Etc...

Guess who this is from?

When Earl Marian's birthday rolls around Jan. 30, there will be no mystery about the sentiment on the card that arrives in the mail from his brother, Floyd. That's because Floyd sent him the same one last year, and the year before, and the year prior to that, and ... well, you get the idea. In fact, they've exchanged it annually since 1975. (Floyd's birthday is Dec. 10.) Earl, who lives in Hastings, Neb., started it all, choosing a message by the Peanuts comic strip character Linus that says: "This is the age of ecology! Don't throw this card away. Recycle it to a friend." The Marians say they'll keep the tradition going until the card falls apart, which may not be long. It's well-worn by now.

Heroes on the gridiron, but not in the classroom

If the undefeated and top-ranked University of Southern California Trojans go on to win college football's national championship against Oklahoma in the Fed Ex Orange Bowl Jan. 4, they'll also be No. 1 - or at least tied for it - in another respect. A survey by the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport found that USC and Virginia Tech lead all other schools in this year's Bowl Championship Series (BCS) in graduating players. Still, the institute located on the University of Central Florida campus reports that of the 56 schools involved in the postseason, 27 conferred degrees on fewer than half the players on their rosters - and 39 failed to graduate a majority of their black players. Boston College, in the non-BCS Continental Tire Bowl, and Syracuse, in the Champs Sports Bowl, lead all rivals with a 78 percent graduation rate. (Emerald Bowl participant Navy does not report graduation rates.) The schools in BCS bowls and their overall graduation rates, from the survey:

1. Southern California (tie) Virginia Tech 58%
3. Michigan 57
4. Auburn 48
5. Utah 41
6. Oklahoma 40
7. Texas 34
8. Pittsburgh 31

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