As college football begins a new century, it may well have said goodby forever to the fullback constantly running up the backs of his guards and tackles. It may have also bid farewell to the quick kick, field position, clawing defense—to every conservative element that once helped distinguish the game by regions and made it different from the pitch-and-catch style of the professionals. It started happening early in the 1960s, it happened in 1968 as never before and this year it should be even more so. For better or worse the collegiate game is now played the same way over the entire country. No more can one look at the Big Ten and say, there are the brutes who control the ball, or glance at the Deep South and say, there is what defense is all about, or probe the Southwest to see if the forward pass is alive and well at, for example, Baylor. Everybody throws the ball, everybody catches it and everybody runs with such alarming success that scoreboards have taken on the appearance of a light show for hippies.
This may not have been exactly what the rules makers intended when they gradually resurrected free substitution and then last season added more plays per game by stopping the clock after every first down, but this is what they got. Last season produced so much offense that even the pros looked stodgy. The average number of points scored in a game leaped to 42.4, the average total offense per game jumped to 657 yards, the average passing yardage climbed to 315.4 and the number of total-offense plays reached a peak of 150.1.
What the collegiate sport has come to can be highlighted by reviewing the scores of a few of last season's games: Indiana 40, Baylor 36; Air Force 58, Colorado 35; Virginia 63, Tulane 47; Ohio 60, Cincinnati 48; Rice 35, Washington 35; Wake Forest 48, North Carolina 31; Abilene Christian 50, Howard Payne 49; and Houston 100, Tulsa 6.
There were many, many more absurdities, of course, as just about every team had somebody trying to be a passer and as a record 16 ballcarriers, led by O. J. Simpson, gained more than 1,000 yards. The paranoia that beset coaches who thought they taught good defense was best exemplified by Arkansas' Frank Broyles. His team led Chuck Hixson and SMU into the fourth quarter by 35 points but barely held on to win 35-29. And Broyles explained, "We shouldn't have gone for a first down at mid-field instead of punting. A 35-point lead just isn't safe anymore."
Completing more passes for more yards than any nonsenior ever, Hixson—only a sophomore—provided some indication of the future. Fourteen of the top 25 passers from 1968 return this year, and 10 of those are juniors. At the same time, a lot of top runners may have departed, but many splendid ones are back. Foremost is Oklahoma's Steve Owens who needs only 1,045 yards—one can use "only" for such a figure now, it seems—to become the alltime major-college career rusher. Other excellent ones are Arizona State's Art Malone, Penn State's Charlie Pittman, Texas' Steve Worster and New Mexico State's Ron (Po) James, and there will naturally be a whole new cast of runners whose names will glitter by midseason.
With conservatism a thing of the past, defensive geniuses like Woody Hayes, Bear Bryant and Darrell Royal have learned to split at least one receiver out wide and hope a quarterback will drift the ball toward him. Even on a sluggish, muddy field (and there will be fewer of those with the rush to Tartan and AstroTurf) a team has become accustomed to calling a minimum of 20 passing plays per game. As Texas' Royal says, "We didn't use to mind giving up the football because we trusted our defense. Now we aren't so eager to give up the ball to anybody—anywhere."
In an effort to try to keep the ball with a strong ground game, Royal developed a formation last year—the Wishbone T—that will be the vogue in 1969. Basically, it is a straight T formation utilizing the triple-option play of the quarterback, but a receiver is split wide and the fullback is moved a step closer to the line of scrimmage.
Nearly everyone else this season will have a Wishbone T of some kind, just as everybody went to the I formation of USC's John McKay a few years back. Whether it works, however, will depend on the option finesse of the quarterback, the running and blocking prowess of the fullback and the team's ability to run and pass with equal talent.
The qualifications for a winner are becoming more complex. A good drop-back passer who can do nothing else or a sprint-out quarterback who can't drop back or the player who has to make up his mind whether he is going to keep or pitch before a play unfolds—all of these types—are losers. The winning quarterbacks, those who can take their teams to championships and not just to statistics, are those who can do it all: a Rex Kern at Ohio State (see cover), a James Street at Texas or a Bill Montgomery at Arkansas, to cite three good examples from a year ago.
But more than just this, the team that finds itself in the Top 20 will have good runners and receivers—and kickers as well, especially placekickers, since five times as many field goals were scored a year ago (566) as were booted 10 seasons previous.
One of the intriguing things about the current style of play will be to see what coaches do about it defensively. So far, every trend of offense has been met and eventually stymied. But never has so much heat been concentrated against defense. Never has there been so much offense with so many rules on its side as well. The first thing coaches undoubtedly will do is shift some of their better athletes to the defensive team, as Woody Hayes did last year with his great sophomore, Jack Tatum. This will help some, but it will not be the total cure.
A retreat back to the days of one-platoon football might be the one way coaches could be rescued from what can be called the modern disease of scoring.
But, alas, it is only those suffering coaches who yearn for a retreat. Nearly 30 million fans will see the college game in 1969. Such a multitude, plus all of those touchdowns, does not seem like a bad way to begin a new century.
1 OHIO STATE
There is only one thing Mr. Wayne Woodrow Hayes of Ohio State has more of than All-America football players—and that is superstitions. Silly things. Like the hot chocolate, sugar cookie, apple snack each player gets Friday nights before games. And the orange juice and dry toast appetizer at the Saturday morning pregame meals. And the team movie on Friday nights—action, nothing else. Once a brave soul suggested Belle de Jour; they saw The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. Last year the team was also shown Coogan's Bluff, The Dirty Dozen and Bullitt, which ends with Steve McQueen blowing his adversary through pane glass doors in the San Francisco International Airport. Says one player with a smile: "Woody thinks movies like that get us psyched up."
Whether the diet or the movies or a combination of the two had anything to do with transforming last year's Bucks from a group of unknown sophomores into the best team in the country is debatable. There is no debate, however, on the contribution Hayes made. "He put it all together," says Fullback Jim Otis. "All we did was carry it out." And there is even less debate on who will keep this year's edition from becoming a No. 1 bunch of prima donnas. "Woody's the guy," says Split End Bruce Jankowski. "If he sees you getting a big head, he won't ask questions. He'll just kick you in the tail and sit you down."
Still, it would take an epidemic of swelled heads to keep Ohio State from repeating as the year's top team. The Buckeyes have 18 of 22 starters back from last year's undefeated national champions. Statistically they are just as frightening: returning are 273 of 323 points, 2,982 of 3,022 rushing yards, 1,359 of 1,384 passing yards and 100 of 104 pass completions. And behind it all is Hayes. "Football is like a battle," he explains. "And that's where General Patton was so great. He'd look at what he had and say, 'Here's what we can do and here's what we can't do. Let's not even try what we can't do. And let's not worry about what they can't do. Let's just concentrate on our strengths.' "
Woody can concentrate wherever he pleases—his Buckeyes are one conglomerate, incorporated strength. The chairman of the board is Quarterback Rex Kern (King Rex or King Kern—your choice), the baby-faced redhead who as a sophomore last year walked in and look over. Those close to Ohio State say Hayes' respect for Kern is so great he has already given Kern more freedom than any quarterback since Dave Leggett in 1954. And there is no doubt Kern is the first Buckeye quarterback since Tom Matte with the temerity to scramble on a busted play—risking, of course, even greater loss. Kern's only weakness is his health. Last year he was hurt in eight of 10 games, and this winter he had an operation on his left shoulder, after popping it out during an intramural basketball game. But even this causes Hayes less than normal worry, for backing up Kern are supersub Ron Maciejowski and sophomore Don Lamka, who guided the first team to a 68-0 win in the spring game.
It is, literally, behind Kern where the competition becomes a bit fierce. At fullback there is a battle between two-year veteran Jim Otis, who could make a first down against the Chicago Police Department, and John Brockington, who is a little faster and who, in spring practice, played a little ahead of Otis. Yet, when someone asked Otis about the prospect of not starting, he snapped back, "They'll have to kill me to keep me out of the starting lineup." At running back there is Leo Hayden, a speedster who is getting fierce competition from Dave Brungard, the No. 1 sub who wants to be just plain old No. 1. Wingback belongs to Larry Zelina, the most versatile performer on the team (he was No. 3 rusher, No. 2 pass receiver, he can punt and placekick and he returns kicks), as long as he is healthy. Always threatening him is Ray Gillian, who replaced the injured Zelina in the Rose Bowl and gained 83 yards total offense and caught four passes, one for a touchdown.
With both the split end, Bruce Jankowski, and the tight end, Jan White, returning, the prospects excite even the normally plaintive Hayes. "We scored 30 touchdowns last year with our power offense, the old button-shoe offense," he says. "But we'll change. If you have the backs, you use them to put the pressure on." Then he becomes Hayes the general. "You know the most effective kind of warfare is siege. You have to attack on broad fronts. And that's all the option is—attacking on a broad front. You know General Sherman ran an option right through the South."
The only question is whether the line can provide the help Sherman had. Gone are two All-Americas, Dave Foley and Rufus Mayes, yet Tackle Coach Hugh Hindman blithely says he's "very pleased," thank you. Taking Foley's place will be Dave Cheney, the team's most improved player last spring. Mayes' spot will go to 245-pound Chuck Hutchison, the swingman for the past two years. Brian Donovan, who started at guard in the Rose Bowl, will move to center, while Alan Jack and Tom Backhus, both starters last year, return at guard.
Where Kern is the personality of the offense, Ohio State's defense is characterized by John Tatum, the quiet roverback and the man whom Hayes has called "the best athlete on my team." Tatum plays the wide side on the Buckeyes' mirror defense, where one set of four (safety, defensive half, linebacker and end) will always handle the open side and another set the closed side of the field. Myopic, his face an expressionless mask, Tatum often seems bored to the point of disinterest, yet he's the Bucks' top head-hunter. After his handling of Purdue's Leroy Keyes last season, he received a rare double: Associated Press voted him Back of the Week, while United Press voted him Lineman of the Week. Said Assistant Coach Lou Holtz shortly before he took over the head job at William and Mary: "He's the greatest athlete I've ever coached. If he's not an All-America, there never was one."
Complementing Tatum on the wide side is Dave Whitfield, a superb end and the defensive captain; Doug Adams, the team's best linebacker; and Ted Provost, a tall, bird-legged halfback. "Our whole defense is time oriented," says Hayes. "If we ever run into a back that does the 100 in five seconds flat, we're in trouble."
More likely is the danger of complacency, though Hayes fairly bristles at the thought. "Well," someone will ask, "what's to keep them from getting lazy?"
"Me. I'm a mean coach," Hayes barks.
"Then I guess it's not true you're getting soft?"
"Soft?" Hayes raises his voice a boom or two. "I'll be damned if I'm getting soft. I'm not going to let them get slipshod. I don't know if they like me for it. And I don't care what they call me, so long as I can't hear it. And so long as it isn't that I'm a nice old man."
Waller Creek meanders across the Texas campus, gurgling quietly and trickling peacefully. It is a tranquil, lazy, picturesque scene until football practice begins. Then players come barreling out of Memorial Stadium, clatter over some improvised steps across the water and up the embankment to Freshman Field for a whoop-and-holler workout that pierces the silence along the creek and its pecan-and-cottonwood-lined banks.
Towering above the scene is Coach Darrell Royal, who after mounting the circular orange staircase of his portable viewing stand can inspect his troops. Royal is not one to rave about his prospects, but what he saw as he gazed down this fall made him smile frequently.
Oh, his defense will be minus All-America Tackle Loyd Wainscott, signal-caller Corby Robertson and Bill Bradley, the erstwhile quarterback who wound up a top punter and defensive back. Royal's offense will have to make do without Chris Gilbert, the only college back ever to gain 1,000 yards three years in a row.
But shed no Texas-size tears for Royal. He has enough talent to fill Waller Creek. In all, Royal will have back 35 of 48 lettermen. Among the best are two tackles, Leo Brooks on defense and Bob McKay on offense, Tom Campbell, a linebacker turned defensive halfback who was the star of the last Cotton Bowl game, Quarterback James Street, Fullback Steve Worster, Halfback Ted Koy, Flanker Cotton Speyrer and Tight End Deryl Comer. As for ground-gainers, there are plenty to man the triple-option Wishbone T, one of the latest and most potent offenses around. Scoreboard operators were kept busy toting up the 379 points it mass-produced last season.
"It's really little bits of many different offenses," Royal says as he talks about the Wishbone. "Coaches are the biggest copycats in the world, and the offense is spreading, and spreading fast. Maybe if we'd zip our lips...," whereupon, in mid-thought, Royal zipped his lips.
The Wishbone offense works for Texas because of runners like Worster and Koy, a pair of 210-pounders. Worster, who gets those difficult up-the-middle yards, scored 13 times as a sophomore and gained 806 yards at five yards a try. Evidence of Worsteds value to the team is best supplied by Royal himself. Last spring coaches all over the country were calling to ask Darrell about the Wishbone T, and one of the most constant was Duffy Daugherty at Michigan State. One day on long distance Royal told his friend Daugherty, "Duffy, you don't want my offense. You want my fullback, and he's got two more years with me."
Adds Royal on Worster: "He plays his position better than anybody we've ever had except Tommy Nobis. He's the kind of kid who just goes out and causes wrecks, straightens his headgear and walks back to the huddle quietly."
Koy is another integral part of an offense that amassed 447.6 yards a game, having averaged 5-plus yards per carry. Both Worster and Koy are also expert blockers and will help clear the path for whoever takes over for Gilbert. Top candidates for that spot are Billy Dale, a junior, and Jim Bertelsen, a sophomore. Bertelsen, who already has the gift of knowing how to use his blockers, gained 685 yards, the most yardage gained by a freshman in Royal's 12 years in Austin.
Big Ten coaches ogled Bertelsen, who comes from Hudson, Wis., but Royal got busy when he learned that Jim wanted to attend a "warm-weather school." Royal made a rare out-of-state recruiting trip and just happened to wind up in, well, Hudson, Wis. Despite his own persuasive powers, Royal feared he might not get Bertelsen, who visited Austin on what turned out to be the coldest day of winter and on the day when food poisoning hit the dining hall. Bertelsen, however, shook off the chilly reception and signed on.
Getting Worster, another high school whiz, was a project that came up a year earlier and proved far less frustrating. "Most people think we must have wined and dined him," recalls Assistant Coach Fred Akers. "All it took to get him was two hamburgers. That's the kind of kid he is."
Two other vital cogs in the offense are Speyrer and Street. Speyrer, who caught 26 passes for 449 yards, has speed, can fake left and go right and this year will further torment foes by running back punts and kickoffs.
After a loss and a tie at the start of last season Royal at last admitted he could not win with Bradley at quarterback, so he turned to Street. Zingo, the Longhorns won nine straight, including a stunning 36-13 rout of Tennessee in the Cotton Bowl. Street is also a first-rate pitcher on the Texas baseball team and over the past two years has had a 21-6 record.
"He is," Royal adds, "a pleasant extrovert. He's wound tight, though. Sometimes I'll come up behind him and touch him and he'll jump."
Street is unpredictable in other ways. Take last New Year's Eve when the Tennessee and Texas teams attended a pre-Cotton Bowl luncheon at which two footballs were to be given as door prizes. When Volunteer Quarterback Bubba Wyche drew the first winning ticket and saw that the recipient was only 10 feet away, he lobbed the ball to him. Then came Street's turn. He picked a ticket and, not to be outdone even though the second winner was halfway across the huge ballroom, he threw a pass that swept dishes and glasses off three tables and missed his target by two tables. On the field the next day, though, Street was considerably more accurate, hitting his receivers for 200 yards and two touchdowns.
Street gives the Wishbone and its triple option its Go Power, for he not only passes well (50%), but is one of the niftiest running quarterbacks anywhere and, if need be, can wait until the last instant to pitch back.
Although he can be confident that his Longhorns will disturb the tranquillity on many fronts this fall, Royal refuses to do any early shouting. "Last year we got better and better each week until at the end we were as good as we've ever been. We can't start out that good this time—not as good as we ended up. There is," he points out, "a Southwest saying that, 'There ain't a hoss that can't be rode and there ain't a man who can't be throwed.' " Nevertheless, throwing Texas this year is going to be difficult.
3 PENN STATE
Joe Paterno, by his own admission, is a cornball. Last year he was voted coach of the year, an honor that did not impress him, and shortly after he was offered a job as head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers at $50,000 a year, plus all sorts of little attachments assuring his future financial security. He turned down the offer, saying that he preferred life in the Nittany Valley, where he could pile his wife and kids into the family car on a Sunday afternoon, drive into the country and talk to the cows. Of course Paterno is a deceptively sharp man and he knows that talking to cows is better than watching the Pittsburgh Steelers and that by staying with Penn State he has a very good chance of repeating last year's 10-0 record, of this time finishing No. 1 in the polls and of winding up as coach of the year again. Some cornball.
"Someday when we're 3 and 7, I'll remind people how glad they said they were when I decided to stay," he says with a grin. Grinning is easy when you're 10-0. But, even if he were 3-7, Paterno would probably still grin and tell people: "I didn't play that boy because he's Italian. I played him because I'm Italian."
Paterno has the longest nonlosing streak in the country among major colleges, a 19-game string that includes two of the most improbable bowl game finishes. First there was the 17-0 lead he blew in the Gator Bowl two years ago when he came up with a 17-17 tie. Then there was last January's 15-14 last-second win in the Orange Bowl against Kansas and its 12-man team.
This year the string undoubtedly will be extended because State has the softest schedule of any top-ranked club, as well as most of last year's team back again. This includes Chuck Burkhart, the quarterback, who often appears to do nothing right except win.
"I wish somebody would give him credit," Paterno says of Burkhart, who has never lost in high school or college. "When he came off the field in the Orange Bowl after the first quarter—in which he had bounced one pass on the ground, had thrown two interceptions and had looked bad all-round—I asked him if he was all right. 'Sure,' he tells me. 'Why do you ask?' That's the kind of self-assurance he has."
Burkhart will try to improve on last year's 87 completions and 49% accuracy, but it won't be easy. Gone to the pros is Tight End Ted Kwalick, his leading receiver. Greg Edmonds, though, may turn out to be a strong split end and pass catcher.
Halfback Charlie Pittman is back and will try to break some more of Lenny Moore's school records. Last year he erased one by scoring 14 touchdowns. Pittman is a Baltimore boy who insists upon wearing the No. 24 that Moore wore while with the Colts. He is an elusive runner in the Moore tradition. Trying to replace Pittman's talented sidekick, Bob Campbell, will be hard-running Gary Deuel and Lydell Mitchell, a sophomore. At fullback will be Don Abbey or newcomer Franco Harris.
Warren Koegel and Charlie Zapiec are two rocks around which the offensive line is built. The others are generally small for linemen and, if Penn State can be said to have a weakness, the tackle and tight end positions are it.
Defensively, State gets rougher: nine starters return from a crew that limited opponents to 106 points and also helped get 145 of the Nittany Lions' 339 points by recovering 18 fumbles and intercepting 25 passes. Neal Smith, who picked off eight passes, is a hard-to-beat safety. For linebackers there are Jack Ham and Dennis Onkotz, an All-America last season. Onkotz has the ability to be where the action is, largely because he creates the action. There is no better set of tackles than Steve Smear and Mike Reid. Smear speaks of the defensive unit with a sort of primitive passion. "Three years we've played together and never a voice has been raised in anger. It's no fake. We work together. The Celtics, the Packers—it all boiled down to team pride, and this is what Coach Paterno has tried to instill in us. He says, 'Would you like to go to war with the guy next to you?' I know what he means."
Reid, a budding concert pianist, also speaks with emotion about football—and music. "When I'm disgusted or disappointed, I turn to the piano. Quite a few great composers expressed deep sadness in music. Beethoven suffered, and it comes out in his music. I don't mean to sound melodramatic, but when I got word that I had to undergo a second knee operation [in 1967], I turned to the piano. It gave me much comfort."
With talent that ranges from piano movers to piano players, Penn State will not be easy to beat. So what can keep Paterno from adding to his nonlosing streak? "Over-confidence," he answers. "My job is to motivate them. I have to remind them that if they won't work hard they'll look back in later years and regret it. And we have a chance to claim our third Lambert Trophy in a row, something no team has done, except for Army during the war years." Anybody care to contest the claim?
The John McKay Decade Medallion, with a smiling image of the coach embossed on one side, has the comforting heft of a silver dollar, but what is really comforting to USC supporters is to flip the coin (causing McKay to fall, uncharacteristically, flat on his face) and look at his nine-year record spelled out in raised letters: coach of the year (1962), five Pacific Eight titles, two national championships, two Heisman Trophy winners, four Rose Bowl teams, eleven All-Americas. This medallion is part of a little merchandising scheme cooked up by the Trojan athletic department whereby a fan can be a Varsity Correspondent for $10, a Statistician for $7.50 or a Spotter for $5 (no box tops, please) and get all sorts of goodies, from color photos to a USC Sports Desk Calendar and Doodlepad.
Of course, selling tickets to football games is still the main business, and during McKay's reign the Trojans have been eminently marketable. This last year of his decade should be no different, despite the loss of O.J. and Quarterback Steve Sogge, who set school passing records on the few downs he did not hand off to Simpson. The 1969 USC drawing cards are Jimmy Jones, a black quarterback, and Bob Chandler, an outstanding flanker.
Jones is a sophomore from Harrisburg, Pa., who was ardently recruited. McKay, who rarely visits a prospect's home, even in California, showed up personally to sign him. Everyone agreed he was a fine runner, but some coaches thought his arm was good only for passing the salt. Jones demolished that notion in the USC spring game when he hardly ran at all and, in a little more than a half, completed 19 of 32 passes for 392 yards and five touchdowns.
"We're either going to be an excellent passing team," said McKay, "or we've got the worst defensive backs in history."
Chandler caught 15 passes in that spring game for 315 yards and five TDs. When he wasn't faking the defensive backs into the Pacific Ocean he was winning midair wrestling matches for the ball or making contortionist catches. He is only one of the best group of receivers USC has ever had (with Gary Orcutt, Sam Dickerson and Terry DeKraai, plus Tight End Gerry Mullins). "Bobby had an exceptional day even for an exceptional player," said McKay.
With a double-threat quarterback and lots of good targets, USC will go back to its 1962-style attack—roll-outs and run-pass-lateral option plays, which make the opposition's defensive coach feel like he's trying to hold off the Normandy Invasion. There will be more razzmatazz, perhaps more scoring and certainly more chance for foul-ups. However, Jones won't have to do all the ball-carrying. There will be a lively fight for O.J.'s vacated tailback spot among Bob Giorgetti, Mike Berry and Clarence Davis, who made the interesting transition from L.A. city shotput champion in high school to sprinter in junior college. All three might be on the bench if JC hotshot Lou Harris is as good as his reputation.
The blockers up front are good, too. The starting offensive guards, Steve Lehmer and Fred Khasigian, will be back, although both missed spring practice, and cither of the tackles, senior Sid Smith or soph John Vella, could make All-America. Vella, who is 6'4", is agile enough to play tight end or middle guard if needed. "He's what ya calls a hoss," says McKay. "He's tremendous."
The defensive line has some interesting additions, one of whom, 267-pound Tody Smith, is the younger brother of Michigan State behemoth Bubba Smith. The other important newcomer is Charlie Weaver, a defensive end who catches fleet halfbacks from behind. Weaver and all-conference Jimmy Gunn give the Trojans an exceptionally fast pair of defensive ends to protect the flanks of Interior Linemen Tony Terry, Bubba Scott, Gary McArthur and O.J.'s boyhood pal from San Francisco, Al Cowlings, all of whom weigh about 240 or so. If any linebackers are needed behind all that front-line beef, the Trojans have a number of them, including returning starter Bob Jensen.
All this talent confirms what frustrated recruiters up and down the Pacific Coast have been saying for a long time, that USC gets the cream in California, where the quality of high school football matches Texas, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Many of the best players at USC are black, but even though—or maybe because—the school is private, expensive and notably conservative, there has been no racial trouble. The only black member of the coaching staff, Willie Brown, recruits and works with whites as well as Negroes.
USC has a chance to be the first team in history to appear in the Rose Bowl four straight years, but despite the talent there are some problems to solve. The defensive backfield was leaky in the spring game, partly because McKay split up his first-string defense. Help should come from three sprinters who were busy with the track team at the time. There is also the possibility that sophomore Jones, with the additional pressures that face a black quarterback, is not yet ready to run the team. Jones was dazzling on the frosh, and perhaps he fooled everyone, including the pro scouts, in the spring game. If he doesn't make it, which is doubtful, USC has JC transfer Jim Fassel, a good passer and ball handler, and drop-back passer Mike Holmgren.
The schedule is tough, especially the biennial ordeal of playing Notre Dame at South Bend, where the Trojans have won only once since 1939. There are trips to Oregon State and Washington, and the one conference team USC does not play is probably the weakest, Oregon. The opener will be at Nebraska, and interest in the Trojans is so high in Los Angeles that there will be closed-circuit telecasts of the game in the Shrine Auditorium for students and in the Sports Arena for all those Varsity Correspondents.
Despite his success, McKay has not become bored with the job. His personal medallion is encased in plastic on his desk so he can't fondle it or shine it on his sleeve, but he does have a USC Doodlepad on which he can do all sorts of creative things with Xs and Os. Very few coaches have the Xs and Os to match his.
"First time I saw him," recalls Assistant Coach Don Breaux, "I thought: 'That can't be him.' He was so small and he had on those horn-rimmed glasses. I figured this must have been some history major, not the boy who was supposed to be the great new quarterback." But it was him.
"Him" is Bill Montgomery, a bookish-looking prelaw major with a B average, and it was Breaux's job last year to instruct him in the mechanics of Coach Frank Broyles' new souped-up offense. When the season was over Montgomery had set school records by completing 134 of 234 passes for 1,595 yards and 10 touchdowns. He led the Razorbacks to a 9-1 record and a tie for the Southwest Conference title with Texas, then on to a 16-2 upset over Georgia in the Sugar Bowl.
"He's a new breed, a polished drop-back passer who can also run the option," Broyles says. "Where else do you find that kind of quarterback? Not in the pros. Pros don't count on the quarterback as a runner, but we combine a pro passing attack with a running quarterback, and Montgomery is the boy who makes it go."
He makes it go because he not only passes with precision but because he is a deceptive runner. "He's going to get better and better until he drives people crazy," says Darrell Royal of Texas.
A few years ago Montgomery was so frail that the smallest hip pads were too big for him and his jersey flapped in the breeze. Now he has fleshed out to a man-size 183 pounds. Muscle is something new for Montgomery, but poise is something he has always had, even if he himself argues the point.
"I remember my first game for Arkansas," he says. "There were 53,000 people in the stands, and when I threw my first pass it almost went out of the stadium. Two plays later I fumbled. Great start, huh?"
Last year was a critical one in many respects for Arkansas, for Broyles installed a new defense as well as a new offense and had to pray that a horde of sophomores would somehow master both. "We could never have done it if we hadn't had two excellent assistant coaches," Broyles says. "We got Richard Williamson from Alabama to work with our split receivers. Williamson helped Dennis Homan and Ray Perkins to become All-Americas at Alabama. And we got Don Breaux from Florida State to design the offense and to work with the quarterbacks." Breaux, when not busy working with Montgomery, smoothed out the intricacies of an offense that floods the field with five receivers and somehow manages to leave enough players around to form a passing pocket.
One of Williamson's prize pupils was Chuck Dicus, a sophomore split end last year. Dicus, who caught 50 passes (plus 12 in the Sugar Bowl) for 778 yards and nine touchdowns, often seemed to have suction cups on his fingertips as he hauled in pass after pass. In high school he was a quarterback and he had the distinction of beating Montgomery's team several times.
"I used to worry so much before games I'd get sick," Dicus recalls. "I'm just happy that Bill is the quarterback here because I can let him do all the worrying for me."
The running attack will be provided by Tailback Bill Burnett, the third of the Burnett brothers to play for Arkansas, and by Fullbacks Bruce Maxwell and Russ Garber. Burnett, like brother Bobby, gains vital yardage by diving over stacked-up linemen when he is not doing some dazzling out-in-the-open running. Teammates speak of Maxwell, a former Marine, with awe. "One day in practice he had three teeth knocked out," Dicus says. "But he never came off the field. Just spit out the teeth and lined up for the next play."
Maxwell, a crunching blocker, averaged five yards a carry last season. Garber, a sophomore, is described by his coaches as "a light-footed 220-pounder."
The offense will get support from sophomore Bill McClurd, a placekicker who booted a 53-yard field goal in high school, and from Cary Stockdell, a punter with a 39.9-yard average.
Broyles did away with his famed monster defense a year ago because too many foes were using increasingly versatile offenses. His new 4-3 was built by Assistant Coach Charlie Coffey, and the entire seven-man front returns intact. Among the best is Linebacker Lynn Garner, who has an unusual memento that bears tribute to his doggedness. It is a framed letter of apology from SMU Quarterback Chuck Hixson, who was clobbered so often last year by Garner that he finally decked him with a punch.
Before the start of last season Broyles had commented that his defense, filled as it was with sophomores, was "suspect." Now he laughs about it. "After the defense got 22 turnovers in our last three games," Broyles says, "one of the sophomores asked me, 'Are we still suspect?' "
The battle for the Southwest Conference title—and perhaps the national championship—will come when Arkansas tangles with Texas on Dec. 6. Broyles will rely heavily on Montgomery that day. Last June, however, he learned—painfully—that Bill is as poised as ever. Broyles and Montgomery were opponents in a golf tournament, and Bill sank a 20-foot putt on the 18th hole to beat his coach. That is real poise.
In 1964, Vince Dooley's first year at Georgia, the experts grinned, asked, "Vince who?" and wrote off the Bulldogs as just another mediocre football team. When Alabama beat Georgia 31-3 in the opener, no one—except perhaps Dooley—was surprised. But from that point Georgia won seven (including one over Texas Tech in the Sun Bowl), tied one and lost only twice. Vince Who was voted SEC Coach of the Year and found five more years added to his contract. The 1964 season also earned Georgia a raise in the 1965 preseason polls, which the Bulldogs scuttled by losing four. That set the pattern.
"Ever since I've been here," said Dooley, with some grimness, "we've either been one year ahead or one year behind the polls." He is somewhat grim because this is an odd year, meaning the experts again will be predicting bright happenings for the kids from Athens. Now Dooley loves bright happenings for his kids; he just doesn't like people forecasting them.
In 1966, all but ignored, Georgia won nine, tied for the SEC championship, beat SMU in the Cotton Bowl and finished fourth in both wire-service polls.
"And then everybody picked us first or second the following year," said Dooley. "One magazine said if we lost a game it would be an upset. Well, there were three upsets."
Last year the Bulldogs were once more firmly entrenched among the predicted also-rans. So Georgia went unbeaten, with two ties, winning the SEC championship. "And now," says Dooley, sadly, "I guess people will be picking us high again. There's no way we can be as good as we were last year."
Dooley's gloomy observations are not, however, shared by rivals. Said one SEC team assistant: "There's nobody in our league who can stay with Georgia. I'll tell you why, but you had better not use my name. It's very simple: Georgia has the best players and the best coaching combination. How do you beat that?"
There is a third factor: the Bulldogs' humiliating Sugar Bowl loss to Arkansas just when the 1968 team was being touted as the school's best of all time. "We have to set some things straight," said All-America end candidate Dennis Hughes. "This team had no business getting beat, and I don't like to get beat."
Georgia's fans, too, have been known to get up tight when the team loses. There was a period just before Dooley when they turned out 1) to cheer the band, and 2) to boo the team. But that is past. Now they are piling in from Athens, of course, and the other big cities within a 100-mile radius of the campus—Atlanta, Macon and Augusta—and buying season tickets at a record rate in happy anticipation of seeing things set straight.
At last count the sale was nearing the 25,000 mark, which is about as many season tickets as can be offered for a 59,000-seat stadium. At least they think it's a 59,000-seat stadium. That's the figure set for a capacity crowd. But no one in Athens is really sure. There are no turnstiles, and to date no one has bothered to count ticket stubs after a game. Instead, they have Joel Eaves, athletic director and crowd guesser.
It is halftime, Georgia leading, of course, and a newspaperman wanders up, pencil and pad at the ready. "I wonder," he wonders, "how many we got today?"
Eaves glances around, studying the crowd, taking in the 200 or so (for free) lining the railroad trestle to the east, taking in the 1,000 or so (for $2) lining the bridge between the two campuses to the west. "I would say," he says, "there are 58,132." And that's the way it goes in the book.
But when it comes to counting quarterbacks, Dooley prefers a more exact tally. This year he counted and got four, not one of whom would embarrass any school. The best may be Mike Cavan, a starter as a sophomore last season and rated by many as the best quarterback in the conference. But he injured a knee in the Sugar Bowl and had a dismal spring, mostly because he had grown fat.
"Sure I was overweight in the spring," said Cavan, who does not suffer from modesty. "But spring practice doesn't really count. When it's time to play, I'll be down to weight and I'll be the quarterback."
Then there is Donnie Hampton, a senior who throws and runs well and makes few mistakes; Paul Gilbert, an excellent passer and runner who was scheduled as last year's No. 1 quarterback until injured; and Jack Montgomery, a sophomore sensation of spring practice. Georgia, it is said in Athens, can lose its first three quarterbacks and still have an All-America contender.
The rest of the backfield is only slightly less complicated. Brad Johnson is gone as fullback, but Dooley had planned on replacing him with Bruce Kemp, a big, bruising breakaway power runner. Then up stepped Julian Smiley in the spring. A 205-pound sophomore, Smiley has been described as a white Jimmy Brown.
The receivers are Flanker Charles Whittemore, who led the team in receptions last year; Dennis Hughes, the wide end known as Superman; and Billy Brice, the tight end. Georgia claims it hasn't had a receiver like Whittemore since Jimmy Orr.
There is inexperience in the secondary, but Georgia's overall defense should be as tough as ever. It's Dooley's trademark.
But, Dooley still argues, "We are overrated again. If we go undefeated and win another SEC championship, I'll retire. If I can do that with all the weaknesses we have, it won't be any use for me to hang around and try and top that feat."
For a man who is the self-proclaimed superfan of the Missouri Tigers, the events of last year's Christmas holidays were unsettling. A business crisis in one of his two Kansas City steak houses, both called the Cock and Bull, forced Peter J. Carter to miss his team's 35-10 victory over Alabama in the Gator Bowl. "When it reaches the point where one of my restaurants is interfering with Missouri football," he said, "then that restaurant has to go." So Carter, true to his word, put the steak house up for sale.
Carter plans to let nothing prevent him from attending Missouri's games this fall. This is the year he has longed for since 1945, when the Tigers won their last unclouded conference championship. (They also won in 1960, when Kansas was declared ineligible.) "I have no doubts," Carter says. "In my estimation we will win the conference. Missouri has more material than ever. All Coach Devine has to do is fit the pieces together, and nobody can do that better than Dan."
Enthusiasm for the Tigers isn't restricted to the team's premier supporter. Because no other major university or college in Missouri plays football, the Tigers are the hometown boys of the entire state. Start at Columbia, the site of the university, and go to the cotton lands of southeast Missouri or northeast to Mark Twain country around Hannibal or to the Ozark Mountains and lakes in the southwest. The people there will tell you about the Alabama game and, largely because of it, they'll echo Carter's prediction.
Even Dan Devine, the intense, introverted coach who has given his state 11 consecutive winning seasons and four bowl game victories, bubbles with joy at the mention of the Gator Bowl. "If you had compared our football facilities with Alabama's," he says, "you wouldn't think we had a right to be on the same field. Their athletic dorm has everything. We don't even have an athletic dorm. Why, Bear Bryant's private bathroom is bigger than my whole office."
The star of the Gator Bowl victory, Quarterback Terry McMillan, is back. His three touchdown runs earned him the bowl's most valuable player award. To McMillan, who is at least as interested in representing the Campus Crusade for Christ as he is in scoring touchdowns, his performance was surprising. He had been a substitute at a Coral Gables high school and, when Florida recruiters came buzzing, Terry was ignored. McMillan is only an adequate passer, but he is superb at running option sweeps. And when he isn't keeping it himself, he will have a difficult time deciding which one of Missouri's herd of runners should get the football.
After Missouri beat Army last year, Coach Tom Cahill shook his head and said, "They have so much depth in the backfield that most teams would be happy to start their third-stringers." The most versatile of the lot is Arthur Ashe's first cousin, Jon Staggers. While Ashe practiced tennis on a court between their houses in Richmond, Staggers was playing football. As a junior he led the Tigers in receptions and kickoff returns and was second in rushing. This year, he will also run back punts. Fullback Ron McBride is a two-year letterman whose most important contribution is as a strong, reliable blocker.
Waiting on the sideline, and confirming Cahill's cause for envy, is James Harrison, who is huge and fast. He played four positions for his high school in San Antonio—fullback, both defensive tackles and defensive end. Of the 85 schools that recruited him, he chose Missouri because, "The cloud-of-dust running game here is my kind of football."
Should McMillan and his backs ever find the dust choking them, Split End Mel Gray is capable of providing six quick points and a breather. He is the Big Eight's 100- and 220-yard champion and also happens to be the fastest man in the history of Missouri football.
The key to Dan Devine's string of winning seasons over the years has been his defensive units, and last year's was one of his best. But the defense suffered from graduations, and it may give Devine and Peter J. Carter many an anxious moment.
Missouri coaches are quick to point out that the front line uses a read-and-react style of play that can only be learned under game conditions. Missouri's schedule provides them with time enough to learn—the first three games are against nonconference teams. In the meantime, veteran Tackles Rocky Wallace and Mark Kuhlman should keep the opposition in check.
The rest of the defense had better be experts at the system by November, when the Tigers face Oklahoma and Kansas for the Big Eight championship. There are some conference coaches, notably Kansas' Pepper Rodgers, who believe that Devine has a tendency to choke in the big games, and the absence of an undisputed Big Eight title during his years there would appear to give substance to that theory.
But Peter J. Carter will have none of it. If the Tigers make it to another bowl, he'll be there to watch it, even if he has to sell his other restaurant.
8 NOTRE DAME
Notre Dame has added something new to its attack this year—girls. "The concept of the all-male institution is outdated," explained Father Hesburgh a few years ago, and with that the girls of St. Mary's were bused across South Bend's Dixie Way North to share classrooms with the boys. It was perhaps inevitable that this change would eventually affect the football program and, sure enough, this spring an announcement was made calling for girl cheerleaders. More than 100 St. Mary's students answered the call. When Ara Parseghian was told that young ladies would be dancing along the sidelines offering encouragement to the Fighting Irish, he reacted with a frown. "I didn't realize we would have them," the coach said, "but we won't have time to watch them anyway." Speak for yourself, Ara.
Parseghian's sense of urgency is understandable. On Sept. 27, when most other coaches are still trying to find out whether their linemen can block and their quarterbacks can throw, Parseghian has to face Purdue. "The most difficult problem about coaching at Notre Dame is losing early," Parseghian says, remembering last fall's 37-22 loss to the Boilermakers. Purdue scored 20 points in one 3½-minute explosion during the second quarter and, with the season just underway, Notre Dame's chances for a national championship had already vanished. "If you're the coach of a conference team, you can lose early and still go to a bowl with a 7-3 record. But we're a major independent. We have no conference to win and no bowls to look forward to [because of school policy]. Our position in the polls and, ultimately, the national championship—these are our objectives."
At the conclusion of the final spring practice, girl friends and parents were politely ushered off the field. Parseghian gathered his team around and told them that if Notre Dame loses to Purdue again it won't be because the team is poorly conditioned. He listed five events, among them the mile run and the 100-yard dash, and then read off the times individuals would be expected to run them. "As soon as you get here for practice this fall you'd better be able to qualify. If you don't you'll be running them over and over again until you do."
Notre Dame football will be different this year and not just because of the girls or the Marine-type conditioning program. John Ray, the assistant coach responsible for the Irish defense and, therefore, much of the team's success, has left to become head coach at Kentucky after five years of willingly residing in Ara's shadow. Gone, too, are many headline names. Goodby Terry Hanratty. Farewell Jim Seymour. So long George Kunz, Bob Gladieux, Coley O'Brien and Ron Dushney. Parseghian will have to replace his entire backfield, pray his quarterback won't be injured and then run most of his plays through the left side of the line.
Notre Dame's backs have never been known for their speed. ("There must be a skinny Italian kid somewhere who is a devout Catholic and also happens to run the hundred in 9.3," says Assistant Coach Tom Pagna.) Parseghian's ballcarriers have been large and powerful, and this year's replacements—Fullback Jeff Zimmerman and the halfbacks, Ed Ziegler and Andy Huff—are not exceptions. Huff is the team's most talented sophomore, and Zimmerman and Ziegler have had little game experience, but all three can run.
The man who will hand them the ball is Joe Theismann, who became the Irish quarterback last season when Hanratty suffered a knee injury with three games remaining. He performed well, leading the team to an unaccustomed role of spoiler as Notre Dame tied USC 21-21. Theismann is a good runner and he is also able to throw, but he may not do much of it this year. Notre Dame is so short of receivers that the starting split end is a converted bowlegged punter named Joe deArrieta. What about tight end? "I'm thinking of running an ad in the paper," answers End Coach Jerry Wampfler.
Signal-calling should be easy for Theismann—something along the line of take the ball and run quickly to the left. There the holes will be opened by Guard Larry DiNardo and Tackle Jim Reilly, the only remaining members of last year's excellent interior line.
Even without a strong passing attack, and with the talent and experience bunched along one side of the line, the Irish should do all right, for the schedule grants them laughers in seven of their 10 games. As for the others, against those three nemeses, Purdue, Michigan State and Southern Cal, the offense will need all the help it can get from the defense. Luckily for Parseghian, the help is considerable.
John Ray has left Assistant Coach George Kelly with a strong nucleus from the only defensive unit to successfully contain O. J. Simpson—55 yards in 21 carries. Kelly doesn't have Ray's booming voice—during one practice he asked his front four to get down on one knee so they could hear him—but he does have eight years of producing stingy defenses at Nebraska. He will be pleased with Mike McCoy, who is back at tackle, all 270 pounds of him, and with Bob Olson, Tim Kelly and Larry Schumaker. Two sophomores, Safety Clarence Ellis and Halfback Ed Gulyas, compensate for the lack of experience in the deep secondary with their speed. They will be seeing a lot of each other this fall because, as the fastest men on the team, they'll also be returning the punts.
Notre Dame without a passing attack may be tough for enthusiastic Irish alumni to swallow, and this year they may have to cheer the defense. And if the defense fails, they can always stand up and cheer for the cheerleaders.
The practice of rustling is still very much alive in the great Southwest these days, as football recruiters from Oklahoma continue to run beefy linemen and pony backs across the Texas state line and into Norman. Texas Coach Darrell Royal will visit some homegrown phenom and think he has him all tied down when all of a sudden, before you can say Joe Don Looney, he's gone to Oklahoma.
This fall the Sooners welcome back 12 starters, five of them from south of the border. In addition, as many as a dozen of the 30 Texans that Coach Chuck Fairbanks and his staff have recently talked into going to Oklahoma could crack the starting lineup. Of these the best is sophomore Quarterback Jack Mildren.
Mildren, you may remember (SI Sept. 9, 1968), is the blue-chip boy from Abilene, who a year ago told reporters he thought he might have a chance to both start as a sophomore and win a national championship at OU before he was done. Last year, while amusing himself on a sparkling freshman team that took Tulsa 77-7 and outscored four opponents 194-66, Mildren looked like he was worth all the coaxing by making good on 49 of 79 passes for 876 yards. He also averaged 5.5 yards running the option and could scarcely have been better.
"As to whether I'll be an All-America," Mildren likes to say when he's asked, which is about every hour, "I haven't even won the starting job yet." That is technically true. Mickey Ripley, who as a junior tossed a pair of scoring passes in the Bluebonnet Bowl in relief of an injured Bobby Warmack, is back again and anxious to lay claim to the quarterback job.
Regardless of who the Sooner quarterback is, he'll be giving the ball to a Heisman Trophy candidate much of the time. Tailback Steve Owens may well be the most effective rusher in the country now that O. J. Simpson and Leroy Keyes are gone. He didn't make any All-America teams and was somehow quiet about gaining 1,536 yards and scoring 21 touchdowns. But Owens is within reach of Eugene (Mercury) Morris' one-year-old NCAA career rushing mark and he could become the highest scorer in college history. Fullback Mike Harper, used chiefly as a blocker in the I formation, nevertheless averaged five yards a crack. Wingback Roy Bell, one of the many sophomores Fairbanks is counting on to help improve the Sooners' 7-3 finish of last year, is a dangerous deep receiver, but his lofty frosh rushing average suggests he'll share the split backfield alignment with Owens in Oklahoma's new pro set.
Center Ken Mendenhall, the team's most capable one-on-one blocker, and Owens have established a mutual admiration society. "Owens is so great at cutting back and sliding along the line to find openings," Mendenhall says. "He runs so low that most tacklers glance off him. I don't know how he keeps going like he does. You see how tired he is after every play, but he gets so excited after he's made a gain he comes back to the huddle and congratulates everybody." Owens returns the compliment to Mendenhall. "He's always got the way cleared for you. He's fantastic coming off the ball with a man in front of him. I'm not blessed with great open speed, but our linemen use sort of scramble-style blocking to drive their men off the line. Then it's my job to cut to wherever there's room." The remainder of the offensive line looks solid with sometime Defensive End Steve Zabel returning to his natural spot at tight end.
Zabel's absence isn't expected to cripple the defense, although he is given a large measure of credit for Oklahoma winning its last five games. The defensive line is a mixture of new and old, but it's all big. If two young Texans, Albert Quails and John Gorman, have difficulty at the ends, Oklahoma's new containment 4-4-3 defense should lend a helping hand. Fairbanks has a covey of able linebackers to fill the four slots, and his secondary looks so good that Joe Pearce, who intercepted two passes and blocked a kick in the Bluebonnet Bowl, may not get his job back. Pearce and another defensive halfback, Bruce Stensrud, are being pressed hard by sophomore Glenn King, who as an offensive back scored 64 touchdowns in high school. At safety is Monte Johnson, a predecessor of Mildren who went to Texas for a year before transferring to Oklahoma.
As an indication of the relative strength of the Big Eight, Oklahoma ranks near the bottom of the conference in returning lettermen, with 27. The Sooners will have a chance to adjust themselves in their first two games against ailing Wisconsin and Pittsburgh, before meeting rugged Texas. The game is played annually in Dallas, and this year a national television audience will be treated to what promises to be a brutal battle.
Jack Mildren, who said he's had "quite a few word battles over the summer with high school teammates who attend Texas," returned to school in midsummer in order to take part in a football clinic for Oklahoma's Little League football players. The clinic is sponsored by former Sooner Ron Shotts and it drew more than 400 boys in its first year. "There are a lot of guys from the team now coaching the younger fellows," Mildren said, "and some of those who have graduated are working with the 12- to 15-year-olds. The boys are really fun to work with and they get a lot of enjoyment out of learning football and having us sign autographs after sessions. We all wear T shirts with our name and varsity number on them, but I don't think many of the boys even know who I am."
They shouldn't have too much longer to find out.
On the second floor of the University of Alabama's new $4-million all-purpose arena are the offices of the athletic department. The publicity staff has little bitty offices, the basketball coaches have nice medium-sized offices and the football coaches—well, suffice it to say that those dudes have some elbow room. Right in the middle is the biggest office of them all, the Papa Bear's den, the place where Paul (Bear) Bryant sips Cokes from his private cooler, sometimes fools around with the putter leaning up against the paneled wall and, mainly, shapes the future of the Crimson Tide football team.
The office has all the comforts of home, including a TV set, thick carpeting and soft chairs, but what is really impressive is its state of readiness, like a general's war room or Mission Control. An intricate telephone apparatus rests within easy reach on the expansive desk. Green chalkboards are built into the paneling, all the better to make all those Xs and Os. Down the hall are two projection rooms, one for offense, one for defense. There, Bryant's players, relaxing in theater seats and air conditioning, can watch movies and be told what they did right or wrong.
The Crimson Tide did enough things wrong last season to lose—gasp—two regular-season games (to Mississippi and Tennessee). That was calamity enough, but then came that stunning 35-10 loss to Missouri in the Gator Bowl, the worst bowl loss any Bryant team has ever suffered. Whatever the Bear felt about that disaster at the time, this fall he is inclined to regard it philosophically, making some Bear watchers wonder if, at 56, the old boy is going soft.
"A bowl game is not a real true test like a regular-season game," Bryant says, the words rolling out slowly and evenly in that marvelous deep Southern tone, a voice that moves more Alabamans than Billy Graham. "There's a lot of guesswork from a preparation standpoint. I said this, too, when we enjoyed a good holiday season. The psychological buildup has a lot to do with it—it's helped us sometimes, hurt us sometimes."
Psychology. Bear Bryant is nothing if he is not a psychologist, and already this season's team is being aroused with homilies like these:
"We're still small. If you're small and have average speed, too, you'd better be a little hos-tile, and we haven't been too hos-tile yet by any means.
"Unless we have mighty good mamas and papas, we're going to have a disastrous year. Our defense is real inexperienced and, frankly, real weak. If we're not stronger on the field than on the blackboard, we're in trouble, bad trouble."
Alabama could have a hard go of it, as Bryant sadly suggests, but then again the Crimson Tide could be very good indeed. The schedule does not appear much stronger, or weaker, than usual, with Louisiana State the only dangerous away game. Alabama's three toughest games—Mississippi, Tennessee and Auburn—will be played in Birmingham, the Crimson Tide's second home.
The team may not be big by anyone else's standards, but—with a couple of 220-pound tackles around—it is bigger than the usual Alabama team. As always, Alabama will be quick and mean, and perhaps the meanest player of all will be a sophomore back who may give the Tide the running game it lacked last season.
His name is Johnny Musso, and Bryant himself says flat out that, "Musso at this stage is the best sophomore back I ever had with the exception of John Crow." That is a mouthful all right because John David Crow of Texas A&M was some player, his feet pounding over all the football teams in Texas. In Alabama's spring game Musso was the leading ground-gainer with 131 yards in 33 carries, including two touchdown smashes from inside the 10. "I wish I had more like him at the other positions," says Bryant, almost wistfully. "He can do everything—block, run, receive—and he can play defense without any practice."
It would seem that Bryant would be almost as gleeful over his passing game, what with last year's record-setting combination. Quarterback Scott Hunter and Split End George Ranager, back in Tuscaloosa. Hunter broke or tied seven passing records last season and already stands behind only Steve Sloan and Harry Gilmer—and ahead of Joe Namath—in career total offense at Alabama. Yet Bryant, who has handled a few quarterbacks of note in his time, frowns a little when he talks about Hunter.
"He's a great passer, but that's just part of it," says Bryant. "He couldn't get it over the goal line consistently last year. We'll have to just wait and see. You just can't go out and throw and expect to win." Then, ominously, he adds: "We have some depth at quarterback this season."
Senior Guard Alvin Samples, who Bryant says "has been a solid citizen for two years," should become "a great lineman," the team's offensive anchor. But the defense, with 11 lettermen gone, is a little suspect, with the exception of senior Safety Tommy Wade. "He has what it takes," says Bryant. "He'll play anywhere and he'll really hitcha."
One afternoon before practice, The Bear was sitting in his office, dragging on a Coke, mourning the low, low state of Alabama football. "My recruiting hasn't been what it should be," he said. "We haven't got as many players as we should have. I hope we have more next year." He paused. "A year ago I thought we'd have a terrific football team, but some people I thought would be great aren't even here and some who are here aren't great. No, I don't think we belong in the Top 20, and you know what? If I were the president of this school and Alabama wasn't in the Top 20, I'd fire the coach."
The Katzenjammer Kids are back for their third and final show, a bit older, sure, perhaps even a bit wiser, but certainly no less rambunctious. You remember them! They were the Cardiac Kids in 1967, when they won about eight million games in the last two minutes, tied for the Big Ten title and went to the Rose Bowl—all in one fun-filled melodramatic episode. And then last season, starting the same way, winning their opener against Baylor when Quarterback Harry Gonso scored with 18 seconds remaining. It seemed just like old times, and after the game there was the wisecracking Gonso, listening as a reporter asked, "Who called that last play, Harry, you or Coach Pont?" then answering, just loudly enough for Pont to feel the needle, "Why Coach Pont, of course. Don't you know? He's coach of the year."
The rest of the season wasn't quite as funny, as Indiana's bag of miracles emptied fast. The team lost once by three points and once by five—story endings unheard of the year before. Yet Pont, forever an optimist, ended the season with a promise. "Save your money," he told everyone in Bloomington. "Indiana is going back to Pasadena next year."
Next year is here, and nothing has changed Pont's mind. "We have no basic problems that are going to give me restless nights," he says. "The only thing we worry about are injuries to key people." The most important key is Gonso, the brash and cocky quarterback who is the hub of the option-power-sweep series that is Indiana's offense. Local sportswriters have gotten to calling Gonso "The Franchise," and even Pont will admit that "we always tell our line to keep him clean. I'm afraid if we lost Harry...." Pont's voice then trails off like a man having a bad dream.
Not that Gonso would ever think of causing his coach a sleepless night. Muses Halfback John Isenbarger: "Harry? Hell, he's cocky as they come. He'll just get out there and win by intimidating the other team." Gonso laughs. "I don't care how many times I'm hit. Or how hard I'm hit. I can't be scared." Such derring-do has netted Gonso a few minor concussions, which he has always managed to hide from the coaches, and enough floating bone chips and torn tendons in his right ankle to get him a deferment from the service. It also has made him, in only two seasons, Indiana's alltime total offense leader—which must impress Woody Hayes, who once rejected Gonso as too small for his Buckeyes. ("Aren't you happy you didn't go to Ohio State?" someone once asked Gonso. "You'd be playing behind Rex Kern." Gonso snapped back: "I think Kern would make a good halfback.")
Gonso, of course, wasn't alone in creating the miracles that transformed Indiana into something more than the Big Ten's ugly duckling. There was also Isenbarger, the team's leading rusher the past two seasons, and Jade Butcher, a superb flanker and Gonso's favorite target. "With those boys," Pont says, "even though time is short and we may be behind, I think we have an advantage."
While Gonso is the most cocky on the field, it is Butcher—Psychedelic Jade—who is the zaniest off. A good pro prospect, he wants, naturally, to play in New York and, even more naturally, with the Jets and Joe Namath. He is already modeled in their image. As a lifeguard in Bloomington last summer, he let his hair grow down his neck—and then, for want of better things to do, he bleached it blond. He is also big on striped bells, flowered shirts, imported shoes.
Isenbarger, who gained nearly 700 yards in 1968, though missing four games because of a tender knee, should be back as strong as ever. The trouble, as always, will be getting him interested when the game promises little challenge. "John needs to be inspired," says a teammate. "He tends to get lazy if he doesn't feel threatened."
The rest of the offense, if not as heart-stopping, is at least sound. Hank Pogue, the fullback, is in Pont's words "the most underrated player on the team." Split End Eric Stolberg, though not as flashy as Butcher, proved himself good enough last year to keep defenses from concentrating on one side. The interior of the line, strong last year, should be even better. Center Steve Applegate starts his third year; the guards, Don DeSalle and E. G. White, are both veterans, with DeSalle one of the best in the country. Chris Morris, a starter at guard last year, will move to tackle, replacing John Andrews, who has switched to tight end.
Offense, though, has never been a worry; it is defense where Indiana should—and must—show the biggest improvement. While running up a 6-4 record last year, it gave up 262 points, winning some 40-36 and 38-34 games, yet losing 38-35 and 38-20. Such generosity was too much even for Gonso & Co. to overcome. "When I first came to Indiana," Pont explains, "things were so low that I kept putting my best players on offense, figuring even if we lost, at least we'd score. Now that the offense is set, I can put some of the top boys on defense. I think we've finally evened up the two."
The defense, like the offense, will gamble. "If we say, 'Come at us,' " Pont says, "we'll be blown out. We'll gamble."
So even defense will be exciting at Indiana, where the Hoosiers, if nothing else, promise fun football. Certainly they are going to be the most individualistic—Pont, as the saying goes, gives everyone his own head. "I don't believe in the automation of man," he says. None of his players are robots, and the fun they have should only increase as they mow down opponents. And the people of Bloomington should get a chance to spend all that money they saved at John Pont's behest—on another trip to the Rose Bowl.
Gone are Leroy Keyes, Mr. Everything, and Perry Williams, the fullback, and Chuck Kyle, the All-America middle guard, and three other all-conference players, yet up pop all these optimists at Purdue saying how the 1969 team may end up being better than last year's. Oh, Jack Mollenkopf, the coach, will hem and haw and scrape his feet, kicking around some imaginary stones, but finally he'll admit, "We just might prove to be a little more explosive this year." And then he adds, "I'd like to go to California again before I quit coaching." Since he will be 64 in November, there will not be many more chances.
If indeed the Boilermakers end up better than last year's team (8-2), it will most certainly have more to do with intangibles—more specifically, attitude—than unsuspected strength. Even Mollenkopf will concede that "there was something you could feel that wasn't right last year."
Tim Foley, the team's best defensive halfback, is more specific. "I think we may have depended on Leroy too much," he says. "I mean if we ever were in trouble we'd always figure he could get us out. Now we'll be more rounded, and the other teams won't know where we're going to hit them. And maybe everyone on the team will try a little harder because, well, they feel a little bit more important to the whole."
And Mike Phipps, the senior quarterback, says much the same. "It's hard to say whether we had a good team, as far as being a team goes. I hope we have more leadership this year. If a superstar is one who just comes up with a big play every so often, I'd rather not have him. I just want a guy who will do his job consistently, a guy the other players know is out there giving his best."
Such a player is Phipps himself. As a sophomore his total offense was more than 2,000 yards; last year, though he missed three games because of an ankle injury, he managed to throw for more than 1,000. Big and strong, he will not only have to stay healthy for Purdue to succeed, but also throw as he did last year, along with filling the void left by runners Keyes and Williams. "We'd be wasting Mike if we didn't use him," says Mollenkopf.
Without Keyes and Williams, there will be less consistency to the Boilermaker attack. It will be a peak-and-valley offense, gambling for the quick score rather than settling for a sustained drive. There will be little of the 22 Toss, which had become the Purdue trademark during the Reign of Keyes—instead, the attack will center on Phipps and the option. He will go after the corners, first with a pass, then the option itself, with running his primary choice. There will be more inside slants and certainly more drop-back passing. "We should really have more diversity this year," Phipps claims. "We had it last year, but it seemed whenever we got into a game we'd always go back to what we did best." He will be Purdue's best this year and he realizes the danger that may present. "Yes," he says, "I know the pressure's on me now. I just want the team to respect me. I'd like to be a Bart Starr-type leader."
Purdue would be better if there were a few Bart Starr-type helpers around as well. Backing up Phipps will be a pair of promising juniors, though both have little experience. The setback will be John Bullock, recruited from Newport News, Va., the home town of Keyes. He is regarded there as an even better prospect than Leroy was, but Bullock himself realizes the futility of trying to follow in Keyes' footsteps. "No one can fill his shoes," Bullock says. "I'll just do my job." The Z-back, or splitback, will be Stan Brown, a sprinter who, if he can stay in one piece (he's only 5'11", 170 pounds) will be a consistent breakaway threat. Split End Ashley Bell is just a sophomore, and the tight end, junior Greg Fenner, played only briefly last year, so Phipps has not worked much with his receivers.
Experience is even thinner on the line, where tackle Paul DeNuccio will be the only returning regular. The other tackle will be a giant junior, 275-pound Donnie Green, switched over from defense. Tim Huxhold and Paul Baker will be the inexperienced guards, and Walter Whitehead, after earning letters for two years as a reserve, will start at center.
But, while the Boilermakers cross their fingers and hope they can find enough help for Phipps offensively, they absolutely gloat about their defense. And well they might, for returning are eight starters from a unit that gave up the fewest points in Big Ten competition. It had the unnerving habit, however, of letting opponents get close before shutting the door. This year, without a Keyes to bail out the offense, the defense will have to kick the habit.
The veteran line, in the tradition of all Purdue lines, is big, led by the monstrous Alex Davis at 280. But the heart of the team—and a strong one at that—is the linebackers and the halfbacks. Taking Kyle's place at middle guard will be Bob Brumby, who has played little, but Veno Paraskevas is an experienced outside backer. Paraskevas, who gives cheerleaders more problems than rain (try Par-ask'-e-vas), was the most pleasant surprise on the team last season.
The defensive backfield is exceptional. Randy Cooper, who can also swing to offense if needed, plays one corner, with Tim Foley at the other. Don Webster and Richard Mahurt are both experienced halfbacks.
Two tough nonconference games are early on Purdue's schedule—against Notre Dame and Stanford—and should give an indication of the chance Mollenkopf has for a surprise trip to the Rose Bowl. But even if the Boilermakers don't make it to California, they certainly will prove themselves to be more than the poor orphans of Leroy Keyes.
In Oxford, Miss., where the time is always 1860 and the Old South is alive but napping, there are only a few surefire, foolproof, guaranteed-or-your-money-back ways to be a celebrity. One is to have known William Faulkner. Another is to date one of the Miss Americas that traipse their little ol' way off the University of Mississippi campus at regular intervals. And, most preferred of all, is to play quarterback for the Ole Miss Rebels.
Behind every great Ole Miss football team there has been a great quarterback. Eagle Day. Glynn Griffing. Jake Gibbs. The names roll off the tongue like pure honey, all the fine quarterbacks who have worked their magic under Coach Johnny Vaught the last 22 years. But lately, alas, quarterbacks at Ole Miss have been worth about as much as Confederate money. Like the Old South itself, they have gone with the wind, or with Alabama or Notre Dame or somebody. Then, last year, along came Elisha Archie Manning III.
Archie Manning. The name does not have that marvelous Southern ring, like Joe Willie Smith or Billy Joe McAllister or even Eagle Day. But make no mistake. Archie Manning, keen of eye and strong of limb, is a "good ol' Southern boy," as they like to say in Oxford, coming from tiny Drew, Miss. (pop. 1,700), where he had one of those classic all-round sports careers that Clair Bee used to write fiction about. And now, in his junior season, all the Yankee pretenders to the national title, the Penn States and the Ohio States and all the rest, should consider themselves warned; Archie Manning is ready to put on his No. 18 jersey and, with a bow to the Misses America, pass and run and lead Ole Miss back to its rightful place of high standing in the weekly polls.
"Anyone on our schedule can beat us," says Vaught, who like most coaches begins to get nervous when the future is discussed, "but then we can beat anyone, too. Basically, what's at issue is the essential progress of a good many of our juniors, plus having adequate depth at every position." After a disappointing spring practice Vaught was more nervous than ever. "We should be better than last year," he mused, "but a championship contender...?"
Well, to get on more solid footing, what did Vaught think about Archie Manning? "He was the best sophomore quarterback I ever coached," said Vaught, "and he had a real fine spring." (The baseball coach agreed after Archie, making like a 6'3" Maury Wills, stole 16 bases.)
Indeed, none of Mississippi's great quarterbacks ever had a better sophomore season than Manning, whose all-round play was largely responsible for Mississippi's respectable 7-3-1 record, including a comeback victory over Virginia Tech in the Liberty Bowl. Although he ran for five touchdowns, and even caught a pass, what Archie did best was throw. His passing statistics (263 thrown, 127 caught, 1,510 yards, eight touchdowns) enabled him to place second behind Mississippi State's Tommy Pharr in Southeastern Conference total offense (1,718 yards). Even more impressive, Archie played most of the season with injuries ranging from a hurt groin (against Kentucky) to a sprained thumb (Georgia) to a cracked rib (Houston). After the latter injury, his most serious of the season, Archie came back with his most stirring performance, completing 24 of 40 passes for 345 yards to befuddle LSU. Somebody named him national back of the week for that one, and everybody knew for sure that this Manning kid was more than just another pretty face.
Of course, there are reasons other than Archie to like Ole Miss. One is Vaught, whose teams have won six SEC championships and have gone to 16 bowls. Another is depth. Ole Miss has 42 lettermen hanging around this fall, with at least one, and sometimes four, at every offensive and defensive position. The junior class accounts for 28 of these lettermen, including Manning, and nobody in the SEC, not even the reticent Vaught himself, is naive enough to believe that last year's sophomores will make as many mistakes, or be crippled with as many injuries, now that they are juniors. As early as last May, Ole Miss was named No. 1 in the SEC by The Birmingham News, an honor that Vaught would rather have not received. "It's something to work for," he said, "but it also puts us on the spot. Now a lot more people will be pointing for us."
Giving Manning a lot of support on offense will be Guard Skip Jernigan, who blocks, and Fullback Bo Bowen, who blocks and runs. A junior, Leon Felts, is a strong runner at tailback. And it should come as no surprise, considering that Ole Miss has enough depth to afford a placekick-holding specialist, that five players are all ranked more or less equal at the position of wide receiver.
There is no reason to doubt the defense, either. Safety Glenn Cannon is regarded as an All-America prospect, and Claude Herard and Buz Morrow, each 6'3" and 230 pounds, provide a couple of immovable objects in the interior of the line. Nor is anyone going to turn the corners often, with Hap Farber and Dennis Coleman stationed there. And, as one Ole Miss fan proudly put it, "We ah well-endowed with linebackahs and middle gahds, too."
The schedule is rugged—four opponents in the Top 20. There are only two, maybe three, teams that can be figured as lightweights, and there are two humps that could be murder. On the first two weekends in October, Ole Miss plays Alabama and Georgia back to back, the first game being at Birmingham and the second at Mississippi's home away from home in Jackson. Then, after Southern Mississippi, come successive games against Houston in the Astrodome and LSU in Jackson. Even after this, Ole Miss is not out of trouble, still having to face Tennessee on Nov. 15 in Jackson. The danger is obvious, but folks in Oxford would rather look at the schedule another way: as the perfect showcase for Archie Manning to tell the world that the Ole Miss Rebels are back in business at the same old stand and meaner than ever.
It has been six years since Tennessee sent word to Doug Dickey in Arkansas, urging him to pack his whistle and his clipboard and journey to Knoxville, where football had fallen on hard times. In the two previous seasons the Vols had lost 11 of 16 SEC games, and thank God and Davy Crockett for the likes of Tulane and Vanderbilt. Dickey arrived, surveyed the wreckage and announced the junk would have to go—such as the Vols' traditional single wing offense. There wasn't anything wrong with the offense; it was just that Tennessee couldn't recruit any talent to make it go. High school players, looking ahead to a pro career, knew there wasn't much of a future for a player with nothing but single wing credentials. The ones that did come weren't going anyplace else anyway.
"At least," said the Tennessee traditionalists, watching bitterly as their beloved single wing hit the junk pile, "Dickey hasn't come out and condemned the Southern Baptist Church." That first season, 1964, the Vols won just four games. "Ha," said the diehards. "Ha," said Dickey right back, "now we are ready to win," once again breaking from tradition. "You have to rate the first five teams in the SEC ahead of us. But we are no worse than a solid dark horse. Wait and see."
The dark horse won eight (including a victory over Tulsa in the Bluebonnet Bowl), had two ties and lost only one, and happy times had come to Knoxville once more. This year should be no exception, although the schedule is a killer, the quarterback is inexperienced and it will take no small miracle for the Vols to go unbeaten. Georgia and Mississippi are rated one-two (or two-one, depending upon the poll) in the SEC's preseason selections, and the Vols must face them—as well as Alabama and improving Kentucky—away from the comforts of their own artificial turf. (Doug's Rug, the artificial turf, turned black during the summer and had to be repainted green. "No, no, not paint," exclaimed a representative of the manufacturer, who was embarrassed. "It's not paint, it's a, ah, green solution.") In any event, paint or solution, the whole thing will be replaced, free, next year. "As far as playing, it's just as good as ever," said a Tennessee assistant. "It's just that it's the ugliest football field I've ever seen."
There is pressure all around, but most of it is on the shoulders of Bobby Scott, a 6'1" junior quarterback, long on potential but short on game experience. Last season he completed 26 of 55 passes for 322 yards and four touchdowns. These are impressive statistics but ones that must be discounted, for he seldom played until after a game had been decided.
Like most teams Tennessee is going to the triple option. "At first in the spring Scott didn't handle it too well," says Dickey. "But in the last five practices, we began to see signs that he was mastering it. We made a few adjustments in what we were asking him to do and we finally settled for the things that he does best. Then he began to look good."
He had better, because, as Dickey admits, there isn't much behind him. Dennis Chadwick, a sophomore, is the No. 2 quarterback and he is finding that he has much to learn.
"If we go against Alabama this year with our quarterback hurt," Dickey says, with the hope that he won't, "we won't have a Bubba Wyche to step in and do the job."
Scott will be working with three excellent and experienced receivers: Tight End Ken DeLong, Split End Gary Kreis and Wingback Lester McClain. With them the Vols can expect to be strong through the air. But behind them the talent is thin, and again Dickey is worried about injuries.
"It's the same in the defensive secondary and with the linebackers," he said. "The players we'll start are good ones. Our linebackers are excellent. But if we have to go to the bench we may find ourselves in serious trouble."
Defensively, the team is solid and experienced. Linebackers Steve Kiner and Jack Reynolds are as good as any in the country, and Manley Mixon is just a shade behind them.
For tackles, Dickey has Steve Carroll and Frank Yanossy, and they are better than most coaches can hope for. Bill Young was the second-best safety in the conference last season, and with the departure of Georgia's Jake Scott, who was No. 1, there is no reason to think that now he isn't the best. Last year he intercepted nine passes, and no one yet has been able to find a better way to stop an offense.
Scott's job at quarterback will be easier, not only because he has receivers like DeLong and Kreis and McClain, but because he can hand the ball off to people such as Don McLeary and Curt Watson, especially Watson.
McLeary, a junior, has the edge in experience at fullback, but Watson is a crunching sophomore who can move his 210 pounds across 40 yards in 4.7 seconds. Tackling him is like trying to tackle a fast elephant. In the spring game he gained 193 yards in 31 carries, leaving the Tennessee staff snickering at being picked to finish sixth in the SEC. Already fans are tabbing him the finest runner to wear Vol orange since World War II. "I don't know," says Dickey, with the usual coach's caution, "we had a running back in Richard Pickens, who averaged more than five yards per carry for three years and made all-conference. If Watson does better than that, he'll really be something."
After the spring game Dude Hennessey, an Alabama scout, offered Dickey a trade: "our coliseum for Watson." Carroll Huntress, who was looking at the Vols for Kentucky, jumped in with a bid of his own. "How about Watson for one of Majestic Prince's first offspring?" he said.
Dickey laughed. "No deals. I'm just glad the kid is going to be on our side for the next three years."
Up front offensively the Vols have a powerful crew headed by Chip Kell, a junior who is fast and strong. He was all-SEC as a center last year but has been moved to guard. Another good one is Don Denbo, an SEC all-sophomore guard.
With an inexperienced quarterback and that crushing schedule, Doug Dickey doesn't figure to make anyone forget the Tennessee teams of, say, the 1926-through-1932 era. But the Vols should win enough to quiet the last diehard who longs for the single wing. And in Tennessee that's still a tremendous accomplishment.
How ya gonna keep 'em down on The Farm? Apparently Stanford Coach John Ralston doesn't even try. One of his best selling points with high school football prospects is Stanford's overseas program—60% of the student body enjoys two quarters on one of the university's five foreign campuses. Perhaps it is not what old Leland Stanford had in mind when he founded The Farm, but there it is, a first-class travel agency with course credits. Except as a recruiting device, however, the program does not enchant the football staff. Last spring, when the Indians were supposed to be getting in serious preparatory work for a Rose Bowl run, Split End Jack Lasater was in England, Defensive Back Rich Keller was in France, backup Defensive Tackle Vern Gant was in Italy and seven other varsity candidates were studying somewhere in Europe.
"Our overseas curriculum is marvelous," says Ralston, without a gulp. "If I were a kid I'd try for it."
Maybe he can afford to be magnanimous because Quarterback Jim Plunkett stayed at home, and this imposing junior from San Jose, who can heave a football 80 yards and who led the Pacific Eight in total offense and passing as a soph, seems to be in the mold of such great Palo Alto passers as Frankie Albert, Bob Garrett and John Brodie. He is being pushed hard for All-America, which should add spice to his early-October duel with Purdue's Mike Phipps.
Plunkett has not had an easy road. He was a good high school quarterback but was relegated to defensive end in California's scholastic all-star game. Surgery to remove a fatty tumor made him miss his frosh season, and then he was redshirted a year. Surprisingly, he even has a pretty good signal-calling rival, his fraternity brother Don Bunce. Don, also a junior, was voted the outstanding offensive player in the final spring game, although Jim's team narrowly won. They worked together all summer as carpenter's helpers.
"Our basic offensive strength is the pass," says Ralston. "Plunkett is as quick to release the ball as any man in the country, and he throws a harder ball than Bunce. He is now a seasoned veteran and we think his presence will create many defensive problems for our opponents."
The vital thing, of course, is for the Indians to bombard Cal in the Big Game, but USC rates second on the hate list. There are more than 100,000 Stanford alumni in Southern California, and they have fumed as the Trojans knocked off Stanford 11 years in a row. Last year the score was 27-24 (Kicker Steve Horowitz missed on three field-goal attempts), and before the Indians came out of their deep gloom they had lost two more games and had been tied by weak Washington State. If Plunkett can inspire a victory over USC, he'll get a niche next to Ernie Nevers in the Stanford Pantheon.
Plunkett has plenty of good receivers. Lasater, the tourist, averaged 24.8 yards a catch last year before he suffered a shoulder separation. Tight End Bob Moore, who turned down a big baseball bonus out of high school in Klamath Falls, Ore., is a fine blocker and was the second-leading receiver last year. Split End Jim Cross missed last season because of a near-fatal auto accident but was one of the league's best the year before. Rick Tipton, a cocky high hurdler from New Mexico, and stubby JC transfer Randy Vataha, deft and speedy, add depth.
Should Plunkett and Bunce choose to hand off the ball once in a while, just for variety, it will likely be to Isaiah (Bubba) Brown, a hefty breakaway threat who actually had a better yards-per-carry average last year than O. J. Simpson. Howie Williams, now at fullback, was the team's leading ground-gainer.
The offensive line is solid, too, anchored by Center John Sande, Tackle Pete Seymour and Guard Bob Reinhard, son of Cal's All-America lineman of the same name. Their work was so efficient last season that Stanford quarterbacks were caught behind the line of scrimmage only 13 times.
What worries Ralston and his staff is the defensive line, which they call the Down Four. Graduation wiped out last year's group, and there is some danger that Stanford will present a rushing defense made of wet tissue paper. Sophomore Pete Lazetich from Montana could fill one spot capably, but the rest seems to be patchwork. Linebacker Dennis Moore and second-team Fullback Jack Schultz have been switched to defensive end.
What might save the situation are the linebackers, principally senior Don Parish, who led the team in tackles last year and made first-team all-conference and honorable-mention All-America. Don was a fullback in high school and a defensive end as a freshman and sophomore on The Farm.
"He's one of the finest football athletes Stanford's ever had," said an assistant coach. "He made the transition last year to linebacker beautifully." (Ralston adds, "The strength of our defense is Parish. He has no equal at linebacker across the country.")
Pat Preston, the other linebacker, is very good, and behind them is an experienced defensive backfield led by Dick Oliver, a sure-tackling Texan who already had spent his two quarters in England and thus made it to spring practice.
Stanford has long been noted as a passing team, but the Indians should have even more of a pro look this year. Ex-49er Head Coack Jack Christiansen is on Ralston's staff, and during the spring five active players from the pro ranks, John Brodie among them, came back to tutor. "They gave the kind of tips that do not come in mass practice," said Ralston. "It is impossible to measure what this might mean in the stress of an important game, but we believe that if we are successful this season, those young pros deserve a lot of the credit."
In 1966 the NCAA sprung the trap on Houston, charging that the Cougars had a) excessively entertained prospective athletes, b) engaged in improper out-of-season practice and c) committed a whole bunch of other no-no's; and, suddenly, Coach Bill Yeoman and his Cougars found themselves in that murky never-never land called probation. Sure, Houston could still play football—but not on television and certainly not in a bowl game. Many a coach would have sat crimson-faced in his office, fearing for his job. Not Yeoman. He went out and produced a scoring machine that has been the national leader in total offense three years in a row, averaging 35 points a game.
The citizens of Houston and the students at its university, with nothing else to hang their Stetsons on, became statistics-minded. They began discussing the 361 yards per game produced by the Veer T offense last year and the 562-yard total offense average that broke the collegiate record by 90 yards. The electronic scoreboard in the Astrodome kept fans amused during the season by revising the total yardage on each play. Even the linemen, who usually reminisce about memorable blocks, considered every new number flashed on the board a personal triumph. Last year, after Houston scored 100 points against Tulsa, Center Pat Pryor said, "Let's see the basketball team match that."
The probation had a negative effect, also. Yeoman's teams were as startlingly inconsistent as they were explosive. In each of the three years, impressive scores were followed by late-season upsets. "Playing for national recognition can carry a team only so far," Yeoman explained. "It helps to have a postseason reward, something the boys can look forward to."
This fall, with the suspension lifted, the Cougars can look forward to earning a bowl bid, and Houston fans expect the Veer T to produce just that. The Veer T was discovered quite by accident during a practice five years ago. "We were working on our power sweep against an eight-man defensive line," Yeoman says. "We saw that if the defensive tackle and end were allowed to penetrate, a fake to the fullback created quite a pileup and a great deal of confusion." The play began as an alternative to the sweep, but it soon became the backbone of the offense. Because the Cougars have dramatically shown its scoring potential, the Veer T is now being adopted by rival coaches. "So many other teams will be using it," Yeoman continues, "that now I'll have to learn how to defend against it."
As in most complicated offenses, a good quarterback is essential, and Houston is lucky to have two: Ken Bailey, last year's starting quarterback, and Rusty Clark. Yeoman can't decide which one to start. Clark is so big that at Baylor, where he began his college career, he was placed at defensive end. His ability to throw a football has some pro scouts recommending he be drafted in the first round. "Don't think the possibility of starting Clark hasn't kept me awake nights," he says. "But then what do you do with a kid like Bailey who shatters NCAA records?"
A more difficult problem is the rest of the backfield. Yeoman was all set at halfback with Carlos Bell, who as a junior led all the backs in the Southwest with a 6.5 rushing average. But Bell lost academic eligibility after the spring semester. "When you lose a guy like that, well, put it this way, there's quite a hole to fill," said Yeoman. Houston will go with sophomores Willie Roberts or Tommy Mozisek. Roberts has speed and Mozisek was named the state's outstanding schoolboy back, but even together they hardly equal a Bell. The team also lacks an experienced fullback, the Veer T's decoy. Ted Heiskell scored five touchdowns last year, but he didn't have enough playing time to earn a letter.
Houston's opponents will have little consolation in a less frightening Veer T, for, if the Cougars need points quickly, Bailey or Clark will toss out the options and throw instead in the direction of Split End Elmo Wright. Students call him Little E, recognizing his athletic abilities as just short of those of Big E, Elvin Hayes. Little E played the saxophone in the Sweeny, Texas high school band. The band and the football team practiced on adjoining lots. "After rehearsal the football guys would be out there hitting," Elmo says. "When the band director left, some of us would go over and join the football guys. I found out right away that what I like to do best is catch the ball." But one day Elmo appeared at rehearsal with a swollen lip. "He [the director] had this thick board, and if you messed up a song, whap, he'd let you have it. When he found out how I hurt my lip, I couldn't sit down for a week."
Elmo found football less painful and considerably more rewarding. As a sophomore he charmed the crowds in the Astrodome with his speed, considerable showboat talents—and his smile. After prancing into the end zone and tossing the ball into the stands, the smile was as spectacular as his 11 touchdowns and 1,198 yards gained. That first football injury of his in high school had provided Little E with two gold front teeth.
With athletes like Elmo Wright performing on the offense, the defense was a less-watched commodity last season. While the offense provided the points, the defensive secondary set a Houston record with 31 interceptions. Safety Richard Harrington and Linebackers Charlie Hall, Glenn Graef and Mike Johnston are all back looking for more. So is End Jerry Drones, the only returning member of the front line. Drones weighed only 160 pounds as a senior in high school and he was written off by Southwest Conference recruiters. Since then he has added 60 pounds and has grown into an All-America candidate.
In Houston, where the clubs close shortly after midnight, the best show in town on Saturday nights is the Houston offense in the Astrodome. Though it will be less spectacular this year and the cast has changed, the crowds are standing room only—hoping for a run straight through New Year's.
And so, hopefully, there will never be another person who thinks a Southern Methodist Mustang is a new automotive model. Hasn't SMU twice changed dates of games from midseason to practically summer so it could appear—nationally!—on the first ABC college game of the week? And hired an advertising agency and spent more than $40,000 on something called "Excitement '68" to remind all those people down in Dallas that there is another football team in town besides the Cowboys? And gone and put together this 15-minute history of Southern Methodist football, beginning with banjo music back in 1915, running through Bill Stern's account of that famous near upset of Notre Dame in 1949, recalling the feats of Doak Walker, Kyle Rote, Raymond Berry and Dandy Don Meredith, finally ending with a jazz background for the 1968 Bluebonnet Bowl champions? Why, SMU even has a coach who doesn't talk about a football game as just so many oblique-sounding Slot Right Fake 44 Boots at Six. Hell, no! His football games live by the three Es—they have to be Exciting, Electrifying and Entertaining.
"Now, don't get me wrong," Hayden Fry says. "I am interested in making the game enjoyable for the fans. We promise them excitement. Heck, I didn't know anything about excitement, but after we spent $40,000 I had to come up with something. And all I knew was to put the football in the air. I figured we might not catch it, but at least we'd have it up there where the fans could see it."
The man Fry chose for the job, a lanky sophomore named Chuck Hixson, soon proved able to do much more than just toss the ball up for the fans to see. In his first varsity game he threw for three touchdowns in a win over Auburn. A week later he completed 37 of 69 for 417 yards and two touchdowns—all in a losing cause to national champion Ohio State. Against Arkansas, with SMU trailing 35-0 going into the final period, he completed 14 of 24 passes for 203 yards and four touchdowns—all in 14 minutes and four seconds. The Mustangs lost 35-29, only because two other drives were stopped inside the 20. And then again in the Bluebonnet Bowl against Oklahoma he threw two fourth-quarter touchdowns in a 28-27 victory.
All of which makes Hixson a pretty rare athlete—for his running ability is on a par with that of, say, a pregnant cow. "The only requirement is that he run fast enough to get to the sidelines when he can't pass," Fry says. "If he can get to the sidelines and stay sound, his running game is more than adequate." Muses Hixson: "When I run, the fans don't know whether it's part of the play or whether I'm just walking over to ask Coach Fry for instructions." The same confusion, it seems, besets opposing players. Once last fall, Hixson, unable to find a receiver, scrambled. One opponent closed in, looked right at Hixson and the ball and then, unable to believe what he saw, veered off and tackled Hixson's blocker.
Such limitations do not bother Fry. "He may not run well but he sure can pass. He has all the outstanding qualities—an extremely quick release, distance, accuracy and consistency. Further, he knows when to hum it and when to lay it over the defensive man to the receiver. And he has the height [6'2"] and weight [190 pounds] and stamina required to take the sort of sitting duck punishment a pocket quarterback knows he'll have to take.
"Best of all—the thing that really sets Hixson apart from other good passers—is his ability to see the whole field and to go to the second and third receivers when the first is covered. He also has tremendous poise—standing tall in the pocket we call it—letting the defense pour in and still getting the ball away."
Hixson completed 265 passes last season for 3,103 yards and 21 touchdowns. Those figures—as well as those for the Ohio State contest—set Southwest Conference records. With Hixson running Fry's anything-goes-and-usually-does Alphabet offense, the Mustangs became one of the most exciting teams of 1968. Time after time Chuck rallied SMU, outscoring opponents 171-96 in the second half. SMU's only losses in a 7-3 season were to teams that won major bowl games: Ohio State (Rose), Texas (Cotton) and Arkansas (Sugar). Not bad for a squad most people had felt would finish no better than 5-5.
"Just once I'd like to get in front early," Hixson says. "I'd like to see what it would be like if we could start with the ball on our 35 yard line instead of inside our 10 all the time. The first two times we had the ball against Texas A&M we took over on our own four and then on our one."
This season Hixson will be missing two of his biggest helpers—Split End Jerry Levias and Halfback Mike Richardson—so the offense may not be quite as explosive. Levias was second in the nation in pass receiving with 80 catches, and Richardson became the fourth SWC runner to gain 1,000 yards in a single season.
Back again will be End Ken Fleming, who gathered in 53 passes, and Flanker Sam Holden, who caught 30. Another pass-catching prospect is sophomore Gary Hammond, who came to SMU as a quarterback.
"He looked real good at quarterback this spring," Fry says of Hammond. "But who can compete against the No. 1 quarterback in the nation? He could be our new wide receiver and our No. 2 quarterback."
When it comes to running power, Fry will have problems unless Bickey Lesser, Walter Haynes or Gordon Gilder can maneuver well enough to take some of the pressure off Hixson. Another member of the backfield could well be Daryl Doggett, who will try to cash in on one of the most improbable of all parlays. He is converting from the defensive secondary to the offensive backfield and, at 5'6" and 170 pounds, will try to serve as a fullback. Despite his size, Doggett is a tough-to-bring-down runner and a sturdy blocker.
Good blocking is a must if Hixson is to pass properly. He will be shielded well by a line that is light, quick and two deep in lettermen from tackle to tackle. Guard Rufus Cormier, who scores high in the classroom and hits hard on the field, is the standout on an all-letterman defensive line. Cormier is a 225-pound 6-footer with a 3.8 scholastic average and a double major in anthropology and psychology.
Experience and quality are lacking in both backfields, especially the defensive. Despite such shortcomings, Fry remains optimistic about the season ahead. This is because, as he says, "Each year some unknown surprises everybody. I think I'll have at least one or two of those this year."
Fry, though, will have far more than one or two offensive alignments. His Alphabet runs the gamut from A to Z, one of his underlying theories being that every defense has weaknesses. It may take extensive probing to find those soft spots, but then, as Fry likes to say, "We scratch where it itches." This fall, Chuck Hixson's right arm will be doing most of the scratching.
18 ARIZONA STATE
In the 11 years since Frank Rush started taking his Arizona State football teams high into the cool, pine-tree country north of Phoenix each September, the tales that have filtered back down have become almost as well-known as any written by Zane Grey. ASU players who have lived through Rush's Parris Island routine can talk for hours about "Dachau West" and "the days of football, sleep and pain," and their coach isn't about to restrain them. "We don't go up there for a picnic," he says. "We just want to find out who wants to play football and who doesn't."
Kush coaches tough because he comes from a tough background. The son of a Pennsylvania coal miner who died when Frank was 14, he had to work in a garage before and after school to help support the family of 15. Later, at Michigan State, he weighed only 170 pounds but still made All-America at middle guard. When Rush went to New York to be honored on national TV, an usher refused to let him through the door, on the assumption he was just another gate-crasher.
If Frank Rush were any less successful than he has been, he probably would have only a handful of players when he opens camp each fall. But, because there are only four active coaches—Nebraska's Devaney, Mississippi's Vaught, Alabama's Bryant and Missouri's Devine—who have better records than Kush's 81-28-1, the talent comes to ASU in waves. "You respect him because he's winning," says Ron Pritchard, last year's All-America linebacker, now with the Houston Oilers. "If he was losing, you probably wouldn't."
Kush punishes himself and his staff almost as fiercely as he does his players. He runs two miles a day, works hard on the paddle court—and he makes sure he's not alone. The assistant coaches run before practice, where the players can see them. (Kush also encourages a free exchange of ideas, and the meetings and film sessions are filled with angry ranting and eloquent cursing.)
"We've played a lot of teams that were just as good as we were," Kush says, "but we've beaten them because they weren't as tough as we were." The University of Texas at El Paso is one of those teams. UTEP has never beaten Kush, and twice in the past four years it has blown two-touchdown leads to the Sun Devils. Last year ASU scored 21 points in the first nine minutes against UTEP to win going away 31-19.
"We could have had them 35-0 in the first period if we'd wanted to," Kush says. The Sun Devils went on to win eight of 10, missing the Western Athletic Conference title only because they lost to Wyoming, a team that happens to be just as tough as ASU. A running team that still operates out of the old-fashioned Winged T, ASU simply buried some of its opponents, running up scores like 47-12, 59-21, 66-0 and 63-28. "We are," says Offensive Coach Chuck McBride, "the kind of team that will dink around, dink around—and then on one play we'll put it all together. Pffffft! Sixty yards. Six points."
Kush, of course, has sent a few runners into the pros—Travis Williams, Charley Taylor, Tony Lorick and Max Anderson. But, because he has one this year who may be the finest he's ever had, nobody—even Wyoming—should beat the Sun Devils for the WAC title. Art Malone, ASU's sleek, 190-pound fullback, had the kind of season last year runners dream of. Malone was held only once to less than 96 yards in a game. Twice he made more than 200; six times he went more than 100. When the season was over, Malone had gained 1,431 yards and scored 16 TDs. His average for each of 235 carries: 6.2 yards. "We probably feared Art Malone as much as any back we faced all last season," said Oregon State Coach Dee Andros—and Oregon State faced O. J. Simpson.
Malone isn't alone, either. Quarterback Joe Spagnola, a 9.7 man, is back and he's being pushed by Grady Hurst, who's just as fast and who completed 15 of 27 for 259 yards against the varsity in the spring game. With these two, ASU will be a roll-out threat all year long. There is still more speed at halfback, where 9.5 sprinter Dave Buchanan returns, and at wingback, where Mike Brunson (9.8) can fly with the ball after he has caught it.
Kush's problems lie in patching up the interior of his offensive line. Center George Hummer, twice All WAC, will be replaced by Tom Delnoce, a senior, and Ken Coyle, a junior from the defensive unit, will take over for Left Guard Jim Kane. Tackles Roger Davis and Rick Leek are big, but green. Pritchard, the principal loss on defense, will be replaced by junior letterman Mike Mess (who really can).
So, once again ASU will be a wide-open, high-scoring team—fun to watch, horrifying to play. This year more fans will see the Sun Devils play than ever before, for ASU's stadium has been enlarged to 51,000. The way ASU looks right now, all those new seats have come just in time.
19 FLORIDA STATE
On a Saturday afternoon a little short of a year ago Bill Cappleman, a tall gifted quarterback who had yet to throw his first pass in combat for FSU, took the field against Maryland. On the sidelines, Head Coach Bill Peterson kept remembering the four interceptions Cappleman had thrown in a scrimmage a few days earlier. He watched grimly as Cappleman brought the offense out of the huddle and up to the line. "Oh, oh," thought the quarterback, surveying Maryland's defense, "I've called the wrong play." He barked an audible, but the switch of plays was lost in the roar of the crowd. Half the team heard him call 60, a passing play. The other half thought he called 16, a running play. The snap of the ball brought chaos. Peterson stared in disbelief as his team ran in 10 different directions. "My God," he screamed, "they made up a play in the huddle." Undismayed, Cappleman passed—right into the hands of a Maryland linebacker who ran 40 yards for a touchdown.
Shaken, Coach Peterson called for Gary Pajcic, a sore-armed senior quarterback who as a sophomore had broken all of FSU's passing records. But in a few minutes Pajcic was back at the sidelines, shaking his head and holding his arm. "Cappleman," shouted Peterson, and Bill Cappleman responded. "Go in there and...never mind, just go in there." He did and he fumbled. FSU recovered, moved 73 yards and scored. Florida State eventually won, but Peterson was not convinced.
"I thought he just couldn't run the team," Peterson said recently. "No spark. He had a great arm but he never asked any questions. I figured he just didn't give a damn. What I didn't know was that he didn't have to ask questions. He knew our offense better than I did."
Peterson went with Pajcic the following week in a 9-3 loss to Florida—a defeat he felt just a little more than if he had been coaching Custer at the Little Big Horn. For better or worse Cappleman was returned as the No. 1 passer. It was for the better; seven victories in eight games for FSU; for Cappleman, 162 completions of 287 passes for 2,410 yards and 25 touchdowns. The people at Florida State have been waiting for the 1969 season ever since.
"We've had a few good quarterbacks at FSU," said Peterson. "Steve Tensi, Pajcic, Kim Hammond. But without a doubt Cappy has to be the finest. If there is a better quarterback in the country, he's got to be a combination of Sammy Baugh, Y. A. Tittle and God."
Which means FSU, as usual, has a pitcher, leaving it to Peterson to come up with an adequate crew of catchers. He has lost Ron Sellers, everybody's All-America and one of the outstanding flankers in collegiate history. Last year Sellers caught 86 passes for 1,496 yards and 12 touchdowns. Knowing no one would ever fill his jersey, Peterson retired it.
"But," he says, grinning, "some of our kids just might catch a pass or two this year." For starters, there's Jim Tyson, a junior and the best pass-catching tight end in Peterson's nine-year tenure at Florida State. "He catches balls," said the head coach, "that most tight ends can't get within five yards of. Hands, speed, timing. I guarantee you that he's going to hurt a lot of people." As the passing attack goes, so goes FSU, and another key will be the production of Don Pederson, a junior given the job of replacing Sellers. He has good speed and sure hands.
Should the passing game falter—and in Tallahassee they believe the church will falter first—Coach Peterson can fall back on a proved running attack. The biggest gun is Tom Bailey, large and fast, and with just enough meanness to enjoy running over other people. "The finest runner I've ever had," said Peterson. "He makes tacklers think before sticking their head in there. Nobody is going to gang up on our receivers with Bailey around."
And there are other goodies: a fairly big, fast offensive line, hopefully capable of overcoming a short measure of inexperience, and a defense that will be tough if Peterson doesn't have to go to his bench too often.
"This is a good squad, strong and fast," said Peterson. "I'm just afraid we might not have enough players. No competition. We're spending as much time firing them up as we are getting them in shape. Complacency will kill you."
To offset such a handicap, Peterson has scheduled what he calls "my fits." Every second or third day of practice, when things appear to be going too smoothly, he will charge out onto the practice field, order his players to run laps and then charge after them shouting what a bunch of misbegotten, lousy, unathletic, lazy, fat schoolgirls they are. Among other things.
"Except," he says, grinning, "I'm really not in good enough shape to throw a strong fit. I hurt my knee last year and it's slowed me down. I've got to get back in real good condition. Throwing fits is just like playing football—you've got to be able to go at top speed."
Like all avid chess players, Pepper Rodgers enjoys the element of surprise. He has been known to do a somersault on impulse anywhere at all, on football fields, at sorority houses—anywhere. Last year he concluded his final TV show with an enthusiastic rendition of Jingle Bells. "When I came home from the studio, all my wife could say was, 'How could you.' " The biggest surprise of all, and the most famous, was his unintentional 12-man defense against Penn State in the final seconds of the Orange Bowl.
Rodgers enjoyed telling the story of that misfortune at banquets last winter: "When I first came to Kansas in 1967, we lost our first two games. A few weeks later we lost to Ohio University. No matter what I did after that, people asked me how I managed to lose to Ohio University. Well, I got pretty sick of it. So there I was in the Orange Bowl last year with 15 seconds left and I ask myself what can I do to make people forget the Ohio University game? 'Abernathy,' I said, 'get in there.' "
Rodgers' surprise this year is likely to be his Kansas Jayhawks. No team in the Big Eight suffered more from graduation losses. He has had to replace 13 starters, seven of whom were drafted by the pros, but he does not seem concerned. When Rodgers is told that this season's Jayhawks will be unable to match Missouri and Oklahoma, he smiles and says, "I think we will be all right."
A major reason for Rodgers' optimism is his fullback. John Riggins, voted the Big Eight's Sophomore of the Year last season, runs with power and speed. "John can do everything," says Rodgers. "Block, return punts, even tackle if he has to. I've been playing and coaching since 1951, and he is the best I've ever seen." But, despite such praise, the excitement in Lawrence this fall revolves around the new tailback, a junior college transfer named Ron Jessie.
Already the stories describing Jessie's talent as a ballcarrier have spread to the enemy camps in Columbia and Norman. The first two times he was handed the football in spring practice, he ran through the starting defense for touchdowns. Jessie is one of several athletes borrowed by Rodgers from the Kansas track team. His events are the high hurdles and the long jump and he did 25'2½" in the NCAA indoors last winter. Jessie's only drawback is his preference for relaxation. When it came time for him to run the hurdles in the Southern Illinois dual meet, he was nowhere in sight. A teammate eventually discovered him sleeping under the bleachers. "He is a great prospect," says Rodgers, a coach who has never had trouble motivating his charges, "and I am determined that he will be a great football player."
Rodgers is known as a quarterback specialist. His first season at Kansas—1967—he began to transform Bob Douglass, a huge, awkward runner, into a left-handed quarterback who executed the option better than anyone in college football. Rodgers' project now is Jimmy Ettinger, Douglass' substitute for two years. Like Douglass, Ettinger kicks a leg back upon receiving the snap from center, but that is where the comparison ends. "He isn't the runner Bobby was, but he's a better passer," says Tight End John Mosier. "Douglass was a thrower. Ettinger has a fine touch on the ball."
Ettinger has an experienced receiver for short passes in Mosier, a two year regular. But what Rodgers really enjoys is the long pass. "It's fun, and I like excitement." The excitement will be provided by Split End Xerk White, a transfer from New Mexico Military Academy and the junior college 220- and 440-yard dash champion. But much of Ettinger's confidence should come from the knowledge that every time he calls signals he is standing behind Dale Evans, an All-America candidate at center.
"Last year most of my lectures were on offense," Rodgers says. "This season I plan to talk mostly about the defense. I didn't want those offensive players to get bored, so I moved four of them over to the other side of the line." Three, including George McGowan, last year's starting split end, have been sent to the deep secondary. The fourth, Tackle Larry Brown, is Vernon Vanoy's replacement at left end.
Kansas' interior front line is the strongest part of the defense. Shotputter Karl Salb, the NCAA indoor and outdoor champion, enjoys playing right tackle. Al Jakobcic proved to be an excellent middle guard last season. But the best of the middle three is a newcomer. Rodgers waged a recruiting battle this year with dozens of other schools for a student at Kansas City Junior College. It wasn't until May that he finally signed him. His name is Bruce Mitchell, and he'll be easy for Jayhawk fans to locate. Mitchell is 6'7" and weighs 298 pounds. "He moves like a cat," Rodgers says dreamily. "He's so quick he could play middle guard and left tackle at the same time." He also plays basketball. Opposing runners who survive Mitchell, Jakobcic and Salb will then have the unenviable task of facing Emery Hicks, an all-conference linebacker. His nickname, Mr. Bad, is an indication that the greeting will be less than cordial. Mr. Bad was the star of Nowata High in Nowata, Okla. During the team's big game against Dewey for the conference championship, he had his wind knocked out, and the crowd stood in shocked silence. Nowata's coach ran onto the field and stood anxiously over him. "Are you all right, Emery?" the coach asked. Mr. Bad grinned. "I'm O.K.," he answered, "but how are the fans taking it?"
The fans in Lawrence, who not long ago went to the games because there was nothing much else to do on Saturday afternoon, have good reason to take their football neat this season.
And for neatness, how's this for a Rodgers' scheme? "You know what I'd really like to do this year?" he says mischievously. "I'd like to persuade Jim Ryun to go out for football. I'd give him uniform No. 100, and in our first home game [Syracuse] he would go out long, and we'd throw him the bomb."
But he's only kidding. Isn't he?
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