Editor’s Note: The following story from Fizzy is one of the many reasons why I miss our talks at tailgates prior to games. Maybe next year.
By Dave “Fizzy” Weinraub
Instead of critiquing the game, I will tell a treasured Temple football story.
It happened in Delaware and no one could make this up.
Towards the end of the 1959 season, and amid a horrendous losing streak, we traveled down to play Delaware. Delaware was the top-ranked small college football team.
Our bus arrived around dinner time at a motel and went to our assigned rooms to drop off our bags, and immediately returned to the restaurant for a meal. As the guys finished, they drifted into a small lobby where a hotel guest was seated in front of a little black and television to watch the Friday Night Fights. The guest had a beer on a small table and some kind of scorecard. Some of us found seats, while the rest stood as we awaited the coaches.
I can’t remember the fighters, but they were well-known. We were all quiet as we watched the introductions by the ring announcer. Just as he brought the fighters together in the middle of the ring, Head Coach Pete Stevens came thundering in. He looked around at us, and then the television. “What the hell is wrong with you guys,” he yelled. “We’re playing the number one team in the country tomorrow, and you idiots are watching boxing?” With that outburst, Pete stormed over to the television and turned it off.
The hotel guest stared at Pete like he was an alien from Mars. We, on the other hand, were trying our best not to laugh out loud. Many of us did not succeed, and Pete was getting irate. When he got that way, his face would turn a bright red, and now he could have taken over for Rudolph the reindeer. He glanced at some notes he took from his pocket, and that’s when line coach John Rogers walked up to Pete. “Pete, you turned off the guy’s television. He’s not one of our kids.”
Startled, Pete turned and saw the guy looking at him and rushed over. “Oh, I’m so sorry, sir. I thought you were one of my players. Look, let me turn the television back on, and I’ll get you another beer.” Pete turned the set back on, and just as the picture finally came clear, the announcer said, “Ten! You’re out!”
The room exploded. The man stood up, and I thought he would punch Pete, but he just shook his head and walked away. We couldn’t control ourselves, and Pete was infuriated. He pulled out another piece of paper and read off thirteen names (out of twenty-six). “These guys stay here. The rest of you go the hell back to your rooms because we don’t need you anyway.”
The game itself was a horror. All week, we had practiced a sort of a single-wing formation instead of our usual “T.” Our tailback was Charlie Lotson, later to be the football coach at Gratz high school. Unfortunately, it had rained for three days before game day. The field was a sea of mud, and the temperature was around 34 degrees.
Somehow, in the first quarter, we’d driven down to about the Delaware 30 yard-line. Charlie was looking for a receiver when he got hit. The ball plopped into the hands of Delaware’s all-American end, Mickey Heinecken, and he took it 70 yards for a touchdown. The rout was on.
In the fourth quarter, our coaches finally gave up and put in the scrub team. We were the guys who had been sent to our rooms the night before. When we stood on the sideline ready to go in, we were missing our center, whose name was Moses. Moses was hiding on the bench under the large, all-weather jackets and didn’t want to go in. Two of the starters went down the bench from either end, yelling “Moses.” They found him and dragged him to the sideline. Shortly thereafter, a nose-tackle crashed over Moses and nailed me in the backfield for a three-yard loss. At least I got my uniform dirty.
Later, on defense, I ended up about 10 yards from Delaware’s legendary coaches, Dave Nelson and Tubby Raymond. I stood and stared at them. I couldn’t keep my mouth shut. I said, “What the hell are you doing? The score is 55-0, and you still have your first team in?” They turned and walked away. One of the reasons they did that was back then; there were “Dunkel Ratings” each week. If you won by a large number, your rating went up. Oh, the final score was 62-0.
The only possible moral of the story is if you think things are bad now, remember the past.
Friday: Cincy and Why We Did It