter from a guy named Murray Teigh Bloom, who is

probably the best-known magazine writer in the business, about 1950. He said,

Mr. Pope, I need your permission to quote from your letters to the collective









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officeship. I just... like somebody hit me in the head. I wrote him back, I said

what do you mean? you'd pick up a phone now, but back then you didn't -

what do you mean the collective officeship? He said, didn't you know? Those

books were just machine jobs. They'd lock three guys in a room for a week.

P: There was no Franklin W. Dixon.

E: No. There was no Victor Appleton. Well, there was a Leo Edwards, that I know.

It was just machine jobs. One of the great disillusionments of my life.

P: Let me finish up with a couple of comments. We need to talk a little bit about the

Dolphins. Give me your assessment of Don Shula. Do you see him as the

greatest pro coach?

E: All things considered, I think Shula was the greatest pro coach. Even though he

didn't win a Super Bowl his last twenty-two or three years, they were always right

there. In thirty-three pro seasons, he had two losing seasons. That is truly

incredible. None of these other hotshot coaches, Bill Walsh, [former coach of

the San Francisco 49ers,] you name them, ever had a record like that. On sheer

persistence and you have to give some weight to longevity as a coach. Not only

that, but to maintain the quality of teams, despite the fact that they almost never

got a premium draft choice, because they always did so well. He never got... I

think his lowest draft choice was maybe twelfth or thirteenth in the draft. I think

he was the best because he was so consistent, he was so honest that a lot of

times, even though Shula and I had sort of a love-hate relationship, we had a lot

of spats but we always wound up liking each other and I think respecting each

other. I found myself a lot of times in crises, I would ask myself what Shula









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would do, because he had this uncanny way of always doing or saying the right

thing, [he had] almost like a governor on his tongue that would keep him from

saying something that would come back in his words to haunt, he would always

use the phrase, I don't want to do something to come back to haunt me.

P: In the draft, they did get a pretty good quarterback from Pittsburgh, in what? The

sixth round.

E: Twenty-seventh choice.

P: How would you rate Dan Marino among NFL quarterbacks?

E: I wouldn't rate him as the best quarterback who ever played. I think there have

been several other quarterbacks. Joe Montana [former San Francisco 49ers

quarterback], Johnny Unitas [former Baltimore Colts quarterback]. Without any

question at all, Dan Marino is the greatest pure passer who ever picked up a

football. No question about that.

P: Quick release.

E: Quick release, just this uncanny instinct for picking out the right receiver real fast.

Didn't have great touch, was not a great touch-passer, he threw it too hard

sometimes. Funny, sitting here criticizing the guy who's the greatest passer, but

it's true, he threw it too hard.

P: Didn't win the Super Bowl I guess.

E: I don't blame him for that. Shula was not a great evaluator of talent and he

tended to not place quite enough emphasis on the right kind of defense.

P: How much longer do you want to continue sportswriting?

E: I only write fifty columns a year now, I'd like to write a few more than I do. I don't









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know. If I feel like I do now, I'd like to continue, as they say, indefinitely. I'd love

to keep right on. I have a great life. I always said I would like a life where I can

go to the gym or walk or run, play tennis as much as I want to and read as much

as I want to and that's what I have.

P: When you look back on your career, are you satisfied with your

accomplishments?

E: No, no.

P: In what sense? What would you rather have done?

E: I think I could have been more ingenious or innovative. I will have to say that

innovativeness and departure from the general line of thought is more

encouraged now than it was thirty, forty years ago. You almost had to go with

the pack and I had several violent arguments with them at the Herald about what

I was going to write, particularly at the Olympics where they want you to go with

the herd and I didn't want to go with the herd. I think I could have done better.

It's hard to pick out one thing. I had a tendency to...probably should have been

more interested in basketball and maybe a little more interested in baseball. I

was never... problem that I had was that I was never... I was never as much a

fan of sports as I was of writing. If I quit tomorrow, I would never go to any other

sports event, except maybe a tennis match or a horse race or a college football

game, if I could get in the press box. I'm not a big sports fan. A lot of times I

would have to crank myself up in the morning to get interested about the subject

I was writing about. I never had to crank myself up about the writing, because I

loved to write and I still do. I would have been better. All these guys you hear









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on sports talk radio and most of the outstanding sportswriters are real sports

[fans]. That's their life. That's not my life. I never wanted it to be. I would have

been a better professional if it had been my life, but I wouldn't have been as

happy as a person.

P: On that note, let's end the interview and I want to thank you very much.

E: It's been my pleasure.

[End of interview.]









EDWIN POPE


BIOGRAPHY

Born in Athens, Georgia, Edwin Pope was raised on sports and began his journalism

career as a newspaper typist at the age of twelve at the Athens(Georgia) Banner-

Herald. After early jobs with the Atlanta Constitution, Atlanta Journal and United Press

International, he moved to the Miami Herald in 1956 and has been there ever since. He

became sports editor at the Herald in 1967 and began collecting a steady stream of

accolades: the Red Smith Award (the highest honor for sportswriters in the nation), as

well as induction into the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Hall of Fame, the

Florida Sports Hall of Fame and the National Football Hall of Fame. His books include

Football's Greatest Coaches, Baseball's Greatest Managers, Encyclopedia of American

Greyhound Racing, Ted Williams: The Golden Year, and On the Line. Many of his

columns are compiled in The Edwin Pope Collection.



SUMMARY

Mr. Pope talks about growing up in Athens, Georgia, during the Depression and his

entry into journalism. He was, at age fifteen, the youngest sports editor in the country.

He reflects on the usefulness of his journalism degree, in contrast with the amount of

practical experience he gained over his career. He discusses the qualities important to

being a good sportswriter, how sports serve as escapism to fans, and how television

has altered sports over the past decades. Drawing upon his long tenure in Miami, Mr.

Pope shares at length his thoughts on college sports, especially college football,

particularly the importance of sports to Miami as a city. He also weighs in on issues









Page 2

such as coaches' salaries and academics while reminiscing about some of his favorite

sports memories such as the 1980 Olympics when the American hockey team defeated

Russia.


Edwin Pope was interviewed by Julian M. Pleasants on February 16, 2002 in Key
Biscayne, Florida.


P: Discuss your early life in Athens, Georgia and tell me how you got interested in

sportswriting.

E: My early life in Athens, Georgia was paradise. I don't know how anybody could

have had a better place to grow up because we had the University of Georgia there and

all the attendant sports. Everybody in town was a football nut, but times were tough.

We had a standing saying that we had no coal for the stove, no food for the kitchen,

holes in the roof, holes in our shoes and no socks, then came the Depression. But

everybody was poor so nobody knew the difference.... I learned to type when I was

about six and when I was eleven, he [his father] gave me a an old, used Underwood.

I'll never know where he got the ten dollars to buy it because ten dollars was a lot of

money.... I just turned on the Georgia Tech-Missouri Orange Bowl game of 1940 and

copied down every word that Ted Husing, ... a very famous sportscaster, ... said,

including the commercials. It was about twelve pages single spaced. In my ignorance I

got on my bicycle the next morning, rode it down to the Athens Banner-Herald and

looked around for a guy who looked powerful and authoritative, and kept asking

everybody, who's the editor? Who's the editor-in-chief here? I was eleven years old, I'm

barging around this office. It got to be a joke, they'd say he's over there, he's over there.









Page 3

Finally, I got the editor-in-chief. I said, do you need a running story on the Orange

Bowl? He said, well, what do you mean? I said, here it is. I thought copying over the

radio was a running story because I'd read them in the Atlanta Journal and Constitution.

I didn't know from anything. He looked at it and he said, no, we don't need a running

story, but who typed this? I said, I did. He said, you want a job? I said, yes, sir. He

said, we can't pay you anything, but we'll give you a lot of good experience and they

did. He kept his promise on both counts....

P: At one point you were supposedly the youngest sports editor in the country.

E: Supposedly, and there was a reason for that. It wasn't because I was the most

expert by any means. [In] 1943, every able-bodied man was in the service and nobody

ever heard of a woman sports editor. That would have been laughed out of the town it

was so outlandish, although they are all over the country now. Everybody was either

drafted or gone off to work in the big town. They made me sports editor when I was

fifteen....

P: Tell me about your journalism courses at the University of Georgia.

E: Frankly, I took journalism because they would excuse my classes when I would go

off with the football and basketball and baseball teams and that kind of thing. We had a

great journalism school. I don't think I got nearly as much benefit out of it as I could

have and should have because I was getting up to go to work at 6:00 in the morning at

the Banner-Herald. I'd have to make the fire and then light the fire. In the wintertime it

gets cold in Athens. It would be so cold, I'd have to type with those old cloth gloves on.

Just about the time the office was getting warm, before anybody else came in, I'd have

to run off to school....









Page 4

P: Do you think it's necessary for people in sportswriting or newspaper work today to

have a journalism degree or is it just as good to learn by experience?

E: It hurts me to say this, but I do not think it's necessary to have a journalism

degree. In a lot of cases, you can learn just as much in six months, a year, out of

college about practical journalism as you could have [if you had] taken your major in

[journalism].... I don't regret the journalism [degree]. I regret that I didn't apply myself

more to it. I wish that I had taken more English and history, English literature, political

science.... When you get out of college, you can learn the journalism, but once you get

out of college, you're not going to learn the other stuff. You can't go back and get the

other stuff....

P: Was working for the Red and Black [campus newspaper} pretty good training for a

journalism career?

E: I think so, yes it is. It's really on-the-job training, where you have to make up and

lay out and really get down to the nitty-gritty of reporting who, what, when, where,

why.... I was working on the Red and Blackwhile I was working on the Banner-Herald

and I was also sports editor of the Pandora, which is the yearbook.... Then I was

stringing for about five or six papers: the Albany paper, Macon Telegraph, Atlanta

Constitution and Atlanta Journal, Augusta Chronicle....

P: What kind of athlete were you in high school?

E: That's an interesting question. I wasn't any kind of an athlete in high school.

When I was little, at the Athens Y [YMCA] until I was about twelve or thirteen, I was a

pretty good athlete, but I just didn't grow.... When I got to the university I was on a

boxing team.... I did have a wonderfully tragic-comic experience as a boxer, though.









Page 5

While I was boxing I was also juggling all these other jobs, [and] going to journalism

school.... Then the season rolled around and I happened to be up in... the information

director's office one day, leisurely opening a letter [which said]... undefeated NCAA

champion Doug "Little Adam" Ellwood, [was] slated to make his 1947 or 1948... debut.

Unbeaten in 250 fights. I realized that was who I was going to have to fight. I said, oh,

God. They had just had a little article about me in the Atlanta Constitution about the

fighting writer or the writing fighter, whatever. I was trapped. I went down and went to

work out that afternoon. I told our coach, who was an old professional lightweight,...

[and he] came over to me and he said, "Edwin, I don't think you ought to fight Saturday

night. This guy's had a lot of fights." He was like twenty-nine years old and I was about

eighteen. I'd never fought anybody, except around town, a couple of college bouts. To

say I was pedestrian as a fighter would be giving me all the best of it. I said, Pete, I

know I shouldn't fight this guy, but they've had this story in the paper. If I don't fight

now, everybody will say I'm yellow. I said, I know I'm yellow and you know I'm yellow,

but we don't want all those people out there to know it. He says, okay. Then he said

something which greatly added to my self-esteem. He said, it's your funeral, and

walked away.

I was the smallest guy on the team, so I always had to spar with somebody bigger

than me. I arranged to spar with a middleweight first, trying to get myself incapacitated.

Failing in that, I asked for the heavyweight who happened to be a good friend of mine,

but he had a terrible temper and I hit him as hard as I could upside the head while he

was just toying with me. [He was] so infuriated with me, he just launched this right hand

and hit me in the nose and blood started pouring everywhere. To make a long story









Page 6

less long, they took me to the hospital and x-rayed me and found my nose was broken

and it was the happiest day of my life when they told me. The guy comes out and he

says, Mr. Pope... I'm afraid you won't be able to fight Saturday night. I said, oh that's

too bad....

P: Some professional athletes claim that many sportswriters are frustrated athletes

and when they report on football or professional basketball, they are not as

knowledgeable as they should be because they haven't played the game. How do you

answer that charge?

E: First of all, I would say that they're right in that almost all the sportswriters I know

are failed athletes. I have seldom run into a sportswriter in sixty years,... who didn't

either try to be an athlete or want to be an athlete or had some ambitions thwarted. As

for the professional athletes saying they [sportswriters] don't know what they're doing, I

mean, a doctor doesn't have to have cancer to diagnose it. That's my answer to that.

A lot of times the people who are the sportswriters know more than the athletes do

about what they're doing....

P: Did you always write about sports?

E: At the UP [United Press], I had to do a little bit of everything. There was no such

thing as just a sportswriter then.... I'd... have to rewrite all the news from all over the

South. I was like the Southern overnight editor at the same time I was Southern sports

editor. But that was good, that was a great learning experience and it was

tough....That's the most beneficial thing, career-wise I've ever done. I was only there

for a couple of years, but then a new sportswriter came to town, Furman Bisher.... I

was just so taken and enchanted by his writing. I had never read anybody who wrote









Page 7

that well. I just threw out all of my ambitions to go on with the wire service and I

decided that's what I wanted to try to be....

P: In 1950, you went to work for the Atlanta Constitution and worked for Furman

Bisher?

E: I did.... I meant to tell you one thing that was sort of funny in a nostalgic way about

the Athens Banner-Herald. It was an old wooden building and the editor was a fellow

named Hugh Rowe and he was sort of a distant figure. He didn't truck with the guys on

the second floor. [The] second floor was sort of second-class. He had his own office

downstairs.... Hugh Rowe wrote a column called A Little Bit About Everything and Not

Much About Anything, which I thought was a great title for a column. Everything was so

technologically backward. The composing room was on the first floor, we were on the

second floor and to get copy down, they sawed a hole in the floor and had a rope with

one of these big huge paperclips on the end of it. If you had copy, you'd pull up the

rope, put the copy on the paperclip and let it down and then lean on the bell, to the

great distress of the head of the composing room. They'd take it and spread it out

among the linotype operators. Then, when they'd have proofs for you to read, they'd

send them back up to you by putting them on the clip at their end and leaning on the

bell until you felt like going down there and killing them. That's how we got the copy

from the so-called newsroom to the composing room. As ancient as it was, it was

fascinating and it had a romance that's pretty hard to attach to journalism today. Every

Saturday night I would go down and watch those old flatbed presses run.... I was

absolutely enchanted, just in rhapsody watching that. The whole thing was a great

adventure.









Page 8

P: When you were at the Atlanta Constitution, were you still covering the University of

Georgia sports?

E: Occasionally. [I] covered everything, Georgia, Georgia Tech. I was doing stunts

like riding with stockcar drivers and going up on flagpoles with flagpole sitters. Anything

that came along. As I say, it was the last thing from specialization. It was a small staff,

we only had, I'd say, maybe ten people on the whole staff. Now a comparable paper

would probably have at least forty, with all specialists....

P: In 1956, you leave Georgia for the Miami Herald. Given your affection for Georgia

and Athens, why would you leave the state to go to Miami?

E: First of all, I had just written a book called Football's Greatest Coaches, which

turned out to be surprisingly successful, largely because Ed Sullivan [newspaper

columnist and broadcaster, host of radio and television variety shows] plugged it on his

radio show one night. I called up Ed Sullivan, again in my youthful ignorance, just

about like when I took that radio account down to the Athens Banner-Herald.... I call

him up, got him on the phone, which you could never do today. I said, look, I got this

book,... why don't you bring about twenty-five of these coaches from all over the country

around and have them on the stage at one time. It would be a first. Nobody's ever

done that.... He says, "I'll tell you what, send me a copy of your book and... maybe I

can mention it next Sunday night." I made sure the publisher in New York sent him a

copy of the book. I was sitting at home, watching the Ed Sullivan show [and]... I said,

aw geez, he's never going to get around to it.... But with about five seconds to go, he

says, I want to show you a great new book by a friend of mine. Of course, he didn't

know me from Adam's off ox and [he] held up the cover of the book. The next day it









Page 9

really took off. The reason I mention that is because it gave me a grub stake to come

to Miami.

Also, I was very irritated over something so small you can't believe it. The

[Atlanta] Journal and Consitution were not benevolent employers, to put it bluntly. At

one time, I put in a requisition for... a manual pencil sharpener.... [W]e only had one

pencil sharpener in the entire newsroom [and] you had to walk about seventy-five yards

to it. By the time a guy would walk out there and shoot the bull with everybody on the

way there and back, you would lose ten minutes of valuable time, so I put in for a pencil

sharpener which I was going to screw down to my desk.... The requisition came back

with a big x... and a No on it. I went in there and said, is this a joke? He said, "no,

that's not a joke. That's what I'm in here for, to prevent unnecessary extravagances."

On top of being redundant, that was very insulting to me. I said, hey, you're talking

about a $1.75 pencil sharpener. No, no, he was adamant.... I said, when are you going

to pay me for excerpting Football's Greatest Coaches? He said, "I'll either give you a

voucher and you can go down to the cashier and get it or I'll put it on next week's

paycheck." I said, how about a voucher, so he gives me a voucher and I go down and

collect the $250. Then I went back in the sports department and called the executive

sports editor of the Miami Herald who I knew and said, can you use a man? He said,

"what man?" I said, me. He said, "when can you be here?" I said, tomorrow, ... I'll be

there. We didn't have to go through all this battery of psychiatric tests back then like

you do know, else there wouldn't have been any newspapers back then because

everybody was crazy that worked for them back then. Then I walked back in and told

the managing editor I got the $250 and by the way, I quit.... I refuse to commit my









Page 10

career, whatever it may be, or my life, to a paper that won't supply me with a $1.75

pencil sharpener and I took my stuff out of the desk and left. Coming to the Miami

Herald was the luckiest thing that ever happened to me and it was sheer luck. The

Miami Herald has treated me as well as my own family would have if they could have.

P: If you look back from the perspective of the year 2002, who would you select as

the greatest college football coach?

E: The popular answer would be Bear Bryant because he won so many games,

although Joe Paterno [football coach, Penn State University, 1966-present] has passed

him now. But Bryant had much more charisma. Bryant had this amazing stage

presence where, when he walked into a room, everything got quiet and he had this gruff

stentorian voice and he was much more physically impressive with a great deal more

presence than Joe Paterno has, although Paterno is a great man, I think. Those would

probably be the popular choices. I'm not sure but what Eddie Robinson, the coach at

Grambling for all those years, given the resources he had, wasn't the best coach that

ever lived. The truth is, we'll probably never know. The best coach that ever lived

could have spent his life at East Muscogee High School... for fifty years and nobody

ever heard of him. It's just a concatenation of luck and resources and timing. Bryant

was at the right school with all the resources and great recruiting resources....

P: As sports editor would you go out and cover sports?

E: Yes [and] I would write a column. I had very few other duties than writing a

column..... I was writing a minimum of five columns a week for thirty-five years....

P: What makes a good sportswriter?

E: A lot of things. I think obviously the first thing that makes a good sportswriter is









Page 11

just raw, natural ability. I certainly can't lay any claim to that because I think I had a lot

less raw, natural ability than a lot of my peers. I tried to make up for it by working

harder and working longer hours.... I'd [also] say attitude. You have to take for granted

that a guy is willing to put in some murderous hours. Sometimes they're murderous,

sometimes they're very easy. You've got to be ready to pull up stakes and take off and

leave your family and everybody else and cancel every kind of social obligation you

might have or even family obligations. I find that there are fewer and fewer who are

willing to do that. I can't say that I blame them because flying is not what it used to

be....

P: Would it be more difficult to write about sports or to write about something like

politics?

E: Well, it evens out, I think. Sports is easier to write about because there's always

something you can see and put your finger on and there's always a final score up there.

In politics, it's so subjective. Half of it is guess-work. You don't know which are the

crooks, which are the bad guys. You're pretty sure ninety percent of them are crooks,

but you don't know for sure. In sports there's always a winner and a loser. On the

other hand, a sports columnist almost always has to go somewhere. That's the killer

part of it.... Not many days when you can just sit in the office and write off-the-wall like

the political columnists or the general columnists do. That's the great advantage they

have over the sports columnists, but I think what balances out the other way is that they

have to scrounge for ideas. Being a sports columnist can be physically very wearing.

It's not a healthy job....

P: You won the Red Smith Award which is generally considered the highest award for









Page 12

sportswriters. What was your reaction to winning that award?

E: I was just stunned.... I was just absolutely blown away because I never thought,

never even dared think about it or dream about it. Never....

P: In your book, The Edwin Pope Collection, James Michener [author] wrote a very

laudatory introduction to that book. Michener earlier had written a book, Sports in

America, in which he tried to explain the importance of sports in American life. How

would you make that assessment?

E: It amazes me that there are so many people that take sports so seriously. But I

really should not be amazed because sports, to most people, now more than ever, is

pure escapism.... It is entertainment, it takes your mind off whatever terrorism, bad

marriage, bad job, not being able to pay the mortgage. You can just leave your work-a-

day world and walk into another world. That is what sports is. It is understandable to

me that there are so many people hooked on it. [It is] still hard for me to absorb the

intensity with which some people approach sports as fans.

P: As you know, if it's Georgia versus Florida and your team loses, for some fans it is

devastating.

E: Absolutely.

P: In some cases, they are not even graduates of the university. Why do they take it

so seriously?

E: Well, that is like Sigmund Freud said that he spent thirty years searching for the

answer to one question, what do women want? So, I would put your question in the

same category as Freud's what do sports fans want? I like sports fans, and I think

they are a lot smarter than most writers give them credit for being, especially with all the









Page 13

new ways to see sports.... It still baffles me and befuddles me... as to why are they that

way. I guess that everybody needs something outside of his everyday life to attach

himself to, or devote himself to, or to be fanatical about, whether it is your church,

charity, philandering, stealing money, hating someone or whatever.

P: How has television changed sports? Now you have ESPN, ESPN2, the Golf

Channel and you can see everything from pro football to curling twenty-four hours a

day.

E: One way it has changed sports is that it has created a lot more millionaires

because every time those TV shows come on, they have to pay fees to somebody.

Those people that get those fees pay a lot of those fees to the players. In dealing with

the players is entirely different from what it used to be....

P: How important are professional sports teams for Miami?

E: That is something that we are endlessly debating in this go-round about whether

they are going to get a new... stadium for baseball, which they desperately need. My

contention is that people who do not have any interest in baseball or going to the

games should not have to pay a penny of their tax money. Of course, the baseball

owners think that the public should pay for everything. I think that the teams

themselves and, even in some cases, the players and certainly the owners should pay

for all the stadiums. They have been getting a free ride forever.

P: Certainly, Wayne Huizenga [businessman; owner of the Miami Dolphins and the

Florida Panthers hockey team] would have enough money to build a new stadium.

E: He would, but my question would be, if Wayne Huizenga is worth one and a half

billion dollars, is it fair to ask him to spend a third of that to build a dome stadium, to









Page 14

give up a third of his net worth just so a lot of people could enjoy it? That is the attitude

of people who want a new stadium... They say, well, Huizenga has the money. He

does have the money, but I don't see that he has an obligation....

P: Do you think when the city or state builds a professional sports stadium, that it is

economically profitable for the community? Does it generate enough tourist dollars and

tax revenue to overcome the costs of building it?

E: Time and again, it has been shown by expert economists that it does not have a

commensurate economic benefit to the city. Baseball doesn't bring anybody into town.

It is just a huge non-taxable white elephant sitting there that very often brings down the

quality of life around the stadium. You don't see any baseball or football stadiums in

upscale neighborhoods. It doesn't really create very many jobs, except minimum wage

people who sell beer and popcorn.... No, I don't think it even comes close to equaling

the public output. As you can see, I am not supportive of the public paying all the

freight for a pro franchise.... There is no question that pro sports adds to the quality of

life. It is an adornment to the lifestyle of the people who live in towns, but it also takes

its toll on other things. It is taking a huge toll on college and high school sports and

other amateur sports.... Everybody talks about [how] the entertainment dollar only goes

so far, that is no doubt true. But there is also the question about the entertainment

hour, how many hours people have to spend. Where are they going to choose to

spend them? Are they going to go out and do something that benefits everybody like

the optimist league or high school football game or a little neighborhood basketball

game, or are they going to pay fifty-eight dollars for a seat at the hockey game?

P: I noticed in the paper today that the Dolphins have just raised their ticket prices.









Page 15


E: For the fourth straight year.

P: It now costs something like forty-three dollars for a good seat. If you have two

boys, and you want to go to a Dolphins game, with parking and hot dogs, it has to be a

minimum of $150. Who can afford to do that?

E: Well, I ask myself that question all the time. I see these people going in there that

I know are not rich. They do without or borrow the money. It has gotten way out-of-

hand. Baseball is particularly a game of fools, both players and owners....

P: Why is baseball not nearly as popular as it used to be?

E: My personal opinion is that life has gotten so much faster, every movie you see

wants to be so much louder than the last one, the cars to go faster, the explosions...

noisier, the fatalities... more numerous, life has gotten to be so much faster that,

especially young people, demand everything at a fever pitch and baseball is not played

at a fever pitch. Baseball is played at... [an] even slower pace than it used to [be]

because they have ever more commercials. The World Series game has forty-five

minutes [of commercials].... You can just about count on them lasting three-and-a-half

hours. That just doesn't tie in with the pace of American life....

P: I know some rabid baseball fans who resent the fact that a shortstop who hits .230

gets five million a year. They see this as an extraordinarily high price to pay for average

baseball players. Also the players' attitude seems to have gotten worse, they are

arrogant and won't sign autographs, and this has turned fans off. Do you think that is a

fair assessment?

E: I don't blame the players for taking the money. That is why I say that it is a game

of fools. The players ruined it by insisting on so much money, but the owners didn't









Page 16

really have to submit to their demands, but they did. So, it is a question of who are the

biggest fools? The owners or the players....

P: Should Pete Rose [professional baseball player] be in the Hall of Fame?

E: I don't think so. I think he bet on baseball. I think the evidence is incontrovertible

that he bet on baseball or otherwise he would have gone to court, which he never has.

He has never been tested in court. It is generally thought that Bart Giomatti {former

commissioner of Major League Baseball] knows and has evidence that he bet on

baseball. I don't think that there should be a place in the Hall of Fame for anybody who

ever bet on baseball. If you bet on baseball, it follows that there is a chance that you

might have bet on your own games. The way that Pete bet, I wouldn't think it unusual

because Pete is sort of, not so much a scoundrel or saint as he is amoral, he doesn't

see the difference. No question that he loves baseball and was a wonderful asset to

baseball....

P: I presume that college football is still your favorite sport. How have the athletes

changed in the years that you have been reporting college sports in general, but college

football in particular?

E: They have changed negatively. There are reasons. The demands by the media

have increased almost exponentially. You used to go out to a University of Miami

practice or press conference and there might be four people there. You go out there

now, there are thirty-four people. If a guy is a good football player it is a heavy burden

on him, dealing with the media. Although this has always been the case in some way, it

has been more marked in recent years. If a kid has athletic ability, he has a free pass in

life, just about from the time that he is six or eight years old on. He can get away with









Page 17


anything.

P: Both in and out of school?

E: Oh, yes, absolutely. This always [been the case] to some degree, but not like it

[is] now. If some fourteen year-old kid gets in trouble, and the high school coach knows

that he is going to be a great football player, he will intervene and a lot of times [it is]

with the sufferance of the teachers. Let's say that they are much less humble than they

once were. A lot of them are pretty arrogant, but they are still much better to talk to

than any of the pro athletes, except for hockey players, race-car drivers, and horse

racing people.

P: Those people are easier to talk to?

E: The three pro sports I mentioned are the easiest. Horse racing trainers, owners,

and jockeys. Hockey players mostly, but coaches too. Automobile racing, those guys

would let you ride on their fenders if it wouldn't slow them down. They are terrific, but I

notice that the hockey players, as the salaries go up, the hockey players tolerance for

media demands is going down....

P: Are college athletes today less intelligent, less articulate? More articulate? How

do you assess them?

E: The athletes today are much more media-savvy. They give you better answers, in

part because the journalists ask better questions, and a lot more of them, they give you

better answers than they would have ten years ago, twenty years ago, forty years ago,

[because] nobody even asked them any questions. People didn't go to the dressing

rooms after the games, you wouldn't have thought of it. Personally I think the biggest

waste of time and space on a sports page is all these innocuous quotes from athletes,









Page 18

few of whom ever say anything worth repeating.

P: The athletes often say, "somebody has really got to step up for this game," "we've

got to focus."

E: "We didn't execute." Yes. "We just got to regroup." We print all that garbage.

P: Are there more cliches in sports than in other areas of society?

E: Cliches are cliches because they are so true. But now you hear them like the one,

"we control our destiny." You can't control your destiny, destiny is destiny. Or fate, "we

control our fate." You cannot control fate. Fate is fate, it is preordained.... We

compound the felony, they are bad about cliches, but I don't blame them as much as us

for printing them.

P: One thing that disturbs a lot of academics at universities is this rather lax attitude

toward athletes' irresponsible behavior. Without getting into specifics, there were wide

receivers at Florida State University and the University of Florida who were caught

stealing. Not only were they not kicked out of school, they remained on the football

team. They were suspended for one or two games. What is your reaction is to that?

E: Well, I look at that in the context of society as a whole. Now, when I grew up in

Athens, Georgia, about the worse trouble that you could get into was knocking out a

streetlight with a rock. You couldn't be drunk, because you couldn't buy anything to

drink. You couldn't be drugged, because there were no drugs. There were much fewer

opportunities to be a bad guy. As a result, we didn't have much misbehavior. I don't

know how we would have reacted if we would have had the opportunity for misbehavior

that they have today.

I think that there is a great division of how the coaches handled this. For example,









Page 19

I think Spurrier [Steve Spurrier, former football coach at the University of Florida;

currently head coach of the Washington Redskins], even though I don't care much for

him personally, he is too arrogant and thin-skinned for my taste, is a pretty good

disciplinarian. And just the opposite, I love Bowden{ Bobby Bowden, football coach at

Florida State University] as a person, but I think Bowden is a bit too light on the players.

If you ask him about it, his answer is, well, that is the way kids are these days. Well,

that is not the right way to confront this. Butch Davis at the University of Miami was a

chronic liar. Football coaches in college and pros are the world's biggest liars, except

for politicians. It would be a dead heat if you had a lying race between head football

coaches and politicians. Maybe... they have to lie. All I know is that they would climb a

tree to tell a lie. Butch Davis is the worse of the whole field of worst. Yet, he was a

wonderful disciplinarian, a very decent and honorable man in every other respect....

P: That reminds me. I want to go back to the Miami football team, 1986, when they

wore fatigues, had gotten in fights and had been accused of other indiscretions. They

cultivated this bad-boy image.

E: Actually, the severity of their malfeasance was overrated. Most of the things that

they did wrong were not terrible, but their attitude was so arrogant and they taunted and

showboated and hot-dogged and I thought it had reached its apex, of course, at the

Fiesta Bowl, the 1987 Fiesta Bowl. That is an insult to all of football, to me, the way

that they acted there.... [T]hey were cursing the Penn State fans from the door of their

locker room before the game. Jimmy Johnson let them get by with it. Actually I think

Jimmy Johnson encouraged them to do it. I thought it was shameful and I wrote

columns to that effect. I wrote that Jimmy Johnson should apologize or be fired. His









Page 20

answer to that was to go in and offer to resign to President Tad Foote [President,

University of Miami]. As it happened, the athletic director, Sam Jankovich talked him

out of it at the last minute.... The whole scenario of the Fiesta Bowl was a blight on

college football and just shameful. It was everything that college football should not be.

I know that there are a lot of abuses in college football, anybody would be terribly naive

to think that there are not, but it also does a lot of good, the way that it unifies alumni, I

think that it is very healthy.

P: You think that there is a lot cheating going on in college sports, particularly

recruiting? I noticed that sanctions have been recently handed down against Alabama

and Kentucky for violating NCAA rules.

E: You know, I really don't. I know that a lot has gone on, but I think that just the fear

factor...

P: The death penalty? [Referring to stringent sanctions handed down to the NCAA

for recruiting violations.]

E: Right. It stops a lot of this. I don't doubt but what hundreds, maybe thousands, of

coaches, including some of whom I am absolutely positive of, kept stacks of $10s,

$20s, $50s, and $100s in their desk drawer. And if a guy needed a new suit, he would

go by the coach's office and he would dip in there and hand him the money. The

money was furnished to him by affluent alumni. I don't think that happens near as

much any more. I think that the University of Miami now has four compliance officers.

They didn't use to have any. Now they have four people who do nothing but to see that

they are in compliance [with] this tangle of NCAA regulations. I am sure there is a lot of

hanky-panky going on, but it is not like as open and as wild as it was, like when Max









Page 21

McGee (the old Green Bay Packer wide receiver that caught seven passes in Super

Bowl I) told me, when he went to Tulane, he had any kind of car that he wanted any

time that he wanted it. When SMU [Southern Methodist University] got the death

penalty, one of the higher officials told the athletic director he had do something about

these abuses. The athletic director's response was, I don't have time or the resources

to do that,... we have a payroll to meet....

P: What about financial stipends for college athletes?

E: It is not financially feasible. If you had to pay, first of all, you couldn't just confine it

to football players, you would have to pay every athlete.... Say [there were] 500, you

paid them all, nothing less than $200 a month would even make a difference these

days, do the math, it would not work. Besides, they are already getting paid. At the

University of Miami, you are getting a $35,000 tuition free. So they are getting paid,

basically for four years, $140,000.

P: When we examine college sports, it is an expensive proposition. Should coaches

and players accept money from Nike for wearing their shoes and athletic equipment? I

know that they get million-dollar contracts.

E: I see a lot of flaws in the coaches accepting the money. It compromises the

university and makes it even more commercial. But the colleges themselves aid and

abet this by using this as part of the coach's compensation. When you get into the

pros, it is just business to me. I don't really see anything wrong with it in the pro sports.

The only thing that I see wrong with pro sports is it enables thieves like Nike to charge

kids from the ghetto $160 for a pair of Jordans [shoes].

P: Are you disturbed by players turning pro early after one or two years of college?









Page 22

E: Absolutely, I think it is terrible. Now we are seeing that they do not redshirt nearly

as many players, because they know that they are only going to have them for a short

length of time. That is not all that disturbs me.... I think that the pro leagues should

compensate the colleges for every player they use. I am not just talking about the guy

turning pro early. I think that if, let's say, Dan Morgan, who went from the University of

Miami linebacker to the Carolina Panthers. In effect, the University of Miami is a factory

that produced Dan Morgan for the larger company, the Carolina Panthers. I think that

the Panthers should have to pay a fee.... The pros get such a free ride from the

colleges....

P: What about coaches' salaries?

E: Oh, that is a sore point with me.... I think that it is just absolutely ridiculous to pay

a college coach $2 million like Spurrier was getting, or $1 million like Bowden. Two

million is getting to be the going rate for top coaches like Bob Stoops [head coach,

University of Oklahoma]. As soon as Bob Stoops hit $2 million, Butch Davis hit the

ceiling and started thinking that he was a $2 million coach. That was part of the reason

that he left the University of Miami to go to Cleveland. I think that is a terrible abuse.

Doesn't bother me about the pro coaches, I mean it's gross, crass....

P: I wonder also if there needs to be more NCAA control about grades. I know that

some schools have very low admission rates, some schools have higher admission

rates. Should there be some sort of national standard?

E: ... I certainly think it should be standardized and higher. I don't think you should

take a complete academic washout, accept him as a regular student. I think this should

be done on an NCAA level and I really don't understand why it hasn't been done that









Page 23

way.... We could sit here and agree that there should be a national standard, [but] I can

see an immediate holdup where the president of the University of Florida would say, it's

wrong for you to try to hold us to the standards of Princeton or Yale or Harvard or MIT

or Tulane. Our function is as a public university, we shouldn't be that elitist as to

demand these high admissions standards such as the Ivy League schools and others....

P: How about graduation rates for college athletes? You rarely hear that from sports

announcers.

E: Well, you see, those figures are released pretty often. The ones that have high

graduation rates rush into print with them. Miami has increased its graduation rates

tremendously in the last ten or twelve years.... I must say, in all honesty, that I think,

and it's quite patently obvious to me, that the teams that don't have very high

graduation rates don't put a very high premium on character or academic ability when

they're recruiting. I don't think, with all due respect for Bobby Bowden, I don't think he's

going out looking for many Rhodes scholars or anything approximating it. All he's

interested in is whether they run a 4.3 or 4.9. There are other coaches,... Larry Coker

[Davis's replacement as head coach of the University of Miami football team] would be

one of them, ... who believe the two go hand in hand: a good student is a better football

player and that you have far fewer problems with a guy who has shown through high

school that he is an honorable person who does his best academically....

P: Let's talk about the University of Miami football, you've covered them for a long

time. When you look back, there have been some rather extraordinary coaches at that

campus. Almost every one( Jimmy Johnson, Dennis Erickson, Butch Davis, etc.) went

on to a successful pro career. Who was the best coach?









Page 24

E: That's a great question. Oddly enough, I've never been asked that question and

I'd be hard-pressed to give you an answer. I probably would have to say Howard

Schnellenberger... [who] came in and built it up from almost nothing to a national

championship. I'm convinced had he stayed, he would have won... just as many

national championships as other coaches there wound up winning....

P: I know you mentioned how you feel personally about Spurrier, but how would you

evaluate his career as a head coach at Florida?

E: Spurrier's career at Florida? Fabulous.... It's hard for me to imagine anybody

doing any better job at any college over the same period of time, except maybe Tom

Osborne at Nebraska, and Osborne had advantages involving academics that Spurrier

didn't have and they have a system at Nebraska, a very sinister system there, ... where

they use walk-ons as scholarships. Say there's a player in West Big Nose, Nebraska,

that they just don't have a scholarship for. The local 4-F club or something like that will

pay his way. It's a very organized network. He effectively has a scholarship, so they

have an unlimited number of what amounts to scholarships, which gives them a huge

advantage. Osborne was also a fine coach. Other than that, I don't see how anybody

could have been a better coach for the period of time than Spurrier...

P: How influential was Spurrier's style of play on the SEC [Southeastern

Conference]?

E: ...Often imitated, but never replicated. I think people tried to do what Spurrier did,

but they can't do it, because they just don't have the knack for it and the mental

quickness that Spurrier has for it. The things that Spurrier has been doing at college,

I'm not all that convinced that he's going to be that successful in the NFL. Those guys









Page 25

have seen all of that stuff. That's not going to cut any ice up there. Besides, I think

Spurrier's thin skin and super-sensitivity to criticism and his aversion to doing outside

things, part of the reason, I think, he didn't like dealing with the alumni, going to alumni

functions. Didn't like recruiting, can't blame him for that. I don't think he'll stay very

long. I don't think he'll last five years in the NFL....

P: What's the greatest or most exciting sporting event you've ever attended?

E: No question, the 1980 Olympics at Lake Placid; the U.S. victory over the Russian

ice-hockey team. I don't know much about hockey now, but I knew even less then....

There was a transportation strike... so a lot of the guys just left.... Only about half the

media were still around for this wonderful, wonderful event. I went and sat beside a

fellow [from Boston]... and he explained to me what was happening during the whole

thing and then I went as crazy as everybody when the U.S. got the winning goal. I

remember I got so excited, I apparently threw a very expensive pair of prescription

glasses into the air.... It was just the most riotous, ecstatic event. Nothing else could

even come close.

P: Because it was so unexpected?

E: Unexpected and patriotic. They were not given... any chance whatever.... The

second-most exciting would be Jack Nicklaus winning the Masters when he was forty-

six years old in 1986....

P: What's wrong with boxing?

E: It's just wall-to-wall sleaze, always has been. It's no worse now than it's ever

been. They keep saying that it won't last, it will sleaze itself out of business....

P: Is it the promoters?









Page 26

E: Yes, mostly, but the managers. Managers are just as crooked as anybody else.

The fighters are the victims.... Any sport in which the object is to maim or kill the other

person couldn't possibly have very many redeeming virtues....

P: How have sports reporters changed since you started in the business?

E: The main way they've changed is you hardly ever used to see a sports reporter

who wasn't a drunk. Now you hardly ever see one who will even take a drink.

Standards are much higher these days.... They're much, much more knowledgeable

about sports because of TV, they start watching TV when they're five or six years old

and they know everything there is to know about a sport by the time they're twenty

years old, when we had to see it all first-hand....

P: When you are writing, you are trying to get an audience that is essentially wedded

to television or listening to the radio. How do you get people to read your column and

read the newspaper?

E: ... I think the thing I try to do mostly is address and deliver an opinion on what the

people have found most interesting on television. I want to be writing about what

they're going to be talking about when the column comes out the next morning.... You

used to be able,... a long time ago, [to] go to an event and more or less tell them what

happened. Now, you have to tell them why it happened, more why it happened that

what happened....

P: What do you think of USA TODAY?

E: ... I think USA TODAYhas had a salubrious influence on sports journalism if for

no other reason than the emphasis is put on tight, bright writing and the proper use of

graphics, not this helter-skelter all-encompassing hunger for gigantic space-eating









Page 27


photos....

P: Have you ever had any problems from either Knight-Ridder (publisher) or an editor

about anything you've written?

E: I had two problems, which is not very many for forty-five years, I think. One time I

wrote something rather cutting about Hialeah Racetrack when it was starting to go down

way back in the [19]60s, late 60s. I referred to it as a rich folks country club and I got a

note from John S. Knight that said I was being arrogant. He took issue with what I said

because he was one of the rich folks whose country club it was. Naturally he took

issue. He was a great man, there's no question about that.

P: At that time, he was publisher, right?

E: He was publisher, I think that was before we were Knight-Ridder.... I wrote him

back that if he just wanted a sports editor who would be a mirror for his own opinion that

he was going to have to find somebody else. I wasn't going to do it. I never heard a

word back from him. That's the kind of guy he was.

P: You mentioned that in the beginning of your career that you could never have had

a female sports editor. Now there are an increased number of female sportswriters.

Are there many female sports editors?

E: Yes. They're all over the place. Philadelphia has had several of them. The New

York Times has had at least one. It's not at all unusual to have a female....

P: What about African-Americans and minorities in the profession?

E: We don't have near as many of them as we should have. Obviously the ones who

do come in and are very good rise to the top very quickly. Most of the newspapers I

know, certainly Knight-Ridder and Gannett, are very diversity-conscious and are always









Page 28

looking for minorities. African-Americans, Hispanics, although Hispanics aren't a

minority in Miami.... For some reason, [it is] hard to find gifted Hispanic newspaper

writers...

P: We need to talk a little bit about the Dolphins. Give me your assessment of Don

Shula. Do you see him as the greatest pro coach?

E: All things considered, I think Shula was the greatest pro coach. Even though he

didn't win a Super Bowl his last twenty-two or three years, they were always right there.

In thirty-three pro seasons, he had two losing seasons. That is truly incredible.... On

sheer persistence and you have to give some weight to longevity as a coach. Not only

that, but to maintain the quality of teams, despite the fact that they almost never got a

premium draft choice, because they always did so well.... I think he was the best

because he was so consistent....

P: How would you rate Dan Marino among NFL quarterbacks?

E: I wouldn't rate him as the best quarterback who ever played. I think there have

been several other quarterbacks. Joe Montana [former San Francisco 49ers

quarterback], Johnny Unitas [former Baltimore Colts quarterback]. Without any

question at all, Dan Marino is the greatest pure passer who ever picked up a football.

No question about that....

P: When you look back on your career, are you satisfied with your accomplishments?

E: No, no.

P: In what sense? What would you rather have done?

E: I think I could have been more ingenious or innovative. I will have to say that

innovativeness and departure from the general line of thought is more encouraged now









Page 29

than it was thirty, forty years ago.... It's hard to pick out one thing. I... probably should

have been more interested in basketball and maybe a little more interested in

baseball.... A problem that I had was, that I was... never as much a fan of sports as I

was of writing. If I quit tomorrow, I would never go to any other sports event, except

maybe a tennis match or a horse race or a college football game, if I could get in the

press box. I'm not a big sports fan. A lot of times I would have to crank myself up in

the morning to get interested about the subject I was writing about. I never had to crank

myself up about the writing, because I loved to write and I still do. I would have been

better. All these guys you hear on sports talk radio and most of the outstanding

sportswriters are real sports [fans]. That's their life. That's not my life. I never wanted

it to be. I would have been a better professional if it had been my life, but I wouldn't

have been as happy as a person....

END OF INTERVIEW




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