"Speeches are more important than formations, boy! You're missing the point of all this, son. You don't build a football team in the spring and fall. You build it from December to March when you're out on that circuit, making the speeches, shaking the hands, telling the jokes, slapping the backs! That's where your team is born. That's where you hear about the prospects."
He jumped up and walked across the room and back.
"Lordy," he said, "we had some times in the old days. There was this friend of mine, this dentist. Doc Fletcher. I threw him all the team's bridgework and I tell you his dentures were the most natural-looking you ever saw. Many times a boy's appearance was actually improved over what it was with his own teeth."
Doc Fletcher was a genius in many ways. He made a fine appearance with his gray hair and gold-rimmed eyeglasses. I used to take him along sometimes when I went to talk to parents. For such occasions, the Doc used to wear a black suit and a black felt hat and a neat black bow tie. When I introduced him as Doctor, why sometimes the parents would assume he was a reverend—especially after the Doc had tossed out a Biblical quotation or two." Blenheim held up his hands.
"Now, mind you, boy," he said, "there was no deception. I never said he was a reverend. If the parents got that impression, why the matter was out of my hands. Doc was a wonder. If he saw that the folks were a little vague on the Good Book, he would make up a quotation that sounded authentic and fit the case exactly. I recall we got one boy away from Southern Methodist that way."
The old coach scowled.
"Finally, though, the Doc went too far. I had to give him his quietus. It happened when we were battling Notre Dame for an all-state halfback we wanted very bad. Notre Dame had all but landed him when the Doc took it upon himself to go see the family. He came back with the boy signed. I didn't find out until later that Doc had turned his collar around and introduced himself to the parents as Father Fletcher. He proved to those good people that Notre Dame was overrated."
"Golly," said Bob Wyczk, "I didn't know that big-time coaching was so complicated."
"Complicated?" said Blenheim. "Why, boy, I've just touched the highlights. It's a 24-hour, 365-day-a-year job. No end of detail. Why, son, one time I had to call in the chef who puts on the buffet luncheons in the press box. Seems one of the finicky old sports editors complained that he'd got ptomaine from our lobster salad."
"I was going to ask you about press relations," said Bob Wyczk. "The sports editor at home is a very good friend of mine."