Sabers, ax handles . . . what is college football coming to?

In the city of Lester Maddox, would you believe, a 1981 ax handle scandal: Morris Brown College checking reports that Coach Lambert Reed struck players with same. "The incidents did happen," avers Earnest Ross, athletic director of the school on Martin Luther King Drive, "and right now we're conducting an in-house investigation. Upon conclusion . . . appropriate action will be taken."

Reed, reprimanded for a similar happening in 1980 spring practice, is accused of striking Ben Scott, a defensive back, last week. Scott said Reed had been harassing him because of supposed marijuana use by players -- of which Scott denied knowledge -- and finally called him into his office and took away his scholarship. Then, in the locker room, Scott alleged, Reed "came down across my back with that stick . . . That's when I went under him and slammed him to the floor."

Afterward, many players petitioned for Reed's dismissal. The coach would only comment, "I'm about making men. When they don't stand up and be men, they hear from me. I don't mistreat kids" . . .

The president of Texas A&M has apologized to his counterpart at Southern Methodist because an Aggie cadet brandished his sword at a Mustang cheerleader Saturday. The cadet had rushed out to rout the pep squad that ran onto the football field -- taboo at A&M -- to spell out S-M-U after a score. One upshot: a big dent in Aggie tradition. No more will cadet corps officers of the day carry sheathed sabers . . .

Defector from Big East basketball coaching ranks: Bill Raftery, Seton Hall's cagey strategist. With weird timing, this close to season opening, Raftery leaves a 156-140 record since 1970 at the South Orange, N.J., school for some business opportunity -- "the betterment of my family." Interim coach: assistant Hoddy Mahon . . . The Montreal Canadiens, losing second straight after a 10-game unbeaten NHL start, also lost a star: Rejean Houle, collarbone fracture.

Interesting Milwaukee Buck contract with Bobby Dandridge. Milwaukee Journal says he signed for $4,000 for each game he plays; $400 for each one he misses. John Steinmiller, Buck v.p.: "The concept is right, the numbers wrong". . .

Pat (Lightfoot) Jefferson, junior welterweight headliner (versus Hillcrest Heights' Mike James) as boxing returns to D.C. Armory 8 p.m. Thursday, says his 6-0 pro record was prefaced by a 249-24 amateur career featuring 1976 pre-Olympic losses ("split decision") to Howard Davis and ("close decision") to Tommy Hearns.

Pat Corrales' appointment as Phillie manager could come today. Boss Bill Giles says it's "60 percent" sure, has Bobby Wine on standby in case Corrales doesn't have 100 percent proper answers . . .

The Braves "wanted someone who'd be more patient with our young talent," Atlanta's farm director, Hank Aaron, explained in dismissing Durham (Carolina League) manager Dirty Al Gallagher, ex-Giant third baseman listed in the Baseball Encyclopedia as "Gallagher, Alan Mitchell Edward George (Dirty Al), also known as Patrick Henry Gallagher". . . But Atlanta first base coach Tommie Aaron -- Henry's brother -- survives an otherwise clean sweep in favor of Manager Joe Torre's ex-Met staffers.

The Orioles don't say why they've dropped their Class A Florida State League affiliate in Miami -- while maintaining spring training quarters at Miami Stadium and minor league preseason camp at Biscayne College . . . The Motor Vehicle Administration in Towson reports that Baltimore Manager Earl Weaver will be without driver's license for 60 days, beginning Nov. 17. He failed to submit to a blood-alcohol test after his Aug. 31 arrest by Baltimore County police, from which still pend charges of drunk driving, running a light and failure to sign a ticket.

A. Jackie Robinson story coming to Broadway: "The First" . . . Q. Duckpins: Ken Palmer lately bowled 601 (185-227-189) in a Fair Lanes P.G. Plaza league, the sport's second-highest series. Second to what?