Those are the demands made of football players at Delaware. "All we want to do," says Raymond, "is have a program where the kids can get the thrills and excitement I know college football offers. It's ridiculous to make a kid run wind sprints if he drops a pass. And if you get tired in practice, stop and rest. This isn't to say we don't care about winning. We just want to succeed within a certain framework."
The matter of winning stirs Raymond no less than any other coach. "It's possible that I should sleep better because I know I won't lose my house if I don't win," says Tubby, "but the fact is I don't sleep better."
Insomnia has not dulled Raymond's creative spirit. Before every game he paints a caricature of a deserving senior and adds an inspirational "Go Team Win" homily. The players consider this recognition high honor. When a national championship seemed possible toward the end of last season, the gimmickry reached a pulsating crescendo. In the locker room before the Bucknell game Raymond displayed the 1963 national championship trophy won by Dave Nelson, and the Blue Hens romped 46-0. To arouse the troops for the Boardwalk Bowl he taped the picture of C.W. Post Quarterback Gary Wichard on every locker. Delaware's fourth straight victory in the Atlantic City Convention Hall sealed the national title and presumably earned the Blue Hens permanent possession of Bert Parks.
Delaware's program began to acquire its current low-key look under Nelson, a scholarly type who harbors a "fear of what big-time athletics can do to a university." Early in his successful 15-year tenure as a coach, Nelson moved the football players out of Mechanical Hall and into the mainstream of campus life, and the football games from a minor league baseball park to the school's very own stadium. Today that stadium seats 22,000 on a campus with half as many students and is 85% filled on autumn Saturdays.
Still, the visibility of fan support does not go much beyond game attendance. There is no athletic fee attached to student tuitions, and last year the extent of alumni contribution to the best college-division team in the country was $400.
"That's just the way it should be," says Nelson. "As long as we are successful and have money in the bank, how can we rightly ask for more? Besides, contributors often feel they should have a say in running the program. I don't want that. And if we solicit the alumni we divert money from other university programs. Let them give to the philosophy department. To accept money from an alumnus and call him a Chief Chicken or something is simply demeaning."
While Delaware does not have any Chief Chickens, it does have Philadelphia Phillies' Owner Bob Carpenter. It is Carpenter's Friends Foundation that annually provides 12 full scholarships to be parceled out among financially deserving students. The aid is actually less than the NCAA allows, since it excludes the cost of books and laundry. As it is, nine of the 22 starters last year had no financial aid at all.
With such enticements minimized, players must have more personal reasons for coming to Newark. "Staying in Delaware should help my business opportunities when I get out of school," says Reihm. "I wasn't looking for a big-time school because I didn't want to be lost in the shuffle," says Defensive End Joe Carbone. "I didn't think I could play at a major college," says Center Jim Bennett. "My personality isn't the right kind. You have to want to make a name for yourself, to be an adventurer." And there is Dan Morgan, a 6'3", 245-pound tackle who says meekly, "I'd be scared to death of a place like Penn State."
Delaware players believe that major football programs can be dehumanizing. "I don't really know," says Reihm, "but it seems as though football at a big-time school is a big-time job. Here there isn't as much pressure. Our success is not so much the result of the coaches pushing us as the players wanting to do it themselves."
It is a point of pride to many at Delaware that for all their successful college players—in each of the last four years, Delaware's fullback has gained over 1,000 yards—none has ever played in the National Football League. This year's team may have a legitimate pro prospect, however, in 6'5", 270-pound Defensive Tackle Dennis Johnson. He is something of a rarity in that he had several other offers but chose Delaware anyway. This in spite of the fact that Raymond didn't exactly outrecruit anyone. As Johnson tells it, "The people at Delaware put less pressure on me than anyone. They weren't calling all the time or making promises about what they'd give me. I guess that's why I decided to come. Football is like a course here. You just don't get credit for it."