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Meet the Slide Rulers

The School of Mines football team is kicking butt this year.

Says Stitt: "These kids are here to get a great education, and they certainly don't have time to get into trouble. They're taking calculus, physics and chemistry, and those are just the basic classes. The thing we're trying to instill here is that football is also important. These kids haven't been told that before. Losing isn't okay, no matter what you're studying. If you tell them it's okay to lose, you're telling them it will be okay to be a bad husband, father or employee. So now we don't allow mediocrity."

To be fair, previous coaching regimes at Mines were spread pretty thin. Athletic director Kay, who coached the 'Diggers himself from 1969 through 1995, recalls the days when Mines math profs also coached tennis, and football coaches doubled as basketball assistants. In his day, Kay was not just head coach, but assistant athletic director and business manager for athletics. Last year, Stitt became the school's first full-time football coach -- and he got to sign up three assistants. This year the upgrades began to bear fruit. Not without some trauma, though: When Stitt came in, nearly 25 players quit Mines football; they've been replaced by new recruits who, the coach says, "understand where we are going."

Those recruits, he says, come from the same high-caliber prep pool that furnishes athletes to the service academies and the Ivy League. "One difference," Stitt says. "It may be harder to get into the Ivy League schools; it's harder to stay in school here."

Freshman linebacker Daniel Leger quickly discovered that. "You really have to use your time wisely," he says. "I'm taking chemistry, calculus, EPICS (a design projects course) and earth environmental systems, and I'm not the smartest guy here. I get by on working hard, not brains." In other words, he cracks the books five to six hours a day. Does student intelligence transfer to the playing field? "I think so," he says. "Our players don't just do their jobs. They also grasp the theories and the basis of the game."

In the sunny cyclotron that was Brooks Field, theory and practice collided perfectly Saturday afternoon as Mines blew away the Adams State Grizzlies and began looking forward to their last two contests of the regular season, both of them at home (this Saturday, vs. Western State; November 10, vs. Western New Mexico). The halftime show featured a Homecoming float decorated with an arcane mathematical equation (English translation: "A miner is smarter than the average bear"), a pretty blond Homecoming queen who majors in electrical engineering, and, because all work divided by no play still equals drudgery, a "couch potato raffle" after which the winners got to watch the second half from an overstuffed sectional while eating pizza. Later, they might even drop by the Ace Hi bar downtown for a cold Coors. Out on the field, every player knew thermodynamics. And up in the stands, every fan could, for once, feel the warmth that comes with winning.

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