The East had dominated the first quarter and five minutes of the second period, running, in that time, 32 plays to the West's three. But then Beban stepped in and swept his team 69 yards to score, completing seven of 10 passes—all spirals. The extra point was blocked, and at the half the East led 14-13.
Beban came back directly in the second half with a 29-yard strike to Tulsa's Rick Eber to put the West in front 20-14. Landry answered this in the fourth quarter with Csonka and six straight completions. Csonka got his second touchdown on a one-yard plunge.
Six minutes remained in the game, just time to collect the MVP ballots in the press box. Csonka got all the votes but two, and at the time he deserved them. But then Beban was passing again. Another spiral, 40 yards to Phil Odle of Brigham Young. Then Beban went back, eluded a stern rush, and offered a 44-yard wobbler to Arizona State's Ken Dyer at the goal. Dyer, who had spent the week practicing at defensive halfback, outfought a pair of defenders for the ball and the West had won.
"I'd planned it that way," Beban said. "If it hadn't been a wobbly pass Kenny couldn't have caught up with it."
Few players with the skill of a Gary Beban have been accepted by the pros—and their fans—with as much skepticism. Many still insist that Beban is too small (6'1", 195) to make it in the NFL. Dee Andros of Oregon State, coach of the West, is in violent disagreement. "I don't care what they say," he said about Beban. "He proved he was one of the best quarterbacks in the history of college football. He's a winner. He's a great athlete. If he doesn't make it as a quarterback I guarantee he'll make it at halfback throwing the pass-run option. That's still the best play in football. Beban's as good an athlete as Paul Hornung or Tom Matte, if not a better one."
Beban doesn't seem to doubt his ability as a quarterback, college or pro. While finishing up at UCLA, in fact, he wrote to several of the teams he thought might draft him, advising against any such precipitous action. His reasons were good enough—young, smart incumbents were on hand, the location wasn't exactly California, where he preferred to play, the coaching philosophy differed from his own. However, on the day of the pro draft, Beban had begun to wonder if he had done the right thing.
"I turned the TV on," he said, "figuring news of the draft would be coming in soon. But it didn't, and I fell asleep. Late in the afternoon my girl [Kathy Hanson, Beban's wife now] came over, woke me up and told me I hadn't been drafted yet. That didn't sound too good, so I turned on the radio and just then they were announcing that the Rams had taken me.
"I admit the pitch my agent, Arthur Morse, and I made to the Rams was pretty aggressive. They sure didn't seem impressed. In fact, they acted as if they couldn't have cared less. A month went by. I started sweating it out, but Mr. Morse told me not to worry and to sit tight. Then, on May 1, the Rams made the Plum deal [ Detroit sent Quarterback Milt Plum, Running Back Tommy Watkins and Flanker Pat Studstill to Los Angeles for Bill Munson, a promising 26-year-old quarterback who had warmed the bench for the Rams and played out his option]. The handwriting was on the wall. The Rams weren't about to carry three quarterbacks, and I'm just tickled that the deal was made with a team like Washington."
With the Redskins, says Beban, he wants to become a sponge for the next six months. It is a good idea. Otto Graham, a former All-Pro quarterback, is coach of the team. Sonny Jurgensen, one of the best quarterbacks in the business but aging fast at 33, works for Graham, as does Jim Ninowski, capable but a veteran too. The three should even be able to take a little of the wobble out of Beban's passes.
"Hey, Gary," yelled a West teammate after the Atlanta game. "Why you talkin' to those sportswriters? They only watch spirals."