"But while considering these things one night in Sheboygan, I suddenly found the gears shifting and my mind racing over the teams I had seen last spring. I began to realize that the best in the nation this year will again read like a Social Register: Alabama, USC, Penn State, Arkansas, Texas, Nebraska, Michigan, Ohio State, UCLA, Oklahoma. And it hit me like a blindside block."
He looked squarely into my eyes. "The time has come," he said, "for the colleges to go back to real football. To the one-platoon."
A cacophony of rattling sounds made me realize I had jarred the table with my knees. "The one-platoon?" I said.
The Coach sighed ponderously. "Making a minor league prophet out of you is a tedious business," he said, glancing at his watch. "All right. A-B-C. What has prompted almost every major change college football has had to make in the last five years? What is the reason for the scholarship limit of 95, the freshman eligibility rules, the visit rules, the new redshirt rules, the sub-division of Division I?"
"Economics," I said. "So you're going to tell me one-platoon football is half as expensive as unlimited substitution because it requires only half the players and half the coaches. That Fritz Crisler took only 45 players to the 1948 Rose Bowl. That the great Blanchard-Davis teams at Army used about 35 men on the road, and that Earl Blaik had only three full-time assistants."
The Coach was calm in the eye of my storm.
"You're right, that's part of it," he said. "Unlimited substitution has come to mean unlimited expense. Coaches aren't satisfied with the 95-player limit. They want 105, or 125, and the extra dozen hotel rooms, airplane seats and wild-hair expenses that implies, not to mention a couple more coaches. I am consistently amazed at the willingness of hard-pressed college business managers to subsidize such skylarking."
"That's the price you pay for quality," I said. "Football is more sophisticated than when Blaik coached. And unlimited substitution gives more players a chance to play."
His reply took me aback; obviously he had come prepared.
" 'More sophisticated.' 'More players.' In the marketplace of American hokum, that one certainly attracts the rubes. The modern football player is, indeed, a highly efficient, beautifully packaged playing machine, but he does not play 'Football.' He plays 'Defensive Tackle,' or 'Offensive Guard,' or 'Outside Linebacker on Obvious Passing Downs.' "