Cynics believe that national championships, even the small-college variety, can be won only by football factories. They should take a close look at the University of Delaware. Last year the Blue Hens were 10-1, and for the fourth consecutive year they plucked the twin bouquets of college-division football in the East—the Lambert Cup and the Boardwalk Bowl. Since 1968 the team has won 36 and lost only eight. This has been accomplished in defiance of the fact that, as Athletic Director Dave Nelson puts it, "the throttle has not been pushed forward all the way." If Nelson and Coach Tubby Raymond have anything to say about it—and they do—it never will be.
Nelson and Raymond, both refugees from the Big Ten, believe in education first, football second. At Delaware there are no grants-in-aid or fund-raising campaigns among alumni or students. Football players draw financial support only if they qualify for a share of the mere dozen available need scholarships. Despite this, the football program accumulates annually a dazzling six-figure surplus and has made Delaware, in its particular pond, as big a fish as Nebraska or Ohio State.
For instance, last year, following a 40-7 loss to the Blue Hens, former New Hampshire Coach Jim Root informed his athletic director that either Delaware be left off the schedule or he would leave the school. "They are absolutely overwhelming," said Root. "I wouldn't subject my team to that again. They should play against teams like Ohio State, Notre Dame and Alabama."
That is going too far, but with every player suited up and every ankle taped, the team is probably equal to anything the Ivy League or Southern Conference can offer.
Occasionally, a diehard supporter like Alumni Director Elbert Chance will push to even higher ground. "Last year," he advises, "we would have cleaned Maryland's clock."
Delaware was indeed overpowering in 1971. The offense led the country in rushing and total offense and was second in scoring. The defense allowed fewer than 10 points a game, fewer than 60 yards rushing, intercepted 25 passes and dumped opposing quarterbacks for losses 60 times. In the Boardwalk Bowl, played in the very auditorium where Miss Americas are crowned, Delaware crowned C.W. Pest 72-22.
The Blue Hens' all-embracing defense lost only two starters to graduation, although two other defensive players will move to end positions on an offense that suffered seven departures. Nevertheless, the feeling is that the offensive newcomers, when meshed with returnees like Halfback Glenn Covin, who rushed for more than 900 yards, will maintain Delaware's place among the nation's top ground-gaining teams.
The reason lies with the Wing T system. Tubby Raymond learned the offense as an assistant under the man who invented it, Athletic Director Nelson. To that basic form Raymond added finesse and deception while still maintaining its simplicity. "We knew the plays," wailed one rival coach, "we just couldn't stop them."
Everyone knows the plays—the belly series, the tackle trap counter and the end sweep. And a defense may show any formation it likes but the Delaware quarterback will run precisely what he ordered in the huddle. Every play has built-in blocking contingencies that work.
"Running the Wing T is a science here," says Scotty Reihm, who becomes the team quarterback this year. "It's all in the technique." The story is told of the halfback who was out of position until an assistant coach stopped practice to move him forward half an inch.