Not everyone wants to root for a college team with a marching band big enough to win the Trojan War.
For those who think that small can be beautiful, Washington offers an alternative football life style full of quaintness and quality, comedy and courage.
The autumn foilage can be as vivid, the touchdowns as exciting, the blend of warfare and tactics as compelling in the small-college game as in the behemoth big time.
Just as important, this area's invigorating brand of Division III football, where athletes try to be scholars and where coaches are paid in gratitude, not money, can seem more palatable than life in the Top 20.
Perhaps 5,000 cannot cheer as loudly as 50,000, but they can cheer as well.
The crowd at Georgetown University captures the enthusiastic, yet amused, attitude of the small-college game when it exholts the Hoya defense with the chant:
"Retard them, retard them. Make them relinquish the ball."
Within its district lines, Washington has three winning college teams. All are small college. Each has a remarkably rich comic-heroic personality. And each is little known outside its own campus.
Few fans could name all three:
Wishbone powerhouse Georgetown, with its 6-1 record and a No. 7 small-college ranking in the East, has a former pro quarterback as volunteer coach who says, "The only thing worse than losing is winning. It takes too much time."
When GU's star quarterback wants a workout in the evening at home, he gets down on his knees in the basement and throws bullet passes to his mother, who wears a catcher's mitt. Naturally. What else?
Solid young Catholic University has built a 5-3 record against scholarship-laden teams, despite injuries that wiped out the entire backfield in one game.
"I knew I was in the small colleges," says part-time coach Joe Pascale, "when my biggest player came to practice holding two test tubes. He told me, 'Coach, I can only stay until they change colors. Then I have to go back to lab.'"
The new University of District of Columbia team practices at a junior high, holds its games on a borrowed "dust bowl" field, and, in fact, has no team nickname. Yet the UDC Nonames have won one game, 73-6, and have held their own against Division II competition.
Nevertheless, Coach Ted Vactor, former Redskin, has an array of four assistant coaches who all spent three to six seasons, in the NFL. "Sometimes I look at my coaches at halftime and think, 'Now if we could just sneak into some uniforms . . . '" said Vactor.
Many have asked, "Why does a successful young businessman like Scott Glacken spend 30 hours a week coaching a small-time football team for next to nothing?"
"Let's face it, big-time college football is just a game of one-upmanship. What does it prove?" asked Glacken, the GU coach for nine years and before that an All-ACC quarterback at Duke and two-year Denver Bronco.
"It's just a year-round business now. If you have 10 assistant coaches, I get 12. We see who can stockpile more talent.
"I feel ambivalent. I couldn't have gone to college without that system," said Glacken, now a partner in his own financial consultant firm.
"Nevertheless, my satisfaction are far greater now."
Glacken and his five essentially volunteer assistant coaches are perfect proof of the pull of a clear, clean wholesome football program.
"I don't feel that I coach for the university, as such," said Glacken, measuring his words. "I work for the men who play on the team.
"This is a true student program. They are the ones who resurrected football at Georgetown (on the club level in 1964). The university has been somewhat responsive, but basically their financial commitment has always been minimal."
So the Hoyas, who have scored 292 points in eight games, and whose only loss was 33-32, play to please themselves.
"I don't think many students even know I'm on the team," said GU flanker Clayton Wagner who owns all the school's major receiving records. "I enjoy it when they look shocked and say, 'Was that your picture in the student paper?'
"That way, you can be sure that the people who are with you are really with you, not just because you're a football player."
For GU's coaches, their work is a mixture of intellectual pleasure and camaraderie. "We always get the same type of players to work with," Glacken said, grinning. "Smart midgets.
"I'm just glad I don't have to play quarterback behind our time. I even hate to come to practice on Friday and look at them without shoulder pads on. A coach shouldn't have to face the truth . . . "we aren't small. We're tiny."
In a program where "we blow the whistle on Sep. 1 and the student body comes out for practice," Glacken knows he needs special gimmick theories.
"The wishbone offense fits the material we have and the sort of material we're always going to get," said Glacken.
"We have fast backs and quick line men. In the wishbone you have one double-team block at the point of attack, and everybody else releases and goes downfield. Our double team may not known anybody down, but we should get in the guy's way.
"It's a wide-open, risk-filled offense, but it only requires excellent timing on the part of one player - the quarterback."
While Glacken teaches a new quarterback the multiple threats and liabilities of the wishbone, GU's blitzing, gambling defense gets left on the field too long and the Hoyas have lost a lot of close, high-scoring games - as they did last year. It's exiting, but disappointing.
However, when Glacken has a senior QB, like Bob Sitz, and an experienced team, the Hoyas are a tiny offensive masterpiece.
The 6,000 Georgetown fans, dressed in their tweeds and jeans for homecoming, carrying in tow wolfhounds and toddlers, sipping champagne from goblets or guzzling beer, spent the entire afternoon in ovations.
After one GU touchdown a cork from a champagne bottle in the Old Alums section was launched with a "pop" and landed in the Hoya bench at the 30-yard line.
Several GU players looked over their shoulders at the continuous party behind them, at the bizarre mock pop band full of self-professed loonies. "Do these people know what We're doing?" said the players' faces.
Probably not. As GU Coach Pascale admitted, "When I came over here after being an assistant at Maryland, I couldn't believe the first Catholic-Georgetown game I saw. I turned to the coach next to me and said, 'These guys are really laying the wood to each other.Do they always hit like this?'
The first lesson of Little Three football in Washington is that the level of talent may be Division III, but the contact, pound for pound, is strictly major college.
In this world of tiny tigers, one player who was told he was too small for the big boys is clearly the most spectacular player - Bob (Squirrel) Sitz.
"Squirrel for Heisman" say the huge banners hanging from the GU dorms that surround the Hoyas' field.
Sitz, a first-team All-Met at Springbrook, has completed 64 percent of his 100 passes for nearly 1,000 years and 11 touchdowns. He has thrown only two interceptions. In addition, he has rushed for over 250 yards.
"I guess I can't throw the ball real far," said a smiling Sitz, who has a 3.8 grade-point in his finance major. "If I could, then I'd probably know exactly how far down to the inch.
"I never thought I was a runner in high school," said the 5-foot-9, 160-pounder who looks like a refugee from a touch football game. "But in this wishbone I discovered that I could run pretty fast if enough of 'em were chasing me."
"Bobby can throw it just far enough to get it there," says batterymate Wagner, who has caught Sitz hummers for seven seasons, going back to Springbrook days. "People have been asking me, 'How can Sitz play quarterback?' for as long as I can remember. I tell em, 'Come to the game and then you tell me.'"
"How can we do it? Come and see." should be the scrawny Hoyas' motto.
"I'm not God sitting on a tower saying, "YOU MISSED A BLOCK," said CU Coach Pascale. "I'm a friend to my players and I don't hide it. We enjoy the game and we enjoy each other."
To say that CU has come an enormous distance in its seven years with Pascale would be a titanic understatement.
"We lost the last two games of 1971 by a (combined) score of 139-0," Pascale related, "and the club disbanded. I took over the next year.
"That first year we had a lineman who couldn't do a jumping jack. He told me, 'Coach, my mind knows what my body is supposed to do. But look at this body.'"
"The first year that we held preseason workouts at 6:30 a.m., an administrator came running down to the field yelling, 'Stop practicing. You're waking up the nuns.'
"I wonder," said Pascale, "if that happens at Notre Dame?"
Pascale, however, made a vow. "I swore that we would beat every one of those teams that humiliated us then, even the ones that beat us 70-0, 69-0 and 58-0," he said, remembering each score. "People told me I was crazy. That I should get an easier schedule. I told them, 'We're going to get a harder schedule.'"
This year, when CU beat Duquesne, 17-6, that vow was completed. "It took us seven years to beat Duquesne," said Pascale, "but that catches us up. We've beaten every one of those teams. Against Duquesne," he said proudly, "we didn't have to punt once."
Catholic's trademark is determination, a refusal to accept the odds. "Sometimes I think Joe either has delusions of grandeur or he's one stubborn (Italian)," said Pascale's close frield Glacken.
That fortitude rubs off on his Cardinals.
Facing Canisius, a team that offers scholarships, CU had to play without its starting quarterback and six other injured first stringers. "It's like we've been struck by lightning," said Pascale. "A few years ago, we couldn't have dreamed of being competitive after that many injuries. Now we have the depth of talent to give 'em a fight."
CU fell behind, 28-0, in the first half. A freshman CU quarterback pivoted the wrong way, pitched out to no one and watched as Canisius scooped the ball up for a touchdown.
But gradually CU regrouped, helped by three marvelous catches of long bombs from Jim Glynn by flanker Mike Stotz, as they trimmed the score to 28-20.
"Stotz is typical of the team," said Pascale. "When he caught the pass to break our single-season receiving record, he was knocked unconscious, but he held the ball.
"When he came to on the bench, Stotz's father was the first person to speak to him. He said, 'Son, that guy really cleaned your clock, didn't he?'"
In true CU fashion, the Cardinals were on the Canisius two-yard line with two minutes to play and a chance to tie the game.
"We had too many men on the field, then we had too few." said Pascale, outwardly not the least bit disturbed. "We ended up calling the wrong play. Too many injuries, too many freshmen at once, too much confusion.
"I was proud of the way the team stayed together. That's what really matters."
That's what the scholarship players and full-time coaches of Canisius thought, too, as they flooded the losers with what sounded like extremely genuine congratulations for "not quiting" and "scaring us to death."
Perhaps CU's rarest quality is the way it manages to mix toughness with an educated bemusement.
The CU coaches refused to allow injured tackle Rick Esposito to wear his helmet or shoulder pads on the bench for one game, because, in Pascale's words, "we knew the second we took our eyes off him, he'd sneak into the game."
Nevertheless, when Pascale accousted the same Esposito during a rugged drill by saying, "Isn't this Spartan life great?" the tackle answered, "Yes, coach. But never forget, the Spartans are extinct."
At both CU and GU, there is always a place for the dedicated nonathlete. "We will never cut anyone, even if he is the world's worst," said Pascale.
"As long as we have enough helmets," said Glacken at GU, "everybody plays."
Before this season, the 160-pound CU senior Steve York came to assistant Tom Slezak, an attorney, and said, "I've never played football. But I just want to be part of a college football team. I don't care if I never get in for a play. I want it for the memories."
As it proved, York had the speed to be a decent reserve end and has played in several games. "In the film session, we told him, 'You're a member now,'" Pascale remembered with a laugh. "You've been immortalized on celluloid."
At CU and GU special problems occassionally arise. "You can't always scream at players in the old-fashioned way," said Catholic's Slezak. "One of my guards - Jim Mayhew - made a stupid mistake and I yelled at him, 'Mayhew, how could you do a dumb thing like that? What's your major, son?'"
"I have a dual major, sir," answered the lineman politely. "I'm premed with a minor in nuclear physics."
At the University of the District of Columbia, the new open-admissions college, Coach Vactor wishes he had a few problems like that.
"We have the athletes," said Vactor. "We have to keep them in school. That is our battle, and theirs, too.
"If every member of our current freshmen class graduated without ever missing a semester with academic problems, I wouldn't have any worries as a coach. I'd take my chances.
"This town is full of athletes who, for one reason or another, don't go major college. We have to convince them that they can perform as real student athletes, with the athlete part coming second. You can only run for so long. You've got to be able to do something."
UDC has a tremendous head start in its rather eye-popping group of coaches, all friends of Vactor who have volunteered to get coaching experienced.
"We are well-traveled pros," said a grinning Dick Smith, who logged time with the Redskins and Dallas Cowboys and was a full-scale star in the Canadian League.
"We can tell some great war stories," said Willie Banks, alumnus of the Redskins, New York Giants and New ENgland Patriots.
"Did Vactor say he was only 34 years old?" crowed Calvin Snowden, who went from Roosevelt High to the Rose Bowl (Indiana) and on to the St. Louis Cardinals and San Diego Chargers."He musta thought you asked what defense he uses."
The UDCers, who are running a contest on campus to select a team nickname, are glad to be part of a tight ship just to be around their rather heady coaching staff.
"We mean to instill discipline, sacrifice and a respect for the individual rights of others," said Vactor. "We take these players and rebuild their game like they were pros."
"When you've got 38 players and only about for of them are natural linemen, you know how Gen. Custer felt," says Snowden. "We use the Redskins' defense and the Cowboys' offense. And we need every bit of it."
One phrase that is never heard at UDC is "but my high school coach taught me to do it this way."
"We are like professors with Ph.Ds in math who have gone back to teaching algebra," said Smith. "We stress the basics. But someday we'll get to the frills."
For the moment, UDC must worry more about its self-respect. Three weeks ago, against Maryland-Eastern Shore of the Division II MEAC, the No Namers thought they were the main course on UMES's homecoming menu.
"Everywhere we looked we saw guys weighing 240, 250, 260," said senior Bo Scott. "They were saying things like, 'Welcome to college football, chumps.'"
"They had heard that we had scored 73 points on Virginia Seminary," said Smith, "and they were determined to run up 73 numbers on us . . . in the first half."
When the score reached 24-0, UDC's backs were to the wall. "That's when I think we came together as a team," said Vactor. "Up until then, I think we'd won about half our games on the strength of our new red-and-gold uniforms.
"By the time the other team stopped saying, 'Wow, man. You guys are looking fine,' we'd be two touchdowns ahead."
UDC rallied to outscore UMES in the second half and hold the margin of defeat to 38-19. A week later they rolled to a 20-0 win over Rutgers-Livingston.
"We turned our corner," said 26-year-old senior Maxie Givner, who describes his position as "Where this week, coach?"
"We gave away 30 pounds a man against UMES, but we showed them something. We earned their respect."
That lesson, Vactor hopes, will carry beyond the dusty grassless fields where UDC now dirties those fancy uniforms.
"We are coaching men who are at a turning point in their lives, where they have to decide if they are going to take hold of their futures. Every one of them has had something happen somewhere, or they wouldn't be at UDC.
"There's an inner-city syndrome that we all know. You're afraid of failure because you've been conditioned to fail so much. It's easier not to try because that way you don't have to sacrifice your false pride."
"We are out to defeat the stereo-types about us," said Anthony Cade, junior lineman. "We want credibility as students first. That's the word we want put out on this team. Don't come if you're looking for an easy time. This is a university.
"When I have my degree on my wall years from now," said Cade, "I want to be proud of it."