HERMAN HICKMAN SAYS: To put it bluntly, the football situation in the PCC is a mess. Torn by dissensions over ineligibilities, bowl bans, scholarship aid and "round-robin" schedules, the conference could wind up with the fifth best team as its representative in the Rose Bowl. UCLA, USC and Washington are banned, while Oregon State is ineligible because of the agreement with the Big Ten which precludes the same team playing in Pasadena for two straight years. As mentioned previously (see "The Eleven Best Elevens"), it looks as if the end of the PCC is drawing near.
Oregon State seems to be the best team on the Coast again this season. Tommy Prothro has done a magnificent job at Corvallis. He got a jump on the leaders his first year and surprised them by finishing second. Then came 1956 and the championship. The Beavers could be summed up this way for 1957: stronger than last year, with experience and good speed in the backfield.
USC, like UCLA, will be playing without seniors this fall because of the PCC ruling. The Trojans have suffered real losses in Fullback C.R. Roberts, Left Halfback Ernie Zampese and Right Halfback Don Hickman. Center Karl Rubke was also caught in the conference action. The new coach, who succeeds Jess Hill, Don Clark, has junked the multiple offense for the balanced-line T, and is very satisfied with the results of both spring practice and the early-September work. Three tough openers—with Oregon State, Michigan and Pitt—will be a mighty rough test for Clark, but I believe the Trojans will have enough left to be a contender for Coast honors.
Washington, with the accent on defense under new Coach Jim Owens, might very well be a much improved team. While they were the top-scoring team on the Coast last fall with 232 points, the Huskies also gave up 206 points in return. Material is a little thinner than last season, but with an explosive backfield and an improved defense they will be tough in their own league.
California, with another new coach—Pete Elliot, fresh from Nebraska via Oklahoma—should show some improvement. The line is monstrous, headed by Tackles Proverb Jacobs and Harley Martin, and an excellent flanker in End Ron Wheatcroft.
Stanford has the most optimistic coach in the country, Chuck Taylor. Having lost 1956's top passer, John Brodie, by graduation, he says: "We will not be weakened at the quarterback position. This will be a better club than last year's. It will be at least as good offensively and a whole lot better defensively."
UCLA, specializing in stubborn defense and a foolproof kicking game, will still be hard to beat even though there is not a senior on the squad. In Kirk Wilson the Uclans had the top punter in the nation last year. He broke collegiate records with a fabulous 49.3-yard average for 30 kicks. Wilson, operating in the vital single-wing tailback spot, is a good passer but rather slow runner.
COLORS: Blue and gold
BASIC OFFENSE: Split-T
1956 RECORD: Won 3, lost 7
LETTERMEN RETURNING: 22 of 33
WATCH FOR: Passing from halfbacks, rugged defense
THE DOPE: The Bears have shifted to the split-T under Oklahoma ex
, and if junior Joe Kapp, the only experienced quarterback on hand, can shift to his new duties comfortably, Elliott could inaugurate his coaching regime with a trip to the Rose Bowl. He has good, but not brilliant, veterans in the backfield in Jack Hart and Darrell Roberts and a sound fullback in Art Forbes. Following the Bud Wilkinson policy of rating players first for their defensive ability, Elliott moved a couple of beefy tackles—245-pound Proverb Jacobs and 240-pound Harley Martin—over to guard to anchor the defensive line, and he has veteran tackles and ends, too. Roger Ramseier and Ron Wheatcroft are the best of the ends and both missed spring practice with injuries but should be hale for the season ahead. A 225-pound sophomore, Bob Chiappone, will likely start at center. The starting California line will be big and should be good; Elliott is afraid, however, that there is an over-all lack of line depth. The Bears' principal lack on the attack appears to be a breakaway back. They may be able to compensate for this lack of an offensive weapon with a very strong defense and bulldozing running from fine fullbacks.