Many in the media called Indiana U. basketball coach Bobby Knight insufferable as a winner last year. Now they condemn him as an insufferable loser.

E.g., after the Hoosters' 89-84 loss to Michigan in Ann Arbor dropped last year's 32-0 supertutor to an ordinary 10-8 this term, they gathered around. "Get that microphone back away from my face," Knight growled. "How's my face," Knight growled. "How's this? Is this good enough?" said the radio man. Knight: "Do you know why they don't let donkeys go to college?" Broadcaster: "No . . ." Knight: "Because nobody likes a smart -"

Down in Mississippi is it a case of onetime West Point coach Knight's influence spreading? Freshman guard Eddie Martindale, who quit the Ole Miss hoo varsity last week, told the home folks in Tennessee he left "because I just couldn't stand to play for someone who doesn't treat us like human beings." The someone is Rebel head coach Bob Weltlich - Knight's assistant last year at Indiana - and, Martindale elaborated, Weltlich refused to let his team eat after road losses at Tulane and Vanderbilt . . .

It's no wonder that the Capitals lost in Los Angeles - the new issue of Sports Illustrated was on its way to the newsstands with a Cap on the cover. All right, so it was an unidentified Washington skater watching Montreal's Guy Lafleur zip past; way to look, Bugsy Watson . . . Inside, the magazines does a takeout on Don Buse of the Indiana Pacers, the NBA's leader in steals and assists. But leaves it to FanFare to perpetuate its annual Filch an Ear awards (Phil Chenier being a pioneer awardee two years ago) to the few NBA players, generally only two or three a year, who amass more steals than personal fouls (or filch an ear of corn without rustling the stalk, get it?) Right now there are three. Chicago's John laskowski (22 PF, 30 staels), the Bullets' Tom Henderson - no wonder they traded Truck Robinson for him - (75 fouls, 82 thefts), and Buse, a runaway leader with an amazing 177 steals to only 78 fouls . . .

Simply because Jerry Claiborne will be addressing the Bud Wilkinson Duffy Daugherty football coaching clinic at the Sheraton Park this week-end along with Johnny Majors, Bill Yeoman, Vince Dooley, etc. doesn't mean maryland football recruiting is being neglected. Newest signee: a 6-foot-7 quarterback, all-New York Stater Mike Tice of Central Islip. Not only did Tice star in football, basketball (captain in both sports), and lacrosse, he played saxophone in the band for three years.

Old Terrapin Dick Nolan has surfaced as a leading candidate to coach the Detroit Lions now that Chuck Knox has backed off. The former 49er skipper called and asked to huddle with Detroit GM Russ Thomas, who obliged . . . World Championship Tennis went ahead as threatened and filed suit yesterday against Bjorn Borg and company for reneging on playing the WCT circuit. The Lamar Hunt outfit seeks $5.7 million balm . . . Jerry Ford's partners in next week's 90-hole Bob Hope Desert Classic: Wednesday, Sammy Davis Jr., Hope Johnny Miller (the $680 man through four weeks of this season, to $82,220 at this time in '76); Thursday, PGA champ Dave Stockton; Friday, Lee Elder; Saturday, Billy Casper, Jackie Gleason and Hope . . .

Duane Bobick says the medic, has "displacement of the costo cartilage at the eighth costochondral junction," so he can't fight Ken Norton March 2 in Madison Square Garden after all. In other words, he suffered a slight injury in his rib cage sparring with brother Rodney Bobick in Beaumont, Calif. The match will be delayed 90 days, but Norton, training at Massacre Canyon, Calif., doesn't want to sit around and wait, probably will accept Earnie Shavers as a substitute for the March 2 bout.

Dave Johnson, the former Oriole and Atlanta Brave second baseman who the past two years played baseball in Japan, has persuaded the Phillies he can still play at 34. They'll give him a spring shot at second base, vacant since Dave Cash opted out and became an Expo . . . Baltimore, meanwhile, my settle for Billy Smith. That young infielder, part-time Coast Leaguer and part-time Angel who played out his option with California, has reached tentative agreement with the Birds and will vie for new Angel Bob Grich's Oriole second-base spot . . .