Friday's local newspaper headlines here in the southern tip of Florida revealed the major concerns of the day.
- In Palm Beach, residents of the posh residential community are up in arms in protest over a businessman's attempts to open the area's first-ever laundromat. A special commission hearing was convened, wherein Alexander Beal, one of the commissioners, protested, saying, "You can smell a laundromat from 50 yards away." Another commissioner, Frank Flower, said, "But the people who wait on tables and so forth, I'm sure they need one of these."- In Miami Beach, jai-alai enthusiasts (read: bettors) are looking for a tall tree and a short rope in the wake of game-fixing charges filed Friday against two Dade County jai-alai players.
- In Greater Miami, they're fretting over the possibility of the area gaining a major league baseball franchise now that the winter league meetings are set to begin in Atlanta. No less than 1,053 "Why South Florida Should Get Major League Baseball . . . " essays have been sent to baseball commissioner-in-waiting A. Bartlett Giamatti, forwarded along by the Miami Herald.
- And in Ft. Lauderdale, police are concerned that the jig is up on their "Cop In A Box" sting operation designed to curb crack and cocaine sales. The plan has been to send a pickup truck driven by a plainclothesman, with a large refrigerator cardboard box in the bed of the truck - filled with three patrolmen. When the driver cruises the streets and sees a crack sale going down, he stops, beeps his horn, and out comes the cavalry. The problem is, this week's Newsweek magazine detailed the operation, and now when the pickup drives down the streets the driver is met with cries of "Yo, there's the cop in a box."
That's about the size of the real newsy concerns.
The fact that BYU plays the University of Miami Hurricanes in a nationally televised (cable) football game tonight (6 p.m. MDT) in the Orange Bowl did not make the big print headlines.
There does not seem to be much alarm.
Ho-hum. Another nondescript team from the north (all teams that play here are from the north) that is a 24-point underdog to the resident bullies, otherwise known as the 'Canes.
The local mood is, Miami has as much chance of losing as Sonny Crockett of shaving.
The precedent just isn't there. Consider that since Jimmy Johnson took over as the Hurricanes' coach five seasons ago, they have played 31 games against teams not ranked in the top 20, which is where BYU qualifies after the loss two weeks ago to Utah.
In those games they are 31-0. (Against top-20 teams over that same five-year stretch, incidentally, the 'Canes are 19-9).
And in the 75,000-seat Orange Bowl, Miami, the defending national champion, hasn't lost in 23 games - stretching back over three and a half seasons.
The 'Canes are a hometown team, not to mention a hometown draw. With temperatures expected in the mid-60s at kickoff tonight, no-shows should be rare.
Aware of all of the above, the BYU Cougars arrived in the Miami area a day early - flying in Thursday to become acclimated and adjust their game faces.
The Cougars, on a skid with two losses in their last three games, aren't taking this mission lightly. On Friday they went through almost a full-scale practice in the Orange Bowl - in radical departure from their usual Friday walk-through. This morning, they did the walk-through.
"We're playing what may well be the best college team in America," said BYU defensive coordinator Dick Felt, "and we're playing them in their own Orange Bowl, with a lot of injuries we wish we didn't have. We have to be intense, and serious about this."
There have been no boat cruises in Palm Beach for the Cougars, or drag races down Collins Ave. Nobody's been to the beach.
"We're telling everybody to be ready to play," said Felt. "We're also mentioning to the players that no one's giving us a prayer. We'd like that to sink in."
Therein lies BYU's hope. Being the national champion of 1984 is no big deal, not to the team that was national champion of 1987. Reputation isn't going to get the Cougars anywhere tonight. What might give them a chance is that nobody seems concerned. Why, they can just mosey into the Orange Bowl looking no more threatening than a pickup truck delivering a refrigerator . . .