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KICKOFF IN DIXIE
Roy Terrell
September 29, 1958
Jim Tatum, rebuilding at North Carolina, tells how it's done—only he hasn't yet figured out how to win 'em all
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September 29, 1958

Kickoff In Dixie

Jim Tatum, rebuilding at North Carolina, tells how it's done—only he hasn't yet figured out how to win 'em all

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If Tatum is happy at Carolina, certainly Carolina is happy with Tatum—which is quite a switch from 2½ ago. His arrival on the campus back in 1956 was greeted by an editorial in the Daily Tar Heel, which screamed that "Professionalism in athletics has come home to roost in Chapel Hill." Tatum, in characteristic fashion, defended the student editors' right to criticize his methods but disagreed wholeheartedly with their viewpoint. "If they didn't want big-time football here," he said, getting right to the heart of the matter, "they wouldn't have hired me."

Today everyone at Carolina, including the student editors, the student body, the faculty and the alumni, have to admit that Tatum has accomplished what he started out to do without seriously disturbing the status quo. Fears that his football program would dominate the school have vanished; critics who claimed that he worked on the premise that overexposure to study could be ruinous to a good football player have been hushed. There are still the books and undisturbed are the traces of Ivy—southern Ivy, that is—but there is a pretty good football team, too.

Perhaps most important of all, there exist today across the lovely tree-lined campus, in the stately old red and white brick colonial dormitories and classrooms, a sense of spirit and pride and enthusiasm which represents the finest thing that intercollegiate football can really ever do. At Carolina football has become a respectable—and important—part of campus life once more.

Carolina didn't even mind so much the fact that its team, favored by two touchdowns, blew the season opener to State. After all, the entire Atlantic Coast Conference seemed to be a bit confused last Saturday.

At least the 1958 North Carolina football team demonstrated that it wasn't going to quit. While Tatum paced the sideline like a taunted tiger behind bars, his ball club gave the ball away deep in its territory four times in the first half, and then danged if they didn't come out right after the half and do it again. It was a wonder State led by only 21-0.

But then they began to roll. Playing good football, they scored twice in the last quarter to make the final score 21-14, and this was nothing to be ashamed of at all. There are other games ahead and Carolina is going to win some of them. This is more than they could have said at Chapel Hill three years ago.

While Tatum was losing, more than a thousand miles away the University of Texas beat Georgia partially because of the presence on its coaching staff of a rather dignified, introspective gentleman of 43 named Lan Hewlett, who never won a varsity letter in football nor, for that matter, even pulled on a cleat. Despite his nonathletic background—his undergraduate Saturday afternoons were spent tootling a clarinet in the Longhorn band—horn-rim glasses and professorial air, Hewlett's credentials are in perfect order. At Texas they do not consider it important that he knows little or nothing about the fine points of the split-T and couldn't tell a red dog from a Doberman pinscher. Lan Hewlett is the "brain coach."

Brain Coach Hewlett is, in a manner of speaking, the brain child of Darrell Royal, the successful young man who quarterbacked Oklahoma back in the days of Jim Tatum, no less, and found himself a spot deep in the heart of Texas last fall by leading his sophomorish Longhorns into the Sugar Bowl in his first attempt.

Upon his arrival in Austin in the spring of 1957, Royal discovered that the university was embarked upon a program to raise its academic standards to new and formidable heights. With understandable dismay he also discovered a byproduct of this otherwise admirable venture: 15 scholastically ineligible football players. Royal, only 34, has been known in his youthful idealism to suggest that big-time football and high academic standards can co-exist on the same campus. To be perfectly honest, however, there is no record that Darrell leaped into the air and clicked his heels in mounting joy over the chance to put this somewhat revolutionary theory to the test. What he did do was ask Dr. Logan Wilson, president of the university, to give him a man who could spend all of his time helping the boys with their problems. That man turned out to be Hewlett.

"I guess you would have to say," Hewlett says now, "that Darrell invented me."

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