Consider the plight of Bob DeMoss. For two decades as an assistant coach at Purdue he supplied Jack Mollenkopf with quarterbacks—a Lenny Dawson here, a Bob Griese there and everywhere a Mike Phipps. Now Mollenkopf has retired, and DeMoss, the new head coach, has inherited a potent offensive unit lacking—is there no justice?—a quarterback. "The last nine years we've gone with sophomore quarterbacks every three years, but it just worked out that way," he said. DeMoss probably will settle on Chuck Piebes, a 6'2" sophomore from Valhalla—New York, that is.
Among other Big Ten teams, Minnesota seems the least likely to become fodder for Ohio State and Michigan, but Murray Warmath must solve a quarterback problem, too. Sophs will influence Indiana's fate as Ted McNulty and Dan Grossman, quarterbacks, and target Charley Byrnes will try to emulate the Gonso-Butcher-Isenbarger era. Indiana has neither Ohio State nor Michigan scheduled, but that is relevant only if the Hoosiers recover from the black boycott and revert to '67 form. Illinois may have the best crop of youngsters since Ohio State's Kern-Tatum lode. Mike Wells, a 6'5" thrower, will aim for Willie Osley. Tackle Tab Bennett is, they say, a young Dick Butkus.
Wisconsin has Fullback Alan (A-Train) Thompson to ride the inner rail in the Pro-T. Backs Levi Mitchell and Tim Sullivan are healthy again and should boost Iowa's troubled program. Northwestern should apply for Ivy League membership. At Michigan State, Duffy Daugherty has made more position shifts than Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice.
September 13, 1970
One thing to remember about the Southeastern Conference is that for the last three years the consensus preseason pick for sixth place has come in first. That makes forecasting a hazardous enterprise, but it seems prudent, after establishing Ole Miss, Florida, LSU and Auburn as conference favorites in that order, to suggest that either Tennessee, Georgia or Alabama should finish sixth. That is the best hedge available in college football today.
One thing that can be foretold unequivocally is that the SEC will be rich again in offense: Tennessee, with Curt Watson running, Chip Kell blocking and Lester McClain receiving; and Georgia with a new attack that should dispel the old joke about fire ravaging Coach Vince Dooley's office and burning up his pass plays—both of them. The Bulldogs' diversification will be the work of new Offensive Coach Fred Pancoast, hired last winter from Florida, whose fancy offense he had devised.
Bear Bryant, for his part, says there will be more defense this year, and maybe he is on to something, but Alabama's schedule is backbreaking. Vanderbilt, no longer predictably off the pace, should continue to come on strong under Bill Pace. Kentucky and Mississippi State appear to be out of the running for either first or sixth.
Conceding first and second to Arkansas and Texas (or, depending on your state, Texas and Arkansas) has become as traditional in the Southwest Conference as that old saying of a few years back: the only predictable thing about our race down here is that it's unpredictable. The cliché still holds true—but now only in reference to the conference's six-team second division. To try and pick Nos. 3 through 8 accurately is as dangerous as predicting that one of them might beat the Hogs or the Horns.
No team will do that this year, though Texas A&M, hungry after much famine, has an outstanding sophomore quarterback named Lex James who should get the Aggies at least a few appetizing meals. They won the conference title in 1967, recently enough for them to remember what the glory was like and, with James only one member of an outstanding sophomore class. Coach Gene Stallings hopes for another taste.
While the Aggies must ride with an inexperienced quarterback, SMU will support its much-experienced Chuck Hixson with rookie receivers. Hixson, the nation's leading passer as a sophomore and No. 2 last year, seems to have lost his top receiver of 1969, junior Gary Hammond, who's moved to tailback. But in Coach Hayden Fry's Alphabet Offense it's likely Hammond will still turn out to be a favorite target.
TCU has its own outstanding quarterback, junior Steve Judy, who ranked nationally in total offense and passing offense last season. The Horned Frogs have an improved defense, but a one-man offense is not enough.
Rice, Texas Tech and Baylor, alas, will again gain experience.
Cal Coach Ray Willsey doesn't even alter his tone of voice when the subject shifts to his new running back, Isaac Curtis. Isaac is the sophomore who ran 100 yards in 9.3 last spring for the Golden Bears' track team and caused his high school coach down in Santa Ana to say he was the "most fantastic athlete I've ever seen." Cautious Willsey will only say, "We're in a position to have our best team since I've been here." Which would mean a 9-2 record. With Isaac running, Dave Penhall passing to a good set of receivers and Willsey's traditionally strong defense, this isn't as unlikely as it sounds, and the Bears are only slightly nervous about their second game, at Texas.
The woodsy schools up North should finish fifth through eighth as is often their custom. Oregon and Oregon State have questionable defenses. Washington and Washington State are coming off miserable 1-9 seasons, but WSU has All-League Defensive Back Lionel Thomas, and Coach Jim Sweeney says the Cougars "are the most improved club in the conference." Washington has a quarterback named Sonny Sixkiller. It's a shame he's not on the special team for goal-line stands.
For Jack Mildren 1969 was a very long year. He had been looked upon as the hero to lead Oklahoma to a Big Eight title and national ranking, a super quarterback who, somehow, got out of Texas and away from Darrell. And yet his adventure ended with innumerable hand-offs to Heisman winner Steve Owens and a mediocre 6-4 record. "I was like the new boy on the block," Mildren says of the experience. "Last year I didn't want to make any wrong moves. I felt like buying everyone ice cream or something, to make sure they liked me. Well, now we're playing with my football."
A revitalized Mildren will drive a veer-option offense this season, a refreshing departure from three years of Steve Owens blood and guts. "Before, our offense was just plain physical," Coach Chuck Fairbanks says. "This is a fun offense." But even if the veer is quickly geared Oklahoma will once again watch others fight for the conference title. The defense, which last season gave up 29 points a game, has not improved.
Pepper Rodgers has a tiger in Halfback John Riggins, four talented receivers, a brand-new offensive alignment and (thank goodness) a sense of humor. Pepper's Kansas Jayhawks concluded their 1-9 season with a 69-21 loss to Missouri. When asked if he thought the Tigers ran up the score because Dan Devine was mad at him, Rodgers replied, "It's not true. On the sidelines during the game I held up the peace sign and he gave half of it back to me."
Floyd Gass began his career at Oklahoma State with surprising success last year—the Cowboys managed a 5-5 record. This fall he has excellent ballcarriers to compensate for an inexperienced defense and to insure some more memorable upsets.
All Iowa State has put together are two new buildings.
Appropriately enough, the WAC showdown for second place, behind Arizona State, may be a battle between Cowboys and Indians, and this year, considering the recent skirmishes on Alcatraz and Ellis islands, looks like a big one for Indians. The Redskins of Utah, led by Bill Meek, the conference's 1969 Coach of the Year, even have a chance to win the WAC crown. Meek has 28 returning lettermen (nine of them starters from last year's offensive team), including Defensive Halfback Norm Thompson, who last year had five interceptions, running back three of them for touchdowns. Utah's big question mark is Quarterback Gordon (Scooter) Long-mire, who won a letter as a sophomore at Michigan State, but is lacking in experience after a year as a redshirt.
The Wyoming Cowboys have experience problems, too. There are only six seniors on the top offensive and defensive units, although one of the seniors is All-America Bob Jacobs, the nation's top kicker last fall with 76 points and an NCAA single-season record of 18 field goals. Sophomores, including Guard Ron Voris and Defensive Back Eddie Schmidt, may be the key to Cowboy success.
Arizona, with 33 lettermen, is also a conference threat. Last year's multitude of sophomores is now a year older, and Coach Bob Weaver, whose first season with the Wildcats ended with a dismal 3-7 record, says, "I'm optimistic."
There's not much room for optimism in the rest of the WAC. The Miners of Texas El Paso could dig up a surprise or two, but Colorado State, New Mexico and Brigham Young will have a hard time ducking the flying arrows, bullets and footballs.
East Carolina's Clarence Stasavich has switched from coach to full-time athletic director, and with him goes the last major college remnant of that ancient gridiron ploy, the single wing. Born of strength and cunning some 60 years ago, it was already a rarity by the late '40s. Now in the second year of football's second century, it is extinct.
Under new Coach Mike McGee, 31-year-old former Outland Trophy winner, the East Carolina Pirates have opted for the T and its 10,000 variations, especially the pro set. To give it flair, McGee made former All-Pro pass catcher Sonny Randle an assistant.
ECU will field six junior college transfers, including two All-America linemen and a quarterback and center. The latter pair should eliminate that catchy T-formation problem of how to get the play started. One conference coach is so taken by the Pirates' new look that he considers ECU the league heavyweight even though it is coming off consecutive losing seasons. Adjustment problems make success unlikely, especially for the 26 letter-men unaccustomed to "quick guards," "strong tackles" and linebackers labeled "Will" and "Sam."
Most observers favor Richmond for its second Tangerine Bowl trip in three years, since the Spiders have the overall strength to absorb their heavy graduation losses. The Citadel, with a converted split end at quarterback, will have a ground-oriented offense, while William & Mary has quarterback problems but the league's best center in Bob Herb. Defending champion Davidson is rebuilding after the departure of key offensive personnel and a pass-minded coach. Furman and VMI had one win between them last year and can hardly do worse.
Once again in Toledo they're shooting for the moon, and there is no reason to doubt that the flight will be smooth. For one thing, Coach Frank Lauterbur, prepared to launch his Rockets to a third Mid-American title in four years, returns with 28 lettermen (15 starters) from last season's undefeated, untied and nationally ranked squad. For another, he has a quarterback who does best when it's most important, Chuck Ealey, the first sophomore in the history of the MAC to win Back of the Year laurels. Ealey will be joined by Tailback Tony Harris and Fullback Charlie Cole, and he will have reliable targets in Don Fair and Al Baker, both juniors. Toledo's greatest competition probably will come from Bowling Green. With need to replace half of its defense and still in search of receivers for strong-arm Vern Wireman (he has 16 school passing records), the Falcons look lovingly to Julius Livas, a 190-pound speed boy who was injured last year. Miami (Ohio), 7-3 last year and tied for third, expects much the same kind of season, relying heavily on the defensive prowess of Dick Adams, while at Ohio University Coach Bill Hess has the biggest rebuilding job of all, with only four seniors left in the starting lineup. As for Kent State and Western Michigan—they're still in the MAC but out of orbit.
ACC football started out well enough, with Maryland winning the national title in 1953, but since then the play has been increasingly minor league. The ACC has accumulated a nonconference record of 122 wins, 317 losses and 17 ties, and only two schools have fielded Top Ten teams. Defending champion and 1970 choice South Carolina yearns for the good old days.
The Gamecocks have threatened to go independent unless the 800 college-board-score minimum is dropped and the NCAA's 1.6 rule is accepted as the academic standard for recruiting. South Carolina also wants more than 35 scholarships. Six votes are needed to change the bylaws, but no more than four other schools are willing to go along. The critical moment could come in December, when a study committee makes recommendations at the winter meeting.
South Carolina's first battle, however, is on the playing field, where size, depth and experience could make this the first team since 1955 to go unbeaten in league games two straight years. If little Tommy Suggs (5'9", 178 pounds) can take to drop-back passing and offset key running back losses, all should go well.
North Carolina, with runner Don McCauley and the league's best defense, is a formidable second. Frank Howard has retired after 30 years at Clemson, handing over an unbeaten frosh team and 38 lettermen to Hootie Ingram. Quarterback Leo Hart and Linebacker Dick Biddie make talented but depthless Duke a threat. Inexperience should end a reign of seven straight second or better finishes for North Carolina State. Maryland, Virginia and Wake Forest hope 40 improve by passing more.
At a July gathering of conference coaches, Memphis State's Billy Murphy said gleefully, "We're the team to beat." And he probably is correct.
MSU has been conference champ in each of its two years of membership, and this year should make it three. Center John Bonier is being touted as the best blocker at Memphis since Oakland's All-Pro Harry Schuh. Returning are three starting backs (Paul Gowen, Jay McCoy and Stan Davis) who averaged five yards a carry. The signal-calling falls to sophomore Steve Leech, a former high school All-America. If the defense holds, the Tigers should breeze.
North Texas State has lost Steve Ramsey, holder of all NCAA career passing records, and 20 other lettermen, but with Defensive Back Leonard Dunlap, who tied an NCAA record by returning three interceptions for TDs, and Center Willie Parker, the Mean Green should make a respectable showing.
Tulsa, Louisville and Wichita State should bring up the rear. Despite several blue-chip performers, each has a vulnerable defense.
West Texas State, which replaces departed Cincinnati (now independent), will be strong, but it is ineligible for the title until adequate conference scheduling can be arranged. Star Quarterback Clarence Redic, suspended last spring for scholastic reasons, attended summer school, and his return should make Coach Joe Kerbel happier. In fact, Kerbel may give him an A for effort.
Last year Cornell students became vigilantes, Princeton students became politicians and Yale students became girls. The Ivy League frenzy apparently rubbed off on the gridiron: Yale, which was supposed to fade out of contention, shared its unprecedented third straight title with Dartmouth and Princeton. Favored Harvard, meanwhile, tied for fifth.
In 1970, however, the old politics of certainty should dominate Ivy football. Dartmouth, which has the best winning percentage (.745) and most titles (six) in the 14 years of play since the formation of the Ivy League, is a slight favorite over Princeton and Yale. Dartmouth has 20 lettermen and graduates from an undefeated freshman team. The Indians lack depth at quarterback, but Jim Chasey is the league's best. Having lost 13 of 22 starters, Princeton Coach Jake McCandless will turn to promising sophs, led by Fullback Bill Early, who gained 289 yards in one freshman game. Yale's 1969 defense, second nationally, more than acquitted the New Haven 11. Nine defensive starters return to complement such offensive stars as Quarterback Joe Massey and Tailback Don Martin.
Titleless Cornell could be in the picture, too. There are 27 Big Red letter-men, and Ed Marinaro, second leading rusher in the nation, is one. Harvard Coach John Yovicsin, retiring after this, his 14th year, will have only 17 letter-men to help him win the one game he needs for a school record. Columbia will celebrate its football centennial, and that should be more fun to watch than its football. Penn has a good basketball team and Brown is in Providence.
San Diego State was well-enough known as a small college (two championships in three years) to go into the big time in 1969, when the Aztecs shot to the top of their newly formed Pacific Coast Athletic Association. Everyone knows Dennis Shaw after a shower of All-Star Games, but they probably don't know that the Shaw-led alumni lost in the Aztecs' spring game 31-6, which should tell something about the 1970 team.
University of the Pacific (7-3) and San Jose State (2-8) are the conference's other major schools. Fresno State, Los Angeles State, Long Beach State and the University of California at Santa Barbara are still in the college division.
In his second year Coach Carl DePasqua could give Pittsburgh its first winner since 1963. Ralph Cindrich, a linebacker, and Lloyd Weston, a defensive tackle, are All-America candidates. The running backs are strong enough to compensate for the quarterback spot, which is still an empty pocket. But Dave Havern, a 5'9" junior, set three school passing records in throwing for 1,810 yards two years ago before sitting out last season with mononucleosis, and John Hogan might be even better. Except for a mere 190-pound split end, the offensive line weighs in at 215 or more. The time is coming when a game against the Panthers will no longer be thought of only as a Pitt stop.
Florida State, which has hovered in or around Top 20 rankings lately, is blessed with something most coaches would be happy to have—a whole reception line of returned passcatchers. Trouble is, there may be no passer. Tommy Warren doesn't have the strong arm to show off the receivers, but his short game is good. Rumor does speak of another Ron Sellers. Barry Smith is supposed to be a near equal of the All-America wide receiver, and he's only a sophomore. He caught 39 passes for 702 yards and scored five touchdowns in as many games as a freshman last year. Defensive Tackle Robert McEachern led the team in tackles last season with 69 and had half again as many assists. With him as a building block the defensive line will be no toy.
At the other end of the state, Charlie Tate's hard-luck Miami team of last year gave up only a few more TDs than it scored, yet ended the season at 4-6. Now Miami has Quarterback Kelly Cochrane, who has experience under his belt and two tough receivers in front of it. Cochrane didn't appear on the scene until the third game last year and still managed to break George Mira's passing records for touchdowns in one game (4), yards in one game (343) and touchdown passes in one season (11). He also managed to be in on four of the losses. Don Brennan and Joe Schmidt are the front men. Brennan was a junior college All-America, and Schmidt is considered one of the school's best receivers—ever.
Marching up the coast to Georgia, one finds sophomore Quarterback Eddie McAshan as Tech's first varsity black athlete. McAshan has a passing percentage below .500, but seems able to score. On defense. Brad Bourne should burn opponents if the knee injury that forced him out last season doesn't flare up.
Syracuse Coach Ben Schwartzwalder is working on his 21st straight nonlosing season, but he may have trouble unless he can restore harmony with the black players on his squad. Ever since present-day collegians can remember, the Orangemen have always had one of those extra big, strong, barreling fullbacks. A name fullback. Last year's name, replacing Csonka, was Januszkiewicz, Marty (or Jan the Man, since three words in this case are shorter than one). His playing time was shorter still. After 59 yards and two touchdowns in the first game he was injured and redshirted. Now that he's back he'll give the Orange offense a lot more polish. Split End Tony Gabriel is the only starter coming back from the offensive line, but Quarterback Paul Paolisso, who missed all of last season with an injury, returns from 1968, when he threw for six TDs and 939 yards on a team known for grinding it out.
Holy Cross is wondering how groovy the Age of Aquarius is going to be. Somehow the water system on the practice field backed up last year, sending everything the team had been practicing down the drain. Thanks to a hepatitis epidemic thought to be connected with the failure of the water system, the season's last eight games were canceled. Then on the first day of the school's first spring practice in 19 years rain kept the team indoors. Coach Bill Whitton is optimistic despite the omens. "I just can't say enough about these young men and this team," he beams. "We're lacking for experience and lacking for depth, but we're not lacking for spirit, enthusiasm, dedication and guts."
Air Force will not treat fans to as many last-second thrills as it did last year. The lightest moments of the season may come during periodic weighins in the training room. The team averages out to less than 200 pounds. Coach Ben Martin will have to get his kicks someplace else. He faces 1970 without Placekicker Dennis Leuthauser (who was the leading tackier as well as the leading scorer). He also misses a good split end, quarterback and fullback, all of whom played better than the 6-4 record shows. Ernie Jennings is back, however, to add to the 51 passes he caught. Defensive strength looks like the key, but the best defense will be to escape injury, no mean feat against early-scheduled Wyoming and Missouri.
Army boasts a "potential Charlie Jarvis or Lynn Moore" in soph Bob Hines. But against Nebraska, Tennessee and Notre Dame (consecutively) and Penn State (with a week's breather) the long line has good reason to look gray.
Even Navy could rise again from the depths. Last year's lacrosse co-championship was nice, but it will be nicer yet when this fall's biggest game isn't against Johns Hopkins. The task force is likely to be headed by Quarterback Ade Dillon, who is listed as a backup right now but threw a record 20 touchdown passes as a plebe.
Boston College has Frank Harris, a good quarterback even in this year of the quarterback. He alone may be enough to give the Eagles a winner.