Football Short Stories - 7
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Outlaw Football in Georgia!
Heisman: The Man behind the Trophy, John M. Heisman with Mark Schlabach (2012)
John Heisman was in his third year as coach at Auburn.
On the same day Auburn played Sewanee, an event oc­curred in Atlanta that threatened the very existence of intercollegiate football. While the University of Georgia was playing Virginia at Brisbane Park on October 30, 1897, Bulldogs FB Richard Von Gammon was seriously injured in the early part of the second half. According to a report in the Atlanta Constitution on October 31, 1897, "Gammon was in the crowd and he made a lunge at the player who had the ball. He missed his tackle and was thrown violently to the ground. He fell with a thud, and the strong, heavy men tumbled over on top of him. Some say Gammon's head hit his shoe as he almost doubled when he was thrown. Others claim his head struck the hard ground. The fearful fall stunned Gammon, and he was picked up dazed and half unconscious. He quickly commenced to vomit, and it was seen by those who ran to his assistance that he was badly hurt. He turned white and the color left his features entirely."

Richard von Gammon
According to the report, a physician was summoned from the grandstand, and the doctor "injected morphine into the injured man's chest in the hope that he could be revived and saved from the pains." Von Gammon was rushed to nearby Grady Hospital, where he died at 3:45 A.M. the next day, according to the Constitution.
News of Von Gammon's death spread throughout the South quickly. Football programs at Georgia, Georgia Tech, and Mercer voluntarily disbanded, and Auburn's team did the same on November 2, 1897. Within days, the Georgia state legislature introduced a bill that would outlaw football playing in the state. A newspaper headline from the Atlanta Journal read "DEATH KNELL OF FOOTBALL," and the Atlanta Constitution reported, "the end of football playing in Georgia seems to be in sight. Its death knell has been sounded. The arch enemies of football have turned upon it, and from all sides come bitter denunciation of the game." A Georgia state representative introduced a resolution on November 1, 1897, that "the game of football should be prohibited from all schools and colleges receiving financial aid from the state"; it passed by a vote of 91-3. Several days later, the Georgia Senate passed a bill by a 31-4 vote that prohibited "the playing of football in Georgia and to provide a penalty for the violation of the same." The Senate bill needed only the signature of Georgia governor William Y. Atkinson to become law. But then Rosalind Burns Gammon, the fallen player's mother, wrote the following letter to her local state representative:
It would be the greatest favor to the family of Von Gammon if your influence could prevent his death being used for an argument detrimental to the athletic cause and its advancement at the University. His love for his college and his interest in all manly sports, without which he deemed the highest type of manhood impossible, is well known by his classmates and friends, and it would be inexpressibly sad to have the cause he held so dear injured by his sacrifice. Grant me the right to request that my boy's death should not be used to defeat the most cherished object of his life.

1895 Auburn-Georgia Game at Piedmont Park, Atlanta
After hearing of Rosalind Burns Gammon's request, Atkinson, on December 7, 1897, vetoed the bill outlawing football. Auburn reassembled its team within a few weeks, but the Tigers had already been forced to cancel the rest of their games during the 1897 season, including the Thanksgiving Day game against Georgia. Heisman later recalled: "In '97 we had a great aggregation of players; but the untimely death of one of Georgia's star players in mid season led to the cancellation of the Thanksgiving Day game; and without that we could not worry through the financial end of the work, so we also had to disband."
On December 18, 1897, representatives from the schools that were charter members of the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association met at a hotel in Birmingham, Alabama, to discuss ideas of how to make football less violent. Some members discussed seven-men-on-line rules and the prohibition of mass play. Heisman believed he had the answer for opening up the game of football that would put less emphasis on the line of scrimmage, where rough play and serious injuries usually occurred. Heisman didn't actually invent the forward pass, the play that would change football forever, but he ended up being its biggest proponent after witnessing a pass while scouting a game between North Carolina and Georgia on October 26, 1895, in Atlanta. The play evolved because of the desperation of North Carolina FB Joel Whitaker, who threw the ball forward to teammate George Stephens while trying to punt out of his team's end zone.

John Heisman in 1890s
Instead of punting straight into the leaping bodies of these on-rushing Georgians, he ran a few mincing steps to the right. Raising the ball to his shoulder he tossed it. Luck was with the boy. The ball was caught by a North Carolinian. Now as we today know forward passes it was not much. It traveled a few yards, and laterally as well as forward. It may have appeared to the spectators that it had been knocked from that FB's hands. At any rate that lad who caught it ran 70 yards for a touchdown! Georgia was stunned, not quite realizing what had happened there beneath North Carolina's goal. But Glenn Warner, then coaching Georgia, had not missed a moment of it. And neither had I. I had been standing not more than eight yards from North Carolina's FB. I had seen the first forward pass in football. It was illegal, of course. Already Warner was storming at the referee. But the referee had not seen the North Carolina lad, goaded to desperation, toss the ball. And he refused to recall the ball. A touchdown had been made, and a touchdown it remained. [John W. Heisman, "Fast and Loose," Collier's Weekly, October 30, 1928.]
Over the next several years, Heisman campaigned for the legalization of the forward pass, believing its inclusion would open the game up and eliminate many of the sport's serious injuries. Heisman wrote many times to Walter Camp, head of the football rules committee, about legalizing the forward pass, which was finally approved in 1906.
The Littlest Pass-Master
Strange But True Football Stories, Zander Hollander (1967)
Even in his padded suit and helmet he didn't look very big, standing among the giants who surrounded him in the Philadelphia Eagles' huddle. But little Davey O'Brien, all 5 feet 7 inches of him, was a brilliant and resourceful field general, who knew that it took more than size to be a winner. Even more, he was a gifted and daring passer. This was O'Brien's second year with the Eagles. It was also his final year and he was playing his farewell game in professional football. Before the game, he had announced that he was retiring to work for the FBI.On this day of December 1, 1940 he wanted to leave something behind for people to talk about after he had gone. He did.
O'Brien was concluding a remarkable football career that had begun at Texas Christian University. There, he broke almost every Southwest Conference passing record and led the Horned Frogs to two national titles in a row. In his senior year he won both the Heisman and Maxwell awards as the outstanding collegiate football player of 1938.

Davey O'Brien, TCU
But despite his feats, he didn't think he would succeed in pro football. He was too small, everybody said. Even Davey had to agree, and at first he was reluctant to sign a pro contract. But the Eagles managed to change his mind. In his rookie year, he was the NFL's second-leading passer, was named to the all-league team, and established three new passing marks, including 21 completions in one game.
As a result, O'Brien was well known to football fans when he came on the field to direct the hapless Eagles against the might of the Washington Redskins. The Eagles had won only one game all season and were mired in last place. The Redskins were seeking the victory that would assure them of first place in the Eastern Division of the NFL. Many fans regarded the game as the mismatch of the year.
A capacity crowd of 25,833 jammed Washington's Griffith Stadium by kickoff time. Despite the uneven match, neither side could score in the first quarter. The Eagle line was outweighed and outrushed by the Redskin forwards, who threw back the Eagle runners for more yards than they could gain. So, early in the second period, little Davey took to the air. He began to fill the air with more passes than any pro-football crowd had ever seen before. Not even the dynamic Redskins seemed capable of stopping him. The Redskins did manage to break through on the scoreboard, however, on a 27y reverse ... The Redskins missed the extra point and led, 6-0.
But O'Brien did not relax his passing attack. To elude the onrushing tacklers, he faded back as far as 15 and 20y behind the line of scrimmage, picked out his receivers and completed his passes. And when he couldn't find anyone free, he ran with the ball. On two successive plays he gained 34 yards on runs, nearly twice as many as the rest of the team would make on the ground all day. He mounted a drive that carried the Eagles 64y in five plays, and seemed headed for the tying touchdown when the halftime gun went off. In all, Davey had completed 11 passes for 112 yards in the first half.
That was only a warmup for what was to come. He continued his assault in the second half. Despite the growing pressure being put on him by the Redskin linemen, Davey managed to connect on passes with ridiculous ease. He passed wide to the side and he passed deep; he threw from behind his own goal line and he threw on the dead run, riddling the Redskins defense with his slingshot passes.
He was the little David against the Goliaths of the league, a sprite standing up against the six-foot, 230-pounders who seemed to be trying to separate his head from his shoulders Often enough they got to him and smashed the little man to the ground. But each time he would pick himself off the turf and go back to work. Every now and then a Redskin lineman would help him to his feet, apologizing for having knocked him down.
Meanwhile, the Redskins, masterminded by Sammy Baugh, who had preceded O'Brien at TCU, scored on Dick Todd's plunge from the four-yard line. With Bob Masterson's kick the Redskins now led 13-0. Still, O'Brien would not quit. Playing all the way on offense and defense, he stimulated another Eagle drive. He engineered two drives in the third period, one of them for 68y in 12 plays, and another for 66y in five plays. But the Eagles still couldn't get the ball across the Redskin goal line.
The Eagles' predicament looked even gloomier in the fourth quarter when Baugh, an excellent punter, quick-kicked, and the ball traveled 85 yards before it was downed on the three-yard lien. But O'Brien charged up the Eagles once more. He began pumping passes immediately. His primary target was left end Don Looney, who was to catch a record 14 passes for 180 yards during the day. In 15 plays, he drove the Eagles all the way, finally scoring with a 13y pass to FB Frank Emmons. The try for the extra point was blocked, and the Eagles trailed, 13-6.
Time was running out now, but not O'Brien's courage. As soon as the Eagles got the ball again, O'Brien began one last drive that carried them down to the Redskins' 33. He was still flinging passes into the end zone, trying for the trying score while being rushed by six or seven men at once. But with 17 seconds showing on the clock, and O'Brien's endurance waning, Coach Bert Bell took him out of the game. He had played for 59 minutes and 43 seconds of a grueling football game, and he had thrown an unprecedented total of 60 passes. And not one of them was intercepted! Overall, Davey completed 33 of his passes for 316y.
As Davey came to the sidelines, a dejected little figure in a mud-caked jersey with the numeral 8 on it, everyone in the ballpark stood up and cheered for his remarkable demonstration of courage and skill. Even the Redskin players openly applauded him as he walked off the football field for the last time. The Eagles were beaten, 13-6, but not vanquished.
Davey's performance that day remains an indelible memory, even though most of his marks have since been erased. But the one that still stands is his 60 passes.
[The record was finally broken by Joe Namath, who threw 62 for the Jets against the Baltimore Colts in 1970, three years after this story was written.]

O'Brien with his mates after his last NFL game
"Night Train"

"Yesterday's Heroes," Jerry Green, GameDay Saints vs. Falcons January 2, 1983

The bus cost a dime back then, and as it rum­bled through Hollywood the soldier wondered how he would spend the rest of the day. He shuffled around and looked out the window.

There on the corner of Beverly Boulevard and Fairfax Avenue the soldier saw the sign on the top of the squat office building. It said: "Rams." The soldier jumped up, yanked the cord, and got off the bus.

He was named Richard Lane and came from Texas. He had played some football at a place called Scottsbluff Junior College in Nebraska. This was during the Korean War, and Richard Lane had been drafted and went to Fort Ord, California. He played football for the Army and kept the documents to prove it.

Now he was off the bus and walking into the squat building, asking to visit the coach. The year was 1952, and Richard Lane to this day relishes re­peating this story.

"I got off the bus," Lane says, "because I had a letter from Joe Stydahar, who was coach of the Rams then, and he had said to stop by. Buck Shaw, who was coaching the San Francisco 49ers, had sent me a letter, too. But he said, 'Come by when you're out of the service,' and Stydahar had just said, "Stop by' at any time. So I got off the bus."

Lane managed to talk himself past the office receptionist and soon found himself in Stydahar's office.
"Where's your scrapbook?" Stydahar said to the young soldier.
"I had told him about my scrapbook in the letter," Lane remembers. "I got the scrapbook and Stydahar looked through it. He signed me for $4,500, and he signed five other ball players out of my scrapbook. All of them played in the army with me."

Of such raw stuff are sporting legends started and nurtured.

Lane made the Rams that season. He intercepted 14 passes (still an NFL record) at a position that years later would be named cornerback in pro football's nomenclature. He played 14 years in the NFL for the Rams, the Chicago Cardinals, and finally the Detroit Lions.

Nine years after his retirement, he was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. The vote was unanimous.

Richard Lane was the square name for the gambling pass defender better (and more romantically) known as Night Train Lane. The nickname is ano­ther episode of the legend.

"My rookie year with the Rams, that was the year the record 'Night Train' came out," Lane says. "I listened to it a lot. I was an offensive end at the start and Tom Fears was playing with the Rams then, so I used to go to his room at training camp for advice. "Every time I went to Fears's room, Ben Sheats - he was another rookie - said: 'Here comes Night Train.' Then I became a defensive back and we played our first exhibition game, and a headline came out after that game: "'Night Train Lane Derails Charley (Choo Choo) Justice.' I tackled him, and he broke his shoulder. I thought the name looked pretty good. It's been a good name."

Derailment was Night Train Lane's game. The visions are imperishable. ... The quarterback throws the football. The receiver is open. The defender, lagging inside, is beaten. Cleanly. Now there is a blur, a quick, precise, calculated movement from the defense. The airborne football fails to reach its destination. Night Train Lane, so swiftly, is between the quarterback and the receiver. It is his football. A winning roll, shoot it all on the seven.

Night Train played the corner as a high-stakes gambler. That was his style, but he wouldn't admit it. "You can't play a guessing game, they'd kill you if you did," he says.

Today Night Train Lane is 54, he plays a lot of golf at NFL Alumni events, shoots in the low 80s. He is working on a dual biographical book about himself and his late wife, singer Dinah Washington. And he has a desk job. He has been director of the Detroit Police Athletic League for seven years.
"Any of y'all who want to go back home just see me."
The Junction Boys: How Ten Days in Hell with Bear Bryant Forged a Championship Team,
Jim Dent (1999)
August 31, 1954
Bear Bryant wore the scowl of a man who'd eaten spark plugs for breakfast and wash­ed them down with a quart of Tabasco. "We're 10 percent silk and 90 percent sow's ear," he confessed to (assistant coach) Pat James. "Half the team is smaller than a monkey's cojones. The other half is slower than smoke off shit."
It was a hot and muggy morning when the players returned to College Station ... Parked in front of Walton Hall, the football dormitory, were two long diesels with KERRVILLE BUS LINES painted across the sides. ... Preseason practice had been held for decades a half-mile away. So why, the boys were asking, would they need two buses to travel just down the street?
After completing their summer jobs, many of the players had hitchhiked back to campus. Others had hooked rides with teammates. Few could afford cars or pickups. Some took the train, and others arrived by bus. They toted beat-up suitcases and stringed-up boxes, and their football shoes were tied together by the laces and draped over one shoulder. Most were deeply tanned from working in the oil fields and on the ranches during the hottest summer any Texan could remember. They were eager yet apprehen­sive. Most of the players secretly wished that Ray George was still coaching the team, even though his easygoing nature promoted laziness. At least he didn't seem hell-bent on fracturing bones and postholing them into the sun-baked ground. They couldn't remember a player ever being run off by Ray George.
At ten that morning, Bryant gathered the players at the front entrance to Walton Hall. Most were still carrying their gear. Wearing khaki pants and a gray T-shirt, he loomed even larger and more intimidating than they had remembered.
"I suppose you boys are wonderin' what the buses are for," he asked in a low rumble. "Well, we're going on a little trip. I want you to take your stuff up to your rooms. There's no need to unpack your bags. Just grab a toothbrush, a blanket, and a pillow. After that, go to the chow hall and grab a baloney sandwich. We'll meet back here in about 15 minutes. So be ready to go."
As the players dispersed. Bryant spoke up again. "One more thing. Don't call anybody and tell 'em we're leaving campus. No phone calls, understand? When we get to where we're going, you can write a letter to your mamas and your papas." ...

L-R: Bear Bryant, Ray George, Willie Zapalac
Billy Granberry, a short redheaded running back from Beeville, rolled Bryant's words around in his head and felt nervous. What had he meant by, "There's no need to pack your bags"? Billy wondered if some players would be returning to campus only to leave again. For good. If there was anyone on the bubble, it was Billy Granberry, and he knew it. Billy was small and slow ...
Now his dorm room seemed to be a mile away - far up the steps on the I Ramp of Wal­ton Hall. Players with the best chance of making the team were on A, B, and C Ramps. His roommates were the type of players Bryant hoped to run off long before the first game of the 1954 season. It was clear to many of the boys that Bryant was planning a grand going-away party bfore the Aggie alums or the university's administrators could get wind of it. Like most of the other players Billy rolled up his toothbrush and comb in a blanket, grabbed the pillow from his bunk bed, and then sprinted to the chow hall across the street, hoping to learn that his name hadn't already been scratched from the roster.
Bad news awaited several players before the buses took off. It was scrawled there on the chow hall chalkboard. Bryant had spent the summer evaluating talent, and many players would be changing positions. Because the Aggies needed bigger boys in the line, Bill Schroeder was moving from end to tackle. Several of the slow running backs were shuttling to guard and tackle. It was easy to spot the players who'd learned they'd be swapping backfield glory for grunt work. Their eyes were glued to the floor. All but Schroeder. "I'll do whatever it takes to help the team," he said to anyone within earshot. ...

L-R: Billy Granberry, Bill Schroeder, Don "Weasel" Watson
Every seat on both buses was occupied and some players sat in the aisles. Others climbed into the luggage bins and stretched out. Coach Elmer, carrying a clipboard, plopped into a seat next to Bryant and began his report: "My count is 110 players. We've got three equipment boys on board. ..."
Bryant gazed through the morning haze and had a vision. He could see overfed Aggie alulms - a passel of weirdos, he thought - wearing Bermuda shorts, sandals, and black socks. Soon, they would be gathering on the sidelines of the practice field, waiting for the team to start fall parctice. They would stand there maybe an hour in the searing heat, bitching and wondering where the hell the football team was. Then, around noon, the crusty old groundskeeper would limp across the field.
"Bear took the boys away on two buses," he would say. "I don't know where they're going. He didn't say when they'll be back."
Bryant had started cooking up this secret trip at the end of spring training when he got fed up with the meddling jock sniffers. Willie Zapalac told him about a place on the western edge of the Hill Country ... where Texas A&M conducted summer school for incoming freshmen along with courses in hydraulics, surveying, and agriculture research for upper-class Aggies. The Texas A&M Adjunct, as it was called, boasted 411 acres and had 20 screened Quonset huts, a classroom building, a bathhouse, a mess hall, and a physical pllant building. The camp was about two miles from downtown Junction, a flyspeck on the Texas map with a population of about 2,000. ...
In July, Bryant had dispatched Zapalac and Phil Cutchin on a fact-finding mission. Cut­chin had his reservations about taking the team so far to such a crude place, especially one with so much cacti. But Zapalac was intrigued with the place.
"Coach, it kinda looks like an old army base, even though it's pretty new," he said. "They didn't waste much money slapping it together, but there's a helluva lot of land. ..."
What sold Bryant was the remote location. It would take weeks for the Aggie leeches to locate Junction, and the staff would have no trouble shooing away local folks who wanted to watch practice. No press would be poking around. Mamas and papas might worry about their boys but wouldn't know where to find them. Bryant could teach the boys to play football his way - or they could hit the highway.
As the buses rolled into the vast countryside ..., Zapalac stood in the middle of the aisle and held several strips of bus tickets above his head.
"You boys listen up. Any of y'all who want to go back home just see me. I got plenty of bus tickets. Be happy to give you one."
The boys were confused. But only Weasel Watson had the guts to speak up. "Coach," he said, "why you figure us boys would be interested in going home so soon? And where in the hell are we going anyway?"
Zapalac looked at Bryant, who nodded. "We're goin' to a place called Junction."

To be continued ...

Death of the PCC
College Football: History Spectacle Controversy, by John Sayle Watterson (2000)
The NCAA between 1954 and 1957 gradually tightened its grip on college football. To be sure, the NCAA strongly reflected the policies and the agenda of the Big Ten working in tandem with the increasingly scandal-stricken Pacific Coast Conference. ... In 1953 the NCAA put Arizona State on two-year probation for the activities of its booster group ... In the same year, Notre Dame was censured for providing tryouts for football players in violation of NCAA bylaws; the association also censured Michigan State, where the Spartan Foundation boosters had made $55,000 in illegal payments to players between 1949 and 1952, enabling it to build a national championship team. ...
In the wake of bitter and tawdry scandals in the Pacific Coast Conference, the NCAA imposed tough sanctions on four PCC schools, Washington, UCLA, California, and Southern California. UCLA's penalties proved to be particularly harsh; it received a three-year probation, during its probationary status it could not appear on television ... the NCAA's Infraction Committee prohibited the institution from participating in any NCAA-sponsored event. ... Southern California could not appear on television or participate in the Rose Bowl. ...In 1952, the NCAA had taken up out-of-season practice, one of the measures that the ACE proposals had sought to eliminate and the Ivy League ... succeeded in doing. At the annual NCAA convention Victor O. Schmidt, PCC Commissioner, ... moved to outlaw out-of-season practice except for postseason games to be held no later than January 2 (to allow for the Rose Bowl) and continuing until September 1 ... After strong opposition by Fritz Crisler of Michigan ... the convention decisively defeated Schmidt's motion, though it then proposed and passed a measure allowing 20 days of football practice in the time span of 30 days.

L-R: Ronnie Knox, Johnny Cherberg, Pappy Waldorf
Once a conference of state universities and private colleges, the PCC by the postwar era had reshaped itself into two distinct groups of schools, which included the northern members in Oregon and Washington versus the four institutions in California. ... Football teams had to travel a thousand miles, from Los Angeles in the south to Seattle in the north and still farther to Pullman WA where Washington State was located. The alumni of USC and UCLA felt that they had less in common with the four schools in Oregon and Washington ... than they did with many institutions in the Southwest and in the Midwest, which were, in some cases, no farther than Pullman.
To put it bluntly, rivalries between flagship institutions in the PCC resembled grudge matches more than traditional rivalries. ... UCLA still felt the stigma of its origins as a storefront satellite campus of California ...
One PCC school where cheating first came to light was Oregon, whose football coach had engaged in illegal recruiting practices such as offering $100 per month as well as a clothing allowance to a promising recruit. When this scandal erupted in 1951, Commissioner Schmidt threatened the institution with expulsion and insisted that the school fire its football coach. In turn, Oregon suggested that other schools, such as UCLA, were just as guilty of PCC code violations. ...
The first big-time slush fund scandal erupted at California in 1954, after Ronnie Knox, a highly sought-after HB from the Los Angeles area, revealed the existence of recruiting violations upon quitting California to transfer to UCLA. ... As a result, Schmidt levied sanctions on Cal which would keep it from going to the Rose Bowl. ...
Knox transferred to UCLA, where he received $75 for a nonexistent college job and $25 a week in the film-cutting department of a movie studio. ... In an article written for Collier's in 1956, ... Knox wrote that UCLA ... provided its players with "enough money for room and board, even though the rules of the conference forbade it." ...
In the fall of 1955, the scandal virus struck at Washington, where the faculty athletic committee had fired coach Johnny Cherberg after the players had complained of his ineptness in handling the team. Cherberg immediately revealed the existence of a booster fund ... which recruited players by making illegal promises of cash payments and then paying the players. ... The PCC put the Huskies on probation for two years, banning the team from appearing in the Rose Bowl.
In March 1956 charges of slush funds cropped up at UCLA when a former player who had moved to California revealed the existence of ... booster operations that supplied players with a $40 monthly stipend - and had been helping players since the 1930s. ... UCLA chancellor Raymond Allen refused to allow Commissioner Schmidt to interview the athletes for ten weeks, while Allen claimed to be making his own investigation. As a result, the commissioner assessed the chancellor with a fine of $95,000. The PCC also docked the whole football team a year of eligibility, a factor that led Ronnie Knox to forgo his senior year and join the pros [in Canada]. ...
Then the spinning wheel stopped at USC's doorstep in July 1956. Miller Leavy, a UCLA alumnus who served as deputy district attorney, sent Schmidt documents on the activities of the Southern California Educational Foundation, which had given more than $70,000 to athletes on the USC team ... The conference banned the Trojans from the Rose Bowl and exacted a fine of $10,000 for USC's failure to cooperate with Schmidt's investigation. As at UCLA, 42 members of the team would have to sit out a year of competition ...
Politicians and boosters in the L.A. area poured out vitriol on the conference authorities, the northern California schools, and the institutions of the Northwest which had, they believed, been responsible for the severe sanctions. ... Soon afterward, the ubiquitous Miller Leavy turned his heavy artillery on the north, sending evidence to Schmidt that booster clubs at California gave money to football players for non-existent jobs. In response, Chancellor Clark Kerr conducted his own investigation and publicly reprimanded Coach Lynn "Pappy" Waldorf. The PCC levied a fine of $25,000 against Cal, a penalty well noted by southern California schools as far less than those imposed on the Los Angeles schools. Given the acrimony ..., the California schools, except for Stanford, embarked on a course designed to break up the conference.
In 1957 the PCC tried to overcome what the New York Times called "a ground swell of disapproval" leading to cries for secession. The faculty representatives changed the financial rules so that players could receive aid if they could not make ends meet. While they refused to eliminate the probationary status for UCLA, USC, and Cal, the faculty reps did scale back the full year's disqualification for the UCLA athletes, changing it to a two- and three-year probation. This meant that the seniors could play but could not qualify for the conference championship or a trip to the Rose Bowl, the only postseason competition that the conference allowed.
Putting aside its resentments, Cal joined the two indignant Los Angeles schools in plotting their withdrawal from the PCC. ... In late 1957, when the PCC held their annual meeting, the schools forced Schmidt to resign, and then a week later California, UCLA, and USC voted to leave the conference. As a major football power, Washington would no longer have games with the powerful California teams except for Stanford; it might also have trouble recruiting in pigskin-fertile California. Therefore, Washington submitted its resignation in June 1958. The five schools that remained - Stanford, Oregon, Oregon State, Washington State, and Idaho - dissolved the "strife-weary" loop in August 1958. ...
When the West Coast teams reorganized in 1960, they created a new conference, the Athletic Association of Western Universities (AAWU), or Pac-8 and later the PAC-10, including all of the same teams except Idaho.
"I'd Like Number 20"
"Jerry Stovall Joins LSU Legends with Jersey Retirement,"
Cody Worsham, LSU-Georgia football program (2018)
He didn't realize why they were laughing. Jerry Stovall was just one freshman among dozens, standing in front of the Cage, as trainers sized up each new player for his equipment.
What size pants do you need? What size shoes do you wear? What size helmet are you?
And the last question from Jim Smith, the football equipment manager in 1959: What jersey number would you like?
That was easy. Stovall had worn the number in high school, and so, he would wear it in college.
"Well," Stovall told Smith, "I'd like number 20."
"Dumb me," Stovall laughs today. "I was a freshman, I wasn't old enough to know better."
That number, unfortunately, was taken. Billy Cannon would wear it while winning the Heisman that year, just one year removed from winning the national championship. LSU would retire the number immediately after the '59 season.
Stovall, the last man signed in his recruiting class, would have to pick another number. He asked Smith which number closest to 20 was available.
"18 and 21," Smith replied.
"I said, '21 will do,'" Stovall recalls. "So I got 21 because Billy Cannon had number 20, and he had priority over me."
Now, their jerseys are retired together. Stovall's No. 21 joins Cannon's 20 and Tommy Casanova's 37 as the ony ones retired in LSU football history.
"Good gracious," Stovall asks, "how lucky can a man be?"
The first name Jerry Stovall can't remember paved his improbable path to LSU. A ver­satile star in all three phases at West Monroe High School, Stovall had offers from Northeast Louisiana University and Louisiana Tech. He first caught the eye of LSU through Red Swanson, a former Tiger assistant coach turned Board of Supervisors member. Swanson was working at the Louisiana Training Institute when West Monroe and LTI squared off, and Stovall's do-everything approach jumped out to him.
"Just keep working hard," Swanson told Stovall, "and good things are probably going to help to you."
Soon, the two were taking trips to Baton Rouge for LSU home games in Swanson's black Buick Roadmaster, which Stovall recalls "sounded like a gorilla" when it started up. On the way, they'd talk football, bonding over the sport. The idea of staying close to home at either NLU or Tech had appealed to Stovall, but then he saw Tiger Stadium in person.
"It was like going to the circus," Stovall recalls. "There were 60,000 people going into the stadium. There were ex-athletes all around, everybody in the world is having a good time. I thought, Man, if this is like this all the time, it'd be a nice place to play."
Meanwhile, LSU was warming to the idea of Stovall. Assistant coach Abner Wimberly headed up his recruitment, driving to West Monroe to watch Stovall's high school film.
"I was black and white, grainy film," Stovall says. "I know he didn't see anything flashy. You've never heard anybody talk about Jerry Stovall's outstanding speed, great size, great strength. It's real simple. I didn't have those things in my tool chest. The only thing I think I had working for me was what my daddy taught me: you've got to work as hard as you can, for as long as you can, so you can become the best you can, so you can become the best you can. The only thing I had going for me was that I was going to work hard."

L-R: Jerry Stovall, Abner Wimberly, Marty Broussard
His hard work paid off, but he needed help. Coach Paul Dietzel had 52 scholarships available for the 1959 class, and all 52 were taken, meaning Stovall had to wait for a window as singing day crept closer and closer. Eventually, one of those 52 changed his mind. There would be room for Jerry Stovall at LSU, after all. "I am the runt of the litter," he says. "I was the last player chosen in that recruiting class. I wish I knew who the individual was that declined to keep the scholarship. I would love to go hug him and thank him."
The second name Jerry Stovall can't remember paved his improbably path to the field at LSU. Tough and hard-working, Stovall was behind the curve athletically when he arrived in Baton Rouge. Swanson had cautioned the LSU beat reporters at the time: "He might not be as far advanced as some of the boys the Tigers have signed, but he is all around and does everything well. Give him a year to get adjusted and he's going to surprise a lot of people."
Stovall had no idea if he was ever going to see the field. "Everybody I saw was always bigger, faster, stronger than me," he says. "Somebody was going to have to get hurt, somebody was going to have to quit, or I was going to have to do a really good job of working hard to prove to them I want to play."
Hitting the weight room sure helped. Stovall had never lifted weights in high school, but LSU was ahead of its time in strength and conditioning. Dr. Marty Broussard had installed a weight lifting program program that Stovall took to quickly.
"I never lifted weights in high school," Stovall says. "Marty Broussard demanded work. He demanded excellence. When you give it to him, he responds."
Stovall's breakthrough, oddly enough, came on the wrestling mat. The Tigers trained in a padded room twice a week during the offseason as part of their conditioning, and Stovall's first grapple came against future first-round NFL draft pick Wendell Harris. The rules of the match, as explained by then-defensive coordinator Charles McClendon, were simple: no biting, no head-butting, no eye-gouging, and no choking.
"They blow the whistle, and three minutes later, I've been humiliated," Stovall recalls. Wendell Harris put me upside down, against the wall. He butted me. He put his hands places he wasn't supposed to. He did a lot of things he wasn't supposed to. The whistle blew. Thank God I'm alive. I rolled over, sheepishly getting up, and Coach McClendon screamed at me: 'We don't walk or roll around at LSU!'" That night, Stovall made a deal with God: If you let me live until next Thursday, I am going to kill somebody.
The following Thursday, it was back to the wrestling room. This time, the opponent and the outcome were different. "I can tell you the guy who whipped me so bad in Wendell Harris, but I cannot tell you - this is the second name I wish I had - I cannot tell you who I wrestled the second time," Stovall says. "But I did to him everything Wendell Harris had done to me. Coach Mac blew the whistle. I popped up like I knew what I was doing. I was strutting back to the place where a week before I'd been rolling around."
That's when he caught Broussard's eye. "When I went back, Doc Broussard - do you know what that guy did to me?" Stovall asks. "He winked at me. Do you know how much strength and devotion and loyalty is in a wink? Whatever Doc Broussard wanted me to do from that point forward was done, as best as I knew how to do it."
From there, the wins flowed, and the accolades followed. After a 5-4-1 record his soph­omore season - featuring three losses by three points or less and following the gradua­tion of Cannon and his title-winning classmates - Stovall's junior and senior squads went a combined 19-2-1. He earned first-team All-SEC honors each year, winning the SEC title in 1961 and the league's Most Valuable Player honors in 1962, when he also finished runner-up in the Heisman voting and was named a unanimous All-American. ...
What turned a self-described "average athlete" into an All-American, first round NFL Draft pick, and two-time all pro? Unwavering belief in a simple motto passed down from his father: "Work as hard as you can, for as long as you can, so you can become the best you can possibly be." ...
"I purposely flunked the entrance exam."
It's Only a Game, Terry Bradshaw with David Fisher (2001)
At Woodlawn (High School in Shreveport LA) the QB playing in front of me was a high school All-American named Trey Prather. But rather than being discouraged because I wasn't the varsity QB, and pouting, I practiced as hard as I could, believed in my ability, and waited for my chance. Coach (Lee) Hedges was always supportive. ...
I was our starting QB my senior year. I didn't have a lot of experience, but I had raw talent and a rocket arm, so I attracted the attention of college scouts.
More than 200 colleges offered me track scholarships [Terry broke the national high school record for the javelin throw.] - I even got track scholarship offers from a school in Europe - but as it seemed pretty certain no one was about to start a professional javelin-throwing league, I knew that if I was going to have a career in sports it was going to be in football. Among the few major colleges to offer me a football scholarship was Baylor University. Baylor is a fine Baptist university in Waco, Texas, whose motto is Pro Ecclesia, Pro Texana, which roughly translates, "Terry can't even understand the motto, so no way is he going to go there." But I did go there for a visit, and it was an impressive place. ... During my campus visit I spent time with a player I knew from high school - and I was shocked at what I saw: Shocked! We were in his room, and from beneath his bed he pulled out a six-pack of beer and offered me a drink! I had never had an alcoholic drink in my life, and I wasn't about to attend a Christian college where football players kept alcohol under their beds. ...

L-R: Trey Prather, Terry Bradshaw @Woodlawn, Terry Bradshaw @ Louisiana Tech
I was also offered a scholarship to Louisiana State University. LSU had a great football tradition, and there was a lot of pressure on me to accept that offer. I was ambivalent, even before I knew what that meant. While it was an honor to have been offered the scholarship, I wasn't sure I could compete in big-time college football. I had played only one year of high school football. I had no real confidence in myself. And a year earlier LSU had recruited the very same player I sat behind in high school. He was one year ahead of me - and he was sitting on the bench. Now, if the QB who had put me on the bench in high school was sitting on the bench his own self in college, what were the chances that I was going to play ahead of him? ...
Just about everybody I knew - as well as a lot of people I didn't know - wanted me to go to LSU. I didn't know how to tell them that I didn't feel comfortable in Baton Rouge, so I purposely flunked the entrance exam. I have never much liked people who make excuses for their failures. I am not claiming that I could have passed that exam easily if I had wanted to go to LSU. I'll never know if I could have passed it; I know I didn't study for it, I didn't care about it, and I definitely didn't want to go to LSU. And I also didn't pass the test. ...
To qualify for a scholarship you had to get 16 - when I took the test a second time I got 15. Instead of being upset about it, I was relieved. All it meant to me was that I couldn't go to LSU. Of course, I absolutely could not imagine how failing that test would affect my life. If I had known how it would damage my reputation, how it would cost me a fortune in endorsements, how embarrassing it would be, I would have put some real effort into studying, and I could have failed that test with style!
Instead I attended Louisiana Tech University in Ruston, LA. My high school preparation began paying big dividends as I sat on the bench for two years. ... yet I continued to believe without any doubt that I was on my way to a career in professional football. ...
At the end of my sophomore year I began to see my dream slipping away from me. I don't quite remember how it happened - my father might have made the phone calls - but we got in touch with a coach at Florida State University who invited me to transfer. My older brother, Gary, and I got in the car and started driving to Tallahassee to meet the coaching staff. But before we could get there, the coaches at Tech found out we were on our way and threatened to inform the NCAA that FSU was tampering. By the time we got to Tallahassee, no one on that coaching staff would even meet with us.