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"He crossed the street to avoid meeting me," says Ray Willsey of a football player who became a flower child at the University of California. "He had gone from competitive athletics to the other extreme and he was afraid to face me. But I can't help it, I keep thinking about that boy, how it could have been my fault, too. That I might have let him down."
Two students who played football for Jim Owens at Washington are still on campus, haunting him with their presence. "Good boys," says Owens. "Intelligent, first-rate athletes. Now you see them and they're all the clich�s—long dirty hair, slovenly, anti-war, anti-Establishment. It's frightening. One fellow played for me in 1968. He went so fast.
"I tried to reach these young men. I tried to appeal to their pride—and they had a lot of it at one time—but they are lost. I can fight the other problems—race, unrest, everything—but the indifference, the lack of interest. That's the real infection."
Tommy Prothro of UCLA has lost two players to drugs in the past four years. (One, a standout freshman, turned on and tuned out. He took up the guitar. He grew hair to his shoulders. He began going barefoot. He quit football. He quit school.) It is not a bad record in Los Angeles, where marijuana is available almost everywhere but Food Giant. Prothro counsels his players regularly on drugs. "I would guess," he says, "that half of them have probably tried pot. I would guess 90% of the student body probably has. They've come from total dependence to total independence. They want to be very worldly. The boys who are giving in you can spot. The long hair, not bathing, not caring."
At Oregon State, Dee Andros was appalled by the son of an Air Force colonel. "Big and strong and just first-class in every way," Andros recalls. "He was the best linebacker we ever had on the freshman team. We assumed he would be the best on the varsity next season.
"This spring, at the time of the boycott, he marched into my office and told me he wasn't coming out. I couldn't believe it. It made me sick to see what I was seeing. He was wearing sandals. No socks. His hair was down to his shoulders. He had a long beard. It was hell for me. The kid just turned my stomach.
"He said, 'I still want my scholarship.' I said, 'Isn't that stealing, son?' He said, 'I've got it coming to me.' I recruited that boy thinking he was Jack Armstrong. I was wrong. He turned out to be a freethinker."