Somebody once said that in college football it's a lot easier for a coach to live with being No. 1 than it is to live with being No. 47. What generally happens to a man when his team cannot win is that he winds up selling tire tools for a living. And all that really happens to the coach of the No. 1, if and when he tumbles, is that he winds up the season with a 6-4 record and turns down the Peach Bowl. All this is what somebody once said. It was probably a wise guy sportswriter who had nothing to lose but his trip to Miami.
There are other things that have been said about trying to be No. 1 and then struggling to stay there indefinitely. It has been said that most of the fun is in the climb; that there's nothing on top but agony and worry about the road back down. It's been said nobody can even get there unless Notre Dame loses two games. It's been said that games are tougher to win when you're No. 1 because the burden is so heavy, but it's also been said that a losing streak can be more strenuous on the coach's nerves because he has to read the help-wanted ads between workouts.
Obviously there are numerous advantages and disadvantages to being No. 1, which means being the national champion, incidentally. And perhaps for the uninformed they should be outlined clearly.
The advantages are as follows:
1. The coaching staff gets a bonus, maybe a raise, or at the least some gift certificates for new suits at the local hardware store, and their wives get a year's supply of free permanent waves from Loretta's Beauty Shop.
2. The athletic department station wagons get repainted in the school colors.
3. Barmaids around town get to wear sweatshirts with No. 1 stenciled on them.
4. Campus protests diminish—slightly—in size and regularity.
5. For a year at least, recruiting is easier.
6. The school fight song turns up on jukeboxes everywhere.