Jack Nicklaus, the King of the Links, was selected Sportsman of the Year by Sports Illustrated magazine. The 38-year-old Nicklaus, who has won 17 major golf titles, said at a press conference yesterday, "It was a complete surprise to me. I've had better years - '72 and '75 were exceptions - but this is more of a cumulation." Nicklaus won the British and Australian opens and three PGA titles in '78.

"Somkey Joe" Sale, who resurrected football programs at both South Dakota and Northern Arizona, will attempt to do the same at Minnesota, where he was appointed head coach yesterday. A former player at Minnesota in the early '60s, Salem compiled an 85-56-2 won-lost mark at the other two schools . . . Detroit Lion quarterback Greg Laundry, who watched Gary Danielson lead the team the final 11 games, said he's 'not ready to hang up his shoes yet" and wants to be traded. Landry signed a multiyear contract with the Lions last summer. First-year coach Monte Clark said he's making no promises to Landry but the way the younger, more mobile Danielson performed the last half of the season (winning six of last nine games), he may have to oblige Landry's wishes.