Perry has had his say at Bowling Green. His teams bear some resemblance to Hayes's in that they are, first of all, good housekeepers. Doyt will not tolerate fumbling, and players who do have been known to remove themselves from a game voluntarily. "A 'perfect game' is one in which you do not fumble, do not have a pass intercepted, draw a penalty or yield a point—such as," Perry points out, "our 28-0 victory over Kent State in 1960." Also like Hayes, Perry is partial to power sweeps that appear to smother opposing ends and tackles in a cascade of blockers. But after these obvious similarities, easy comparisons with Hayes break down. While Hayes and Perry are close friends and every Easter vacation Perry shoots up to Columbus to see what is new in Ohio State football, not in structure, style or philosophy are they alike.
Doyt Perry, short and sturdily built, wears horned-rim glasses and his graying hair in a crew cut. His lip corners drop from the weight of his pipe, and he squints a lot. He looks not unlike a tough Mr. Peepers. "How old do you think I am?" he asks, and smiles when you say the expected 40. His players say that of all the coaches on the staff he looks least like the head coach. In conversation his voice rises and falls from the edge of eloquence to the depth of inaudibility, and if he is engrossed he is liable to walk away from you, and come back, or talk out the window. He says "gee-munny Christmas" and "goldurn" and "shoot" when he is mad, and he says he talks too much. He also says: "I'm funny, I guess, but I think coaching is an important job." This is the essence of the man.
If Perry's arrival brought immediate success to Bowling Green football, the sophistication that comes with success was not as prompt. A reason for this is the student body, which draws heavily from Ohio farmlands. When Doyt took the team to Texas for a game in 1960 he discovered that only one boy had ever ridden a train. And there were moments on the field when the game he appreciates as being "the most scientific of all" was not at all scientific. Late in the 1957 game against Drake, Perry put Quarterback Chuck Perry in. "When I got in the huddle," said Chuck, "I immediately forgot the play. So I said to the halfback, 'You know that one where I pitch back to you and you throw one? Well, that's it.' Finally I got them to the line of scrimmage—and realized I hadn't given them the count. So I shouted, 'O.K., guys, on two. Ready. Set. Hut-one...Hut-two.' The play gained 29 yards."
What Doyt Perry also meant immediately to Bowling Green football was organization. He issued complete-to-the-last-verb written directives for his coaches ("Our players have the right to expect the same consideration, treatment and leadership we would desire for our own son.... You will be held responsible for their mistakes....") and for his players ("Remember, if you are criticized then you are important...."). His practices began on the first day with a "Life Is More Important Than Football" lecture from the Rev. Loyal Bishop.
The Bowling Green football budget tripled from $20,000 in 1954 to the present $66,000. The Falcons won the small-college national championship in 1959, defeating top-ranked Delaware by a shocking 30-8, and before long every assistant on Perry's staff was earning more than $10,000 a year, exceptional for a school of that size. Perry's salary is now up to $15,500, and in four years he will have completed 36 years in the Ohio school system and be eligible for a pension of $8,000 to $10,000.
In the evening a hep student at Bowling Green can go dancing on a glistening ballroom floor that is a third of an acre, drink Coke on the rocks at an on-campus nightclub called the Carnation Room and bowl and play pocket billiards at the Student Union till his senses blur. ( Bowling Green girls are pool sharks—they have won the intercollegiate pocket billiards championship three years in a row.) But Doyt Perry's favorite diversion is the one that takes him down a dirt road to a beautifully tailored unused football field squared off between the soybeans and corn on an undeveloped plot of university real estate east of the campus. Every day for two years the field has been soaking up 5,500 gallons of water so that it will be ready whenever the new football stadium rises around it. The stadium, a new field house (the old one is four years old and already obsolete) and a complete athletic plant will soon be under construction on 500 acres. The stadium will seat 18,000 as a starter, with plans to go as high as 40,000. "Then," says Perry matter-of-factly, "maybe we'll get a Big Ten team in here—if it's good enough."
Perry has found that, with continued success, recruiting against Big Ten schools has become, if not easy, at least less difficult. Where once he got none, he now bats 1 for 5 in a battle for the better players with, say, Woody Hayes. His staff—Ruehl and Dick Young from Ohio State, Bob Gibson from Youngstown and Bill Mallory from Miami—has been good at fighting the odds. Occasionally, however, they run afoul of Doyt Perry's own special regard for truth and clean hands. They could not, for example, get close to Tackle Tom Nomina five years ago because Nomina had sent an application for a grant-in-aid to Miami. The application was not binding, and Nomina thought he would like to talk it over with Bowling Green, but Perry said that to him it was as binding as an engagement ring and ordered hands off. "Last year," says Ruehl, "we had Mike Luettke from Toledo's Rogers High all lined up—the best high school fullback in the state. Doyt comes in and tells the kid, 'Son, you might not play fullback for us. You might play guard or tackle.' I almost died. This kid wants to carry the ball and Doyt's talking about the line, and we don't even have him in school yet. He's that way. Once I heard him tell his son Dave he'd probably never be good enough to play for Bowling Green. Well, anyway, I knew we'd lost Luettke. So what happened? We got him."
Bowling Green gives an average of 15 football scholarships a year, or about half that of most major conference schools. Each scholarship can be divided into thirds if Perry wants to parcel them around, but the better player will not settle for a third of a scholarship. The sad figures on recruiting, however, are generally the before-and-after figures: 40 freshmen football players enter X university on scholarship in 1950, two of them are still around to graduate in 1954. Perry fights this attrition as if it were a dark spot on his soul. "Your grades keep you in school," he tells his players, "not your football. Football only got you here."
Perry is not above pleading his influence to get a borderline case through the admissions office, but high pressure is not his style and more often than not he loses out. Doyt Perry losing out is an excellent source of lunchtime hilarity at Bowling Green. "I turned Doyt down once when I was admissions director," laughs Chuck Perry, the former quarterback who is now director of development at Bowling Green. "He said, 'Oh, shoot, Chuck. You don't even appreciate good football anymore.' " "The time I had to refuse him," says Alumni Director Jim Hof, near to tears, "he said to me, 'Goldurnit! I hope you get promoted!' "
There is a saying at Bowling Green, "Doyt can beat it." The saying is portable and applicable to any feat of man. Stories are told of Doyt sitting down with the boys in a penny-ante poker game in Canada and cleaning them out in short order. There is another of a night in Des Moines when he walked into a billiard room just as the balls were being racked. With his overcoat on, his pipe jammed to one side of his mouth and his hat pulled down tight, he picked up a cue and ran off all 15 balls. The boys say he has one of the lowest handicaps at the Bowling Green Country Club, lower even than Gus Skibbie's, but Doyt waves his hand. "I don't play golf too well," he says, lying.