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THE YEAR OF LONESOME GEORGE
Roy Terrell
December 15, 1958
This magazine's peripatetic football reporter reviews the fun and trends he witnessed during 10 very lively weekends
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December 15, 1958

The Year Of Lonesome George

This magazine's peripatetic football reporter reviews the fun and trends he witnessed during 10 very lively weekends

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SCORING

TD

PAT

PTS.

Dick Bass, COP

18

8

116

Bill Austin, Rutgers

16

10

106

Ron Burton, Northwestern

12

4

76

RUSHING

R

YDS.

AVG.

Dick Bass, COP

205

1,361

6.64

Bob White, Ohio State

218

859

3.94

Dwight Nichols, Iowa State

220

815

3.70

PASSING

A

C

PCT.

YDS.

TD

B. Humphrey, Baylor

195

112

.574

1,316

7

R. Hunsaker, Arizona

191

106

.555

1,129

5

R. Duncan, Iowa

172

101

.587

1,347

11

TOTAL OFFENSE

R

P

YDS.

Dick Bass, COP

1,361

79

1,440

Randy Duncan, Iowa

59

1,347

1,406

Buddy Humphrey, Baylor

75

1,316

1,391

PASS RECEIVING

C

YDS.

TD

Dave Hibbert, Arizona

61

606

4

Ulmo Randle, Virginia

74

642

5

Chris Burford, Stanford

45

493

2

PUNTING

P

AVG.

Bob Walden, Georgia

44

45.3

Boyd Dowler, Colorado

33

43.3

Don Coker, North Carolina

31

43.2

TOTAL TEAM OFFENSE

PLAYS

YDS.

GAME AVG.

Iowa

649

3,653

405.9

COP

657

3,804

380.4

Arizona State

694

3,795

379.5

TOTAL TEAM DEFENSE

PLAYS

YDS.

GAME AVG.

Auburn

521

1,575

157.5

Purdue

485

1,590

176.7

Army

561

1,643

182.6

Not every football season has the honor of wearing an exclamation point. Some just fade away, to be forgotten in the years. But there are others when one man or one team or one game...well, remember 1924 and you remember Red Grange. 1929? The year that Roy Riegels ran the wrong way in the Rose Bowl. 1934? An end named Don Hutson. In 1940 Stanford brought the T formation to college football, and 1944 was the year that Davis and Blanchard began to roll. If 1958 is to join the list, it will be because of Lonesome George, Army's exiled end.

Lonesome George—his real name is Bill Carpenter—is not so important in himself, although he is really quite a fine end. Teams have flanked ends before, although usually they are permitted occasional access to the huddle. But Carpenter is symbolic of Red Blaik's new Army offense, and the Army attack is, in turn, symbolic of a season. Before it was over, teams all across the nation were making college football a more exciting, more entertaining show than ever before.

In Army's opening game, played on a rainy, gloomy September afternoon at West Point, the Cadets completely abandoned their old conservative, driving style of play in favor of a wide-open, all-the-way sort of offense that overwhelmed well-regarded—and visibly startled—South Carolina 45-7. The Cadets deployed Lonesome George far out on the horizon, operated from a wing-T formation with an unbalanced line, sent halfbacks scurrying in motion in every direction and threw a soggy football (28 times) all over Michie Stadium. Blaik's teams normally do not throw a football, even a dry one, that many times in half a dozen games. It was fun and Army won and before you could say Amos Alonzo Stagg, teams everywhere were doing the same thing.

Not that anyone was copying Blaik—although a few did produce a lonely end of their own. It was simply that nine-man lines and stunting, looping defenses and red-dogging linebackers and all the other complexities of modern defensive play had finally slowed the old pound-it-out attack to a stumbling walk. Coaches responded in the only possible way: they opened up their offenses to spread the defense, and college football began to be a thing of thrills and excitement once more. The 10 Saturdays whimsically indicated on the gridiron above represent a total of 460 points. Mervin Hyman, who compiled SPORTS ILLUSTRATED's weekly college football roundup, saw 10 entirely different games and 429 points. The scoring alone wasn't important, for high-scoring games can often be dull as well as bad. But these games were frequently close, and the way the scoring was accomplished is what one remembers. It was fun.

It was also successful. The three best teams in the land—LSU, Iowa and Army—were all quick-striking, tremendously exciting ball clubs. So was Pittsburgh, whose Coach John Michelosen learned his football in the grind-'em-out days of Jock Sutherland; but this year he used as many split ends and flankers and double reverses as anyone. Coach Bud Wilkinson came up with some razzle-dazzle at Oklahoma, and even Auburn, after a couple of close ones, decided to exploit the forward pass, too. By the end of the season Woody Hayes at Ohio State was the only coach who was able to resist the trend, but he had had an All-America fullback named Bob White running behind a 230-pound line.

"The offense," says Coach Bobby Dodd of Georgia Tech, "has had to move into a new area of thought."

"We're all copycats," says Darrell Royal at Texas. "Everybody likes to copy success, and that's why these things run in cycles."

There is another reason for college football's new look, which only a few coaches and athletic directors dare hint at just yet. Competition from the pros. "College football is losing fans to the pros," says Moose Krause of Notre Dame, "and we have to make the game more appealing." Not all schools are affected, as Blaik points out, but those which must play in an area where professional football is also a contender for the entertainment dollar realize that they must meet the test.

"The pros are doing it," says Dodd, "and the trend is to follow the pro game, which is drawing such fine audiences." Says Rip Miller, the assistant athletic director at Navy: "We're taking a lesson from the pros and we're going to compete with the pros. We're after that buck, too. We have to be realistic."

UNUSUAL BALANCE

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