The Carlen success formula embodies a lot of plain old-fashioned hard work, plus a strict code of behavior. Not only must his players refrain from drinking, smoking, class-cutting and unkempt hair, they are "encouraged" to attend the church of their choice every Sunday morning. Everybody who has ever been in the Army—or on one of Carlen's teams—knows what encouraged" means. At most colleges today this sort of dogma would lead to rebellion, but at Texas Tech it has been accepted by players and fans alike; so far Carlen has encountered only one minor disciplinary problem. Meanwhile, Tech rooters overflowed 41,500-seat Jones Stadium last fall at a record 44,476 average, and more than 32,000 season tickets already have been sold for this fall's games.
Although Tech is generally thought to be a year or so away, Carlen's 1971 team will be no slouch. Back are 27 lettermen, including Quarterback Charles Napper, an artist on the option; Fullback Doug McCutchen, whose 1,068 yards rushing earned him the conference title over Woo Woo Worster and made him only the fifth player in SWC history to gain over 1,000; and Linebacker Larry Molinare (6'2", 215), termed Tech's best at that position since E. J. Holub. Even the loss of Tailback Danny Hardaway due to poor grades should not inconvenience the Raiders too much; Hardaway's backup, senior Miles Langehennig, was one of the team's most impressive performers in the spring.
Although Carlen is not yet ready to say he has reached parity with Texas and Arkansas, his intentions are unmistakable. It was hardly just coincidence that the only scout on hand to observe the Texas spring game was one of Carlen's assistants. The Raiders meet the Longhorns early—in two weeks at Austin—and they will be eager.
17 UNIVERSITY OF OKLAHOMA
Shortly after Oklahoma's third game last season. Coach Chuck Fairbanks pondered his team's 2-1 record, squirmed nervously when he thought about his sputtering offense, became downright uncomfortable when he looked ahead to all those Texases, Colorados and Nebraskas on the horizon—and decided to shoot craps. Until then he had tried to parlay an inexperienced offensive line, a group of quick receivers and runners, and the cool of Quarterback Jack Mildren into a pass-oriented offense. "But when we got into the season," Fairbanks recalls, "we found ourselves too dependent on the passing game. We had to get run-oriented and the best way to do it was with the Wishbone."
So right there, after a spring and fall of personal attention to all those raw rookie linemen, Chuck Fairbanks started all over again. There was a meeting, some grumbling, even more explaining, then a kiss of the dice, a look to heaven and a quick roll. "The worst thing was its birth-date," says Fairbanks. That was against Texas, the master of the Wishbone, and the result was a 41-9 embarrassment. But after that, Oklahoma lost only in the last minute to Kansas State and by a touchdown to national champion Nebraska. "That's what makes this year so exciting," muses junior Halfback Joe Wylie. "By the end of last year we had become something more than just a good football team. And this year, well, it should be better yet."
On offense, Oklahoma returns nine of 11 starters, including the multitalented Mildren and a fine runner in Wylie. On defense, seven are back, including a superb end, Raymond Hamilton, and one of the country's best linebackers, Steve Aycock.
The burden of guiding the offense again will fall on Mildren, unjustly blamed last year for much of Oklahoma's passing failure. He is the key, as any quarterback is, to the success or failure of this year's Wishbone. A proud, confident leader, Mildren has mistakenly—and too often—taken last year's change personally. Fairbanks, for one, dispels such notions. "When we made the change in our attack and things started falling in place, the team began to have success. And when the team started having success, so did Jack. He just wants to win worse than the rest of us."
This year Mildren will have a better chance to exploit his many talents. He gained 572 yards last year as a runner and completed nearly 50% of his passes. "Yeah, sure," he says. "But I saw how the team went. And it didn't go as well as I wanted. Personally, I don't feel I have anything to prove to anyone. I only have to prove to myself we can win it all. And you know we're ready."
"Oh, I feel good about our team," Fairbanks adds, but goes on to temper such enthusiasm. "I feel good until I look at our schedule." Then he stares heavenward with the gleam of a man ready if need be to shoot craps once more.