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The Daily Oklahoman from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma • 164

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
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THE SUNDAY OKLAJ10MAN Section December 13, 1970 Podolak Nt Fimble Buni1 hand at returning punts on Nov. 1G. 1969, against the Ndw York Jets. Ho fumbled the first one. He bob-bled some more before the season ended.

The spectators reacted Podolak was a "fumble bum." Kansas City Coach Hanjc a was determined about Podolak. "Coach Stram told mc I was going to return punts," Podolak recalls, "and that I had to get onto it. It had a lot of indecision at first, and indecision kills you on punt returns." Fumbles plagued Podolak. He lost confidence In pointed and confused young man. Suddenly, the crowd erupted into a deafening roar that literally shook the stadium.

"I Podoiak says. "It was tremendous. I said to myself right then and there that's what I'm going to work for. I'm going to win the cheers of that crowd." Podolak has done exactly that. His 55-yard return set up a touchdown against' Baltimore.

His 60-yarder against Denver put the Chiefs on the three-yard himself. Even at night, he heard the boos of the crowd the rowdy catcalls, fumble bum, butter fingers. "I began to wonder if I'd over be a success in the pros," Podolak says. "I just couldn't catch the ball even in practice. All I did was fumble." Then something happened to Podolak early this season.

He was standing in the tunnel leading to the field, pondering over his future, worrying about dropping punts. He was a disap lino. Ho nearly went' all the way on a 33-yard run ujjainst Boston, He caught a 59-yard pass for a touchdown and set up another with a 40-yard punt return against Cincinnati: Through the Chiefs' first 12 games, Podolak led the team In with 671 yards on 142 carries, returned 22 punts for 316 returned 12 kickoffs for. 231 yards, completed the only two passes he threw for 40 yards and caught 18 passes for 252 yards; Ho leads the American Football Conference in punt returns. A week ago, he dented Denver's defense for 139 yards on 12 rushes and got all the points Kansas.

City needed to win the game on the second play from scrimmage by breaking off tackle for 65 yards and a touchdown, "I feel very comfortable out there on the field now," says Podolak. "I enjoy running with the ball and returning punts. There's a lot more to punt returning than just fielding the ball and taking off for the goal line. "The first thing I do is read the release of the punting team. I look at the middle.

If our guys have held them tip, then I feel I can make the return. Then I find the ball and determine if the ball Is going to turn over or come down nose up. Then I check the coverage again, then catch the ball. It all happens very fast." Podolak has silenced his critics, and he's making Stram look awfully good these days. When Strum selected Podolak as his second round choice In the January, 1969, draft, the head man of the Chiefs said: "We just got ourselves a real player, a participant, a real blue chipper." KANSAS CITY (AP) Nobody calls running back Ed Podolnk of the Kansas City Chiefs "fumble bum" anymore.

Podolak Is the new grid-Iron glamour boy of the world champions. Podolak does most everything with a football runs, returns punts' and kickoffs, catches passes, even throws a pass once in a while. The crowd roars with anticipation every time Podolak gets his hands on the ball. It wasn't always that way. Just a year ago, when the Chiefs were making their move toward the world title, the spectators dreaded to see Podolak get the ball.

The odds were he was going to fumble. Two things bothered Podolak during that rookie year when he missed 10 games because of a string pull: He had had very little experience as a running back, and he. had never attempted to return a punt in his: career which dated back to the fifth grade. "I had always been a quarterback," Podolak says. "I chose Iowa to go to college because the coach there used a straight dropback pass from the quarterback, and I didn't know whether I could run.

Ray Nagcl took over as Iowa coach my sophomore year, and I had to learn to run to survive. "Until the sixth game of my senior year at Iowa, I always played quarter-back. I missed a game because of a head injury, and Coach Nagel had Larry Lawrence fill in at quarterback. Lawrence did a good job, and Nagcl asked me to try halfback." That was the begining of Podolak's career as a running back. Podolak first tried his Nebraska returns alternating quarterbacks Jerry Tagge and Van Brownson.

OU to Challenge Huskers in '71 Have you bought your Valentine cards, picked up the Easter bunny and stocked up on Fourth of July firecrackers? Well, if you're the kind who plans ahead, the kind who doesn't wait until the last "minute, you're possibly wondering who'll win the Big Eight football championship in 1971. So. here 'tis. Thewinnah: Nebraska. But the Huskers will be pushed so hard for the top spot by Oklahoma that there's a reasonable chance the two could switch positions on the Big Eight ladder.

There, now. isn't that a relief? Now. 273 days before the season kicks off, you know the winner. The long-range forecast comes with no money-back guarantee. It also comes with no provincial prejudice showing.

The selection Is based on an unscientific formula: Number of starters returning multiplied by number of victories the previous year. This formula pinpointed Missouri as the surprise co-champion two years ago. And this year? Well, the adding machine must have blown a "fuse. The formula pointed to Missouri and Colorado, which tied for fourth. Well, if you can't be best, be first.

But the starters-times-victories formula does offer a vague type indication of future power. Here's how it looks for 1971: Nebraska 120, Oklahoma 112, Colorado 77. Kansas 75, Missouri 55, Iowa State 55, Kansas State 54 and Oklahoma State 4S. The Schedule's a Factor The formula misfired this year because It failed to take into account the number of fine squa'dmcn Nebraska had returning. This could be.

a factor again. Not included in the calculation, for instance, are a pair of Nebraska standout alternates. Tailback Jeff Kinney, alternating with the departing Joe Orduna, isn't included as a starter. Neither is Van Brownson, who shared quartcrbacking duties with returning Jerry Tagge. Too, the fact that the Huskers had so many runaway games indicates reserves picked up valuable game experience.

But some nice things can be said on Oklahoma's behalf. The Soonors return more starters than any other league team. And there's quality in Running back Ed" Podolak it the new glamor boy of the Kansas City Chiefs CORNBALL HUMOR BRINGS OVATION Mantles Okie Charm Wows 'em 2.400 games "It is more than Lou Gehrig had," he said. He pooh-poohed the excuses others have made about injuries to his legs. I don't like all the 'ifs and buts' about what I could have done.

I feci very fortunate to have played so many games for the Yankees." the game-winning home run off St. Louis Cardinals' Barney Schultz in the 1964 World Series. "It was my ISth and it boat Babe Ruth's home run record," Mantle said. "Bouton was pitching that day. I think he forgot, though." The blond Mantle Is also proud to have played in BOS HURT OU ROOTERS join the BLUEBONNET BLAST! years in the major leagues without hitting the ball!" Mantle rejoined the Yankees as a full-time coach during the latter part of the past season.

This evoked a remark from former teammate and wit Jim Bouton: "He'll do great. It's a good job for him. He'll stand around a lot." Mantle simply concurred, "A lot of coaches do. I'll have to agree." But Mantle isn't angry about some of Bouton's comments. About some of his antics that are unprintable here.

Mantle joked, "Bouton caught me at the end of my career. I was a lot better (at certain things) when I was younger. I used to crawl out on ledges Bouton never knew about." Invariably, athletes are asked their greatest thrill. Mnntle's came when he hit tried like hell to make him smile." However, he said, "If a kid doesn't like baseball, never push a kid into It. I'd give everything in the world if my four boys were athletes." On a question about America's youth, he replied, "Me and my 17-year-old boy, well, we just don't make it.

He has had 10 or 12 speeding tickets, and he's always working on his car. "He has to. He's always getting the fenders away from the tires. But he'll make It." One of the disappointments Mantle had about his career is that he failed to hit .300 lifetime. "It looks like hell on my record," he commented.

He joked about another, lesser known, record of his. "You figure a ball player will average 500 at-bats a year," he stated. "Over 18 year that means I had at least 9,000 at-bats. I struck out 1,700 times (also a record) and walked 1,800 times. That means I played seven Special arrangements have been made for travel arrangements to Houston.

TOUR 1: Round trip airline flights, leaving 8:20 AM Docember 31; and returning 11:30 P.M. December 31; Transfer Aslrobowl lo Airport. TOUR 2: Round trip flights, leavina December 30th, Relurining January 2, 1971; Copley News Service Spending 18 years in sophisticated New York City never caused Mickey Mantle to drop his Oklahoma character. "I get goose bumps just standing up here answering your questions," he told a recent meeting of sportsmen. Try saying something cornball like that and people give you strange looks.

The audience gave Mantle a standing ovation. "I'm not much of a speaker," he began. "I don't know too much. I can tell you about mc," he said in his self-effacing manner. A superstar's credentials are his records.

Mantle has them. "I was working for my daddy in the mines for S35 a week when Yankee scout Tom Greenwado came through Commerce," he said. "I signed for S500. I later found out that Green-wade was on his way to Tulsa to sign another shortstop for $50,000." Mantle played one year of Class ball, and vaulted to the Yankees in 1951. About his father, who had the greatest Influence on him.

Mantle said with a broad grin: "It made my father smile every time I did something good, and I Deluxe Hntl and Transfari. "imiTio numiii or iowi ttcxns" niiUrDC TOM NICK DENNER 11 II e'T minipi FUGAZY TRAVEL "DO CHIMB OEJ Ph. m-ses ISTllllSHIOIDO A At RamcD YOUR "Just Say Charge It" FOR THE LIFE OF CARI MUFFLERS RAMCO WANTED PHAtMACIST Fiv ytar man. No nlghti, Sun-dayt, er holidayi. Salary apan.

tSOO moving benui. Call tlclVU-74M316. LIFETIME SHOCKS those numbers with two all-Big Eight performers in halfback Joe Wylie and linebacker Steve Aycock. And the Sooner offense, which will have only two graduation gaps, was just learning what the Wishbone was all about at season's end. The formula, in addition to ignoring reserves and rookies, also fails to take into account the schedule.

The schedule, as much as anything, tripped up Missouri this year. The Tigers floundered in a five-game stretch in which they met Nebraska, Notre Dame, Colorado, Kansas State and Oklahoma. Nebraska, on the other hand, benefited bv a favorable schedule. The Oklahoma schedule next year has a danger spot. On successive weeks, the Soonors must face Southern Cal, Texas and Colorado.

But, over-all the OU conference schedule is kindly. The Soonors have onlv three league road games Kansas State, Missouri and Oklahoma State. Nebraska, on the other hand, must play at Missouri, Oklahoma Slate, Kansas State and Oklahoma. Watch Out for Upsets But with its recently found balance, the Big Eight Is sending predictors back for ulcer pills. Strange things keep happening.

Like this year Only one conference team had a perfect non-conference record. Quick, now. which team was it? You're wrong. Last place Iowa State was 4-0 out of the league "i uh frm which unpatented football future book was f.gurcd. It shows records this year, both conference and over-all.

us starters returning and total points, figured bv multlplving wins bv starters back Starters back has to bo an approximation, since coaches themselves often didn know who their starters would be from week to TtMiinh In Stnrtr-rs tlelurnlnt: Total Off. Def. Total Points rhraska -n mni ln-0-1 5 7 12 ih hr 7 i nlr 3-1 7., 9 15 -s MUsmlri 3-1 5- 5 ii lima State S3 Kanwu State 5-5 459 31 OWa. State 5.5 f- STARTERS KKTt KMNr. Km, iwimler.

Mt.wnrl: Off-E Henley. Bell, (i List. QB RH Rndc-rs; If-E Art- Kopharl. QB Roppr. TB Mauser; Def-SS5, Pr LB Torrio, Cowan.

Mizor. UJ Bntts, JIB Blahak. HB Anderson, Vmrh. lfB Stuckey, Kink. Oklahoma: Off-E Chanller.

Unruh, Bacrus. LB Ayervk. HB Roai-h, HB 1-B Sfrw1er. Ul 0ra1rih. Ul Schwei-O'Shauuhnessj-.

Shelley. Colorado: Off-E Rruvmn Mas-n Kansa State: Off-E CreH, T.itti- rtlillips. Kralift-fc. TB Tnrtvr HB mnre. Bnrle.

TB Bi.Her: Def-K A. k- Branch: If-E Drake. I.B er. Colfpmi, Brauhard. Ji Bert.

LB StJluIy. HB Bryan. Stearns Brortmsn. Kama: OffE GauEhar. C.y.p.-?.

Oklahoma state: Off Gannon QB -Mi-Coy, Childs. QB Heck. IJB Omiry; Pounds. Graham. KB Cote; rvf-E Def Sullivan.


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Robinson 235-4238 59th A So. Penn 615-2132 For Professional Service Try Oor OX Service Station At 59th 6 S. Penn. Palmer. LB Pace.

LB Roarh, HB Hawk- IB Crm, ITR Jeffers.m. Stover. HB irs, HB Geraghry, Adams. 528-5741 pi 2817Cltmn, Okla. City.

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