"We've tried to see that they have fun, and I've tried not to impress on them the personal importance that I feel about this game," Devaney said. "I've lost twice to Bear and I don't like to think that there's a guy around who can just walk out on the field and beat me any time he wants to—even if his team is very good.
"Fortunately, these players of ours aren't as aware of the Alabama stigma as we coaches. They were only in high school somewhere when Bear beat us in the '60s."
Devaney lost two in a row to Bryant in Miami and New Orleans after the 1965 and 1966 seasons. It was the first one that hurt the most, for it meant another national championship in another era. Those losses (39-28 and 34-7) did very little for Devaney's image.
The fun the players had consisted of all the things that bring people to a city that would name a roadway after Arthur Godfrey. Both schools dressed their men up in their red blazers and sent them out nightly to shows at various hotels, some of the shows featuring singers and some featuring chorus cuties. They also wound up at the racetracks and the Seaquarium. Nebraska's team even managed to have a dinner at the Bonfire, one of the 79th Street Causeway's best restaurants for sporting types.
Except for one workout a day, which never seemed too harsh, the players had a good deal of time at their respective hotel pools to lie in the sun in tank shirts and shorts. For whatever it was worth, Devaney allowed the Cornhuskers to swim and play frivolous games in the pool. Bryant did not allow swimming. Just drowning, somebody said later, in tears.
There were no comics among the players, but some of them did struggle to convince everybody that they were not getting nervous or tense. Jerry Tagge mentioned at one point that "it's sort of tough to get up for a game in Miami." Jeff Kinney confessed that he had preferred basketball to football in high school. And Rich Glover, in reply to his thoughts about the Crimson Tide, said, "I'm just sitting by the pool listening to soul music on my radio."
It was left to Terry Davis to supply the week's only quality mirth. Asked what it was like to be the field general of a full-house backfield of wine makers, the reference being to Johnny Musso, Joe LaBue and Steve Bisceglia, Davis responded: "Sometimes it's confusing with all those foreigners there. While I'm calling signals, one of 'em will be asking the other one what the play is, and one of 'em will be asking another one what the snap count is. I should have majored in Italian."
Alabama deserved one laugh. And so ended the Orange Bowl laugher.
Hours before Nebraska so conclusively proved it was No. 1, Oklahoma reinforced the suspicion that it is certainly No. 2, Penn State humiliated Darrell Royal and Texas 30-6, and Stanford, that Cinderella Rose Bowl team, ended all of Michigan's pretensions to national honors.
In many ways the Sugar Bowl was even more of a rout than the Orange. Although Oklahoma looked nonchalant, sluggish and even bored on occasion, Jack Mildren and his Sooners erased, once and for all, the myth of Auburn, Pat Sullivan and the mesh jersey. If Oklahoma had truly been aroused it probably could have scored in three figures. The total was 19-0 after the first quarter, 31-0 at halftime and, finally, 40-22.