There are eleven men on a football team and there are eleven great football squads in the U.S. I have spent the last several weeks touring this country talking to the experts (see box), and I have picked the ones which you will find on the following pages. They are the greats of Football Fifty-Four, perennial national championship contenders for the most part. I have made no attempt to 1-2-3 them. My 11 Elevens play each other in nine games, and there is plenty of opportunity for throat-cutting.
A football, in the true words of the old saying, bounces many ways. There may be some teams with better records at the season's end than those I've selected here, and we can spend the winter arguing about them. Many teams are overrated, too. Mississippi, for example, looks like a "shoo in" for the Southeastern Conference title, but is not on my list. Their schedule does not include Georgia Tech, Alabama or any of the top Conference contenders.
I have put Wisconsin, Rice and Iowa in the top bracket. Look at Wisconsin's schedule on the following pages. I'll nominate them right now as the nation's No. 1 team?if they go through that schedule "clean." I've left out Michigan State because the Spartans are starting out practically all over again. Biggie Munn has left the helm for the job of Athletic Director, and seven first-stringers are missing from last season's Rose Bowl champs.
On the West Coast some of the experts think U.C.L.A.'s ineligibility to play a return engagement in the Rose Bowl may cut down their incentive to win. But who wants to get psychological? Their game with mighty Maryland might be the antidote. Oklahoma faces Rose Bowl-hungry California at Berkeley on September 18?we'll see.
Army? Remember, I used to work for Colonel Blaik. If I picked the Cadets, he'd never speak to me again. There has to be a little sentiment in all evaluations; besides, I think Army may still be another year away from greatness. There are several good colleges which are little heard of on the national level. DeWitt Weaver has forged a thunderbolt at Texas Tech. The University of Cincinnati is in the same class. As for Marquette?look out, Wisconsin.
Let's be thankful there are no rules changes this year worth mentioning. Coach and players alike should be better adjusted to working without the Two Platoon system. The players will be faster, the bands louder, the girls prettier. What ho! The sun still shines on the Acropolis and I'm only sixteen years old. PLAY BALL!
LOS ANGELES, CALIF.
HENRY R. SANDERS
BASIC OFFENSE: Single wing, balanced line.