In Fort Worth, this preoccupation with the health of Jim Swink (see cover) is understandable: if Texas Christian University is to live up to its favorite role against Mississippi in the Cotton Bowl on January 2, it is almost certainly going to need the services of a hale and hearty Swink at left halfback.
So when Swink came limping out of a TCU scrimmage last week, there was reason for Coach Abe Martin to blanch, and when it became certain he wasn't injured seriously, there was reason for rejoicing. This is attributable not only to Swink's undeniable football genius but to the fact that almost everyone who knows him likes him. In Texas he is already a young man to be spoken of in the same breath with Doak Walker. In Fort Worth itself, he is pushing Davy Crockett.
In two years he has scored a touchdown just about every eighth time he has carried the ball; this season alone he gained 1,283 yards rushing, scored 20 touchdowns (most of them from at least 40 yards out) and led the nation in scoring with 125 points, a unanimous All-America. And he's only a junior. "Next year," Coach Abe Martin figures, "he'll run right out of the stadium."
Even Martin isn't exactly sure what makes Swink so good—but he has some ideas. "He's like a good prizefighter," the coach says. "He always senses what the other guy is going to do before he does it. He moves his feet so fast it sounds like a covey of quail getting up. He cuts so quickly, defensive men wind up blocking themselves."
Jim's own evaluation, in his soft east Texas drawl, is on a different note. First he gives maximum credit to his blockers ("After they open the holes, all I have to do is run"), but when pressed he answers like this:
"Well, I never have run the hundred faster than 10.1, so I can't just get out and run away from many defensive backs—I guess that takes care of the 'natural ability' angle. And I guess most of the guys I've played against wanted to win at least as bad as I did. Maybe what helped me most is thinking hard about what I've got to do. Every now and then you catch the other guy napping."
Off the field Jim Swink doesn't particularly look like an All-America halfback—or act like one either. He went to TCU, a small college as big-time football schools go these days and one that hadn't turned out a great team in over a dozen years, because he liked the atmosphere. He didn't even go there on a football scholarship but got his tuition, board and books free because he could play basketball. He is studious, carries a stout schedule of courses in geology and makes excellent grades. "Jim," says one of his professors, "has the rather amazing ability to see his football skills in their proper perspective."
This is, of course, a sound trait. Even his fellow football players at TCU don't mind his good grades just so long as Jim Swink keeps on running.
A PLAN FOR SOCCER
Now assembled in St. Petersburg, Fla. are a dozen soccer coaches and 80-odd players from a dozen colleges-delegates all to the Fourth Annual Soccer Forum of the National Soccer Coaches Association of America. They represent the hard core of U.S. enthusiasm for the ancient game and this year, as last year, they will deplore the fact that, although the game continues to boom as a participant sport, nobody comes to watch it and nobody writes it up in the public prints. And so, respectfully suggested for the agenda at St. Pete is a question: "Why not make soccer a spring sport?"