Consider the plight of Bob DeMoss. For two decades as an assistant coach at Purdue he supplied Jack Mollenkopf with quarterbacks—a Lenny Dawson here, a Bob Griese there and everywhere a Mike Phipps. Now Mollenkopf has retired, and DeMoss, the new head coach, has inherited a potent offensive unit lacking—is there no justice?—a quarterback. "The last nine years we've gone with sophomore quarterbacks every three years, but it just worked out that way," he said. DeMoss probably will settle on Chuck Piebes, a 6'2" sophomore from Valhalla—New York, that is.
Among other Big Ten teams, Minnesota seems the least likely to become fodder for Ohio State and Michigan, but Murray Warmath must solve a quarterback problem, too. Sophs will influence Indiana's fate as Ted McNulty and Dan Grossman, quarterbacks, and target Charley Byrnes will try to emulate the Gonso-Butcher-Isenbarger era. Indiana has neither Ohio State nor Michigan scheduled, but that is relevant only if the Hoosiers recover from the black boycott and revert to '67 form. Illinois may have the best crop of youngsters since Ohio State's Kern-Tatum lode. Mike Wells, a 6'5" thrower, will aim for Willie Osley. Tackle Tab Bennett is, they say, a young Dick Butkus.
Wisconsin has Fullback Alan (A-Train) Thompson to ride the inner rail in the Pro-T. Backs Levi Mitchell and Tim Sullivan are healthy again and should boost Iowa's troubled program. Northwestern should apply for Ivy League membership. At Michigan State, Duffy Daugherty has made more position shifts than Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice.
One thing to remember about the Southeastern Conference is that for the last three years the consensus preseason pick for sixth place has come in first. That makes forecasting a hazardous enterprise, but it seems prudent, after establishing Ole Miss, Florida, LSU and Auburn as conference favorites in that order, to suggest that either Tennessee, Georgia or Alabama should finish sixth. That is the best hedge available in college football today.
One thing that can be foretold unequivocally is that the SEC will be rich again in offense: Tennessee, with Curt Watson running, Chip Kell blocking and Lester McClain receiving; and Georgia with a new attack that should dispel the old joke about fire ravaging Coach Vince Dooley's office and burning up his pass plays—both of them. The Bulldogs' diversification will be the work of new Offensive Coach Fred Pancoast, hired last winter from Florida, whose fancy offense he had devised.
Bear Bryant, for his part, says there will be more defense this year, and maybe he is on to something, but Alabama's schedule is backbreaking. Vanderbilt, no longer predictably off the pace, should continue to come on strong under Bill Pace. Kentucky and Mississippi State appear to be out of the running for either first or sixth.
Conceding first and second to Arkansas and Texas (or, depending on your state, Texas and Arkansas) has become as traditional in the Southwest Conference as that old saying of a few years back: the only predictable thing about our race down here is that it's unpredictable. The cliché still holds true—but now only in reference to the conference's six-team second division. To try and pick Nos. 3 through 8 accurately is as dangerous as predicting that one of them might beat the Hogs or the Horns.