It's a crazy game a few billion of us will watch Sunday

EVEN IF you think football is a game played with a round ball and three outs an inning, you're aware that Sunday is the day of that American cultural frenzy, the Super Bowl.

Here are some quips, quotes and quellers from the game I've coached for 39 years:


* Gil Dobie, while coach at the University of Minnesota: "When I'm traveling, I ask farm boys how to get to a certain place. If they point with their finger, I move on. If they pick up the plow and pointwith it, I stop and sell them on the University of Minnesota."

* Bob Valesente, after his Kansas team lost to Oklahoma, 64-3: "It was David against Goliath, only Goliath decided to bring a few friends."


* Sportswriter Jimmy Cannon in 1953: "No athlete should be graduated from college without receiving the equivalent of an elementary school education."

* Bob Rose, spokesman for the New World League of American Football, promoting one of the league's games: "On March 24 the New York Knights play the Barcelona Dragons, and you've got to go back centuries to find that matchup."

* Bum Phillips, former coach of the Houston Oilers and New Orleans Saints, introducing running back Earl Campbell at his induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame at Canton, Ohio: "I've had some tough jobs in my life, but this is the toughest. I'm supposed to introduce the greatest running back I ever saw and do it in less than four minutes. Some of his runs lasted longer than that."

* Navy trainer Leon "Red" Romo, when Connie Chaump, the wife of head coach George Chaump, broke her wrist: "She is handling it well. Our biggest problem now is if Coach Chaump takes over the cooking duties at home. Then we'll have a tough situation. I've alerted the Anne Arundel Medical Center as to this possibility."

* President Bush, on Notre Dame's swift running back Raghib "Rocket" Ismail: "The best use of speed since Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier."

* Mike Rentko, former line coach at St. Paul's School, after scouting a key rival: "If their linemen were any bigger they'd have their own zip code."

* Bob Zuppke, Illinois coach, about fame and glory: "Often an All-American is made by a long run, a weak defense, and a poet in the pressbox."

* Jimmy Diggs, highly-regarded Baltimore football arbiter, about officiating: "That's one thing about officiating. I never get lost. Everybody tells me where to go."


* ABC-TV color analyst Dan Dierdorf, when Coach Bill Parcells yelled at punter Sean Landetta after a poor kick during a Giants-49ers game: "I wonder if the coach has a 'personal Landetta' against his punter."

* Lee Roy Jordan, Dallas Cowboys stand-out, about the pigskin sport: "To me football is like a day off. I grew up picking cotton on my daddy's farm and nobody asked for your autograph or put your name in the paper for that."

* Comedian Dennis Miller of NBC's "Saturday Night Live" during the show's "Weekend Update" segment: "The World League of American Football announced plans for expansion next season. This move could potentially double the number of people who show no interest in the games."

* Kentucky football coach Bill Curry on how tough it was to please writers when he was at Alabama: "There was a joke going around that when I went on a fishing trip, the boat tipped over, but I got to shore by walking on water. The headline in the next day's paper read: 'Curry fails at swimming.' "

* Eleanor Roosevelt, making a cogent observation: "I do know that if a boy wants to play football and for any reason you keep him from it, you will probably find that his character -- or his temper, at least -- will not improve."

* Vince Buck, New Orleans defensive back, as the 8-8 Saints prepared for the 10-5 Chicago Bears in the NFL playoffs: "We know we're the ugliest girls at the dance, but we're gonna buy a new dress, put on a corsage, paint our face and hope the gentlemen callers are a little blind."


* Seattle Times columnist Steve Kelley on former Seahawk Brian Bosworth's movie debut in "Stone Cold": "To call 'Stone Cold' garbage is to give garbage a bad name . . . It's so bad, Roseanne Barr should sing the national anthem before each show."

* Doug Weaver, former Kansas State University coach, on being hanged in effigy: "I'm glad it happened in front of the library. I've always emphasized scholarship."

* Lou Holtz, on why his huge linemen seem so wonderfully secure: "They're used to being held all the time."

* Sam Goodwin, coach at Northeast Louisiana, after telling his players to use chewing gum to keep their ears from popping on air flights: "It worked fine, except some guys had a hard time getting the gum out of their ears."

In addition to coaching since prehistoric times, Martin D. Tullai is chairman of the history department at St. Paul's School.