"Most of it. Ninety percent of the kids I knew went to Illinois because they wanted to be there. It was a matter of pride and loyalty. Also, for me, it was cheaper. But I know the Michigan kids wanted to go to Michigan, the Iowa kids went to Iowa, not because they were sweet-talked into it. I think scholarships ruined that. I don't think they should give them except when a kid can't afford school any other way, and then they should be equally available whether you play football or play in the band.
"When they started giving scholarships, they made athletes pros. What's the difference if you give a kid a scholarship or the money? What's the difference between a $5,000 scholarship and $5,000 cash? I think most of the trouble they're having now stems from that and from the alumni getting involved. It makes football too big. When football gets more important than the college, they should just forget college and form a league and play football."
"So you didn't get anything in college?"
"I didn't, and I didn't expect it. Not 10 cents. Hell, I didn't even plan to play football until I got there and my fraternity brothers made me."
Grange laughed. "I was pledging Zeta Psi, and in those days they'd line you up and say, 'What sport you going out for?' I said, 'Basketball.' I always thought I was a better basketball player than anything. They said, 'You play four years of football in high school?' 'Yeah.' 'Football's bigger at Illinois than basketball. You go out for football.'
"So I went out, and about 120 guys were there trying out for the freshman team. When I saw how big they were, I didn't even check out a uniform. I came back and said, 'They're too big.' And then they got the paddle out and made me bend over. And I said, 'Football makes a lot of sense to me.'
"As it turned out, that was probably the best freshman team anybody ever had. We beat the varsity regularly, and three of us went on to make All-America our sophomore year—except that Moon Baker made it at Northwestern and Frank Wickhorst at Navy after they transferred. Earl Britton should have made it. What a player—our fullback for three years, the best blocker I ever saw. He gave me my biggest thrill in football."
"What was that?"
The field goal against Iowa our sophomore year. It was our first big game before a big crowd, at Iowa City, 35 or 40 thousand people. I held for him, and I just sat there watching the ball go, 52 or 53 yards, as I remember. I knew immediately he had it. We won the game nine to six." Typically, Grange didn't mention that the Illini were losing 6-3 until he scored the winning touchdown with two minutes to play.