The Big Eight—a potpourri of colleges ranging from the flats of Kansas to the thin-air heights of Colorado—will no longer be known as " Oklahoma and The Seven Dwarfs," thanks in part to more successful recruiting. Jack Mitchell of Kansas, Sonny Grandelius of Colorado and Bill Jennings of Nebraska are all cheering the demise of the old order. Last year Oklahoma lost its first league game in 13 years—losing to Nebraska 21-25—and narrowly missed a second defeat at the hands of Kansas 7-6. Meanwhile, Oklahoma Coach Bud Wilkinson readily admits a New Deal is in store for the Big Eight. In his view, everything in this country has increased except the number of college football teams. "There are more high school teams, more players, better coaches and bigger and faster players. Frankly, a prospective player has no material reason to weigh his choice toward any one school. Actually, it's the luck of the draw when you land the exceptional athlete. I believe you win games by setting a novel tempo, but first you have to hang tough and kick good. But it's getting harder to contain teams like Kansas, Nebraska and Colorado."
Elated by the closer competition in the league, people in Big Eight country have been coming out in larger numbers to the games. Kansas this year has sold 10,000 advance season tickets, almost twice as many as last season. Other teams are experiencing similar success.
"It's not only that our football is as good as any played anywhere in the country," explains Coach Cliff Speegle of Oklahoma State, "but ours is more interesting. We take the best of the Southwest's gifted passing skills and the best of the Big Ten's running game and merge them into a balanced, complete game. That's what stirs the fans, sound but exciting football."
Huey Long, had he lived, would have enjoyed the football they will play this year in the Midwest. His "share the wealth" never got a better workout.
1959 RECORD: WON 9, LOST 0
In five years Coach Doyt Perry's teams have won 37 games, lost 4 and tied 4. This year they should come close to the same winning pace, although at the outset the Falcons will be weak at end and quarterback. Perry hates to talk about sophomores or to write their names in the lineup, but he feels he may have a few who "could improve the outlook." One who should strengthen an already strong squad is Bob Reynolds, a 6-foot-6, 240-pound tackle. He backs up two polished performers, Bob Bird, 220 pounds, and Jerry Croft, 230 pounds. Another sophomore, hard-hitting Halfback Don Lisbon, is pressing last year's rushing yardage leader Chuck Comer (6.8-yard average) for the starting left half position. Sophomore Willis Jones, 6 feet 2, 215 pounds, should alleviate a weakness at end. With the team emphasizing line splits and the belly series, Halfbacks Comer and Bernie Casey, leading scorer and pass catcher (66 points and 18 catches), will have plenty of chance to show their stuff.
1959 RECORD: WON 5, LOST 4, TIED 1
This is a year of woe for Coach George Blackburn. The list of graduates—Jack Lee, Ed Kovac, Jim Leo, Max Messner—looks like a roster of pro draft choices, which indeed it is. Blackburn is busy reshaping and polishing, trying to patch the Bearcats' football machine together again. The big linemen, bears on defense, can't get the knack of offensive play, and the cute halfbacks, who look so good easing by tacklers, aren't tall enough to defend against passes. However, Ken Byers, a quick-reacting tackle, is the complete lineman. His tacklemate, 238-pound Ron Kostelnik, however, is overpowering on defense but only a competent blocker. Blackburn has converted Fullback Charlie Shuff to end. The center of the line has Guards Ed Wolf and Leon Love and Center Don Ross, who block as well as they defend. The high-speed back-field is tailored to fit the slot-T and fly-T formations. Two halfbacks, Fred Oblak and Jack Van Buren, will turn the ends, and Fullback Ed Banks will go up the middle.
1959 RECORD: WON 3, LOST 7
The Flyers after a 2 and 8 season in 1958, a slightly better one last year, now have high hopes for 1960 and a new coach, Stan Zajdel. Fortunately for Zajdel there are 18 experienced hands returning and at least four hardy sophomores who can step into the starting lineup without detracting from it. The line, averaging 219 pounds, is impressive at tackle, with Ransom Piltz, 6 feet 4, 255 pounds, and Bob DeMarco, 6 feet 3, 230 pounds, sure candidates for Mid-American Conference mention. Sophomore Bob Heck-man teams with 6-foot-5 Mike Monaghan at the ends, giving Dayton a strong pass-catching team. The backfield will be dominated by sophomores—with long-passing Quarterback Jack Unverferth, elusive Halfback Andy Timura, and Fullback Bob Michigan, the best. A new system, the Delaware wing T, will be installed to provide more effective two-on-one blocking for these power runners. The new-found backfield strength should provide the Flyers with a lot more scoring kick.