Longer ago than I care to admit, when I was a young advertising salesman in Philadelphia, I particularly remember one damp Saturday afternoon. I was short of funds, so that a trip over to see my folks in New York was out of the question; but as I walked dispiritedly up the street to my boarding-house, which was not very far from Franklin Field, I was accosted by a ticket speculator who had a pair for the Illinois-Penn game. Because it had rained almost steadily for two days previously and his business had not been too good, he let me have one of the pair, and it was right on the 50-yard line. From there I saw one of the greatest football games of my life, a game which many critics say was Red Grange's finest performance, not excepting his amazing display against Michigan in 1924.
Penn's supporters had hoped that the mud would nullify Grange's vaunted speed enough to allow their heavier—and heavily-favored—team to win with its slogging line attack and iron defense. However, Grange, as has been well told in the record books, skipped and danced and floated through the mire and the puddles, ran for three touchdowns and set up a fourth—and you have my word for it that on a field where you could hardly tell the Red and Blue players from the Orange and Blue, the jersey with the famous "77" on the back looked for most of the game as though it had just come from the laundry.
Grange, of course, was All-America all three years he played varsity football and was largely responsible, in the flamboyant '20s, for the huge crowds, the enormous stadiums, the colorful, open-field style of play that has made the game the wonderful fall spectacle that it is today.
In football until 1938, when he concluded his active career as a coach for the Chicago Bears, Grange, as a telecaster and commentator on two major networks, is now even more widely seen and heard by football fans than in his playing days.
I take special pleasure, then, in announcing that Red Grange is SPORTS ILLUSTRATED'S selection to succeed the late Herman Hickman as our college football prognosticator, beginning with our special football issue of September 22.
Grange once told a sportswriter that the secret of his split-second timing, as far as he could explain it, was to move whenever he saw light ahead. I know that with his superb knowledge of the game and its ins-and-outs, the coaches, the plays and the players, he will enable all of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED'S readers to see lots of light ahead, in what looks like an exciting football year.
SI'S RED GRANGE