Gaston Green, an unabashed Humphrey Bogart fan, has posters of Bogie all over the walls of his room at UCLA. Green admires the way Bogart spoke and dressed and tries to emulate his suave success with women. But the tailback seeks a treasure not found in the Sierra Madre and a prize beyond Ingrid Bergman.
"When I was growing up," Green says, "I always dreamed of winning the Heisman Trophy."
To that end Green has carved out the starring role at UCLA, and he's surrounded by the Bruins' best supporting cast in years.
"You've got to be a village idiot not to pick UCLA in this conference," says John Cooper, coach at Arizona State.
On defense, the Bruins return four starters from the team that clobbered Iowa in the Rose Bowl two years ago. Two-time all-conference noseguard Terry Tumey is a lion on the line, and in the secondary, five players have been starters. James Washington is another of the Bruins' fine free safeties, following such stars as Kenny Easley and Don Rogers.
And at linebacker the Uclans are loaded. Consider this:
•Coach Terry Donahue briefly entertained the possibility of moving linebacker Carnell Lake to fullback, where the Bruins already have Mel Farr Jr. and James Primus.
•When the Bruins lost two-year starter Eric Smith, who led the team in sacks with 11, to a back injury last week, Donahue could turn to either Melvin Jackson, who started all 12 games for UCLA in 1985, or Ben Hummel, a starting outside linebacker last season at SMU.
Smith's summer replacement and Lake will man the outside positions. Chance Johnson and Ken Norton Jr., the son of the former heavyweight champ, will work inside. Norton led the Bruins in tackles last year with 106 and was a second-team All-America.
Unlike Hummel, whose kismet is as yet unrevealed, transfers Troy Aikman and David Richards (see story on opposite page) will be put to work by the Bruins immediately. Quarterback Aikman started four games for Oklahoma in 1985 before he broke his leg and sent Barry Switzer, who had installed a special passing formation just for him, rummaging through the trash for his old wishbone offense. Aikman should beat out last year's No. 2, Brendan McCracken, who would rather run than pass.
Richards, a 6'5", 313-pound offensive tackle, should make Green even more effective, and that's a frightening thought. Green, whom teammates call Gas or G-Force, rushed for 1,139 yards and 14 TDs last fall, and then shredded BYU for 266 yards and three scores in the Freedom Bowl. "He's a jet," says ASU's Cooper. "He's got a passing gear. He reminds me of Gale Sayers. Give him a step, and it's over."
Says Green, "I wish I could be in a time machine and see what's going to happen this season."
If the future holds a Heisman, Green has already promised that he will accept the award wearing a white dinner jacket similar to the one that Bogart wore in Casablanca. No doubt Green appreciates Bogart's own pursuit of a priceless statuette.
Green knows the scene by heart: At the end of The Maltese Falcon, Ward Bond picks up the title object and says, "It's heavy. What is it?"
Bogie answers, "The stuff that dreams are made of."
Victorious in last five bowl appearances
Only Pac-10 school to finish in Top 20 each of last five seasons
Seven first-round draft choices in last 10 years