When he left Polytechnic, Rodelo took 12 players along with him. They were joined by 165 disgruntled Polytech alumni who formed the Redskins AC. They financed the team with dues, donations and lotteries, and they recruited other players. But they were blackballed from the majors. Last year they played six small U.S. teams, lost five games and beat St. Mary's of San Antonio 6-0. This year Rodelo spent time studying football at Notre Dame and Texas.
Then Mexico elected a new president, Luis Echeverr�a Alvarez, an ex-football player who swept out the heads of the universities. The replacements saw the virtues of football, and appointed some new administrators for the sport. The Redskins were voted into the major league, and so far they have beaten four rivals while losing only to the Condors of the University of Mexico, last year's champions, 10-9.
"We have the Wishbone offense," said Rodelo. And he laughed. "When we play against other Mexican teams, we have a good running attack. But against the Americans...."
When the Notre Dame players arrived in Mexico City last Thursday, no one knew if the Redskins used the Wishbone or what. In fact, they thought they were playing a group of Mexican all-stars. They had been invited to come down by the Mexican Notre Dame alumni club and had been offered a guarantee of $10,000 if they accepted. One thing Murphy knew about for sure was the Mexican water. He told his players they not only could not drink it, they could not even use it to brush their teeth. And at a reception thrown for the Notre Dame men Thursday night by Mexican officials, the players were ordered away from the food in the interest of staying in shape.
"It's funny," said Murphy, "back home they've been complaining about the training table, but down here it's beginning to look good to them. Like for lunch today, they gave us fried bananas. They were tasty, but some of the kids were giving them funny looks. I'm sure none of them ever had a fried banana before. But the treatment down here has been fabulous. They've taken care of us like kings. The only thing I don't like is all this cocktail talk about the monsters from Notre Dame and the midgets from Mexico. Our kids started believing that stuff, but we talked to them. They know they have to play a game." Right, coach.
"Just how big are they really?" A Mexican official asked Murphy at one point.
"Well, our defensive line averages 245 pounds," he answered. "And our offensive line averages 236."
The Mexican blinked, then grinned weakly. "That is big, isn't it."
Bigger than big, and to the freshmen, who have spent the fall getting belted around by the even bigger varsity, it was good to be top dog for a change.
"As a team, we only get to practice once a week, on Fridays," said Pete Demaerle, a 187-pound split end. "The rest of the week we spend all our time getting zonked by the varsity."