That Foote is receptive at all is a testimony to Schnellenberger's amazing influence. No great believer in big-time athletics, Foote came to Miami three years ago from Washington University in St. Louis. He stepped right into the furor over the NCAA probation. Foote now calls the Schnellenberger program a "showcase" in which "athletes are students" and the men in it are men of "honor and integrity." He calls Schnellenberger "a teacher in the total sense of the word," and says he is "thrilled" by what has happened this year. He sees it as "academics and athletics building on each other's strengths." He calls it "healthy."
Yes, but is it healthy for Miami to play Nebraska? The other afternoon in his office, Schnellenberger was saying how this Miami team "didn't figure." Kosar, after all, is only a redshirt freshman. But he wound up completing 201 of 327 (61.5%) passes for 2,329 yards. And Tight End Glenn Dennison caught more passes (54) than any other Miami receiver ever had. And Wide Receiver Eddie Brown reminds Schnellenberger "more of Paul Warfield every day." And the Miami offense averaged 25.6 points a game.
"But I'll never forget what Adolph Rupp once told me at Kentucky," said Schnellenberger. "He said, 'Son, you may have guys who can hit the basket 50 percent of the time, but there'll be days when they only hit 30 percent. When that happens, you better be able to play defense." Schnellenberger's Hurricanes play defense. It's a swarming, clinging, brazen kind of defense whose success belies its size (smallish) and speed (average). Led by Fitzpatrick and Linebacker Jay Brophy, Miami ranked fourth in the country in fewest yards yielded per game (259.4) and third in scoring defense (9.6 points a game). It allowed a total of 10 points in the fourth quarter all year. No opponent had a run or pass play that went for more than 28 yards.
Nebraska? "We'll assault 'em on defense." said Schnellenberger. "Try to gang [Mike] Rozier whenever he has the ball." Offensively, "we'll make them play the entire field. Stretch out their defense and see how much they can cover." In either case, he said, "we'll take chances. It will not be a close game."
Well, then, can Miami win?
"I always think we'll win," said Schnellenberger. He got up and came around his desk, past a picture of an oak tree in autumn with the inscription TO BELIEVE IS TO BE STRONG, and handed his visitor a bookmark that had been a sideline pass for this season's Notre Dame game. It said MIAMI 20, NOTRE DAME 0 and had his signature below the score. He puffed on his pipe as he headed for the door.
"I just talked with my man at the weather bureau," he said. "There's six feet [actually nine inches] of snow in Lincoln. Nebraska won't get outside to practice for a week. Too bad." The corners of his mustache lifted, and he left a trail of smoke as he went out the door.