The ball was on Wisconsin's 13-yard line, but it did not really matter to most Southern California partisans in the Rose Bowl whether the team scored again or not. Quarterback Pete Beathard already had given USC a deliriously comfortable lead. But Beathard was not done. He took the snap and raced out to the left, as he had done all day from USC's I formation, and then, turning, he fired a pass back to the right and down the middle. End Fred Hill caught the ball for the touchdown that eventually won the game from the Big Ten champions, 42-37. It was Pete Beathard's fourth scoring pass of the day, a Rose Bowl record.
"Running left and throwing right, or straight ahead, is one of the most difficult things a passer has to do," says Don Klosterman, talent director of the AFL Champion Kansas City Chiefs. "And nobody in college football can do it like Pete Beathard."
Klosterman is the most vocal of all Beathard admirers, of whom there are many, including a large sampling of pro scouts. Klosterman, admittedly, has known Beathard since the 6-foot-1, 191-pound Trojan star was in grade school. "When he was a high school freshman, while most kids in his town [El Segundo, Calif.] were learning how to be surfers, Pete was asking how you set up and got the ball away as a pro quarterback," Klosterman says.
Beathard did so many things so well a year ago that USC went unbeaten and untied and was the country's unanimous champion. Among his many accomplishments were these: he hit 54 (with only one intercepted) of 107 passes for 948 yards and 10 touchdowns, ran for 290 yards and five more touchdowns and intercepted three passes on defense.
Pete Beathard is a quiet, calculating senior who, despite the success that both he and USC enjoyed in 1962, has worked all summer on his passing. "I think I'm throwing 40% better than I did in my first year," says Beathard. "Mainly I've been interested in trying to get the ball away quicker."
In the annual spring game against the alumni—a glittering squad that included Jon Arnett, Ron Mix and Marlin McKeever, among other pros—Beathard showed that he had lost nothing since his Rose Bowl performance. He completed nine of 14 passes for 119 yards and one touchdown, ran six times for 60 yards and another score, played more than 50% on defense, and the varsity won by the staggering count of 44-6.
In the Far West, Beathard's biggest competition for quarterback awards will come from California's rangy junior Craig Morton, who may be too good to be true. After missing the first five games because of a knee injury, Morton, a 6-foot-4 210-pounder, stepped in against Penn State and put Coach Marv Levy in shock. Morton calmly completed 20 of 28 passes for three touchdowns. He was just as good for the rest of the season. Playing in only half his team's games, Morton connected on 69 of 126 passes for 905 yards and nine touchdowns.
"If his knee holds up, he'll prove he's the greatest," says Levy in this year of superlatives about college quarterbacks. "He's got the darndest arm I've ever seen, he's the toughest kid on the team and the handsomest."