Beano Cook, ESPN's college football pundit, is a former publicist at the University of Pittsburgh where his irreverent approach to the job made him the subject of more stories than the athletes.
One story they tell is of a young woman calling the Pitt sports information office and saying, "I want to date every player on the football team this year. Can you please give me their names?"
"Just a minute," said Cook, "let me get a roster."
He returned to the phone and said, "Ready? OK, here we go:
"Cook, Beano LT 6-2 205 . . . "
Ray Patterson, general manager of the Houston Rockets, on forward Rodney McCray's demand for $1 million a year: "Rodney McCray is the most overrated underrated player I've ever seen in my 20 years in the league. Everyone says he's so underrated. Well if he's so underrated, how come there are 18 billion articles about him?"
From Wisconsin football Coach Don Morton: "I just hate the phrase, 'The crowd took us out of the ball game.' It's football players who decide games. They're not going to let some 45-year-old, overweight businessman take them out of a game."
Trivia Time: Don Baylor, with Boston last year and Minnesota this year, is the first to appear in back-to-back World Series with different teams since what other player? (Answer below.)
When Notre Dame Coach Lou Holtz was an assistant at the University of Connecticut, he saved up enough money to take a trip to the University of Texas where he hung around the office of Darrell Royal until finally gaining an audience with the coach of the Longhorns.
Holtz said he only needed to ask a few questions, then pulled out a list of 80 that caused Royal to miss a golf game.
"He had a unique way of answering questions," Holtz told the Sporting News. "I'd ask him, 'What do you do if a player quits?' And he'd say, 'Give thanks. I'd rather have him quit then than when the other team is on our 10-yard line.' "
Ugh Dept.: Said agent Bob Woolf when Bernard King was trying to hook on with the Boston Celtics: "I know the Celtics have salary cap problems, but there's more than one way to skin a cap."
When Frank Viola, out of St. John's, beat Joe Magrane, out of Arizona, in the first game of the World Series, it brought to mind that Viola faced Arizona in the first round of the 1980 College World Series. He pitched a four-hitter to beat the Wildcats, 6-1.
"I thought that was the biggest game ever, in front of 12,000 people," said Viola. "We were from the Northeast, and we were the underdog against Terry Francona and John Moses and Craig Lefferts, and we beat Arizona. That woke people up. They said, hey, St. John's baseball isn't that bad."
The following year, in the NCAA regionals, Viola made his biggest impression on the scouts when he beat Yale in 12 innings, 1-0. The Yale pitcher was Ron Darling, who had pitched a no-hitter for 11 innings.
Said former New York Rangers star Rod Gilbert when asked if hockey fights are faked: "If they were faked, you would have seen me in more of them."
Trivia Answer: Relief pitcher Willie Hernandez. He appeared with Philadelphia in 1983 and Detroit in 1984.
Philadelphia Eagles Coach Buddy Ryan, on defensive tackle Reggie White, who is a licensed minister: "Every time we win, Reggie thanks the Lord. Every time we lose, they blame me."