One trouble with Texas, as with some others among the 11 Best, is the schedule. Royal believes that only a miracle can help him survive Army, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Rice on successive Saturdays, and he probably is right. But Texas represents more than a slight problem for Oklahoma (a senior team with a new coach, Gomer Jones), which could come apart with a Texas loss, and for Arkansas and Rice. In any normal year Rice, loaded with more able football players than Coach Jess Neely has had in 25 years, would be thinking in terms of the No. 1 spot itself. But the Owls open with equally loaded LSU and must, of course, play Texas and the rest of those disrespectful Southwest Conference kin.
The schedule poses a curious problem for Washington, too. It is always one of the severest defensive teams against a normal attack, but there is little normal about the gaudy offenses of Baylor, Oregon, California and USC—four teams that believe in all-out bombardment. The other Rose Bowl team, Illinois, comes closer to matching Auburn's muscles than any other, but Illinois is not eligible for Pasadena under Big Ten rules this time, and the resulting morale factor for Coach Pete Elliott will be a hard one to control. Ohio State, on the other hand, is sitting perfect. It is time for Woody Hayes to have another top team. The pressure is off, and the material is there.
It is time, too, for another ex-power to rebound, this one from the East—Syracuse. There are more running backs at Syracuse than there are letters in Coach Ben Schwartzwalder's name and, aside from an early meeting with Kansas, the schedule is hardly ferocious. Navy again has the talent for a 9-1 year but a schedule that could send it all the way to 2-8. Along with Rice, LSU, Michigan, Duke, Arkansas and Southern California, however, Navy has excellent reasons for believing that by the season's end it will prove the 11 Best list was riddled with glaring omissions.
Meanwhile, in addition to Jones at Oklahoma, there will be new coaches to observe at famous old institutions, chief among them Ara Parseghian at Notre Dame, Ray Willsey at California, Vince Dooley at Georgia, Doug Dickey at Tennessee and Alex Agase at Northwestern.
No one knows what ingenious things these and other coaches could produce if they were given the same set of football rules to work with two years in succession, but this season, as in so many recent ones, there are changes.
The major change is, in effect, unlimited substitution, which means that once again there will be specialists—linebackers, safeties, kickers, passers and perhaps even runners. The rule will allow limitless subs on the field when the clock is stopped, and it will allow two free subs to enter the game even when the clock is running. Coaches, therefore, will have no trouble inserting their specialists who cannot handle two-way jobs. Many are planning to use three teams—a two-way unit, a defensive unit and an offensive unit (as Coach Paul Dietzel made famous at LSU)—and some, like USC's John McKay, are considering trying to overwhelm opponents with as many as four teams, two of which would be capable of playing both ways if need be.
It is obvious that the new rule is going to be anything but an equalizer. The rich, meaning those teams well stocked with athletes, will get richer, for the rule will allow them to make use of the material, both specialized and all-round. Those teams that can summon 11 good players and that, under past rules, could have played pretty evenly with a deeper opponent whose depth could not be gotten into the game, are bound to be "outmaterialed" more than ever. What it all indicates is that the teams with the most and best athletes—and that includes all the 11 Best Elevens—will still be the winners, but probably by larger scores.