Football Short Stories - 9
Other authors entertain us.
Whatever It Takes to Win
Big Eight Football, John D. McCallum (1979)
Dana X. Bible, who coached
LSU in 1916
Dana Xenophon Bible, better known as D. X., was a bald, lip-smacking, scripture-quoting son of a Latin and Greek scholar whose unspectacular coaching tech­niques brought solid, fundamental football to Lin­coln. He frowned on fancy football. His basic formations were the punt, the Minnesota shift, the single wingback, and the double wingback. His pet maneuver was a fake-punt-and-run-play on third down. In his book Championship Football he gave the perfect exposition of how to mold a winning team. His chapter on scouting spelled out in infinite detail the lengths he went to to get a good rundown on a future opponent. He made his scouts answers 42 mimeographed pages of questions on each game and fill out eight more pages of comments and dia­grams. ...
On the bench during a game, Bible was - well, sel­dom on the bench. Space was reserved for him there, but he almost never occupied it. The players not in the starting lineup always stood up, close to the sideline, at the kickoff, and D. X. stood with them. But when they sat down, he remained on his feet. The chances were that if you put a pedometer on him, you would have found that he covered more ground than any of his halfbacks in the course of a game, and this is not knocking the young men who played halfback for him. Remember, they were in and out of the game, while Coach Bible "played" 60 minutes every Saturday. He roamed up and down the sideline, watching the players, the officials, occasionally yelling at them all, darting back to the bench to talk to a player going into the game, striding out to meet a player he was removing, consulting with his assistants.
The players sitting on the bench were supposed to watch the game closely. There were times, however, when a couple of them could not see what was happening because the coach was standing in front of them. None of his players would have been too surprised had he ripped off his coat and torn right into the ball game. They knew that the temptation to be out there was strong upon him sometimes.
Bible failed to win the Big Six conference only in 1930 and 1934. ... On the negative side, Bible lost four out of five games to Minnesota, coached by Bernie Bierman, and the best he could get out of eight games with Jock Sutherland's Pittsburgh teams was scoreless ties in 1930 and 1932. This, however, did not detract from his stature very much, because the Gophers and Panthers were top national powers and the Huskers usually pushed them to the limit.
Even though Nebraska lost to Minnesota, 7-0, and to Pitt, 19-6, in 1936, the Corn­huskers ranked No. 9 in the national polls. The Gophers finished No. 1, the Panthers No. 3. The loss to Minnesota rates among the historic heartbreakers, for there were only 59 seconds left when Andy Uram, taking a lateral from QB Bud Wilkinson on a punt return, raced 75y for a TD.
Winning TD for Minnesota vs Nebraska 1936
The aftermath emphasized Bible's ability as a practical psychologist, even though he was, in effect, again calling on character. The next game was with Indiana, and the Hoosiers led the Cornhuskers 9-0 at the half in great measure because UN was still "down" from its effort against Minnesota. The halftime scene in the Nebraska dressing room was some­thing to remember. D. X. just threw away technical details and concentrated on psychology. He challenged his players' desire to win, their courage to fight back. He offered starting positions to the first eleven men who wanted badly enough to beat the rest of the team to the exit. They lit out for the door. Bible beat them to it. Then he stood blocking the way, insisting they weren't ready. A genuine mob scene developed. Normally affable players knocked each other down fighting to get out. Some squared off and fought. The pande­monium was terrifying. And it worked. Nebraska came back to win the game, 13-9; and they played the second half with only eleven men.
"Coach Bible was a forceful leader," said one of his Huskers years ago. "He had courage to match any situation. No matter the problem, he could take charge. He had the ability to organize a team into a loyal and spirited group. He demanded discipline and respect, and he got it."
When Dana X. Bible left Nebraska for Texas in 1937, he negotiated one of the best contracts in the history of college coaching. The Longhorns wanted him so badly that they gave him a twenty-year contract, the first ten years as coach and athletic director, at $15,000 a year. Before they could agree on the deal, the Texas legislature pondered and debated. Fifteen grand meant that Bible would be getting more than the college president. The legislature resolved the impasse by raising the president's salary.
The Johnny Bright Case
Football Nation: Four Hundred Years of America's Game from the Library of Congress
Susan Reyburn (2013)
"John was ambushed for two reasons: One, he was a hell of a football player. And two, he was black," said Gene Macomber, a teammate of Drake's Johnny Bright, a leading contender for the Heisman Trophy in 1951. What occurred that season in Stillwater, OK, was emblematic of what other black players had endured, but none so publicly.
The mood in town was not especially welcoming when the undefeated Drake Bulldogs arrived to play 1-3 Oklahoma A&M (as Oklahoma State was then known). Bright, Drake's only black player, was not permitted to stay at the team hotel, instead finding accommodations at the home of a black minister. And the word was that the Aggies would be gunning for Bright. "They told me Johnny wasn't going to finish the game," said Macomber, who had visited a local barbershop that morning.
And so it was. Three times in the first quarter, Aggie tackle Wilbanks Smith viciously struck Bright in the face, knocking him out cold. In each instance Bright was hit well after he was out of the play and without the ball. No penalties were called. The dazed Bulldog, his jaw broken, then tossed a 61y TD pass and left the game, catching sight of a sign in the stands reading "Get the nigger." The Aggies went on to a 27-14 victory.

Wilbanks Smith smashes Johnny Bright in the face long after the ball has been handed off.
A&M coach J. B. Whitworth denied that Smith had been instructed to go after Bright (despite A&M student eyewitness admissions to the contrary). After the jawbreaking hits, Smith made a jaw-dropping statement, saying he was sorry if he had "overcharged Johnny." The incident might have ended in a "Drake said, A&M said" stalemate had not the Des Moines Register run indisputable proof of the outrage on its front page the next day. Don Ultang and John Rob­inson's photographs clearly depicted what Life magazine would call "the year's most glaring example of dirty football," and the New York Times would later name this "one of the ugliest racial incidents in college sports history."
The story drew national attention and widespread criticism of A&M, whose athletic council, even after seeing film footage of the plays, pronounced the hits as merely "illegal blocks" and "just another football incident." Neither the college nor Coach Whitworth disciplined - or even reprimanded - Smith. Infuriated, Drake presented its case, photographs and all, to the Missouri Valley Conference, asking that it take action. Officials declined to do so, prompting Drake to withdraw from the league. In a supportive gesture, Bradley University withdrew as well. The University of Detroit, scheduled to play A&M next, received "scores of letters" according to its coach, asking that his team avenge Bright.
Johnny Bright played briefly once more that season, finished fifth in the Heisman voting, and accepted an offer to play professionally in Canada, where he enjoyed a Hall of Fame career and later became a school principal. As a result of the Oklahoma A&M game, Drake down­graded its football program, college football helmets were reconfigured to include face bars, and the NCAA made hands-to-the-helmet moves illegal. In the spring of 1952, Ultang and Robin­son won a Pulitzer Prize for their series of photographs.
Bright refused to be bitter about what he deemed a life-changing event. "Because one person chose to do wrong, not all of the good derived from sports should be overlooked," he said shortly after the game. "The letters I have received from people all over the country indicate [that] most people are for fair play, regardless of race, creed or color. Among those letters were several ... from Stillwater."
Newspapers around the country reprinted the award-winning images of the vicious hits on Bright. In 2005, Oklahoma State issued an apology for what had occurred on its field. The next year, Drake named its new gridiron Johnny Bright Field.