Sitting briefly with a game official beforehand, Curci said he had to make "the toughest decision of my life." What was that? the official asked. "Whether to play Sonny Collins," Curci said. When Collins entered the game beginning in the second period, he was "nothing like the Collins I saw earlier in the season," the official said later. "He ran like he was carrying the capitol building."
During the game, the official said, there was more than the customary crosscurrent of muttered oaths and banter by Kentucky players along the line of scrimmage, the sharp-edged talk often borne of frustration and pent-up emotion. "They acted like they wanted to strike out at something," he said. "It was a job keeping them from doing it." In the Kentucky dressing room afterward, Curci pointed an accusing finger at a group of interviewers, singling out Phil Foster, and said, "There's the damn guy who started the whole thing."
That, of course, was a serious oversimplification. A kidnapping started the whole thing. And a murder. And a sequence of events uncanny in their juxtaposition followed. None of them would have taken root, it must be pointed out, had there not been ground ready to receive them—ground that exists almost anywhere big-time college football is played today.
Last week the University of Kentucky was progressing briskly with the investigation of its football program, and looking hard not so much for criminals as for answers. Perhaps it can clear the air once and for all around an embattled young coach, a shaken team and a star player.
What will Kentucky find upon self-examination? Probably not a lot more than any school would find today by turning its eyes inward. It will find that not every student chooses his friends off the church or social register. That not every student spends his Saturday nights at the malt shop, or thinks gambling is a sin or sex an activity only for the marriage bed. That not every student smokes only tobacco.
And when it is over, the investigation will probably show that college football is as vulnerable to rumor today as it ever was. Whether there is a basis for the rumor or not.