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Morton Sharnik
October 08, 1962
A grim commando mood has hit football. It is especially evident at Kentucky, where the coach is demanding total dedication to victory
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October 08, 1962

The New Rage To Win

A grim commando mood has hit football. It is especially evident at Kentucky, where the coach is demanding total dedication to victory

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"They can quit football and still keep their full scholarship," Vaught insisted, "as long as they maintain a good scholastic standing. That is the law as I understand it. What does Bradshaw know that the rest of us don't?"

Kentucky's football scholarships are grants-in-aid. The only way a boy can lose his grant-in-aid, aside from scholastic ineptitude or improper behavior, is to sign a waiver that releases the school from its obligation. The boys who quit Kentucky's squad all signed such waivers.

Charlie Bradshaw may have bullied them into quitting the squad but he did not bully them into signing the waivers. "Before you put your name on this thing," he would say, "think it over carefully. I'd like you to come back to the squad. I can't guarantee you anything. It'll still be just as rough and hard, and I can't promise you'll be rated any higher as a player. But remember, when you sign this thing, you're giving up your scholarship." The players who were determined to quit signed the waiver.

Bradshaw says now that he was not aware that a player did not have to sign a waiver and give up his scholarship when he quit the squad. "I should have known," he says, "but I didn't."

It is easy to assume that Bradshaw subtly conned the boys into signing, but the evidence is not all that way. Mike Minix had a two-hour chat with Bradshaw before signing. "The coach was pleasant throughout the interview," Minix said. "He wanted me to reconsider. He advised me to read the waiver carefully. I told him I wouldn't want the scholarship unless I was earning it. There was no pressure."

Nor is it justified to assume that all Bradshaw teaches is brutality. Jerry Woolum said, "I occasionally thought the coaches were overly enthusiastic. But eventually all these trials seemed to become irresistible challenges."

"Young people require a disciplined program," Bradshaw said. "If they don't have it, they bob around like so many wood chips in the ocean, marking time, living a day-to-day existence. They have to learn to be dedicated and to develop direction."

One of Bradshaw's basic ideas is to get the players to push beyond their psychic control. He worked with Dr. O. B. Murphy of the American Medical Association to develop an intensive routine calculated to improve the players' concentration, reaction and strength. Dr. Murphy said, "We know the limits of fatigue can be pushed back through concentration. A player must constantly exert greater force than he believes himself capable of." Dr. Murphy feels that this self-dedication is responsible for the Kentucky squad's impressive strength and stamina gains. Rusty Payne, the Kentucky trainer, said, "For the first time that I can remember, we haven't had a broken finger or a wrist, and sprains and strains have almost disappeared."

Yet despite this genuine physical improvement and implied moral improvement, the only real, obvious and immediate goal is winning football games. Field-position football, which is what Bryant and Bradshaw play, requires a perfectly disciplined and perfectly conditioned team. The ideal player is one trained to a physical peak and a reflexive refinement that makes him respond, almost like an automaton, to any situation that arises on the field. Because of this, the player is wholly dominated by the coach and wholly dedicated to football.

If it sounds a bit totalitarian, it is. It is Total Football. And it pays off—perhaps not so much for the player as it does for the school and for the coach, who, after all, is evaluated on a stark and simple basis: he's a success if he wins and a failure if he loses. As one man said, "In Kentucky they play football for God, for the State of Kentucky and for the University. And incidentally for Charlie Bradshaw."

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