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THIS YEAR THE FIGHT WILL BE IN THE OPEN
Dan Jenkins
September 11, 1967
Coaches of top teams have long pretended they did not care about national rankings, but Notre Dame vs. Michigan State has changed that, and this season's excitement centers on the battle to be No. 1
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September 11, 1967

This Year The Fight Will Be In The Open

Coaches of top teams have long pretended they did not care about national rankings, but Notre Dame vs. Michigan State has changed that, and this season's excitement centers on the battle to be No. 1

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THE NATIONAL CHAMPIONS: FROM ROCKNE TO THE BLITZKRIEG...

On this and the following pages is a complete list of college football's mythical champions as selected by every recognized authority since 1924. The selectors represented are the Parke H. Davis Selections (1924-1935), the Dickinson System (1924-1940), The Football Annual (1924-1941), The Football Thesaurus (1927-1958), the Helms Athletic Foundation (1924-1966), the Dunkel System (1929-1966), the Litkenhous System (1934-1966), the Williamson System(1932-1963), Associated Press (1936-1966), United Press International (1950-1966), the Football Writers' Association (1954-1966) and the National Football Hall of Fame (1959-1966).

YEAR

TEAM & RECORD

COACH

TOP PLAYER

SELECTORS

1924

NOTRE DAME 10-0

Knute Rockne

Harry Stuhldreher, qb

Dick, Helms, Ann

PENNSYLVANIA 9-1-1

Lou Young

Ed McGinley, t

Davis

1925

ALABAMA 10-0

Wallace Wade

Johnny Mack Brown, hb

Ann, Helms

DARTMOUTH 8-0

Jesse Hawley

Andy Oberlander, hb

Dick, Davis

1926

STANFORD 10-0-1

Pop Warner

Ted Shipkey, e

Dick

LAFAYETTE 9-0

Herb McCracken

Mike Wilson, hb

Davis

NAVY 9-0-1

Bill Ingram

Tom Hamilton, hb

Ann

ALABAMA 9-0-1

Wallace Wade

Hoyt Winslett, e

Helms

1927

ILLINOIS 7-0-1

Bob Zuppke

Russ Crane, c

Dick, Davis, Helms

YALE 7-1

T.A.D. Jones

Bruce Caldwell, hb

Ann

NOTRE DAME 7-1-1

Knute Rockne

Christy Flanagan, hb

Thes

1928

GEORGIA TECH 10-0

Bill Alexander

Peter Pund, c

Davis, Ann, Thes, Helms

USC 9-0-1

Howard Jones

Lloyd Thomas, hb

Dick

DETROIT 9-0

Gus Dorais

Lloyd Brazil, hb

Davis (tie)

1929

NOTRE DAME 9-0

Knute Rockne

Frank Carideo, qb

Dick, Dunk, Ann, Helms

PITTSBURGH 9-1

Jock Sutherland

Joe Donchess, e

Davis

USC 10-2

Howard Jones

Russ Saunders, hb

Thes

1930

NOTRE DAME 10-0

Knute Rockne

Marchy Schwartz, hb

Dick, Dunk, Ann, Helms, Thes, Davis

ALABAMA 10-0

Wallace Wade

Fred Sington, t

Davis (tie)

1931

USC 10-1

Howard Jones

Gus Shaver, hb

Dick, Dunk, Ann, Helms, Thes

PURDUE 9-1

Noble Kizer

Charles Miller, c

Davis

PITTSBURGH 8-1

Jock Sutherland

Jess Quatse, t

Davis (tie)

1932

USC 10-0

Howard Jones

Ernie Pinckert, hb

Ann, Dunk, Thes, Helms, Wms, Davis

MICHIGAN 8-0

Harry Kipke

Harry Newman, qb

Dick, Davis (tie)

COLGATE 8-0

Andy Kerr

Robert Smith, g

Davis (tie)

1933

MICHIGAN 7-0-1

Harry Kipke

Frank Wistert, t

Dick, Helms, Thes, Ann, Davis

USC 10-1-1

Howard Jones

Cotton Warburton, hb

Wms

OHIO STATE 7-1

Sam Willaman

Reg Monohan, g

Dunk

PRINCETON 9-0

Fritz Crisler

Chuck Ceppi, t

Davis (tie)

1934

MINNESOTA 8-0

Bernie Bierman

Pug Lund, hb

Dick, Lit, Ann, Helms, Davis

ALABAMA 10-0

Frank Thomas

Don Hutson, e

Dunk, Wms, Thes

PITTSBURGH 8-1

Jock Sutherland

George Shotwell, c

Davis (tie)

1935

MINNESOTA 8-0

Bernie Bierman

Dick Smith, t

Lit, Ann, Helms, Davis

SMU 12-1

Matty Bell

Bobby Wilson, hb

Dick, Thes

PRINCETON 9-0

Fritz Crisler

John Weller, g

Dunk, Davis (tie)

LSU 9-2

Bernie Moore

Abe Mickel, qb

Wms

1936

MINNESOTA 7-1

Bernie Bierman

Ed Widseth, t

AP, Dunk, Lit, Dick, Helms

PITTSBURGH 8-1-1

Jock Sutherland

Av Danicll, t

Ann, Thes

LSU 9-1-1

Bernie Moore

Gaynell Tinsley, e

Wms

1937

PITTSBURGH 9-0-1

Jock Sutherland

Marshall Goldberg, hb

AP, Dick, Lit, Ann, Wms, Thes

CALIFORNIA 10-0-1

Stub Allison

Vic Bottari, hb

Dunk, Helms

1938

TENNESSEE 11-0

Bob Neyland

George Cafego, hb

Dunk, Lit, Ann, Thes

TCU 11-0

Dutch Meyer

Davey O'Brien, qb

AP, Wms, Helms

NOTRE DAME 8-1

Elmer Layden

Ed Beinor, t

Dick

1939

TEXAS A&M 11-0

Homer Norton

John Kimbrough, fb

AP, Dunk, Wms, Thes, Helms, Ann

USC 8-0-2

Howard Jones

Grenny Lansdell, hb

Dick

CORNELL 8-0

Carl Snavely

Nick Drahos, t

Lit

...AND FROM THE '40s TO TODAY

1940

MINNESOTA 8-0

Bernie Bierman

George Franck, fb

AP, Dick, Lit, Ann, Thes

TENNESSEE 10-1

Bob Neyland

Bob Suffridge, g

Dunk, Wms

STANFORD 10-0

Clark Shaughnessy

Frankie Albert, qb

Helms

1941

MINNESOTA 8-0

Bernie Bierman

Bruce Smith, hb

AP, Lit, Dunk, Helms, Ann

TEXAS 8-1-1

Dana X. Bible

Jack Crain, hb

Wms

ALABAMA 9-2

Frank Thomas

Holt Rast, e

Thes

1942

GEORGIA 11-1

Wally Butts

Frank Sinkwich, hb

Wms, Lit. Thes

OHIO STATE 9-1

Paul Brown

Gene Fekete, fb

AP, Dunk

WISCONSIN 8-1-1

Harry Stuhldreher

Dave Schreiner, e

Helms

1943

NOTRE DAME 9-1

Frank Leahy

Angelo Bertelli, qb

unanimous

1944

ARMY 9-0

Earl Blaik

Glenn Davis, hb

unanimous

1945

ARMY 9-0

Earl Blaik

Doc Blanchard, fb

unanimous

1946

NOTRE DAME 8-0-1

Frank Leahy

Johnny Lujack, qb

AP, Dunk, Lit

ARMY 9-0-1

Earl Blaik

Arnold Tucker, qb

Helms, Thes

GEORGIA 11-0

Wally Butts

Charlie Trippi, hb

Wms

1947

MICHIGAN 10-0

Fritz Crisler

Bob Chappuis, hb

Dunk, Lit, Thes

NOTRE DAME 9-0

Frank Leahy

Johnny Lujack, qb

AP, Wms, Helms

1948

MICHIGAN 9-0

Bennie Oosterbaan

Charley Ortmann, hb

unanimous

1949

NOTRE DAME 10-0

Frank Leahy

Leon Hart, e

unanimous

1950

OKLAHOMA 10-1

Bud Wilkinson

Leon Heath, fb

AP, UPI, Lit, Helms, Wms

TENNESSEE 11-1

Bob Neyland

Bud Sherrod, e

Dunk, Thes

1951

TENNESSEE 10-1

Bob Neyland

Hank Lauricella, hb

AP, UPI, Lit, Wms

MARYLAND 10-0

Jim Tatum

Jack Scarbath, qb

Dunk

MICHIGAN STATE 9-0

Biggie Munn

Don Coleman, t

Helms

GEORGIA TECH 11-0-1

Bobby Dodd

Lamar Wheat, t

Thes

1952

MICHIGAN STATE 9-0

Biggie Munn

Leroy Bolden, hb

AP, UPI, Helms, Dunk, Lit, Wms

GEORGIA TECH 12-0

Bobby Dodd

Leon Hardeman, fb

Thes

1953

NOTRE DAME 9-0-1

Frank Leahy

Johnny Lattner, hb

Helms, Dunk, Wms, Lit, Thes

MARYLAND 10-1

Jim Tatum

Bernie Faloney, qb

AP, UPI

1954

UCLA 9-0

Red Sanders

Bob Davenport, fb

UPI, FWA, Helms, Dunk, Lit

OHIO STATE 10-0

Woody Hayes

Howard Cassady, hb

AP, Wms, Thes

1955

OKLAHOMA 11-0

Bud Wilkinson

Tommy McDonald, hb

unanimous

1956

OKLAHOMA 10-0

Bud Wilkinson

Tommy McDonald, hb

all but Thes

GEORGIA TECH 10-1

Bobby Dodd

Paul Rotenbcrry, hb

Thes

1957

AUBURN 10-0

Shug Jordan

Red Phillips, e

AP, Helms, Wms, Thes

OHIO STATE 9-1

Woody Hayes

Bob White, fb

UPI, FWA, Lit

MICHIGAN STATE 8-1

Duffy Daugherty

Walt Kowalczyk, hb

Dunk

1958

LSU 11-0

Paul Dietzel

Billy Cannon, hb

all but FWA

IOWA 8-1-1

Forest Evashevski

Randy Duncan, qb

FWA

1959

SYRACUSE 11-0

Ben Schwartzwalder

Ernie Davis, hb

all but Dunk

MISSISSIPPI 10-1

Johnny Vaught

Charley Flowers, fb

Dunk

1960

MISSISSIPPI 10-0-1

Johnny Vaught

Jake Gibbs, qb

FWA, Wms, Dunk

MINNESOTA 8-2

Murray Warmath

Sandy Stephens, qb

AP, UPI, HF

WASHINGTON 10-1

Jim Owens

Bob Schloredt, qb

Helms

IOWA 8-1

Forest Evashevski

Larry Ferguson, hb

Lit

1961

ALABAMA 11-0

Bear Bryant

Lee Roy Jordan, c

all but FWA

OHIO STATE 9-0-1

Woody Hayes

Bob Ferguson, fb

FWA

1962

USC 11-0

John McKay

Pete Bcathard, qb

all but Lit

MISSISSIPPI 10-0

Johnny Vaught

Glynn Griffing, qb

Lit

1963

TEXAS 11-0

Darrell Royal

Tommy Nobis, g

unanimous

1964

ALABAMA 10-1

Bear Bryant

Joe Namath, qb

AP, UPI, Lit

ARKANSAS 11-0

Frank Broyles

Bobby Crockett, c

FWA, Helms

NOTRE DAME 9-1

Ara Parseghian

John Huarte, qb

HF

MICHIGAN 9-1

Bump Elliott

Bob Timberlake, qb

Dunk

1965

MICHIGAN STATE 10-1

Duffy Daugherty

Clinton Jones, hb

UPI, Helms, FWA, Dunk, HF, Lit

ALABAMA 9-1-1

Bear Bryant

Steve Sloan, qb

AP, FWA (tie)

1966

NOTRE DAME 9-0-1

Ara Parseghian

Nick Eddy, hb

AP, UPI, FWA, Helms, HF, Dunk, Lit

MICHIGAN STATE 9-0-1

Duffy Daugherty

George Webster, lb

Helms (tie), HF (tie)

Back in the days when college football players wore one-piece leather suits, did not throw passes and ran with the dazzling speed of tree trunks, it was fairly easy to recognize a No. 1 team every season. Somebody like Casper Whitney in Harper's Weekly or J. Parmly Paret in Outing looked at the records of Yale, Harvard, Princeton and Penn, quickly deciphered which one had out-groped Columbia Law School by the biggest margin, and boldly proclaimed them the mythical national champion. Nobody argued about it, preoccupied as most people were with striking for an eight-hour work day and wondering where Khartoum was. Nobody even cared. You told a man that your school was No. 1 some 80 years ago and all he said was, "That's swell but, excuse me, I got to go invent the airplane."

Things have changed a lot since then, of course. Players can now run faster than a coach going to pick up a new set of tires from a friendly booster. Uniforms are sleek and handsome when the socks stay up. A vast number of teams have discovered the forward pass. And absolutely nothing can get the college enthusiast as outrageously excited as a debate over who should be No. 1.

Last season, for example, there was blood spilled all over South Bend, Ind., East Lansing, Mich. and Tuscaloosa, Ala., as the decisions were about to be made by all the people who currently chose national champions—everyone, it seems, from the AP to Sara Lee. Notre Dame and Michigan State played a 10-10 tie before millions on television, knocking each other out of perfect records. Then millions more watched as Alabama whomped Nebraska in the Sugar Bowl and finished with the only spotless record in the country. But when the final selections were made it was Notre Dame by the length of Ara Parseghian's name. Five of the seven best-known award-givers—AP, UPI, the Football Writers, Dick Dunkel and Frank Litkenhous—liked the Irish despite their cozy tie with Michigan State. The other two, the Hall of Fame and the Helms Athletic Foundation, settled on a tie of their own between Notre Dame and the Spartans. And the loyal friends of Alabama had to be content to put license plates on their cars that said, TO HELL WITH AP AND UPI, ALABAMA IS STILL NO. 1.

Precisely because of all this commotion about the magic of being No. 1—it suggests to fans that their boys are tougher, psychologists say—a season has never come along packed with as much collegiate interest as this one of 1967.

What last year's tie between the Irish and the Spartans did was finally bring it out in the open—winning a national title is a goal that ranks with world peace. For years before last November almost all coaches had a way of dancing around the subject. They would say such things as 1) "We've got our conference race to worry about," 2) "We've got our traditional rivals to think about," 3) "We haven't had a punt blocked since I've been here," 4) "We may not win many games, but we'll hit people," and 5) "Aw, those polls are just a little something for the fans."

It was not so much the fact that Notre Dame and Michigan State tied that did it, but the way the game ended. Notre Dame refused to gamble with passes—as Michigan State had—on its last series of downs, ending the "game of the decade" awkwardly and emptily. Ara Parseghian hasn't yet recovered fully from the criticism he received for his strategy, but at least he now admits that Notre Dame's immense popularity in the polls partly affected his decision.

The teams were hardly off the field before the hundreds of journalists in the press box at East Lansing thought of the same joke: tie one for the Gipper. A day later both Ara and Duffy Daugherty were publicly trying to shove their teams into No. 1—and so was Alabama's Bear Bryant.

Ara said that when you're No. 1 and you only get tied, you can't lose it. Duffy said that when you're No. 2 and you tie No. 1, then you become No. 1 and the other guy becomes No. la. Bryant said he just hoped that if his Alabama seniors got drafted and had to go to Vietnam they wouldn't play for a tie. Later, however, Bryant made the truest observation of all. "Ara had the last laugh, because he wound up with most of the awards," said Bear. "Playing that old tie must have been smart."

One thing the big controversy of last year has done is make coaches speak openly for the first time about the rating systems they used to pretend to ignore and about the mythical national championship they would slug a chancellor to win.

Parseghian says frankly, "Polls are vitally necessary to college football. I like the interest and excitement they create on our squad, on the campus and in the cities. We always look forward to the weekly ratings on Tuesdays. And the polls aren't that bad. Regardless of which system it is, they usually vary only slightly, because there is a natural exchange of opinion between coaches and writers."

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