There are approximately 500 small colleges in the United States that will field football teams this year. It is no more possible to generalize about these schools than it is to compare, say, the American history department at the University of Texas with the physical education course offered at Springfield College in Massachusetts. Some of the schools aren't even small. The standards at one or two are as high as those in the Ivy League. Graduates of others would have a hard time passing at a good city high school.
No more is it possible to generalize about the football they play. A majority of the small colleges would be humiliated by their big neighbors. But a few—Southern Illinois, Fresno State, Florida A&M, among others—would do better than the legendary hero of all small colleges, Centre, which defeated mighty Harvard in 1921, 6-0.
In this age of standardization, however, it is possible to generalize about the majority of small-college coaches. Usually easier going than their major college compatriots, they nevertheless employ the same systems and methods, they say the same things, have the same mores and accept defeat as gracefully as a child does a dose of castor oil.
To be sure, these are not the ways of Dr. Norris Patterson (above), the enormously successful head coach at William Jewell College in Liberty, Mo., 15 miles northeast of Kansas City. But then conformity never was. For instance: Patterson worries during the summer as much about how to make football more fun for his players as he does about recruiting. This year he is thinking of changing his offense to the split T because everybody else is giving it up. He believes that watching film is virtually useless in sizing up promising high school players. He would prefer not to give NCAA-type full athletic scholarships, even if he had them to give. He refuses to use weight and isometric conditioning programs and would quit coaching if he had to use them.
What has this oddball approach to coaching meant to Jewell since Patterson arrived there 12 years ago? Wins—87 of them, to be exact—against 23 losses and seven ties. Under Patterson, Jewell has won three Missouri College Athletic Union championships, shared three and been runner-up three times.
Patterson earned a doctorate in education at Columbia in 1958. Behind every one of his seeming idiosyncrasies lies a well-reasoned argument. Of his permissive practices, for instance, he says: "It doesn't follow that the grimmest-looking football squad is going to be the most successful. I've been to pro camps and you'd be surprised how much fun they have.
"Football coaches, in fact, are finally getting educated. They have more knowledge of science and of the physiology of the human body. As a result we don't have as many stale players as we once did. I try to make a game out of work. I let my linemen play soccer and have them play touch football during the season.
"The trouble with football is that we coaches are losing our creative abilities. Everybody uses the same terms and has the same drills. My older brother Cecil, who is one of the most successful high school coaches anywhere [at Kansas City], won't read a book on football. He does his own thinking and creating."
Patterson is one of a splendid minority of fine football coaches in small colleges today. Some others: Carnie Smith at nearby Pittsburg (Kansas) State College, Edgar Sherman at Muskingum in New Concord, Ohio (102 wins, 34 losses and seven ties in 17 years), John Potsklan at Albright in Reading, Pa. (23 wins, three losses and a tie in the last three years) and Paul Durham at Linfield College in McMinnville, Ore., 40 miles southwest of Portland. Smith at Pittsburg has won two NAIA championship bowl games. No other small-college coach in the country can make that statement. In his 13 years at Pittsburg, Smith has won 91 games, lost 33 and tied five. Currently Pittsburg is on a 15-game winning streak.
Like most other successful small-college coaches, Smith recruits football players, but almost entirely in his own area. Like others, too, he can't offer much in the way of scholarships and relies mostly on graduates and friends to direct promising boys his way. The best, of course, go to the big schools, but Smith gets the next best, some of whom eventually far outshine the most sought-after prospects.
Paul Durham at Linfield lost one game last year—to Pittsburg 12-7 in the Camellia Bowl game in Sacramento. In his last six seasons, Durham's teams have won 43 games, lost nine and tied four. Linfield has one of the finest built-in recruiting systems in the country. A liberal arts college, it has a school of education with a fine course in physical education. Last year there were 174 graduates coaching, mostly in small schools in Oregon and Washington. In recent years many of the graduates have sent some of their best players to Linfield.
While Pittsburg and Linfield were best among the small colleges last year, they will have plenty of competition in 1962. Following are regional reports on the most likely candidates.
Florida A&M this year may be the best small-college team in the South, if not the nation. Showing films to a clinic recently, Coach Jake Gaither observed, "This back runs 9.5. This one runs 9.4." The other coaches drooled. "And this one runs 9.2." Besides world record holder Bob Hayes, halfback, this year's explosive runners are Halfback Bob Pare-more, triple-threat Quarterback Jim Tullis and Fullback Hewitt Dixon. "If a back can't get from his spot into the hole in :00.8," says Gaither, "we make him a lineman." A&M's competition, ALABAMA A&M, TENNESSEE STATE and SOUTHERN, is also among the best.
The Gulf States Conference is—team for team—one of the best small-college leagues in the country, SOUTHEASTERN LOUISIANA and MCNEESE won last year but probably will topple.
Ranked fourth nationally in 1961, Southeastern lost a lot of Little All-Americas and must depend mostly on greenhorns. LOUISIANA TECH has a bewildering pass attack led by Quarterback Mickey Slaughter (82 of 127, for 856 yards, 6 TDs last year) and End Jerry Griffin (45 catches), but the running game and defense must improve.
Northwestern Louisiana should take the title, paced by Quarterback Don Beasley and Halfback Jerry Burton. The line is weaker at TENNESSEE TECH but a competent backfield featuring Quarterback Jim Ragland, Halfback Jackie Corbin and Fullback Don Welch should fend off MIDDLE TENNESSEE in the Ohio Valley Conference.
"Sorry, son, the first two units are full up," Coach Lee McLaughlin tells sophomores at WASHINGTON & LEE. Making the "Go T" go is the best General back-field since Gator Bowl days. Quarterback Chuck Lane does everything, and Stuart Yoffe is the finest W&L player in years.
Lenoir Rhyne, under new Coach Hanley Painter, should be stronger than ever. The single-winging, trap-blocking Stars of Caroline have Fullback Richard Kemp (he made over 1,000 yards last fall) and Tailbacks Tom Brown and Odell White as a talented nucleus.
MAC Southern Division champion LEBANON VALLEY, CHATTANOOGA, TAMPA and NORTH CAROLINA COLLEGE are all strong.
Norris Patterson will again have a fine WILLIAM JEWELL team. Likely to finish first in the Missouri College Athletic Union, the deep Cardinals have a strong defense, with 10 of last year's first unit returning. The whole team has speed, but the backfield, led by sprinter Halfbacks Terry Crews and Clem Buschman, is fast enough to compensate for the loss of passing talent. Jewell again will be one of the best of the Plains teams.
Southern Illinois is too good to be listed as a small college much longer, and this is a vintage year in Carbondale. Just one frightening example is tackle, where six Salukis average almost two letters and 245 pounds apiece. Guard Jim Minton and Fullback Charles Hamilton lead positions almost as well fortified, while halfback is overrun.
Even after severe losses, PITTSBURG STATE will have back NAIA All-Americas Jerry Archer, center, and Harlan Hess, tackle. If Coach Carnie Smith's line is weaker, his running, led by Halfback Bob Fulton (10 TDs, 319 yards, 6.4 average) and Quarterback Phil Vogrin (241 yards plus 902 passing), is stronger. Pittsburg may not repeat as the nation's top small-college team, but it won't be far down the list either.
Neither will rising power BALDWIN-WALLACE, which had a 9-0-0 season last year. Coach Lee Tressel's Quarterback Tom French (51% complete for 529 yards in 1961) and many fine receivers promise spectacular passing. Although slow, Halfbacks Gary Stoufer (629 yards) and Art Van Rensselaer (164 rushing, 132 receiving) and Fullback Ernie Prince (203 yards) are dynamic runners. All-America Guard Tom Goosby heads a fierce defensive line.
Despite high admission standards, WHEATON always gets exceptionally talented athletes in large quantities. Back virtually intact is the offensive unit that rushed 241 yards per game and scored 217 points last fall. Fullback Albie Harris and Halfback Kent Hutcheson will be even better, compensating for the loss of passer Dave Iha. All-America Tackle Dave Kemna heads a deep, fast line.
Breakaway runners and a tough, faster-blocking line are the key to NORTHERN MICHIGAN'S hopes. Although the defense, notably End Len St. Jean, is potent as ever, offensive losses force a change from power to speed, to be led by Halfbacks Dick Koski and Gary Shanley.
"We work hard at executing the simple things well." That is BUTLER'S credo, and it has brought a three-year 26-1 record. Inexperience is Coach Paul Hinkle's obstacle, talent in depth is his blessing. Halfback and guard are splendidly stocked, but other positions depend on blossoming newcomers.
Grinnell and Carleton should battle for the Midwest Conference title, with ST. OLAF another contender. Equipped with a line even better than last year's on both offense and defense, Grinnell has the best chance. Running, which accounts for most of Coach Edd Bowers' offense, may not equal 1961's 2,197 yards, but cool, daring Quarterback Dick Orchard and Halfback Carlton Peterson will keep it respectable. Tackle Denny Asby may be Grinnell's best lineman ever.
For three years Carleton's three-end pro-type offense has scored at least two touchdowns a game. Now the defense is much improved, and the Northfield Minn. Knights can be tough if fragile pocket-passer Phil Bredine stays unhurt and opponents don't stop sweeps by the light, fast backfield.
Undefeated last year, MILLIKIN lost one of the nation's leading small-college scorers (Jerry Domescik), Coach Don Shroyer, who joined the NFL Cardinals, and 13 vital lettermen. The backfield, especially at quarter and half, remains presentable, but unless an aching void in the middle line is filled, CARTHAGE or CARROLL will take the conference title.
With 27 lettermen returning from last year's undefeated ALBION team, Coach Morley Fraser still sees weaknesses at end and guard. He admits that Quarterback Frank Gould (career record: 144 completions for 1,988 yards and 24 TDs), fleet Fullback J. B. Elzy (44 points, 752 yards rushing), all-round Halfback Dar Christiansen and profuse talent at other positions are some solace.
Men like End Rog Eischens (27 catches, 470 yards, 4 TDs) and Quarterback Dean Koster (68 of 118 passes completed) justify SOUTH DAKOTA STATE hopes for another North Central title, but IOWA STATE COLLEGE and NORTH DAKOTA are formidable obstacles.
The best small-college conference in the East is the Middle Atlantic, whose strongest members are in Pennsylvania. Though they do not play each other, SUSQUEHANNA and ALBRIGHT Will again vie for the MAC northern title.
Susquehanna's opponents, who know the off-tackle play is coming, still can't stop it. Returning almost intact and unbeaten in 13 games, the Selinsgrove terrors are adding passing and outside runs to power slants by leading MAC rusher John Luscko and Fullback Larry Kerstetter. If his knee holds up, Quarterback Don Green is as good as they come.
Undefeated in 21 games, Albright lost its quarterback and two ends to the pros but retains lettermen at all positions. Halfback Doug Deicke leads a switch to more running but Albright will be somewhat weaker and could give ground to MORAVIAN or HOFSTHA.
One of the East's best, WEST CHESTER dominates the Pennsylvania College Conference, mostly on the strength of its running. All-America Fullback Joe Iacone (1,059 yards gained last year, 1,438 the year before) is back, hopefully for another big season. He may get some help from Halfback Paul Borsa. If a quarterback matures, this could be a fearsome team.
Hofstra lost six key players, but a flock of good returnees should fill their places neatly. Quarterback Len Garille, Halfback Jim Stamos, Fullback Ron Zoia and Linemen Terry Kosens, Dick Caproni, John Schmitt and Mike Brereton are all talented operators, JUNIATA, unaccustomed to losing, could come back, led by Guards Bill Crowell and Dave Oliver and Quarterback Ron Poruban.
Middlebury, which had a better won-lost record (5-1-1) than any other eastern independent, lost 14 fine lettermen. It will retain its winning ways, though. ALLEGHENY can repeat as Presidents' Conference champion, SOUTHERN CONNECTICUT will further improve its 88-25-5 record under Jess Dow and WAYNESBURG, WESTMINSTER, EAST STROUDSBURG and SLIPPERY ROCK will win often.
Arlington has played senior college football for only three years, but already the Rebels are better than several "major" schools. Coach Chena Gilstrap's boys will be tougher yet this season, and so will their schedule. Fullback Charlie Key (57 points in both 1960 and 1961) and Halfback Doug Hart highlight the Arlington offense, but Quarterback Doug Wilson should develop to match them. Guards Gene Burks and Scotty Adams are fast and formidable.
Texas Southern could make as large a splash in football as it did in track. Indeed, the backfield is a pretty fair track team in its own right. Halfback Homer Jones, who runs the 100 in 9.4, last year caught 422 yards worth of passes and rushed at an 8.9 average. He is back, along with Robert Batts (9.8 for the 100, 266 yards rushing in 1961), Fullback Bennie Whitfield (9.9, 203 yards) and Quarterback Charles Green (727 yards passing). If they don't awe JACKSON, SOUTHERN and GRAMBLING, all excellent teams, the line, which averages 221 pounds, will.
Sam Houston, despite the efforts of Halfback Eliseo Villarreal and Quarterback Ted Minyard, has lost too much material, TEXAS A&I could take the Lone Star title instead, SOUTHWEST TEXAS, HOWARD PAYNE and TEXAS LUTHERAN also will be good.
Fresno State thrashed 10 teams, including several major colleges, on its way to an undefeated season last year. Its mercies no more tender this fall, Fresno has its punishing backfield back nearly intact. Quarterback, where versatile Beau Carter has forced out all-Coast choice Jon Anabo, is particularly wicked. If Herman Hamp, a 9.8 sprinter, comes through at halfback and some green talent matures in-the line, the opposition will be frantic.
Humboldt Coach Phil Sarboe is capable of being nervous with 31 lettermen on hand. His unlikely jitters stem from the lightness of the Lumberjacks and—he says—their lack of depth. The poor man is stuck with people like two-time All-America End Drew Roberts, Quarterbacks Roger Toftt and Monty Feekes (who together passed for 635 yards at a 50% rate in 1961), and Halfback Frank Buda (552 yards). A line averaging 210 is some consolation.
Linfield (10-1 last fall) can have another spectacular season if good replacements emerge in the defensive unit, particularly at linebacker. Two defensive backs must be replaced, but Dave Rohrer, excellent at safety, will anchor the secondary. On offense, fast, receptive Val Barnes, Pat Thurston and speedy Fullback Dennis Vitale provide the core of a fine backfield.
Undefeated in the regular season, WHITTIER draws from an unbeaten freshman team, too. The Poets must find a quarterback good enough to get the ball to All-America End Stan Sanders (697 yards, 66 points receiving last year) consistently. Sophomore Doug Bennett will be the choice if Roger Kelly or Rich Harrison doesn't suffice. Behind a line featuring big, mobile tackles, Halfback Dick Skinner supplies most of what other offense is needed.
Loss of Dennis Spurlock, the nation's total-offense leader (1,760 yards last year), left WHITWORTH Coach Sam Adams so bereaved that he hasn't named a quarterback yet. Fortunately, the line is magnificently endowed with Ends John Murio (811 yards receiving) and Wendell Witt (477) and a very solid middle.
Adams State again will dominate the Rocky Mountain Conference.
The five best small-college teams in the country this year: 1) Florida A&M, 2) Fresno State, 3) Arlington, 4) Southern Illinois, 5) Pittsburg State.