"Manning. The quarterback from Ole Miss. He's with the Saints now."
"You'll have to excuse me, Coach. The names—"
A large, muscular young man with thick brown hair, carrying a tray of empty dishes, looms at the table. He is introduced to the major as his counterpart, the center on next fall's Tulane team. He gives his name as Steve Wade, from Lake Arthur. He says he is 6'3" and weighs 240 pounds.
"Boy, they're sure growin' 'em bigger," says the major. "I was hardly 200 pounds when I came here. And playing both ways."
"Players are bigger, they're faster, and there's more of them," says Ellender. "The basics of football are pretty much the same, but the players is where the game has changed. Conditioning programs are so much better, so much more refined. These guys are always doing something to build themselves up, working out, lifting weights. You won't believe our weight room."
"We never had any of that," says the major. "They used to tell us we'd be muscle-bound and couldn't run if we did all that weight lifting. Billy Cannon was supposed to be the exception. He was lifting when we were in high school. About the only thing extra we did was run wind sprints and laps. They'd slap us in the stomach and if it shook we had to run. Some guys had naturally flabby stomachs. It was tough on them."
He says the logic of wind sprints came home to him Up There. How the coaches always made you suck it up and go "one more, one more." He could relate to that Up There. "I'd say to myself, If I can just make it through today I'll be all right.' Then there'd be one more day, and then one more, and one more. The days piled up."
He walks the campus with Ellender, audits it, really, like a man looking at real estate, taking in the new construction and, with mixed enthusiasm, the new styles. The girls that pass are in cut-off jeans, hip-huggers, crop-tops and halters. Their hair is poker-straight, their feet and midriffs bare. They have made careful efforts to look as careless as possible.
"Maybe it's me," says the major, "but in the spring we used to look forward to seeing those pretty spring dresses. I think a girl in a pretty spring dress is something special."
At a baseball game on campus he is impressed with the pretty pass Tulane uniforms have come to. They are handsomely tricolored, with powder-blue spikes. The team cannot match their brilliance. The blue shoes, says the publicist, are right out of Charlie Finley's how-to-inspire manual.