August 9, 1954
Mr. Jim Tatum, Head Coach
College All-Star Football Team
Just a short thank-you note for extending me the "privileges of the house" during the All-Stars' football practice at Purdue University. It was wonderful for an old fat ex-coach to experience once again the blood and sweat of the practice field, and let's hope that Friday night against the Detroit Lions there will be no tears. You have had few tears in your short but sensational career. Not until you get four touchdowns behind at the half will you have lived the full life. Then you'll be a coach, my son.
Old coaches, you know, are a peculiar breed that never quits coaching. Their record masked in the mist of antiquity grows gradually better. Only the brilliant strategy and the winning games are well remembered. It's a funny thing, Jim, but though I've been out of action only two years I can remember just a few of the games I coached at Yale. For example, I can remember distinctly a couple of Harvard games, but strange as it may seem ALL of the Princeton games are extremely vague. I hope if I make a few comments about your squad you'll remember my Harvard games too. Not the others.
For instance, I think that this, guy Zeke Bratkowski, the former Georgia quarterback via Danville, Ill., is just about the most polished college passer I've ever seen. The three other quarterbacks don't look bad either: Cotton Davidson of Baylor, Vince Dooley of Auburn and the famous Bobby Garrett of Stanford. I realize that none of your quarterbacks are tried operators of the "option play" which is an integral part of your attack, but if I had Bratkowski on my squad I'd mold an offense to fit him.
Your three deep backs won't hurt you either. That combination of Paul Cameron of U.C.L.A. at left half, Neil Worden of Notre Dame at fullback and Johnny Lattner from the same institution at right half looks pretty good to me. I guess I've coached as many All-Star games as anybody and whenever I have had five Notre Dame players on a squad it's always been a good one. You could do worse than start all five of them with Art Hunter at left tackle, Jim Schrader at center and Menil Mavraides at right guard. You know, all Notre Dame players seem to come out of the same mold: big, beautiful legs, strong faces, well mannered, perfectly coached in all fundamentals of the game and with the burning desire to win.
That phrase "burning desire" is no joke, according to a story I heard at the All-Star practice about Jim Schrader in the Notre Dame-Southern Methodist game last fall. Notre Dame had scored and was attempting the extra point. Schrader, playing center, was penalized 15 yards for illegal use of the hands. The ball was moved back to the 17-yard line for the second attempt. This time Schrader snapped the ball with such force that it sailed all the way over the holder and the potential kicker, and, of course, the attempt failed. Coach Frank Leahy called for Jim: "Jim Schrader, Jim Schrader! Will you come over here, Jim Schrader?" Schrader went. "Jim Schrader, what happened to you?" Coach Leahy asked. Jim told him that he didn't know what was wrong. "Jim Schrader!" Leahy intoned, "You'll burn in hell for this, Jim Schrader!" Jim may be burning pretty bright Friday night too.
Jim, I do think two factors are strongly in your favor this year.
One, you are playing the game under college rules which means that the Detroit Lions will have to play their specialized offensive and defensive men both ways.. Two, this is the second straight year the champion Lions have played against the All-Stars. There is always the possibility, and this point is most important, that they may not be as hungry as last year. In 1950, the last time the All-Stars won, they caught Greasy Neale's Philadelphia Eagles the second time around.
You have forced the Lions to break up their practice schedule, because they must get their separate offensive and defensive units ready to defend their National Football League championship while you are preparing your squad just for this one shot. Bobby Layne, the outstanding offensive quarterback of the Detroit Lions, will be used only in the proper spots on offense, according to Coach Buddy Parker. That means he may see little action, and this will impair the efficiency of Lions' offense as much as 25%. The starting backfield should line up something like this: Tom Dublinski, who saw only limited service last year, at quarterback; the amazing Doak Walker at left half; the durable Hunchy Hoernschemeyer at full; and speedy Jack Christiansen, who led the league last year in pass interceptions, at right half.