The saga of Tito Horford grows more deplorable every day.

In the latest chapter in the soap opera, Horford says he wants to enroll at Houston and play basketball.

And what do officials there say? Get the man a uniform. Athletic Director Tom Ford says he will appeal the NCAA's ban against Horford playing there, a ban imposed because the NCAA ruled that Houston improperly recruited him.

Why in the world should the NCAA relent? Why in the world should he be allowed to play college basketball at Houston or any other so-called institution of higher learning?

Horford and the recruiters who have fought over him have made an absolute sham of the already laughable NCAA recruiting process. First, he went to Houston. Then Dale Brown and Louisiana State put on a full-court press and Horford moved there.

Brown said that Horford just "showed up" unsolicited at LSU. Then Horford talked to the NCAA about his recruitment. Soon afterward, Brown booted him from the LSU team. Now he wants to go back to Houston.

At no time has he shown any interest in attending college. While at LSU, he reportedly missed more than his share of classes. Of course, Houston, which has a lamentable history when it comes to graduating basketball players, isn't any more interested in Horford as a student than Horford is.

If Horford wants to play basketball, he has every right to. He can play in the NBA, the CBA or in Europe. No one is denying him the right to work at his chosen profession. But by his actions, he has forfeited the privilege of receiving a basketball scholarship.

Whenever a college is caught cheating nowadays, the players involved are somehow portrayed as innocent victims.

Certainly, the adults are culpable. But so are the athletes. They know the rules, and, if they break them, they, too, should be punished.

There is no way the NCAA should allow Horford to play for Houston. If it does, an already shameful story will become even more repugnant.

The Horford affair has not been without its funny moments. Two weeks ago, after Horford had left LSU, Indiana Coach Bob Knight wrote Brown a letter. Referring to Brown's semi-annual letters to NCAA coaches preaching reform, Knight wrote, "Dale, I think you have your priorities mixed up. I believe at our next coaches' meeting, our No. 1 priority should be establishing a travel fund for Tito Horford."

Knight is not a big Brown fan.

Brown has not responded publicly to Knight's letter or comment.

Here is a terrific comeback story. Last February, Jacksonville Coach Bob Wenzel underwent surgery for a brain aneurysm, a life-threatening situation. On Saturday, fully recovered, he will bring his 3-0 team to Smith Center to play George Washington University.

"I don't have any lingering aftereffects, which they tell me is very rare," he said recently. "I feel fine, I'm not restricted in anything I do and I feel lucky to be back coaching this quickly."

He even jokes about the operation. "Actually," he said, "I had a John Wooden brain transplant."

Wenzel was GW's second choice to coach in 1981 when the school hired Gerry Gimelstob. Four years later, Gimelstob is gone, replaced by John Kuester, and Wenzel has Jacksonville on the way up. The Dolphins, 7-22 the year before Wenzel took over, were 15-14 last season and return their best player, Otis Smith, and the other four starters.

The best least-noticed coaching job in the country may be Wayne Szoke's at Columbia. In his first season, he took the Lions from seventh place in the Ivy League to second, going 9-5 in the league and 13-13 overall.

True, the Ivy League isn't what it used to be. But Saturday, the Lions stunned Seton Hall, 58-54, at Seton Hall. The Pirates may be the Big East's doormat, but they are in the Big East. And after three good recruiting years, P.J. Carlesimo is looking to move up this season . . . Ray and Joey Meyer may have started a trend at De Paul, where Joey, after playing for his father, eventually took over for him as coach. More and more sons are following their fathers into coaching after playing for them.

Most notably, Chuck Driesell, son of Charles G. Driesell at Maryland, is coaching Navy Prep, and Murry Bartow, who played the last five years for his father at Alabama-Birmingham, is a graduate assistant at Navy . . .

Recruiting note: Rumeal Robinson, generally considered the best high school guard in the country, is expected to select his college this month. Robinson, who plays at Patrick Ewing's high school, Cambridge Rindge-and-Latin, reportedly will pick Boston College, Villanova or Michigan . . .

Question: What major power plays one of the weakest nonconference schedules in the nation? Answer, the one that plays Hawaii-Hilo, Hawaii Loa, Florida A&M, Florida Southern and Morgan State (among others). Who is that? The same school that won't play local rivals Maryland, George Washington or Howard: Georgetown.

Okay, Pacific-10 fans, gloat. UCLA ripped Temple, 75-59, and The Upset Pick is reeling in December again with an 0-2 record. This week, The General returns: Indiana and Knight will upset Notre Dame Tuesday.