ST. JOHN'S (COLLEGEVILLE)
Quiet and scholarly, St. John's is located 70 miles to the northwest of Minneapolis-St. Paul on 2,400 acres of woods and lakes. Its Institute for Ecumenical and Cultural Research attracts students from half the states and several foreign countries. The school library includes a microfilm collection of manuscripts written in European monasteries before 1600 A.D. Athletics have become less important in such an atmosphere. Once St. John's 1,500 male students really cared about beating Hamline and St. Thomas, but now their interests are ecumenism and liturgical reform. And with John Gagliardi around as football coach a tradition of underemphasis is assured.
Gagliardi never cuts anyone from his squad, doesn't believe in physical-education majors, inspirational signs in the locker room, long practices and wind sprints ("I want the boys to stay fresh so they can study in the evenings") or even game plans. He also rejects the concept of training rules. "We don't need them because we don't get the type of boy that requires them," he says. "We have one rule: Be a topflight person at all times."
His relaxed approach to football has been remarkably successful. Gagliardi's Johnnies won NAIA titles in 1963 and 1965 and during one stretch lost only five of 50 games. Last season they compiled a record of eight victories (including a 21-0 win over Iowa's Simpson College in the Mineral Water Bowl), one loss and a tie.
"This year we [Gagliardi and his lone assistant coach] will have a hundred out for fall practice," he says. "And when it's all over I'm sure that our squad will number around 95 players." Most notable among them are the co-captains, Quarterback Tom Kafka and All-Conference Linebacker John Lynch. Lynch is an example of Gagliardi's "topflight person." He is an honor student and vice-president of the St. John's student body.
"We are outstanding on defense, and we outmorale the opposition," the coach says. "The feeling with the squad every game is we'll get them in the end." That is St. John's game plan. It is, like the rest of the school's football program, naive, charming and sufficient.
There isn't much to do in Kingsville, Texas—Corpus Christi, the nearest city, is 30 miles away—except, maybe, visit the million-acre King Ranch, so students at Texas A&I University have learned to provide their own diversions. There is, for example, Speakers' Corner, where dissenters lecture on any subject that occurs to them. More popular are stage productions like H.M.S. Pinafore and The Boy Friend. Spring is the season for rodeos, and many of the students follow the A&I team, a member of the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association.
But, as elsewhere in Texas, fall is a time devoted wholly to football. The students gather happily at Javelina Stadium, where the only modern fixture is the lighting system. (Hurricane Beulah destroyed the old light towers when she paid a visit to Kingsville in 1967.) There they are treated to Jalisco, one of the school's fight songs, and the band will knock it out as many as 75 times a game if the team is winning.
The Javelinas, named after the wild hog indigenous to South Texas and Mexico, very rarely lose. In Gil Steinke's 16 seasons as coach, they have won 118, lost 44 and tied four. They were NAIA champions in 1959, came close in 1968 and won it again last season.
Karl Douglas directed the Javelinas to a 11-1 record and a 32-7 rout of Concordia College of Minnesota in the national title game. Douglas is back again, along with his favorite receivers, Dwight Harrison and Eldridge Small, and defensive stars Margarito Guerrero and Robert Young.
Their names aren't subject to debate at the Speakers' Corner, but they are familiar topics in the students' favorite hangout, the Tejas Room in the union. Familiar also is Henrietta, a real live javelina who roams her cage on a sideline in the stadium. For a while her predecessors enjoyed more freedom. School mascots ran wild through the campus until one day in 1929 when one of them bit Dr. R. B. Cousins, the university's first president. The animal was rabid, and Cousins was rushed away for treatment, while the javelina, from that day on, was sentenced to captivity.
There was a time when Grambling's football players shuttled to games across the dusty, clay countryside in north central Louisiana. The school was just a rumor to the rest of the country. Somewhere down South, it was whispered, a college produced almost as many professional athletes as Notre Dame. Then, in 1968, along came Sportscaster Howard Cosell with a cluster of cameras. The result was an ABC sports special and, consequently, instant recognition. Suddenly Coach Eddie Robinson's Tigers were in demand. In 1968 they drew a crowd of 64,000 to Yankee Stadium (a total of 75,000 people had watched Grambling the entire season before). Last year attendance shot up to 277,000 paid, despite the team's 6-4 record, the worst in a decade. But success at the school is judged by the number of pro draft picks as well as by victories, and last season nine players, a figure equaled only by USC, were selected.
This fall Grambling becomes a full-fledged, unabashed road show performing at huge stadiums in Pittsburgh, Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland and, best of all, in Houston's Astrodome. The crowds won't be disappointed.
"This is the finest group of talent I've ever seen at Grambling," says Will Walls, a Pittsburgh Steeler scout. Robinson calls Frank Lewis, a running back, "an instant coachmaker. If he doesn't go in the first round next January there must be some awful good ones around."
Halfback Willie Armstrong, Ernie Ladd's first cousin, and Defensive Tackles Rich Harris and Charles Roundtree are also potential first-round choices. But the Tigers' most exciting athlete, the man to make those huge stadiums vibrate, is Robinson's sophomore quarterback, Matt Reed. He is huge (6'4", 225), and several scouts rate him ahead of Jim Harris, the Grambling graduate who now quarterbacks the Buffalo Bills.
Since publicity descended upon the small. Colonial-style campus, students at Grambling College have, on occasion, voiced dismay over their school's football-factory image. Robinson plans to take five top-ranked scholars along on one of the team's road trips to show it's just not so. "I know they are going to come back impressed," he says. "They're going to realize that our athletes are no different from other students. Just maybe a little bigger." And better traveled.
A century ago a farm-machinery manufacturer founded a school on an Ohio hilltop. Thanks to his assets—$500,000—Buchtel College prospered. In 1893 John W. Heisman, as in trophy, became the school's first paid coach, and in his second season his team defeated Ohio State 12-6 in the only game scheduled that year. Although Buchtel College grew up to be the University of Akron, that victory proved to be the high point of its football history. Heisman departed after his undefeated season, and the Hill-toppers began their descent.
Rock bottom occurred in 1926 when a contest was held to provide the team with a new nickname. Students, faculty and fans competed for a $10 prize, won by a freshman named Margaret Hamlin. Her idea came from a pair of overshoes manufactured by the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company in Akron. The shoes were called "Zippers" and, consequently, so was the team. Today they are still known as the Zips.
When Gordon Larson left an assistant's job at Ohio State to become the Akron coach, Zip fortunes revived. In nine years Larson has never had a loser, and last season Akron went 9-1. The Zips should go undefeated this fall because Larson has 18 starters returning. Best of the lot are senior Halfback Jack Beidleman, who scored 98 points a year ago, and Split End Dan Ruff, who averaged 23 yards a catch.
Despite Larson's success, students at Akron are apathetic toward their football teams. They commute (11,000 by day and another 7,000 by night) to the school's campus in downtown Akron. The Zips' home field, the Rubber Bowl, is located five miles away on the city's outskirts. Even if all Akron's round-the-clock students were willing to make the trip, their attendance would barely dent the 35,000-seat bowl. The Rubber Bowl, however, is usually filled for the season opener, the annual Acme-Zip game, for which thousands of tickets are sold in the city's Acme supermarkets. Zip seats purchased by Akron's housewives right there alongside the TV dinners and detergents! What would Heisman think?
The college is as old-fashioned as the donor of its gym who, legend has it, stipulated that if a dance was ever held on campus the building would be burned to the ground. Just last year when a professor was discharged for using a four-letter word during a lecture the administration faced the first full-scale demonstration in the college's 148-year history. Students protested by cutting chapel. Then there was the censoring of the student newspaper for favorably commenting on Hugh Hefner's Playboy Philosophy. All in all, last year was uncommonly eventful for sleepy William Jewell College, a tiny school (900 students) consisting of seven red-brick. Colonial buildings built by the Baptists in the northwest corner of Liberty, Mo.
Of course, there was the usual stabilizing factor. The Jewell football team won its 11th consecutive Missouri College Athletic Union championship. The Cardinals have become a dynasty partially because they operate from a dusty single-wing-type formation with a few modern gadgets thrown in—a split end, wingback and a flanker. It is an unorthodox formation, so foreign to the opposition, in fact, that a rival coach once requested rescheduling the Jewell game to the final day of the season.
Like St. John's, Jewell has a no-cut policy. "Our philosophy is that football has educational implications just like our other extracurricular activities," says Coach Jim Nelson. "We try to give everyone who wants to a chance to sing in the choir, appear in school plays and play football. We tell our new players, no matter how unpromising, that if they will stick it out and be patient with us eventually they'll get to play in a game."
Jewell has its 12th conference title assured, thanks to the presence of four excellent athletes: Wide Receiver Alvin Lowery, Wingback Tracy Woods, Fullback Bill Cantrell and Quarterback Danny Brown. "Brown is like another coach," says Nelson. "He has initiated several of the wide-pass patterns we have installed in our offense."
Nelson can use the help. In his 20 years at William Jewell he has been a one-man athletic department: director, sports publicist and coach of the tennis, basketball and track teams. Recently he resigned as dean of men. He is an example of the small-college football ideal, the coach as Renaissance man.