THE TEXAS STYLE
Oklahoma's 42-7 rout of Texas probably means that Longhorn coach Fred Akers will be leaving Austin sooner rather than later. After all, last week a major Texas booster, Mack Rankin of Dallas, (who naturally is an oilman) announced, "Akers is gone. If it's DeLoss's [athletic director DeLoss Dodds] responsibility, and he can't correct it, then we'll have to get rid of the athletic director, and I've told DeLoss that. He said the press in New York would crucify us for firing a guy with that kind of record, and I said, 'DeLoss, who gives a bleep what the press thinks?' "
Well, regardless, here's what we think: It's crummy if a few guys with large bucks can hijack a college football program and announce whether a coach gets to stay. We have a quaint notion that universities should be run by university people. We also think football coaches should report to athletic directors, who should report to university presidents. Nowhere do we see a significant role in the chain of command for big-bucks, big-mouth contributors.
Akers' record in almost 10 years at Texas is 83-27-2. That's a winning percentage of .754, second only to Darrell Royal's .774, which is the best ever in the Southwest Conference. Akers has won the conference twice, been to nine straight bowls, finished in the Top 10 four times and averaged nine victories a year.
What's wrong is that Texas people are still mad that Royal isn't coaching the team. Royal was charismatic and Akers isn't. He can chill people with an ice-water personality and put them off with arrogance. These qualities, however, don't separate him from a host of other major coaches. What we have here is a problem of style, not substance.
The private Akers, who is seldom seen by the fans, is very different from the public one. For example, every Friday morning during the football season, Akers goes out to his small ranch east of Austin for a few hours of solitude. He makes coffee, and then he looks over his longhorn cattle, checks the fences and ponders an inoperable gate—just one of the guys wearing jeans and boots and wondering if it will rain soon. Conversation is about everything—except football. There's a rule against it. And there emerges a classy man who deserves a classier judge than Mack Rankin & Co.
THRILL OF VICTORY, BACKACHE OF DEFEAT
At Weber State, coach Mike Price has been having a tough time. So, like all too few coaches these days, he has tried to take the edge off the harsh reality of a lackluster season (2-3) with a lighthearted approach. For example, several weeks ago Price was getting his team ready to play at Portland State, a place known for small crowds. So he told the media he had the Wildcats practice with earplugs to get used to the sound of silence. Just a quiet little joke. But, because the Vikings' artificial turf is rock hard and it rains a lot in Portland, Price really did hold two workouts in the rain on the asphalt parking lot outside Dee Events Center. Thus prepared, Weber went on to blow a 16-3 lead and lose 27-22.
Next up was Nevada-Reno, the nation's top-ranked I-AA team. "We practiced out on I-15," swears Price, "to get used to being run over by semis." Again, nice preparation, for the Wildcats are still sporting all kinds of tire tracks after having been rolled over by Reno 38-24.
Worse, Price somehow ruptured a disk during the game. "I just can't seem to get things right," he says. "A coach is supposed to get carried off the field after a victory."
Anyway, it all seems to be for the best. Having to face the Montana State Bobcats last Saturday, the players had been concerned they would work out all week at the Salt Lake City zoo. But Price was too bent over for such nonsense. Happily, the Bobcats were cuddly, and Weber won for the first time in a month, 24-3.
Earlier this year during freshman football practice at Nebraska, the offense put a man in motion. Coaches screamed—which is what coaches do best—for the defense to change its formation. The only player to make the right adjustment was defensive end Kenny Walker. Did we mention that Walker is deaf?
The 6'4", 215-pound Walker looks like a star in the making. Since arriving in Lincoln from Crane, Texas, Walker has asked only two concessions from the coaches: that they look at him when they talk so he can read their lips, and that they leave the lights on in film sessions for the same reason. Other than that, watch him play and marvel. In three freshman games he has graded at 85% to 90%. Says freshman coach Scott Downing, "Score 75% and you'll be a winner."
An art major who has been deaf ever since a high fever took his hearing when he was two, Walker learns the entire defense so he will know where every player is supposed to be. He also reads the lips of the strongside linebacker to get the basic defensive alignment. Then he turns to the safety to pick up his signal for secondary coverage. "He's not an oddity," says Downing. "He is a tremendous player who is very aware of his surroundings."
The Cornhusker staff is to be commended, too. Realizing Walker's talents, three Nebraska coaches have learned sign language. Says Downing, "He's a load physically. And when you look at him, boy, his lights are on."
TAKING THE HIGH ROAD
Wallace Wade, who died last week at 94, was the last survivor of a glorious era of larger-than-life coaches—Stagg, Rockne, Yost. Wade coached 16 years at Duke in two stints between 1931 and 1950 and before that at Alabama from 1923 to 1930. He put together a 171-49-10 record and took his teams to five Rose Bowls.
Wade, however, should be remembered most for his attitude toward the game. "I felt it was beneath the dignity of a Duke University head coach going out and patronizing some high school youngster," he once said. "I knew where the good football players were, and if they wanted to get a good education and come to Duke, I'd have them sent to my office. I'd look them in the eye and say, 'Let's get one thing straight right now. Duke can do a lot more for you than you can ever do for Duke.' "
BAD TIMES IN BATON ROUGE
LSU just can't seem to behave properly. Last month a field goal kicker made an obscene gesture at the fans in Tiger Stadium, and coach Bill Arnsparger tried to pretend that it didn't happen. Over the past few years there have been myriad investigations into wrongdoings involving both the football and basketball programs.
Last week the wheels came off again. University chancellor James Wharton suspended AD Bob Brodhead when the State Commission on Ethics for Public Employees charged Brodhead with three violations, including taking a free trip to Mexico in April with the owner of the radio station that broadcasts LSU games and accepting outside payment for doing only what his job requires, like disseminating information about the athletic department. Naturally Brodhead, who, you may recall, pleaded guilty last spring to bugging his office for the purpose of eavesdropping on NCAA investigators, gets to keep his $82,000-a-year paycheck.
Said Arnsparger last week, "I'm disappointed for Bob. I'm disappointed for our athletic department." Disappointed? This kind of stuff is atrocious. There is no excuse, but there is a solution: Burn down the athletic department complex, fire everyone, and start over. And if that doesn't work, then drastic measures will be required.
DUM QUOTE OF THE WEAK
Ohio State coach Earle Bruce: "You don't build a winning team by losing."
Despite an underwhelming 23-17 victory over Cincinnati last week, Penn State is a tough-on-tough team that isn't getting the respect it deserves as it slinks along toward a possible national title. While others remain skeptical, we have ranked the Nittany Lions No. 2 all year. You will applaud our prescience at season's end.
Penn State has a schedule that guarantees the Lions a 6-0 record when they take on No. 3 Alabama in Tuscaloosa on Oct. 25. By the time the Tide plays Penn State, Alabama will have spent itself coping with Ohio State, Florida, Notre Dame and Tennessee. The Lions will have spent themselves coping with East Carolina.
Says Paterno, "I'm not going to apologize for this schedule." O.K., then we'll apologize for you, Joe. It stinks, but so does Miami's and that of a lot of other Top 20 schools. Doesn't matter, because come Jan. 2 the question is not who but how many. Ask BYU.
Another reason Penn State often doesn't get its due is that the school sometimes comes off as arrogant, and Paterno can sound pompous. So, hooray for the new Joe Paterno golf ball, yours for only $32.86 a dozen. It has Joe's face on it, and for some Penn State critics, that alone makes it worth smacking. Goody Two Shoes is giving his 10% royalty to the university's Joe Paterno Library Endowment. So far about 200 dozen have been sold, and sharp tongues have pointed out that the ball is a lot like the traditional Paterno offense: guaranteed to go up the middle three times out of four.
THIS REALLY HAPPENED
In its first five games, Ole Miss allowed each of its opponents to score on the first possession. Luckily, against Georgia a fortnight ago, the Rebels won the toss, but Ole Miss coach Billy Brewer inexplicably chose to take the second-half option. So the Bulldogs elected to receive the opening kickoff, and naturally they scored on their first possession. The TD turned out to be pivotal, as the Bulldogs won 14-10. Said disbelieving Georgia coach Vince Dooley, "I guess sometimes it's better to lose the toss." And never forget that coaches come in early and work late seven days a week to equip themselves to make decisions like this one.
We know we just mentioned last week Cal coach Joe Kapp being under fire, but we felt sure you would want an update. At a press conference the other day a reporter asked Kapp whether he intended to remain in coaching—a sensible question. Kapp made an obscene comment and said, "You've stripped me bare of my heart and my mind. Do you want to see everything?" With that, he unzipped his fly....
Elsewhere in higher education, Georgia is reaching out to California and Texas for recruits because Bulldog coaches think the state's secondary-education system is so weak that they are afraid instate prospects won't qualify under the tougher NCAA standards....
You have to wonder about the depth of devotion of Miami fans. The week after the huge win over Oklahoma, the Canes played again at home against Northern Illinois. The 33,905 who bothered to drop by were the smallest home crowd to see a No. 1 team since 1958, when Army played in a stadium that seated only 27,000....
Seventy years ago last week, Georgia Tech beat Cumberland 222-0 in the most lopsided game in college history....
Saturday's game between Ivy powers Penn and Brown was preempted on Channel 12 in Philadelphia by The Magic of Oil Painting....
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
OFFENSE: Beleaguered Boston College quarterback Shawn Halloran completed 26 of 36 passes for 401 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Eagles to a 30-25 upset of Maryland.
DEFENSE: In LSU's 23-14 win over Georgia, outside linebacker Toby Caston had 20 tackles, including 14 solos, and with 4:17 left to play made an interception to seal the victory.
SI TOP 20
1. MIAMI (6-0)
2. PENN STATE (5-0)
3. ALABAMA (6-0)
4. NEBRASKA (5-0)
5. MICHIGAN (5-0)
6. OKLAHOMA (4-1)
7. IOWA (5-0)
8. TEXAS A & M (4-1)
9. AUBURN (5-0)
10. ARIZONA STATE (4-0-1)
11. WASHINGTON (4-1)
12. CLEMSON (4-1)
13. ARKANSAS (4-1)
14. ARIZONA (4-1)
15. LSU (3-1)
16. MISSISSIPPI STATE (5-1)
17. USC (4-1)
18. AIR FORCE (5-1)
19. BAYLOR (4-2)
20. UCLA (3-2)
*Ranking last week