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Fifty Years Later, Whizzer White Is Still Hard to Catch

November 18, 1987

In 1937, the National Collegiate Athletic Assn.'s statistical bureau was formed to keep official statistics on college football. The big man that year was University of Colorado halfback Byron (Whizzer) White, who led the nation in rushing, scoring, total offense and all-purpose running.

White averaged 246 yards a game in all-purpose running. That includes yards gained rushing, receiving and returning punts, kickoffs and interceptions.

Fifty years later, White's mark is still an NCAA record. The current leader is Kent State's Eric Wilkerson at 198 yards a game. Notre Dame's Tim Brown is next at 182 yards.

White, in leading Colorado to an unbeaten regular season, averaged 6.2 yards a rush, 11.0 yards an attempted pass, 12.5 yards a punt return, 25.8 yards an interception return and 39.8 yards a kickoff return. He had long runs of 78, 65, 97, 75 and 84 yards. He also kicked 23 extra points and a field goal.

Says Jim Van Valkenburg, NCAA director of statistics: "He had, arguably, the greatest season statistically of any back in 50 years of NCAA rankings."

Add White: He led the Colorado basketball team to the final of the first National Invitation Tournament at Madison Square Garden in 1938. He graduated No. 1 in his class at Colorado and was No. 1 in his class at Yale Law School. He was a Rhodes Scholar.

He played three years in the National Football League, winning league rushing titles with Pittsburgh in 1938 and Detroit in 1940. He won two Bronze Stars in Pacific combat service in U.S. Naval Intelligence.

In 1962, nine days before his 45th birthday, he became the youngest man ever appointed to the U.S Supreme Court.

Said Van Valkenburg: "It may be another 50 years before we see another man with his blend of athletic talent and intellect."

Would-you-believe-it Dept.: Earle Bruce has a better winning percentage at Ohio State than either Howard Jones or John McKay did at USC. Bruce is .755. Jones was .750 and McKay .749.

Since Bruce came into the Big Ten, Michigan's Bo Schembechler is .736.

Trivia Time: Gerald Henderson, waived Monday by the New York Knicks, will forever be remembered by Laker fans for what play? (Answer below.)

Said 6-foot 11-inch Chris Dudley of the Cleveland Cavaliers after four of his shots had been blocked by 7-7 Manute Bol of the Washington Bullets: "The guy doesn't jump. You can't fake him because he just stands there with his hands up. I've never seen anybody that big in my life."

Dept. of Irony: Said former Army football coach Earl (Red) Blaik when asked in an NCAA survey what disturbing trends he sees in college football: "The amateur approach diminishes, the absolute lack of scholarship is apparent and money dominates the moves."

In 1951, it was disclosed that 90 cadets, many of them football players, had been dismissed at West Point for cheating on examinations. One of the players dropped was Bob Blaik, son of the coach.

Trivia Answer: Playing for the Boston Celtics in Game 2 of the 1983-84 NBA finals against the Lakers, he intercepted a cross-court pass by James Worthy and dribbled in for a layup to send the game into overtime. The Celtics won, 124-121, tying the series at 1-1. They eventually won in seven games.


Texas Tech booster Dickie Griggs, a former Red Raider lineman, on how much he hates the University of Texas: "If Texas played the University of Iran, I'd be there with a big poster of the Ayatollah."

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