Trans Con League? What's That?

Earl "Red" Blaik gives his thoughts on the setup of a College Super Conference in sports commentary from over 40 years ago.


By Col. Earl H. (Red) Blaik

Favors Jet League

NEW YORK-The entire country is watching the development of the Syracuse powerhouse. The Orange now have won four out of four impressively and appears to have a line to match Southern California's, Auburn's or any you mention. 'Coach Ben Schwartzwalder also has some fine backs in versatilp Gerhard Schwedes, veteran Art Baker, sophomore passer Dave Sarette, and his clever and hard-running classmate, Ernie Davis.

The forthcoming round-robin among Syracuse and those two other well-muscled Eastern independents, Penn State and Pittsburgh, will produce gavage-hitting football. Penn State, led by all-purpose quarterback Richie Lucas, now has won five out of five, including Missouri and Army. Pitt, somewhat uneven in its play, as the upset by West Virginia emphasized, can nevertheless be relied on to provide a feroious test for both the Orange and the Nittany Lions.

Out of this round-robin should emerge the Eastern champion, a rery respectable ranking nationally for two if not all three, and partipation by one or perhaps two in the Cotton, Orange, or Gator Bowls.

Despite their solid football set-ups, Syracuse, Penn State, and Pitt would like to be members of a conference, specifically a part of he proposed and much discussed Transcontinental Conference or Jet League.

Service Schools Not Intended

The Trans Con is a dramatic and not impractical concept and repesents the progressive thinking college football needs. It is a misake, however, to contemplate Army, Navy, and the Air Force in the League. They, feel that as national institutions belonging to the people everywhere, they should not become formally allied with any conference. Anyhow, I doubt they are indispensable to the idea.

Why not plan toward a 10 team conference of two five-team divisions, one West, one East? The West would be the already formed Athletic Assn, of Western Universities: UCLA, Southern California, Washington, California, and Stanford. The Eastern group would have Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Duke, Syracuse, and Penn State. A six-game, minimum would be required for championship participion, with each team playing four divisional and two intersectional opponents, the latter on an alternating basis. The divisional winners would play off the championship as the Rose Bowl game. The AAWU would be, in fact, the Western Rose Bowl representative beginning in 1961. Big Ten friends, who should know, advise me it will drop of the Pasadena classic after the 1960 game, thus opening the way for other eastern participation. Seven of the schools I've mentioned already are warm to the plan. Thee other three- Notre Dame, Stanford, and Duke- could be warmed over to it. With few exceptions, the 10 schools already have games with one another. They all share reasonably common standards in recruiting, aid, and academic screening. By forming a conference, they would gain at least psychologically, a position in schededule-making they now lack.

Would Not Hurt League

This proposed Trans Con League need not, in fact, must not, disband any existent conference.

Notre Dame is the key school to the success of the plan. Here are questions the Irish would want answered favorably: With a six-game conference schedule, would they retain sufficient ability to fit in the Navy annual, occasional home-and-homes with Army, Oklahoma, and the Air Force, and intermittent rivalries with Big Ten, Southwest, and Southeastern Conferences? With long range planning, I believe, they might be able to. Second, would Notre Dame lose any at the box office by playing Duke, Syracuse, and Penn State every year? They would gain at the office, if they scheduled Syracuse and Penn State into New York's Yankee Stadium for certain sellouts. New York and some big college football games need each other badly. Army's game with the Air Force, October 31, Oklahoma in 1961, and other futures do not provide the whole answer. Certainly, here is something for Notre Dame to talk about.

The main thing to remember is this. The college game needs the exposure that would come from such a colorful league. It would show that the colleges haven't altogether lost the playing spirit that made their game great. Top Stories