AS A professional sports team, losing the interest of a fan base is tough. But losing the general interest of your own vice chairman? Ouch.

When asked to assess the state of the lowly Detroit Lions, William Ford Jr. told the Associated Press that keeping his Ford Motor Company a viable enterprise has become "all encompassing," leaving little time to check in on the 2-11 NFL basement-dwelling Lions.

"I've spent almost no time with the Lions and I really don't have an active role there. I just don't," said Ford, whose father, William Sr., has owned the Lions since 1964. "I have to see Ford through this time . . . so I'm quite out of touch actually with what's going on [with the Lions]."

It's one thing to care less as an NFL fan, but when your name is on the team's field and facilities . . .

Temple and PSU among top 25

Temple and Penn State rank among the top 25 hottest college-bowl tickets for sale online, according to data from FanSnap.com - a search engine for ticket sites that analyzes trends in the market.

Temple's Dec. 29 EagleBank Bowl with UCLA ranks 24th among Internet sales with the average ticket price holding at $109 and a "get-in" price of $35. Penn State's date with LSU in the Capital One Bowl ranks eighth-best with an $129 average ticket price and a $44 "get-in" rate. In this one, FanSnap noted PSU fans are outsearching LSU fans nearly 4-to-1.

A bit of sad news . . .

A body, believed to be that of a Santa Ana (Calif.) College baseball player missing since Saturday, was found yesterday at the bottom of a creek bed. The Orange County Register reported that James Wernke, 21, left home to walk the family dog and never returned. According to the report, Wernke was on a full ride at Santa Ana and was being courted by a few professional teams.

- Kerith Gabriel