Mammon on the gridiron

November 14, 1995|By Howard Kleinberg

MIAMI, Fla. -- Sitting at a college football game last weekend, I could swear I heard the public-address announcer say: ''The Hurricanes have just called an AT&T Wireless Services time-out.'' Later in the game, I heard it again.

My ears were not deceiving me; it's come to that.

College football has sold its time-outs. I thought I had seen it all last year when the game ball began arriving at the 50-yard line in the hands of a grotesquely dressed creature representing Domino's Pizza.

Apparently, there is no end to this. I can foresee the future:

OLD DIMEBOX, Texas -- Clutching the Wilson football close to his Riddell jersey, Red Piquante plopped his Nike shoes across the goal line with 12 seconds left on the Seiko clock to bring a 21-17 victory to Texas Gas & Cattle State against 7-Eleven University in the first annual Kohler Water Closet Bowl.

Piquante is at Texas Gas & Cattle on a Taco Bell scholarship.

A crowd of 32,145, which entered the stadium with tickets printed by Globe Ticket Co., viewed the contest under rainy skies that had been predicted by CBS Morning News.

The game was televised by CBS and sponsored by the U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Army. The end zones were brilliantly designed with the sponsors' messages: ''We're looking for a few good men'' was in the end zone that Piquante reached to win the game and ''Be all that you can be'' festooned the other.

''I was really exhausted just before the play,'' said Piquante.

''Were it not for the Gatorade in a Sunshine paper cup that I gulped down just before the play, I probably would have needed to make use of the Bennett oxygen equipment during my run which, if you noticed, was on a straight line with the Coca-Cola sign above the Mitsubishi scoreboard.''

Texas Gas & Cattle coach Arnold Lite, whose $30,000-a-year salary is supplemented with sponsorship from Chevrolet and Southwest Airlines Insurance, said immediately after the game that his goals had been reached at the school and that he was moving on to Upper Montana State Teachers where a beer company was adding $50,000 to his base salary, provided he changed his first name to Miller.

And now a word . . .

Until the decisive touchdown, 7-Eleven was in control of the game principally because of the Reebok-clad toe of Jeff Ganglia, who booted five field goals, three from beyond the McDonald's 40-yard line and the other two from inside the Hebrew National Provisions 20-yard line.

TG&C scored once in the American Express second quarter and again in Chrysler Motors third quarter, both on passes from quarterback Marlboro Mann -- a Jockey-brand transfer from Hang Ten Junior College in California.

Kohler Water Closet Bowl officials said, over Tanqueray martinis, that they were delighted with their inaugural game and they were particularly thrilled that Coors Beer had bought out all the tickets in the Revlon End Zone to donate to retired graphic artists from the Madison Avenue School of Advertising.

Chairman G.M. Carr said that he hoped to put together a tidy package of sponsors for next year, including benefactors for the sideline down markers which initially had been spoken for by Calvin Klein but later rejected by the committee when the Klein people insisted that the marker holders stand in suggestive positions.

Howard Kleinberg, a former editor of the Miami News, is a columnist for Cox Newspapers.

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