4) George Blanda.
6) The balls are livelier (not proved).
Along with everything else, some cherished notions about modern-day placekicking and placekickers are being shot down. Everybody knows what a field goal is (boring, usually) and what a field-goal kicker is supposed to be. He is supposed to be 137 pounds dripping wet (from the shower, not from sweat; nobody expects placekickers to sweat); to have an East European or Scandinavian accent and an interesting story about how he escaped the Communists or the common folks. He will have only a very probationary pass to varsity status, not being a true athlete, and be suspect by the coaches, who can't figure him out and do not know how to coach him. Too, he is expected to have only a vague idea of what football is really like and to be a loner and/or an eccentric.
Some of the emerging kickers in this report do not entirely let us down on these scores. A young man named E.O. Whealler, who kicks "only the long ones" for Georgia Tech, has a reputation for oversleeping, missing buses and disappearing from practice to call his girl or get his car fixed. Against VMI in 1973, Tech coaches yelled for Whealler to go in for a field-goal try. When there was no response, they searched and found him asleep on the bench. Upon being awakened, E.O. rushed into the game and kicked a 55-yarder, a Georgia Tech record. He clicked his heels as he came off the field. Whealler says the only problem a field-goal kicker has is getting bored. When the game is on, he amuses himself by looking at the action in the stands.
Brian Hall arrived at Texas Tech more limp-on than walk-on. He wore an artificial leg, the result of a farming accident. Hall carried the leg under his arm when he was interviewed by reporters the first time. When asked what he did to improve his skill during the off-season, he said, "Well, I've spent quite a bit of time refinishing my leg."
Indiana's Frank Stavroff, from Yugoslavia, walked on and into the job in 1973 and has made 11 of his 19 attempts for Coach Lee Corso, who likes Stavroff fine but isn't sold on field goals. "You better not kick a field goal if you have a lousy defense," says Corso. "I made a survey one year and eight of the 10 times we made a field goal early in the game the other team came back and scored a touchdown. I'd gain a field goal and be behind 7-3." Stavroff wears size 9 shoes but crams his kicking foot into an 8 "so it will feel like part of me."
Tony DiRienzo, Oklahoma's first soccer-style kicker, is from S�o Paulo, Brazil. As a sophomore two years ago, DiRienzo kicked a 60-yarder against Kansas; this season he has not tried one that long, but he has made every one of the nine he has tried, including three last week.
With such inconclusive evidence to go on, it is not surprising that coaches are often willing to concede that they have the best placekicker in the world kicking for them. In Boston, the best kicker in the world is Fred Steinfort, a 22-year-old left-footer from Westphalia (Wetter, West Germany) who broke the Boston College lifetime scoring record by booting a 46-yarder against Navy on Saturday. Steinfort has scored 191 points in four years. USC's Glen Walker is the "best all-round kicker" (he also punts) John McKay ever had. Well, certainly the best all-round kicker who was ever a guard at the U.S. Army's maximum security prison in Fort Leavenworth. Abby Daigle is "the best field-goal kicker in Oklahoma State history." Daigle uses a straight-on approach, but he kicks the ball off the bottom of his shoe. He is credited with four field goals of 50 yards or more since starting as a freshman.
Ohio State's "best kicker in college football" is a walk-on named Thomas Klaban, who was born in Czechoslovakia and is spindly and splay-footed and can be seen almost every day of his life making solitary trips up and down the steps of 100-foot-high Ohio Stadium, hopping on one leg, then the other. Klaban's best buddy is his sister Jane, with whom he escaped to Canada from Prague, then came to America in 1967, which was fortunate for him because NFL scouts seldom draft anybody living in Prague. When he wasn't watching TV to improve his English, Klaban kicked Michigan out of the Rose Bowl last year with four field goals. He prepped for Woody Hayes by starring as a high school swimmer in Cincinnati. When he needs coaching, Klaban doesn't go to Hayes, he goes to sister Jane. Naturally.