Yeah. Over here, behind the sweat socks.
Mr. Buffalo sent me, from Colorado. He wants to get another gang together. You remember. Raid Texas for hired guns. Run like hell through Iowa and Nebraska and Missouri, and over them Cowboys in Stillwater. Like we used to do in Oklahoma.
Is it safe to come back to Big 8 territory?
Yep. The law, Walter Byers, either don't remember all those violations or don't care-or there's a statute of limitations or something. And none of the other outlaws will turn you in. You remember how that works, too.
But I got this deal. For a fortune. Agreed to head up this outfit here in Boston four more years. Signed a piece of paper.
Mr. Buffalo'll take care of that.
But what'll I tell everyone?
Tell 'em what you told everybody when you took it on the lam from Oklahoma. That you're doing it for your family.
If Frank and Jesse and the Daltons were to reappear in Big 8 country, they might well be football coaches. No other area in all of semiamateur sport has such a passionate, win-first-and-hope-no-body-asks-questions mentality. No other conference encourages such giddy notions of what might happen if somebody could troop through with a needle and several gallons of truth serum.
So Fairbanks will be welcomed back. As they say, the University of Colorado has paid the price, $200,000 being the going rate for coach-napping these days. And the final bit of innocence about major-colleg football has disappeared.
The best way to look at **fairbanks' escape from academe six years ago and his return this week is through the eyes of what the NCAA, with a straight face-and others of us with a twinkle-call "a student athlete." Our tackler or jump shooter lears that Fairbanks was head coach at Oklahoma when the NCAA judged to have sinned by:
A member of the coaching staff falysifying transcripts.
A coach offering to provide a prospect with a wardrobe.
The OU athletic office acting in place of the admissions office in processing prospects' records.
But eight months before the NCAA slapped the Sonners' wrist with a two-year probation, in September of 1973, Fairbanks slipped off to the NFL New England Patriots. For the welfare of his family, he said at the time.
Fairbanks is a stone-faced man who drove the
Patriots from among the NFL's worst teams to among the best, to within a questionable roughing-the-passer call of the AFC championship game two years ago.
He was suitably rewarded. But a contract in sports often is about as valid as Phyllis Diller at middle linebacker. So while he was being paid $150,000 to lead the Pats into the playoffs in December, Fairbanks allowed himself to be coaxed into accepting an offer as lucrative from Colorado.
As a Patriot, and with what he considered a pathand, he recruited players for Colorado. The mess became public just before a Mondy night game. The Pats seethed, the Buffalos bawled, lawyers stuffed their pockets and neutral witnesses winced.
In the out-of-court settlement, the school, through private funds, agreed to pay the Patriots $200,000 and Fairbanks, generous fellow, agreed not to hold the team to $105,000 in deferred payments.
The Patriots' owner, Billy Sullivan, said Fairbanks had agreed to return 50 reels of football training films he had sent his Colorado staff-and assorted copies of the Pats' playbook.
So what does our young players make of all this? He sees a coach slip rules as though they were greasy-fingered defenders-and do it with such a casual attitude as to raise the thought that such practices might be more common than anyone suspects. And, in the end, he sees Fairbanks become a rich man.
Then what? Well, a player might say to himself: "I want mine. I'm getting-this free education- amounts to less than what my 12-year-old dister gets for babysitting. That alum who offered me money. So it's not allowed. What's his number?"
A significant portion of the recent convention of college basketball coaches in Salt Lake City was spent fretting about the very real possibility of another point-shaving scandal.
"Most of the players are from low-income areas," said Wisconsin-Milwaukee Coach Bob Gottlieb, "and let's say they were given several thousand dollars or a new car to sign with a particular school.
"Are they going to think they're doing anything wrong when they let their team win by five poitns insted of eight?"
"The kids are very vulnerable," said Marquette's Hank Raymonds. "We bring in an FBI agent at the start of every season to talk to our kids about the dangers."
And then a career drifter, Lou Saban, or a Fairbanks pollutes the atmosphere even more. The number of unseen potentially dangerous bottled-up bubbles these days int two.
Fairbanks, as the Associated Press noted, arrived 3 1/2 months late for his introductory press conference. At that time, he said: "You can mark this down-we will win. I don't know how long it will take, but we'll get it done.
". . . I can promise that the emphasis will be on running the football. The starting point for success on offense is the ability to run the football. Sooner or later, this team will have that ability.
But its more skillfull broken-field runner still will be the coach.