Among the many targets of campus movers and shakers, the coach is unique. Everybody is gunning for him: students, faculty, administration—even his athletes. At the University of Maryland a losing football team had the coach fired. Among other things, the players accused him of physical abuse. "Don't they know what it takes to win?" the coach said. At Providence College a winning track coach got canned when he confiscated a TV set. He said he wanted the athletes to study. They said they wanted to watch TV. A small Pittsburgh college fired its basketball coach because he "did not listen to his players." A 17-year-old freshman had told him he wouldn't change from a zone to a man-to-man defense.
Spurring the athletes on are the student activists, who regard the coach as a neo-fascistic racist. A student referendum recently killed intercollegiate football at the University of California at San Diego. By 3 to 1, the student body voted to abolish the one-year-old football program. At San Francisco State the Associated Students (who administer the activity fees) allocated $15,339.19 to the Third World Liberation Front, $22,072.59 to the Black Students Union and cut the athletic department's allotment from $48,000 to $0.00. When it was pointed out that the athletic department had certain contractual obligations, it was granted $12,500.
Organizations such as Students for a Democratic Society and the BSU go after the coaches because they make instant headlines. At Oregon State, for example, Football Coach Dee Andros was a better target than James H. Jensen, the college president. Andros' offense was that he had asked Fred Milton, a black linebacker, to shave off a three-week-old beard and mustache. The athletic department's rule was no facial hair. Milton, who, it was rumored, had no intention of playing football that season anyway, refused to shave. Andros kicked him off the team.
The BSU called for a boycott of the Oregon State athletic department and was joined by other BSU chapters, as well as various SDS chapters, in demanding sanctions against Oregon State. When Oregon State's basketball team played Washington State, a Washington State Negro refused to play. The only response by Washington State Coach Marv Harshman was to say he was surprised. When Oregon State played Washington, Washington Coach Tex Winter let Guard Rafael Stone sit out the game, saying he didn't want "undue pressure" on his Negro star. When Oregon State closed out the season with two games at Oregon, all four Oregon blacks sat out.
August 24, 1969
Working more or less in concert, SDS and BSU have similarly rattled athletic departments up and down the West Coast, putting heat on coaches and athletic directors, forcing the cancellation of games, threatening and coercing uncommitted athletes.
Black athletes have their own problems (SI, The Cruel Deception, July 1, 1968 et seq.), and to these must now be added a new kind of pressure—that of militants demanding that athletes serve as symbols in the black struggle. During a boycott at San Francisco State, football player Tony Williams was told to quit or get shot. Williams quit. Another San Francisco State player carried a gun to practice for three weeks.
Many black athletes read race into almost everything a coach says or does. Often mistaking discipline for discrimination, they have compiled an inventory of incidents that reinforces their belief that a lot of coaches are racists. These blacks challenge rules whenever they are contrary to their emerging cultural pride, especially as they relate to hair, and demand retribution, or more.
Football Coach Ray Nagel of Iowa refused to allow two of his Negro players, one of whom had been arrested on a bad-check charge, to take part in spring practice. The other blacks on the team asked Nagel to apologize for things he had said about the two suspended players, which he did, but the blacks were unappeased. They said Nagel was "not sincere." Because of this and other grievances, 16 Negroes on the squad boycotted the opening of spring practice at Iowa this year.
Nagel, fed up with threats and intimidations (one morning he found two of his tires slashed), said the 16 were off the team—"self-dismissed." Four other black football players didn't boycott. Nagel's black assistant coach, Frank Gilliam, supported his decision. So did his school. But the newly formed National Union of Black Athletes has vowed to continue its "struggle against racist athletic programs," most notably Iowa's.
In many cases, however, coaches have found that the administration is reluctant to support them. "Too many administrators are weak in the face of pressure," says Basketball Coach Jack Gardner of Utah. Alabama's Bear Bryant has always contended that a coach needs an ironclad contract to protect him against his superiors—"so that the president, or whoever is in charge, can't lose his guts when the going gets tough."
The administrators themselves are on perilous ground, caught in a crossfire between conservative trustees and alumni on the one hand and radical students and faculty on the other. Administrators like to cite Stanford President Kenneth S. Pitzer's mea culpa: "I know I'm an evil. The only question is whether I am a necessary evil," and they add what a young female radical had to say about Pitzer: "We don't want to shut him up because we can make mincemeat out of him. He laughs at the wrong places. He's insecure."
Coaches are quitting at a record rate, but administrators are getting out even faster. More than 70 college presidencies are now open. In the seven years that Pete Newell was athletic director at the University of California (Berkeley), he served under five different chancellors. San Francisco State has had eight presidents in 10 years but now has one dear to a coach's heart in Dr. S. I. Hayakawa, the semanticist. "Keep smiling," Hayakawa told the cops after a recent riot, "even while you're dragging the son of a bitch away."
Finally, there is an element of the faculty that has always been hostile to athletics, doesn't accept the coach's preeminence and resents his empathy with kids and the attention he gets from the community (not to mention his high salary). However, in the past, except for isolated cases, this hostility merely simmered. It is now bubbling over.
The smart coach long ago learned to live with or ignore this particular threat. "Jealousy is bad," says USC's John McKay. "But we have to understand the faculty's feelings. Some of these men have split the atom, and all we ever split was the T." Bear Bryant insists that his salary not exceed that of department heads. He can make money in other ways (his TV program, endorsements, etc.), so why offend? McKay and Bryant don't have trouble with their faculties.
Lots of less-successful coaches do. Many of them consider faculty opposition the most insidious threat of all—and McKay agrees—because a hostile faculty faction can exert considerable influence from within and because for the first time its scorn has become fashionable. Professors openly join in when the coach is under attack, exercising what Max Ways of FORTUNE calls their "assumption of moral superiority."
To the coaches it often seems as though the faculty is simply in cahoots with the students in their disdain for traditional verities. California Football Coach Ray Willsey tells of a confrontation he had with a three-man faculty committee investigating charges made by black athletes against the athletic program. "It was frightening," he says. "Their questions showed they knew nothing about what we were trying to do, why we said things the way we did. The faculty should not judge coaches any more than coaches should judge faculties. They don't understand the relationship at all. They give a boy an F and they're done with him. A coach can't do that, he lives with his mistakes. A coach is like a father to a kid, sometimes more than a father. He has a 24-hour responsibility. Some professors can't understand it."
Another Western coach says, "The faculty has taken over. The administration has abdicated. Who do you think stirs these kids up? Outside influence? Partly. But where do they get their support? From the faculty. I'm talking about the active, vocal faculty. Hell, 70% don't even attend the faculty senate meetings. So the active minority has taken the power away from the real educators. They've always been there, waiting to get their chance. Some of them are political theorists who want to be political powers. The professor empathizes with the student rebels to establish himself as a good guy.
"You can't quote me on this because they might get after me, too, and I don't need that at my age. I'm protecting myself. They haven't been on me here, and I'm quiet, but you can bet on this: the faculty wants to take over. Two or three percent can overturn the boat while 97% sit there and don't know it's happening until they're in the water."
Football Coach Bob Devaney of Nebraska isn't afraid to be quoted. "Faculty people telling athletic people how to do their job is like a carpenter telling a barber how to cut hair," he says.
In the privacy of their offices, over breakfast in strange towns, wherever two or three coaches get together, they talk about The Problem. It is, says Jack Gardner of Utah, "on the minds and lips of everyone," and some see it more clearly than others.
At a meeting last spring between coaches and executives of the U.S. Basketball Writers Association, Steve Belko of Oregon made an impassioned plea. "You've got to help us," he said. "This is the worst thing that has ever happened." Belko had already had his troubles with the black athletes' boycott and was on record as having called his school president "gutless." Hank Iba of Oklahoma State, himself 40 years in the game, was even more forceful. "We are facing the greatest crisis in sports history," he said. "In the next eight months we could see sports virtually destroyed. Nobody seems to realize how critical this situation is."
One who realizes full well is F. Melvin Cratsley. Mel Cratsley coached basketball 21 years and then at age 50 he was told he couldn't coach anymore. He was told this by his players, who also got the word to his superior, who, in turn, fired him. Although Cratsley is not a household name in coaching, and may not be remembered past these paragraphs, he was, for 17 years, a popular coach at Carnegie Tech in Pittsburgh. In his last season there the university, which does not award athletic scholarships, had the best record in its history (16-6), beating schools that dealt out scholarships like handbills, and rival coaches marveled at Mel Cratsley's tough defenses.
Then Cratsley moved on to become athletic director and basketball coach at a new school in Pittsburgh—Point Park College—and it was there he discovered the Now Generation. Five days before the start of his third season at Point Park, Cratsley was told he was "too inflexible," that he "did not listen to his players," that he was being replaced by his assistant and to henceforth concern himself only with the administrative duties of athletic director. With Cratsley out of its way, the basketball team went on to lose 15 of its 23 games.
Here is Mel Cratsley speaking about The Problem:
"I was fired because I was too disciplined. I believe in discipline, in sacrifice, in motivation. Students today aren't interested in those things. The authority of the coach is questioned. The pendulum has swung too far the other way, allowing kids to dictate policy. If the trend continues, it will kill intercollegiate athletics.
"I saw it coming last year. The players wanted to run it one way, I wanted to do it another. I tried their way 10 years or more ago. I came up with what I thought was the best offense and defense. I use the pattern offense, and I wanted them to cross on the pivot. They wanted to stand around and shoot. I had a 17-year-old freshman challenge my order to change from a zone to a man-to-man defense. We were seven points behind with five minutes to play. He said, 'We can't do it.' He was right. They did it halfheartedly and, of course, we got beat.
"I think college administrators started it by not making decisions, by backing down. Now they're scared to make decisions. It probably originated as a black problem, but today it's not race. It's kids of all types. They have power. How can any 17-year-old kid select teachers and courses? But they want to, and they're doing it.
"I wanted my players to wear blazers, get haircuts, wear a tie, take a bath once in a while, be on time. They didn't want to do these things. I object to players telling me they want beards, long hair and all the rest, because the next thing they want to do is run the team. More important than the beard is what it represents—rebellion. If you can't tell them what to do, they don't need a coach.
"Basketball is a team game. It depends on attitude. The reason underdogs upset favorites is attitude. I am old-fashioned. I think you get attitude through the intangibles—the sacrifices you make as a team. I don't think you get it if you're out there only for the purpose of glorifying one or two individuals. At halftime they don't talk about being behind, about losing the game; they want to see the scorebook, see how many points they have. 'Well, you have more points than I do, but I got more assists.'
"Maybe you should listen to your players. Let them decide what to do by committee. But you have 15 players. Every one of them has his own ideas. The guys on the bench have ideas as to who ought to be playing. And some of these kids with ideas aren't sure if the ball is blown up or stuffed. If you've coached 20 years and you love it and it's your life's work, do you have to explain yourself 15 different times to get something done?
"I know two coaches in this district who were undermined by their administrations. One ordered a player to get a shave and a haircut. He was told, 'Don't you dare do that or he'll quit.' The coach backed down. In Cleveland a college player sat down during the playing of the national anthem."
The coach involved in this incident was Ron (Buzz) Ellis of Adelbert College. Ellis suspended the unpatriotic player at halftime, noting that there are "no rules about standing for the national anthem, but no rules about dropping a player who doesn't do it, either." The suspension became a cause cél√®bre. Ellis, supported by his other players but attacked by the school paper and found in error by an investigating committee, has given up coaching.
"It boils down to two things," continues Cratsley. "One, will the coach run it or will the kids? Two, how important are the intangibles—discipline, attitude, sacrifice—rising against the odds?
"Athletics are the last stronghold of discipline on the campus. It may be that they are in a life-or-death struggle of their own. I read somewhere—I clipped it out—that the aim of the New Left is to replace the athlete with the hippie as the idol of kids. I don't know if it can be done, but it seems society is intent on destroying Horatio Alger Jr. The oddball is getting control. The good guy is outnumbered. America seems interested only in glorifying the loser."
Ray Hanlon is another victim of changing times. Until May, he was the track coach at Providence (R.I.) College. He is the intense, unrelenting type many athletes contend has gone out of style. His rules are strict, his discipline swift. He says he wants no "social butterflies" on his squads. His teams have won many championships, but Hanlon is more proud of the runners he has had who go on running for pleasure years after they leave school, particularly the eight who, after arriving at Providence with no particular goal in mind, went on to become doctors or lawyers.
Last December, Hanlon was in a dormitory room shared by four of his athletes for the purpose of removing a refrigerator he frowned upon—when, lo and behold, he discovered a television set. Television sets and studies don't mix, said Hanlon. He said the four track men could just as well watch TV in the lounge downstairs, and he removed the temptation, with the provision that they could reclaim it if they decided they didn't want to be on the track team.
Forced to choose between the TV set and running, the four athletes chose the TV set. Hanlon suspended them. The athletes responded with what Hanlon called "a temper tantrum." He said, "I took their set away, and they jumped up and down. They wanted me to come down to their Howdy Doody mentality, rather than coming up to my level of proficiency."
Other squad members, out of sympathy with the four, began dropping off the team, until by early January there was no track team left. The spring schedule had to be canceled. A Statement of Dissatisfaction was drawn up against Hanlon and signed by all 19 team members. Alarmed, the school president, the Very Rev. William Paul Haas, appointed a five-man advisory committee to study the situation. It recommended that Hanlon be retained, but for some reason the committee was overruled. Hanlon was fired.
With precedents such as these, it is no wonder coaches have been forced to back down, to eat their words. When two black members of the Purdue track team refused to shave their mustaches, Athletic Director Red Mackey suspended them, explaining that "Purdue has had a good-grooming rule for athletes for 20 years." A third Negro, a sympathetic teammate, who had already been suspended for disciplinary reasons, passed a remark that was interpreted as a bomb threat just prior to a team flight. He was arrested. Black students marched on City Hall in Lafayette, Ind. The charges against the bomb talker were dismissed. A few days later the other two athletes were reinstated—their mustaches intact. The Purdue coaches subsequently consulted with their respective teams and new good-grooming standards were drawn up.
In matters of race, there would seem to be no ground firm enough to stand on. At the University of Toledo last winter a black basketball player named Bob Miller, the team's leading scorer, showed up for practice on a Thursday afternoon when he was supposed to be in a political science class. His coach, Bob Nichols, spotted Miller as he came on the floor. Nichols asked Miller if he didn't have a class that day. (Miller had been in academic trouble.) Yes, said Miller. Then you'd better go, said Nichols. No, said Miller and walked off the court. Nichols suspended Miller the following day "for refusal to attend regularly scheduled classes." A blow for education? A coach who cared about a kid's studies? Isn't that the picture? Not at all, said the activists. It was an "infringement on the right" of a student to skip class.
The house fell on Coach Nichols. The BSU called for his dismissal and, while it was at it, asked the same of Football Coach and Athletic Director Frank Lauterbur and (please don't smile) Sports Information Director Max Gerber. Miller filed a suit with the Ohio Civil Rights Commission charging that his suspension violated the Public Accommodations Act. The commission ruled that the act did not apply to a basketball team and denied the suit, which was then dropped.
The questions to be answered were these: Does a coach have the right to order an athlete to attend class? Does a coach have the right to suspend an athlete who is on scholarship? Can a coach discipline disobedient athletes? Negro leaders on the Toledo campus said no to all three. When Toledo played Villanova, two of Toledo's black players refused to play. They were, however, back in uniform the next night—without punishment.
The 10-man Athletic Board of Control, a faculty-administration group, backed Nichols, if only faintheartedly. It said, in essence, it was really none of the coach's business if an athlete didn't attend class. But Lauterbur, a popular man around town (Toledo's football team was considered better than Ohio State's in 1967), laid it on the line. If Nichols were not supported in this, he, Lauterbur, would resign. "A lot of kids were shocked," Lauterbur said later. "They didn't think an adult would stand up and risk his all for a principle."
Toledo President Dr. William S. Carlson, after meeting with student leaders, chose to back Coach Nichols. Miller was never reinstated. Although he had complained that the decision cost him a professional career, he was drafted by Phoenix.
As a result of having their authority challenged, coaches have become reluctant to act, to step into situations they once handled with the backs of their hands. Several Minnesota black football players participated in a protest that resulted in $5,352 worth of damage to Morrill Hall, an administration building. Coach Murray Warmath said it was a "protest against the administration" and therefore out of his jurisdiction.
Frank Arnold, the freshman basketball coach at Oregon, ordered two of his players to trim their hair. They refused. The school president said Arnold was in the wrong. Arnold, chastened, acknowledged his error and rescinded the order. At Portland State the track coach told a freshman long jumper not to come to practice until he got a haircut. The student paper blasted the coach. The coach changed his mind.
When a University of Washington freshman basketball star, Paul Tillman, a Negro, was badly mauled by a black Oregon player and a group of Washington blacks outside the gymnasium at halftime of a varsity game in Seattle last winter, no disciplinary action was taken by either coach or either school. The issue there was race—Tillman had come to the defense of a white teammate over a roughing incident during the freshman game and had challenged the Oregon player.
Not only are many coaches reluctant to act in their accustomed manner, some are reluctant even to talk about acting. "Holy mackerel," said one coach at a Midwestern school. "No, sir, you don't get me opening my yap on any of this stuff. I can see it now. The day after SPORTS ILLUSTRATED hits the stands, the SDS, the Afro-American Students Association and every other dissident group on this campus will be picketing my office. I don't think anyone in his right mind in athletics ought to do any commenting on the subject. Why don't you guys let things cool off for awhile?"
"No comment," said one prominent Southwest Conference football coach, adding, however, that almost every coach blames "outside factors," but that he himself didn't know how to solve the new problems. "Nobody does. The smartest minds in the world haven't come up with solutions. Any coach who thinks he has the answer is a damn fool."
Coaches who have not had serious difficulties hold their tongues lest they bring them on. "Man, when a boy's not giving you any trouble, you don't rattle the chain," says another Southwest Conference football coach. Others adopt a coolly detached pose. Cornell Basketball Coach Jerry Lace says, "I feel that what the student's activity might be off the basketball floor is his business, and right now I won't interfere." Lace says he thinks "the current problems will take care of themselves." He says it, he may even believe it, but he would never get Mel Cratsley or Ray Hanlon to agree.
UCLA Football Coach Tommy Prothro, 49, says that any assessment of the relations between coach and athlete has to take into consideration that "there has always been a generation gap. There was one when I was a boy, there was one when my daddy was a boy and when his daddy was a boy. But athletes have changed. You've changed. I've changed. The whole world has changed."
The raw material is not so very different. "The two big things on this campus and on every campus I've been on are sex and food," says Prothro. But the athlete's frame of reference has altered considerably. Drinking, for example, is now allowed by many coaches. (Some just look the other way.) At Virginia, a conservative school, two beers are permitted after a game. Dress is relaxed. Money is more available. Sex, too. And drugs. A boy is more aware. He can watch the war every night on the 6 o'clock news.
Scholarships are easier to come by, too. "When I played," says Athletic Director Joel Eaves of Georgia, "a kid would have cut off an ear to get an athletic scholarship—not to mention his hair. Now just about anybody who is warm and has a pulse rate can get a scholarship in some sport somewhere." And from the moment the outstanding athlete arrives on campus there is the unspoken understanding that he is majoring in professional sport. The pot is bigger than ever. He sees it waiting under the next goalpost and he aims to cash in.
Physically the college athlete is better than ever—bigger, faster, stronger—and most coaches agree that the great majority still find sport a meaningful experience, whether they become professionals or not. But being affluent, the athlete is often resistant and irreverent. Lacking discipline, he is sometimes a quitter. Lacking patience, he pushes for immediate and total independence.
The first manifestation of the change, coaches say, is the "why" in the player's vocabulary. Says Prothro: "It's no longer the autocratic society it was when I played, where a Bob Neyland or a Wallace Wade would just say, 'You do it because I say so.' Now you have to explain yourself. The logic behind it. The philosophy." To which Basketball Coach Bill Fitch of Minnesota adds: "It used to be, you tell a boy to show up for a trip with his shoes shined and he'd be up all night shining them. Now he wants to know why. He'll do it, but you have to give him a reason."
Athletes also think they have the coach's number. One black California football player began growing a natural, although the coach had a rule about long hair. As the player's hair got bushier, it became evident to him that the coach wasn't going to do anything about it. The player's hair got so bushy he had to change helmets. Eventually the biggest helmet was too small. The coach said the hair would have to be cut. The athlete said he couldn't understand why, since he could play just as well without a helmet. The coach explained that there were rules against playing without a helmet. The player said they would have to change the rules.
The starting center for the Missouri football team taxed Dan Devine's patience right up to the time the team went into training for the Gator Bowl last year. In September, the center, Con Rees, had showed up with longer hair than Devine permitted. Devine told him to get it cut. Rees did, but had it trimmed only a shade shorter than Devine stipulated. For the Gator Bowl trip, the Missouri players received new blazers and trousers to travel in and were requested to turn in their old ones. Everyone did but Rees. "I can't," he reportedly said. "I have to go to a Christmas party." In Florida, Rees came on the field with his jersey outside his pants. "Can you follow instructions for one more week?" the exasperated Devine asked him. Rees, a senior, replied, "I can—up to a point." Devine sent him home—all the way from Daytona Beach.
Quitting (or dropping out, copping out, flaking out, etc.) has become socially acceptable behavior to the new breed of college athlete. Tommy Prothro believes that most of today's college athletes will quit if they see they aren't going to make a splash or aren't going to play. Even starters have been known to quit and then talk as if they had performed a service. Edgar Lacy quit UCLA's NCAA championship basketball team 1½ years ago, claiming Coach John Wooden couldn't handle him. Lacy is black. Last year Don Saffer quit the UCLA team with a third championship in sight. He said Wooden didn't handle him properly. Saffer is white. This spring Bear Bryant lost an All-Conference middle guard, Sammy Gellerstedt. Gellerstedt told a friend that with all that studying and practicing he just wasn't having enough time of his own.
"Kids simply aren't as hungry as they used to be," Bryant says. "Paying the price doesn't mean as much because everything comes easy. Folks get more on relief today than my papa did working. You see it on the campus. No matter how poor they are, they all have cars. They don't think anything of quitting. I'm not being critical of the kids, it's the times. Other days you wouldn't know how to quit. You didn't think of quitting because you didn't have anyplace to go."
Only three pictures hang on the paneled walls of Bear Bryant's luxurious office: team pictures of the Crimson Tide's national champions—1961, 1964, 1965. Bryant brings recruits into his office and shows them the pictures. If there are any doubts of the image he wants or the goals he has, it is all right there: lean, hard, clean-cut young men, remarkable in their similarity, as if they were members of some great family who had gathered for a reunion. "If they see anything that looks like a hippie or a rebel in those pictures, they'll have to point it out to me," says Bryant.
To Bear Bryant, it boils down to this: "What do you go to a school for? Why do you pick a school if you think you're going to have to change it or break its rules as soon as you get there? I told a boy the other day—a boy I was disappointed with, the way he'd been easing around, skipping classes, missing practice—I said, 'You could have gone to any school in the country, as good as you were. But you picked Alabama. You wanted to play here. You must have thought you liked the way we did things. Hell, you're not going to change me, I'm too old.'
"You see it day to day, the pride a boy takes in himself and the things he does. The changes in him. Football doesn't mean as much to a kid today. Sacrificing doesn't mean as much."
Stripped bare, it is the willingness to quit that the coach fears most. The rationale of the dropout, such as it is, challenges the coach's raison d'√™tre. When athletic rivalries don't mean as much, when loyalty to race or a social cause is more demanding than loyalty to a school and a team, when the virtues of discipline and hard work are made to appear suspect (and a little foolish), then the coach is faced with the ultimate threat: that the game he teaches may not be relevant.
Such a conclusion may be valid, but it can never be accepted by a coach who must produce a winning team. Big-time college sport demands so much of the athlete he cannot become involved in other major activities. And for the most part coaches cannot reconcile themselves to their athletes' outside interests. They remember that in their day football was a way of life.
Nate Kirtman was a halfback for Coach John Ralston at Stanford in 1967. He seemed to have a bright future in football, but he found himself getting involved in the "social stream," "ghetto problems." Kirtman, a black, switched his studies from economics to sociology. He became a volunteer teacher of Negro high school students in the East Palo Alto slums.
In the spring of 1968 Kirtman told Coach Ralston he wouldn't be able to turn out because his "course work and obligation to the black community are more pressing." He wasn't bitter or mad at anybody. He said, "Coach Ralston and the team will decide if I play next fall."
That May, Kirtman was appointed to Stanford's Human Relations Commission, a student-faculty group that deals with allegations of discrimination. Fall came, and Kirtman was too busy to play football. He was now co-chairman of the BSU. "He's giving up a promising professional career," said Ralston, "but he feels deeply about his obligation. We had a long talk."
Ralston shrugged. He said it was "the trend" for students to concern themselves with worldly affairs and that more and more of his time as a coach was taken up by individual discussions, me-to-you straight-line stuff. "I talked with 100 boys, total concentration for more than 50 hours," Ralston said, "and that's not easy." He also said some of the things he learned were "astonishing."
Kirtman's conversion to a cause other than sport was relatively tranquil compared to that of Archie Chatman, who quit the San Fernando Valley State football team after he fractured his arm, and charged the athletic department with racism. Chatman organized the BSU at Valley and led the student revolt last year during which the then-head football coach, Sam Winningham, was held in the administration building at knife point. "We try to spread democracy," said Chatman once, addressing a rally. "What we are doing, we are spreading cancer. We are like leprous, syphilitic old men, and we are spreading our syphilis throughout the world."
Many coaches can rationalize away the Archie Chatmans and can sympathize with and sometimes even support the Nate Kirtmans. It is the sharp, talented, every-thing-going-for-him boy who suddenly veers completely away, as if to answer a call so high-pitched no one else can hear it, who really scares them. Coaches are combative people. They can cope with a situation when they know how to fight it. When there is no one to fight....
"He crossed the street to avoid meeting me," says Ray Willsey of a football player who became a flower child at the University of California. "He had gone from competitive athletics to the other extreme and he was afraid to face me. But I can't help it, I keep thinking about that boy, how it could have been my fault, too. That I might have let him down."
Two students who played football for Jim Owens at Washington are still on campus, haunting him with their presence. "Good boys," says Owens. "Intelligent, first-rate athletes. Now you see them and they're all the clichés—long dirty hair, slovenly, anti-war, anti-Establishment. It's frightening. One fellow played for me in 1968. He went so fast.
"I tried to reach these young men. I tried to appeal to their pride—and they had a lot of it at one time—but they are lost. I can fight the other problems—race, unrest, everything—but the indifference, the lack of interest. That's the real infection."
Tommy Prothro of UCLA has lost two players to drugs in the past four years. (One, a standout freshman, turned on and tuned out. He took up the guitar. He grew hair to his shoulders. He began going barefoot. He quit football. He quit school.) It is not a bad record in Los Angeles, where marijuana is available almost everywhere but Food Giant. Prothro counsels his players regularly on drugs. "I would guess," he says, "that half of them have probably tried pot. I would guess 90% of the student body probably has. They've come from total dependence to total independence. They want to be very worldly. The boys who are giving in you can spot. The long hair, not bathing, not caring."
At Oregon State, Dee Andros was appalled by the son of an Air Force colonel. "Big and strong and just first-class in every way," Andros recalls. "He was the best linebacker we ever had on the freshman team. We assumed he would be the best on the varsity next season.
"This spring, at the time of the boycott, he marched into my office and told me he wasn't coming out. I couldn't believe it. It made me sick to see what I was seeing. He was wearing sandals. No socks. His hair was down to his shoulders. He had a long beard. It was hell for me. The kid just turned my stomach.
"He said, 'I still want my scholarship.' I said, 'Isn't that stealing, son?' He said, 'I've got it coming to me.' I recruited that boy thinking he was Jack Armstrong. I was wrong. He turned out to be a freethinker."
"WILL THE COACH RUN IT OR WILL THE KIDS?"
Coach Nichols, who suspended his star when he cut a political science class to go to practice: "We cannot condone outright refusal to obey orders." Nichols kept his job.
Coach Hanlon, who confiscated a TV set because studies and TV don't mix—and the entire track team quit: "They wanted me to come down to their Howdy Doody mentality, rather than coming up to my level of proficiency." Hanlon was fired.
Coach Cratsley, who was replaced because he didn't listen to his players: "If you can't tell them what to do, they don't need a coach."
"I'M NOT CRITICAL OF THE KIDS; IT'S THE TIMES"
BRYANT: "Why do you pick a school if you think you're going to change it or break its rules as soon as you get there...? You picked Alabama. You wanted to play here. You must have thought you liked the way we did things. Hell, you're not going to change me, I'm too old."
PROTHRO: "I would guess that half of the athletes have tried pot. I would guess 90% of the student body has. They've come from total dependence to total independence. The boys who are giving in you can spot. The long hair, not bathing, not caring."
Three case studies of big-time football coaches under siege. Bob Ward, an intense disciplinarian, was fired by the University of Maryland. Dee Andros, an amiable autocrat, has survived at Oregon State. Jim Owens compromised, and neither he nor Washington football have been the same.