Booted off the Football Cardinals after 17 years' faithful and true placekicking service: Jim Bakken. The pros' No. 2 all-time scorer (1,380 points) stopped by the office to pick up some exercise equipment, saw a note asking him to see boss Joe Sullivan, and "he just told me flat out that the cardinals aren't going to invite me back to camp." Bakken will shop around . . . and you know some NFL club you can call, even if not until midseason panicbutton time.

Larry Brown, the little playmaker of the North Carolina Tar Heels ('63) and the Washington Caps ('70), was installed as coach at College Basketball U.S.A. yesterday-UCLA, to you all. Only Feb. 1 Brown, on the ragged edge after coaching 614 pro games, threw in the towel as pilot of the Denver Nuggets. Now he lays his ACC-ABA-NBA savvy on the line where the pressure of following 10-time NCAA victor John Wooden routed Gene Bartow, then Gary Cunningham, in two apiece.

Now who will coach the NBA Lakers there in L.A. next season? A source close to the club said Jerry West, finishing his third year as coach of the team for whom he played 14 nonpareil campaigns, "is definitely quitting . . . Whether or not he's talked to Mr. Cooke (owner Jack Kent Cooke) yet I dont know. They're very close, the two of them. I think Jerry's quite disillusioned with the large player contracts and so forth."

Responded West: "I think a lot about my future with the ball club will be determined by how we play the rest of the season."

The nation's top female college basketballer, voted the Wade Trophy: Nancy Lieberman, the feisty 5-10 junior point guard of national champion Old Dominion. Recalling, "The first time I heard I was going to play point . . . I read it in the paper . . . I said, 'Like hell I am.'"

And did.