- Historic Sites
The Galloping Ghost
AN INTERVIEW WITH RED GRANGE
December 1974 | Volume 26, Issue 1
Certainly. To me the great coaches of my day, anyway, they were the ones that could get 120 per cent effort out of those kids. Rockne did it, Yost could do it, so could Stagg. Zuppke had that special knack. He knew how to handle young fellows. Some he’d kick in the pants, others he’d pat on the back. You’d be on a Pullman one night, and he’d wake you at two in the morning to tell you something he’d forgot, and then he’d give you the dickens for being awake. He knew when to take the pressure off and when to put it on. But I never heard Coach Zuppke utter a swearword. He had two words that were worse, when he used them, than any swearword. One was “jackass,” and the other was “lemon.” A lemon was a little better than a jackass in his book. He didn’t need to go any further. Everybody knew what he meant.
What did the coach tell you be/ore the Michigan game ?
For one thing, he told us to take off our wool stockings. All football players wore them in those days, but it was a rather warm day, and there was nothing in the rule book that said we had to wear them. So we took them off and went on the field. I think every guy on our team felt about half dressed.
Well, Michigan stopped their practice, and I remember that Herb Steger, the Michigan captain, and Yost came over and felt some of our legs. Yost told Zuppke that he knew Zup was going to grease our legs, and, of course, Zup didn’t admit or deny it. We didn’t have any grease on, but I think that threw Michigan off just a bit.
Did you do anything different against Michigan ?
Well, when I was in high school, if I got around end or off tackle, I’d head for the sidelines, and it worked all right in high school. But Zuppke worked quite a while with me to get me to come back against the grain of the defense, and I think that Michigan was probably one of the first games that I cut back quite a bit, because they overshifted us a lot. But it wasn’t anything special we saved for Michigan, no.
In those days the team that had just been scored upon had the option to kick off again rather than to receive the hall. Why did Michigan keep electing to kick off to Illinois after you scored all those touchdowns in the first quarter ?
The theory then was defensive football, which is just the opposite of what it is today. The theory was to kick it deep into your opponent’s territory, stop him on downs, and make him punt it to you around midfield. We didn’t pass much in those days, maybe five or six a game. So there was nothing wrong with the theory, only it didn’t work very well for Michigan that day. I don’t really know what happened. I was probably the most surprised guy on the ball field. I just took the ball and ran. I remember the touchdown I scored on the opening kickoff. I got all the way to the 15-yard line, and I remember thinking, here I’ve gotten through ten of the Michigan men and there’s Todd Rockwell, the Michigan safety, on about the 5-yard line, and I’ve got this far, and if this one guy can tackle me, I’m the biggest sucker that ever lived. Of course he darn near did, too. But I had good blocking all the way down to then.
How did you get past him ?
I don’t know how I got around him or how I got around anybody. You kind of get the habit of threading your way through. One thing a good ball carrier does need to know is the different assignments of the other fellows on every play. I know I studied those assignments religiously night and day, and I could tell you what each back and each lineman was supposed to do. That’s about all you remember about a long run. I would remember the key blocks rather than what I did.
When you’re standing in the end zone after a long run like that, what does a crowd of sixty-five thousand cheering people sound like, and what sort of feeling does it give you ?
It’s just a continual noise. A din, like a clap of thunder. You ,can’t pick out any certain thing. You get adjusted to it. Some guys couldn’t take it, though. We had one on our team at Illinois. From Monday to Friday he was the best player on our squad, including Grange. Come Saturday, he’d see the crowd out there, and he couldn’t do a thing; he couldn’t stand that pressure. It wasn’t his fault. Pressure plays funny tricks on different kids. I could play better under pressure. Some can. Some cannot.
After twelve minutes and four touchdowns Zuppke took you out of the Michigan game. What did he say to you when you got to the sidelines ?
If I remember it right, he said that if I’d had any brains, I’d have had another touchdown. Nobody got to be a big shot around Zuppke, either. You know, he never pronounced my name right. He always called me “Grench.”
How do you compare your upset oj Michigan with your victory over the University of Pennsylvania your senior year ?