SI Vault
Mervin Hyman
September 18, 1961
John Hadl is that modern-day rarity, a triple-threat quarterback. He leads Kansas in a region that boasts more good football teams than any other
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September 18, 1961

The Midwest

John Hadl is that modern-day rarity, a triple-threat quarterback. He leads Kansas in a region that boasts more good football teams than any other

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1960 record: Won 8, lost 1

Sept. 23

at Marshall


Sept. 30


(no game)

Oct. 7

Western Michigan


Oct. 14



Oct. 21

at Kent State


Oct. 28

Miami (O.)


Nov. 4

West Texas State

(no game)

Nov. 11

at Ohio


Nov. 18

at Southern Illinois


Nowhere in the country is more good football played than in the sprawling Midwest. In describing an area so large—it spreads from Ohio to Colorado, from Oklahoma to the Dakotas—it is impossible to generalize, but the phrases "Midwest" or "Middle West" evoke linemen as big as Kodiak bears and backs with legs like steel girders. These images used to be confined to members of the Big Ten and to Notre Dame. No more. The big change in Midwest football today is that these schools make up only a percentage of the really excellent teams in the region.

This summer, for example, Miami, Bowling Green and Ohio University were designated major football teams by the football writers. The wonder is that the rest of the schools in the Mid-American Conference weren't similarly recognized. Long a favorite of pro scouts, the conference consistently has produced teams that can—and do, when they occasionally slip onto Big Ten schedules—beat their more celebrated neighbors.

In the Big Eight, a conference so long dominated by Oklahoma that it could arouse only ho-hum spectator interest, there suddenly are so many good teams that the race for the conference title may be the most exciting one in the country. Missouri, much the same team that many persons thought deserved the No. 1 rating over Minnesota in 1960, might very well have to struggle to come in fourth, behind Kansas and Colorado and Oklahoma.

This is not to say that the Big Ten teams are no longer any good. With the exception of Indiana and Illinois, all of them, particularly Iowa and Ohio State, have excellent prospects of ending the season at the top.

A land of plenty

Why all this good football in the Midwest? In a sense, it has always been there, as long as there has been inter-scholastic sport. Before other sections of the country had schools large enough to field a football team, there were great town rivalries in the Midwest in which, it often seemed, a community's entire honor was put to the test. The tradition has continued. The quality of high school football in the Midwest, in fact, seems to improve each year. Where colleges once had to go far beyond their state's borders to find enough gifted schoolboys, they need now merely look out the back door and find a flock of them.

Pat Richter, the huge (6 feet 6, 230 pounds) Wisconsin end, is a case in point. He grew up in Madison, home of the University of Wisconsin. Last year he tied the school's record for pass receptions with 25, and this despite an injury that kept him out half the season.

Another is Colorado's All-America Guard Joe Romig, who comes from Lakewood, near Denver. In everything he does, Romig is a purist. A vicious tackier who gives you the impression of being too energetic and too impatient to wait for the next play, he has a single-minded intensity that may bring him recognition this year as the country's best lineman. He is also one of college football's best students, with close to a perfect A average as a physics major.

Ohio State has 225-pound Fullback Bob Ferguson, who came to Columbus from Troy, Ohio, because, as he says, "I liked the way Woody Hayes runs the fullback belly series." Liked seems a mild word. Last year Ferguson gained 853 yards bulling through the line.

Hayes, however, does not capture all the exceptional Ohio football players. He lost out to his downstate friend, Coach Bill Hess of Ohio University, on Tackle Dick Schultz. A high school All-America, Schultz is one good reason why the Athens school has one of the finest defensive lines in the country.

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