"He was a marine," says John of his father, who was a corporal during the Korean war. "That's the best way to describe him. He's not that bad. He just wants to make sure everything goes right. In a firm way. Firm but nice."
In the tie with Bucknell, Witkowski made two crucial errors: fumbling on the Bison one-yard line to forestall what looked like a sure TD and unnecessarily calling the Lions' last time-out with 33 seconds to play. He did move Columbia to the Bucknell 19 for the potential winning field goal in the final seconds, but the rushed kick sailed wide. Outside the dressing room Witkowski met his parents. Thomas, though not quite the Patton described by Jimmy, didn't take long to bring up the gaffes. "This guy," he began, pointing at his son. "I'm not even going to get into.... Why'd you call a time-out?"
"I didn't know "what play to call," said John. "I didn't want to screw up. What was I supposed to do?"
"Call whatever you want to call. Throw it out of bounds. You know you're going to move it downfield. What happened on the fumble?"
"I don't know. It happened."
"I'll say it happened," said Thomas, his expression somewhat closer to Robert Young's than the Great Santini's, but his tone still demanding.
After giving the pros a shot, Witkowski, who has a B average in economics, hopes to work as a stockbroker or investment banker on Wall Street. Last summer he interned at Salomon Brothers, the New York City investment banking house, helping to expedite underwritings of corporate issues, which translates into a lot of figuring. "He was excellent," says Wayne Gabari, vice-president and manager of Salomon's syndicate control department. "I'd be more than happy to have him come back here. I don't know how smart he is on the field, but he was plenty smart in here."
Witkowski will have to wait until he's a pro before a lot of people know just how smart he is on the field.