Tony Dorsett bounces back from the sting of his first losing game since Pitt bowed to Penn State in Three Rivers Stadium, November, 1975 - as starting tailback, finally, for the Dallas Cowboys vs. the Steelers in Three Rivers Stadium, Nov. 20, 1977.

Dorsett had gone 13 Pitt games and eight NFL. tests without defeat until the St. Louis Cardinals stunned the Cowboys before (sorry, Redskins and Colts) Monday Night Football's biggest audience in its seven-year history. Time for a change, Dallas coach Tom Landry decided.

Because Dorsett will be in his old hometown? "That had no bearing" on promoting T.D. over veteran Preston pearson, said Landary, "Preston lives in Pittsbirgh. It's an injustice to him if you want to look at it that way". . .

Just in time for both the Chargers and quarter back Dan Fouts, the NFL grievance committee has rejected Fouts' claim his San Diego contract was so inequitable it entitled him to be a free agent. No sooner had the decision come down in New York, than Fouts, holed up at Bend. Ore, since summer, decided to end his retirement and rejoin the Chargers today. And owner Eugene Klein welcomed back the prodigal - citing the decisions as "dramatic proof that the unfortunate Dan Fouts, who is a fine athlete and a fine young man, has been conned and deceived by bad advice from Mr. Slusher, whose main interest is advancing his own personal interests.

That's Howard Slusher, the Los Angeles attorney and player agent whose NFL clients included several holdouts this year but it's hard to think of any, if any, who profited thereby.

Anyway, the Chargers have James Harris suffering a sprained ankle that has him on crutches; understudy Bill Munson, broken leg; and had just signed free agent QB Neal Jeffrey yesterday for the third time to back up the new starter: rookie Cliff Olander of New Mexico State.

And Fouts has lost at least half the $82,500 he would have received (110 per cent of his 1976 salary) playing out the option year on his contract . . .

Be forewarned, NBA fans, Earl Monroe of the Knicks will miss Friday's Cap Centre date vs. the Bullets; sprained left ankle, tendinitis of left knee-cap . . . Placekicker toni Fritsch suffered a hamstring in the Houston Oilers' 34-29 NFL loss to Oakland, can't kick Sunday vs. Seattle, and Burn Philips will look at good old 65-yard Tom Dempsey at a tryout today . . . Viking QB Fran Tarkenton got out of his hospital bed for the first time yesterday, said he's heading for home in Atlanta on Friday for a couple of weeks, hopes to throw every day while his broken right leg heals and maybe, just maybe, he can play in the NFL playoffs (assuming Minnesota qualifies without Francis . . . U. of South Carolina president James B. Holderman has given up trying to talk Frank McGuire into stepping down at basketball coach in favor of directing athletics at branch campuses . . . Here we thought everybody in the World Hockey Association would make it easy for Gordie Howe, 49, to score his 1,000th pro goal - but he was ejected for most of the final period at Indianapolis Tuesday night, 10-minute misconduct for firing a puck in anger that grazed referee Ron Ego. Maybe they'd rather Howe hits the milestone on New England Whaler home ice at Hartford . . .