When Chico Vaughn of the St. Louis Hawks was a high school basketball star in Illinois and fancied by college coaches everywhere, Coach Chuck Orsborn of Bradley, in Peoria, persuaded him-that Bradley was the place he ought to go to make educational hay and baskets. Vaughn, however, did not seem to be a youth of unshakable convictions, so a Bradley player-was" assigned, to, be his buddy until Chico had successfully registered and was in class. "Whatever you do," the buddy was instructed, "don't let Vaughn out of your sight." After three days, however, Vaughn's company began to wear, and his custodian stole out for a late date. Faster than a wallet grab, Coach Tom Blackburn of the University of Dayton materialized. Whisshhh! Chico Vaughn was on his way to Dayton before morning.
It-was-little comfort for Coach Orsborn that Vaughn skipped out of Dayton, too, and wound up, before he became too much older, at Southern Illinois. What did concern Orsborn was that where once he had a large plus (Vaughn) on his freshman roster he now had a large minus (no Vaughn), and the season for signing hotshot high school basketball players was practically over. One last hope was Chet (The Jet) Walker.
Walker, a Michigan high school star, at that moment was preparing to take the train to the University of Nebraska, where he already had sent his trunk of clothes. How Orsborn learned of this is not known, though it is believed that most successful coaches have occult powers. In any case, Walker says that when, en route to Nebraska, he stopped off in Chicago to visit a friend, there to advise him on the remainder of the trip was Coach Chuck Orsborn of Bradley. The next day a friendly police chief in Peoria arranged with a friendly police chief in Nebraska to have his trunk reshipped to Bradley. To Orsborn's immense satisfaction, Walker became an All-America; Vaughn became one of the better small-college players.
Not every story of a high school basketball player willing to allow a college to give him a $10,000 scholarship is quite so rich in melodrama, of course, and these two may have acquired a little extra as they made the rounds. But the significant thing about most tall stories of tall boys is that they usually illuminate the brilliance, ingenuity and clever footwork of the coach instead of the player. The reason for this is significant, too: there is no such thing as a successful coach who is not also a successful recruiter. Like it or not, recruiting is the essence of modern coaching. Bones McKinney, head basketball coach at Wake Forest, offers this illustration: "When I coached the golf team here one year I had for my six players the six sons of six golf professionals. The sixth man won a match by shooting a 66. One of the six was Arnold Palmer. Now, you can coach boys like that."
Every year, from April to September, thousands of high school basketball players are flattered, coaxed, poked at, preached at, catered to and won over by college basketball coaches who have checked and rechecked their height, weight, scoring average, intelligence quotient, medical history, boiling point, Rorschach, generator, carburetor and behind their ears. But the pursuit of the really talented ones is especially frenetic. "You play from November to March," says one coach. "But you win from April to September."
Recruiting is only as reprehensible as you make it, most coaches believe, and the better ones do not seem to mind it at all. "I'm a good recruiter," says Utah's Jack Gardner, "and I'm proud of it." Gardner calls it "the American way"—the competition of salesmanship. He once had a boy salesmanshipped smack out of the dormitory by a rival coach, and bit his lip a hundred times thereafter as the boy went on to make All-America. Another time he had an appointment in Arizona with a prospect, only to discover on his arrival that he had been preceded by a coach with a private airplane. The coach had the flighty boy off joyriding.
Generally, however, most of the infighting is done by innuendo ("You can't make their team." "You wouldn't want to go to a school that small, would you?" "Did you know they make you go to preaching five times a week?"). And most of the hysterics come from coaches who have just been scooped, not burglarized. Kentucky's Adolph Rupp confronted the Army coach at a Louisville cocktail party not long ago and threatened to call his Congressman because Army had won a very talented boy out of Kentucky—and out from under Rupp's very sensitive nose. It is not easy to forgive being scooped.
The boy who is hip to the routine contributes to the coach's wretchedness. He lets himself be indulged by every recruiter who makes a pitch. He is allowed by NCAA rule one expenses-paid trip to any school that will have him. One boy had been visiting schools every weekend for two and a half months when Bones McKinney finally got to him. " 'I'm seeing the country, Coach,' he told me," McKinney recalls. " 'Sure is big, ain't it?' "
In their quest, coaches send out detailed questionnaires, write hundreds of letters, make thousands of telephone calls. They make speeches at high school banquets. On visits to the homes of prospects they endure great gobs of cornstarch pie. They smile and nod through innocuous conversations. They sit pinioned in cramped high school gymnasiums and trust their eardrums to the screeching of teen-agers. They ride leaky ferries, stand in the rain, catch the grippe in the snow, laugh at and tell bad jokes, get lost on strange roads.
Tex Winter of Kansas State, a former Navy pilot who was provided with a plane by K-State fans to facilitate his movements, traveled 1,550 air miles in a three-day trip last spring. He saw seven prospects, table-hopping from Pittsburg, Kans. to Erie, Kans. to Mount Vernon, 111. to St. Louis to Potosi, Mo. to Chicago to Milwaukee and back to Manhattan, Kans. "Then you have to be an actor," says Abe Lemons of Oklahoma City University. "You travel 900 miles in a rented car to see a couple prospects and you act like you just happened to drop in."
The successful recruiter knows moments of utter joy. When Kansas State's Winter signed Nick (The Stick) Pino, a 7-foot-1 Santa Fe, N. Mex. hotshot pursued by 83 schools, he unblushingly called it "the happiest moment of my coaching career." Later, when he lost a boy he thought was in the bag, he was desolated. "I never get used to losing a good prospect," he said. "It's different from just losing a game. You can't fight back." There are times of unanimous frustration: right this minute there is a 6-foot-7, 235-pound midwestern boy known for his remarkable ability and scraggly goatee—and his IQ of 78. At other times there is such a confusion of emotion that the recruiter does not know what face to put on. Winter and his wife recently visited a Missouri boy's father who was dying of heart disease. "Don't worry," the father whispered as Winter bent over him. "My son has made up his mind to go to Kansas State."
Recruiting technique varies from coach to coach and from boy to boy. "You have to treat 'em alike and deal with 'em differently," says Wake Forest's McKinney. McKinney is a Baptist lay preacher and turns the heads of mothers and fathers with his clerical rhetoric and hell's-fire-red socks. He is the down-home type. Tex Winter is more a jet-setter. Jack Gardner tools around in a Cadillac and is ver-ry smooth. Gene Gibson of Texas Tech is a back-slapping, percolating pitchman, handsome and winning.
One of a small but inexhaustible breed of free-lance recruiters is Donald (Quack) Butler, who lays technique aside and says it is all in finding "The Key." Butler, bushy-browed, double-chinned and immoderately devoted to basketball, is an Owensboro, Ky. broker who has sent upward of 100 players to colleges from Mississippi to Colorado (he calls it "finding a five-foot-10-inch hole for a five-foot-10-inch boy. Making 'em fit, admiral.") Butler says his correspondence is equaled only by Ann Landers', and his telephone bill has more digits than his telephone number. He is an expert on the backwoods country ("I know every man and dog on both sides of the Ohio River"), and he says there is only one fast rule: you positively "never storm into somebody's home and make a recruiting pitch sound like the Gettysburg Address. No, sir. You find The Key. After that it's easy as eating fried chicken."
Butler tells of the signing of Tommy Kron, a 6-foot-6 Kentuckian who had moved as a boy to Tell City, Ind. "When Tommy was 12 years old I watched him play Little League. I sent him a Kentucky brochure and told him he ought to think about going to UK. He wrote me back: 'Mr. Butler, I hope someday I'll be good enough to play for Kentucky.' When he graduated from Tell City High two years ago, every coach in the free world was after him. He'd go good in the Big Ring [Butlerese for major college basketball]. When I spotted him in the hotel lobby at the NCAA finals in Louisville, he was surrounded by big-name coaches. All I did was walk up to him, pull out his letter and say, 'How about it, son?' First he was stunned. You get the picture. Then he blushed and said, 'It still goes, Mr. Butler.' " Sophomore Tommy Kron will start for the Kentucky varsity this year—and so will three other boys, including All-America Cotton Nash, recruited for Adolph Rupp by Quack Butler.
If there is a surefire advantage in recruiting, it goes to those who know the cut of a prospect's jib, right down to the last thread. Coach Vic Bubas of Duke is often called the outstanding recruiter in the business—and other things, too, by those he outrecruits. He keeps his trail well covered. But in a casual test of reconnaissance he reveals an astounding knowledge of the landscape and what is on it. Sitting in a hotel lounge with a coaching friend one night, Bubas submitted to a modest wager. The friend described a high school prospect: "Six feet 8, great hands, mother and father divorced, sister likes Fanny Farmer cherries." Bubas had to name him: "Ezra Bekeldorf, Dyspepsia, Ill." "Right," said his friend.
This went on for 10 minutes more—Bubas unerringly putting the scraps of information together—until his friend described a boy 6 feet 10,240 pounds, averaged 32.1 points a game, an orphan with one gold tooth in front. Bubas scowled. Finally he said,' "There is no such person." "Right," sighed his friend.
A basketball coach is considerably more alone in his search than the posse of coaches that goes out after the school's football material every year, but he is helped some by alumni, by newspapers, former players, freelancers like Butler, by accommodating high school coaches and by a publication known as Bones, a graded line on hundreds of high school athletes published strictly for coaches by Dave Bones Publications of Toledo. In the end, however, he must win his prize face-to-face, and usually in the boy's home or home town. At this crucial confrontation the coach conducts the services, because he is, after all, the coach. But all the letters written and the miles traveled are as time wasted if he overacts, undersells, develops conversational paralysis or uses the wrong fork.
On a day last spring, four prominent college coaches went out to make what they hoped would be that final successful pitch—Gene Gibson of Texas Tech, young and emotional; Bones McKinney of Wake Forest, older, wiser, more relaxed; Jack Gardner of Utah, smooth as apple butter; Tex Winter of Kansas State, a class entry. Each had picked out a boy he calculated would make a major contribution to the varsity in the next two or three years.
Tex Winter drove the 120 miles from Manhattan to Kansas City, Mo. in a one-year-old Chevrolet that belonged to the school's athletic department and had already given 63,000 miles to the cause. His wife, Nancy, was along on this trip, indicating a major campaign. "A great asset," said Tex. "She helps me get across to parents that a college coach is a family man, too."
They checked into the Hotel Muehlebach, and Nancy went off to scout the display windows of Harzfeld's. When she was gone, Winter loosened his tie and sprawled across the bed with a pile of file cards. The card he held out was that of Ron Franz, age 17, 6 feet 5, forward, 20-point average, Ward High School. Franz was still growing and was the best prospect in the area. Winter had already sent Ron Franz applications for admittance to the school and a grant-in-aid (scholarship), had phoned him twice and had made a dinner date for the evening.
Nancy returned with a new pair of earrings ("my special weakness," she said) and they headed for the Franz home. It was on a small street where the houses clung together—neat, freshly painted, the best-kept house on the block.
Mrs. Franz and Ron, dressed conservatively in dark clothes, were waiting. Mrs. Franz was conciliatory and at ease. Ron was as stiff as a palace guard. To warm the air, Winter asked him if he played baseball. Ron said he did not, that he had little talent for the game. Winter observed that Ray Sadecki of the Cardinals had attended Ward High, too. Ron seemed interested. They talked Sadecki across town to The Golden Ox restaurant, best known of Kansas City's edge-of-the-stockyards steak houses and a favorite of people like Mickey Mantle and Al Lopez.
Winter urged a 16-ounce top sirloin on Ron and anybody else who had the courage. "Don't hold back," he said. Everybody ordered steaks, not holding back. Tex asked Ron if he had a girl friend. Ron shook his head. "I'm his best girl," Mrs. Franz said archly. Ron's best girl then went on to say that 18 schools were after her son. "They won't let him alone," she said. "Why, just the other night in a couple hours he had phone calls from six schools." Ron said he already had visited Michigan State and St. Benedict's and was going to Colorado next weekend. "Don't you think you'll just get confused if you visit too many campuses?" asked Winter.
The steaks came and drew immediate attention. Tex cut into his and said offhandedly, "You know, Ron, when we go on basketball trips we arrange our travel schedule so we can come back through Kansas City and take in the big buffet they serve here at the Ox every Sunday. But that's not all," he continued. "A bunch of our graduates gives us a whole steer every year. We get beef like this regularly at our training table."
Winter turned to Mrs. Franz. He said he had been told that Ron's father was dead. Mrs. Franz nodded. "Eleven years ago," she said. She had gone to work to support Ron and his two older sisters and was now head of the camera department at one of the downtown Kansas City drugstores. Nancy Winter broke in to point out that Tex's father had died when he was 11. "Tex's mother went to work and raised Tex and three other children."
Conversation drifted into two parts. Nancy talked jobs, grandchildren and dogs with Mrs. Franz, and Tex slid his ice cream closer to Ron's. "I've just about decided," he said quietly, "to offer scholarships to about eight boys. You're one of the three forwards I'd like to have. Your skills fit our style of play. Frankly, it takes an exceptional sort of player to be a starter as a sophomore, but I know you're an exceptional player." Ron nodded, gratified. "We think we have more to offer in basketball than any school anywhere," Winter continued. "Over the last 12 years more fans have watched Kansas State play at home than any other school in the country. We have three full-size practice courts, plenty of room for individual attention. And you won't find any night practice for freshmen, either. You'll have plenty of time to study. What is it you want to be? A certified public accountant? Well, we've got a fine and growing business school."
Driving back to the Franz home, Tex talked of how hail-and-well-met the fellows were at Kansas State and how lasting friendships were born there every day. Nancy Winter said that they often had players living with them. The car reached the Franz house, and everybody got out and stood around under a streetlight. Tex said he would make reservations for Ron's trip to Manhattan in April. "We'll put him in one of our Catholic fraternities, and he'll be able to get to Mass on Sunday morning," he said. He turned to the car. "Just a minute now—I want to sign this for you." He began scribbling in a book, The Triple-Post Offense—by Tex Winter.
Ron, his sister and brother-in-law visited the Kansas State campus in April. Mrs. Franz stayed home. On May 25 The Kansas City Star reported that Ron Franz had signed a grant-in-aid to go to the University of Kansas, the archrival of Kansas State. Tex Winter called it "a lasting disappointment."
It was raining in Dallas, and Coach Gene Gibson of Texas Tech was out in it. He stood in front of the small, single-story brick house belonging to Robert Glover, a Dallas bus driver. Glover's son, Bob, was big like his father, 6 feet 7, 225 pounds and, furthermore, had averaged 20-points-plus a game for Thomas Jefferson High. Bob was much admired by Coach Gene Gibson, but Gibson could not get in out of the rain to tell him so because Mr. Glover was limiting the sales talks to one at a time and another coach was already inside with Bob. The glow of the runway lights of Love Field could be seen from the front yard. They were red.
A television .man joined Gibson on the lawn. He had been tipped that basketball hero Bob Glover, sought by 50 schools, was about to make his decision. Mr. Glover, tall, light-haired, himself an ex-basketball player, said, "The boy is really up in the air about this thing. He's in there now talking to Archie." Archie Porter had been Glover's coach at Jefferson High School. A friendly, estimable man, Porter was now an assistant coach at Texas A&M. He was also the Glovers' next-door neighbor. There was anticipation at Texas A&M that getting Porter on the coaching staff was getting Bob Glover on the dotted line as well.
Conversation turned lightly to the rain and its benefits to the corky Texas soil. "It's not benefiting me much," said the TV man, bringing up his lapel collar and his susceptibility to head colds. He tried to look past Mr. Glover into the living room but could see nothing beyond the edges of the Venetian blinds. Gibson faced him. "How would you feel if your son definitely wanted to go to a certain school?" he asked, so that Mr. Glover would know whose interests Gibson was looking out for. "Could you see any reason for him visiting anywhere else?" The TV man laughed nervously.
The rain came harder. Gene Gibson squirmed. "Well, let's get in out of the rain," he said and made for the door. Mr. Glover relented. "I think they're about through in there now, anyway," he said. Gibson told the TV man to run out and get his camera. "We'll be ready to shoot the signing in a jiffy."
With the new arrivals, the tiny, spotless living room became cramped with people. The furniture in the room was modern, or had started out to be before funds ran out. The light from a red table lamp made everybody look flushed. Archie Porter, balding, moisture glistening on his forehead, poured himself a glass of water and suddenly stood up. "All I'm asking you to do, Bob, is go down and look over the Texas A&M campus first," Porter said to the boy. "You owe it to yourself and your future to compare the schools." His voice held the exasperation of a man who had been a very long time trying to make a very elementary point. Bob Glover, crew-cut, good-looking, stoop-shouldered, put his hands in his cotton pants and took them out again. "Bob," said Gene Gibson, "you already know what you want to do."
There was a long silence. Everyone seemed to be walking in water up to his hips, though they were all standing still. Bob Glover's pretty, gray-haired mother could be seen through a doorway. She was red-eyed. The boy began to pace, slapping at the door frame as he moved back and forth. As he walked by, Gibson patted him on the arm. "I know it's tough for you, son," he said. "It sure is," said Bob. "I just don't know what to do."
Gibson hopped up to the table and laid out his papers. "Sit right down here, then, Bob, and sign your name," he said. "And you, you get your camera ready," he told the TV man. Nobody moved.
Finally Bob stirred. "Dad, I want to talk with you alone." They went into a bedroom. Archie Porter turned to the TV man. "I tell you, I'm shook," he said. "A lot of people are counting on me. I'm new to this game, but I tell you I'm learning fast. If he'd just come down and look at our school first..." He paused. "This is my first real challenge as a college coach, and it looks like I'm about to flub it."
Bob Glover reappeared with his parents. His mother had been crying and was the most upset of the three. "I've made a decision," Bob said. "I'm going to sign right now. With Texas Tech." Archie Porter jumped to his feet as if struck right in the bottom of his chair, but Gene Gibson beat him to Glover's hand. "Congratulations, son," said Gibson. The defeated Archie Porter took his protégé's arm. "Best of luck, Bob," he said. "I want you to know I'm with you always. Now, if you'll excuse me, Mr. and Mrs. Glover..."
In the cascade of relieved conversation that invariably follows a tense decision reached, Bob said he had liked Texas Tech from the start. He said he was not a good student and was pleased that Gibson had a full-time academic coach. "He'll see to it you make your grades," said Gibson. Bob said he liked the town of Lubbock, too—"friendliest people I've ever seen"—and thought the coliseum where Tech plays was the nicest he had been in. Eventually he uncoiled from his easy chair and went over to the table to cut himself a big slice of banana cake. "Good cake," he said. Mrs. Glover said that it had been sent over earlier by Archie Porter.
Horace (Bones) McKinney describes himself as a manly sort of fellow "muscled up like a clothesline," a man convinced that flying is the Devil's way to get him, and a man given over to his fat temper. "When I had Len Chappell at Wake Forest in 1960," he says, "I got mad at him one day at practice and ran up screaming, 'Leonard, do you know I can whip you?' He outweighed me about a ton and a half. 'Yessir,' he said. 'That's not true, Leonard,' I said, 'and don't let me ever catch you lying to me again.' "
Above all, however, Bones McKinney finds Bones McKinney to be a man who truly likes people—"I have six children, and you almost have to like people to have six children." The converse, as it would naturally follow, is that people like Bones McKinney. As an old eagle scout (11 years at Wake Forest), his forays into the field for fresh talent have been known to make a man wonder just who is recruiting whom.
There were two prospects McKinney considered must-gets last spring. In quest of one of them, Jim Boshart of Walt Whitman High, Huntington Station, Long Island, the coach rented a car in New York City, picked up one of his former players, Dave Budd of the Knickerbockers, whose sister is married to Mc-Kinney's son, and headed out to Long Island. He took Budd along for company, he said, "and because this boy reminds me of you, Dave. Except he talks. You said about two words a season when you came to Winston-Salem."
Jim Boshart was of a type coaches like to wish on themselves: 6 feet 5, 220 pounds, 23-point average, an honor student aiming for a degree in political science. His father, Jim Sr., is vice-president of the Franklin National Bank of Long Island. When somebody asked McKinney to describe the appearance of the Boshart home later, he said, "It looked like I wanted it."
Jim had visited a dozen schools and had made a weekend trip to Wake Forest. McKinney believed he was "leaning." Illinois and Memphis State were contenders, he said, but not enough to tense up the old clothesline. At the Boshart house, McKinney quickly relaxed into a chair, his spidery limbs working at wild angles, his brilliant red socks lighting up the dark corners. The Bosharts hung on every word, smiling and nodding and obviously impressed. The atmosphere was totally casual.
"At Wake Forest, Jim will never be just a number," said the coach.
"Will I get all I want to eat?" Jim asked, grinning.
"Oh, I think you'll manage. You met Ronnie Watts. We're always afraid he's going to eat the trays, but he gets by."
Jim said he had found the campus "very friendly."
"Well, you really get to know your friends on game nights," said McKinney. "In our small gym, the folks come and sit right on your shoulder. Did I tell you we're scheduled to play in the Garden, year after next?"
Mr. Boshart nudged his wife. "We'll catch that one, won't we, Mother?"
The Bosharts took McKinney out to show him the huge back porch. Jim stayed back to ply Dave Budd with questions about the pros ("Can Chamberlain really press 300 pounds?").
"You'll have to watch that boy," said Mr. Boshart. "He's lazy."
"It's the sure sign of a good competitor," said McKinney. "He's strong, like Dave there. In fact, he looks just like Dave did when he came to Wake Forest. I understand that he's quite a creative athlete."
"I saw him go 50 yards for a touchdown once," said Mr. Boshart, "and he looked like he was just coasting. Four or five schools said they wanted him just for football."
"Well, let's not spread that around," said McKinney.
"Jim told me of all the trips he'd made and all the people he'd met there was none he liked better than Coach McKinney," said Mr. Boshart.
" 'Coach McKinney, he's the greatest' is what he kept saying over and over," said Mrs. Boshart.
Before very much longer, there was a gathering around the coffee table on the porch and Jim Boshart signed a Wake Forest grant-in-aid.
"I'm real proud of this," said McKinney. "I can assure you he'll be happy from the day he arrives."
"Don't forget," said Mr. Boshart, "I don't want him to play football."
"You don't have a thing to worry about," said McKinney.
Later that week, Bones McKinney signed his other must-get prospect to a Wake Forest scholarship. "Some years," he said, "are like that. Thank the good Lord."
East of Ogden, Utah is the hamlet of Huntsville and the home of 18-year-old Greg Harrop. From the Harrop house to the campus of the University of Utah it is 46 miles as the white air-conditioned Cadillac flies—the one with the blue-leather upholstery belonging to Utah Coach Jack Gardner. After a time, said Morris Buckwalter, Gardner's assistant, you could "just point the car north on U.S. 91 and it would automatically wind up at Harrop's front door."
Greg Harrop, 6 feet 2, a slick back-court player at Ogden's Weber High, was the best little man Gardner had seen in 10 years of scouting. He had been informed of Harrop by Arnie Ferrin, a former Utah star, and after a number of contacts invited the boy to the Gardner home on Michigan Avenue in Salt Lake City. The Gardners' picture window overlooks the Bonneville Golf Club. Greg Harrop, Gardner had learned, was keen about golf. Gardner left the drapes open to provide an inspiring view of the first hole.
On that day Gardner, spiffy in sport shirt and slacks, served up tall iced Cokes and told Harrop about a boy who once appeared at the Gardner front door, asking to play for Utah. "He told me he averaged 30 points a game, was class valedictorian, could hook with either hand and was the fastest big man his prep coach had ever seen. I asked him if he had any weaknesses. 'Yes,' he admitted. 'I have been known to tell a lie.' " (Gardner has been searching for a new opening joke. One of his recruits heard the same story at another school last spring.)
Gardner soon had Harrop believing that there was no university like Utah. He spoke of academic standards ("basketball is second at Utah, education is first"), of Greg's future ("our interest in you will not end when you get your degree"), of the housing ("new dormitories, TV, kitchenette, laundry service—and sometimes extra-long beds for basketball players to grow into"), the fine food ("seconds all around") and the attractive schedule ("we even play in Hawaii and usually end up in one of the big postseason tournaments"). Gardner's delivery was irresistible, and when the visit was over he felt he had won his man. Then Harrop went to visit Brigham Young University and the report got back to Utah that he was going to enroll there.
Out came the white Cadillac, and Buckwalter pointed it north toward Huntsville. They reached the small farming community at dusk and pulled up to the old, two-story red-brick house. There was a basketball hoop on the garage door. Greg's dad, Blain Harrop, said putting it up was his first official act when they moved in. Mrs. Harrop said yes, and it was a better job than he had done on anything since.
In the living room, Gardner and Buck-waiter tried to review the advantages of Utah, but Greg Harrop and his younger brother Jim, 15, were more disposed to talk about how great Buckwalter had been as one of Utah's "B Boys" of 1955 and 1956. "Bunte, Bergen and Buckwalter," chirped Greg. "What a group." He said he had been following Utah teams as long as he could remember. "I guess I've always wanted to play for you," he said. A cuckoo clock broke in at this point and everybody laughed, except Gardner, who was thinking that this did not sound like a boy planning to go to Brigham Young.
Mrs. Harrop said that Greg was so dedicated to basketball that he canceled his New Year's date last year because he was in training. "The girl left a letter in the car telling him that was the end. It didn't bother him one bit. And she was a candidate for Miss Universe."
Gardner laughed. "If he threw Miss Universe over, then I've got nothing to worry about."
"Are the new dorms near the golf course?" Greg asked.
"You forget about golf," said Mrs. Harrop.
Jim Harrop wanted to know if there would be anybody around to tie Greg's ties for him. Buckwalter said probably not, but he was sure Greg would be popular with the girls at Utah.
"You forget about girls," said Gardner, smiling broadly.
When the Cadillac rolled back toward Salt Lake City, Gardner felt pretty secure about Greg Harrop. "You never know, though," he said thoughtfully to Buckwalter. "When is registration day, anyway?"
Registration day came to Utah on September 25, but Greg Harrop did not. He enrolled at Weber State College in Ogden because, he told a friend, "Utah is pretty sticky on academics and, frankly, I'm not so hot in the classroom." Gardner was touring the Far East for the State Department at the time and did not get the unhappy news until he returned.
How far into the sticks a coach is willing to go may determine his success in life—if he can find his way back.
Once inside, a recruiter can score by admiring mom's apple pie while an ex-player of his regales the recruit. Outside looking in: an impatient coach.
After all the phone calls and flattery, all the miles logged and all the high hopes, too often comes the letter that starts, "Dear Coach, I'm sorry but...."