"If I ever run out of passers," says Dobbs, "I'll go back to my cattle. But, sir, I'm not gonna run out of passers."
Not in the near future anyway. Jerry Rhome is a senior, but Rhome's understudy is a 6-foot-6, 190-pound sophomore named Glenn Dobbs III who can, says his father, "throw the length of the field," and who is patiently waiting until next year to take over as Tulsa's quarterback. And then, at Tulsa's Nathan Hale High School, there is a 16-year-old lad of 6 feet 3 and 190 pounds who can also throw—Johnny Dobbs, another son. Fans of the Golden Hurricanes believe that if he, too, does not wind up at Tulsa there is something seriously wrong with the oil-locating seismic maps in downtown offices.
"I kind of think that all three—Jerry and my two boys—might be lockin' horns in the pros some day," says Dobbs, with a vision of rare extravagance.
The odd fact that the coach's oldest son is currently playing behind the nation's best passer, an almost certain All-America and the possible Heisman Award winner, has presented an unusual problem at times this year.
Against Louisville, Rhome had the game safely put away and was sitting on the bench watching Glenn Dobbs III move the team when the coach got a call from the press box informing him that Rhome was within easy reach of a national record.
"We don't go into a game to set any records," says Dobbs. "We start every game with one idea in mind—that we want to win by one point. Well, Glenn was doing fine when I got the call. They said Jerry needed a touchdown pass to tie the record of six. I sent him in and he got it. Then I put Glenn back. Now, Glenn can use the experience, that's for sure. And he took us down there again. So I got another call. Jerry needs one more to break the record. So I put him in and—bang!—he got it."
Dobbs sighed. "Same darn thing against Oklahoma State. Jerry's on the bench and Glenn's in there getting experience, and here comes the phone call from upstairs. Jerry needs 28 yards for 500, they said. Heck, I didn't know 500 what, but I figured it was something important. Turned out it was total offense, or something. Anyhow, I put him back in and he got it."
Said Dobbs, "Here's how I feel about it. And my boy understands. Who am I to keep Jerry from doing what nobody else has done, from setting records to prove he's the greatest passer of all time? What kind of fellow would I be if I denied him that when he was so close?"
Rhome's flirtation with a bushel of records has had a bristling effect on the Tulsa team. "The defense wants to get the ball back again so Jerry can get another record," says Dobbs. "The line blocks real hard for the same reason."
Tulsa's line is perhaps the best passp-rotecting line in collegiate football. Dobbs thinks it is, and this is what he has worked toward. "Some coaches build from defense," he says. "We started building on pass protection." The formation is a pro spread—two receivers split wide, two running backs with varied spacing. The backs have been chosen as much for their blocking as for their running. Everything is geared to Rhome getting the ball quickly to the two outside men—or picking at a defense that covers them. "We have 12 plays, that's all," he says. "We throw first, run second. Something has to be open, and Jerry can usually find it." A hefty, seven-man pocket gives Rhome time to look. But even against a quick, furious rush, Rhome has done well. He hit 20 of 27 against Arkansas and had the unbeaten Razorbacks 14-0 before a series of sad punts gave Arkansas field position for enough second-half points to survive, 31-22. Tulsa can play anybody.