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There must some something in the air around San Francisco Bay that stimulates quarterbacks—at least college quarterbacks. Nearly every fall in that area there are more footballs flying around than sea gulls. Frankie Albert, Jim Plunkett, Guy Benjamin, Steve Dils and a few dozen others have flung for Stanford. Dan Pastorini played for Santa Clara. But nowhere do air-traffic controllers get dizzier than in Berkeley, where the University of California has produced Joe Kapp, Craig Morton, the late Joe Roth and Steve Bartkowski. And now there is a new Golden Bear with a golden arm: Rich Campbell.
Campbell is a big junior for the Bears in more than one way. He is just a bit under 6'5", weighs 215 pounds and can float the ball into his fullback's hands out in the flat, drill it into a receiver's navel at 30 yards or throw it clear out of the stadium. Through 10 games this season he has connected on 193 of 289 passes—an impressive 66.8% completion ratio—for 2,304 yards. No wonder that a die-hard fan of the 5-5 Bears says, "Why don't we forget all the fancy stuff and just throw the thing?"
Cal's coaching staff seems to agree. The playbook consists of Campbell throwing short, Campbell throwing medium long and a fullback draw. Campbell throwing long, a sizable section, has been sealed temporarily because injuries have knocked down wide receivers Floyd Eddings (a reinjured knee) and Holden Smith (a bone spur), both greyhound-fast when healthy. There are good receivers left, to be sure, particularly junior Matt Bouza, who is now ranked sixth in the country, averaging 5.1 catches a game. Campbell's next-favorite targets are senior Fullback Paul Jones and senior Joe Rose, who have had 3.8 and 3.3 receptions a game, respectively.
There is no telling how good Campbell's stats would be if Cal's attack had more diversity. Not only is there little in the way of a deep pass-catching threat, but the Bears are weak at tailback, too, because freshman John Tuggle is still learning the position.
In five of the Bears' 10 games, Campbell's arm has been good enough to win. Campbell's brain isn't too bad, either. Cal's coaches send in all the plays, but Campbell is free to change the calls at the line of scrimmage. In the opener at Arizona State, he called 15 audibles, which resulted in 11 pass completions and a 17-9 upset victory.
"Rich knew going into that game that they were going to blitz us," said Cal's offensive coordinator, Al Saunders, "and he changed plays at the line of scrimmage and picked 'em apart throwing the ball."
Cal won at Arizona the following week, and if Heisman Trophy votes were taken only in that state, he'd be a cinch winner. In the two games, he hit 45 of 56 passes for 471 yards and an 80.4 completion percentage.
He has cooled down only slightly since. He threw the winning touchdown pass against San Jose State with 47 seconds left on the clock. And he hit 16 of 23 in a one-point loss to UCLA and 21 of 35 as Cal was edged by Washington, 28-24, two weeks ago. Then in last week's 45-13 defeat of Washington State, Campbell connected on 7 of 11—he played mostly in the first and third quarters—to break Cal's career completion (355) and yardage (4,501) records that had been held by Craig Morton.
"He's a good athlete," says Cal Coach Roger Theder. "He could run if he had to, but we don't do that with him. And the kid is tremendously physical. He bench-presses about 325-335 pounds. So he's got all the tools that you look for in a player."
Even his feet come in for praise.