An unethical coach helps save a college's endowment by winning football games.
Calvert University, facing bankruptcy after spending money on a science building, hires successful Gore (Pat O'Brien) as football coach. Football recruit Buck Weaver (Lyle Talbot) gets little attention from Claire Gore (Ann Dvorak) or her husband when he comes in on the train. Phil Sargent (Dick Powell) is eager to study chemistry and insists Weaver not smoke in the locker room. Gore tells the press to call his backfield the four aces. While Gore is neglecting his wife, Weaver is disregarding signals and scoring touchdowns. Put in the same room, Weaver and Sargent fight; but Gore makes them shake hands. Calvert is winning every game, and Gore and his wife revisit their bridal room. His agent (Hugh Herbert) gets Gore appointed chief of the Campfire Boys, and he gives a speech about honesty and clean play, while Weaver takes his wife out.
In the chemistry exam Sargent turns in a blank paper, but he and Weaver both pass, while a struggling student fails. Sargent didn't have time to study and quits football. Weaver misses a skull session and is benched by Gore. At half-time Gore tells his team to get Snider, and he is soon injured. Gore sends in Weaver, and he scores four touchdowns. Gore has asked for a larger stadium and is called about a lucrative land deal, standing up his wife Claire. When she finds a phonebook of women's telephone numbers, she calls Weaver. Gore is told that Snider died, and the trustees debate his resignation for this and for paying players; they postpone this decision and the stadium to see if Calvert beats Shipley. Sargent learns his chemistry professor is fired unless they beat Shipley. Gore offers Weaver's frustrated chemistry tutor $500 if he passes, and they swipe the exam. Then Gore sees his wife with Weaver and hits him, throwing him off the team. Gore tells his team Shipley is better. Weaver asks Claire to leave with him; but the agent comes to get Weaver, and Claire persuades him to play. Weaver and Sargent suit up in the third quarter. Gore puts in his four aces; Weaver scores, and Calvert wins 21-20. The agent tells Gore his wife got Weaver to play. Gore kisses his wife and promises to retire; but Shipley offers him $40,000, and she tells him to take the job.
This story shows how enthusiasm for football distorts higher education by the money it attracts. Gore compares himself to Napoleon and is ruthless about winning games and making money, while ignoring his wife's needs. The academic work of players suffers because of the obsession with football.