Earl Campbell, the 1,934-yard man in Bum Phillips' "stodgy" offense, had lunch with the deposed Houston coach. Then Campbell sent his agent to Ladd Herzeg, successor to Phillips as Oiler general manager, with an ultimatum:
Trade me. Unless you'd rather renegotiate the contract already renegotiated last offseason that raised the NFL's premier ball-carrier to $3 million in a six-year package. In other words, since Ed Biles, the new coach, intends to run him less in a new-look offense, Campbell wants more pay for less work.
Herzeg was left to say the Oilers would not renegotiate. And, "If we traded Earl Campbell, my house would get burned down and I'd have to get out of town."
Having not settled that problem, Herzeg turned to a related one. Phillips must have had lunch, too, with all the Oiler assistant coaches -- still under contract -- because, Herzeg said: "All I know is that on Friday (when Biles was promoted to head coach), they all wanted to stay. Then one by one they all came to me and said they wanted to leave. It's too much of a coincidence." Meanwhile, Phillips had lunch, or something, with the New Orleans Saints owner, John Mecom Jr. . .
Frank Robinson, seven years after he became major league baseball's first black manager, in Cleveland, conferred with Giant owner Bob Lurie yesterday, at Lurie's request, about the San Francisco managing vacancy. Besides Oriole first-base coach Robinson, Lurie has talked to Dick Howser, Bob Lemon, Gene Mauch, Del Crandall and likely will choose in a few days. . .
In Cleveland, the pending sale of the Indians to theater magnate James Nederlander and friends suddenly fell through over undisclosed disagreements. . . In Atlanta, F. Robby's old "buddy" on the Indians, Gaylord Perry, agreed to a one-year $300,000 Atlanta Brave contract. At 42 he has 289 wins, the last four with the Yankees. . .
Dave Maggard, Cal-Berkeley athletic director, responds to a report he is the front-runner for the U. of Virginia directorship (which won't go to interim Athletic Director Jim West, the personal choice of Dick Bestwick, Wahoo football coach, but might go to Rutgers' Fred Gruninger): "All I'll say is there are some terrific people at Virginia" . . . Al Kincaid, promoted to football coach at Wyoming, quarterbacked Virginia Tech in the late 1960s. . .
The National Football League reports record attendance for the 1980 season and nice gains in TV ratings after the mild 1979 slump. For 224 regular-season games, NFL seated 13,392,240 customers, an average of 59,787, or 92.4 percent of stadium capacity. The NFC on CBS edged AFC on NBC in Sunday viewing, 15.3 Nielsen points to 15.0.
Brian Sipe, Cleveland passer typifying the offensive upsurge that may have boosted audiences, has been elected league MVP by Associated Press; 47 votes to 22 for runner-up Campbell. United Press International gets in the act with AFC player of year: Sipe 35, Campbell 15. AP's coach of the year is Buffalo's Chuck Knox. By ballot of an 84-member media panel, Knox recaptures a laurel he won in 1973 as rookie bossman of the L.A. Rams, and was the 1980 vote close? Knox 27 1/2, Atlanta's Leeman Bennett 26 1/2; the Browns' Sam ("I still love you, Brian") Rutigliano third with 18. . .
Bennett, now twice a narrow loser in three days, levels a blast at CBS-TV color commentator George Allen for the former Redskin coach's criticism of the Falcon pass rush in Sunday's loss to the Cowboys. Bennett opened his weekly news conference by declaring, "For somebody to say we rushed three people on all the plays is totally incorrect". . .
Deaths: Lou Fette, Warrensburg, Mo., farmer who as a 30-year-old rookie in 1937 went 20-10, teaming with Milkman Jim Turner (20-11) to pitch the Boston Bees to fifth place in the National League; Fette led the NL in shutouts in '37 and '39. . . Jim Britt, Boston Red Sox and Braves broadcaster of the 1940s and '50s, at 70 in Monterey, Calif.