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September 21, 1959
Midwesterners point with pride to tall corn and fine football
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September 21, 1959

The Midwest

Midwesterners point with pride to tall corn and fine football

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To Mrs. Betty Young, 37, paralyzed from the neck down and imprisoned in an iron lung, the season is a wondrous time. She will be taken to most of the Iowa home games on her portable bed. "I've got my Minnesota tickets already," she says. "I think I'll get a season ticket. I just get football fever, that's all. It's one of those intangibles that kicks you in the seat of the pants and makes you want to yell, 'Rah! rah! rah!' "

At South Bend the furor over the Brennan affair died down long ago. At Christmastime, when young Terry Brennan was fired as coach of Notre Dame after five reasonably good but not Notre Dame-good years, fans were passionately split for and against the move. Now the fans have adopted a wait-and-see attitude. New Coach Joe Kuharich, back at his old school after a spell of coaching the professional Washington Redskins, has generally been well accepted. He is considered a bit distant, rather aloof compared with Brennan, but he has been extremely careful to avoid controversy.

The word from South Bend is that Kuharich, not surprisingly, is dead serious about football. He had better be.

Down at Oklahoma, which is engraved "Oklahoma!" as in the hit musical in the minds of suffering opponents, the waving wheat smells just as sweet as it ever did, and Coach Bud Wilkinson, the smiling genius of the prairie, has one of the best teams of his improbable career (114 games won, 10 lost and three tied).

People in the Big Eight, however, just can't get themselves worked up over football as hotly as their neighboring fans of the Big Ten. With Oklahoma 99.44% sure of winning the conference title again, as it has the last 12 years running, the Big Eight race lacks an element of suspense. The contrast is especially strong this year, when at least five Big Ten teams—Wisconsin, Purdue, Iowa, Ohio State and Northwestern—have preseason support as championship contenders.

In any case, campuses large and small, from Muskingum to Minneapolis, share the unique electricity that comes with the beginning of a football season, whatever the state of the various teams and conferences.

"I like football, love it," says William Porter, 40, an Iowa professor in the School of Communications, "but that doesn't mean I'm going to kneel down and light candles for any tired old academic war horse.

"Football means a certain type of excitement when school opens. It is purely a calendar experience, but it comes closer to bringing the whole campus together at one time than anything else. It means bands, color and our guys playing their guys."

[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]

Bowling Green, Ohio
Colors: Brown and orange

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