When Glynn Griffing, the Ole Miss quarterback who was drafted by the New York Giants, turned up chubby and with his throwing arm too rusty to give VanderKelen a serious challenge for the job under the East's head coach, Milt Bruhn, a scout murmured, "I'm appalled."
"I'm not," said the usually provocative Jack Faulkner, coach of the Denver Broncos. "I'm looking for cuts."
No body contact
No matter what shape the West squadmen appeared to be in, the coaching staff, McKay, Broyles and Devaney, decided to at least keep it whole. No body-contact workouts were held. "We didn't use body contact because we didn't want anybody sore," Broyles said. "In football your first contact work of the year is always your best. We know we have football players. They wouldn't be here if they weren't. We want to get that best workout from them in the game."
The favored East did hold body-contact sessions. Perhaps they should not have done so. Even their pride didn't make them winners.
Before the game East's starting quarterback, Wisconsin's VanderKelen, had said, "We've got a lot of talent and pride on this team, and players with pride always do O.K."
No one that night had more pride than VanderKelen, and he did O.K. Even though his team lost the game 22-21 in what Buffalo pricemakers considered an upset, the Wisconsin star responded to the challenge of his critics by throwing one touchdown pass to his college teammate, Pat Richter, and by leading his team to another score that briefly put the East ahead. But the Minnesota Vikings, who decided to sign VanderKelen after his great Rose Bowl game, could not have been more delighted than the 49ers, who had to fix their eyes on Hugh Campbell instead of Kermit Alexander for the West. Campbell may be a thin man, but he's a heavyweight receiver. The Washington State end caught eight passes for 108 yards and two touchdowns.
More delighted still was easy-going Willie Walls of the Pittsburgh Steelers. He saw a non-All America, USC's Bill Nelsen, steal the muggy evening from the glamour boys. John McKay chose Nelsen to replace Heisman Trophy Winner Terry Baker, who was ill. Running McKay's wide-action "I" formation, and looking mainly for Hugh Campbell, Nelsen passed for two touchdowns and the two-point conversion, which actually decided the game.
As Willie said, "There's mine over there, Nelsen. Watch him roll out there to the left and then throw. He don't look too bad out there in the middle of all that wild honey, does he?"