"The world of small-college football grows ever more similar to that of the major colleges. Here we have Jake Gaither, coach of Florida A&M, winner of 17 straight games, some by scores of 76-0, 60-0 and 52-6. Listen to him: "The offense isn't working right. The running game isn't going like it should. Something has to be done." Darrell Royal of Texas couldn't have said it better.
Florida A&M, understandably, is king of the small-college teams. It has the two fastest halfbacks in the country, Robert Hayes and Robert Paremore. Last January in Miami, Hayes tied the world record for the 100-yard dash at 9.2. Paremore was right behind him at 9.4. Florida A&M also has a splendid punter named Napoleon Johnson. Last week Johnson had to kick eight times, averaging 45 yards a try, as A&M encountered stiff opposition from Tennessee State A&I, winning only 20-0. Hayes went 18 yards for one touchdown in the game. Taking a pitchout, he sailed to his left, put on the brakes and feinted out three defenders. Long-gaited Paremore sprinted down the sideline 41 yards to another score. And in the last seconds Hayes tore 58 yards to a touchdown on a beauty of a punt return only to have the run rubbed out by a penalty. "See," said Coach Gaither, looking around for a shoulder to cry on. "Maybe now these boys will settle down and become afootball team."
At Northern Illinois, located in the cornfields west of Chicago, there is a coach named Howard Fletcher, but it might well be Ara Parseghian of nearby Northwestern. "We come to pass," says Fletcher about his offense. "We use double reverses, triple reverses, Dutch Meyer's old spread formations—wide-open football. The kids like it that way."
Just as Parseghian has built his razzle-dazzle attack around the sensational Tom Myers (see page 29), so Fletcher has built his around a lanky quarterback named George Bork. Bork has a habit of setting passing records the way other men snap their fingers. This season he has set a record for most passes completed in a single game—37—and most completed in one season—174. Bork, however, is more interested in style than records. One rainy Saturday recently the ball was so slippery he had to resort to two-handed, basketball passes. Informed after the game that he had broken a couple of more records, he muttered: "What a crummy way to set a record."
Northern Illinois, largely because of Bork, was undefeated and ranked second to Florida A&M until last weekend, when it was upset by Central Michigan 35-27. Bork passed and passed and passed, 50 times out of 74 plays. He completed 32 of them for a staggering 310 yards and two touchdowns, but Central Michigan simply scored more often.
Finally, at Tufts in Massachusetts, we have Coach Harry Arlanson, blood brother of Ohio State's Woody Hayes and the far side of Fletcher-Parseghian. "I am an enemy of confusion," says Arlanson. "We strive for simplification." Or, as Tufts' Co-Captain Don Curtis puts it: "We use the same play over and over and over, like Pavlov's dog."
Tufts, undefeated in five games this season and leader in the battle for the Lambert Cup, tried its Model T offense against Williams last Saturday, a team that had not allowed an opponent to cross its goal in seven games (one team, Springfield, had kicked a field goal).
The game, as expected, was as old-fashioned as your grandmother, a hilarious clutter of mistakes and wasted energy. Tufts, with its rugged backs, marched resolutely to the Williams 11, recovered a fumble, scored a touchdown, had the touchdown called back for offsides and was held on downs. Williams got the ball and almost immediately kicked it all the way to its own 36. Again Tufts marched, but Williams held. This time, however, Williams gambled on only one play before kicking. Tufts moved back to the eight, fumbled and the half ended.
The cavalcade of errors continued in the second half. Williams tried a field goal, but the snap from center was bad. Tufts punted, and the kick was blocked. Williams, with a chance to score, fumbled. And so it went until Tufts, at long last, managed to hold on to the ball, stay onsides and make enough yardage to score a touchdown. The big men in the drive were Fullback Ron Deveaux and Halfback Ralph Doran, who had gained 822 yards and scored 74 points in Tufts' first four games. Against Williams, Deveaux was the top gainer, picking up 147 yards, but it was Quarterback Dennis Hickey who scored the touchdown on a sneak from the one.
The touchdown was, of course, more than enough to win. Coach Arlanson was asked if he was happy. "Not completely," he said. "My nephew is a Williams student. My daughter is here with a Williams man. And my wife is visiting our son at Brown." At least that is one statement that could only have been made by a small-college coach.