Sunday, April 8, 2012

Remembering Mike Wallace

         The most noteworthy thing that Mike Wallace and I had in common, other than we both worked at CBS News in the 1970s and 1980s, was a disdain for the university that the other attended.
         Mike graduated from the University of Michigan, I, more than a dozen years later, from The Ohio State University, and each year our teams played in The Game, a cross-border football rivalry that began in 1897.
         I’m not sure how either of us had learned where the other went to school, but as the November contest neared in 1974, Mike walked through the newsroom, where I was a writer for the CBS Evening News, pointed at me, and declared, “You’re going to lose.”
         I called after him, “Want to bet?”
         And thus began an annual ritual, ten dollars, no points, winner take all. It was a civil wager, with a short-lived bragging right, the loser having to deliver the purse to the victor.
But in 1984, the last year of our betting, when Ohio State beat Michigan, 21-6, Mike walked into the newsroom, dumped 1,000 pennies on my desk, and quickly left without saying a word. 
I moved from CBS News to NBC News the following year, just before The Game. It was a good thing, since Michigan won that contest, 27-17.