With a record of 3-3, Oklahoma is O.K. Bui in Norman, that's not enough.
Committed to Run
It was only a year ago that Arnold Mickens was informed that he lacked the skills to be a running back. Last October Mickens, then a sophomore linebacker and wannabe tailback at Indiana, sat in on something akin to a parent-teacher conference between his mother, Brenda Wagner, and Hoosier coach Bill Mallory.
Mrs. Wagner was blunt: " Coach Mallory, you recruited my son as a running back. Why don't you give him a chance to carry the ball?"
Mallory's reply was equally blunt: "He's not good enough. He's not good enough. He's not good enough. He's not good enough."
"Four times he said it," recalls Mickens. "I lost all respect for him then."
Whether he was good enough for Division I-A, the world will never know, but after transferring to I-AA Butler, the six-foot, 220-pound Mickens, now ensconced at tailback, is the leading rusher in all of college football. He has run for 200-plus yards in a Division I-record six straight games, and his 229.1 per game average is 53.5 yards more than that of Colorado's Rashaan Salaam, the Division I-A leader. On Saturday his 203 yards led the Bulldogs to a 31-24 win over Dayton.
"I'm happy for Arnold," says Mallory. "The key word here is maturity. We weren't pleased with his commitment here. I le was not a butt-buster."
Mickens, in other words, was not an Alex Smith. A redshirt freshman and former Mr. Football in Indiana, Smith is playing the position that Mickens so highly coveted—tailback for the Hoosiers. And like Mickens, he's running well. Smith's 147.2 yards per game average is fourth in Division I-A, and he is on pace to break the I-A freshman record for rushing yards, set by Georgia's Herschel Walker in 1980.
Smith's work ethic took root when he was six and, under his parents' tutelage, undertook a training regimen that could have been lifted out of a manual from Parris Island. Young Alex ran a timed mile before and after school and had to do 100 push-ups each night, "if Alex stopped at 63," says his mother, Carolyn, "he had to start all over."