By the somewhat arbitrary decree of the Football Writers' Association of America, there are this fall 112 "major college" football teams in the country. All the rest, some 624 of them, are "small college," a misleading phrase that provides a convenient catchall for enrollments ranging from 300 to 15,000. The small-college category has, in fact, nothing at all to do with a school's size but only with the quality of football competition it schedules.
One need only watch some small-college games to know there is nothing little league about the football. The National Football League certainly didn't think so last winter when it drafted 50 athletes from the small colleges on the reasonable assumption that a few of them will prove as worthy as predecessors like Roosevelt Brown and Andy Robustelli of the Giants; Ed Brown, Willie Galimore and Harlon Hill of the Bears; and John Baker of the Rams.
This year they will be drafting more. In fact, Guard Doug Brown, a 1960 Little All-America who has a year to go at Fresno State, has already been selected by both the Los Angeles Rams and the Dallas Texans. There are three other Little All-Americas (second team) returning this fall who will bear close watching—West Chester (Pa.) State Fullback Joe Iacone, for instance, the stubby, broad-armed young man shown above. As a sophomore Iacone crushed the bid of Northeast Missouri's Dale Mills to win his third straight national rushing crown. Last fall he gained nearly a mile (1,438 yards, to be exact), finishing the season with a wild, 199-yard day against Lock Haven.
Another Little All-America who led all rivals, major college or small, is Dennis Spurlock. While quarterbacking Whitworth College to the Evergreen Conference championship, he completed 135 passes for a national high of 1,892 yards. Spurlock faces a stiff challenge in defending his crown from an old rival at a nearby school, Bob Light of Pacific (Ore.) College, who has twice been the country's No. 2 passer and is back for a third and final try.
September 17, 1961
Also back is second-team Little All-America Curtis Miranda, the 6-foot-3, 230-pound center from Florida A&M's perennial winners. Miranda is good enough to play on almost any team in the country, as are many other players on leading teams still classified as small. Following are scouting reports on 23 of the best of them.
ALBRIGHT (Reading, Pa.): Helped by what Coach John Potsklan calls "the largest turnout we've had in years" (37 men), Albright hopes to keep its 13-game winning streak alive. Prospects for another title in the northern college bracket of the Middle Atlantic League, shared last year with Wagner, are excellent, due mainly to the return of Quarterback Gary Chapman, a smart play caller who connects on 58% of his passes. Halfback Tom Olivo is about to become the highest scorer Albright has ever had, Tackle George Reagan solidifies a fast line, and 6-foot-4 End Gary Sheeler will again be Chapman's favorite target.
EAST TEXAS STATE (Commerce, Texas): The weather last spring was simply grand, a welcome change from the year before—when Coach J. V. Sikes's charges were able to scrimmage only six of the allotted 20 days. The difference will be most apparent in the line, where 238-pound Tackle Evaristo Nino holds ample sway. Guard Bob Herring brings size and speed to the one post that may lack depth. Passing is in the capable hands of Quarterback Jim Williams, who threw 800 yards' worth last year and ran for another 438. The backs are fast, especially George Boynton, who has a 5.5-yard average. State won six of its games last year. It should do just as well in 1961.
FLORIDA A&M (Tallahassee, Fla.): Whew. The Rattlers, who attract good players rather than repel them, struck for 430 yards a game in 1960 while limiting their opponents to only 108. Both totals were second in national small-college rankings. Touchdowns? A&M averaged 52.8 points a game, the closest any team has come to Army's 1944 output of 56. This year, says Coach Jake Gaither, plans are to "open up the offense more," using three squads named Blood, Sweat and Tears. The backs are, to say the least, fleet. Five reserves run 100 yards in under 10 seconds, but none will displace flashy, versatile Halfback Jordan Pope or solid runners William Wilson and Ralph Burns or, finally, Quarterbacks Jim Tullis and Emory Collier. The line, built around Curt Miranda, is excellent. Gaither's teams have won 35 of their last 38 games, three national Negro college championships in four years, and are assured of playing in a Bowl game every year—their own (the Orange Blossom Classic in Miami's Orange Bowl).
FRESNO STATE (Fresno, Calif.): Football in the California Collegiate Athletic Association, whose member schools have an average enrollment of almost 9,000, becomes stronger each year as entrance requirements at the bigger neighboring schools like Cal and UCLA get tighter. But Fresno Coach Cecil Coleman still manages to stay several touchdowns ahead of his rivals. Seeking their fourth straight CCAA title, the Bulldogs will have 17 lettermen back in the line, five in the backfield, and enough junior-college transfers to fill the draft quota. Quarterback John Anabo may be one of the school's best-ever passers. And in a big line are the league's two best centers, J. R. Williams and Don Brockett, and Little All-America Guard Doug Brown, a mean 6-foot-5 250-pounder drafted two years ago by the pros.
GENEVA (Beaver Falls, Pa.): In two years Quarterback Joe DeNone has completed 147 of 251 passes for 20 touchdowns. Yet, Coach By Morgan's team has been unable to wrest the Western Pennsylvania Conference crown from the consistently good Westminster Titans, whose 7-6 win over Geneva last fall was a giant step toward their third straight title. Morgan hopes that 1961's unusually fast team, led by Halfback Paul Pupi, and a light but agile line will end Westminster's winning ways.
HEIDELBERG (Tiffin, Ohio): Around the 14-team Ohio Conference, where Heidelberg's Student Princes have annually done most of the dancing, rakish new rivals like Muskingum, Ohio Wesleyan, Otterbein and Wittenberg are cutting in on the victory waltz. Coach Bob Winterburn must replace six starting offensive linemen who graduated, along with four quarterbacks. But three small but hard-running backs—Steve Scott, Paul Bindas and Jim Pannozzo—return, and opponents will have trouble getting past Tackles Glenn Fischer (225 pounds) and Larry Good (235), as well as seniors Bob Brater, Dale Kriz and Jim Martin. Still, a slightly muted musical year at old Heidelberg.
HILLSDALE (Hillsdale, Mich.): After winning the Michigan Intercollegiate crown seven times in a row, and 15 times in some 60 years, the Dales have been kicked out of the conference—or have withdrawn, if you will—for participating in a Bowl game. Hillsdale is suddenly an independent, and Coach Muddy Waters is concerned about the move up to a more difficult schedule. However, over 80 candidates, including a rousing 33 lettermen, have appeared from the total (coed) student body of 700, so Waters' career record of 58 wins, seven losses and a tie is not likely to suffer too much in 1961. The offense is paced by speedy Halfbacks Bill Knapp and Tom Ridley and passers Peter Stoner and Chuck Redding. The defense is selfish, especially when Tackles Jim Richendollar (255 pounds) and Neil Thomas (240) and Guard Gene McFadden are involved.
HOFSTRA (Hempstead, N.Y.): Ever since Coach Howdy Myers guided his 1956 team to a 7-3 record with a squad of only 20 men, it has been clear that the Flying Dutchmen are not a team to be taken lightly. But this is a "heavy" year—the roster numbers 70—and Hofstra may have its best team ever. A big line features 225-pound Tackles Pete Carew and Ted Poliskin, Guards Dick Caproni (210) and Tim Gannon (200). Quarterback Ron Zoia has good receivers in Dick Cooney, Terry Kosens and John Muccillo.
JUNIATA (Huntingdon, Pa.): The Indians have lost only four games in eight years while winning 55 and tying two, but Albright has their number. The Lions ended Juniata's 27-game win streak in 1959, then snapped a 34-game home string last year. Although Coach Ken Bunn's 1961 edition is sure to ring up another winning season (the 14th straight), it is due for some bumps from such as Gettysburg, Westminster and, of course, Albright. The starting line is strong from end to end, but the backs are too small, which may cause 205-pound sophomore Grey Berrier, the team's best player, to shift from guard to fullback.
LENOIR RHYNE (Hickory, N.C.): Having nudged Humboldt State, 15-14, in the national small-college championship Holiday Bowl, the Bears might be expected to hibernate on their laurels. No such thing. Coach Clarence Stasavich's teams have lost only four games since 1954 (his lifetime record: 111-36-6) and they will be out foraging for their seventh North State Conference title in a row and, possibly, their second Holiday Bowl appearance. Their line is "better than last year's," Stasavich says, although he has fewer men. Tackle Ed Haupt and End Ronnie Frye are the main reasons why the Bruins are all smiles up front, while the backfield is set with Tailback Tony McClamrock, an improving passer, and runners Dick Kemp and Marcus Midgett.
LOUISIANA TECH (Ruston, La.): An 86-yard punt return in the closing minutes brought Tech a 17-14 victory over Southeast Louisiana and a tie for the Gulf States title. This year Coach Joe Aillet, who has kept his Bulldogs in the top 10 of America's small colleges for three years, doubts if any team, even his own, will stop Southeast—but he is ready to try. Two well-balanced units will alternate, but neither is as strong as 1960's first team, which sent three men up to the pros. Quarterback Mickey Slaughter, a fine passer, has lost his five best receivers, but has Tackle Herschel Vinyard, the team's best lineman, Guard Don Tippitt, and a big sophomore center, John Robert Williamson, to protect him while he looks for new receivers.
MUSKINGUM (New Concord, Ohio): Cannonball Cooper, the most valuable player for three years in the Ohio Conference, first-string Little All-America fullback and the nation's leading scorer (152 points), is gone. Cooper's departure would be cause enough for any team to suffer a depression. Any team, that is, except Muskingum, which has three other all-conference starters returning—End Clyde Benninghoff, Tackle Charles Kruzan and corner man Ron Dierks—plus a set of halfbacks like Sam Miller and Dave Cunningham, who averaged 7.2 and 8.0 yards per carry last fall. Coach Ed Sherman's Fighting Muskies are only slightly weaker than the undefeated crew that outscored nine foes by a resounding 425 to 39 in 1960.
ST. BENEDICT'S (Atchison, Kans.): A monster defensive line that averages 230 pounds from tackle to tackle and an offensive wall that is only 15 pounds lighter should help Coach Ivan Schottel's team squash the rest of the Central Intercollegiate Conference. Quarterback Corky Jacobs has plenty of time to pass or to hand off to backs like Ron Lewis and John McGlinn, who were worth five yards a try last year. Lewis and End Dennis Cawley are the best receivers, while the line's meanest blockers are 220-pound Tackle Larry Kaminsky and 230-pound Center Bill Maus.
SAN FRANCISCO STATE (San Francisco): A 21-18 loss to Humboldt State ended the Gators' three-year domination of the Far Western Conference, and a perfect record as well. Enrollment at State has ballooned to 12,500, but football prospects are going the other way. New Coach Vic Rowen lost eight starters from the offensive team and four from an excellent defensive unit that yielded just seven touchdowns in 10 games. He does have some exceptional first-liners in Halfbacks Jesse Racines and Tom Manney, Guards Al Abraham and Neil Laughlin and End Jim Collopy.
SOUTHERN ILLINOIS (Carbondale, Ill.): Saluki Coach Carmen Piccone is feeling fully protected these days. He has a pair of 245-pound tackles, Sam Silas and Gene Williams, a smart, strong guard named Paul Brostrom and Amos Bullocks, a halfback who gained 996 yards for a 5.4-yard average in 1960. SIU's unusual size has led Piccone to plan a series of power plays, which will be balanced by the running passes of Quarterback Ron Winter.
SOUTHERN UNIVERSITY (Baton Rouge): Coach Arnett Mumford begins his 37th season with fresh memories of sweet triumphs in 1960 over Grambling, Tennessee A&I and Florida A&M. Sweeter still is the likelihood that the Jaguars can repeat this year. Almost three complete units of equal strength leave little to be desired—unless it is a kicker—but how often do you have to punt when the holes are cleared by such as Center Junius Simon, Guard Clyde Williams or 245-pound Tackle David Evans?
TENNESSEE TECH (Cookeville, Tenn.): The Golden Eagles have won or shared six Ohio Valley Conference titles since 1952, but it hasn't been easy. Last year, for example, half of all OVC games were decided by a touchdown or less, and this year every team except Tech, which lost seven starters, is due to be stronger. Coach Wilburn Tucker has an ace up his sleeve, however, in sophomore Quarterback Jim Ragland, who, with End Rudy Schmittou, Tackle Dave Baxter and Center-Guard Lowell Smith, could steer the team through another precariously successful season.
TEXAS A&I (Kingsville, Texas): Archrival East Texas won the ball game last year (14-6) but it lost the Lone Star crown to A&I, which closed fast with seven straight wins and a 42-14 thrashing of Arkansas Tech in the Great Southwest Bowl. Coach Gil Steinke again has a rich lode of yard-hungry backs like Barry Copenhaver (an 8-yard rushing average last year), Tommy Janik (7.5) and sophomore Sid Blanks (9.5), who led the conference in both rushing and scoring as a freshman. But the Javelinas are hurting for some husky helpers to back up a fine first-string line that takes its cues from Center Doug Harvey.
TEXAS SOUTHERN (Houston): It is time for a comeback by the Tigers, who do not take kindly to years like 1960, when they won four and lost six. Only three of 26 lettermen graduated, and what is left is a team that can take quite unkindly to its rivals. Halfback Robert Batts runs a 9.7 hundred, and Homer Jones, who doubles at end, was a member of TSU's famed sprint relay team last spring. Center Carl Woodard (230 pounds) and Tackle Lacy Garcia (225) pace a line that has four regulars weighing from 230 to 250, and Quarterback Charles Green finally has more than one receiver.
WAGNER (Staten Island, N.Y.): Unfortunately, Wagner and Albright, who tied for the northern college division championship of the Middle Atlantic Conference, and are on identical 13-game win streaks, will go through another year without meeting. Of the two, Wagner may have more difficulty staying unbeaten. It has lost Little All-America End Al Ferrie and 10 other lettermen. But Coach J. Walter Sullivan still has a superb passer in Don Cavalli, who threw 18 scoring passes in 1960, and first-class receivers in End Bruce Wilson and Halfbacks Neil Johnston and Frank Melos.
WEST CHESTER STATE (West Chester, Pa.): West Chester is plainly offensive, especially in the backfield, dominated by Joe Iacone. Quarterback Vince Bonkowski can either pass (accurately) or hand off (with supreme confidence) to Iacone or Coach Jim Bonder's best all-round halfback, Jim Pribula. End Bill Gray and Tackle Ernie Oldenburgh add luster to the attack.
WHITWORTH (Spokane): After winning nine straight, the Pirates stumbled 13-7 in a playoff game against Humboldt State and missed the Holiday Bowl. This year they have added Humboldt State to the regular schedule. With both teams stronger than ever, their game should be a whopper. In addition to passer Dennis Spurlock, Coach Sam Adams has Spurlock's four favorite targets, Halfbacks Norm Harding and Les Rurey and Ends John Murio and Wendell Witt.
WILLIAM JEWELL (Liberty, Mo.): Coach Norris Patterson has been winning eight of 10 games a season for the last decade, and despite a dip in passing and linebacking talent will likely find a way to do so again. Fullback Sam Childress, Tailback Charlie Linn and a flock of hard-running reserves, along with 230-pound Tackle Ron Haggard, will see to that. But there are troubles ahead in the rugged opener against Northeast Missouri and the closer against St. Benedict's.