SI Vault
September 15, 1969
As college football begins a new century, it may well have said goodby forever to the fullback constantly running up the backs of his guards and tackles. It may have also bid farewell to the quick kick, field position, clawing defense—to every conservative element that once helped distinguish the game by regions and made it different from the pitch-and-catch style of the professionals. It started happening early in the 1960s, it happened in 1968 as never before and this year it should be even more so. For better or worse the collegiate game is now played the same way over the entire country. No more can one look at the Big Ten and say, there are the brutes who control the ball, or glance at the Deep South and say, there is what defense is all about, or probe the Southwest to see if the forward pass is alive and well at, for example, Baylor. Everybody throws the ball, everybody catches it and everybody runs with such alarming success that scoreboards have taken on the appearance of a light show for hippies.
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
September 15, 1969

Wave Goodby To Defense

View CoverRead All Articles View This Issue

"He is," Royal adds, "a pleasant extrovert. He's wound tight, though. Sometimes I'll come up behind him and touch him and he'll jump."

Street is unpredictable in other ways. Take last New Year's Eve when the Tennessee and Texas teams attended a pre-Cotton Bowl luncheon at which two footballs were to be given as door prizes. When Volunteer Quarterback Bubba Wyche drew the first winning ticket and saw that the recipient was only 10 feet away, he lobbed the ball to him. Then came Street's turn. He picked a ticket and, not to be outdone even though the second winner was halfway across the huge ballroom, he threw a pass that swept dishes and glasses off three tables and missed his target by two tables. On the field the next day, though, Street was considerably more accurate, hitting his receivers for 200 yards and two touchdowns.

Street gives the Wishbone and its triple option its Go Power, for he not only passes well (50%), but is one of the niftiest running quarterbacks anywhere and, if need be, can wait until the last instant to pitch back.

Although he can be confident that his Longhorns will disturb the tranquillity on many fronts this fall, Royal refuses to do any early shouting. "Last year we got better and better each week until at the end we were as good as we've ever been. We can't start out that good this time—not as good as we ended up. There is," he points out, "a Southwest saying that, 'There ain't a hoss that can't be rode and there ain't a man who can't be throwed.' " Nevertheless, throwing Texas this year is going to be difficult.


Joe Paterno, by his own admission, is a cornball. Last year he was voted coach of the year, an honor that did not impress him, and shortly after he was offered a job as head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers at $50,000 a year, plus all sorts of little attachments assuring his future financial security. He turned down the offer, saying that he preferred life in the Nittany Valley, where he could pile his wife and kids into the family car on a Sunday afternoon, drive into the country and talk to the cows. Of course Paterno is a deceptively sharp man and he knows that talking to cows is better than watching the Pittsburgh Steelers and that by staying with Penn State he has a very good chance of repeating last year's 10-0 record, of this time finishing No. 1 in the polls and of winding up as coach of the year again. Some cornball.

"Someday when we're 3 and 7, I'll remind people how glad they said they were when I decided to stay," he says with a grin. Grinning is easy when you're 10-0. But, even if he were 3-7, Paterno would probably still grin and tell people: "I didn't play that boy because he's Italian. I played him because I'm Italian."

Paterno has the longest nonlosing streak in the country among major colleges, a 19-game string that includes two of the most improbable bowl game finishes. First there was the 17-0 lead he blew in the Gator Bowl two years ago when he came up with a 17-17 tie. Then there was last January's 15-14 last-second win in the Orange Bowl against Kansas and its 12-man team.

This year the string undoubtedly will be extended because State has the softest schedule of any top-ranked club, as well as most of last year's team back again. This includes Chuck Burkhart, the quarterback, who often appears to do nothing right except win.

"I wish somebody would give him credit," Paterno says of Burkhart, who has never lost in high school or college. "When he came off the field in the Orange Bowl after the first quarter—in which he had bounced one pass on the ground, had thrown two interceptions and had looked bad all-round—I asked him if he was all right. 'Sure,' he tells me. 'Why do you ask?' That's the kind of self-assurance he has."

Continue Story