"We have changed our philosophy a little, too," says Mollenkopf. "We used to look at a kid who hit hard and say, There's a headhunter. He's our kind.' But now we look for two things: speed and potential size. Fast ones that will grow. It doesn't do any good to be a head-hunter if you can't catch the head."
So Purdue is maturing. You remember how Purdue used to be, an in-and-out team that came up with a Len Dawson or a Dale Samuels. The Boilermakers sprang the big upset occasionally, but were rarely a Big Ten winner and never in the Rose Bowl. Then Mollenkopf found Bob Griese a few seasons back, and Purdue was challenging. It just missed the Big Ten title with Griese, but it did get. into the Rose Bowl finally. And then last year, with these Goliaths coming up in the line and Keyes and Phipps, it just missed being No. 1 by blowing a couple to Oregon State and Indiana. Keyes, for one, says Purdue will not blow one this time.
"We got the manpower and the depth and the attitude. We can be a great team. I've thought all along that this could be the best team in Purdue's history," Keyes was saying in South Bend. "We don't break up chairs in the locker room or pound on the lockers before a game. We just know we can do the job," added Phipps.
Purdue did the job against Notre Dame because it is a far stronger team than the Irish, who are too inexperienced on defense and still lack the breakout runner. Parseghian felt Purdue was a fine team before the game, and he certainly felt so afterward. "They're really-skilled," he said. "They have that knack for making the yardage they need." Which is true. On third down and long or third and medium, Purdue had the play all afternoon. No less than five times Phipps succeeded in such situations.
"And we don't," Ara added. "A passer like Phipps can hit his receiver just at the right time, and he did it all day. We'd be an eyelash away, but Dillingham or Keyes would catch the ball. They're poised and powerful. And I'll have to say again that I haven't seen a back who can do so many things as well as Keyes. I'm glad we've seen the last of him."
Everybody is goofy over Keyes in the Midwest, of course. Mollenkopf was saying over and over, in a voice he would have liked for all Heisman Trophy voters to hear, "By golly, if a player anywhere can do more, I'd like to know where he is." USC thinks he is in California, of course, and that his name is O. J. Simpson. Since Purdue beat Notre Dame there was plenty of reason for Purdue people to think they might win the Big Ten and go to the Rose Bowl, where Keyes and Simpson could meet.
Leroy Keyes thought about that, while explaining that he had not really played very well against the Irish. "I'm not on it yet," was the way he put it, slipping into his glen-plaid suit with vest and closing up an attach� case like a banker. "If we're fortunate, and if we don't have any letdowns and make it to California, that would sure be good. I'd like to play against Simpson. I think it would be something to see."
So Leroy Keyes winds up being a quintriple threat. Run, throw, catch, defend and make understatements. But that's how it is when you're a calm, casual Boilermaker spending a few hours in funny, familiar old South Bend.