staggered under the injustice of the vote, Prothro offered no complaints.
"Tommy's interests are so diversified," says Vic Kelley, athletic news
director of UCLA, "that he is able to lose himself quickly in other
activities. He is a tournament bridge player. He plays chess. He goes to the
theater, the ballet, even to tennis matches. How many football coaches watch
spectator than participant, Prothro avoids physical activity. He does not golf,
hunt or hike and, with pardonable pride, he points out that he has fished but
once since the age of 9. Prothro occupies himself mostly with reading and
football. He subscribes to five newspapers and nine magazines, and he usually
keeps a novel going on the side. Much of his time is spent in the den, where he
plays with mountains of NCAA football statistics. His research with figures has
strengthened his confidence in the use of the onside kick. He has found that
the average kickoff is returned to the 32-yard line of the receiving team.
kick that fails," he adds, "is normally recovered by the opposing team
on its 45. This means that when the onside kick doesn't work the kicking team
is losing but 13 yards. If you can drill your team to where it can recover two
of every six onside attempts, you will be well out in front."
roughly five hours a week during the fall rating the top 118 teams that play
college football. His method—totally mathematical—involves no personal
strictly a performance system," he says. "It doesn't take into
consideration injuries, wide-scale subbing by either side or the quality of the
previous week's opponent. Interjecting opinion, you occasionally can rate clubs
more soundly than you can by computation. But over the long haul there is no
substitute for mathematics, and I feel my system is the most accurate I've
The top 10 last
year, according to Prothro, were, in order: Notre Dame, Alabama, Michigan
State, Houston, Wyoming, Mississippi, Tennessee, Georgia Tech, Arkansas and
Purdue. UCLA, with its best season record since 1954, was only 11th in its
disagrees with ratings arrived at by his system. Others do, too. For instance,
at a time last year when Nebraska was rated among the first five in both the AP
and UPI polls Prothro was asked at a football writers' luncheon how he
appraised the club.
"I like the
team very much," he answered. "But my system has 'em 49th."
Add Nebraska to
the list of those who will be competitive the next time they meet up with Tommy