People Staff
November 12, 1990 12:00 PM

It’s that time of year again. Millions of American women are reduced to weekend widowhood because their husbands are welded to their couches, hypnotized by a sport their wives simply do not understand. Well, Cheryl Smith is out to change all that. Smith, wife of USC football coach Larry Smith, has devised a course for women who think a hike is a long walk, a receiver is part of the stereo and a nose guard is some newfangled kind of sun block.

Called Football for Women, Smith’s clinic is a four-session chalk talk “designed to give women a better understanding of the madness that afflicts the nation every September.” For $75, Smith, 47, helps her previously puzzled pupils distinguish between a stunt and a blitz, tells them the height of the crossbar and the width of the goalposts and informs them what linesmen (“the three little men in striped shirts”) do. For those wives who want to pull a quarterback sneak, Smith’s two-hour classes also include some trivia-such as “When was the first college game ever played and who won?”—that men often “pretend they know.” (Nov. 6, 1869, in case you’ve forgotten. Rutgers beat Princeton, 6-4.)

The perky “first lady of football,” as her husband calls her, started conducting her seminars 10 years ago when Larry was head coach at Tulane University, I kept meeting women who hated football and knew nothing about the game,” says Smith, who calls on her husband of 25 years to keep her up to date on the latest rule changes and intricate offensive strategies. “They’d sit there at games to be with their men. I always felt football was a fun game if you understood it.” Now some 3,000 women have attended Smith’s classes and sit down with their once smug significant others to watch a game. Recent graduate Jeanette Nuss proudly describes a moment during a televised game when she poked her flabbergasted husband in the ribs and said. “Hey, there’s a shotgun play!”

Hmmm, make room on that sofa, will ya?

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