The road unreels hypnotically, and distance seems to increase rather than lessen as you drive through northeast Texas in late summer. Miles of thirsty brown land are broken only occasionally by squares of black plowed earth. Your first glance tells you that this soil should be fertile, but early settlers long ago discovered the blackland dirt assumes the consistency of clay when damp, and the Texas sun can bake it into brick. Cotton grows fitfully, subject to the fickle rainy seasons.
It is startling to reach Highway 513. Abruptly, a supermodern six-lane highway pops under the wheels. Through the shimmers of heat produced by the summer sun there seems to appear a sprawling colony of modern architecture. It is no mirage. It is East Texas State College.
The wonder is not so much that East Texas is undusty and gleamingly new, but rather that it should exist in this particular place at all, on the edge of the town of Commerce. Commerce (pop. 5,789) is shabbily genteel, its streets reflecting the region. In the halcyon days of the cotton-railroad era Commerce was the bustling economic hub its name implies. But as the cotton market dwindled, Commerce began to lose its ebullient frontier optimism and to depend upon the college for its existence.
East Texas State did not rise easily from this stubborn, faded land. Building his college from nothing in 1889, founder William Leonidas Mayo voiced the philosophy of hard work that was to become the school's credo: "You give me the will and I'll give you the education. I'll provide a garden plot or a cow or a job so that you can sell vegetables or milk or ring the college bell or do janitor work to earn your way."
Sam Rayburn, late Speaker of the House, rang that bell and did that janitor work. Speaker Sam wrote, shortly before he died, "If it hadn't been for Mayo's college, his credit and his inspiration, I don't know where I'd be today. Professor Mayo instilled the importance of having an objective in life and the need to bend every energy toward it. If teachers today are able to inspire students as Mayo did, our American future is secure."
The credit to which Rayburn refers ("students could attend free with a promise to pay when they got out") forced Mayo to turn over his college to Texas in 1917. It may not be true, as legend claims, that Mayo died within an hour of the state senate's acceptance, but it is true he is buried in a corner of the campus. Ironically, alumni returning for the homecoming football game gather around the tomb of a man who opposed the sport. The first games were bootlegged onto campus with Mrs. Mayo's approval but not the professor's. Even today they say that East Texas is a good place for a poor boy to go to school, but this—and a determination to provide education—is about the last vestige of Mayo College. More than 62% of the faculty hold doctorates, and East Texas is now the only Texas state college offering the Ph.D. Growing academic pride is reflected by a student's reaction when a friend flunked out of East Texas and enrolled at North Texas. "And thereby," he said, "we raise the academic level of both colleges." Dotting the campus are 87 buildings, most new, including a large library and a tastefully elaborate student center. The visitation committee of the Southern Association of Colleges said in 1962: "East Texas is not only a good institution but also in some respects approaches superiority."
One approach to superiority probably not contemplated by the committee is through football. East Texas has won the Lone Star football title 15 times since the league was organized in 1932 and has taken second place seven times. Since 1953 four Lion teams have played in the Tangerine Bowl, where they have won three games and tied one. The old victory bell (opposite), the same bell Sam Rayburn rang for his supper to call Mayo College students to class, was once rung for all these football victories. There were so many that the clapper wore out.
The 1964 season would have been as hard as any on Sam's bell. With so many small colleges to choose from, it is all but impossible to pick the best in the country, but by late fall East Texas State should be in contention for the national title. All the more remarkable, it will arrive at the top while relying heavily on its tradition of transmuting adversity into success. The Lion team was first stricken by the death of Coach J. V. Sikes late in the spring. Then all three fullbacks were lost. Gordon Scarborough signed with the Detroit Lions, alternate Tony Bryant (261 yards last year) decided to go on his mission for the Mormon Church and Wesley Cummings was sidelined by a back injury. Finally, two-way Halfback Olin Smith was felled by grades. But there are plenty of good men to take their places, among them Glen Robinson (459 yards rushing at halfback), who is moving to fullback. At halfback, former Assistant Ernest Hawkins still has Doug Bruner and two high-explosive sophomores: big, fast Charles Mitchell and Clyde Aicklen, who got better and better as he gained 333 yards. And Linemen Bob Burrows, 6-foot-6 230-pound tackle, and 230-pound 6-foot-5 brothers Ted and Fred Polzer are as terrifying as a plague of boll weevils.
East Texas State will have to be good merely to survive in its own conference. SAM HOUSTON and STEPHEN F. AUSTIN, two teams almost as strong in football-rich Texas, will be waiting eagerly for East Texas to make a mistake. It could be a long wait.
Similarly potent are the predominantly Negro schools. No one, for instance, can quite believe the PRAIRIE VIEW line is real. It averages 243 pounds a man and last year held opponents to 59 yards per game rushing. End Otis Taylor caught 630 yards of passes for 13 touchdowns and was chosen All-NAIA. So was Guard George Dearborne, while Tackle Horace Chandler made second-team All-America, TEXAS SOUTHERN claims to be undaunted by the Prairie View giants. This optimistic outlook, plus End Herman Driver and Guard John Thompson, is why the Tigers still hope to take the Southwestern Conference. Along with ARKANSAS AM&N and GRAMBLING, Texas Southern will be disillusioned quickly.
Abilene Christian, whose 8-1 record in 1963 was second best in ACC history, has last year's balanced backfield essentially intact. Reunited are fleet Tailback Dennis Hagaman (459 yards and eight touchdowns rushing), Fullback Mike Love (see box page 74), Wingback Bubba Brown and a skillful ballhandling quarterback, Charlie Reynolds. With Tackles Mike Capshaw and Larry Cox, Guard Ron Anders and End Dewitt Jones up front, Abilene can duplicate last year's defense, which allowed an average of only 86.2 yards per game on the ground. ARLINGTON hopes to rebound from an atrocious season and challenge Abilene Christian for the new Southland championship. That large order is being given to Wingback Kenneth Vaughn (336 receiving), Fullback Ken Bowman (158), Tailback Al Smith (278), Guard Jerry Stephens and whatever deputies they can find. ARKANSAS STATE or LAMAR TECH may beat them to the draw.
Lake Charles, La., situated on the Calcasieu River above Calcasieu Lake and accessible from the Gulf via Calcasieu Pass, is the seat of Calcasieu Parish. It is also the seat of McNEESE STATE and football Coach Les DeVall, a circumstance that may yet induce the citizens of Lake Charles to rename river, lake, pass and parish after DeVall. DeVall has lost only 17 of 65 games at McNeese and may have the best small-college team in the South this year. He has Tailback Charlie Anastasio (594 yards), Fullbacks Dan Suire and Merlin Walet and Quarterbacks Richard Guillory (401 yards passing, 125 running, eight touchdowns), George Haffner and Baron Thomas to lead the attack.
The Gulf States Conference is sublimely aggressive. If McNeese is not example enough, take LOUISIANA TECH. Tech will open its 1965 season with Rice, its 1966 season with Alabama. For the present, Joe Aillet's men content themselves with terrorizing their own league. Fullbacks Gerald McDowell (358 yards) and Wayne Noland and Halfbacks Al-den Reeves (196) and Jack Odom are the team's good runners. End Wayne Davis (309) and Halfback Corky Corkern (172) are the best catchers. Billy Laird, 90 of 157 for 1,103 yards, is the passer. Nearly everybody scores, but not enough to beat McNeese for the conference title.
Another potentially strong team is SOUTHEASTERN LOUISIANA, which reregisters a nicely matched set of running backs this fall: Halfbacks Ellis Johnson and Jerry Joe Dunaway and Fullback Kenny Dyer or Harry Nunez. Towering Tackle Maxie Williams is supported by experienced sophomore Linemen Billy Andrews, Carl Barbier, Eddie Brescher and Fred Gary.
Florida A&M Coach Jake Gaither, who always before has been able to find some reason why fast backs are a handicap, had a perfect one presented to him this year: Halfback Bob Hayes, 9.1 world-record holder, will be away at the Olympics. His quarterback-end combination of last season, while not in Tokyo, is just as gone. There are consolations. Guard Owen McKay, all 265 pounds of him, is one. Ends Carleton Oats (255) and Art Robinson, Tackles Emmette Gamble (260) and David Daniels and Guard Bob Brown are others.
The Hilltoppers of WESTERN KENTUCKY topped the hill country Ohio Valley Conference a year before anybody thought they would. Western hurt the OVC with not one Burt but two—brothers Jim and John. Fullback John pounded 438 yards, bad enough. Halfback Jim rushed 530 yards, passed 334 (for four scores), received for 105 and intercepted five passes. Meanest of all, Quarterback Sharon Miller—one man who plays like two—passed 428 yards, rushed exactly another 428, received for 133 and scored 10 touchdowns.
So, does Western Kentucky stand alone? It does not. MIDDLE TENNESSEE has the statistics to prove it is almost equally good. The Blue Raiders, 123-45-7 and never a losing season in 17 years under Coach Bubber Murphy, figure at least to continue their record of finishing no lower than second in the Ohio Valley Conference. The statistics blitz does not end with Quarterback Teddy Morris' 12 touchdowns on 1,325 yards' passing in 1963. Halfback Larry Whaley rushed 207 yards and caught passes for 126 more, and Fullback David Petty rushed 332 for six touchdowns.
Tennessee Tech lost Quarterback Jim Ragland but thinks of Paul Whaley as an adequate replacement. He will be if he is like cousin Jim Whaley, who rushed 205 yards and returned kickoffs an average of 25.8 yards. Fullback Ron Reeves (555 yards), End Bob Haile, Guard Bob Borkowski and Center Bryan Draper are back to help.
Independent HOWARD COLLEGE finds pleasure in the antics of Fullback Larry Lackey (373 yards last year). Halfbacks Ed Donahoo (225) and Richard Curce (189) and Quarterback Larry Wyatt (359 rushing, 264 passing). Defense, however, is Howard's real kick. Linebacker Wally Burnham and a strong line produced three shutouts.
North Carolina College, led by two-time Little All-America Bill Hayes, should win the Central Intercollegiate championship, but do not count out MORGAN STATE. "We do expect to show up for all our games and give the best account of ourselves possible," says Coach Earl Banks.
Over in the tradition-dripping College Athletic Conference, defending SEWANEE has 22 lettermen, most notably Guard Jimmy Stewart. WASHINGTON & LEE, resigned to horrible losses, finds some solace in Linebackers Joe Miller and Jeff Novinger and in grabby Halfback Bill David. Elsewhere, HAMPDEN-SYDNEY, TENNESSEE STATE and CHATTANOOGA are schools to watch.
Los Angeles State, 20,000 strong and situated between two freeways and a parking lot, makes a strong claim on the national small-college title. One large reason is Dunn Marteen. Positively not the subject of a Scots ballad, Marteen is instead a quarterback capable of gaining on the ground (490 yards last year), passing (for 580 more) and scoring (70 points). Another argument is Fullback Art Robinson, who drove exactly 500 yards. A line averaging 231 pounds and distinguished by Tackle Richard Dick, Guard Walter Johnson and Tight End Howard Kindig cannot hurt either. If Los Angeles State was "born in carbon monoxide and raised on smog," as one professor says, its team seems to thrive on it. Visiting teams will find beating the Diablos for the California Collegiate Conference even harder than finding a parking place.
San Diego State will try. State, with ambitions to move up to the big time alongside USC and UCLA, is sparked by 215-pound Quarterback Rod Dowhower, who gobbled up 1,234 yards by completing 58 of 120 passes for an average 19.6 yards in 1963. Back again is the Elephant Backfield, averaging 218 pounds, with Tailback John Butler and Fullback Dale Hawley. It looks like an impressive season.
It might not be entire coincidence that FRESNO'S coach turned in his whistle when All-America Quarterback Beau Carter left. Carter set 14 school records by completing 115 of 226 passes for 1,595 yards and 10 touchdowns. Success now depends on Ron Melton (412 yards as a reserve). End Roger Smith (334 yards). Halfback Jim Long (247) and Halfback Bobby Lee. LONG BEACH will also be among California Collegiate contenders.
Strongest teams in Big Sky country will be MONTANA STATE and IDAHO STATE. Although Montana State has lost all but one of its starting linemen, there is a fine assortment of replacements. SAN FRANCISCO STATE has Fullback Jerry Brown (304 yards) and End Gary Chiotti, reinforced by defensive Halfback Tim Tierney and Angelo Crudo, a middle guard who is built like a steel safe. The team's stiffest opposition in the Far Western Conference may be NEVADA.
This fall should be anything but prosaic at WHITTIER. Head Poet John Godfrey has Left Halfback Ron Hales (720 yards), Larry Jaro, a shotputter, sprinter and 217-pounder, and Quarterback Ric Alvarado. 'Tis men like these will keep aloft the Poets' flight of fancy, a wing T using halfbacks behind each tackle and no fullback. Should Whittier pull an Icarus, however, a REDLANDS crew headed by hot-passing Derek Shelton, End Paul Riggins and several valuable linemen will clean up.
Almost a thousand miles east, ADAMS STATE and COLORADO WESTERN will walk each other down for the Rocky Mountain championship. Adams has the big-bore gun in Halfback Ron Wieser. Fullback Vince Wasia (404) and End Don Alley, who gained 272 yards on receptions as a freshman, are firecrackers. Western's RMC champions, nationally ranked in 1963, retain Halfback Clyde Wilson (550 yards on the ground) and End Tom Popadak.
West Chester, which makes a profession of being bad news for adversaries, should merit red headlines for its 1964 edition. The monsters from west of Media are adding breakaway scatbacks to an offense already advertising (colorfully) Terry Eberly's Golden Arm and power Fullback John Florence's uncanny knack of finding holes to enlarge. The jitter-bugging defense, led by Center Mike Mokriski, and the offensive line are strong, too.
Although Otto Graham's COAST GUARD Cadets cannot better last year's 8-0 regular-season record, they probably won't have a much worse one, either. Ed Barrett, the quarterback who completed 72 of 146 passes for 1,012 yards and eight touchdowns as a sophomore, will be back for another tour of duty this fall, and so will his favorite gunnery target, Bill Peterman, stationed either at flanker or split end. Winner of eight games over two years with placements, Cecil Allison will double his depredations as starting fullback. The line, which passes muster all around, is proudest of Center-Linebacker Ron Gipson and Tackle Tom Omri.
Joe Zabilski for politician of the year! "We definitely do not have the all-round manpower we had on last year's undefeated team," says the NORTHEASTERN coach, "but if successful experimenting in the line brings out unknown talent plus a strong backfield we feel Northeastern will be a major threat." Bob Cappadona makes Zabilski feel good. Cappadona, the fullback, bucked for 625 yards last year. He can expect holes to run through from 260-pound sophomore Tackles Sack and Asack, Alan and Bill.
Other contending eastern independents are TUFTS—behind punishing backs Jeff Griffin and John Cluney—and TRINITY, buoyed by Quarterback Merrill Yavinsky's passing (995 yards and eight touchdowns in 1963). Then there is MERCHANT MARINE. The Kings Point team has hired an habitually winning coach, Chuck Mills. Mills has two good halfbacks, Steve Koehler and Frank Menser, who can do a lot of things well. He also has a quarterback in Bob Post and entirely adequate linemen in Guard Mike Popura, Tackle Joe English and End Bill Nakos.
In West Chester's Pennsylvania conference, SLIPPERY ROCK has fast halfbacks, a deep line and Quarterback Stan Truskowski. EAST STROUDSBURG, only threat in the Eastern Division, lost all four starting backs and must rely on an even-front, wide-tackle six defense featuring Tackle Bob Ruckdeshel and Linebacker Jerry Wasilchak.
In the Northern Division of the Middle Atlantic Conference, UPSALA, JUNIATA, WAGNER and SUSQUEHANNA are as alike as four boxes of Rival Dog Food. Defending Upsala wants another trophy, a goal from which the East Orangemen will be as hard to divert as they are to spell. Interior Linemen George Hettesheimer, Dick Giessuebel and Frank DeFilippis, assisted by Len Pierson and Doug Bartell, are formidable indeed.
Coach Jim Garrett of Susquehanna read last June's commencement program and wept. Four men who had accounted for exactly 1,800 yards graduated. Fortunately, the Crusaders have Halfbacks John Vignone (515 yards rushing), Larry Erdman (306), and Tom Rutishauser (205), as well as almost all of a line that held opponents to one-third of Susquehanna's ground yardage.
Juniata returns 15 of 21 lettermen, one of whom is Quarterback Jim Sutton, Indian total-offense leader as a freshman last year with 519 yards passing and 106 rushing, and Wagner has even more lettermen. Of 29 Seahawks, 26 are back, among them Halfbacks Cliff Lish (seven touchdowns, 295 yards) and Chuck DiStaulo (242 yards rushing, 113 receiving). It will be a spirited dog fight. Competition in the MAC Northern Division, in fact, is so fierce that MORAVIAN and ALBRIGHT also figure.
Competition in the Southern Division runs more toward nicknames. For the record, the DREXEL Dragons are expected to beat out the WESTERN MARYLAND Green Terrors.
Football at WITTENBERG is as old as 1850 and as new as Quarterback Chuck Green, who accounted for more total yardage than the entire output of the Tigers' nine 1963 opponents. Green—hold on—completed 114 of 182 passes for 2,181 yards and 19 touchdowns. Even with severe losses, Wittenberg has manpower to expand Coach Bill Edwards' 132-38-8 record. Halfback Jack Morefield (305 rushing, 280 receiving) and End Ron Duncan (566) return. However, the Tigers must get superb work from Linebacker Gary Reedy, Tackles Joe Bury and Larry Stockert, Ends Ed Luthy and Carl Zoscak, and Halfback Bob Harvey to keep winning.
It will take that kind of talent to fend off the rest of the 15-team Ohio Conference, AKRON forfeited four backs who accounted for 1,882 of the Zips' 2,874 yards, yet the team still looks rugged. The defense, led by Middle Guard Bobby Johnson, and the offensive line, firmed by three-year first-string Tackles Dick Case and Tony Butowicz, are pre-stressed concrete, BALD WIN-WALLACE is also a threat despite many departures. Jerry Roberts is an outstanding end-safety and Ernie Prince a good fullback, but sophomore John Terakedis must settle in at quarterback, MUSKINGUM, with Halfback Dale Dickson, Center Dick Rider, Tackle Mark DeVilling and Quarterback Roger Post, should worry opponents, as should DENISON.
Out at Macomb, Ill. the Leathernecks will try to solve a perennial interstate problem: Who will win the conference title? The WESTERN ILLINOIS solution is concise: "Us." Power Back Noria Steward (721 yards rushing, 177 receiving, 10 touchdowns), Quarterback Dick Raber (782 yards) and End Jim Johnson (converted from fullback, where he gained 316 yards) lead the attack.
"We pride ourselves on being smart football players rather than hard-nosed," says NORTHERN ILLINOIS in scornful reply. The Huskies will have to play a very, very smart game to compensate for the loss of George Bork, most successful passer in the history of football, plus most of their offensive line. A splendid corps of sophomore linemen and Ron Christian may well be the answer. Stepping into quarterback, Christian can run and pass, some say almost as well as Bork. Time will tell.
Central Michigan has its own graduation casualties, but the Chippewas just could sneak up for another surprise anyway. Quarterback Pat Boyd (54 of 117 complete for 817 yards), End Frank Goldberg, Halfbacks George Wolfe and Bruce Wyman, Guard Ken Bickel and Tackle Glenn Foldie are back on the reservation.
Southern Illinois should be murder. Quarterback Jim Hart completed 72 of 152 attempts for 1,041 yards and 14 touchdowns. That was as a sophomore. End Tom Massey caught 20 passes for 406 yards, and that was as a freshman. Flanker Harry Bobbin, incidentally, caught 34 for 503, and End Bonnie Shelton went for 219.
Drake, another major minor recovering from a poor year, can manufacture tears over only four of 14 graduates. Sophomore Halfback C. T. Traylor (631 yards) already looks like a Johnny Bright, and sophomore Quarterback Ron Royer has already completed 43 of 87 for 629 yards. Back, in sum, are the six leading ground-gainers, BRADLEY, like Drake a fugitive from the Missouri Valley Conference during football, feels that "passing creates an exciting game, the type fans want to see if they are going to part with a buck to spend a cold afternoon outdoors." So Bradley gives them basketball during the football season, too. Quarterback Bob Caress has completed 239 of 475 passes for 2,984 yards and 23 touchdowns the last two years. Over three seasons, End Bill Marcordes has scored 16 touchdowns on 1,433 yards' gain, and End Len Harris has gone 1,232 yards for nine touchdowns. And Tony Jannotta, now a halfback, gained 980 yards and nine scores passing in two years at quarterback.
To leave aside the independents, there are some 14 important small-college conferences in the Midwest, totaling well over 100 schools. Here are the best:
"You build more character winning than losing," insists SOUTH DAKOTA STATE Coach Ralph Ginn. Presumably, had the Jackrabbits beaten Orange Bowl champion Nebraska, they would have developed enough character to over-endow every citizen of South Dakota. State did beat everybody else with passer Ron Meyer (1,077 yards), Fullback Gale Douglas (621) and End Ed Maras (327).
St. John's of the Minnesota Conference must plug many holes. Already tightly stoppered are center (Jack Hickey), end (Hardy Reyerson), halfback (Joe Hartle), fullback (Rich Froehle).
Southwest Missouri of the Missouri Association, 9-1 last fall, anticipates defensive gaps, but Halfback Cornelius Perry and a line that is excellent from one guard through the other end bulwark Bear hopes. Both KEARNEY of the Nebraska Conference and OMAHA of the Central had spectacular years, but both face awesome graduation tolls.
Losses from the undefeated 1963 RIPON Redmen, first predictable champion in many years, leaves the Midwest Conference as scrambled as before. Hopeful CARLETON, COE, CORNELL and ST. OLAF are contenders.
Too rough for his classmates
One day when Mike Love was a first-grader in Big Spring, Texas his teacher sent a note home with him from school. "Dear Mrs. Love," it read, "Mike is too rough for the other children in his grade in sports, though he doesn't intend to be." Love, now Abilene Christian College's fullback and probably the best small-college sophomore in the country, never stopped being too rough for his classmates. Says Coach Jim Cashion of Odessa's Permian High School, where Love was unanimous all-state, "I'm not sure we would have beaten anybody without him." Permian won six, lost four. As a freshman at Abilene Christian last year. Love gained 396 yards and had numerous pro scouts calling him one of the best running backs in the country. Love starts quickly, changes direction quickly, thinks quickly. ACC Coach Les Wheeler explains, "He has good speed and terrific balance." The quietly confident Love has more than one kind of balance. He can play first-rate defense, punt consistently over 46 yards and—in Coach Wheeler's words—"whether you're talkin' football or anything else, you can't go wrong on him." An almost A student in high school and a strong B at Abilene, Love tries to minimize his accomplishments and his seriousness—except about football. "Love's in love," winks his coach, "and engaged to be married November 20. That's one week after the season ends."