Last spring MICHIGAN tried playing football by innings. Said Fritz Crisler, after watching a 12-inning game in which the Michigan blues beat the Michigan whites 25-0, "It's a nice game, but it isn't football." At this date it is still uncertain whether he blamed the new rules or Michigan's players. After Guard Joe O'Donnell and Tackle John Houtman there is little in the line. It will be a hard year at Ann Arbor, just as it will be at Bloomington, where INDIANA does have Halfback Marv Woodson, Guards Don Croftcheck and Mel Branch, and Tackle Ralph Poehls. Good as they are, the talent will not spread far.
Oklahoma State has a new coach, Phil Cutchin, a graduate of the Bear Bryant school. It had 112 players at the beginning of spring practice, only 46 at the end, 31 of them sophomores. It also has an interesting schedule that includes five of the 1962 bowl teams. This is not the year for State.
Nor is it for IOWA STATE, which after three wonderful years will have to play without the service of Dave Hoppmann. There are good running backs on the team, but they will be operating behind a fairly green line. COLORADO has the usual new head coach—this one Eddie Crowder, former assistant at Oklahoma—and, of late, the usual young team. KANSAS STATE Coach Doug Weaver is encouraged. "We are stronger than in the past," he says. "This team can take the physical punishment of a day's practice."
None of these Big Eight teams is a peer with the increasingly strong leaders of the competitive Mid-America Conference, who continue to play on a par with the lower rung of the Big Ten.
The only riddle about BOWLING GREEN, which again will be at the top of the conference, is how Doyt Perry keeps coming up with his world-beater football teams. Take this year. Deprived of 16 of his first 22 men from 1962, Perry has produced Tackle Jerry Jones, Fullback Bob Pratt, 310-pound Tackle Tony Lawrence and hurdling Halfback Jim Goings—all sophomores, all definite first-string material. Add returning Center Ed Betteridge, Guard Bill Violet and Halfback Jay Cunningham, and you have a witch's brew the competition will find hard to swallow.
BG's competition is, as usual, MIAMI. Bo Schembechler, fresh from Ohio State, will not have All-America Tackle Tom Nomina and End Bob Jencks, who scored 84 points last year. Among 28 returning lettermen, however, are the entire starting backfield from an 8-1-1 team including Quarterback Ernie Kellermann, Halfbacks Scott Tyler and Bill Neumeier and Fullback Tom Longs-worth. A 245-pound tackle, Paul Watters, is considered as good as Nomina. Miami will be rough indeed.
Ohio is not as lucky. There is little question that passing Quarterback Bob Babbitt and Roger Merb, a good running quarterback, will be missed. Replacement candidates are an unlettered junior, a converted halfback and a sophomore. But there is compensation in the reappearance of outstanding Center Skip Hoovler, End Dave Hutter and Tackle John Frick and a big bonus at halfback. Jim Albert and Ron Curtis will have to work to stave off sophomore rabbits Glenn Hill and Bob Anderson.
In the Missouri Valley Conference, the most formidable array of fugitive quarterbacks in football history gathered at TULSA this spring. There were Stu McBirnie, previously of Southern Methodist and Trinity, who led Tulsa to the national passing offense championship in 1962; Jerry Rhome, who led the Southwest Conference in passing in 1961 before leaving SMU; and Bill Van Burkleo, a sophomore in 1961 at Oklahoma, who had been hailed as the finest back between Mississippi and the Rockies. Though McBirnie has since left school, Coach Glenn Dobbs has the other two and End John Simmons, the nation's second-ranked receiver. Unfair as it is to the rest of the Missouri Valley Conference, Tulsa also has a brawny line and fine running baoks in Fullback Dick Beattie and Tailback Ken Rader. They are, as one might guess, transfers.
Cincinnati looked good last year on the offensive statistics sheet and bad on the scoreboard. The offense is back, along with maybe a slightly better defense. The scoreboard should ring up a merrier tune.