"There was my staff the last year. They were corkers and most of 'em have gone on to bigger and better things. It's not surprising to me, because a good head coach has got to make every one of his assistants good enough to take over his job. That's the ironic thing about it. Can you tell me who Biggie Munn's assistants were when he first moved to Michigan State?"
Bob Wyczk put up a hand, "I think—"
Blenheim waved him down. "I'll tell you," he said. "Two of them were Duff Daugherty and Forest Evashevski. Both of those boys went to the Rose Bowl as head coaches and won."
"There seems to be unlimited opportunity," blurted Bob Wyczk.
Blenheim ignored him. "Yes sir, a head coach is on the hot seat all the time unless he's got tenure as a professor. Of course, a few of 'em are smart. Like ol' Biggie Munn there, he moved up to athletic director, and I understand he's got an office you could park a Mack truck in." He rubbed his chin ruefully. "Trouble with me was, I didn't move fast enough. I didn't fight for tenure, and I didn't keep my eye on the old calendar." He took off his hat and ran a hand through his white hair. "I didn't realize I was beginning to slow down. I couldn't keep pace with the younger crowd at the end, I couldn't stand the late hours and the constant flying around the country. So I woke up one morning and found myself out—and down." He looked around. "Down in a cellar." His face saddened. "I hardly ever get a visitor, unless it's some kid coming to tell me his girl friend is complaining of neglect and so he'll have to give up football."
"Boogey," said Bob Wyczk, "there must be some middle ground between this and—"
Blenheim had brightened. "Man alive," he cried, "you should have seen me in action at State! Not only eight assistants coming in and out, but there was my secretary—a red-haired girl I hired because she reminded me of somebody I used to know—and a receptionist and file clerks. There were three publicity men who had to toe the mark with me and another fellow who did nothing but write my scripts for my TV and radio shows and keep his ears open for new jokes I could work into my talks."
He thrust his thumbs in his belt and chuckled in satisfaction. "People had to wait in line to see me. No telling who would show up. Might be the team doctor on a certain matter. Or the trainer and his assistants. Or the equipment man and his assistants. Or the business manager—he was like the traveling secretary of a baseball club—wanting my O.K. on a plane charter or hotel booking. Then there was the ticket manager and the advertising agency men with maybe a commercial to be integrated into my radio or TV program. I was always cooperative with the ad agency boys. I held the same sponsor, a topflight laundry, for five years straight. It was a very nice, a very profitable little sideline."
He smacked his lips, relishing the memories.
"Then the phone would be ringing every minute, the athletic director calling about next year's schedule or an allotment of complimentary tickets. Maybe the president of the university asking me to address his lodge, or one of my professor pals tipping me that one of our boys needed tutoring. High school coaches—I gave orders they were to be put right through—calling to ask advice on strategy or something or tip me off to a prospect. Then, lo and behold, the film man might walk in for special instructions. Boy, film was a big operation with us at State. We made three films of every game, a big wide-angle film to show all 22 men in action. That was for our study and to exchange with teams on our schedule. Then we made a closeup film. That was the one I would narrate on the TV. Then we made one in color to show at the various alumni busts and smokers and at other promotional affairs. Now from our black and white footage, boy, we'd make up still another film of highlights, showing all our best offensive and defensive action. We'd shoot that out to high school coaches to show before their teams. It always made a terrific hit."