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It won't happen, of course. Not immediately, and maybe never. But the powers of college football are openly concerned about the "mood' of young people and how it might affect their game.
"All I know is, you can't talk to athletes like you once could," says Penn State's Joe Paterno. "You can't sit on 'em. They're exposed to too many things. They're too smart, too aware. If they're not convinced that self-discipline is for their own good, they're not going to perform like you want them to."
Coaches and athletic directors are also worried about money. They're afraid that burgeoning expenses may prompt the rulesmakers to throw the game back to the one-platoon era, which requires fewer good athletes. They know a move like this would only result in bringing back the quick kick.
The decade of the 1960s began this way, and it might be nice to reflect back on it briefly, since we may never know its pleasures again.
As the decade got under way, some coaches had already learned that they could platoon within the rules, with Chinese Bandits and such. Suddenly, the "wild cards" became unlimited substitution. And specialists started to mingle with dazzling new systems, all of them giving the college game more sweep and scoring than even the pros knew.
The defense still hasn't caught up with all of the full-field shifting, motion, deception, power and passing that has been generated by things called the I spread, the Pro Set, the Veer, the Shifting T and the Triple Option with Wishbone.
The only thing coaches know for sure is that they have to have a strong four-man rush and the capability of four alert, rangy linebackers, one of which ought to be a superathlete who can play defensive end, linebacker or cornerback—a roverback on the order of Ohio State's Jack Tatum.
The 1960s produced record scores, record crowds and perhaps a record number of glittering heroes. There were passers like Joe Namath, Roger Staubach, George Mira, Gary Beban, Mike Phipps and Terry Hanratty. There were runners like O. J. Simpson, Gale Sayers, Mike Garrett, Floyd Little and Steve Owens. There were defensive stars like Tommy Nobis, Dick Butkus, George Webster and Jack Tatum, who is still around, just like Archie Manning (see cover), Jim Plunkett and Rex Kern are still around among the fairy-tale quarterbacks, and the way that Steve Worster, Joe Moore, Bill Burnett and Clarence Davis are around to carry the ball.
A new wave of geniuses among coaches appeared in the 1960s, and they are the same men who begin the 1970s as the glamour figures—the Darrell Royals, John McKays, Frank Broyleses, Joe Paternos and Bob Devaneys. They have long since joined Bear Bryant and Woody Hayes and a few others as proven giants in the profession.
These were the men who consistently produced splendid teams, those that hung in year after year in the top 10, captured most of the national championships and set the strategic trends for others.