If you see a man walking approximately two feet off the ground in Pasadena, Dallas or New Orleans, mark him down as one of the sponsors of the bowl game coming to his city January 1. The reason for his elation is simple. The teams in the Rose, Cotton and Sugar bowls this year all are among the top 10 in the nation. This in itself is as rare a phenomenon as truffles with a TV dinner. But it isn't all this bowl season brings. Every last one of the country's 10 best teams is in a bowl somewhere, and all of them may be viewed with no more effort than is required to twist a television dial. Fans who shudderingly recall the drought year of 1955, when only four of the top teams played in bowls, can now count on seeing not only Wisconsin's talented quarterback, Dale Hackbart (opposite), but all the other stars of the country's best elevens; among them Billy Cannon, Charlie Flowers, Gerhard Schwedes and Maxie Baughan.
Syracuse, first team in the land, meets Texas, ranked fourth. Mississippi (2nd) takes on Louisiana State (3rd). Wisconsin (6th) engages Washington (8th). Then it's Georgia (5th) against Missouri (18th) and Arkansas (9th) against Georgia Tech in the other established bowls. Texas Christian (7th) appears in the inaugural game of the Bluebonnet Bowl at Houston against Clemson (11th) before a gathering of 50,000 this Saturday. Alabama (10th) and Penn State (12th) should attract 35,000 to Philadelphia's equally new Liberty Bowl on the same day.
Any way you look at it, the lineup is impressive. But viewing it financially, it is Dun and Bradstreet AAA 1. Television, ticket and concession revenues for the four New Year's Day games and the Gator Bowl (January 2) will add up to a cool $2,670,000, of which some $2 million will go to the 10 schools. Since nonprofitmaking civic boosters are behind the bowls, they will plow nearly all of their receipts back into the enterprises. As usual, all the conference-affiliated schools will have to share the wealth with conference offices and schools. Thus Syracuse, the only independent playing on the big day, will receive far and away the largest sum—upward of $175,000. That would leave $100,000 even if Syracuse managed to splurge $75,000 on expenses. This is not improbable, since bowl teams take along large retinues of deserving supporters.
Although Washington and Wisconsin will split the largest pie—$775,000—the Badgers will probably net the smallest purse of the day—about $60,000—after sharing with nine other schools and the Big Ten GHQ. Wisconsin's expenses, in fact, may cut into its purse to the point that it will bank less than Minnesota and the others, ft has happened before. Next to Syracuse, LSU and Ole Miss will be the best rewarded, each receiving an even $100,000 after meeting conference obligations.
For the teams it won't be all work and no play. Whenever possible, they are given their choice of diversions. The Washington and Wisconsin players, for example, made it clear this year that they wanted most of all to visit Disneyland. The trip Khrushchev missed and mourned will be made by them in style, with a band to salute them and Rose Bowl lovelies close by. They will also see the filming of TV westerns and will ride wherever they go in 41 white cars.
At Dallas, the Syracuse and Texas Cotton Bowl teams will see a championship rodeo and have a private screening of a new movie. At Miami, the Orange Bowl people will offer the men of Georgia and Missouri the pleasures of ocean-front living, surf bathing and deep-sea fishing. Mississippi and Louisiana State will arrive at New Orleans too late for pregame entertainment, but afterward the teams will have a colossal buffet featuring Gulf seafood and after that will have the fairest flowers of the city to tap for dancing partners. Miss America heads the list of visible attractions at Jacksonville. The Arkansas and Georgia Tech Gator Bowl teams will also admire the dog track where handicaps will be named for them.
The lavish postgame dinner party is standard everywhere, and most of the athletes, if not all, will receive $75 walking-around money, as well as souvenir gifts. These are watches for the majority but inscribed binoculars for the Rose Bowl teams.
Chief bogey of the bowl sponsors is that temperamental and all-powerful figure, the coach. He decides how much liberty to grant his players and exactly how much training austerity to demand before the game, which he would crawl over broken glass from Natchez to Nome to win. So far this year, the coaches have raised no storm warnings. Fun, sun and fame are just around the corner for the bowl teams. In the next five pages SPORTS ILLUSTRATED analyzes the squads and predicts the winners.