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Published continually since 1998, "NEWS YOU CAN USE" was a Blog before  "Blog" was  even a word! It's intention has been to help inform the football coach and the interested football observer on a wide variety of to
pics, usually - but not always - related in some way to coaching or leadership.  It contains news and views often (trigger alert!) highly opinionated but intended to be  thought-provoking.  Subjects cover but aren't limited to coaching, leadership, character, football history and current football happenings, education, parenting, citizenship and patriotism, other sports, and even, sometimes, my offense.)

american flag FRIDAY,  JUNE 23,  2017  - “One of the mysteries of the ages is why the political left has, for centuries, lavished so much attention on the well-being of criminals and paid so little attention to their victims.”  Dr. Thomas Sowell

"OPEN WING VIRTUAL CLINIC" -  5-DVD SET -  Priced as a set so that you can purchase all five DVDs for less than the cost of buying four  separately.    THE DVDS ARE $39.95 EACH, BUT $150 FOR ALL FIVE - A SAVINGS OF $49.75! TO BUY -











I’ve been selling my “EVOLUTION OF AN OFFENSE” DVD for $49.95 and it’s been a good enough seller - but not nearly enough Double Wing coaches have seen it, nor have they been to any of my clinics or camps - which means that in many cases they’re running a 20-year-old Double Wing. Still plenty good, you understand - but not as good as it could be.

So, for a limited time, I’m offering a SPRING SPECIAL - just in time for your pre-season planning -


And if you’re new to the Double Wing and you purchase my basic package - I’ll include EVOLUTION OF AN OFFENSE at no charge.

*********** I have now mailed out the first three installments of the basic playbook for the Open Wing Virtual Clinic DVD Series to coaches who've already bought the package. From now on, anyone who purchases the DVD Series will also receive the playbook at no additional charge. (You heard right - the $150 price includes video and playbook.)  If by some chance you bought the package and haven't received your  first three playbook mailings, please email me -

OPPORTUNITY? - My friend Greg Koenig, new on the job at Cimarron, Kansas,  writes..."We really are in need of a science teacher for 8th and 9th grade this fall. In addition to assistant football, there are coaching opportunities for cross country and junior high basketball."

Let me add this...  If Cimarron, Kansas was good enough to attract a man of Greg Koenig's calibre, it has to be a good place to live and work. If this interests you or if you know of anyone who might be interested, email me ASAP - - and I'll  put him in touch with you immediately.

*********** My friend Doc Hinger has friends in The Woodlands, Texas, and he sent me an article about one of the coaches there.

Back in May, the coach, Greg Colschen, was lifting some crawfish out of a big pot when he accidentally hit the edge of the pot and spilled boiling water on his feet.

Pain? "It's not like anything else you could ever experience,” he told the Houston Chronicle.. "It's just different from any injury that you could sustain because of the nerves and everything involved with it. It's very hard to control the pain."

He was rushed to a burn center in Houston, where he spent the next several weeks.  Treatment there included surgery to graft skin from his quadriceps onto his feet and toes.

Now, he’s on the road to recovery and hopes to be ready for the start of practice in August.

But meanwhile, way down in the article - talk about burying the lead - was this illustration of the kind of man Coach Colschen is:

Colschen, who is the running backs coach for the Highlanders, made quite an impact in the high school football community this past season with a simple gesture of compassion. The junior varsity team he was coaching took a knee near the goal line ― and subsequently suffered a loss ― against Katy Tompkins in September after an opposing player went down with a serious injury with mere seconds left on the clock.

"We're here to teach kids, and there's a lot of lessons learned through football and sports," Colschen told The Courier last fall. "When I looked across the field and saw their players together praying, I saw tears in their eyes and their coaches had tears in their eyes. There was not going to be a win-win here."

Wow. That’s sportsmanship.  Twenty years from now, nobody would rememberthe final score of a JV game. But I guarantee you, an awful lot of people who were there that day will remember the noble act of a coach who chose not to administer the coup de grace to an already-grieving opponent.

*********** You’ve no doubt read about the collision at sea between a giant container ship named the ACX Crystal and the USS Fitzgerald , a  very fast, highly maneuverable destroyer.

A former ship captain-turned-writer named John Konrad notes just how fast and how maneuverable:

The USS Fitzgerald is an Arleigh Burke class destroyer with a top speed well in excess of 30 knots. Speed is helpful in preventing collision because it allows you to put more distance between you and a dangerous ship in the same amount of time. (Yes, speed can also be dangerous.)

She is powered by four gas turbine engines with over 100,000 horsepower available to turn her propellers.

Gas turbines are expensive and burn lots of fuel but the Navy uses them because they can provide an immense amount of torque in a very short period of time. Torque translates to acceleration and acceleration is important if you need to get out of the way of something fast.

The USS Fitzgerald is highly maneuverable with a very tight turning radius.

(You’ve got to see this: )

The fault,  Konrad argues persuasively, likely lies with communications.

On the ACX Crystal, as on all container ships, , the captain is in compete command at all times.  He sees all, knows all, does all.

On the USS Fitzgerald, however, as on all Navy ships, responsibilities are widely dispersed and delegated among several parties, and there is  a chain of command to be observed in communicating even such a matter as a large ship bearing down on you.

Armed with that information, a ship as fast and agile as the USS Fitzgerald could easily have avoided the collision.

But somehow, Konrad suggests, the  need to act may have become lost as it was transmitted up the chain. 

The Captain  wasn’t even informed of the impending collision and in fact was injured because he was in his quarters at the time, rather than on the bridge.  Nonetheless, it is longtime Navy policy that the Captain is responsible for what happens to his ship, and this will almost certainly be a career-ender for him.

Sound at all like a head football coach with a big staff? 

Obviously, there are advantages to delegating responsibilities, but at the same time there are dangers.  There are also great advantages to being small and flexible: any head football coach will tell you how important it is to have your hands on the wheel - or very close to it -  and to have a streamlined chain of command.

Think about this before you try to set up an organizational structure along the lines of an NFL or big-time college staff: when something goes wrong, it’s your career that’s on the line.

When you do delegate, you’re no better than your weakest subordinate.   Or the chain of command itself.

*********** Evidently some unelected judge-for-life has decided that it’s unfair to a defendant to have  a jury see him/her wearing handcuffs or ankle restraints.  The idea is that  in  a system supposedly based on the presupposition of innocence,  the sight of the shackles might make the jurors prejudge the defendant.

Funny how the defendants never gave that a thought back when they were getting those tattoos on their necks and foreheads.

*********** Malik Zaire, who once showed some promise as Notre Dame’s quarterback,  is transferring to Florida.

Florida coach Jim McElwain,  asked whether bringing in Zaire might somehow be unfair to the quarterbacks already on the Gators’ roster: 

“I was the guy they always tried to replace at Eastern Washington, so I get it.”

*********** Kavell Bigby-Williams played two years of basketball  at a JC in Wyoming then  this past season at Oregon, backing up Jordan Bell and Chris Boucher at forward.  He averaged 3 points and 2.8 rebounds, but he did block 28 shots.

Now, with one year of eligibility remaining, he’s announced he’s transferring to LSU.

“At this point in my career,” he tweeted, “it’s solely a business decision…”

Spoken like a true student-athlete.

But, uh… Considering what he’s shown so far, you have to wonder what business, exactly, he could  be talking about.

*********** New OU head coach Lincoln Riley has been given a contract  that will pay him $3.5 million a year. 

It’s not exactly a rags-to-riches story.   He was already making $1.3 million as the Sooners’ OC.

*********** University of Washington point guard Markelle Fultz is almost certain to be the number one pick in the NBA draft.

Couple of red flags:

You want 65 per cent free throw shooter playing point guard for you?

If he’s such a difference maker, how come the Huskies only won nine games?

Following up on LSU’s Ben Simmons last year,  doesn’t it seem strange that for the second straight year the NBA’s top draft pick would be a guy  who couldn’t even get his college team to the playoffs?

*********** I was reading the obituaries the other day and read about a guy named Jim Schmitz who’d died recently.  He was 73 and it sounded as if he was quite a guy:

“Jim had a great life fishing and hunting North America, a suite at the 50 yard line at the Seahawks, Super Bowls, and a summer residence on Babine Lake in the bush in Canada.

“His adventures are not done yet! His ashes will be going with family fishing and hunting exploits, including his grandson’s first moose hunting trip in Alberta, Canada.

“No flowers, please. Instead, take a kid hunting or fishing in honor of Jim.”
*********** Why all the fuss about nonexistent Russian interference in our elections - but crickets about $30 million spent by California liberals to influence people in Georgia to elect a guy to Congress - a twerp who didn’t even live in their District?

*********** A 20-year-old Vancouver, Washington guy has been accused of filming co-workers - female co-workers - in the shared employee locker room.  He was discovered  when one of his fellow employees noticed his cell phone sitting in one of his shoes, and found, on closer inspection, that it was filming.

The guy’s name - no, this isn’t a porn film - is Perry Beaver.  Really.

***********  “I didn't come over on the Mayflower, but I came over as soon as I could.”   Anton Cermak, running for mayor of Chicago, responding to a rival’s slurs about his ethnicity. (He won.)

*********** Bill Dana died. If you’re old enough, you remember him playing a Hispanic character named Jose Jimenez.

Like so many comedian, he was discovered and brought to the public’s attention by Steve Allen, an early late-show host and one of the most talented of American entertainers.

One famous exchange between Allen and Dana, in his role s Jose Jiminez.

Steve Allen:  “I understand you own a ranch…

Jose Jimenez: “Yes, the name of my ranch is the Bar Nine Circle Z Rocking O Flying W Lazy O Crazy 2 Happy 7 Bar 17 Parallelogram 4 Octagon 9 Trapezoid 6.”

Allen: “Do you have many cattle?”

Jimenez: “No. Not many survive the branding.”

***********Good morning Hugh,

Sorry I missed wishing you a Happy Birthday, and a Happy Father's Day!   From what I read it appears both were extremely enjoyable for you and Connie.  Belatedly Happy Birthday and Happy Father's Day!

Great to see the picture of you and Connie with Mike and Cielo.  I've known Mike since our high school football days in Clovis, CA.  We lost track of one another after high school, but believe it or not it was a guy named Coach Wyatt and his double wing offense that got us reconnected!  Mike's wife Cielo is courage defined.  He and I would talk on the phone when they were going through her cancer treatments.  What Mike and his boys were able to do for her was amazing, and I couldn't be more happy for all of them.  Mike and I still stay in touch, and are actually planning to attend this year's Army-Navy game.

I'm very familiar with Linfield College.  A coaching friend of mine  that I'm sure you've heard of (or maybe even met having been coaching in the Pacific Northwest for as long as you have) used to face Linfield every year when he was the head football coach at Willamette.  Mark Speckman.

Now... there's a coach with an inspirational story!  

I met Mark years ago while coaching the club football team at the University of San Francisco.  
We got to know one another while working a youth football camp in NorCal.  What an incredible man.  I've followed his coaching career with great interest.  Everywhere he's been he's been a success with that Fly Offense of his.  Currently he's the Assistant Head Coach at UC Davis.

QUIZ:  That gentleman would be Marshall Goldberg.  My dad and my uncle saw him play for the Cardinals while they were growing up in Chicago.  

Have a great week!

Joe Gutilla
Austin, Texas

Coach Gutilla is so right on Mark Speckman.  Recognized as the leading authority on - if not the  inventor of - the Fly Offense, he was born without hands.  His inspirational story goes back to what he says his mother would tell him whenever he was having problems as a kid (such as trying to tie his shoelaces): “Figure it out.”

They ought to make him Secretary of Figuring it Out, and send him out to talk to all the whiners and complainers who think it’s the job of the  government to make their lives easy!

If you've never heard him speak (or even if you have) you need to check this out:

Goldberg Ring of Honor



Photo Sent by Kevin McCullough, Lakeville, Indiana

*********** Until Tony Dorsett came along 37 years after him, Marshall Goldberg was considered  the best running back ever to play for Pitt.

He was a Jewish kid from the small town of Elkins, West Virginia, where he was captain of his high school’s football, basketball and track teams.

He was heavily recruited, but chose Pitt, where he became a member of Jock Sutherland’s “Dream Backfield” of Goldberg, Cassiano, Chickerneo and Stebbins. (There have been several "Dream Backfields" since then, but this was the first.)

He was an All-American at two positions: in 1937 as a halfback, and in 1938 - unselfishly changing positions in order to get the team’s four best backs on the field - as a fullback.

When his career at Pitt was over, he had twice finished in the top three in the Heisman voting - third place in 1937, second in 1938 - and he set a carer rushing record that would last until Dorsett broke it in 1974.

He played with the Chicago Cardinals from 1939 through 1942, and then after wartime service as a Navy officer  in the South Pacific, he returned to play three more seasons. 

Once a member of Pitt’s “Dream Backfield,” he also became a member of the Cardinals’ “Million-Dollar Backfield,” so-called because in competition with the Chicago Rockets of the new AAFC, Cards’ owner William Bidwill had signed All-American Charley Trippi to a then-astonishing $100,000 contract. The backfield of Goldberg, Trippi, quarterback Paul Christman and fullback Pat Harder led the Cards to a 9-3 record, defeating the Bears in the final game of the regular season to send the Cards to the championship game with the Eagles, in which they won their only NFL title.

Not a big man, Goldberg was tough. He was named All-Pro Defensive Back  for three straight years (1946-1948)

He is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame and is one of only nine Pitt players to have his number retired.

*********** In his book “Ellis Island to Ebbetts Field - Sport and the American Jewish Experience,” Peter Levine writes of the improbable story of Marshall Goldberg, the son of a Jewish immigrant who grew up in Elkins, West Virginia, a mountain town of some 7,500 people, with only four Jewish families.  The nearest synagogue was in Morgantown, 70  miles of mountain roads away, so on Sundays he attended a Methodist church where his high school football coach was a Sunday School teacher. (His two brothers split their Sundays between a Presbyterian Church and a Baptist Church. They would both go on to play football at the local college, Davis and Elkins, a Presbyterian institution.)

It was only when he went away to Pittsburgh for college that Goldberg was introduced to the formalities of Judaism.

HIs father, Saul, who owned the local movie theatre in Elkins, steered him to Pitt, and became a big supporter of the Panthers.  Before their 1937 Rose Bowl game against Washington, Pitt coach Jock Sutherland read to the team a telegram that the elder Goldberg had sent: BRING HOME THE BACON AND YOU KNOW HOW I HATE PORK. Pitt won, 21-0.

At the same time as Hitler’s rise to power and the beginning of the Nazis’ evil treatment of European Jews, a football star named Goldberg became a hero to American Jewish sports fans. In New York, large numbers of them turned out to watch the great Pitt-Fordham clashes. The Jewish press,  once a strong presence in large cities with sizable Jewish populations,  enjoyed calling him  the “Hebrew Hillbilly.”

Goldberg, a modest person,  understood the reason for his popularity. “Here’s a guy named Goldberg,” he told Levine in a 1990 interview, “who’s a football player - and Jews aren’t supposed to be football players, and Jews aren’t supposed to be strong.”

***********  In the 1930s, Notre Dame coach Elmer Layden desperately wanted to recruit a great high school running back in Elkins, West Virginia named Marshall Goldberg.  As the name suggests, Goldberg was Jewish, the son of a merchant in the small town.

But Notre Dame’s President, Father O’Hara, had placed recruiting restrictions on his football coach - he could not leave campus to sign players.  They had to come to South Bend.

Meantime, according to the story, a famed movie producer who was also a Notre Dame booster promised that if Goldberg  went to Notre Dame, he'd make a movie called “Goldberg of Notre Dame.” (At the time, the story of  a Jewish kid starring at the nation’s best-known Catholic school would have been a sure box-office hit.)

Alas,  Marshall Goldberg never went to Notre Dame, and the movie was never made.

Goldberg was successfully recruited by Jock Sutherland, legendary Pitt coach, and along with Dick Cassiano, John Chickernio and Curly Stebbins formed what came to be called the Dream Backfield.  Thanks in large part to them, for three years, from 1936 through 1938, Pitt won one national title and contended for two others.

Goldberg played a major role in Pitt defeats of Notre Dame in 1936 and 1937, and went on to a solid career in the NFL.

I’d sure love to have seen “Goldberg of Notre Dame.”

*********** How about this one…

In 1935, 1936 and 1937, Pitt and Fordham, two of the best teams in the country, met in New York’s Polo Grounds, and all three games ended the same way - 0-0.  Three straight years of scoreless ties.

Fordham’s publicity guy, Tim Cohane, in a takeoff on Shakespeare, called in “Much Ado About Nothing to Nothing.”

In the 1937 game, Goldberg scored, but the play was called back for holding.

*********** QUIZ: Before there was Peyton Manning...  there was a kid from Huntsville Alabama  who became so well-known, so beloved in Tennessee that a C & W song was written about him.

He almost didn't even play college football at all. In 1971, right out of high school, he was drafted number one by the Montreal Expos. But his mother insisted that he get a college education - and the rest is history.

His sophomore year, the first year he was eligible, he became the first black player to quarterback an SEC team, and he took the Vols to a bowl game all three years of his varsity eligibility. With him at QB, Tennessee was 25-9-2.

They called him the Artful Dodger. Only 5-11 and 180, he was sensational in run-or-pass situations, throwing for over 3,000 yards in his career, and running for nearly 1,000. In his senior year, he successfully made the transition from a rollout to a veer quarterback. At the time he left Tennessee, he was the school's all-time leader in total offense, and even though he played more than 40 years ago, he still ranks among Tennessee's top 10 passers.

He was All-SEC his senior year, and received some Heisman votes, but that was it for him as a football player in the States.  He spent the rest of his football days in Canada.

When he was drafted only 12th by the New England Patriots he chose instead to sign with Ottawa of the CFL, where he could play quarterback.  In 13 years in Canada, he led two different teams to Grey Cup championships. First, sharing duties with ex-Notre Damer Tom Clements, he helped lead the Ottawa Rough Riders to the title. And then, traded to Toronto,  he hooked up with run-and-shoot guru Mouse Davis. The large Canadian field and Davis' offensive system were made to order for him, and in his six years with the Argos, he threw for 16,619 yards and 98 touchdowns, and led them to the Grey Cup in 1982.

He ended his career with one final season in British Columbia, then returned to Tennessee to get his degree. He is currently an Assistant Athletic Director at Tennessee.

american flag TUESDAY,  JUNE 20,  2017  - “Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools because they have to say something.” Plato

***********   I thank everyone who was kind enough to wish me Happy Birthday or Happy Father’s Day - or both.

Father’s Day is wonderful because the thing I’m proudest of is our four children… and the people they’ve married and brought into the family… and the grandchildren they’ve given us.  My three daughters all married men who are great fathers, and my son, with a nine-year-old of his own, is experiencing the joys of fatherhood. It enrages me when I hear of young men who make babies and then cut out and have nothing to do with those children, but it also saddens me because that selfish, immature decision will cost them some of the most rewarding moments a man can have.

So many of the birthday wishes are from people I’ve met in some way through football.  Many are from coaches.  Youth, high school, college or pro,  as football coaches we share a bond that can only be understood by someone who’s been through it. The people I’ve come to know through football are a blessing. They’ve enriched my life and I’m thankful beyond words.

The biggest events of my weekend were not my birthday or Father’s Day, but first, being with our daughter Cathy and son-in-law Rob Tiffany and their family at the graduation of our grandson, Mike Tiffany, from Cedar Crest High School in Duvall, Washington.  The ceremony was really well done - even the speeches by the students.  Especially impressive was a speech by a faculty member.  My big takeaway from it: “Rather than ask how much this opportunity will cost, ask how much it will cost to miss this opportunity.”  Sure hope some of the kids were listening, but if not - no matter.  I was.  Never too old to learn something.

Foristieres and wyattsThe second biggest event took place Saturday morning in Seattle, where long-time friend Mike Foristiere brought his team from Mattawa, Washington, about three hours away, to compete in a spring football jamboree. Mike and I correspond often, going back to when he was a young pup starting out coaching in Boise, and he was kind enough to introduce me to his players, including his youngest son, Rock, who’s the A-Back and Middle Linebacker.  But what really put me over the top was when Mike told me that his wife, Cielo, had come along, and was on her way over to our sideline to see me.  She is a great young woman.  She and Mike have raised three fine sons, including one, Randy, who’s now at West Point.  Not all that long ago, her life was in grave danger when she was diagnosed with a form of cancer known as spindle cell sarcoma.  At the very least, there was concern that if could cost her a leg.  She and Mike had to make several trips back and forth from Boise to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, and it was touch and go for a couple of years until she was pronounced cancer-free. Now, she looks great.  Cielo is tough and resilient, and I admire her courage, but I also admire the way their three boys, Ross, Randy and Rock pulled together to do their share around the home during a difficult time, and I salute Mike for his devotion to his wife.

*********** If you’re following the College World Series… Check out the Oregon State catcher, Adley Rutschman.

Strange first name, but if you know anything about Northwest sports, the first thing that comes to mind when you see that name is Ad Rutschman.

Ad's real name as Adolph, but he’s Adley’s granddad.

For 24 years, Ad Rutschman was head football coach at Linfield College, and for 13 years he was also Linfield’s head baseball coach.

Outside the Northwest, Linfield is well-known in small-school circles.  Inside the Northwest, Linfield is the small-school gorilla.  Year-in and year-out, Linfield is the team to beat.

From 1968 to 1991, his Linfield Wildcats were 183-48-3.  During that time, they won 12 Northwest Conference championships, and three NAIA National Championships.

He took his 1971 Linfield baseball squad to the 1971 NAIA World Series.

He is believed to be the only coach to win national college titles in both baseball and football.

His influence on football in the Northwest has been enormous. The coaching tree of guys who played for him and then went on to coach high school football in Oregon is more like a giant Douglas Fir.



*********** Stuff we used to joke about because it was so absurd…

In Oregon they’re going to give people a third choice on their driver’s licenses (besides “Male” and “Female”)

*********** It’s okay for them to continue calling themselves The Slants.

They’re a band made up of Asian-Americans. Their  name so offended some people that the government, assuming the role of  protector of the offended  and the guardian of all that’s correct, refused to register it as a trademark.

But on Monday the Supreme Court ruled - unanimously - that no government agency has the power to do that.

What’s this got to do with football?

Well, see, there’s this professional football team in Washington, D.C. called (omigod - I can’t believe I’m actually gong to print this) the Redskins…

And up to now, unable by other means to persuade the team to change its name, the government had been resorting to the exact same refuse-to-register-the-name tactics that the Supreme Court just said isn’t legal.

Sounds to me as if they’ll be the Redskins, at least until the next Democratic administration.

Actually, I was sorta hoping they’d become the Washington Swamp. 

*********** In less than a week the Oregon strawberries will be done for another year.  Back to the dreck that they sell in supermarkets. You know, the kind they grow in faraway places like California, or even Mexico:  hard and firm so they can stand up to  all the handling - but when you cut them open, the cores are solid  white.  And dry.  And tasteless.  Might as well be cardboard on the inside.

Oregon strawberries

But not these Oregon strawberries.  Slice these suckers  and they’re red and juicy and sweet all the way through. Without the cardboard innards, here’s no way you could ship them any distance, so the only place you see them is at roadside stands

*********** Let’s see…

The Portland Thorns (that’s women’s soccer)  just had  Gay Pride Night…

The Seattle Storm (that’s women’s basketball) will be holding a Stand With Planned Parenthood Night…

The NBA champion Golden State Warriors may decline an invitation to visit the White House…

And Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh, that Great Uniter,  has announced that he plans to invite a prominent Washington couple to be “honorary captains” at one of Michigan’s games this year. (HINT: they are such avid football fans that the male member of the couple once said that if he had a son, he’d have to think twice about letting him play football - and as Commander-in-Chief of our armed forces, he attended only one Army-Navy game in eight years)

Isn’t it great to be able to go to a game where everybody can put politics aside for a while?  Isn’t it a great feeling to know that we’re all on the same side?

*********** When I think of parents nowadays who leave even the most enormous of decisions up to an 18-year-old without so much as giving him/her input (“We don’t want to pressure him”) I think of Mike Krzyzewski.

He was, in his words, “conned” into going to West Point.

But, in his words, “Other than marrying my wife, it was the best decision I ever made. Or, more accurately, it was the best decision my parents ever talked me into. Or conned me into."

Famed writer John Feinstein wrote about how it all came about…

Krzyzewski readily admits he wasn't the least bit impressed or tempted when the new coach at Army, a 24-year-old novice named Bob Knight, showed up on his doorstep on a June evening in 1965. Knight had come to Chicago to visit Loyola Academy to talk to coach Gene Sullivan about one of his players.

While they were talking, Sullivan mentioned that the leading scorer that season in Chicago's Catholic League was still undecided about where he was going to go to college. Knight called Al Ostrowski, Krzyzewski's coach at Weber High School who, in Mike's words was, "blown away," by the thought of one of his players going to Army. That evening, Knight visited William and Emily Krzyzewski and their younger son.
"The thing is, my parents were overwhelmed by the notion that I might have the chance to go the United States Military Academy and then serve my country," Krzyzewski says. "They thought it was an honor just to have coach Knight come to their home to talk about it.

"I didn't feel the same way. I was NOT blown away by the thought of going to Army, not at all. I did NOT want to go into the Army for four years, no way. It really had nothing to do with Vietnam, it had more to do with the fact that I knew I wanted to be a coach. I didn't think going to Army and being in the Army was going to get me there."

Knight suggested the Krzyzewskis take a few days to think about Mike's decision. For the next couple of days, William and Emily staged an evening ritual.

"They would stand in the kitchen talking, knowing I was in the next room listening. They spoke Polish to one another and I didn't understand very much. But there's no word in Polish for 'stupid,' or for 'dumb.' So, I would hear, 'Mike stupid; Mike dumb.'

"I knew what they were doing. They were goading me. Finally, I just walked in one night and said, 'Okay, okay, I'll do it.'

His eyes glistened just a little at the memory. "Other than marrying my wife, it was the best decision I ever made. Or, more accurately, it was the best decision my parents ever talked me into." He smiles one more time. "Or conned me into."


On March 14, 1980, Krzyzewski and Mickie, his wife, visited Duke and Kryzyzewski met with Tom Butters for a third time. When the meeting was over, Butters thanked Krzyzewski for coming and wished him a safe trip home. Krzyzewski left the office baffled, he had thought he was going to be offered the job.

After the Krzyzewskis had left campus to head to the airport, Steve Vacendak, Duke's Associate Athletic Director, the man who had first brought Krzyzewski's name to Butters, asked his boss how the interview with Krzyzewski had gone.

"What are you thinking Tom?" he asked.

"I'm thinking he's the next great coach in the college game," Butters said.

"So, you hired him," Vacendak said.

Butters, who passed away in the spring of 2016, shook his head. "I can't do it Steve," he said.

"How can I hire a 33-year-old coach who just went 9 and 17 at Army?"

"If he's the next great coach," Vacendak answered. "How can you not hire him?"

Butters stared at Vacendak for a moment. "Go back to the airport and get him," he said finally.

*********** American Football Monthly has just announced that it has gone completely digital. This means total email and online publication.  No more “real” magazines. This bums me because I like to be able to reach back and grab a magazine and leaf through it. But as a small-time publisher myself, I completely understand that the costs of printing and mailing can make publishing a hard-copy magazine  unfeasible.

*********** Hugh,

QUIZ:  Before David Robinson and Tim Duncan KYLE ROTE was the pride of San Antonio.  I wonder how many folks know that Kyle Rote was in the same backfield at SMU with Doak Walker?  Rote played, and starred for NY Giants teams that featured the likes of Frank Gifford, Charlie Conerly, Y.A. Tittle, Alex Webster, Rosey Brown, Rosey Grier, Andy Robustelli, and Sam Huff.

Thoroughly enjoyed your news today.  Some sad, some enlightening.  

I hope Greg will be looking for someone to help him out in a couple of years!  Speaking of jobs I saw where Kings Way Academy in Vancouver is looking for a head football coach.

Didn't know Don Matthews.  Wish I had.

Luke Heimlich's life has virtually reached its end due to another self-aggrandizing reporter's attempt at getting a "scoop", and becoming a recognized "journalist".  The media is out of control, and any history buff will tell you an out of control media can bring a country's citizenship to its knees.  Such a shame it has come to this in the U.S.

I wonder who the brainiac is that made that monumental start time change for that women's soccer league?  Still gonna be hot, but eventually will the league even be around for it to matter??

Quick story.  I just found out that one of the very best small high school football coaches in Texas was let go on Monday.  11 state championships in football (winning "A" state championship is no small feat in Texas - he won ELEVEN!), a 1968 graduate of the high school, worked at the high school for 43 years as the Dean of Students - Athletic Director - PE Teacher, AND... also won FOUR state championships as the softball coach!  Small town.  The school's enrollment is just over 150 in grades 9-12, yet he managed to have 45+ boys in his program every year, and they have always been a salty bunch.  No reason given by his administration other than telling him "they're moving in a different direction."  Even went so far as to tell him he did nothing wrong.  I had the opportunity to meet him last year and found him to be one of the kindest, most gracious, and insightful men I have had the pleasure to meet.  Here's what makes his accomplishments even more impressive.  He wasn't coaching at the public school... he was at the Catholic school.  

Have a great weekend!

Joe  Gutilla
Austin, Texas

***********   A native of San Antonio, KYLE ROTE was all-state in high school in football and basketball and was considered a major league baseball prospect.

He enrolled at SMU, at the time a Southwest Conference power, and he was an All-American tailback.  His performance in a near-upset of national champion Notre Dame - he ran for 115 yards, threw for 146, and scored three touchdowns - was called by Texas sportswriters the greatest athletic performance by a Texas athlete in the first half of the Twentieth Century.

Drafted first by the New York Giants, Rote had a solid if unspectacular career as a man who could do a lot of things.  He started out as a running back but after suffering a knee injury was moved to flanker back, a relatively new position, by offensive coordinator Vince Lombardi.

He was captain of the Giants for eight years, and evidence of the respect in which he was held by his teammates is the fact that fourteen of them named sons after him.

His own son and namesake, Kyle Rote, Jr.  was a very good soccer player, one of the first well-known American stars.


*********** QUIZ - Until Tony Dorsett came along 37 years after him, he was considered  the best running back ever to play for Pitt.

He was a Jewish kid from the small town of Elkins, West Virginia, where he was captain of his high school’s football, basketball and track teams.

He was heavily recruited, but chose Pitt, where he became a member of Jock Sutherland’s “Dream Backfield” (the first time the term was ever  used).

He was an All-American at two positions: in 1937 as a halfback, and in 1938 - unselfishly changing positions in order to get the team’s four best backs on the field - as a fullback.

When his career at Pitt was over, he had twice finished in the top three in the Heisman voting - third place in 1937, second in 1938 - and he set a school career rushing record that would last until Dorsett broke it in 1974.

He played with the Chicago Cardinals from 1939 through 1942, and then after wartime service as a Navy officer  in the South Pacific, he returned to play three more seasons.  Often playing two ways, he was named All-Pro Defensive Back  three straight years (1946-1948)

He played on the last Cardinals team to win an NFL Championship, in 1947.

He is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame and is one of only nine Pitt players to have his number retired.

american flag FRIDAY,  JUNE 16,  2017  - “What do you despise? By this you are truly known.” Michelangelo

*********** I pray for the recovery of Congressman Steven Scalise, a good man - and an LSU Tiger.

*********** Wish I could write more but I'm facing a deadline and this just came in... Don Matthews died.

Dwight Jaynes, longtime Portland sportswriter, has known him a long time, since he started coaching high school ball in the Portland suburbs, and he calls him "just about the best football coach I ever saw."

In Canada he'll get no argument.

*********** My wife and I have 11 grandkids, eight of them high school graduates.

On Friday night, Grandson Mike Tiffany will make it number nine when he graduates from Cedar Crest High School, in Duvall, Washington.

Best of luck to Mike, who’s off to Oklahoma State in the fall to be a Cowboy!

The eight grandkids who've gone off to college seem to favor the South:
Oklahoma State
Vanderbilt (4)
Wake Forest

***********  The Oregon State Beavers head into the College World Series this weekend as the number one seed, and I’m sure they’re excited about their chances.

But there’s a dark cloud hanging over the Beavers and it’s one of the saddest sports stories I’ve heard in my lifetime.

On a team with a lot of talent, no one stood out more than pitcher Luke Heimlich.

This year, he was 11-1, with a 0.76 earned run average.  In 118 innings pitched, he struck out 128 batters, and walked only 22.

He was a major reason for the Beavers’ number one seed, and seen as no worse than a third round pick in the Major League Baseball draft.

And then, last week, the state’s largest newspaper, the Portland Oregonian, dropped a bomb on the Beavers’ program when their beat guy, the writer assigned to the Oregon State baseball program, revealed that Heimlich had been convicted of sexual abuse of a minor girl, a relative, back in 2011, when he was 15.

And then, never one to pass up a chance to kick someone when he’s down, the paper’s most influential sports columnist, John Canzano, wrote a vicious column attacking Heimlich.

The kid hasn’t played since.

He was just passed over in the recent draft by every single major league baseball team.

And on Wednesday he announced that he won’t be accompanying the team to Omaha for the College World Series.

It’s a fairly long and convoluted story, but it’s been masterfully handled by Kerry Eggers of the Portland Tribune, and I recommend it (link below).  (Full disclosure: I’ve known Kerry Eggers since 1974, when I was PR Director of the Portland Thunder and he was our beat guy for the now-defunct Oregon Journal.  Off and on over the years, he’s written a story or two about me or my teams.  We are friends.)

What it comes down to is this - Is Heimlich a sex offender?  Or is he someone who committed a sex offense when he was a boy?  And if he is a sex offender, is he condemned to be known as one for the rest of his life?

Yes, what he did was repulsive.  No one can argue that.  But he was a kid, and kids, especially today,  when there’s a general, overall absence of guidelines and limits and an absence of moral and religious instruction in the school and in the home, will sometimes do things that defy belief - things they wouldn’t have done in a million years if they’d had the time, or the inclination, or the ability - or the guidance -  to consider the consequences of what they were about to do.

Here are some important points of view to consider:

writes Eggers:

Mark McKechnie is executive director of Youth, Rights and Justice, a nonprofit defense and advocacy firm in Portland.

"Most of our work is representing individual clients," says McKechnie, who has 18 years training as a social worker and is court-appointed to represent juveniles and parents in juvenile court. "We'd have represented someone like Luke if charged in Oregon.

"Research shows the longer someone goes without engaging in these type of offenses, the less likely they are to do it in the future. After a couple of years pass and the person hasn't committed the offense, (he) is very unlikely to do so.

"The recidivism rate for juveniles adjudicated of a sex offense is less than 3 percent. Multiple studies across multiple states, including Oregon, all landed in the 2.5 to 3 percent range in terms of re-offense rates — and those percentages are usually figured by arrests, even without conviction."

A Portland circuit court judge told Eggers,

"There is a body of evidence that when treated like criminals — required to register as a sex offender — it has no effect in terms of committing another sex offense, but it creates a risk.

"When they have to answer the question, 'Have you ever been convicted of a sex crime,' and they have to answer, 'Yes,' it makes it more difficult to get housing. They're more likely to wind up homeless, not accepted in school, in jobs and so on. It's important for them to be held accountable and required to do treatment, but a very small percentage are dangerous. For the most part, a young person who creates a sex offense is in a low-risk category."

And Robert Stanulis a clinical psychologist in Portland for 40 years who is considered one of the foremost experts dealing with sex offenders, said,

"A recent study out of South Carolina looked at registered vs. non-registered juveniles," Stanulis says. "It shows the idea behind it is flawed. We need to round up suspects, but we find out 96 percent of the cases occur with somebody in-family. Registration is useless, because (sex abuse) rarely happens with someone (the offender) doesn't know.

"The Department of Corrections did a five-year followup (on sex abusers); around four percent re-offended a sex offense. The unintended consequences are, they end up committing more other crimes than they would have they been non-registered.

"Look at the average apartment lease. If you're a registered sex offender, they won't rent to you. You'll have trouble getting federal student loans as a felon. You'll have a hard time finding a place to live, find it hard to go to school. As an 18- to 21-year-old young man, you become a sex offender rather than boy who committed a sex offense. We label people and they become what they did. That's the crime he committed, not who he is. Registration causes more harm than it fixes.

"The real issue here ultimately is, do we want them to succeed or want them to fail? Registration is simply not necessary. It satisfies our need for revenge, under the idea that sex offenders never get well, which is not true. The vast majority do not re-offend. That's not to say there are not serial pedophiles out there, but they're the exception rather than the rule."

I wish I could say that he paid his price,  as I was able to say about Michael Vick, and that I could say that it’s time he was allowed to live in society as a free man.

But in reality, there wasn’t any punishment:

After his sex abuse conviction, Heimlich entered a diversion program, received two years of probation and successfully completed two years of sex offender treatment.

Way too easy.  At first blush. But back when they offered him this deal, I wonder if they made clear that he’d be branded for life as a sex criminal.   Or I wonder if he saw "probation" and went, "whew."

My God. They took a 15-year-old kid who did something way, way wrong  -  but way, way short of murder - and gave him what amounts to a life sentence.

Of course there should have been punishment. 

What ever happened to hard labor?  (Six years ago.  Back in 2011. Back when punishment was called for.  Not now.)

*********** Coach,

Love the Apple quote in the news. To apply that strategy to a coach taking over a losing situation (as Jobs did when he returned to Apple).

"Moving forward, Jobs' strategy was to produce only four products: one desktop and one portable device aimed at both consumers and professionals. For professionals, Apple created the Power Macintosh G3 desktop and the PowerBook G3 portable computer. For consumers, there was the iMac desktop and iBook portable."

Jobs had to get rid of over 70% of the product line to get this done. Kind of like a good coach getting rid of 70% of a bloated, unproductive playlist to focus on some plays that can work.

John Bothe
Oregon, Illinois

*********** Easy question:  Where does the Houston Dash play?

If you answered “Houston,” give yourself a hand.

Tough question: What does the Houston Dash play?

If you said “soccer,” you don’t get any special credit, because you probably arrived at it by process of elimination.

Actually, it’s a women’s soccer team, and because it plays some of its games in the daytime - in Houston - it can get a bit hot and muggy out on the field (er, pitch).

So hot and muggy that a Houston player named Rachel Daly collapsed from heat exhaustion during a recent game (er, match).

So now the league - did you even know there was something called the National Women’s Soccer League? - has decided to take what a league official says are  “important measures that will help to ensure the safest environment possible at all league matches.”

For one thing, they’re going to call for “hydration  breaks.”

Good idea, that.

But even more important, to try to get away from the heat of the day, they’re going to change the starting times of 23 league games.

From 1 PM to 12:30.

*********** Good morning Hugh,

Really enjoyed your News this morning.  Especially your thoughts about the Penguins-Predators Stanley Cup game.

While I was disappointed that my Blackhawks bowed out early in the playoffs (to Nashville), and that I was pulling for the Predators to tie it up and send it back to Pittsburgh for a deciding game seven, I was thrilled to see the "Pens" pull it out and win their second Cup in a row.  You are absolutely spot-on about hockey.  It is why it is my favorite PRO sport to watch.

Joe Gutilla
Austin, Texas

***********  HAPPY FATHER'S DAY!

William McGurn of the Watt Street Journal is one of favorite writers. He is unapologetically old-school Catholic - a dinosaur, in his own words.

On the eve of Father’s Day, he wrote a beautiful column about a father’s duty to his daughters…

...even the most obtuse father has to ask himself: Have I been the man my children deserve?
For dads with daughters, the question can be particularly disquieting as we contemplate a sexual revolution that has lost sight of any boundaries. In theory it’s all gloriously empowering. But for those who regard human sexuality as a profound gift, and la différence as a key to appreciating this gift, it’s astonishing how judgments that would have been elementary to our great-great-grandmothers today elude the most privileged and well-educated.


For young men: Does it require a Stanford degree to know that sexual contact with an unconscious woman is a line a man does not cross? As for being drunk himself, if he had no notion he might be doing something wrong, why did he make a run for it when the cyclists interrupted him?


For young women: This may sound impolitic, but loving moms and dads say it anyway. What happened here is a lesson in the vulnerability of women not in control of themselves because they are drunk.

The straw-man rejoinder is that this suggests the woman was “asking for it.” To the contrary, this is a refusal to allow ideology to deny a fact of life. The physical reality is that a woman’s inebriation removes a critical barrier to assault and humiliation.


In a 2014 piece for the Weekly Standard, Heather Mac Donald noted that when the social default for unmarried sex was “no,” the woman didn’t have to explain herself. “No” was sufficient. The irony is that this default meant the woman held most of the cards when it came to deciding whether a relationship would become sexual.

Today, Ms. Mac Donald notes, the default has become “yes”—and the woman who resists is both on her own and on the defensive. For men, of course, this has been a most welcome shift. And no doubt for some women, too.

Then again, if all women are yearning for is strings-free sex, why does it seem to require so much alcohol? Might one answer be the loneliness that comes from giving fully of yourself in the hope of finding intimacy—and in return getting only intercourse?


Perhaps. Then again, most dads accept that part of the job is a willingness to be the unfashionable one; that is, to love enough to speak unpopular truths when the world cheats your children with fifty shades of grey. For all the complaints about “toxic masculinity,” genuine masculinity seems hard to come by. Surely the greater male dysfunction of our time is perpetual adolescence, and a culture that encourages the man-child.

So this Father’s Day, looking over the three greatest blessings in his life, this dad pines for the day when we might again speak honestly and openly about the profound differences between male and female sexuality, when the heart might be taken as seriously as the orgasm—and when young men pursuing young women might even rediscover the marvelous possibilities of moonlit summer evenings.

I had to write him:

Dear Mr. McGurn,


What a marvelous and highly appropriate Father's Day column.

As a football coach of 46 years and the father of three daughters (and grandfather of four granddaughters) I have had plenty of experience at being "the unfashionable one."

I take great pride in that.

Thank you!

Hugh Wyatt
Camas, Washington

(Being the sort of person he is, Mr. McGurn was gracious enough to write back.)

*********** I did not care for President Obama. I deplored the way he pitted American against American.   (Look - I’m rounding third in the game of life, so it’s more your problem than mine, but I seriously doubt that we’ll recover from the way he left us.) 

Nevertheless, he won two elections, and that made him President, so as I learned to do long ago, I endured the eight years of his presidency.

Now, then, if you’re a disappointed Hillary Clinton voter, it’s your turn to endure.

Like me,  you were given a bad horse in the race. (John McCain and Mitt Romney - take it or leave it - were my choices)

Hey -  maybe you’ll get luckier than me and only have to  wait four years.

What’s that?  Oh, I see - you shouldn’t have to wait.  Your candidate didn’t really lose.  Trump and those Russians conspired and connived to steal the election from her.

And then there was that awful Electoral College.  And misogyny.  And the incompetence of the Democratic Party.  And on, and on, and on.

So now, in your view, we have an illegitimate President. And rather than accept the consequences of the election,  you’re going to “resist.” 

Part of this vile “resistance” is a production in New York of Julius Caesar, a Shakespeare play written more than 400 years ago but now grossly reworked  so that instead of an ancient Roman emperor being killed, it’s the current President of the United States.

Only in America - where the careless use of a single word can get your fired, but it’s acceptable to turn the assassination of the President  into an Evening in the Park  - could this happen.

When Shakespeare wrote Julius Caesar, he was writing about a murder that had occurred some 1700 years before.  Not in his maddest moments would he ever have considered depicting the murder of the King of England.  Or the Prime Minister.

In fact,  lèse-maj·es·té on the order of New York's Julius Caesar is almost unprecedented in the history of western civilization (a subject, by the way,  that once was taught at our great universities, until overly-entitled  18- and 19-year-old geniuses informed the college elders that the course celebrated colonialism, racism, sexism, etc., etc.).

Where else but in a society with so much freedom that liberty often is seen as license would someone dare “entertain” an audience with  a play portraying the assassination of a freely-elected president?

But given that there is such a knave,  what sick dogs will sit and watch such an obscenity?  For me, life’s too short and precious to make room in it for the sort of person who would knowingly and willingly go to a theatre to see this seditious dreck.

Football coach or not,  if that fits you:  Au revoir.  Out of my life. AMF. 

(Not that I think there are that many football coaches who live in $2 million apartments in Manhattan - much less many  who hate their country so much, or have so much time on their hands,  that they’ll stroll  over to Central Park to watch something  aimed at destroying what’s left of our country.)

*********** “If Trump says he inhales oxygen, the headline will be ‘Trump Admits He’s Just Like Hitler.’”

Kurt Schlichter, Town Hall

*********** Thanks to the actions of a sick bastard in Alexandria, Virginia, no one seemed to notice that Wednesday was  Flag Day.   Oh well, just another old-fashioned patriotic holiday that only real Americans - not the ones who just take up space and enjoy our liberties, while belittling our history and mocking our traditions -  care about.

*********** LEON HART was 6-5, 245 as a 17-year-old college freshman.  He was huge for his time and he’d be big even today.

He came out of Turtle Creek, Pennsylvania, near Pittsburgh,  highly recruited.

Said the late Beano Cook, renowned football expert and a native of Pittsburgh, "He was one of the great players to ever come out of Western Pennsylvania.”

He is one of only two linemen ever to win the Heisman Trophy, and one of only three players to (1) win the Heisman Trophy (2) play on a national championship team and (3) be drafted first overall by the NFL in the same year.

At Notre Dame, his college teams were 36-0-2 in his four years there, and he started all four years; they won national championships in 1946, 1947 and 1949, and finished second in 1948.

He was an outstanding student, and majored in mechanical engineering.

In his eight-year NFL career, he played on three NFL championship teams. In Detroit!

He was extremely versatile. He played offensive end (now called tight end), defensive end and fullback.

In 1951, he was All-Pro on offense and defense.

In 1956, he rushed for 612 yards and five touchdowns, intercepted four passes, and returned two fumbles for touchdowns.  And he returned eight kicks.

He is a member of both the College Football Hall of Fame and the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

JOE GUTILLA - AUSTIN, TEXAS - That mountain of a man you are describing in your Quiz today is none other than Notre Dame's own Leon Hart.  Any self-respecting subway alum who knows anything about anything regarding Notre Dame football would know all about Leon Hart, his coach Frank Leahy, and those great Irish teams of the late 40's.  In four years the only "blemishes" for the Irish were two "ties" (1946 to Army, and 1948 to USC).  Some consider that 46 National Championship team to be one of the greatest college football teams ever assembled.

*********** One of the great Notre Dame teams that Leon Hart played on…
the 1947 National Champions:
1947 Notre Dame

ALONG THE LINE (FROM YOUR LEFT TO RIGHT) : Leon Hart, Ziggy Czarobski, Marty Wendell, Bill Walsh, Bill “Moose” Fischer, George Connor, Jim Martin

IN THE BACKFIELD: Emil “Red” Sitko, John “Pep Panelli, John Lujack (QB), Terry Brennan

ALL-AMERICANS: Sitko; Lujack; Hart; Fischer; Connor, Martin


1953 nfl yearbook

And inside this magazine (which I bought when I was a kid)...

One of the great Detroit Lions’ teams that Leon Hart  played on.  (Look at the shoulders on him)

One thing stands out: There are no black players in the picture. The Redskins and Bears had no black players in 1952, either. So far as I can tell,  there were only 18 black players in the entire NFL.  The Rams and Browns had the most, with four each. Very few were linemen.


BILL WALSH CENTER SNAP*********** The things you come across when you’re doing research… Bill Walsh, the center on the great 1947-1948 Notre Dame  teams, was drafted by the Steelers in 1949, and played center for them from 1949-1954.  Based on this photo from 1951, the last year the Steelers ran the single wing, he almost certainly was the last single wing center in NFL history. 

(And check how he’s preparing to snap the ball.  That ain’t gonna be no spiral snap.)

In a 1999 interview with Jim Sargent, of pro football researchers, he tells about learning how the Steelers snapped the ball:

"The Steelers were single wing in those days, and that's the interesting story.

"John Michelosen was our coach, and he had taken over for Jock Sutherland in `48. John was young, about 32 or 33. He was a real nice man, but he emulated Jock, who was always real stern."

Walsh continued, "I was a single wing center in high school. In Sutherland's system, which was Michelosen's, you grabbed the ball with your fingertips on the laces, your thumb on the laces, then your index finger went along the seam, and your other hand went under the ball. You sort of ‘flipped' it back. The ball rotated two and a half times to the tailback or the fullback.

"The backs took the ball on a lean, and they had their hands in such a way that with Sutherland's method, the ball was rotating in such a way that it would hit the upper hand and would drop down. If you had a spiral, it could go through. I was a single wing center in high school, and a T-formation center in college for four years, and I'm drafted third by the Steelers.

"Heck, I'm thinking, `Single wing, Wow!'

"Then my coach, Chuck Cherundolo, who was the center for the Steelers the year before me, took me up on the field that first Sunday, and showed me how they did it, and I said, `How?'

"Later, I found out you can do anything with that. I wouldn't want to go back to the spiral."

***********  QUIZ:  A native of San Antonio, he was all state in high school in football and basketball and was considered a major league baseball prospect.

He enrolled at SMU, at the time a Southwest Conference power, and he was an All-American tailback.  His performance in a near-upset of national champion Notre Dame - he ran for 115 yards, threw for 146, and scored three touchdowns - was called by Texas sportswriters the greatest athletic performance by a Texas athlete in the first half of the Twentieth Century.

Drafted first by the New York Giants, he had a steady if unspectacular career as a man who could do a lot of things.  He started out as a running back but after suffering a knee injury was moved to flanker back, a relatively new position, by offensive coordinator Vince Lombardi.

He was captain of the Giants for eight years, and evidence of the respect in which he was held by his teammates is the fact that fourteen of them named sons after him.

His own son and namesake was a very good soccer player, one of the first well-known American stars.

american flag TUESDAY,  JUNE 13,  2017  - "I don't care what the crybabies say now because they didn't have to make the decision." Harry S. Truman (on the decision to drop the Atomic bomb)

*********** My friend Greg Koenig continues to sound enthusiastic  about the players he’s inherited at his new school, Cimarron High School, in Southwest Kansas.

Today Greg sent me a really appropriate quote he’d come across from Steve Jobs, founder of Apple:
"Apple is a $30 billion company, yet we've got less than 30 major products. I don't know if that's ever been done before. Certainly the great consumer electronics companies of the past had thousand of products. We tend to focus much more. People think focus means saying yes to the thing you've got to focus on. But that's not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully."

Noted Greg “I think it applies exceptionally to football, specifically offensive football, and how we have to say no to some plays or formations in order to maintain excellence. It reminds me of things I've heard you say over the years.”

OPPORTUNITY? - Greg adds..."We really are in need of a science teacher for 8th and 9th grade this fall. In addition to assistant football, there are coaching opportunities for cross country and junior high basketball."
Let me add this...  If Cimarron, Kansas was good enough to attract a man of Greg Koenig's calibre, it has to be a good place to live and work. If this interests you or if you know of anyone who might be interested, email me ASAP - - and I'll  put him in touch with you immediately.

*********** From a coach whom I’ve known for years.  Good coach - won a state title a few years ago.

Hugh, I just read your post about what happened at North Beach. Seems very similar to ——. Last off-season we had the same thing, only in a school of 1400.  I had 3 kids show up consistently for after school workouts, one was my son! I had two kids transfer out of weight training and into PE because it was more fun! (One of them complained when he wasn't given a starting position later that year!). Several others were in JV basketball (on the bench). In June last year, I was told I couldn't continue the discipline policy that was one of our core covenants: Anyone who is suspended for drugs/alcohol or grades would miss the entire season. This because a parent complained about her son who would miss half the season due to the school's policy, but she didn't want him to miss all of his senior season! I should have quit then, but my son was a senior. So, we end up with a huge discipline issue, new administration (3 out of the 4 administrators were new to the building).  That is why I stepped down. I am now not coaching at this point for the upcoming year, but would rather not coach than put up with any of that stuff. The ironic thing was that the former AD had begged me to come back to coach in 2014. No interview, just take the job. He had a great vision for athletics and we were making strides until he and the principal left before this year. Take care and hang in there!

***********  New York Daily News columnist and Black Lives Matter leader Shaun King said last week that we was   boycotting the National Football League for what he insists is its blacklisting of Colin Kaepernick.  (Kaepernick hasn’t been signed by an NFL team since becoming a free agent  in March.)

“I can’t, in good conscience, support this league, with many of its pro-Trump owners, as it blacklists my friend and brother Colin Kaepernick for taking a silent, peaceful stance against injustice and police brutality in America,” King wrote in the Daily News. “It’s disgusting and has absolutely nothing to do with football and everything to do with penalizing a brilliant young man for the principled stance he took last season.”

King said the reasons Kaepernick remains unsigned are racism, bigotry and discrimination.

"As a leader in the Black Lives Matter Movement, as a voice in the resistance to Donald Trump, and as a friend of Colin Kaepernick, I cannot, in good conscience, support the NFL any longer. If I did, I'd struggle to look my own son in the eyes or look at myself in the mirror.”

Hmmm.  Sounds like the NFL’s caught in a whipsaw between boycotts.  Remember this, back in October?

Nearly one-third of American adults say they are less likely to watch a National Football League game because of the growing number of Black Lives Matter protests that are happening by players on the field, a Rasmussen poll found.
Thirty-two percent polled online and by telephone said they’re willing to skip NFL games this year because of player protests over racial issues, the pollster said on Tuesday. Only 13 percent said they were more likely to watch the games because of the protests, and 52 percent said the protests had no impact on their viewing decisions.

Twenty-eight percent of African Americans said they were more likely to tune-into an NFL game because of the protests, compared to 8 percent of whites and 16 percent of other Americans, the poll found.

Whites were twice as likely as blacks to say they are less likely to watch this year.

Not so fast, Shaun King.

Jason Whitlock had a few things to say about you.

“You’ve got that idiot Kaepernick friend Shaun King, ‘Oh, the NFL is anti- black.’ 70 percent of the players! These conservative, bigoted owners have built a league that 70 percent of the players are black. They are making many of them millionaires,”  said Whitlock.

“Michael Vick came out of prison and got a $100 million contract in the NFL! Name one of these liberal industries that would’ve brought Michael Vick out of prison and given him a $100 million contract.”

“You are being lied to,” Whitlock went on. “Oh, but conservatives are the worst things in the world for black people! You are being lied to! The NFL, it’s so racist and that’s why Kaepernick doesn’t have a job! You are the reason Kaepernick doesn’t have a job because you write idiotic things in the New York Daily News like Shaun King did! Who would want to be associated with that?”

*********** I sent this out in the newsletter that accompanied the latest installment of the Open Wing playbook…

The Trap is an old play.  Its name actually derives from the term “Mousetrap.”

The concept of allowing a defensive player to charge into the backfield unblocked appears to have originated with Walter Camp of Yale, the person who came up with the rules that established our game as separate from rugby.  As the game – and its coaching – progressed, so did the concept of the trap.

I’m indebted to Allison Danzig’s “The History of American Football” for some of the history of the trap:

In 1947, famed sportswriter Grantland Rice wrote in a column that Jess Harper, who had been Knute Rockne’s coach at Notre Dame, told him, “It was Haughton (Percy Haughton, great Harvard coach) who really perfected the mousetrap play more than 30 years ago.”

In that same column, Rice wrote,
I began to remember a few things about Percy Haughton back around 1915 in his contest with Yale.  I happened to mention the fact that Yale had a big, fast, hard-charging line.  “I only wish they were twice as fast,” Haughton said.  “We’ll let them through and then cut them down.”  That was the way it happened.  That was the start of mousetrapping.

Danzig credits the first use of the term “mousetrap” to a Dartmouth coach named Sid Hazelton.

In the winter of 1928, several New England college coaches were relaxing in a railroad lounge car on their way to a coaches’ convention.  They were talking about a play that Yale had used to beat Harvard that season, when Mal Stevens, the Yale coach, entered the car.

Hazelton jumped up and said, “Watch out boys – we’re about to be mousetrapped.  Pull in  your necks or you’ll have your head chopped off.”

When Dartmouth had visited Yale, he said, the “city slickers” from New Haven had been poor hosts: “They refuse to level our very green tackles with hard shoulder or body blocks. They say to themselves, ‘we'll bait a trap for these hicks from New Hampshire.’”

He went on, “The men playing opposite our tackle on the line of scrimmage don’t touch him at all. They charge in opposite directions and leave him entirely alone.  Finding no opposition, he naturally charges right into the Yale backfield.   He sees a blue-shirted back heading his way with the ball under his arm.  It has the same effect on a tackle as a piece of cheese dangling on a hook has on a mouse looking through a hole.

“The tackle rushes at the blue-shirted ball-toter, anticipating the thrill which goes with a nice bone-crushing tackle.  Like a mouse wetting his lips for that dangling piece of cheese, he makes ready to satisfy his desire; and then suddenly the lights go out. He, like the mouse, never knows what hit him.  That’s why I call Steve here (Mal Stevens) Dr. Mousetrap himself.”

*********** Sunday night, the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Nashville Predators to win the Stanley Cup, the championship of professional hockey, for the second year in a row.  It was the first time in 19 years that a Stanley Cup winner repeated.

And then, the game over,  what followed is for me one of the great moments in sports.

Of course, the winners immediately celebrate spontaneously.  It is, after all, a very big deal.

But while they're celebrating, the losers, true to  the custom of their sport, remain on the ice.  They wait patiently, until the winners are ready for the skate-by that takes place after the final game of every playoff series.

It's not your usual post-high-school-football-game handshake though, the mandatory and insincere “nice game, nice game, nice game” walk-by that teaches our kids nothing and makes  a mockery of real sportsmanship.

It’s not like baseball, either,  where the losers are outta here, or like pro football, where  players mill around on the field while some simply duck out.

No, hockey players show the kind of mutual respect that boxers show after a tough fight.  They stop and talk with each other (some of them no doubt asking if they saw that blonde sitting behind the home team’s bench), and then move along to the next guy, and they talk, and so forth.

What they’re doing, as much is anything, is showing respect for their opponents, sure, but also for the game itself.

I can’t speak for baseball players, but it’s clear to me that there are pro football players who don’t love to play football and pro basketball players who don’t love to play basketball - probably it’s the money - but if there are guys in the NFL who don’t love to play hockey, it’s not apparent.

Then, after the teams have skated by, there’s the presentation of an individual award - just one -  the Conn Smythe Trophy.  There’s nothing like it in any other sport.  It goes to the outstanding player of the playoffs. Not the MVP of the final game.  Not the MVP of the Stanley Cup Finals.  The MVP of the entire playoffs. Every series.  This year, it went to the Penguins’ Sidney Crosby, for the second year in a row -  which ought to tell you how good a player Sidney Crosby is.

And then comes the presentation of the most famous team trophy in all of sports, the  Stanley Cup itself.  It started out like an ordinary silver bowl, but engraved on it is the name of every player from every winning team, and over the years, to make room for more  and more names, the original cup has been added to so many times that it now weighs somewhere around 40 pounds.

No matter.  One by one, in an order evidently decided on in advance, the players of the winning team hoist the cup over their heads and skate around the ice.  It’s very cool, something that a lot of very good players have spent their entire careers without experiencing, and it’s obviously very moving to these men.  As often as not, during their skate-around, players bring the trophy to their lips and give it a big smooch.  There are no known cases of serious diseases being communicated by kissing the Stanley Cup.

And then, for an entire year, the Cup belongs to the winners. Tradition has it that every member of the winning team gets to keep it for a day or so - to show it to the boys at the club, or maybe to little kids at the local school.  Players have been know to fill it with strong drink. Especially to Canadians, to folks in small towns in Saskatchewan, or Alberta, or Quebec, when one of their boys plays on a Stanley Cup winner and then gets to come home with the the Cup… there’s nothing like it.

*********** Several years ago, an Australian teacher on a visit to the US thought he’d get in a little dig when he started his talk to my seventh-grade class, saying, “I’m from Australia - you know,  the place that won the America’s Cup.”

My students looked at him with the same “WTF” look they’d have given him  if he’d just told them how many Indian rupees you could get for a dollar.

Here, his country had just won a famous international yacht race, and he and his countrymen were  understandably proud - and almost nobody  in America even knew what he was taking about.

So I laughed like hell when I read that Mexicans saw their Sunday night soccer game - sorry,  “football match” - against the US as a way to stick it to Donald Trump after  the way he’d insulted them.

“President Trump has offended us, he is threatening us with his wall,” said a guy named Mario López, who was selling sports clothes from a stand in a crowded market in Mexico City.   “If Mexico beats the United States,” he said, “Mexicans will celebrate like never before.”

Ho, hum.

As it turned out, the proud Mexican side was tied 1-1, by the Yanqui devils, so I imagine the celebration was somewhat muted.

But while a Mexican win might have brought on a celebration “like never before” South of the Border,  it would have gone largely unnoticed by the great majority of us Yankees.

About the same as if Russia had beaten us in chess, or China in table tennis.

Ho, hum.

*********** A very good high school football player, Paul Dietzel went to Duke on a football scholarship, but then World War II service called.

Serving in the Army Air Corps (now the Air Force), he qualified  to fly B-29s, and as a pilot he flew several bombing missions over Japan.

After the war, he attended Miami (of Ohio) where he was an All-American center.

He embarked in a coaching career, and served as an assistant under three legendary coaches: Sid Gllman (at Cincinnati), Bear Bryant (at Kentucky)  and Earl Blaik (at Army).

In his first head coaching job, at LSU, he won the national championship in his fourth year at the school.  He also became famous for the clever way he managed to deal with the limited substitution rules of the time: one unit, the “White Team,” was his best all-round players, the other, the Go Team,”  was made up primarily of the best remaining offensive players, and the third, made up of the best remaining defensive players, was nicknamed the “Chinese Bandits.”

One of his players, Billy Cannon, an outstanding running back, won the Heisman Trophy in 1959.

To the great surprise of the football world, he left LSU after seven seasons to become the first non-graduate to coach at the United States Military Academy (Army).

He didn’t reckon on a certain high-ranking member of the senate from Louisiana, who saw to it that he received fewer appointments to the academy than his predecessor.  After four so-so years there, he headed back south to become head coach and AD at South Carolina.  There, he built a good football program, oversaw the expansion of the stadium - and pulled the SC out of the ACC.  In addition, he left his stamp on the school by getting a new fight song (and writing the words to it) and designing the Fighting Gamecock logo still in use today.

Coach Dietzel recalls the  Chinese Bandits…

Coach Dietzel talks about his World War II experiences

Coach Dietzel also became known later in life as an accomplished artist

JOHN VERMILLION - ST. PETERSBURG, FLORIDA (I can still see, in my mind's eye, that SI cover story, "Pepsodent Paul at the Point." Later, early 70's, I used to see him on Sundays at the site of the Secession Convention, the large Baptist church in Columbia, SC, when he coached the Gamecocks. Each time I saw him at church he was wearing a white suit.)
JOE GUTILLA - AUSTIN, TEXAS (As soon as you mentioned "Chinese Bandits" I had it.  I wonder if any college coaches today would be able to get away with that name-tag?)

*********** Coach Wyatt,

Have you ever seen these interviews with Billy Cannon?  They are really great. It is in 3 parts.

Ken Hampton
Raleigh, North Carolina

Hadn’t seen them.  Great interview.  He has some great stories and he has the southerner's ability to tell them. In Part 1 he mentions the role that the Wing-T played in LSU's national championship.  My friend Mike Lude played a major part in that.

*********** Paul Dietzel was a pleasant man with a nice smile, with led to some sportswriter derisively calling him Pepsodent Paul. (Pepsodent was once a very popular brand of toothpaste.) The nickname caught on.

Clemson’s Frank Howard, the stereotype of the  crusty, crude backwoods southern redneck,  once referred to him as “Colgate Paul.”  When someone tried to correct him, he said, referring to Dietzel’s last year at Army, “Ain’t he the guy that lost to Colgate?”  

True.  1965.  Colgate 29, Army 28.

*********** QUIZ— He was 6-5, 245 as a 17-year-old college freshman.  He was huge for his time and he’d be big even today.

He is one of only two linemen ever to win the Heisman Trophy, and one of only three players to (1) win the Heisman Trophy (2) play on a national championship team and (3) be drafted first overall by the NFL in the same year.

His college teams were 36-0-2 in his four years there, and he started all four years; they won national championships in 1946, 1947 and 1949, and finished second in 1948.

In his eight-year NFL career, he played on three NFL championship teams. In Detroit!

He was extremely versatile. He played offensive end (now called tight end), defensive end and fullback.

In 1951, he was All-Pro on offense and defense.

In 1956, he rushed for 612 yards and five touchdowns, intercepted four passes, and returned two fumbles for touchdowns.  And he returned eight kicks.

He is a member of both the College Football Hall of Fame and the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

american flag FRIDAY,  JUNE 9,  2017  - “The smallest good deed is better than the best intention” John Wooden

*********** When I first heard the news of Bob Stoops’ retiring, the strange timing of it made me immediately think that there must be some bad news coming next.  But when OU followed right up with the announcement that Coach Stoops’ successor would be the current offensive coordinator -  well, schools don’t do that if a head coach is leaving under a cloud.

More likely, it seems to me, is that he figured it’s better to go on his own terms, when he’s still relatively young,  than to wait until the day when they get tired of him, as usually happens;  and doing it at this point, with spring ball behind them, he was in a position, it seems,  to name his successor.  Not many coaches get to do that.

A few people have commented on his being only 58, but in looking back over the years, a surprising number  of really good coaches got out of the game before they turned 60:

Bobby Dodd (58), Dana X. Bible (55), Bill McCartney (54), Dutch Meyer (54),  Darrell Royal (52), Ara Parseghian (51), Paul Dietzel (51), Frank Broyles (51), Bud Wilkinson (47), Frank Leahy (45) 

Earl Blaik was 61 and Tom Osborne was 60 when they retired.

Bud Wilkinson did come back after several years in retirement to coach the NFL St. Louis Cardinals, but it didn’t work out well.

*********** Thought you’d like this.  It’s from legendary Illinois coach Bob Zuppke’s book, “Coaching Football” (1930)
Zuppke Bison

It looks a lot like today’s Pistol, run from a Double-Wing. 

Note, though, that while the “QB” (that was “Zupp's” fullback) is right in the middle of the formation, he’s NOT back of center.  It’s an unbalanced line to the right ("Toronto"), and the center has to make his snap at an angle.

In our terminology it would be "Toronto Bison."

(It is definitely NOT a "T" formation as the term has come to be used, with the QB under center.)

*********** D-Day’s behind us, but with all the talk about today’s football-averse kids, I thought you’d like this short clip of legendary Auburn coach Ralph “Shug” Jordan (pronounced "JERR-din"), a veteran of the D-Day invasion,  telling how  football helped him on that day…

*********** Hi Hugh,

I have found the open wing play book stuff terrific and there is so much there for coaches to work with. But most importantly your willingness to post it with out charge is generous beyond words. My only regret is that I am not coaching but believe me I am certain if I had had this stuff instead of the two state titles we won in four tries we would have gotten another for sure. The combination of the DW and spread offense is an absolute monster and will give defensive coaches nightmares.

It sure has been a heck of ride and as I look back on it now how much fun it would have been if could have found college program to do some of this DW offense. Nothing is certain but my guess is that we should have been very successful.

I am having a knee replaced June 9th and turned 70 on May 24th so I turned down a chance to coach another season at Marshwood. The age was not the issue but I would have missed all of the summer camps and workouts and felt it was not fair to just show up at the start of the season. It would have been fun just not in the cards.

All my best to the family and thanks again for sharing your knowledge.

Jack Tourtillotte
Rangely, Maine

*********** My head coach, Todd Bridge, has accepted the position of athletic director at Elma, Washington, a school roughly four times the size of North Beach. 

Elma, about an hour east of Ocean Shores, is a nice little town with a good sports tradition.

Todd’s dad, Steve,  was the AD back in 1999 when my Washougal team opened the season there.  Here’s what I wrote afterwards…

If there's such a thing as having a good experience when you lose, I guess you could say I had one on Friday night. We opened on the road in Elma, Washington, a logging town about 2-1/2 hours' ride to the north. I must confess to having a great deal of trepidation when I took the job at Washougal, Washington,  then learned that we had to open at Elma, a town with a proud football tradition (state AA champions in 1997, runners-up last year) and a following that any team would be proud to have. It is not the sort of opponent you would normally choose for your first game with a brand-new team. But visiting there, it was clear I was in a town where football was important. I got the sense of playing somewhere in Texas: the facilities were first-rate, and AD Steve Bridge did a great job of accommodating his visitors. The fans started filling the large stadium an hour before game time, and with a half-hour to go until kickoff it was packed, while a long line of people still waited to buy tickets. The fans were loud and rabid but not abusive, and appreciative of the football played by both teams. Their team, the Elma Eagles, was well-coached, as you might expect, and they played the hard-nosed football typical of logging towns. Unlike a lot of teams nowadays, though, they went about their jobs in a workmanlike, sportsmanlike fashion, keeping their mouths shut and playing football. Elma is a class act. We stung them with 14 early points and two early goal-line stands, but, playoff-seasoned, they never lost their poise. They just kept coming at us, finally defeating us 28-14. Their QB, an athletic 6-3, 220-pound junior named Kyle Basler, is a good-looking prospect. We held him somewhat - 175 yards on 22 completions in 32 attempts - but he threw for two scores and he ran for 75 yards. The loss notwithstanding, it was an encouraging opener for our kids. Overall, we played well. The kids competed, and the Lord watched over us and no one got hurt.  

Todd himself was an AD several years ago, and I think these last six years as a head football coach will make him twice the AD he was before.

One challenge he faces: A few years ago, Elma’s all-wood stadium was condemned and had to be torn down, and since then, with rebuilding stalled because the field’s  been declared to be in a flood plain,  they’ve had to make do with temporary bleachers.

*********** A coach wrote me, “It is interesting that Landry and Lombardi were both on the same team.  It was a small world in the days of early pro football.”

I had to respond.  

I would point out that those were not "early days."  The NFL had been in operation for 30 years. College football had been played for nearly 90 years.

Our game was not invented in the year 2000.

It certainly is no reflection on the coach. In a nation whose teaching of its own history is abysmal, it’s somebody’s job to teach football history, and I’m glad to do my share.

He asked me if there were any books I'd recommend and here's what I worte...

For someone who’d like to get serious about the game and its history, I’d suggest starting way back.

"The History of American Football," by Allison Danzig is a classic.  Get this - it was published in 1956 - the time of Landry and Lombardi and the Giants.  There’s been a lot of toolbar since then, but it’s a big book, and there’s an awful lot of football in there.  I don’t know that you’d call it a “good read” but I go back to it, over and over.

Also by Allison Danzig, “Oh How They Played the Game,” is a good read, lots of stories from different times in the past.

"Great College Football Coaches of the Twenties and Thirties” by Tim Cohane is great.  Obviously there are great differences between then  and now, but I’m always struck by the resemblances.

***********  Hugh,

More news from USA Football... the self-declared (supported by NFL $$$) governing body of youth football in America.

Can't wait to hear your take on it.

Joe Gutilla
Austin, Texas

(Read the article, and then my response below may make some sense)


In terms of what’s happening to our game,  it does make some sense.  A little.

Given the increasing wussification of our boys and the attacks on our game by all sorts of people, some of them well-meaning, I think that the days of football in its current form are numbered.

It’s not going to happen overnight.  It didn’t happen to boxing or horse racing overnight.  But it did.  With the exception of one or two events a year, those sports, once among the top two or three in popularity, are now as good as dead.

But given that it’s not necessarily a bad idea, I’m agin it for one big reason: it’s being pushed by USA Football, which means the NFL is in there somewhere.

The fact that this has been developed and is being promoted by an organization  that has had the hubris to call itself our sport's “governing body” immediately puts me on guard.  Unquestionably, this is another step by USA Football toward the day when it actually grows into its preposterous claim.  Who knows? The long-range thinking may be that one day this will be the only form of football that everybody other than the NFL will play.

Under the cloak of “making football safer,” this would appear to be a thinly-disguised move to push aside Pop Warner and hundreds of locally-controlled youth football organizations, and bring youth football in the United States under the umbrella of one centralized body. The NFL - er, USA Football.

To help them push their agenda, they employ their Judas Goats, well-known former high school, college and pro coaches retained (I doubt that any of them works for free) to assure the rest of us proles that these are really, really nifty things that those great people at USA Football are doing for us.

Arrogant?  Considering the way football evolved - still evolves - over almost a century and a half, from the time when Walter Camp dragged it away from rugby, what else but arrogance would you call it when someone delivers to us this brand-new modification of the game in “perfect as-is” ready-to-play form.  Here it is.  It’s good for you.  This is how you will play.  Eat your vegetables.

And if you insist on continuing to play that old, crude, dangerous game you’ve been playing for years, why - you must be in favor of injuring children

I do have a few questions:

Where is the evidence that a two-point stance is safer?  By that reasoning, couldn’t they improve player safety in baseball by requiring longer bats, so that batters could move farther back from the plate?  Wouldn’t hockey be safer if they slowed things down - got rid of those skates, and played on gym mats?

Actually, that was several questions.  So back to my list.

Is it still a football game if there's no kicking?

Are people going to support it if it doesn’t even look like a football game?

How long before they bring out the  flags and do away with tackling?

Will this open the doors to a return to Rugby?

Would we even be having this conversation if they still allowed kids to play Smear the Queer at recess?

*********** Trust my wife to think of something that hadn’t even occurred to me, but she may be onto this Rookie Football business.

I told her about the two-point stance and the no kicking plays and she immediately asked, “Is it going to be coed?”


*********** Right on the heels of the big announcement that several NBA teams will be “fielding” eSports teams competing in video basketball comes the exciting news that we’ll soon be able to watch lots of  (1) Professional Rugby Sevens and (2) Professional 3-on-3 basketball.

Combine that with the news that USA Football (our sport’s “Governing Body,” in case you didn’t know) plans to force something called  “Rookie Football” on us, and it’s soon going to be hard to find a sport that’s recognizable.

*********** Mister McCloskey died last week.  That was Jack McCloskey, identified in the abbreviated obituaries we see nowadays as the architect of the great Pistons’ “Bad Boys” teams.  He was 91.

I first knew him as “Mister McCloskey,” my seventh grade PE teacher at Germantown Academy.

I was new to the school, fresh out of public schools, and I’d never had a male teacher. Now, suddenly, every one of my teachers was a man.  Cool.

Mr. McCloskey had just been hired as the varsity basketball coach, and an assistant football coach, and I guess he got stuck with the middle school PE assignment.

He was a great “roll out the ball” PE teacher, which I loved.  In the fall, we played touch football, and in the winter we played basketball.

We had a lot of fun.  I think he liked me because I loved sports and when it came time for basketball he made me a team captain. I named my team the Nuggets. I was quite a sports fan then; I read every sports magazine I could get my hands on. And back then, there was actually a team out West called the Denver Nuggets.  Not in the NBA, like our Philadelphia Warriors.  As a result, nobody else in our school except me and Mister McCloskey had ever heard of them. I got some grief (guys called us the “Nougats”) but he and I knew.

He only lasted one year there, and then he moved on to Collingswood, New Jersey High, a big suburban school. At the time,  not knowing how poorly small private schools paid, I couldn’t believe  he would leave a place like GA.

By 1956, he was the head basketball coach at Penn.

Probably would have stayed there a long time, too,  but in 1966, when his team won the Ivy League championship, his AD pulled a power move and prevented the team from going to the NCAA tournament, and after putting up a long fight and losing, McCloskey resigned and took the head coaching job at Wake Forest.

He stayed at Wake until he left in 1972 to become head coach of the Portland Trail Blazers.  He spent two years there, then after being fired went to the Lakers as an assistant to Jerry West.

He left the Lakers to become GM of the Detroit Pistons, and over the next 13 years, through clever drafting and trading - and the hiring of another former Penn coach, Chuck Daly, to coach his team - he built an NBA powerhouse.

He was one hard-nosed Irishman.  Came out of Mahanoy City, Pennsylvania, once a bustling mining town in the heart of the state’s hard-coal region.

A three-sport star in high school, he went to Penn, then a football powerhouse, and played a year of football, basketball and baseball before World War II called and he joined the Navy.

Following the war, he played a little minor league baseball, then returned to Penn to get his degree.

And then, there was basketball. High school coaching. And the Eastern League.  For at least four years, while he was coaching high school basketball, he would leave right after practice and drive, along with several other high school coaches,  for two ofr three hours to one town or another in Eastern Pennsylvania to play in an Eastern League game. Following the game, they’d drive home, arriving in the early hours,  and get up the next morning and teach  school and coach.

They were young, they were tough - they were all World War II vets - and they were passionate about the game of basketball.  And with the money that high school teacher/coaches made, the few bucks they earned playing basketball helped out.

One of Jack McCloskey’s teammates on the Sunbury Mercuries, one of the guys who carpooled with him, was Jack Ramsay - Doctor Jack, who would go on to NBA coaching greatness.

Jack McCloskey was the best of the bunch. An article in the Sunbury Daily Item in 2009 recalled: “Officials voted Mercuries player Jack McCloskey the league MVP for two consecutive seasons, 1953 and 1954. He continued his career in basketball playing, coaching, and managing in the NBA. Former Portland Trailblazers coach and Hall of Famer Jack Ramsay also played for the Mercuries.”

Back to Mister McCloskey.  In one PE touch football game I took a shot to the head and got up woozy.  All I got out of him was “Shake it off, Wyatt.”

Another time, we were screwing off at the start of class, and he decided to put a quick end to it. For the entire period, we did pushups, sit-ups, up-downs, squat-jumps and squat-thrusts.  Beat the crap out of us.

The next day, when we showed up complaining about how sore we were, his sympathetic response was “That’s because you’re not in shape.”

Try that with some of today’s PE classes, where half the kids choose to sit in the stands rather than take part in the class - and there’s not a damn thing you can do about it.

Hard-nosed he was.  But a standup guy all the way.

Said Stan Pawlak, an honorable mention All-American at Penn in 1966,  “Everyone you talk to will say this. When you met him, he shook your hand and made an impression upon you that you’ll probably never forget. You knew he was an honest man.”

*********** If you watched the NFL in 1969, you’ll remember this music…

Sent me by Don Shipley…

*********** Great football story: Steve Largent and Mike Harden…


JOE GUTILLA - AUSTIN, TEXAS - The first of what I call the icons of the MLB position of that era in pro football. Bill George, Sam Huff, Ray Nitschke, Dick Butkus, Joe Schmidt, Jack Lambert, and Willie Lanier.

*********** Sam Huff was born in a small West Virginia mining town and played his high school ball in the slightly larger town of Farmington.

In college, he was an outstanding lineman on both offense and defense.

A third round NFL draft pick by the Giants in 1956, he happened to be in the right place at the right time when the team’s defensive coordinator, Tom Landry, came looking for a middle linebacker for his new 4-3 defense.

Huff  won the starting job as a rookie and held it until he was traded by the team. 

The press made a big deal of his “duels” with the Browns’ Jim Brown.

He was the biggest name on what was undoubtedly the first really famous NFL defense.  In fact, he was almost certainly the best-known defensive player in the game.  Part of the reason was that he played in  New York, the media capital, and part was an extremely popular  TV special (“The Violent World of Sam Huff”)  in which he was miked up during a game.  It was  a revolutionary concept at the time, and it gave football fans a look at the inside of the game that they’d never had before.   And it brought him great fame - far greater, some argued, than his play on the field called for.

Those were great Giant defenses - Andy Robustelli, Jim Katkavage, Rosey Grier and Dick Modzelewski were the linemen - and  considering that the idea of the 4-3 was to keep blockers off the middle linebacker, there was a feeling among many of the defenders, especially the linemen,  that Huff received inordinate credit

Pro football coaches are notorious copycats, and the  spread of the 4-3 defense throughout the NFL meant the emergence of some great middle linebackers: Bill George and then Dick Butkus of the Bears, Joe Schmidt of the Lions, Ray Nitschke of the Packers.  Bill  George was once asked what he thought of a proposed movie about the career of Sam Huff, and he said, “They’d have to get Joe Schmidt to play him.”

Nevertheless, Huff was all-pro for four years, and named to the NFL Team of the Decade.

In 1964, he was traded to the Redskins, and he played four seasons there before retiring after the 1967 season.

He was coaxed out of retirement for one more season by Vince Lombardi when he took over the Skins in 1969.

*********** QUIZ - A very good high school football player, he went to Duke on a football scholarship, but then World War II service called.

Serving in the Army Air Corps (now the Air Force), he qualified  to fly B-29s, and as a pilot he flew several bombing missions over Japan.

After the war, he attended Miami (of Ohio) where he was an All-American center.

He embarked on a coaching career, and served as an assistant under three legendary college coaches: Sid Gllman, Bear Bryant and Earl Blaik.

In his first head coaching job, he won the national championship in his fourth year at the school.  He also became famous for the clever way he managed to deal with the limited substitution rules of the time: one unit, the “White Team,” was his best all-round players, the other, the "Go Team,”  was made up primarily of the best remaining offensive players, and the third, made up of the best remaining defensive players, was nicknamed the “Chinese Bandits.”

One of his players, an outstanding running back, won the Heisman Trophy.

To the great surprise of the football world, he left there after seven seasons to become the first non-graduate to coach at the United States Military Academy.

After four so-so years there, he headed back south to become head coach and AD at an ACC school.  There, he built a good football program, and as AD he oversaw the expansion of the stadium - and pulled the school out of the ACC.  In addition, he left his stamp on the school by adopting a new fight song (and writing the words to it) and designing the Fighting Gamecock logo it still uses today.

american flag TUESDAY,  JUNE 6,  2017  - "The longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth, That God governs in the affairs of men."  Benjamin Franklin

*********** Everything about the new dog food led to predictions of big sales.  But the product still flopped.


Simple.  The damn dogs didn’t like it.

Last fall, a whole lot of hoopla accompanied the news that football players at Oregon and Washington were being outfitted with a new helmet produced by a Seattle startup company called Vicis.  The helmet, known as the Zero1, was said to be able to greatly reduce head trauma by employing the same energy-absorbing principles as an automobile bumper.

No more than a week into the experiment, though,  both Pac-12 programs gave up on Old Zero.

The reason?

Discomfort.  Certainly not to call college football players “damn dogs,” but… they didn’t like it.

Several Oregon players pointed to knots on their foreheads, knots they said had come from the helmets.

One said he’d experienced a migraine headache from the pressure of the helmet;  another said it made him feel "nauseous."

Even before the company and the school decided to call it quits, several Oregon players had already gone back to using their old helmets.

But now, 10 months later,  comes news that the NFL is testing out the ZERO1 in its minicamps.

If you’re a high school or youth coach - look out.

You realize, don’t you, that if it ever gets to the point where the NFL (and of course, the NFLPA, which appears to have veto power over any such matters) decide to cover their asses by requiring  all players to wear the Vicis Zero1 helmet, it’s all over for us?

(“Moms - ask your son’s coach if he’s USA Football-certified.  Also if the team has those new Vicis Zero1 helmets. And if not, ask him why not?”)

That $1500 for helmet  is scary, isn’t it?   I know, I know - with mass production and all that, they’ll surely  get that  price tag down a bit.  But how big a bit?   What if they’re able to  cut that price in half?  Whoopee-do. Now it’s only $750.  How long do you think you can keep your program going at $750 a helmet?

Actually, this may all be academic anyhow.  At the rate that youth football participation is declining, the day may not be far off when even at $750 a helmet, there will still be more than enough helmets on hand for  the few  kids turning out for football.




*********** Outstanding News today (Friday). The advice given to the coach at the downtrodden program was very thought provoking to me. Today I think it only takes a year for even the most sound program to begin a negative culture change. I sincerely believe that we are all in a battle to preserve football at our schools.


John Bothe
Oregon, Illinois

Thanks, Coach -

Negative culture change?  You wouldn’t believe what’s happened at the place where I’ve been assisting for the past six years.  Nine years ago I was the HC there, then after two years off I came back to help the new HC, who’d been my middle school HC.  It worked out well - it took us two losing seasons to get things going,  and then we went 7-3, 10-1 and 9-1, with two straight undefeated regular seasons. It was the first time in school history that the football program had had three straight winning seasons.  We won a number of academic awards and a sportsmanship award from the local officials’ association.  In 2014 and 2015 we were ranked in the top five in the state in our class.

Last year we fell off to 4-6, but more significant than the record,  we could see things changing. First of all, our two superintendents (yes, they shared the job) finally decided to hang it up.  They were really good supporters of sports, a major reason why I first took a job at Ocean Shores, and they haven’t been replaced.  True, someone else was given the job and someone else sits in the office, but I couldn’t tell you who it is.  They tell me it’s a woman.

So in place of a pair of guys who were so supportive and involved that they once actually ran our practice for an hour or so while we underwent  first aid training, we got a phantom superintendent who never came out of her office.

On the field, the underclassmen were immature, and with numbers down, we found ourselves having to deal with issues we wouldn’t even have tolerated in the past. We encouraged the kids to use this off-season to get stronger, but rather than do anything to improve themselves as football players (wrestle or lift), a large number of them were quite content simply to sit on the bench on the JV basketball team.   There were only six boys on the school wrestling team, five of them upperclass football players. Several of the kids who were enrolled in the head football coach’s  weight training class transferred out so they could play basketball in PE instead.

Some of them announced - almost boasted -  that they’re not going play football because it’s “not fun.” (Translation: it’s too tough.)

There are only 100 boys in the school, so if (as administrators like to say) there were potential football players “walking the halls,” we’d certainly be aware of them. Those who pass the eyeball test have significant academic or behavioral issues or suffer from chronic laziness.

Our new  superintendent  moved here from the Seattle area and has no idea how hard it is  in our remote location to find assistant coaches.  And rather than do something to help, she ramrodded through the school board - without soliciting input - a requirement that any volunteer coach must undergo an "FBI criminal background check which includes fingerprints” - at their own expense.  

This is in addition to all the other assorted state requirements (First Aid/CPR, Heads Up, Bullying, blah, blah, blah).

Our HC finally had enough and handed in his resignation last  Wednesday.  Less than two days later, the job vacancy was already posted on the Internet.  That’s the fastest anything has happened in the nine years I’ve been associated with the place.

If I hadn’t seen this very sort of thing happen to other coaches in other parts of the country, good coaches  who worked hard to build strong programs only to see them rot, I’d think there was something wrong with us.

But what I say to any of you guys experiencing this is - it’s not you.

This is today’s entitlement society.  This is the America in which  youngsters  don’t have to work for anything.  This is the America in which  youngsters would rather be handed  the trophy without have to compete for it, and would rather play the game with a console instead of with head, heart and hands.

*********** A MEMO SENT OUT BY THE NORTH BEACH HIGH SCHOOL AD - This is school board policy passed at the last board meeting.


1. Anyone who is not a current employee of the school with an opportunity for one-on-one contact with a student in the school setting is a volunteer. This person must have a WSP background check which includes fingerprints. The volunteer is responsible for any fees ($7). The paper work can be picked up at the high school, and be completed at the Hoquiam PD. This would include volunteers working for a track meet, chain gang at football, concession workers, etc. Score clock operators and ticket takers are district employees and will be checked through the application process.

2. All volunteer coaches must also complete an FBI criminal background check which includes fingerprints. The volunteer is responsible for any fees ($53). A coach is someone who works with the student at practices/games.

3. All volunteer and new coaches for the high school must complete CPR and WIAA online clinics. This is required by the WIAA. They must further complete the NFHS online clinics and confidentiality and professionalism paper work.

This means, essentially, an end to  our policy of having recent graduates come out and help us in spring and in the pre-season.  These were kids who’ve played two, three or four years under us, who know exactly what our standards are and have more than met them; kids whom we’ve written recommendations for  and now are ready to handle some responsibility while under the supervision of a paid coach. For a lot of good kids, it’s a significant line on their resumes. Maybe some of them will be inspired to go off to college and become coaches some day. 

FBI check?  Give me a break.  These kids live in a small, remote town which they’ve never left  for any significant amount of time, so if they’ve ever done anything that would  disqualify them from working with high school players, many of whom were their teammates just a year or two before, everybody in town would know about it - long before the FBI ever did.

Attention new head coach: good luck finding volunteer coaches at North Beach High School.

*********** Just read your article on Curt Warner. I had the privilege (agony?) of coaching against Curt all the years he was at Pineville High School. I coached 35 years in both WV and VA and, without question, Curt was the best running back I ever saw. As a senior at Pineville (14 miles away and bitter rivals), Curt scored every way one could score except through a safety and field goal. Curt got a some criticism for not attending WVU but Penn State and Coach Paterno proved best for him, I think. During the few times Curt was home during his tenure at Penn State, Curt came and spoke to our players on more than one occasion and was one of the most personable young men I ever met. I was aware of the struggle Curt and his wife had raising their children. In short, Curt Warner was not only a great football player, but a a better human being and parent to his children and a husband to his wife. I will remember him always. Thank you for your news, of which I have been a regular for years.
John C. Harris
Oceana (WV) High School
Magna Vista (VA) High School

Coach Harris,

I really appreciate your taking the time to write and share your experiences with Curt Warner.

He’s a great person and a great representative of the Mountain State. (Which, by the way, has turned out way more than its share of top coaches (Fielding Yost, Greasy Neale, Ben Schwartzwalder, John McKay, Rich Rodriguez, Jimbo Fisher, Nick Saban).

Please tell me if I missed any.

I also appreciate your reading my news and I hope I can keep your interest!

*********** Hugh,

Curt Warner's story is quite something.  Thanks for sharing.  His wife's and his resilience is incredible because of their unconditional love for their children.  He is truly a man's man.

Portland, OR and Austin, TX.  Even though both are considered weird I'll take Austin over Portland.

Quiz answer:  That would be Julius Caesar "J.C." Watts.  Despite his choices early in his life he found a way to make himself a better man, and become a leader many thought he couldn't be.

Have a great weekend!

Joe Gutilla
Austin, Texas


Glad you enjoyed the article on Curt Warner.  He really is an admirable man, isn’t he?

I’ll take Portland because of the climate. (I hate hot weather and I hate humidity.)

Otherwise, I’d take Austin, because while it may be weird, you don’t have to go far in any direction  to find yourself surrounded by normal people.

*********** If you’re a football coach, hang in there.  Build your coaching resume.   One of these days, you’re going to cash in.

Men  - guys with good jobs and businesses and families are paying good money to to attend “boot camps.” 

There, the guys are subjected to the sort of rigorous physical demands and hardship - and, as it’s defined today, verbal abuse - that once, when nearly every able-bodied man either served in the military or played football (or both), was taken for granted as something you routinely did in order to advance in a male culture.

One organization called “Warrior Week” charges guys $10,000 each for the privilege of being out through five days and five nights of what sounds as times like basic training, and at other times like two-a-days.

They lift weights, they run, they work together as a team, and they engage in hand-to-hand combat.  They have to fight for one-minute rounds.

“We teach them how to be a man,” says the founder of Warrior Week, a guy named Garrett White.


“Women are leading across the board,” he told the New York Post.  “In business and at home . . . and living more powerfully than men today. And that’s causing complete chaos for men.”

Mr. White has a point.

Girls and women are urged to compete, to excel:  “You go, girl!”  “Lean in!” And so forth.  Boys, meanwhile, are  told to sit still. Not to fight. Not to choose sides.  Not to play dodgeball.  And certainly not to play - gasp! - Smear the Queer. The univeral sport for little boys? Soccer.

What does this produce?  A society of less-than-masculine males who either cut out on the mothers of their children or, almost as bad, stick around while allowing the mothers to raise the little boys,  shielding them from the dangers of being little boys and emasculating them in the process. 

Football?  Oh, no.  Not my son.

That’s where we come in, guys - making money by making men.  Maybe it's not too late.



Five days of morning and afternoon sessions… jogging… jumping jacks… push-ups… running around cones… relay races… pushing huge sleds with four other guys… flipping truck tires…  blocking and tackling… evening pep talks… real coaches screaming at you... and, on the fifth day - playing in a real football game!

Just like the ones you could have played in on Friday nights back  when you were in high school, but Mom wouldn’t let you!

Go back home and (after the soreness goes away) walk around town in your CAMP DOUBLE-DAY letterman's jacket, just like you wish you could have back in high school!

Register now!  Just  $5,000 - that's only $1,000 a day - Half the price of other camps!

*********** The 1951 Pittsburgh Steelers were the last team to run the single wing in the NFL.

Not in any way to disparage a great offense, but it’s no wonder.  That team's offense sucked.

They rushed 425 times for 1428 yards - a puny 3.36 yards per rush.

Passing? A total of five different passers  completed just 130 of 330 (39%) for 1842 yards  (surprisingly, for a single wing team, that’s more yards passing than rushing).

Their stats give them away as a single wing team: although their top rusher was the fullback, Fran Rogel, the next four rushers  were Lynn Chandnois, Joe Geri and Chuck Ortmann -  who happened also to be their top passers.

Rogel,  the fullback, who did a lot of running between the tackles.  Between the guards, really. At one point, making fun of the predictability of the Steelers’ offense under John Michelson’s successor, Walt Kiesling,  Pittsburgh sportswriter Bob Drum wrote that the first play of every game could be reduced to a little poem : “Hey diddle, diddle - Rogel up the middle!”

Pittsburgh fans, who hated the play-calling but loved Rogel,  soon began singing the ditty at Steelers' games.

*********** J.C. Watts’ given name was Julius Caesar Watts.  He was an outstanding high school quarterback in Eufala, Oklahoma, who overcame some early poor decisions in high school - he fathered two children by two different girls - and in college - he twice quit the team at Oklahoma - to become an outstanding wishbone quarterback during the Sooners’ heyday.  But he didn’t just run the ball and run the bone.  Recalled Barry Switzer in his book, “Bootlegger’s Boy,” “J. C Watts was the best passer I ever had at Oklahoma until Troy Aikman in 1985.”

He played five years of pro football in Canada, at Ottawa and Toronto.  After he retired he became a Baptist minister and went on to serve three terms in Congress as a Republican.


JERRY LOVELL - BELLEVUE, NEBRASKA - The man was in a long line of OU quarterbacks who absolutely crushed the dreams of Cornhusker fans in the 70s and 80s.   A great man, in my opinion, who didn't rise high enough in politics.

*********** QUIZ - He was born in a small West Virginia mining town and played his high school ball in the slightly larger town of Farmington.

In college, he was an outstanding lineman on both offense and defense.

A third round NFL draft pick in 1956, he happened to be in the right place at the right time when the team’s defensive coordinator, Tom Landry, came looking for a middle linebacker for his new 4-3 defense.

He won the starting job as a rookie and held it until he was traded by the team eight years later. 

He became the biggest name on what was undoubtedly the first really famous NFL defense.  In fact, he was almost certainly the best-known defensive player in the game at the time.  Part of the reason was the big city he played in, and part was a network TV special featuring him and his "violent world" in which he was miked up during a game.   It brought him great fame - far greater, some argued, than his play on the field warranted.

Not that he wasn't very good:  he was all-pro for four years, and he was named to the NFL Team of the Decade.

The press made a big deal of his “duels” with the Browns’ Jim Brown.

In 1964, he was traded to the Redskins, and he played four seasons there before retiring after the 1967 season.

He was coaxed out of retirement for one more season by Vince Lombardi when he took over the Skins in 1969.

american flag FRIDAY,  JUNE 2,  2017  - "It is hard to imagine a more stupid or more dangerous way of making decisions than by putting those decisions in the hands of people who pay no price for being wrong."  Dr. Thomas Sowell

*********** Curt Warner - the running back, not the quarterback - has been a favorite of mine for a long time. Most of my life I’ve been a Penn State fan - used to be, anyhow, before they decided to bury Joe Paterno before the man was even dead - and Curt Warner played a major role in Penn State’s climb to the top of college football.

I admired the fact that he came from a tiny town in southern West Virginia, the only black kid in his town, and was all-state in three sports.

I admired that fact that he and quarterback Todd Blackledge, a white guy, roomed together, before that was an accepted thing.

I liked the fact that he came to Seattle to play for the Seahawks, back before I got sick of them.

And I liked it when he bought a nearby Chevrolet dealership and built a home in our town.

I stopped over to meet and greet him...
I spent a few minutes yesterday talking with our area's newest Chevrolet dealer in his showroom. He's Curt Warner, new owner of Curt Warner Chevrolet in Vancouver, Washington. He's the same Curt Warner who not so long ago played running back for the Seahawks and Rams, and before that, played on Penn State's 1982 National Championship team, finishing in the top ten in that year's Heisman Trophy balloting. I noted that, like my kids, he was a small-town guy (Pineville, West Virginia), and I also noted that he was a three-sport athlete in high school, earning all-state mention two years in a row in football, basketball and baseball. He is opposed to one-sport specialization, feeling that college is time enough to decide which sport to concentrate on. Curt Warner, on his way to a successful career in business, is an excellent example of the "scholar-athlete" the NCAA likes to brag about.

That was written back in 1999.  I invited him to come to our big game and toss the coin.  He obliged, and received a nice ovation from the crowd.

Quite a guy, eh?

Wait until you read about the kind of man Curt Warner really is…

*********** A recent incident, horrible by any standards, has the liberals in Portland tied in knots.

It happened on MAX, the local name for the light-rail (glorified trolley) service, a heavily taxpayer-subsidized  way of forcing decent, law-abiding citizens to sit much closer than they would prefer to creatures they’d ordinarily cross the street to avoid.

One such creature was riding a MAX train last week, guzzling wine (it appears to have been sangria)  from a bag, ranting about something or other, when he turned his attention to two young black ladies seated nearby.  One of them was wearing a burkha, which evidently the guy felt gave him license to begin insulting them and their religion, etc.

The guy was loud and abusive, to the point where, by witnesses’ accounts,  a few other guys on the train tried to “intervene” on behalf of the ladies.  I have yet to learn what the “intervention” consisted of, but evidently the churlish creature took offense, whipping out a knife and slashing their throats.

He then fled the train, but was captured shortly after by Portland police as he ranted and raved, the story goes, about what he’d just done.

Meanwhile, two of his victims lay dead. The third managed to survive, with a slash from chin to ear.

The liberal politicians (in Portland, that’s an oxymoron) and the liberal reporters (an oxymoron everywhere) dusted off their prepared speeches and columns, the ones they’d written in advance for just such an incident.

Some reached into the Hate Crime file.

Hmmm.  Maybe.  At first glance, it certainly had all the appearances.  It’s certainly not right to be openly insulting others, based on religion or whatever.  But it still may have been protected speech.  After all, he didn’t attack the girls, the ones at whom his venom was directed.  And maybe the “intervention” was enough to cause the guy to feel threatened to the point where felt he had to use a knife.

Others dove into their Gun-Control files.

But wait -  the fact that  there are 300 million firearms in America and this guy  didn’t have one would make it seem as if Oregon’s gun control laws were working.

Maybe it was Trump - and all the hatred associated with Trump and his followers.

Nope.   Guy was a Bernie supporter.  Damn. In fact, he’d been chased out of a recent Trump rally by Trump supporters, uncomfortable with some of the things he’d been saying.  The police told them it wasn’t a good idea to keep up the chase because he was dangerous.

Hey - how about Tolerance and Inclusion?

Well.  Here’s where the libs get hoist by their own petard - the guy’s homeless - said he has been  for at least 12 years.

You talk about tolerance - the Homeless, in Portland, are like cattle on the streets of New Delhi -  sacred and protected. They can sleep wherever they want, panhandle wherever they want, crap wherever they want.

And as neutered as the Portland police have become, if a cop had been sitting on that train minutes before the knifings and had heard what was going on - and then learned that the guy was homeless...  he’d have advised everyone else to get off the train - and he’d have gotten off himself.

The community, understandably, is horrified by the gruesome crime and the murder of two good Samaritans.  But the pols and the media feel useless.  With no overarching cause to tie the killings to, they’re left to report on makeshift memorials and candlelight vigils.

Such a sin to let a tragedy like that go to waste.

Looks like they’re going to have to go back to old-fashioned journalism and blame this one on the person who did it - an ugly, evil person who shouldn’t have been anywhere near decent people.  Oh, wait - I forgot.  He’s homeless.

*********** Way too soon to forget Frank DeFord, who died this week.

In fact, I’ve gone back to re-read some of the stuff he wrote about people like George Halas, Billy Conn, and Bill Russell.
His great achievement may have been becoming the only writer who could truly take us behind the facade which the notoriously private Russell used to shield his life from the public.

Some excerpts from the Russell article, much of it based on a 1999 interview which took place while they were driving from Seattle to Oakland…

Of course, genuine achievement is everywhere devalued these days. On the 200th anniversary of his death, George Washington has been so forgotten that they're toting his false teeth around the republic, trying to restore interest in the Father of Our Country with a celebrity-style gimmick. So should we be surprised that one spectacular show-off dunk on yesterday's highlight reel counts for more than some ancient decade's worth of championships back-before-Larry&Magic-really-invented-the-sport-of-basketball?

Tommy Heinsohn, who played with Russell for nine years and won 10 NBA titles himself, as player and coach, sums it up best: "Look, all I know is, the guy won two NCAA championships, 50-some college games in a row, the ['56] Olympics, then he came to Boston and won 11 championships in 13 years, and they named a f------ tunnel after Ted Williams." By that standard, only a cathedral on a hill deserves to have Bill Russell's name attached to it.


What do you remember your father telling you, Bill?

"Accept responsibility for your actions.... Honor thy father and mother.... If they give you $10 for a day's work, you give them $12 worth in return."

Even more clearly, Russell recalls the gritty creed his mother gave him when he was a little boy growing up in segregation and the Depression in West Monroe, La. Katie said, "William, you are going to meet people who just don't like you. On sight. And there's nothing you can do about it, so don't worry. Just be yourself. You're no better than anyone else, but no one's better than you."


His grandfather Jake was of the family's first generation born free on this continent. When this fading century began, Jake Russell was trying to scratch out a living with a mule. The Klan went after him because even though he couldn't read or write a lick, he led a campaign to raise money among the poor blacks around West Monroe to build a schoolhouse and pay a teacher to educate their children at a time when the state wouldn't have any truck with that.

At the other end of Jake's life, in 1969, he went over to Shreveport, La., to see the Celtics play an exhibition. By then his grandson had become the first African-American coach in a major professional sport. Jake sat with his son, Charlie, watching Bill closely during timeouts. He wasn't quite sure what he was seeing; Celtics huddles could be terribly democratic back then. It was before teams had a lot of assistants with clipboards. Skeptically Jake asked his son, "He's the boss?" Charlie nodded.

Jake took that in. "Of the white men too?"

"The white men too."

Jake just shook his head. After the game he went into the decrepit locker room, which had only one shower for the whole team. The Celtics were washing up in pairs, and when Jake arrived, Sam Jones and John Havlicek were in the shower, passing the one bar of soap back and forth--first the naked black man, then the naked white man stepping under the water spray. Jake watched, agape. Finally he said, "I never thought I'd see anything like that."


*********** Hugh,

Answer to your Tuesday News quiz - Jock Sutherland of Pitt

I knew he developed the single wing, but did he also create the double wing formation?

Joe Gutilla
Austin, Texas


No, he got the Double Wing from Pop Warner, his college coach.

(We’re talking here about a direct-snap Double Wing.)

Take a look at this -

It’s a World War II training film, using Army’s great team from the 1940s to demonstrate.  Very strange - they were a T-formation team by then but Colonel Blaik, who had been a Jock Sutherland single-winger,  knew his stuff,  and in the video his National Championship  T-formation team puts on an amazing demonstration  of the single wing.  At the 10:21 point, they run from the (Pop Warner) Double Wing.

*********** Coach,

I was reading though NYCU today and I read the letter from the guy whose assistant coach won’t let his son play offence unless he can use the hand punch block.

I am wrestling with a similar issue. I have two undersized guards who get knocked down when they run the circle against superior linebackers. I am considering having them use the punch technique to better help them stay welded. My fear is that they will hold as soon as that LB moves.

We are 3-1 and have 3 games left in the regular season. We work every day on the welder drill. Its not a case of lack of effort with the players, they are just small.

Is it worth it to try and teach a new blocking technique half way through the season?

Tom Walls
Winnipeg, Manitoba

PS. That guy is fighting a losing battle. Any assistant who puts down an ultimatum is just going to be trouble.

Agree with you on the losing battle.  But he’s taking over a new program and he’s inheriting a staff and I think it’s just something he’ll have to work through until he has the clout  to do what needs to be done.

Running the circle could be defined as "blocking in space." One way to reduce the chance of holding while punching is to make sure that the blocker’s hands are inside the defender’s hands. Have them practice blocking by holding a tennis ball (one tennis ball) with both hands until just at the point of contact they drop the ball and punch.

Sometimes we have to make concessions in order to accommodate the kids we have.



*********** QUIZ - Jock Sutherland was a giant among college coaches, and  his enormous contribution to the growth of the National Football League has never fully been acknowledged.

He was born and raised in Scotland and didn’t arrive in the United States, in Pittsburgh,  until he was 18; after a succession of tough jobs, he enrolled at the University of Pittsburgh, and because of his size and strength he turned out for the football team, and was a player in the first football game he ever saw.

His Pitt team lost only one game in his freshman year, and then, with a new coach named Glenn “Pop” Warner, the Panthers went undefeated for the remaining three years of his college career. He was named an All-America guard his senior year. He also wrestled at Pitt, and competed in the hammer, discus and shot put.

After graduation, with a degree in dentistry, he served in World War I, then  took the head coaching job at Lafayette College, in Easton, Pennsylvania.  Over the next five years, coaching in the fall and practicing dentistry the rest of the year, he compiled a 33-8-2 record. He beat Warner and Pitt  two years in a row, and was the choice for the Pitt job when Warner left to take the head coaching job at Stanford.

His  run of success in his 15 years at Pitt has seldom been matched.  Ten of his teams lost no more than one game, and only one of them - his first team, which went 5-4 - lost more than two games. Four of his teams received mention as national champions.

His 1936 team finished 8-1-1, and beat Washington, 21-0 in the Rose Bowl. (In those days the Rose Bowl was set up to pit the best team from the West Coast against the best team from elsewhere in the country.)

The Pitt players were disturbed by the fact that while Washington’s players had been given spending money (it was allowed)  they would have had nothing at all  if Sutherland hadn’t parcelled out among them the  $300 fee that he’d received for doing a radio show. 

His 1937 team, with its "dream backfield” of Cassiano, Chickerneo, Goldberg and Stebbins, is considered to be one of the great college teams of all time. The only draw mark on its 9-0-1 record was a tie with Fordham, the Panthers’ third straight tie with the Rams.  (In 1935, 1936 and 1937 Pitt and Fordham - and its famed  “seven blocks of granite” line -  played three straight scoreless ties.)

The 1937 Pitt team was also invited by the Rose Bowl people, but  the players, still angry about the university’s stinginess the year before, voted to decline the invitation.

Sutherland  left Pitt after the 1938 season, unwilling to work under the terms of Pitt’s announced de-emphasis of football (the intended purpose of which was to take the spot in the Big Ten about to be left open when  Chicago announced it would be giving up football. Many of the Big Ten teams - Notre Dame, too - had dropped the Panthers from their schedules, ostensibly because, in complete accordance with the rules, they were paying their players the rather  small sum of $48.50 a month.  In truth, the Panthers were just too tough.  Maybe, the higher-ups thought, by weakening themselves they would make themselves be more acceptable to Big ten members.

Sutherland’s overall record in 15 years at Pitt was 111-20-12.  The Panthers went to four Rose Bowls and - nearly unthinkable today - he was 12 for 12  against Penn State.

After he left, Pitt football would never again be the same.  It would have a good, even great year here and there, but nothing close to Sutherland’s 15-year run of excellence. In fairness, few schools have been able to enjoy such a period of sustained excellence.

After Sutherland, Pitt managed a 5-4 season in 1939, but they would go another nine years before they had another winning season, and another 25 seasons before they would again win 8 games.  During that 25-year span, they would have just 8 winning seasons, with only two back-to-back winning seasons.  But they did manage to get Notre Dame back on the schedule - and lost 10 of 11 games to the Irish.  And they lost 24 straight games to Big Ten teams.

And as it turned out, it was all for nought anyhow.   The Pitt muckety-mucks had bet the farm on admission to the Big Ten, and then were left standing at the altar when Michigan State was given membership in 1950.

Steelers’ owner Art Rooney, respecting Sutherland’s coaching expertise and well aware of the way that he was revered by   Pittsburgh’s football fans, tried his best to  persuade Sutherland to take over the Steelers.  “I have felt for a long time  that Dr. Sutherland (“no one called him Jock to his face,” recalled Art Rooney’s son, Dan) is the best coach in the profession. If his present plan is to stay out of college football for a year, I believe it would be a good idea to work for us and keep from getting rusty.”

Rooney didn’t get his man - this time.

Sutherland instead took the 1939 season off, then, not wanting to be around Pittsburgh,  signed on with the NFL Brooklyn Dodgers, where he coached for two seasons (1940-1941) and won 15 games while losing 7.  And then  World War II set in, and at the age of 53,  he enlisted in the Navy.

Rooney, meantime, stayed in touch with Sutherland  throughout the war  in hopes that he could get the great coach to return to his adopted city.

He knew how loyal Sutherland was to the city - and to his college. He knew that Sutherland had turned down numerous opportunities to coach at major colleges.

While Rooney and his then-partner, Bert Bell, courted him, Sutherland, the canny Scotsman,  played hard to get. He was somewhat wary of Rooney and the people he associated with - the boxing and horse racing crowd and assorted other colorful characters. Sutherland, on the other hand, associated with a far more refined crowd.

Sutherland drove a hard bargain, and  Rooney granted every one of his demands, giving him a five-year contract that called for an unprecedented $27,500 a year and a quarter of the team’s profits (in the unlikely event the team might show a profit.)

Sutherland’s hiring was announced just after Christmas, 1945,  and the news generated such excitement that  the Steelers sold 22,000 season tickets.  The year before, they had sold 1500.

It’s important to understand that at that time it was unthinkable that a well-known college football coach - one of the very best of them, at that - would stoop to coach a professional team.

Sutherland's taking the Steelers' job gave the Steelers - the entire NFL, for that matter - a prestige and credibility that it had never had.

In “Rooney,” the authors write, “Jock’s return not only electrified the city, it transformed its fan base. His imprimatur legitimized the Steelers to fans who had worshipped him at Pitt. Overnight, his presence brought Protestant Pittsburgh into the fold to root for the same club that the region’s Catholic, Jewish and Eastern Orthodox working classes had long considered their own.”

“The day they signed Sutherland as coach is the day everything changed for the Steelers, ” said Pat Livingston, Steelers’ publicity director at the time. “All the Pitt fans became Steeler fans.”

Rooney and Sutherland rather quickly came to like and respect each other, and Rooney was astute enough to know to leave the football to Sutherland. Besides, that left him with more time for his horses.

Sutherland’s  first training camp, in Hershey, Pennsylvania,  was rough, even for men who’d been accustomed to military service. His morning practices lasted two hours and his afternoon practices three. Believing there was “only one way to find out who’s who and what’s what,” he believed in scrimmaging, and would frequently hold two scrimmages a day.

By the time of the season opener, 24 of the 33 Steelers who suited up were new to the team. And only 22 players saw action in the game.

And then there was his offense.

Wrote Dan Rooney, years later, “Sutherland was a firm believer in Pop Warner’s single wing, a run-oriented offense  in which the center snapped the ball to one of two backs.  By 1946, the single wing was popular only with youth football and a few college teams, because most of the pro teams had abandoned it for the T formation. Despite the trend away from the old style of play, Jock made it work.”

In 1946, the Steelers not only finished a much-improved 5-5-1,  but they led the NFL in attendance.

But his single wing,  while tough on opponents,  was tough on his own players, too, especially  on Bill Dudley, his tailback. Dudley was easily the best player on the team - he led the league in rushing, interceptions and punt returns  and  was named  the league MVP  -  but he was small, and carrying the ball on nearly every play, he took a terrible beating.

In addition, there was bad blood between Dudley and Sutherland - Sutherland thought Dudley was a freelancer and Dudley thought Sutherland was a tyrant -  and when Dudley told Art Rooney that he would no longer play for Sutherland but that he would go along with a trade, a heartbroken Rooney traded Dudley - his favorite player - to Detroit. 

Even without Dudley (who would go on to a Hall of Fame career) the 1947 Steelers went 8-4 and made the playoffs.  But after the players lost their bid to get paid more money for their efforts,  they lost the game to the Eagles - who then lost in the championship game to the Chicago Cardinals.

The season was a financial success for Sutherland as well. The Steelers sold 21,000 season tickets, and actually made a profit of $50,000 for the season. In accordance with the terms of his contract, calling for him to receive a quarter of all profits,  his share was $12,500.

The following spring, he headed south to look at players. He had stopped to see Wallace Wade at Duke and Peahead Walker at Wake Forest, but then there was no word from him until a call came into the Steelers’ office:
“Do you people have a coach named Sutherland working for you?” the voice on the other end asked.  It was a sheriff in a town called Bandana, Kentucky.

Jock Sutherland, it developed,   had been found by a milkman wandering and dazed, his car deep in mud beside a road near Bandana, in far western Kentucky. 

He kept saying to the milkman, “I’m Jock Sutherland… I’m Jock Sutherland.”

He said he was hungry and his head hurt.  His car was off the road, deep in mud.

The milkman gave him a ride  to the sheriff, who asked him if he thought it was a good idea to be carrying his wallet around - if he wasn’t afraid someone might take it.

Sutherland, the one-time All-America guard,   looked at the lawman and said, “Do you think anyone could?”

He was taken to a hospital in Cairo, Illinois where his assistant John Michelosen and some other friends arrived and  arranged to fly him back home.  Back in Pittsburgh, he was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Surgery was unsuccessful, and he was dead within days.

Thousands attended his funeral.

Said Longtime Rooney associate Jack McGinley, “He was the best I ever saw. Had he lived, we would have won a million championships.”

He left a college win-loss record of 144-28-14.  His NFL coaching record was 28-16-1, perhaps the best of any coach who started out with a great college career before leaving for the pros. 

Even without the great Jock Sutherland, no one could have foreseen the tough times that lay ahead for the Steelers.

Sutherland’s successor was Michelosen, his top assistant,  who had been captain of his 1937 Pitt team.

Sutherland had intended to coach for five seasons and than have MIchelosen to take over, but  Sutherland’s death cut short the learning time and when Michelosen took over the Steelers, he became, at 32,  the youngest head coach in NFL history.  (He would remain so until 2007, when the Raiders hired Lane Kiffin.)

Like Sutherland, Michelosen ran the single wing.  And like Sutherland, he worked his players hard.  Really hard.  Like his mentor, he believed in scrimmaging every day.  During one training camp, the Steelers scrimmaged 21 straight days.  In-season, they’d scrimmage during the  during the week.

But, wrote Dan Rooney in his autobiography,  “Hard as he tried, Michelosen was not Jock Sutherland.”

The Steelers finished a disappointing 4-8 in 1948, then 6-5-1 in 1949 and 6-6 in 1950.  In 1951, as they fell to 4-7-1,  the fans were complaining loudly  about the “same old Steelers.”

And the same old offense.

Yes, the single wing was beating up opponents, but it was even harder on the Steelers’ players, and owner Art Rooney, as hands-off as any owner has ever been, tried to persuade Michelosen to adopt the T-formation that all the other NFL teams were running.

“The single wing takes too much out of your players,” chimed in Rooney’s old friend, Bears’ owner/coach George Halas. “I know we take a physical beating when we play you, but in the long run, your team is the team that suffers the most from the single wing.

And after the 1951 season, John Michelosen was let go, and there, with him, went the last of the NFL single wing coaches.

John Michelosen would come back to revive his career at Pitt, where he took over in 1955 and in 11 years produced solid teams and a 59-46-7 record. Playing some of the toughest schedules in the country, he had only four losing seasons.  Two of his former players, Mike Ditka and Marty Schottenheimer, distinguished themselves as NFL coaches.

And if you learned only one thing from all this: yes, the last NFL team to run the single wing was the Steelers; but the last NFL coach to run the single wing was NOT Jock Sutherland; it was Johnny Michelosen.

*********** QUIZ - His given name was Julius Caesar.  He was an outstanding high school quarterback who became an outstanding wishbone quarterback in college. He played some pro football in Canada.  After he retired he became a Baptist minister and went on to serve three terms in Congress.

american flag TUESDAY,  MAY 30,  2017  - "If I were to sum up what I've learned in 35 years of service, it's improvise, improvise, improvise." General James Mattis
************ It was a beautiful Memorial Day weekend in the Northwest, and you might like the photos I took of the kids planting flags on the graves of veterans, a Memorial Day tradition at the Camas Cemetery..

*********** Jason Whitlock is wise to ESPN…

PJ FLECK*********** P.J. Fleck is a good coach and I believe he was a good choice for Minnesota. 

But at some point, there could be an image problem.

First of all, unless they win - and keep winning -  the “Row the Boat” business will soon enough become a cliche.

And, jeez - does this photo make him look just a bit like Pee Wee Herman?

*********** I’m merely supplying the setup - you’ll have to provide your own punchline.

Citing a study that supposedly shows that one in every 137 teens is transgender, Hallmark is “coming out” with a line of cards to “celebrate” transitioning to the “gender” of your choice.

*********** WTF? The Patriots and the three Republican amigos - Kraft, Belichick and Brady - must have been catching hell for their support of President Trump - so now they’re trying to mend fences, by sponsoring some sickness called the “Gay Bowl.”‘gay-bowl’/ar-BBBuByQ?OCID=ansmsnnews11

*********** It’s a sport icon.  It’s been the site of Olympics, Super Bowls, and national championship football games. It was the first California home of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

All as “Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.”

Now, though, according to Sports Business Daily, it’s about to get a new name, with United Airlines set to pay more than $70 million for the naming rights to the stadium, now owned by USC.

According to the article,  “Memorial Coliseum” will still be in the new name somewhere. Whew.

Still unconfirmed is a report that under the terms of the agreement United will provide training to  stadium security in how to drag unruly spectators down the Coliseum steps feet-first.

*********** I’m saddened by the deaths of two guys I greatly admired.

First was Jim Bunning,  an all-time great pitcher, a great family man (nine kids) and a good Republican Congressman and Senator from Kentucky.

Second was Frank DeFord. He was far better than just a sports writer - he was a writer who wrote about sports.  A Baltimore guy, he was part of the “Princeton Pipeline” that ran through Gilman School straight to Princeton, and after graduation he landed a job with Sports Illustrated. Whenever I saw his byline on a story, I read it first. 

He wrote a few novels, as well. One,  “Everybody’s All-American, “ was based on the life and times of North Carolina Tar Heel great Charlie “Choo-Choo” Justice, and was later made into a forgettable movie that didn’t even closely resemble the book, other than the fact that it was sort of about football.

cut 'n' runHis first novel,  “Cut ’n’ Run,” could only have been written by someone who’d lived in Baltimore when the entire city had Colt Fever.  I found it hilarious, because I’d lived in Baltimore during those times, and knew what he was writing about.  Essentially, it’s about a black guy in a menial position in a stock brokerage firm (a menial position was about as high as blacks could get in any big Baltimore firm at that time) who somehow (I don’t remember how, but I think it was through some bookkeeping mistake) manages to become the owner of record of a quantity of Baltimore Colts season tickets, and then (as I remember) because Colts’ tickets were better than currency in Baltimore, uses this as leverage to move up in the organization. 

Frank DeFord had a unique ability to get players to confide inhim.  Observed Bryan Curtis, writing in “The Ringer,”

In a 1999 profile on Bill Russell’s emergence from self-imposed exile, Deford got Celtics great Tommy Heinsohn to say that Russell “won 11 championships in 13 years, and (Boston) named a f— king tunnel after Ted Williams.”

***********  Hey Coach Wyatt,

I wanted to let you know I  have taken over as head coach of another youth football team here. The age level is 11, 12. & 13 year olds and they have not run the DW before.

Anyway, the defensive staff from the team is returning. I've worked with them myself in the past and they are good coaches. While they will run the defense, they will help me with the offense in practice.

The DC  has an issue with the Double Wing blocking because his son is on our team, is going to be playing high school ball and has been taught hand blocking for three years and he doesn't want to teach our way of blocking and confuse his son or have to re-teach the hand blocking. Basically he said if I insist on our DW blocking, he'll go along with the Double Wing blocking but his son "just won't play offense!”

This is really concerning for me to deal with because he's a good athlete and I hate to lose a very good lineman. I talked to the dad about it to hopefully try to get him to understand that understanding and knowing how to block multiple ways has got to be helpful for his son as he moves on, but he disagrees and doesn't want to waste all the time that they spent the last several years teaching it the other way. dilemma: Do I acquiesce and teach the hand blocking so I can keep his son on the offense, or do I stick to my guns and run my DW and just let his kid stay on defense?

Any guidance you can give, any experience you have had with this type of situation would be appreciated.


First of all, good luck with the new job.

My initial inclination would be to tell Dad to take a hike, BUT ---

Assuming your D.C. is a good guy and a good coach and his son is a good kid, I don't think it would be good for you or for the team for the two of you to lock heads.

I think you can deal with this if the D.C. is willing to compromise, being sure to let him know that there is a point where you can't give in without changing your philosophy. And at the same time, it's good for both of them to get experience with shoulder blocking because there are still a few places (Stanford, Wisconsin) where they use shoulder pads.

But it is possible, I think, to draw the line closer in.

If it's head-up (drive) blocking, go ahead and use the hands. Simply punch with both hands. By the time they get their hands into the defender and make contact, it will look almost the same as "picks in the pecs" anyway. The main thing is that either way, they do their blocking with their feet. Once they make contact they have to stay welded to the defender. (Pushing the man away is not blocking.)

If it involves pass blocking or hinge blocking, let them use the hands. (This is not a problem. This is sound.  We do this anyhow.)

And if it involves downfield blocking or blocking out in space,   let them use the hands. They probably already do this anyhow because it's almost impossible to get pads on a man in the open field as it is.

BUT - if it involves a block at the point of attack - a down block, a double team or a kick out - it MUST be a shoulder block. With the correct shoulder. Lots of hand-blocking teams still teach this. The kick out blocker hits with the near flipper, helmet in the hole. This is essential not only to make sure they get proper leverage on the defender but also to stay welded to him. You don't want to simply shove the defender out of the way, because he'll just get back into the play.

With the double team it's shoulder blocking, helmets on opposite sides of the defender's helmet, shoulders together, hips together. We are not trying to turn a defender, but to push him backward into the linebackers.

Besides technique, there is also the issue of where you'll have the least conflict over this, and that might be by playing the son at more of a hands-blocking position.

First of all, most of our kickout blocking is done by our guards, so maybe guard is not for him.

There's a lot less need for shoulder blocking at tackle.

The easiest way out would be to put his son at center, where so much of the blocking is passive and there isn't that much real need for shoulders.

*********** Sorry, Massachusetts.  Get back, Vermont.  Not so fast, Minnesota.   Where do you think you’re going, California. You're losers!, all of you! Make room at the front of the line for Washington.  When it comes to leftist infestation, we got you.

We vaulted to the front last week thanks to a great effort by Evergreen State College. It’s a small liberal arts college of about 4,400 students, most of whom, based on video of their antics, are totally out of control and displaying no evidence whosoever that they're prepared to go out into a civilized society and do anything productive to justify their existence.

It all started when someone suggested a twist on the school’s annual “POC Day of Absence,” in which “People of Color” would traditionally go off campus and do whatever.

This year, someone got the bright idea that the POC’s would remain on campus, while the whites would clear  out.

Bret Weinstein, a professor of biology, objected, and stated that he intended to remain on campus, saying in an email that “you may assume I will be on campus during the Day of Absence. On a college campus, one’s right to speak — or to be — must never be based on skin color.”

And then the sh— hit the fan.

Meeting with the president, the “students,” in some of the most disgusting displays of ugliness and disrespect I’ve seen anywhere, verbally assaulted the poor schlub.

So bad was it that when it was all over, the President, saying he was “grateful to the courageous students who have voiced their concerns,” all but turned the college over to them, promising…

to hire a full-time Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity Officer to investigate claims of discrimination;

to expand annual training for campus police to address “anti-black racism, de-escalation, minimizing use of force, serving trans and queer students, sexual assault response and responding to the access of special needs students with disabilities;”

to require “annual mandatory training for all faculty beginning in the fall of 2017” to cover “subjects including but not limited to institutional racism, and the needs of students of color, LGBTQIA students, undocumented students, victims of sexual assault, and students with disabilities;”

to hire full-time coordinators to oversee the Trans & Queer Center;

to support undocumented students.

Oh - but he couldn't promise he'd fire professor Weinstein. He's still got his job, but  he's been advised by campus security that for his own safety, he should meet with his classes off-campus.




*********** It was an exhibition game, and George Plimpton got in for four snaps.  On first down, with Bill Curry snapping the ball, he handed to fullback Don Nottingham, who was stopped for no gain. But the opponents were penalized after one of them took a shot at his head. On the next play, he handed off to Jack Maitland for no gain.  On his third play, he threw incomplete.  On his fourth play, he picked up six yards on a quarterback draw.

And that was that.  George Plimpton never took another snap in the NFL.  He wasn’t a football player - he was a writer famous for what came to be called “participatory journalism” - writing about something after having actually participated in it.

For Plimpton,  participating in football  meant posing as an actual player, going to training camp with the Detroit Lions, and actually playing in an exhibition game.  Plimpton wasn’t exactly the sort of writer you would pick to pose as an aspiring pro football player.  He was tall and sort of gawky.   He was a Harvard graduate with an advanced degree from Cambridge, and he was on the staff of the highly-literary Paris Review.  And, a true Massachusetts blueblood, he spoke with the insufferable lockjaw New England prep-school accent recognizable to anyone who’s spent time, as I have, among the elites.   He would have been as out of place on a pro football team as John Kerry asking if he could “buy me a hunting license.”.

And then he wrote about his experiences, turning out the best-selling “Paper Lion,” which inspired a movie of the same title in which he was played by Alan Alda..

It was 1971, he attended the Baltimore Colts’ training camp at Westminster, Maryland,  and I had driven over from Hagerstown, where I lived, to watch.  At one particular session, they were running the Oklahoma drill, and Plimpton was the runner.  Or should I say victim?

At the snap signal, the offensive lineman simply flopped to the grass, leaving poor Plimpton at the mercy of the defender, one Ray May. May, the third member of a great  Colts’ great linebacker corps  that also included Mike Curtis and Ted Hendricks, showed Plimpton no mercy.  It was ugly. 

That Colts’ experience produced “Mad Ducks and Bears.”  And Plimpton followed that up with any number of other first-hand experiences in other sports.

*********** QUIZ - Although he was a dentist, and was frequently referred to as "Doctor", as a coach he produced powerful football teams, noted particularly for the hard-nosed brand of single-wing ball they played.

He was born and raised in Scotland and didn’t arrive in the United States until he was 18; he played in the first football game he ever saw.

His college team lost only one game in his freshman year, and then, with a new coach named Glenn “Pop” Warner, went undefeated for the remaining three years of his college career.

After graduation, with a degree in dentistry and service in World War I behind him,  he took a coaching job at a small Pennsylvania college.  Over the next five years, coaching in the fall and practicing dentistry the rest of the year, he compiled a 33-8-2 record. He beat his former coach two years in a row, and was the choice to succeed Warner when he left to take a job on the West Coast.

With the exception of his first year coaching his alma mater, he never lost more than two games in a season, and only four of his teams lost as many as two games. His 1937 team, with its "dream backfield,” is considered to be one of the great college teams of all time. He left after the 1938 season, unwilling to go along with the school’s decision to  de-emphasize football. HIs overall record in 15 years was 111-20-12.

He spent two years coaching an NFL team before enlisting in the Navy (at age 53) at the outbreak of World War II, and after the war he took over as head coach of another NFL team, in his adopted city.   Because he was extremely popular among the local fans, and because his single wing helped make his team a winner, the team’s owner years later would give him credit for keeping the team solvent and allowing him to remain its owner.

His death was particularly tragic.  In 1947 his team made it to the playoffs for the first time in its history, but in April, 1948, while on a scouting trip, he was found wandering and in a daze, his car in a ditch beside a road in Kentucky.  Several of his former players arranged to bring him back home, where he was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Surgery was unsuccessful, and he was dead within days.

His team was the last to run the single wing in the NFL.

american flag FRIDAY,  MAY 26,  2017  - "War must become as obsolete as cannibalism."  Andrew Carnegie

*********** Memorial Day was originally known as "Decoration Day,"  set aside to honor the men who died in the Civil War. (There was a time when certain southern states did not observe it, preferring instead to observe their own Memorial Days to honor Confederate war dead.)

The Civil War soldiers called it "seeing the elephant." They meant experiencing combat. They started out cocky, but soon enough learned how  horrible - how unforgiving and inescapable - combat could be. By the end of the Civil War 620,000 of them on both sides lay dead.

"I have never realized the 'pomp and circumstance' of glorious war before this," a Confederate soldier bitterly wrote, "Men...lying in every conceivable position; the dead...with eyes open, the wounded begging piteously for help."

"All around, strange mingled roar - shouts of defiance, rally, and desperation; and underneath, murmured entreaty and stifled moans; gasping prayers, snatches of Sabbath song, whispers of loved names; everywhere men torn and broken, staggering, creeping, quivering on the earth, and dead faces with strangely fixed eyes staring stark into the sky. Things which cannot be told - nor dreamed. How men held on, each one knows, - not I."

Each battle was a story of great courage and audacity, sometimes of miscommunication and foolishness. But it's the casualty numbers that catch our eyes. The numbers roll by and they are hard for us to believe even in these days of modern warfare. Shiloh: 23,741, Seven Days: 36,463, Antietam: 26,134, Fredericksburg: 17,962, Gettysburg: 51,112, and on and on (in most cases, the South named battles after the town that served as their headquarters in that conflict, the North named them after nearby rivers or creeks - so "Manassas" for the South was "Bull Run" for the North; "Antietam" for the Union was "Sharpsburg"  for the Confederacy).

General William T. Sherman looked at the aftermath of Shiloh and wrote, "The scenes on this field would have cured anybody of war."

From "Seeing the Elephant" - Raw Recruits at the Battle of Shiloh - Joseph Allan Frank and George A. Reaves - New York: Greenwood Press, 1989

"We have shared the incommunicable experience of war. We felt - we still feel - the passion of life to its top.... In our youths, our hearts were touched with fire." Oliver Wendel Holmes, Jr.

 At a time in our history when fewer than five per cent of the people who govern us have served in our Armed Forces, it's useful to go back to another time, a time of men such as Oliver Wendel Homes, Jr.

Oliver Wendel Holmes, Jr.  was born in Boston in 1841, the son of a famous poet and physician. In his lifetime he would see combat in the Civil War, then go on to become a noted lawyer and, finally, for 30 years, a justice of the Supreme Court. So respected was he that he became known as "The Yankee From Olympus."

He graduated from Harvard University in 1861. After graduation, with the Civil War underway, he joined the United States Army and saw combat action in the Peninsula Campaign and the Wilderness, and was injured at the Battles of Ball's Bluff, Antietam, and Fredericksburg. He was discharged in 1864 as a Lieutenant Colonel.

The story is told of Holmes that in July 1864, as the Confederate general Jubal Early conducted a raid north of Washington, D.C. President Abraham Lincoln came out to watch the battle. As Lincoln watched, an officer right next to him was hit by a sniper's bullet. The young Holmes, not realizing who he was speaking to, shouted to the President, "Get down, you damn fool, before you get shot!"

After the war's conclusion, Holmes returned to Harvard to study law. He was admitted to the bar in 1866, and went into private practice in Boston.
In 1882, he became both a professor at Harvard Law School and a justice of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts. In 1899, he was appointed Chief Justice of the court. In 1902, President Theodore Roosevelt named Holmes to the United States Supreme Court, where he served for more than 30 years, until January 1932.

Over the years, as a distinguished citizen who knew what it meant to fight for his country, he would reflect on the meaning of Memorial Day, and of the soldier's contribution to preserving our way of life...
On Memorial Day, 1884, 20 years after the end of the Civil War, Mr. Holmes said,

Accidents may call up the events of the war. You see a battery of guns go by at a trot, and for a moment you are back at White Oak Swamp, or Antietam, or on the Jerusalem Road. You hear a few shots fired in the distance, and for an instant your heart stops as you say to yourself, The skirmishers are at it, and listen for the long roll of fire from the main line.
You meet an old comrade after many years of absence, he recalls the moment that you were nearly surrounded by the enemy, and again there comes up to you that swift and cunning thinking on which once hung life and freedom -- Shall I stand the best chance if I try the pistol or the sabre on that man who means to stop me? Will he get his carbine free before I reach him, or can I kill him first? These and the thousand other events we have known are called up, I say, by accident, and, apart from accident, they lie forgotten.
But as surely as this day comes round we are in the presence of the dead. For one hour, twice a year at least--at the regimental dinner, where the ghosts sit at table more numerous than the living, and on this day when we decorate their graves--the dead come back and live with us.
I see them now, more than I can number, as once I saw them on this earth. They are the same bright figures, or their counterparts, that come also before your eyes; and when I speak of those who were my brothers, the same words describe yours.

This, from Justice Holmes' address to the graduating class of Harvard University on Memorial Day, 1895

The society for which many philanthropists, labor reformers, and men of fashion unite in longing is one in which they may be comfortable and may shine without much trouble or any danger.

The unfortunately growing hatred of the poor for the rich seems to me to rest on the belief that money is the main thing (a belief in which the poor have been encouraged by the rich), more than on any other grievance. Most of my hearers would rather that their daughters or their sisters should marry a son of one of the great rich families than a regular army officer, were he as beautiful, brave, and gifted as Sir William Napier.

I have heard the question asked whether our war was worth fighting, after all. There are many, poor and rich, who think that love of country is an old wife's tale, to be replaced by interest in a labor union, or, under the name of cosmopolitanism, by a rootless self-seeking search for a place where the most enjoyment may be had at the least cost.

I do not know the meaning of the universe. But in the midst of doubt, in the collapse of creeds, there is one thing I do not doubt, that no man who lives in the same world with most of us can doubt, and that is that the faith is true and adorable which leads a soldier to throw away his life in obedience to a blindly accepted duty, in a cause which he little understands, in a plan of campaign of which he has little notion, under tactics of which he does not see the use.

Most men who know battle know the cynic force with which the thoughts of common sense will assail them in times of stress; but they know that in their greatest moments faith has trampled those thoughts under foot. If you wait in line, suppose on Tremont Street Mall, ordered simply to wait and do nothing, and have watched the enemy bring their guns to bear upon you down a gentle slope like that of Beacon Street, have seen the puff of the firing, have felt the burst of the spherical case-shot as it came toward you, have heard and seen the shrieking fragments go tearing through your company, and have known that the next or the next shot carries your fate; if you have advanced in line and have seen ahead of you the spot you must pass where the rifle bullets are striking; if you have ridden at night at a walk toward the blue line of fire at the dead angle of Spottsylvania, where for twenty-four hours the soldiers were fighting on the two sides of an earthwork, and in the morning the dead and dying lay piled in a row six deep, and as you rode you heard the bullets splashing in the mud and earth about you; if you have been in the picket-line at night in a black and unknown wood, have heard the splat of the bullets upon the trees, and as you moved have felt your foot slip upon a dead man's body; if you have had a blind fierce gallop against the enemy, with your blood up and a pace that left no time for fear --if, in short, as some, I hope many, who hear me, have known, you have known the vicissitudes of terror and triumph in war; you know that there is such a thing as the faith I spoke of. You know your own weakness and are modest; but you know that man has in him that unspeakable somewhat which makes him capable of miracle, able to lift himself by the might of his own soul, unaided, able to face annihilation for a blind belief.

On the eve of Memorial Day, 1931, at the age of 90, Mr. Justice Holmes wrote to a friend:

"I shall go out to Arlington tomorrow, Memorial Day, and visit the gravestone with my name and my wife's on it, and be stirred by the military music, and, instead of bothering about the Unknown Soldier shall go to another stone that tells beneath it are the bones of, I don't remember the number but two or three thousand and odd, once soldiers gathered from the Virginia fields after the Civil War. I heard a woman say there once, 'They gave their all. They gave their very names.' Later perhaps some people will come in to say goodbye."

Justice Holmes died on March 6, 1935, two days short of his 94th birthday, and was buried in Arlington National Cemetery. So spry and alert was he, right up to the end, that it's said that one day, when he was in his nineties, he saw an attractive young woman and said, "Oh, to be seventy again!"
A 1951 Hollywood motion picture, The Magnificent Yankee, was based on his life.

*********** Several years ago, I visited the First Division (Big Red One) Museum at Cantigny,  in Wheaton, Illinois, where I read these lines, and thought of all the Americans who died in service of their country - men who in the memories of those they left behind will be forever young...

If you are able
Save a place for them inside of you,
And save one backward glance
When you are leaving for places
They can no longer go.
Be not ashamed to say you loved them,
Though you may or may not always have.
Take what they have left
And what they have taught you with their dying,
And keep it with your own.
And in that time when men feel safe
To call the war insane,
Take one moment to embrace these gentle heroes
You left behind.
by Major Michael D. O'Donnell... shortly before being killed in action in Vietnam, 1970

***********After graduation from Harvard in 1910, Alan Seeger lived the life of a bohemian/beatnik/ hippie poet in New York City's Greenwich Village.  In 1914, he moved to Paris, and when war with Germany broke out, like a number of other young Americans,  he joined the French Foreign Legion to fight on the side of the Allies. On July 4, 1916, nine months  before America joined the war on the side of the Allies, he was killed in the Battle of the Somme. He was 28. A year after his death, his poems were published.  The best known of his poems was "I Have a Rendezvous With Death," which according to the JFK Library, "was one of President Kennedy's favorite poems."

I Have a Rendezvous with Death
By Alan Seeger 
I have a rendezvous with Death     
At some disputed barricade,     
When Spring comes back with rustling shade     
And apple-blossoms fill the air—     
I have a rendezvous with Death          
When Spring brings back blue days and fair.     
It may be he shall take my hand     
And lead me into his dark land     
And close my eyes and quench my breath—     
It may be I shall pass him still. 
I have a rendezvous with Death     
On some scarred slope of battered hill,     
When Spring comes round again this year     
And the first meadow-flowers appear.     
God knows 'twere better to be deep     
Pillowed in silk and scented down,     
Where love throbs out in blissful sleep,     
Pulse nigh to pulse, and breath to breath,     
Where hushed awakenings are dear...  
But I've a rendezvous with Death     
At midnight in some flaming town,     
When Spring trips north again this year,     
And I to my pledged word am true,     
I shall not fail that rendezvous.

*********** Poppies once symbolized the Great War,  or The World War,  or, if you will,  "The War to End All Wars" (so-called because, in the conceit that seems to follow every war, people  just knew in their hearts  that after the horror of that conflict, mankind would do anything in its power to avoid ever going to war again.)

Following the World War, Americans began to observe  the week leading up to Memorial Day as Poppy Week, and long after the World War ended, veterans' organizations in America, Australia and other nations which had fought in the war sold imitation poppies  at this time
every year to raise funds to assist disabled veterans.

It was largely because of a poem by a Canadian surgeon, Major John McCrae, that the poppy, which burst into bloom all over the once-bloody battlefields of northern Europe, came to symbolize the rebirth of life following the tragedy of war.

In the spring of 1915, after having spent seventeen days hearing the screams and dealing with the suffering of men wounded in the bloody battle at Ypres, in Flanders (a part of Belgium), Major McCrae wrote, "I wish I could embody on paper some of the varied sensations of that seventeen days... Seventeen days of Hades! At the end of the first day if anyone had told us we had to spend seventeen days there, we would have folded our hands and said it could not have been done."

Major McCrae was especially affected by the death of a close friend and former student. Following his burial - at which, in the absence of a chaplain, Major McCrae himself had had to preside - the Major sat in the back of an ambulance and, gazing out at the wild poppies growing in a nearby cemetery, composed a poem, scribbling the words in a notebook.
When he was done, though, he discarded it, and only through the efforts of a fellow officer, who rescued it and sent it to newspapers in England, was it ever published.

Now, the poem, "In Flanders Fields", is considered perhaps the greatest of all wartime poems.
The special significance of the poppies is that poppy seeds can lie dormant in the ground for years, only flowering when the soil has been turned over.
The soil of northern Belgium had been so churned up by the violence of war that at the time Major McCrae wrote his poem, the poppies were said to be blossoming in a profusion that no one could  remember ever having seen before.

In Flanders Fields... by John McCrae        

In Flanders fields the poppies blow   
Between the crosses, row on row,   
That mark our place; and in the sky  
The larks, still bravely singing, fly   
Scarce heard amid the guns below.        

We are the Dead. Short days ago   
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,   
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie   
In Flanders fields.        

Take up our quarrel with the foe:   
To you from failing hands we throw   
The torch; be yours to hold it high.   
If ye break faith with us who die   
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow   
In Flanders fields.

*********** Robert W. Service is one of my favorite poets. I especially like his poems about the Alaska Gold Rush - who hasn't ever heard "The Cremation of Sam McGee?" -  but this one, about an idealistic young English soldier going off to fight in World War I,  and the grief of his father at learning of his death, is heartbreaking, especially poignant on a day when we remember our people who gave everything, and the loved ones they left behind...

"Where are you going, Young Fellow My Lad, On this glittering morn of May?"   
"I'm going to join the Colours, Dad; They're looking for men, they say."   
"But you're only a boy, Young Fellow My Lad; You aren't obliged to go."   
"I'm seventeen and a quarter, Dad, And ever so strong, you know."        

"So you're off to France, Young Fellow My Lad, And you're looking so fit and bright."   
"I'm terribly sorry to leave you, Dad, But I feel that I'm doing right."   
"God bless you and keep you, Young Fellow My Lad, You're all of my life, you know."   
"Don't worry. I'll soon be back, dear Dad, And I'm awfully proud to go."        

"Why don't you write, Young Fellow My Lad? I watch for the post each day;   
And I miss you so, and I'm awfully sad, And it's months since you went away.   
And I've had the fire in the parlour lit, And I'm keeping it burning bright   
Till my boy comes home; and here I sit Into the quiet night."        

"What is the matter, Young Fellow My Lad? No letter again to-day.   
Why did the postman look so sad, And sigh as he turned away?   
I hear them tell that we've gained new ground, But a terrible price we've paid:   
God grant, my boy, that you're safe and sound; But oh I'm afraid, afraid."        

"They've told me the truth, Young Fellow My Lad: You'll never come back again:   
For you passed in the night, Young Fellow My Lad, And you proved in the cruel test   
Of the screaming shell and the battle hell That my boy was one of the best.        

"So you'll live, you'll live, Young Fellow My Lad, In the gleam of the evening star,   
In the wood-note wild and the laugh of the child, In all sweet things that are.   
And you'll never die, my wonderful boy, While life is noble and true;   

For all our beauty and hope and joy We will owe to our lads like you."

*********** Hugh Brodie, an Australian, enlisted in the Royal Australian Air Force in Melbourne on 15 September 1940. In 1942, Sergeant Brodie was listed Missing in Action. Before he left us, though, he wrote "A Sergeant's Prayer"

Almighty and all present Power,
Short is the prayer I make to Thee,
I do not ask in battle hour
For any shield to cover me.

The vast unalterable way,
From which the stars do not depart
May not be turned aside to stay
The bullet flying to my heart.

I ask no help to strike my foe,
I seek no petty victory here,
The enemy I hate, I know,
To Thee is also dear.

But this I pray, be at my side
When death is drawing through the sky.
Almighty God who also died
Teach me the way that I should die.

*********** Like many other phenomena in life, history has a tendency to be fickle. In 2001, some thirty-four years after the Battle of Ông Thanh, and the subsequent withdrawal of U.S. forces from Vietnam in 1973, which was followed by the "honorable peace" that saw the North Vietnamese army conquer South Vietnam in 1975 in violation of the Paris Peace Accords, most historians, as well as a large majority of the American people, may consider the U.S. involvement in Vietnam a disastrous and tragic waste and a time of shame in U.S. history. Consider, however, the fact that since the late 1940s, the Soviet Union was the greatest single threat to U.S. security. Yet for forty years, war between the Soviet Union and the United States was averted. Each time a Soviet threat surfaced during that time (Greece, Turkey, Korea, Berlin, Cuba, Vietnam, and Afghanistan), although it may have been in the form of a "war of national liberation," as the Vietnam war was characterized, the United States gave the Soviet Union the distinct message that each successive threat would not be a Soviet walkover. In fact, the Soviets were stunned by the U.S. reactions in both Korea and Vietnam. They shook their heads, wondering what interest a great power like the United States could have in those two godforsaken countries. They thought: "These Americans are crazy. They have nothing to gain; and yet they fight and lose thousands of men over nothing. They are irrational." Perhaps history in the long-term--two hundred or three hundred years from now--will say that the western democracies, led by the United States, survived in the world, and their philosophy of government of the people, by the people, for the people continues to survive today (in 2301) in some measure due to resolute sacrifices made in the mid-twentieth century by men like those listed in the last chapter of this book. Then the words of Lord Byron, as quoted in this book's preface, will not ring hollow, but instead they will inspire other men and women of honor in the years to come.
From "The Beast was Out There", by Brigadier General James Shelton, USA (Ret.) Jim Shelton is a former Delaware football player (a wing-T guard) who served in Korea and Vietnam and as a combat infantryman rose to the rank of General. He was in Viet Nam on that fateful day in October, 1967 when Don Holleder was killed. Ironically, he had competed against Don Holleder in college. Now retired, he has served as Colonel of the Black Lions and was instrumental in the establishment of the Black Lion Award for young American football players. General Shelton personally signs every Black Lions Award certificate. The title of his book is taken from Captain Jim Kasik's description of the enemy: "the beast was out there, and the beast was hungry."

*********** The late George Jones could be a rogue, but he was a heck of a singer, and his "50,000 NAMES CARVED IN THE WALL" - a tribute to the 58,000 Americans who died in Vietnam - may be THE American Memorial Day song.

(Warning - this one  could will make you cry.)


K I A ... Adkins, Donald W.... Allen, Terry... Anderson, Larry M.... Barker, Gary L.... Blackwell, James L., Jr.... Bolen, Jackie Jr. ... Booker, Joseph O. ... Breeden, Clifford L. Jr ... Camero, Santos... Carrasco, Ralph ... Chaney, Elwood D. Jr... Cook, Melvin B.... Crites, Richard L.... Crutcher, Joe A. ...... Dodson, Wesley E.... Dowling, Francis E.... Durham, Harold B. Jr ... Dye, Edward P. ... East, Leon N.... Ellis, Maurice S.... Familiare, Anthony ... Farrell, Michael J. ...Fuqua, Robert L. Jr. ...Gallagher, Michael J. ...Garcia, Arturo ...Garcia, Melesso ...Gilbert, Stanley D. ...Gilbertson, Verland ...Gribble, Ray N. ...Holleder, Donald W. ...Jagielo, Allen D. ...Johnson, Willie C. Jr ...Jones, Richard W. ...Krischie, John D. ...Lancaster, James E. ...Larson, James E. ...Lincoln, Gary G. ...Lovato, Joe Jr. ...Luberta, Andrew P. ...Megiveron, Emil G. ...Miller, Michael M. ...Moultrie, Joe D. ...Nagy, Robert J. ...Ostroff, Steven L. ...Platosz, Walter ...Plier, Eugene J. ...Porter, Archie ...Randall, Garland J. ...Reece, Ronney D. ...Reilly, Allan V. ...Sarsfield, Harry C. ...Schroder, Jack W. ...Shubert, Jackie E. ...Sikorski, Daniel ...Smith, Luther ...Thomas, Theodore D. Jr. ...Tizzio, Pasquale T. ...Wilson, Kenneth P. .... M I A ... Fitzgerald, Paul ...Hargrove, Olin Jr

A TRIBUTE TO DONALD WALTER HOLLEDER UNITED STATES MILITARY ACADEMY CLASS OF 1956 - THE MAN WHOSE STORY INSPIRED THE BLACK LION AWARD... By retired Air Force General Perry Smith (Don Holleder's West Point classmate, roommate and best man) "If you doubt the axiom, 'An aggressive leader is priceless,' ...if you prefer the air arm to the infantry in football, if you are not convinced we recruited cadet-athletes of superior leadership potential, then you must hear the story of Donald Walter Holleder. The saga of Holleder stands unique in Army and, perhaps, all college gridiron lore."

Hence begins the chapter, "You are my quarterback", in Coach Red Blaik's 1960 book, You Have to Pay the Price. Every cadet in the classes of 1956, 57, 58 and 59, and everyone who was part of the Army family at West Point and throughout the world will remember, even 50 years after the fact, the "Great Experiment".

But there is much more to the Holleder story. .
Holly was born and brought up in a tight knit Catholic family in upstate New York. He was an only child whose father died when Don was quite young. Doc Blanchard recruited high school All American Holleder who entered the Point just a few days after he graduated from Aquinas Institute in Rochester.

Twice turned out for academic difficulties, he struggled mightily to stay in the Corps. However as a cadet leader he excelled, serving as a cadet captain and company commander of M-2 his senior year.

Of course, it was in the field of athletics that Don is best known. Never a starter on the basketball team, he nevertheless got playing time as a forward who brought rebounding strength to a team that beat a heavily favored Navy team in the early spring of 1954. That fall, the passing combination of Vann to Holleder quickly caught the attention of the college football world. No one who watched those games will ever forget Holly going deep and leaping into the air to grab a perfectly thrown bomb from Peter Vann. Don was a consensus first team All American that year as a junior.

Three football defeats in 1955 after Holly's conversion to quarterback brought criticism of Coach Blaik and Don from many quarters but the dramatic Army victory over Navy, 14 to 6 brought redemption. Shortly thereafter, Holly received the Swede Nelson award for sportsmanship.

The fact that he had given up all chances of becoming a two time all-American and a candidate for the Heisman trophy and he did so without protest or complaint played heavily in the decision by the Nelson committee to select him for this prestigious award.

Holly's eleven year career in the Army included the normal schools at Benning and Leavenworth, company command in Korea, coaching and recruiting at West Point and serving as the commanding general's aide at Fortress Monroe.

After graduating from Command and General Staff College, he was off to Vietnam.
Arriving in July, 1967, Holly was assigned to the Big Red One--the First Infantry Division-- and had considerable combat experience before that tragic day in the fall--October 17.

Lieutenant Colonel Terry Allen's battalion was ambushed and overrun--the troops on the ground were in desperate shape. Holleder was serving as the operations officer of the 28th Brigade--famous Black Lions. Hearing the anguished radio calls for help from the soldiers on the ground, Holly convinced his brigade commander that he had to get on the ground to help. Jumping out of his helicopter, Holly rallied some troops and raced toward the spot where the wounded soldiers were fighting.

The Newsweek article a few days after his death tells what happened next. "With the Viet Cong firing from two sides, the U. S. troops now began retreating pell-mell back to their base camp, carrying as many of their wounded as they could, The medic Tom "Doc" Hinger was among those who staggered out of the bush and headed across an open marshy plain toward the base, 200 meters away. But on the way he ran into big, forceful Major Donald W. Holleder, 33, an All-American football player at West Point..., going the other way--toward the scene of the battle. Holleder, operations officer for the brigade, had not been in the fight until now. ' Come on Doc, he shouted to Hinger, 'There are still wounded in there. I need your help.'

Hinger said later: 'I was exhausted. But having never seen such a commander, I ran after him. What an officer! He went on ahead of us--literally running to the point position'. Then a burst of fire from the trees caught Holleder. 'He was hit in the shoulder recalled Hinger. 'I started to patch him up, but he died in my arms.'

The medic added he had been with Holleder for only three minutes, but would remember the Major's gallantry for the rest of his life."

Holly died as he lived: the willingness to make great sacrifices prevailed to the minute of his death.
  Caroline was left a young widow. She later married our West Point classmate, Ernie Ruffner, who became a loving husband and father to the four Holleder daughters. All the daughters are happily married and there are eight wonderful and loving grandchildren.

The legacy of Donald Walter Holleder will remain an important part of the West Point story forever. The Holleder Army Reserve Center in Webster, New York, the Holleder Parkway in Rochester and the Holleder Athletic Center at West Point all help further Don's legacy. In 1985, Holly was inducted into College Football Hall of Fame.

A 2003 best selling book, They Marched into Sunlight, by David Maraniss tells the story of Holleder and the Black Lions. Tom Hanks has purchased the film rights to the book.
An innovative high school coach, Hugh Wyatt, decided to further memorialize Don's legacy by establishing the Black Lion Award. Each year at hundreds of high schools, middle schools and youth football programs across the country, a single football player on each team is selected "who best exemplifies the character of Don Holleder: leadership, courage, devotion to duty, self-sacrifice, and--above all--an unselfish concern for his team ahead of himself." Starting in 2005, this award is presented to a member of the Army football team each year.Anyone who wishes to extend Holleder's legacy can do so by approaching their local football coaches and encouraging them to make the Black Lion Award a part of their tradition.

All West Pointers can be proud of Donald Walter Holleder; for him there were no impossible dreams, only challenges to seek out and to conquer. Forty years after his death thousands of friends and millions of fans still remember him and salute him for his character and supreme courage.

By Retired Air Force General Perry Smith, West Point classmate and roommate, with great assistance from Don's family members, Stacey Jones and Ernie Ruffner, classmates, Jerry Amlong, Peter Vann and JJ McGinn, and battlefield medic, Doc Hinger.

*********** "Major Holleder overflew the area (under attack) and saw a whole lot of Viet Cong and many American soldiers, most wounded, trying to make their way our of the ambush area. He landed and headed straight into the jungle, gathering a few soldiers to help him go get the wounded. A sniper's shot killed him before he could get very far. He was a risk-taker who put the common good ahead of himself, whether it was giving up a position in which he had excelled or putting himself in harm's way in an attempt to save the lives of his men. My contact with Major Holleder was very brief and occured just before he was killed, but I have never forgotten him and the sacrifice he made. On a day when acts of heroism were the rule, rather than the exception, his stood out."     Black Lions medic Dave Berry

*********** A YOUNG MAN'S REMEMBRANCES OF DON HOLLEDER... In 1954-55 I lived at West Point N.Y. where my father was stationed as a member of the staff at the United States Military Academy. Don Holleder was an All American end on the Red Blaik coached Army football team which was a perennial eastern gridiron power in 40s and 50s.

On Fall days I would run home from the post school, drop off my books, and head directly to the Army varsity practice field which overlooked the Hudson River and was only a short sprint from my house.
Army had a number of outstanding players on the roster back then, but my focus was on Don Holleder, our All-America end turned quarterback in a controversial position change that had sportswriters and Army fans buzzing throughout the college football community that year. Don looked like a hero, tall, square jawed, almost stately in his appearance. He practiced like he played, full out all the time. He was the obvious leader of the team in addition to being its best athlete and player. In 1955 it was common for star players to play both sides of the ball and Don was no exception delivering the most punishing tackles in practice as well as game situations.

At the end of practice the Army players would walk past the parade ground (The Plain), then past my house and into the Arvin Gymnasium where the team's locker room was located.
Very often I would take that walk stride for stride with Don and the team and best of all, Don would sometimes let me carry his helmet. It was gold with a black stripe down the middle and had the most wonderful smell of sweat and leather. Inside the helmet suspension was taped a sweaty number 16, Don's jersey number.

While Don's teammates would talk and laugh among themselves in typical locker room banter, Don would ask me about school, show me how to grip the ball and occasionally chide his buddies if the joking ever got bawdy in front of "the little guy".

On Saturdays I lived and died with Don's exploits on the field in Michie Stadium.
In his senior year Don's picture graced the cover of Sports Illustrated magazine and he led Army to a winning season culminating in a stirring victory over Navy in front of 100,000 fans in Philadelphia. During that incredible year I don't ever remember Don not taking time to talk to me and patiently answer my boyish questions about the South Carolina or Michigan defense ("I'll bet they don't have anybody as fast as you, huh, Don?").

Don graduated with his class in June 1956 and was assigned to the 25th Infantry Division in Schofield Barracks, Hawaii. Coincidentally, my Dad was also assigned to the 25th at the same time so I got to watch Don quarterback the 14th Infantry Regiment football team to the Division championship in 1957.

There was one major drawback to all of Don's football-gained notoriety - he wanted no part of it. He wanted to be a soldier and an infantry leader. But division recreational football was a big deal in the Army back then and for someone with Don's college credentials not to play was unheard of.
In the first place players got a lot of perks for representing their Regiment, not to mention hero status with the chain of command. Nevertheless, Don wanted to trade his football helmet for a steel pot and finally, with the help of my Dad, he succeeded in retiring from competitive football and getting on with his military profession.

It came as no surprise to anyone who knew Don that he was a natural leader of men in arms, demanding yet compassionate, dedicated to his men and above all fearless. Sure enough after a couple of TO&E infantry tours his reputation as a soldier matched his former prowess as an athlete.
It was this reputation that won him the favor of the Army brass and he soon found himself as an Aide-de-camp to the four star commander of the Continental Army Command in beautiful Ft Monroe, Virginia.

With the Viet Nam War escalating and American combat casualties increasing every day, Ft Monroe would be a great place to wait out the action and still promote one's Army career - a high-profile job with a four star senior rater, safely distanced from the conflict in southeast Asia.

Once again, Don wanted no part of this safe harbor and respectfully lobbied his boss, General Hugh P. Harris to get him to Troops in Viet Nam. Don got his wish but not very long after arriving at the First Division he was killed attempting to lead a relief column to wounded comrades caught in a Viet Cong ambush.

I remember the day I found out about Don's death. I was in the barber's chair at The Citadel my sophomore year when General Harris (Don's old boss at Ft Monroe, now President of The Citadel) walked over to me and motioned me outside.
He knew Don was a friend of mine and sought me out to tell me that he was KIA. It was one of the most defining moments of my life. As I stood there in front of the General the tears welled up in my eyes and I said "No, please, sir. Don't say that."

General Harris showed no emotion and I realized that he had experienced this kind of hurt too many times to let it show. "Biff", he said, "Don died doing his duty and serving his country. He had alternatives but wouldn't have it any other way. We will always be proud of him, Biff."
With that, he turned and walked away.

As I watched him go I didn't know the truth of his parting words. I shed tears of both pride and sorrow that day in 1967, just as I am doing now, 34 years later, as I write this remembrance.

In my mind's eye I see Don walking with his teammates after practice back at West Point, their football cleats making that signature metallic clicking on concrete as they pass my house at the edge of the parade ground; he was a leader among leaders.

As I have been writing this, I periodically looked up at the November 28, 1955 Sports Illustrated cover which hangs on my office wall, to make sure I'm not saying anything Don wouldn't approve of, but he's smiling out from under that beautiful gold helmet and thinking about the Navy game. General Harris was right. We will always be proud of Don Holleder, my boyhood hero.

Biff Messinger, Mountainville, New York, 2001

***********  A retired Navy captain wrote in the Wall Street Journal about the strict criteria for awarding the Medal of Honor (frequently called the "Congressional" Medal of Honor)...

"Remember the Marine Corps requirement: Fall on a hand grenade to save your fellow Marines and the grenade fails to explode, you get a Navy Cross; if the grenade explodes, you might get the Medal of Honor."

The Medal of Honor was meant to be awarded sparingly,  Of the hundreds of thousands of men who fought in our Twentieth Century wars, here are the numbers of Medals of Honor Awarded:
WW I - 124;  WW II - 464; Korea  - 135;  Vietnam -  246. There were 1522 Medals of Honor awarded as a result of Civil War. (Actually, there were more than that,  but  over 900 were later rescinded.) One reason was that in the Civil War, the Medal of Honor was the only medal awarded for valor. Another reason was the enormous number of casualties suffered in that war.

*********** Other nations lost men in the same wars we did, of course, and they, too, honor their men who gave all, in poem and song.

Sad?  Ohmigod.  What can be sadder than the loss of a young man, one of his country's finest,  in a distant war?
One such song is known by some as "No Man's Land" and by others as "The Green Fields of France" - but either way  it's a sad lament about a young soldier named Willie McBride, killed in battle in 1916 while still a teenager.

Trigger warning: This is VERY sad.

Another very sad ballad, "The Band Played Waltzing Matilda," is the story of a young Australian sent off to fight in World War I.  He was shipped off to Gallipoli where thousands of "Anzacs" (Australians and New Zealanders) were slaughtered by Turkish machine-gun fire. (I highly recommend the movie, "Gallipoli")
Although he escaped death, his legs were blown off, and his story in the song  is told from the perspective of an embittered, now-old man.

Trigger warning: So is this..

*********** Trophies for everybody. There really was a time when most Americans knew why we put aside one day a year called Memorial Day,  to honor - to memorialize - those who lost their lives in service of their country. 

Not, as the 60 or so people who buy ads in our local paper seem to think, to remember a loved one who, no matter how sorely missed,  never died in battle - never even served in the Armed Forces, for that matter - but simply did what we’re all destined to do one day.  They died.  I hate to be the one to spoil their grieiving by telling them that Memorial Day is not about them. Not about dear, departed Uncle Charlie. But somebody's got to tell them.

There are other days for that, and there are  other days for saying “thank you for your service” to veterans or active duty personnel.  364 others, if you’re really sincere.  And there's a special one, called Veterans’ Day, when our nation does honor and thank its veterans.

Actually, come to think of it: is there even one holiday - one single holiday - that hasn’t been given another meaning, one often more significant now than the original one?

New Year’s Day - Bowl Games

Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Birthday - It’s still too new a national holiday to tell what the public will do with it

Presidents’ Day - Sale! Sale! Sale! (Used to be two separate holidays. Now, few school kids could even tell you which two presidents it refers to.)

St. Patrick’s Day - Scarcely observed in Ireland, 
in much of the US it’s an excuse to get drunk

Easter - Where it's still allowed to be called "Easter", it's about Bunnies and Easter eggs.  Mostly, though, it's Spring Break.

Mother’s Day - This is the one holiday that remains as designed.  If anything, it's grown stronger.  Traditionally, this was the day when the phone company’s circuits failed. Do NOT schedule anything else on this day.   Do NOT get drunk.

Cinco de Mayo - A holiday that means nothing in Mexico, it's been turned into a Hispanic-themed St. Patrick’s Day

Memorial Day - The start of summer; the Indy 500

July 4 - Fireworks and beer and hot dogs. (Once -
for those old enough to remember - baseball double headers,)

Labor Day - The end of summer; and now, the start of college football

Veterans Day - Used to be called Armistice Day, when  we celebrated the end of a horrible world war

Hallowe’en - Used to be for kids to go trick-or-treating. But now that that’s no longer safe,  adult partiers have taken it over and turned it into the second-biggest beer sales day of the year

Thanksgiving - Don’t you mean “Turkey Day?”  You know - the day before Black Friday?

Christmas -
aka "Winter Holiday." For those who didn't know - it's the “holiday” in “Happy Holidays.”

*********** In a Wall Street Journal article back in 2015, a writer named Jerry Ciancolo urged  us, the next time we pass a War Memorial with the names of dead Americans on it, to stop - and  “Touch the names of those who never came home.”

He asked that we dispense with  “hollow abstractions” such as “ultimate sacrifices,” and to think in everyday terms.

Many of those young guys, he noted...

never set foot on campus.  They never straightened a tie and headed to a first real job. They never slipped a ring on a sweetheart’s finger. They never swelled with hope turning the key to a starter home.  They never nestled an infant against a bare chest.  They never roughhoused in the living room with an exasperated wife looking on. They never tiptoed to lay out Santa’s toys.  They never dabbed a tear while walking their princess down the aisle. They never toasted their son’s promotion.  They never rekindled their love as empty nesters.  They never heard a new generation cry out, “I love you, Grandpa!”

A lifetime of big and little moments never happened because of a bullet to the body one day in a far-off land.  For those who crumpled to the ground, the tapestry of life was left unknit.

A moment’s reflection is all it takes to realize that every name on your town’s monument was a real person.  One who bicycled the same streets as you, who sleepily delivered the morning Gazette, who was kept after school for cutting up, who sneaked a smoke out back, who cannon-balled into the local pond in the dog days of summer.

On Memorial Day - with your smartphone turned off - pay a visit to your local monument. Quietly stand before the honor roll of the dead, whisper a word of thanks, and gently run your finger across their names. The touch will be comforting.


KEVIN MCCULLOUGH - LAKEVILLE, INDIANA - I have learned a lot about the Cardinals the last three it was easy to recognize Charley Trippi's Bio.....James Bettcher the Cards DC is a friend and former player of mine....I've taken advantage of this to attend some camp time the last three years

*********** QUIZ - Charley Trippi was one of the greatest college running backs in the history of the game and is in the College Football Hall of Fame and the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

The son of Italian immigrants, he grew up in Pittston,  a Northeastern Pennsylvania coal town.  He headed south, to Georgia, to play college football.

In his sophomore college season he helped the Bulldogs win the Rose Bowl and a small share of the national championship, won in most polls by Ohio State.

After time out for World War II service, he came back better than ever.

His senior year, he finished second in the Heisman voting after leading Georgia to an undefeated season  (and another small share of the national championship, way behind Army).

As a college baseball player, he batted .475 his senior season. After college he played a season in the minor leagues with the Atlanta Crackers, where he batted .334 and drew the interest of several major league teams - he was reportedly offered more than $100,000  (an astronomical sum at the time) by the owner of the AAFC New York Yanks and baseball Yankees  to play both football and baseball..

But he was the first draft choice of the  NFL Chicago Cardinals, and he signed with them.  As a rookie, he scored two touchdowns in the NFL championship game to help the Cardinals’ franchise win the only championship it has ever won in its entire history.

He was named to the NFL’s Team of the Decade for the 1940s.

When he retired,  his 6,053 yards of total offense - 3,506 rushing, 2,547 passing, 1,321 receiving -  was the most by any player in NFL history.

At the time of this writing, Charley Trippi is the oldest living player in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

*********** Greg Koenig noticed, as I did, that Charley Trippi recalled that his worst football injury was a broken nose.

That’s strange.  He was being dismissive of some rather serious injuries. Perhaps an old-age thing. Or perhaps,  like a combat veteran, he doesn't care to talk about something so unpleasant he'd just as soon forget it.

The “broken nose” he refers to was a bit more than that.  It took place in an exhibition game (remember those days, before they started calling them “preseason games” and selling them as part of the season-ticket package?), when he made the mistake of standing too near a pile and the Steelers’ John Henry Johnson blindsided him with an elbow to the head. (The unwritten rule back then was either be in the pile or get away from it, but he was playing defense for  change, and wasn’t accustomed to the way things worked.)

He was wearing only a single-bar face mask, and, yes, the blow did break his nose. That much was true.  But it broke it in two places.  It also broke facial bones above and below one of his eyes.

HIs teammates sought revenge, and things got so out of hand that the referee finally had to call the game in the fourth quarter with time left to play.

Trippi returned to play in the final five games of the season, but then in the off-season he had to undergo plastic surgery, which included rebuilding his nose.


*********** QUIZ - It was an exhibition game, and he got in for four snaps.  On first down, he took the snap from Bill Curry and handed off to fullback Don Nottingham, who was stopped for no gain. But the opponents were penalized after one of them took a shot at his head. On the next play, he handed off to halfback Jack Maitland for no gain.  On his third play, he threw incomplete.  On his fourth play, he picked up six yards on a quarterback draw. And that was that. He never took another snap in the NFL.  But he did  write another book about his experience, similar to the one he’d written eight years earlier. Then, a professional writer posing as a bona fide player, he went through training camp with another NFL club, and afterward wrote a best-selling book about it that became a very popular movie.

*********** I hadn't watched any playoff hockey this year.  Until Thursday night.  Then  I watched the Penguins-Senators game seven (an OT win by the Penguins) , and I was reminded once again how much I respect hockey players.   They are tough.  They don't even know the meaning of the world "loaf."  And even if excessive celebration - or celebration at all - were in their DNA, there simply isn't time for the horse's ass hijincks that accompany every NFL score.

Overtime is amazing, and overtime in game seven of a playoff even more so. They play their asses off, never knowing when it might happen, and then - boom - out of the blue, someone scores a goal, and the game's over.  The winner goes on, and the loser goes home.   But even with the bitter taste of the loss fresh in their mouths, the losers show their professionalism  - and  their respect fot the game of hockey - and take time to skate by the winner and exchange sincere, hearftelt congratulations.

To anyone who's still looking for old-fashioned sportsmanship - emphasis on the "man" - you can't beat NHL playoff hockey.

american flag TUESDAY,  MAY 23,  2017  - "We get very lucky when we're at good places."  Mike Krzyzewski

*********** Sunday, we had lunch at one of my favorite places in the entire Northwest - the Olympic Club, in Centralia, Washington.  Centralia is just off I-5, about halfway between Portland and Seattle.  When the railroads came and opened up the Northwest, Centralia,  served by four major lines,  became a major rail center, and also prospered as the railroads carried away the coal from its nearby mines and the timber from the surrounding forests.

Located across the street from the town’s historic railroad station,  the Olympic Club is a trip back in time, to the days when a town’s railroad station was its center of activity. The Olympic Club was built in 1908, during a decade in which the town’s population exploded from 1600 in 1900 to 7300 in 1910.  It doesn’t take a genius to see how a boom like that would have provided demand for the “services” such an establishment might offer, and it’s fun to imagine what a typical Saturday night might have looked like.

I first saw it in the 1970s, and it was  mind-blowing. Stupefying.  A step into the past. You walked in off the street and into a bar whose mahogany-and-leaded-glass opulence wouldn’t have been out of place in San Francisco during the Gold Rush days.   But it was totally unexpected  and  out of character in Centralia, a nice enough but  unexceptional working-class town.  And then,  if you walked through the bar, you passed through swinging doors and  into another sort of past: there, in a large, high-ceilinged room, heated by a giant wood stove, in a scene out of the Old West, old guys sat around a  table playing cards.  Behind them was an even larger room, a pool room,  smoky and busy with the quiet, purposeful activity of serious pool shooters.  The Olympic Club really was a throwback.  How long, I wondered, could a place like this survive?

Enter the McMenamin Brothers.  Starting out in the Portland area, they got in on the Northwest’s craft brewing business when it was in its infancy, and chose to grow not as brewers but as restaurateurs, building a string of brewpubs, no two of them alike other than in the products they served.  Paying careful attention to quality of product and service,  they began to combine their growing expertise in the food and beverage industry with what today’s people like to  call “repurposing,” buying unwanted buildings that once may have served as schools, retirement homes or, in one case,  poor farms, and turning them into warm, welcoming places providing food, drink, lodging and music.

In 1997, they acquired the Olympic Club and the hotel that houses it, and then applied their magic touch.  In this case, that meant doing only what was absolutely necessary, which I remember hoping would be very little.  To my delight, other than the fact that they now serve food and drink in the area where the guys once played poker,  the place is almost exactly as it was when I first saw it, only better.

The food, drinks and service are undoubtedly better.  The atmosphere is better. The bar remains the envy of any big city restaurant anywhere. The old wood stove, although no longer used, still stands where it always did, a reminder of earlier days before central heat. (I found out that it’s a “Round Oak Stove,” made in Michigan and once the standard of its industry.) There’s lots of seating inside, and on nice days, you can sit outside on the terrace and watch the trains go by.

Other than the absence of smoke, the pool room hasn’t changed a bit from when I first saw it.  There are at least  five full-sized tables - the old kind, with leather pockets.  One of them is a snooker table (extra large, with tiny pockets). There are two standard-size shuffleboards ($5 an hour.  Big deal.)

Sorry, no arcade games.

Finally, (for men at least), no trip to the Olympic Club is complete without a visit to the men’s room and a look, close-up, at its giant porcelain urinal, a twin arrangement  with a flushing mechanism fed by a two-inch copper pipe.  I’d call it a Washington landmark right up there with the Space Needle.





************ In intensity, Oregon-Oregon State may not approach Clemson-South Carolina or Alabama-Auburn as an in-state rivalry, but there’s enough feeling there that when a player transfers from one rival to another, it gets peoples’ attention.

Fifteen months ago, when Oregon running back Thomas Tyner announced that he was retiring for medical reasons - slow-to-heal shoulder injuries - it was accepted with regret, and the Ducks moved on.

Tyner had come out of Aloha, Oregon High as one of the top running back prospects in the country.  A multiple state sprint champion, he had the speed to go with good size - 6 foot, 200 -  and playing against good competition in the state’s highest classification, he once scored 10 (TEN) touchdowns in a single game.

He got off to a decent start in his freshman season at Oregon, gaining 711 yards and scoring 9 touchdowns on 115 carries.  HIs longest run was 66 yards.

In his sophomore year, he started five games, but with only two fewer carries than the year before, he gained just 573 yards and scored only five TDs.

And  he suffered a severe shoulder injury that led to his decision to give up football.  He officially “retired”, and since the reason was an “incapacitating illness or injury,” the Ducks no longer had to count him against their limit of scholarships.

Now, though, after more than a year away from football, he’s had second thoughts about playing. But evidently, because of some NCAA rule he can’t return to Oregon; he can, however go elsewhere , and play immediately, and still have two years of eligibility.

In the case of Thomas Tyner,  who grew up in Portland and remembers being taken to Beavers’ games when he was little,  "elsewhere" meant Oregon State.

He may have to walk on at first, but  if he still has it, after two years away from football, it could be a huge win for both Thomas Tyner and the Beavers.

Ironically, if Tyner does wind up playing for Oregon State, he would become the highest-rated high school prospect ever to play for the Beavers.

The 10 TD Game:

*********** A British sniper shot and killed an ISIS sniper - from A MILE AND A HALF AWAY!!

*********** The NFL is said to be considering easing off on its penalties for excessive celebrations.

Other than a bunch of jackass wide receivers and defensive backs, I’m not sure who the beneficiaries of an increase in celebrations might be.

Not other players.

Not people who would rather watch football.

Not Americans who grew up in a time when modesty was the partner of success.

Not the league or its network partners who’re concerned about the increasing length of games.

And certainly not youth coaches, who will be the first ones impacted by the monkey-see, monkey-do phenomenon that prompts little kids all over the country to mimic the antics of their NFL heroes.

*********** Harvard has announced there’ll be no more overdue book fines at the school’s libraries because, says a university spokesman,  “we have witnessed firsthand the stress that overdue fines can cause for students.” 

They haven’t yet witnessed, apparently, the stress that waiting for those overdue books to be returned can cause for the students who would also like to use them. 

Maybe the simplest thing to do when someone wants to check out a book only to discover it’s out - and overdue - would be to provide them with the name and address of the poor stressed-out student who’s got it so they can take them some milk and cookies.

THEO EPSTEIN*********** Unlike most schools, Yale does not have commencement speakers.  I don’t know who made that decision or when or why, but after the sight of spoiled brats at Notre Dame defiling the dignity of their graduation ceremony by walking out on the Vice-President of the United States, it sure turned out to be a good call.

Instead, Yale’s graduating seniors celebrate Class Day on the day before graduation - and that’s when they have a speaker.   No headlines to be made by walking out on the Class Day speaker. Besides, they’re usually people whose speeches you’d be a fool to miss.

This year’s Class Day speaker was Theo Epstein, a Yale graduate (Class of 1995) and president of the Chicago Cubs,  the man given credit for building the Cubs and, before them, the Boston Red Sox.

One choice bit of advice to the about-to-be graduates…

“Some players, and some of us, go through our careers with our heads down, focused on our craft and our tasks, keeping to ourselves, worrying about our numbers or our grades, pursuing the next objective goal.   Other players, and others among us, go through our careers with our heads up, as real parts of a team, alert and aware of others, embracing difference, employing empathy, genuinely connecting, putting collective interests ahead of our own. It is a choice.”

While acknowledging that baseball is a game - a distraction - there are times, he said, “when a game that is built around overcoming failure can teach us all a few important lessons.”

One of those times, he said, came in Game Seven of this last year’s World Series - which ended with the Cubs’ extra-inning victory win over Cleveland.

For much of the game, things were looking good for the Cubbies, but  Cleveland tied things up.   And then it started to rain. And rain. And rain.

During the rain delay Epstein, who had been sitting in the stands, said that when he went down to the clubhouse, he noticed that his players were all sitting together  in a small room. There, one by one, they shared words of encouragement.

“During rain delays,” Epstein said,  “players typically come in off the field and head to their own lockers, sit there by themselves, change their wet jerseys, check their phones, think about what has gone right and wrong during the game, and become engrossed in their own little worlds.  That would have been disastrous for our team during Game Seven — 25 players sitting alone at their lockers, lamenting the bad breaks, assigning blame, wallowing, wondering. Instead, they had the instinct to come together. Actually, it was not an instinct; it was a choice.”

Epstein said that whenever he thinks back on the Cubs’ win, he thinks of that rain delay.

He told the graduates that one day he’ll tell his two sons, “that we all have our rain delay moments. There will be times when everything you have been wanting, everything you have worked for, everything you have earned, everything you feel you deserve is snatched away in what seems like a personal and unfair blow. This, I will tell them, is called life. But when these moments happen, and they will, will you be alone at your locker with your head down, lamenting, divvying up blame; or will you be shoulder to shoulder with your teammates, connected, with your heads up, giving and receiving support?”

*********** Seattle, once a rough, tough town that grew strong because of loggers and fishermen and gold miners headed to Alaska, might very well now be the fruitiest city in the United States.

First, there’s His Honor, the Mayor.  He’s  one of the few male mayors in the United States with a “husband.”  His Honor, who’s been lauded far and wide by the LGBT “community” for the way he’s led “the fight” (for such things as gay marriage), suddenly finds himself with a real fight on his hands, as a series of middle-aged men, one  after another, comes forward with allegations that, back when they were just little fellows, they were introduced to the beauties of man-boy sex by His Honor.

And then there’s the Seattle Police Force, protecting the public from “Community Members.”

I’ll let station KIRO explain…

When Seattle police officers write use of force reports they no longer call a suspect a suspect.

“Community member” is the new term. Several officers say the term is offensive, explaining their work with violent suspects.

Sources point to the suspect who shot three officers last month after a downtown Seattle armed robbery. When officers involved in that incident were writing their use of force reports they were required to refer to the shooter, Damarius Butts, as a “community member,” not a suspect, police sources said.

Police fatally shot Butts after they said he shot the officers.

“I think this is all in an effort to make sure our report writing sounds politically correct,” Seattle Police Officers' Guild Kevin Stuckey told KIRO 7.

You couldn't make this sh— up.

*********** In an article in the Wall Street Journal (May 6-7) Melvin Konner cites a study of twins to argue that there’s more to ADHD than genetics.  And he concludes with an argument that most of us would support…

We know from the history of ADHD that the school environment matters enormously.  In fact, although the disorder causes other life problems, ADHD was essentially unrecognized before the era of universal schooling.

My own research suggests how critical such factors are. The hunter-gatherer children I studied in the 1970s in Botswana had a lot to learn - how to determine the age of animal tracks, for example, or where to dig for tubers - but they learned on the move, in playful groups. When economically developed cultures started asking children to sit still for seven hours a day, we soon discovered that a minority of them - 10% or more, especially boys - couldn’t do it.

Anthropologists view ADHD as a “mismatch” disorder - due to a discrepancy between the world we evolved in and our world now.  So what is the solution, aside from medication? We could give children a break.  We have long known that frequent recess and play improves attention: such activity is routine in countries such as Finland and Japan.

Yet Olga Jarrett of the Georgia State University College of Education, writing on the website of the US Play Coalition, a play-advocacy group, has shown that the recent trend in the US has been, absurdly, to abolish recess, dismantle playgrounds, and ignore nature.  This is no way to reduce the number of children, now in the millions, on medication for ADHD.


TRACY JACKSON - DALLAS, OREGON - I met him in 1981, my first year teaching at Oregon City and working for Don McCarty.  One of our VPs was a guy named Paul Poetsch, who was very dear to me.  He and a bunch of PIL guys from the 50s played basketball in the gym at OCHS every Sunday I think.  Mr. Baker was one of those guys and being a Beaver fan, it was a pretty cool opportunity.
KEVIN MCCULLOUGH - LAKEVILLE, OREGON - I remember him from the last time you featured him....Kim and i really enjoyed Corvallis on our northwest's hard to believe he was able to win from there

*********** Terry Baker could run and he could throw - with either hand.  He played baseball right-handed and football left-handed.

His father took off when he was four or five, leaving his mother with three little boys to raise by herself.

In high school, he was a three-sport athlete,  all-state in football, basketball and baseball his senior year. Along with a teammate named Mel Renfro, who would go on to stardom with the Dallas Cowboys, he helped  lead his team to state titles in football and basketball.

He was recruited to Oregon State by Slats Gill, the Beavers’ basketball coach,
and didn't play football his freshman season. He played basketball and baseball instead and he had to be persuaded to turn out for football in the spring.

50 years later, the Portland Oregonian’s John Hunt asked Baker what made him decide to play football.

"It was kind of miserable," Baker said of the start of his OSU baseball career. "Every game was getting rained out."

So one dreary day during spring practice, Prothro coaxed Baker into coming to a team meeting.

"I didn't see any harm in attending a meeting," Baker said.

When he arrived, the entire team was there, and Prothro had written the depth chart on the chalkboard. Second-string tailback: Terry Baker.

"That's not bad -- I hadn't even gone out yet, and I'm second-string tailback," Baker said. "Whether it went to my head or whatever, or whether it was baseball being so miserable at that time, I went out for spring practice, and the rest is history."

His coach, Tommy Prothro, changed his beloved single wing offense to a T-Formation  just for him, to take advantage of Baker's rollout running-passing abilities.

He set a bowl game rushing record that will never be broken, rushing 99 yards for a touchdown in the Liberty Bowl.

In 1962 he became the first player from West of Texas to win the Heisman Trophy. 

He played basketball (averaging 13+ points per game as a 6-3 guard) as the Beavers - with a 7-footer named Mel Counts - made it to the Final Four, where they lost to Cincinnati.

Terry Baker was named Sports Illustrated’s Sportsman of the Year.   Wrote S-I's Alfred Wright, "In an era when the celebrated college athlete is turning into a special kind of mercenary, living and competing in a culture apart from that of the ordinary undergraduate, it is fitting that (he) …should emerge from a bucolic campus deep in the forests of the Northwest, where the simple verities of small-town American life are still held in high esteem."

He graduated from Oregon State with a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering,
and  was the first player taken in the NFL draft, by the Los Angeles Rams.  During his three years with the Rams he managed to earn a law degree from USC.

After retirement from an undistinguised pro football career, he enjoyed a long career with one of Portland’s top law firms.

For 52 years, until Oregon's Marcus Mariota won it in 2014, Terry Baker was the only player from the Pacific Northwest ever to win the Heisman.

It's highly unlikely anyone will ever match his feat  of winning the Heisman and playing in the Final Four.

*********** QUIZ - He was one of the greatest college running backs in the history of the game and is in the College Football Hall of Fame and the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

The son of Italian immigrants, he grew up in a Northeastern Pennsylvania coal town and headed south to play college football.

In his sophomore college season helped his team win the Rose Bowl and a small share of the national championship.

After time out for World War II service, he came back better than ever.

His senior year, he finished second in the Heisman voting after leading his team to an undefeated season  (and another small share of the national championship).

As a college baseball player, he batted .475 his senior season. After college he played a season in the minor leagues where he batted .334 and drew the interest of several major league teams - he was reportedly offered more than $100,000  (an astronomical sum at the time) by the owner of the AAFC New York Yanks and baseball Yankees 
to play both football and baseball..

But he was the first draft choice of an NFL team, and he signed with them.  As a rookie, he scored two touchdowns in the NFL championship game to help the franchise win the only championship it has ever won in its entire history.

He was named to the NFL’s Team of the Decade for the 1940s.

When he retired,  his 6,053 yards of total offense - 3,506 rushing, 2,547 passing, 1,321 receiving -  was the most by any player in NFL history.

At the time of this writing, he is the oldest living player in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

american flag FRIDAY,  MAY 19,  2017  - “There are no coincidences.  Coincidences are God’s way of remaining anonymous.”  Reverend Andrew Young

*********** At North Beach,  in Ocean Shores, Washington, where I’ve been coaching for the past six years, 60 per cent of kids qualify for free or reduced-price lunch (that’s high, in Washington).  Most of our players get their shoes free, from the shelves of used cleats that players routinely donate when they’re done playing. 

There are always a few who have the money to buy new shoes, and when they do, they’re intelligent enough to make sure they’re black, white or gold (our school colors).

But this past year, a couple of kids - brothers - showed up wearing the most godawful looking things I’d ever seen.  Not black, not white, not gold. Butt-ugly, and flashy.  Their parents had gone ahead and bought them - online - and now our head coach had to tell them that they weren’t going to be able to wear them in games.  It was finally resolved, but let’s just say that the parents weren’t happy.

This was  something that could easily have been headed off with a simple letter to parents, but until you’ve run into something like this, it probably wouldn’t occur to you to notify them.

So I really have to hand it to my friend Greg Koenig.  He’s taking over as head coach at Cimarron, Kansas, and he’s been astute enough to let his players’ parents know not only how he feels about the color of the shoes they buy, but even more important, how he feels about drawing attention to one’s self in a team sport, and about the importance of the uniform itself:

Players and Parents,

As you begin to look for cleats for the upcoming season, my expectation is that you will wear team colors as much as possible. When it comes to cleats, all black or all white are always safe choices; and I would be fine with blue as well.

One way to think about your purchase is to ask yourself this question: Do I want these shoes so I'll look cool or stand out? If so, I would encourage you to reconsider your purchase. Remember that the word uniform means the same. I am not in favor of drawing attention to oneself through uniform adornments (arm bands, head bands, flashy cleats, etc.). Instead, each player should strive to honor his uniform through outstanding attitude and effort.

If you have questions about particular cleats, please send me a picture before you purchase them. I will reply with my approval or disapproval asap.

*********** In the latest Sports Business Journal, I read a great interview with Lisa Borders, president of the WNBA. She grew up in segregated Atlanta; her grandfather was a Baptist preacher, and she grew up with the children of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Her parents were well-to-do and they insisted she attend the prestigious Westminster School.  When she entered, in 1969, she was only the eighth black student to be admitted.  She recalled the cross-tensions of having white kids at school asking, “Why are you here?  You don’t belong here.” and then having black kids at home saying, “You think you’re too good to go to school with us.”

She said she remembers asking, “Why do I have to be here?” And she remembers her mother saying, “Because it’s the best school and you have to get an education.  You’re black, and you’re a girl, so you’ve got to get the best education possible.”

That she did.  She went on to Duke, and graduated with a major in French.

She worked for a large medical clinic in Atlanta. and got a Master’s in health administration from Colorado.

She served for seven years as President of the Atlanta City Council; in 2009 she ran, unsuccessfully, for mayor.

She then took a position as vice=president and chairman of the Coca-Cola Foundation, and also joined the Board of Trustees at Duke.  That’s where she met Adam Silver, Commissioner of the NBA, also a Duke graduate. She knew basketball, having helped bring the WNBA Atlanta Dream to town, and she knew the WNBA was in trouble, and their conversation led to Silver’s offering her the job of president of the WNBA.

I clipped a few very interesting pieces from the interview…

“There are three attributes to a good leader. Competence, confidence and compassion. You have to be competent in whatever you’re doing. You need to have the confidence that says when you make a mistake, admit it, learn from it and move forward. Finally, if you’re not compassionate, if you don’t understand that no one gets anywhere by themselves, if you don’t understand that you’ve got to take care of those that are around you, you’re never going to make it as a leader.”

She admits she has come a long way in her leadership, as in her early years, she was all about command and control.

“I had to do everything. I had to do it to get it right. I was terrible at delegating. So I was written up every year for not delegating. I was exhausted because I was trying to do everything or someone else would do it and I would do it over. I had to stop that. One day the light bulb went off — ‘OK, I’ve got to take a breath. I’ve got to try this.’ And it worked. You have to learn to trust people. You have to learn to let go. Being a single mom broke that habit because there’s just not enough hours in a day for you to raise your child, work, do your family obligations. It’s a sign of strength that you are mature enough to ask for help. Growing up, I often thought that asking for help was a sign of weakness. It’s actually a sign of strength.”

But while she’s better at delegating, she’s still impatient, and when she doesn’t see colleagues carrying their weight, she’ll quickly move.

“I’m quick to fire. You can’t change people, really. You can try and develop people. If they don’t want to learn whatever skill you’re trying to teach them or that the team needs them to have, you can only go so far before that becomes dead weight and the rest of the team becomes resentful.”

“Whatever Adam asks me to do, I’m going to do everything I can to do it better than anyone else and get to the next level. That’s just how I’m wired. It’s born out of this experience where I had to prove myself on a daily basis. But if you demonstrate enough results, people can’t ignore that. You get respect.”

*********** Somehow,  despite heat in Phoenix…  cold and snow in Minneapolis…  rain in Seattle.  They managed to build stadiums and finish on schedule.

But not in Los Angeles, where the Rams and the Clippers - er, Chargers - are due to share the greatest Pleasure Dome since Kublai Khan (just to see if there are any literary types out there) starting in 2019.

Make that “were” due.  Change that opening date to 2020, with the announcement that rain this past winter - rain, for God’s sake! - is going to cause the construction of the new, as-yet-unnamed stadium to be delayed by a year.

That means that the Rams will play three seasons in the Coliseum instead of two, while the Chargers will play three seasons in the StubHub Center, a soccer stadium built to hold 30,000.  (How is the NFL going to spin it when they still have empty seats?)

The news gets even worse for Rams’ fans.   The team was planning to “roll out” a new uniform design to coincide with the stadium opening.  But with the news of the stadium delay, Rams management “remains in talks with Nike and the NFL” over whether to go ahead with the redesign as scheduled, or postpone it, too.

I say go ahead.  I’m not sure that fans can stand the excitement of a new stadium AND a new uniform at the same time.

*********** Maybe the next time Donald Trump talks with Putin I can get him to ask if I can have the dealership for the Pacific Northwest…

*********** You guys who lobbied hard for the College Football Playoff - you should be happy.  You won.

As a result, we’ve had a couple of years of that “True National Champion” business you said we needed.

Now, happy or not, I think you’ll join the rest of us - those of us derided as “purists” because we sort of enjoyed football the way it had gone on for, oh, 100 years or so - with the season ending with an assortment of bowl games as a reward for good play, with players having fun and half the teams ending their seasons with wins.  And then, afterward, a couple of polls presuming to tell us who some sportswriters - or coaches - thought was the best team, and a winterful of arguments to the contrary.

I think you’ll join us because not even you guys who were delighted to learn we would finally have a playoff can be happy with the news that this year, “a musical guest” (one can only imagine what that means) “will perform at halftime” of the Big Game.

No more college bands.  They’re so Twentieth Century.

We’re talking extravaganza, guys.  Bigass halftime shows.  Super Bowl-style.

Funny how at the very same time that college football has addressed the problem of over-long games by putting an absolute limit on the length of halftimes, the “ultimate game” of college football will be played by teams that will have to stop play and sit idle for 30 or 40 minutes so that a “musical guest” can “perform.”  All to juice up viewership by luring the eyeballs of people who don’t know sh— from shinola about college football into glancing at the set  because their favorite band will be playing at halftime.

***********  Maybe you saw the news: 17 NBA teams plan to enter “franchises” in the “NBA 2k eLeague.”  (Evidently, in keeping with Apple and its iPads and iPhones - and with the first names of certain professional athletes -  the title is intentionally case-dismissive and there is some arcane reason for the small “e” and capital “L.”)

Each team will “start” five “players” - actually, professional eSports gamers - who will wear their “team’s” colors and play as avatars in video games,  competing for considerable sums in prize money.

Okay so far?  How about this - the competition will be broadcast live, in front of “live crowds.” (There are dead ones?)

Well, they got them to watch poker.  To watch BBQ cookoffs.   Maybe they can get them to watch this.

After all, I remember the days, long ago, when it was accepted wisdom that “the public” would never watch five black basketball players playing five other black basketball players. Wrong.

Now, my inclination is to predict that “the public” will NOT watch five nerdy white guys playing video games against five other nerdy white guys.

Bear in mind, though, that I’m a guy who’s spent more than half of his adult life in the long-ago, never imagining that I’d live to see the day that “the public” would unblinkingly accept the notion of one man calling another man his “husband.”

(Colleges are “fielding” eSports teams, too.  Or should that be “Arcading?” They don’t seem able to decide whether to bring them under the auspices of their athletic department or their computer science department.  And just wait until Title IX requires them to “arcade” womyn’s teams.)

*********** I don’t want to get too deeply into trying to simplify what could be a complex legal matter, and I sure don’t want to get any lawyers pissed at me, but…

It does appear that some lawyers who have represented former NFL players in their suits against the League could be collecting double fees,  at the expense of the players whom they represent.

As I understand it, here’s how it happened:

As part of the NFL’s settlement, a fund of $112.5 million was set aside to pay players’ legal fees.  Fair enough.  The players get to keep their share of the rest of the settlement.

But prior to the settlement, thousands of players had already entered into contracts with lawyers calling for contingency fees (legal fees to be paid contingent on their winning the case) of as much as 45 per cent of any proceeds.

So if those contracts hold up - in fairness, some law firms have lowered their fees and some have dropped them altogether - it means that some lawyers will be paid not only from the NFL’s fund, but also from the money the players receive.

Stay tuned.

*********** A great management (and head coaching) tip from Bob Moran, of Charleston, South Carolina, Tournament Director of the WTA Volvo Car Open…

“”’Thought’ and ‘Know’ are two different things.   If there’s an issue or a problem, or something doesn’t get done, it almost always includes the word ‘thought.’ I thought so-and-so was doing it.  I thought this was being taken care of.  I thought.

“ So if we’re in a staff meeting and someone uses that word, we discuss it. We want it to be ‘I KNOW that's completed.’ or “I KNOW so-and-so' ds taken care of that.’”

*********** A recent poll showed that a HUGE number of working-class Americans say that they often feel like strangers in their own country.

Tell me about it. Practically every weekday afternoon, and all day on the weekends, our street is parked solid with the cars of people who deliver their little boys and girls to the nearby athletic fields, then set up their lawn chairs and sit back to watch the little five-year-olds kick a round ball.

soccer parking

In our town, soccer long ago passed baseball by.   Now, even softball, once seen by so many dads as a free ticket to college for their little girls, is suffering, too.

This whole thing’s been driven, I submit, by the increasing feminization of our society, and abetted by the concussion hysteria aimed at killing off football. And as I walk my dog past the fields and listen as the pretty people cheer on their little darlings, I shake my head at the realization that I could just as easily be walking the streets of another country.

I’m reading Richard Ben Cramer’s biography of Joe DiMaggio, and in it the author wrote about baseball’s solid hold on the America of the early 1930s, when DiMaggio was growing up : “In most towns, you couldn’t fill a phone booth with the boys who didn’t play ball.”

Nowadays, in a lot of towns, you could fit all the baseball players in a phone booth.  If you could find a phone booth.



*********** A Cleveland native, Don McCafferty played at Ohio State under Paul Brown before entering the service in World War II.

After the War, he played one year in the NFL and then embarked on a coaching career.

He spent 11 years as an assistant at a Kent State before making the jump to the NFL.

McCafferty was an assistant with the Baltimore Colts for 11 years,  first under Weeb Ewbank then under Don Shula. Known by the players as the “Easy Rider” because of the way his personality contrasted with that of the hot-tempered Shula,  he was Shula’s offensive coordinator for seven years. Two of the other members of Shula’s staffs during that time were Chuck Noll and Bill Arnsparger.

Don McCafferty succeeded Shula as head coach and had immediate success, winning the Super Bowl in his first season. Going into his third season as an NFL head coach, he was 21-6-1, with a Super Bowl win to his credit.  But then a new owner, Robert Irsay, and a new GM, Joe Thomas, came on the scene,  and  when his team got off to a 1-4 start and he was ordered by Thomas to bench his QB, John Unitas, he refused and was fired.

He was hired the next season by the Detroit Lions, and took them to a 6-7-1 season, good enough for second place in the NFL Central.

And then, the following summer, while mowing his lawn, he suffered a heart attack and died.  He was just 53.

*********** John Unitas liked Don McCafferty.  They had a nice working relationship because McCafferty let him do what he did best - quarterback the team.

Tom Callahan, in his book, “Johnny U,” tells of how McCafferty, on arrival from Kent State as an assistant to Weeb Ewbank, asked, “John, do you want any help on Sunday?”

Unitas replied, “Mac, if you’re positive they’re going blitz, let me know.  Otherwise, sit back, relax, and enjoy the game.”

And then, Ewbank was fired and replaced with Shula.

Call it a power struggle or whatever, but Shula tried to control his quarterback.  Already acknowledged as one of the greats of the game and used to calling his plays, Unitas didn’t take well to the dictates of a guy barely three years older than he was who’d never been a head coach.

McCafferty apparently served as a buffer between the hard-headed coach and the equally hard-headed quarterback, but things between Unitas and Shula never got better.

But Unitas remained the ultimate team man and as long as he played for Shula, he concealed his dislike of the coach from his teammates.

Defensive lineman Fred Miller emphasized that in an interview for Callahan’s book. “I’ll tell you just exactly what John told me,” he said. “This was years later now, when Shula had that opening of his restaurant in that downtown hotel.   I went to it.  Most of the guys who were still in the area showed up. About a week later I saw John somewhere and I asked him, ‘How come you didn’t go to Shula’s grand opening?’  He looked at me and said, ‘If that son of a bitch was across the street and his guts were on fire, I wouldn’t walk over and piss in his mouth.’ That’s the first time I ever knew how John felt about Shula.”

*********** Coaching changes run in an eternal cycle:   the hardass disciplinarian’s act wears thin, and he’s replaced by the good guy, called by one and all a “player’s coach.”  And then the player’s coach loses control of the team, and he’s replaced by a guy who’ll “bring some discipline” to the club.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

In “Sundays at 2:00 With the Baltimore Colts,” by Vince Bagli, Colts’ linebacker Stan White, who played college ball at Ohio State and in 1970 was the Colts’ 17th - and last - draft pick, remembered his first year with the Colts.  It was Don McCafferty’s third (and last) year:

Don McCafferty was the coach, and he was the reason I was drafted at all. He had gone to Ohio State, and had coached at Kent State, and I was from Kent. The general manager who signed me was “The Duke,” Don Klosterman.   But by the time we got to training camp, Bob Irsay had bought the team, and Joe Thomas was in charge.

The team had trained in Westminster (Maryland) before then; now, they were training in Tampa for the first time.  Carroll Rosenbloom (the former owner HW) made that deal.  He was trying to move the team down there before he sold it.  It was a mistake.  Tampa was a party atmosphere, and the players treated training like it was a lark. They thought they could win anyhow.

McCafferty believed in letting them be adults. That’s the way he treated players, and they took advantage of it.  He was an easy rider, easy to play for. He had replaced Shula in 1970. For the first year or two, the guys were just happy to be away from a disciplinarian, but then they started to take more and more advantage.  They would tell him they weren’t going to be in by curfew, and he could take the hundred dollar fines out of their checks.  Joe Thomas saw all those guys going out ‘cotton spottin’ all night long.

From Tampa, we went out to Golden, Colorado for a few weeks, right next to the Coors brewery.  When the season started, the team just wasn’t ready to play, and it cost all those guys their jobs.

*********** QUIZ - He could run and he could throw - with either hand.

He didn't even play football his freshman year - played basketball and baseball instead.

His coach changed his single wing offense just to accommodate his skills.

He set a bowl game
rushing record that will never be broken.

He was the first player from West of Texas to win the Heisman Trophy.

He was the first player taken in the NFL draft.

He played basketball and his team made it to the Final Four, where it lost to Cincinnati.

He will probably forever remain the only player to win a Heisman and play in the Final Four.

He was named Sports Illustrated’s Sportsman of the Year. They wrote, "In an era when the celebrated college athlete is turning into a special kind of mercenary, living and competing in a culture apart from that of the ordinary undergraduate, it is fitting that (he) …should emerge from a bucolic campus deep in the forests of the Northwest, where the simple verities of small-town American life are still held in high esteem."

american flag TUESDAY,  MAY 16,  2017  - "All men are frauds. The only difference between them is that some admit it. I myself deny it."  H. L. Mencken

*********** We tell our kids that we expect them to put the team first.  But how many of us have the courage to make a tough decision to show that we really mean it?

Georgia Tech's Bobby Dodd did, at the price of ending long friendships.

In 1950, Georgia Tech finished 5-6.  The Yellow Jackets were upset by VMI (coached by Tom Nugent) and trounced by Alabama.  Only a 7-0 win over Georgia in the final game kept them from ending the season with a five-game losing streak.

This was long before the Falcons or the Braves. At that time, Georgia Tech WAS Atlanta’s pro team.  A 5-6 record at Tech was unacceptable.

“I was just depressed,” Tech coach Dodd said later. “My Lord, I’d gotten humiliated on Grant Field by Alabama, all the home folks saw that.”

That’s when he made a tough decison - what he called the most painful decision of his life. He decided he had to let two assistants go.

“The most depressing thing I ever had to do,” he told his biographer, Jack Wilkinson,  “was to take Ray Ellis and Dwight Keith and tell them there wasn’t any place for them, really. And I had to let them go.  Broke my heart to do it.”

Wrote Wilkinson,

Dodd wanted - no, needed - younger and more knowledgeable assistants, coaches who could produce better football players, as well as improve Tech’s recruiting. Ray Ellis and Dwight Keith were older, contemporaries of Dodd.  They were also his good friends.

Furthermore, Alice Dodd’s best friend was Dwight Keith’s wife, Randa, and they were quite close to Martha Ellis. All three couples enjoyed each other’s company, especially on Saturday nights after games, when they all met at the Dodds’ for a steak dinner.

“We were all close back in those days,” Dodd said.  “When you only have a small coaching staff like we had, you become close.

“And when you get together on a Saturday night after getting beat on Saturday afternoon, you don’t want to be around anybody but your coaching staff and their wives.”

So the decision was excruciating, but necessary.  And Dodd knew he had to make changes to regain a competitive edge.

From that point on, Georgia Tech caught fire. 

Tech 11-0-1 in 1951, and 12-0 in 1952.  In a six-year span from 1951 through 1956, Georgia Tech’s record was 59-7-3, with a piece of the 1952 National Championship. During that time, the Yellow Jackets went to six straight bowls and won them all.

Letting two assistants go wasn’t the only reason, of course. For one thing, on offense Tech introduced the Belly series, a revolutionary innovation that would make Tech the talk of football, and on defense, they introduced the equally innovative Monster.

To install the new offense, Dodd brought in Frank Broyles, a former Tech QB; he turned the new defense over to Ray Graves, who was already on his staff.

Then, with Broyles in charge of the offense and Graves in charge of the defense, he began to operate much like today’s head coaches.

“He was the first coach to be chairman of the board,” Broyles said. “All the other head coaches had been active in the on-field coaching and the assistant coaches just kinda helped out. But Coach Dodd was the first one who saw the advantages of being chairman of the board and delegating the responsibility. So he delegated to me the offensive part of the game, and to Ray Graves the defensive.”

“I coached the coaches,” Dodd said, “and then they coached the players.”

Part of the reasoning behind Dodd’s reorganization was that two-platoon football had arrived to stay (1950 was the first year that All-American teams are broken down into offensive and defensive units) and he had the players to make it work.

And the coaches.  “One thing that helped us a great deal,” Dodd said, “is that was the year I organized my coaching staff into offense and defense.  Three offensive coaches and three defensive coaches.  They had their group meetings.  I had a B-team coach and a freshman coach.  We had a good organization, real good. And we had more coaches than most people had at that time.”

*********** If Cal football starts really heading downhill, this may give you an idea why.

Back in the mid-60s, when Jim Plunkett was checking out colleges, he ruled out Cal, recalling, “I rejected California because the Free Speech Movement was under way in Berkeley and I didn’t want to be bothered by student protests.”

He went, instead, to Stanford.

(The things you come across - He also said, “the only coast school that didn’t contact me was USC, but they had already landed Mike Holmgren of San Francisco.”)

*********** I freely admit that I voted for Donald Trump. What the hell - like I was going to vote for Hillary Clinton?

Actually, I felt that the best person for the job was James Webb, a Democrat, yes, but also a combat veteran, former Secretary of the Navy, former Senator, and scholar and author.  Check him out - a quality individual in every respect.  But he got blown out early in the primaries because, well, as we have learned since, no Democrat  had a fair chance to derail the Clinton Express.

So here we are.

What’s this got to do with football?

Well, Sunday, I happened to watch - for the third time - the ESPN 30 for 30 story of the USFL, the closest thing the NFL has had to a competitor since the American Football League officially merged with it in 1970.

There was a young Donald Trump - 30 years younger - taking over ownership of the New Jersey Generals’ franchise, proceeding to spend enormous and unrealistic amounts of money on players,  and then almost single-handedly forcing the league, which had been enjoying some success playing in the spring,  to move its schedule to the fall - and predictably disastrous head-to-head conflict with the NFL.

It is not, shall we say, a flattering portrayal of Mr. Trump.

After watching the show three times now, I’m convinced that if, instead of blowing their money on stupid, conventional campaign ads, the Democrats had just run  clips from that show - over and over - Hillary Clinton could have won.

*********** Talked last Friday with Mike Lude, who’s making great progress following  knee replacement surgery five weeks ago.  (Mike’s 94 and looking forward to getting back to his daily four-mile walks.)

I got to asking him about Bill Yeoman, and he said he knew and really liked Bill.

Said that he’d gotten to know him when Yeoman was on Duffy Daugherty’s staff at Michigan State.

Mike said that when he got the head coaching job at Colorado State, he knew that the first thing he had to do was get himself a defense.  After all, up until then he’d been mainly an offensive guy, coaching the line at Delaware.

His old friend Frank Broyles was head coach at Arkansas, and was having success running the 5-2 Monster defense that he’d learned from Ray Graves when both of them were coaching under Bobby Dodd at Georgia Tech. (Dodd contended in his autobiography, “Dodd’s Luck,” that Graves got it from Bud Wilkinson at Oklahoma.)

Broyles, to whom Mike had shown the Wing-T several years earlier, even spending a spring practice at Arkansas, repaid the favor by teaching Mike the ins and outs of the Monster.

And then, thanks to  a visit to Michigan State, and Bill Yeoman’s introducing him to the defensive guys, Mike picked up their then-innovative way of calling out who was going to force the run (“Cloud” if it was going to be the corner, “Sky” if it was going to be the safety).

After that, Mike told me, “I was all set.”

*********** “Bigotry exists, but it is far down on the list of problems that minorities now face. I grew up black in segregated America, where it was hard to find an open door.  It’s harder now for young blacks to find a closed one.” 

Shelby Steele, senior fellow ay Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, and author of “Shame: How America’s Past Sins Have Polarized Our Country.”

FROM “The Exhaustion of American Liberalism” Wall Street Journal - March 5, 2017

*********** A friend wrote…

I was listening to some chatter about WSU on Fox radio and the guy had done an interview with Mike Leach. So after the interview the lead
guy was talking about how scenic it is at WSU, the stadium being on a beautiful lake and all. Yep. I recall that water but I what I saw wasn’t Wazzu.
Is there water at WSU stadium?

Um, no...  He's undoubtedly thinking of Husky Stadium and confusing the Cougs with the Huskies.

WSU is located in the Palouse area of Southeast Washington. The Palouse is a beautiful area, but it doesn’t have any significant bodies of water one could call "lakes."

The Palouse has few trees, and with its random dimples and humps, it looks like a links course for a giant.   It was originally grassland, but the soil is unbelievably rich and deep and so it's a very productive wheat-growing region.

The Palouse was the home of Chief Joseph and the Nez Perce.   The Appaloosa horse - the "Nez Perce horse" - got its name from the area.

COUGAR COUNTRY - THE PALOUSE                                                      HUSKY STADIUM AND LAKE WASHINGTON


*********** Without any conclusive studies whatsoever to back up the extravagant  claims that “Hawk Tackling”  is a safer and more effective method of tackling, I have my suspicions  that it’s about to be forced on us.  I think the only thing that’s prevented that from happening already is that tackling low, as it advocates,  does seem to be at cross purposes with USA Football’s “Heads Up Tackling,” which we ARE forced to learn about.

One of my objections to the “technique” is that it runs counter to one very important defensive principle: Stay off the ground!

With Hawk tackling, one shot is all you get - miss, and you’re on the ground.   Dead wood.  Out of the play.

As for safety - any way you look at it, the head is low, and since it’s impossible to be precise with your aim,   a miss  in one direction almost certainly means a missed arm tackle; but a miss  in the other could mean a broken neck.

It does seem to me that Hawk tackling is ideal if you’re coaching NFL defensive backs. A lot of those guys see themselves as coverage specialists and don’t like to tackle anyhow (can you say "Deion?") ;  concerned about  the  risk of injury and the potential end to their  multimillion-dollar careers, it’s a great way for them to at least look like they’re trying to tackle.

And get this, from the Chicago Tribune:

Hawk tackling has raised safety concerns too. Rugby is dealing with its own head injury crisis — the concussion rate in England's top professional league has more than doubled over the last two seasons — and Dave Gan, an assistant football coach for O'Fallon Township High School near St. Louis, said inexperienced players who employ the technique are in danger of sustaining a catastrophic spinal injury.

"I just worry that striking with the shoulder, you'll end up in a bad position with your neck," said Gan, who prefers the Heads Up approach.

*********** A native of San Francisco, Ollie Matson was an Olympic sprinter, winning medals in the 400 meters and as part of the 4 x 400 relay team in the 1948 games in Helsinki, Finland.

As a college football player, he led the nation in rushing and touchdowns scored his senior year, and helped lead his team, the University of San Francisco, to a 9-0 record.

The 1951 University of San Francisco Dons are  considered one of the greatest college football teams of all time. From its ranks came such NFL standouts as Matson, Bob St. Clair, Gino Marchetti, Ed Brown, Joe Scudero, Dick Stanfell.  Yet despite rolling over their competition, the Dons were not invited to a bowl game. Yes, there were far fewer bowl games then, and yes, his team did not have the kind of following that bowl games wanted, but almost certainly a major reason was the opposition of the major bowls - located in the South -  to inviting teams with black players. He was one of two black players on his team (the other, Burl Toller, almost certainly would have gone on to a pro career, but he suffered an injury and turned to officiating, which led to his becoming the first black official). The rest of the players on the team, led by giant (6-9) Bob St. Clair and World War II combat veteran Gino Marchetti,  announced that even if invited, there was no way that they would play without their black teammates.

Interesting side note: the public relations guy for USF was a young undergraduate named Alvin “Pete” Rozelle.

Ollie Matson was a first round draft choice in the NFL by the Chicago Cardinals - the third pick overall - and was co-rookie of the year.

He played for four different teams over 15 seasons, and was named first team All-Pro seven times.  He was named to the NFL’s All-Decade team for the 1950s.

He was so highly thought of that the Los Angeles Rams traded NINE players to the Cardinals to get him. 

Interesting side note: the GM of the Rams was Alvin “Pete” Rozelle.



*********** I enjoy the football blog, but I REALLY liked the narrative about the rail bridge construction. That's America. If teachers could've described the event as you did, they'd have done their students a great service.

John Vermillion
St. Petersburg, Florida

If John V. enjoyed it, I’ll take the compliment.  He’s an author whose work I’ve enjoyed reading.


*********** Hugh,

Wow.  Two quizzes in a row I didn't have to think twice about!

Ollie Matson is the answer to your Friday quiz.  

After having spent a couple of years at the University of San Francisco coaching their football club team in 1981-82 I became very familiar with that great 1951 USF team.  Not only did they have Ollie Matson, but they also had Gino Marchetti, Bob St. Clair, Red Stephens, Dick Stanfel, Ed Brown, Scooter Scudero, and Burl Toler.  Seven Pro Bowlers and 3 Hall of Famers all on one college team.

Toler would have gone on to NFL fame as a player, but an injury prevented him from that.  Instead he went on to NFL fame as an NFL Official.  He and Matson were the only two African-Americans on the team that you spoke about.  There was no way the team would accept a bowl invitation if they couldn't bring their two black teammates with them.

The coach was none other than Joe Kuharich.  It was that '51 USF team that propelled Kuharich to the head coaching job at Notre Dame.  There was another member of that team that ended up becoming a Bay Area coaching legend.  Vince Tringali.  Tringali was a very successful head coach at St. Ignatius in the City, and then became the head coach at... USF... when they revived football in 1970 as a Division II Independent.  

There's a great book that has been written chronicling that '51 USF team called "Undefeated, Untied, and Uninvited".  It's a quick read, but provides a ton of information leading up to that glorious year, and explains the demise of football at USF the following year.

Have a great weekend!

Joe Gutilla
Austin, Texas

QUIZ -  A Cleveland native, he played at Ohio State under Paul Brown before entering the service in World War II.

After the War, he played one year in the NFL and then embarked on a coaching career.

He spent 11 years as an assistant at an Ohio college before making the jump to the NFL.

He coached first under Weeb Ewbank then under Don Shula. Known by the players as the “Easy Rider” because of the way his personality contrasted with that of the hot-tempered Shula,  he was Shula’s offensive coordinator for seven years. Two of the other members of Shula’s staffs during that time were Chuck Noll and Bill Arnsparger.

He became an NFL head coach and had immediate success. Going into his third season as an NFL head coach, he was 21-6-1, with a Super Bowl win to his credit.  But then a new owner and a new GM came on the scene,  and  when his team got off to a 1-4 start, he was ordered by the GM to bench his QB, already a legend and a future Hall of Famer whom he’d been coaching for years. When he refused to do so, he was fired.

He was hired the next season by another NFL team, and took them to a 6-7-1 season, good enough for second place in the NFL Central.

And then, the following summer, while mowing his lawn, he suffered a heart attack and died.  He was just 53.

american flag FRIDAY,  MAY 12,  2017  - “If you get the objectives right,  a lieutenant can write the strategy.”  General George C. Marshall

*********** One of the things I emphasized at my recent Kansas City clinic was if it’s going to help you get better,  that you have to be willing to make some change, and I listed just a dozen ways I’d changed since I started running the Double Wing back in the early 90s.

1. I SQUARED UP MY WINGBACKS  - Got the idea from Mike Emery, at Fitch HS in Groton, Connecticut.  I don’t see how you can run a good “reach” play or keep your wingbacks from being held up at the line when you’ve got them turned in at 45 degrees.

2. I ELIMINATED MOTION ON SUPER POWER - Did this years ago in response to guys who were anticipating Super Power the instant I sent a man in motion.  Why help them out? 

3. I TEACH MY RUNNING BACK ON SUPER POWER TO PUSH ON THE BACK OF THE TACKLE -  I got this from John Irion, now coaching at Granville, NY HS.  It keeps my back from getting too much depth - a definite no-no - it keeps him close to his primary interferer, and it pretty much eliminates bouncing outside

4. I TEACH MY PULLING LINEMEN TO “RUN THE CIRCLE.” - This one came to me while I was watching spring practice at Duke and I saw defensive linemen running around a hoop made with PVC pipe.  Why not offensive linemen? At all costs you have to keep your backside linemen  from turning their shoulders on Super Powers:  if you’re running Double Wing and your pulling linemen are getting in the way of your running backs, that’s probably why.  Best way to cure it is to start running the circle drill. And making it an everyday drill. 

5. I TEACH MY QUARTERBACK THE HOCKEY STICK - His path on just about every play we run  is approximately the shape of a hockey stick; this means I no longer have him lead through the hole on Super Powers.

6. I HAVE THE B-BACK SLIDE SIDEWAYS ON 6-G - Until he gets the ball, that is. Originally, I had him run directly at the point of attack the instant the ball was snapped.   Got this idea from watching a kid in Abington, Pennsylvania having success running the play this way.

7. I SNAP THE BALL ON “GO” - Every stinking time. This was something we (Greg Koenig, Brad Knight and I ) pretty  much came to agreement on at a camp in Beloit, Kansas a few years ago.  It’s worked fine for all of us.  One less thing to have to teach, one less  thing for the kids to have to remember.   And we NEVER jump.

8. I COUNT THE STEPS ON PASS ROUTES - I comes as close as we can come to uniformity of timing among receivers. I guarantee you it;s easier for a receiver to avoid defenders when he’s counting steps then when he’s trying to estimate distance visually.

9. SUPER CRISS-CROSS IS NOW MY STAPLE COUNTER - (“SUPER”) is my code for the QB to toss the ball.  Super XX looks exactly like Super Power and the ball handling is much easier to teach and much safer than a handoff exchange.

10. I NO LONGER TEACH THE SHOESHINE - For some time, we’ve had backside tackles cut off and turn back.  Why not tight ends? It works fine. What the hell - it’s going to be outlawed one of these days, anyhow.

11. ON SUPER POWER, I LET THE PULLING TACKLE FIND A HOLE - Sometimes, it’s not as wide as the intended  “point of attack.”  So what?  Nothing wrong with our running back following our tackle up through a better, closer hole.

12. WE NOW PULL THE BACKSIDE GUARD ON 6-G - (which then makes it 6-G-O) -  Just as with our pulling tackle on Super Power, he slides sideways until finds a hole - and he heads upfield immediately.

And then it hit me - this is just 12 of the many things I’ve been doing differently, and unless people have been attending my clinics faithfully, they haven’t had a way to keep up.

This is where  my “EVOLUTION OF AN OFFENSE” video comes in.

It covers an awful lot of ground - including most of the drills, techniques, plays and formations that I’ve added or changed since my first video in 1995.

I’ve been selling the “EVOLUTION OF AN OFFENSE” DVD for $49.95 and it’s been a good enough seller - but not nearly enough Double Wing coaches have seen it, nor have they been to any of my clinics or camps, which means that in many cases they’re running a 20-year-old Double Wing. Still plenty good, you understand - but not as good as it can be or ought to be.

So, for a limited time, I’m offering a SPRING SPECIAL - just in time for your pre-season planning -


I’d rather see this video get into the hands of twice the number of coaches at half the price.

And if you’re new to the Double Wing and you purchase my basic package - I’ll include EVOLUTION OF AN OFFENSE at no charge.

*********** For much of this past Monday and Tuesday, I stood on a narrow bridge, with traffic whizzing by, and watched the replacement of an old railroad bridge with a new one.  When the railroad that uses it happens to be the main line connecting Spokane and points east with Portland/Vancouver and the West Coast, you can’t take your sweet time.

Just as the railroad said it would, it took 32 hours to replace a steel truss bridge that had served since 1908 - when the population of our town  was 1,100 (it’s now more than 20,000) - with a new one.  That’s how long service on the main line - up to 50 trains a day - was interrupted.

When I first read about the project, several years ago, I tried to imagine how they could pull it off without tieing up traffic for months - which wasn’t an option.  The route in question runs alongside the Columbia River for a couple hundred miles to Pasco, Washington, where it hooks up with another BNSF line farther to the north between the Seattle area and Pasco.  In the event of a long shutdown caused by the bridge project, all eastbound BNSF traffic would have to be re-routed over that northern route - which goes over, around and through the Cascade Range, with curves and grades and tunnels that all limit the speed, the length, the weight and the height of cargo that can be carried.

The solution was to do 90 per cent of the preliminary work right there, on site, without interfering with rail service, leaving only the actual replacement to be done while holding up traffic.

First, they built two “temporary” bridges paralleling the current bridge, one on each side.   The term “temporary” does not in any way imply that these bridges were not stout:  they were strong enough to hold enormous cranes and other equipment, as well as, eventually, the old bridge and its replacement.

On one of the temporary bridges (the civil engineers probably have a term for them) the new bridge truss, built and constructed someplace I know not where, was assembled, bolted together. (No more rivets, as in the older truss.)

Meanwhile, the other temporary bridge was made ready for the placement on it of the old railroad bridge.

Once the new bridge was ready to go, the old bridge, rails and all, was disconnected and jacked up off its supports.  And then came the near-miraculous part.

Thick steel rods connected to the old bridge ran through hydraulic jacks, rather small things that looked like old Electrolux vacuum cleaners. They didn’t make a lot of noise, but they were powerful enough to drag that sucker, that old bridge, along greased tracks atop I-beams until it was completely over the temporary bridge, and placed on heavy iron stands.  There, it will await dismantling.

What was amazing was that you couldn’t tell movement by looking at the bridge, but by golly, it was moving. You could by looking at the jack’s piston.  It would push maybe six inches in a couple of minutes, and then they’d reset it, move the plate that it was pushing on, and repeat.

Finally, with the old span out of the way, it was the new bridge’s turn.

In similar fashion, the new bridge was also slid into place, then bolted onto a new, stronger support. Once that was done, the railroad guys took over and connected the rails.  That was actually quite an operation, too.  One large section was a 40-foot reinforced concrete span, positioned precisely by the operator of a giant crane, then bolted in place with splicing plates.  Then there was the matter of making sure things fit on the other end - that called for a circular saw that cut though the rail in a matter of minutes (allowing for having to replace blades).

All that remained then was to pour and tamp down the ballast, running the locomotive and the hopper cars that carried the ballast back and forth until everything was just so, and the new bridge was ready to go. 

And then, the job finished, everyone left, and the trains began to run again.  No ribbon cutting, no nothing.

Just another day at the office.




*********** I was talking with a few of the guys watching the replacement of the BNSF railroad bridge over the Washougal River, and one of them mentioned that it would be a great thing for a high school class to witness.

Amen, I said. Instead of trying to con them into thinking that everyone needed to go to college, even if it meant going into debt to get a worthless degree, schools could show them the beauty and action and worth of the construction trades.

And at the same time, we could point out to them the many things required by the job.  A basic knowledge of math, of course. But every bit as important, an ability to take directions and carry them out unquestioningly; an ability to work well with others; an ability to be on time -  and to be there on time every day.

I thought of so many resemblances to football:    The job was a classic example of long, careful preparation, well before the big event (off-season work) … of the importance of timing - making sure that things were done in the correct sequence… of guys seemingly standing around, doing nothing (on the sidelines) , but then, ready on a minute’s notice,  jumping into action when it was their time… of real, football-type teamwork, with all manner of people charged with doing a lot of different jobs, responsible for doing those jobs well, and depending on others to do their jobs well… If there was any complaining about the job they had to do, I sure didn’t see it… And with the possible exception of the operator of a bigass crane (it had six counterweights, weighing 15 tons apiece and rented, I was told, for $2000 an hour), there were no stars.  Just a bunch of guys who knew their jobs and took pride in doing them well…  Guys to whom the respect of their coworkers mattered a lot.

Maybe American workmanship is dead in some places, but it’s sure alive with these guys.

On second thought, better hold off on that classroom field trip. I can just imagine the irate calls to the principal if the school  had permitted a class to observe an activity which was oh, 99.875 per cent male.

*********** Part of the National Football Foundation’s series “I am a Football Mom”

*********** Q. I see on the playcard for 66 SP the  playside linemen's rule is G-O-AL. Gap-On-? What does AL stand for? Attack Linebacker?

It means “Angle - Late.”  It’s a way to let him know that if there’s nobody in his inside gap, and nobody on him (or if he’s in doubt about whether a man is on him), he comes off at an angle - but not right away. He doesn’t fire out immediately and leave a gap in our front.  First he takes a jab step in place, and then comes off at an angle.   This is important -  he doesn’t fire straight out at a linebacker directly over him. He comes inside at a 45 degree angle, blocking anything in his path.

I remember in one of your films that you mention that a kid that does NOTHING hurts the team less than one who fires out into space.  At least he doesn't create a gap for a linebacker to run through.  We always preach "no cracks in the wall" to help drive this home.  That set of stones has to stay together.

Todd Hollis
Elmwood, Illinois

*********** Does Exxon Mobil have ANY other commercials than the one that plays - over and over - that grating rendition of "The Farmer in the Dell?"

*********** There are lots of reasons why I like Jason Witlock.

Here's another one...

***********  You have GOT to see this - an AVLB (Armoured Vehicle-Launched Bridge)

*********** My connection with Tom Nugent was a very loose one: years after Phil Petry started for him at quarterback as a sophomore against Oklahoma, and then beat Navy - quarterbacked by Roger Staubach, who'd won the Heisman the year before  - he played for me.  At tight end.

I wrote this back in the fall of 2006...

The other day I heard from a former player I hadn't heard from in over 30 years. I have written about him, though, because he was one heck of a player, and he had quite an influence on my career. His name is Phil Petry, and he came to me as a guy who had been a legendary high school player in our town - Hagerstown, Maryland - and had gone to the University of Maryland, where he started some games at quarterback in his sophomore and junior years before his life got off track for one reason or another. And then  there he was, a few years later, back in Hagerstown with his act together, the local hero ready to play for my team, the Hagerstown Bears. An awful lot of people in town expected him to play quarterback.  To be honest, he really was good, and I was getting a little pressure from the team's owner, because unquestionably, Phil at quarterback would be a big attraction. (And in the minor leagues of any sport, that’s always a consideration.) The problem was, I already had a quarterback.  A pretty good one.  Fortunately, as I wrote earlier, Phil volunteered to move to tight end. In his letter, though, Phil gently corrected me...
Hugh, I found the article (on your site) written about the Hagerstown Bears that my friend told me about and I found out things about myself I didn't know. I do remember that I didn't volunteer to play tight end. You asked me if I was a football player or just a quarterback. We went from there, and what could have been a power struggle turned into a mutual respect based on our love and knowledge of the game. I will spend some time reading your web site and educating myself.
Actually, Phil is correct. But it never would have worked if he hadn't willingly gone along with me, and I consider that as good as volunteering. I told Phil that I remembered proposing the switch to him, and this time I told him the thinking that had gone into it (although he was a very bright guy and probably figured it out for himself, anyhow). First of all, we already had a pretty good quarterback, a kid named Chuck Reilly. The players believed in him, and so did I. And there was the element of gratitude on my part as well. The previous season, he'd joined the team in mid-season (he was from Peekskill, New York, but he was stationed at a nearby Army base) and he was good enough that I was finally able to bench the guy I'd been forced to play at QB, a 32-year-old named Hugh Wyatt. We'd lost seven in a row (great way to start a coaching career, eh?) until he arrived, and after his arrival we won seven in a row.
I told Phil that I prized loyalty, and I was loyal to Chuck. He'd saved my ass. There was also the athletic factor. Phil was a really good athlete who could play a number of positions - if he were willing to. Chuck was a good QB, but not as big, strong or athletic as Phil. And, finally, I didn't know Phil. Chuck was a known quantity. I could see that Phil had a great arm, and I could tell that he knew the game, but I really didn't know him well enough to know whether we could work together or whethr I could trust him. I felt that way about a quarterback then,  and I haven't changed in the slightest;  I think way too many coaches fail to take that into account in deciding who their QB's going to be.
In any event, Phil agreed to my suggestion without hesitation, and it made us a much better team. We wound up going 11-4, at one point winning eight straight, and made it to the league championship game. I don't mind saying that Phil "volunteered," because there was no coercion on my part. Persuasion, yes - but no coercion.
Actually, as things turned out, Phil caught 28 passes for us and did a great job of blocking, and he was named all-league tight end.  But just past the midway point of the season, Chuck Reilly was injured, and Phil wound up back at QB anyhow.  He threw 178 times (58 in one game against Chambersburg, Pennsylvania - a minor league record at the time, and still fifth-highest all-time), completing 89 for 1410 yards and 15 TDs. (My research shows that the league's leading receiver that year was a lightning-fast kid out of Wake Forest named Jack Dolbin, who would go on to a nice five-year career with the Denver Broncos.)
I mentioned the influence that Phil Petry had on my career. Phil's example is the reason why I have never bought into the concept of the lace-panties quarterback, who insists on playing quarterback or not at all. Phil was a football player and not just a quarterback, and he's why I have no respect for coaches who pamper their quarterbacks.
(Phil wrote) I thought the writing was very correct in every way. I was flattered by the things you said and I didn't know about the records against Chambersburg. And you are right I wanted to play football that year and I was intrigued about playing another position. You had me working out at halfback and I am truly glad you came up with the tight end. I made all league that year at TE. And led the league most of the year in catches. I had to train Chuck to read the backers the same as I did. He learned quickly and it was like shooting fish in a barrel. I remember we had a scrimmage in Chambersburg I think. And at the half Chuck had not thrown a pass to me and I asked him how many eligible receivers we had and he said 5 and I then asked him to name them. When he said TE I said really??? he got the message and started to use me. And the rest is history.

And then King Corcoran, a teammate (and backup) of Phil's at Maryland, died recently, and it was time for something to be done to correct the injustice Corcoran had perpetrated at Phil’s expense over the years.  For years, this was what you’d come up with when you googled Corcoran Staubach”:

James "King" Corcoran, a former University of Maryland and NFL football player made famous in the 1960s when he quarterbacked a Maryland victory over the Naval Academy squad led by future NFL great Roger Staubach.

Total fabrication. Almost certainly the work of Corcoran himself, a one-man PR firm with only one client.

Yes, Maryland did defeat Staubach-led Navy in 1964, 27-22. That's a matter of record.

But the hero for the Terps was a sophomore quarterback from Hagerstown, Maryland named Phil Petry. In front of a full house of 40,000 fans in College Park, Petry led Maryland to the win by running for one touchdown and throwing for two more.

Corcoran? He didn't even get into the game. In fact, for the entire season, he completed only 10 passes, none of them for touchdowns.

Years later, in 1971 and 1972, Phil Petry would play for me when I coached a minor-league team called the Hagerstown Bears. He was a tremendous athlete and still a fan favorite in his home town, where he'd been a high school All-American. By that time he was 6-2 and about 215, with hands so big that in practice he'd make one-handed catches - catching the ball by the nose. Didn't take a genius to project him as a tight end.

At last, thanks to Dan Daly in the Washington Times, the truth began to come out... (I helped the Times with the details, and promised I would not run the story first)...

Somewhere, King Corcoran is smiling - if not laughing hysterically. To his dying day, which came last month the age of 65, the much-mythologized Maryland quarterback had folks believing he led the Terps to a 27-22 victory over Navy and the great Roger Staubach in 1964.

Actually, the QB that day was Phil Petry, pride of Hagerstown, who accounted for all three of the offense's touchdowns by throwing for two and running for another. (The last six points came on a game-winning 101-yard kickoff return by Kenny Ambrusko.) As for King, there's no indication in any of the newspaper accounts that he even stepped on the field.

So how did one of the highlights of Petry's career turn into one of the highlights of Corcoran's - to the extent of being mentioned in King's obituaries (as well as on his Wikipedia page)?

"Well," Petry says, "knowing him, he probably waited 20 years and then started telling people he beat Roger Staubach. As time passed, people would forget the details of the game - or maybe they wouldn't be old enough to remember them... and - so he made himself the star, as he usually did in his stories. He had very high self-esteem, all these visions of grandeur."

It was a good game for Corcoran to make himself the star of. Staubach had won the Heisman Trophy the year before, when the Mids went to the Cotton Bowl and were ranked as high as second in the nation. What quarterback wouldn't want be able to say that, on a given Saturday, he outplayed the future Dallas Cowboys legend?

But just as it's forgotten that Petry, and not Corcoran, was Maryland's quarterback that afternoon, it's forgotten that Staubach hit 25 of 39 passes for 231 yards and two TDs against the Terps, breaking the school record for completions in a game - by six. (Petry, on the other hand, was a modest 6-for-9 for 81 yards.) Translation: Maryland might have gotten the "W," but nobody outperformed Roger.
"Corcoran Conquers Staubach" is typical of the tall tales spun by King - whose friends, it seems, were nice enough not to ask too many questions. He was, after all, such an engaging guy - and sure could tell a yarn.

Another of his fables involved his brief stint with the Philadelphia Eagles in the summer of 1971. According to his version, he was competing for a roster spot with King Hill - imagine two Kings in the same training camp - and one day Hill, the veteran, told Corcoran, the rookie, to pick up some balls on the practice field. Corcoran, nobody's slave, refused, then declared his intention to take Hill's job. A few days later, the Eagles cut the free-spirited rook (who went off to play for the Norfolk Neptunes).

It's a great story, you have to admit - especially the this-town-ain't-big-enough-for-two-Kings part. There's only one problem: Hill's last season in Philly was 1968. So whoever told Corcoran to pick up the balls - if, indeed, anybody did - it wasn't King Hill.

Corcoran was your basic Legend in His Own Mind. He was a hero in the bombs-away minor leagues - and even threw 31 touchdown passes one year to lead the World Football League (the XFL of the '70s) - but his sip of coffee with the Boston Patriots in 1968 produced nearly as many interceptions (two) as completions (three).

(Former Dolphins quarterback Don Strock, a Pottstown, Pa., native who saw King play for the local Firebirds, once summed him up thusly: "I learned by watching King Corcoran that you can't learn anything by watching King Corcoran.")

Phil Petry, by the way, went on to play some semipro ball himself for the Hagerstown Bears. He isn't bothered in the least, he claims, that Corcoran retroactively inserted himself into the 1964 Maryland-Navy game.

"It doesn't change my life one way or the other," he says. "But I'm grinnin' from ear to ear that all this is coming out now. Besides, my friends here still introduce me as the guy who beat Staubach when he was a senior.' "

(NOTE: Since his death, Corcoran’s wikipedia biography has been changed to reflect the truth about his nonexistent win over Staubach.  He never got into the game.  Phil Petry gets the win. HW)


MIKE FORISTIERE - MATTAWA, WASHINGTON (When I was a kid he came and spoke at our elementary school in Fresno. Big thing for me and it still is.)

*********** A native of Tulare, California, in the heart of the San Joaquin Valley, Bob Mathias, who won two Olympic gold medals in the decathlon and played a major role on Stanford’s 1951 Rose Bowl team, has to be considered one of the greatest athletes of all time.

He was 17 and still in high school when he won the Olympic gold medal in the decathlon.

From the New York Times:

Three months before Mathias graduated, his coach, Virgil Jackson, suggested that he might be interested in competing in a decathlon meet in Los Angeles. As Mathias recalled for Olympic Review in 1975, he said: “That’s great, Coach, it sounds like fun. But just one question: What’s a decathlon?”

As Mathias told American Track and Field in 2004: “Coach probably taught me out of a manual. What he told me to do worked.”

After a year at Kiski  Prep school in Pennsylvania, he enrolled at Stanford.

There, he won four national collegiate decathlon championships; in dual meets, he often competed in as many as seven events.

In football, he played two years as a running back, and helped Stanford to its first Rose Bowl appearance in 11 years by returning a kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown against USC. (It appears to be legend that the ball was kicked by Frank Gifford but I haven’t been able to confirm that.)

He was big (6-2, 190) and plenty fast, and evidently quite tough.  His teammate Bill McColl, a big two-way end who was a two-time All-American (and third in the Heisman voting in 1951) and had an eight-year  career with the Bears, recalled in Fred Merrick’s “Down on the Farm,” a history of Stanford football, “Mathias was one of the best third down men around. Harry Hugasian (another back) used to tell him it was third and five, and he’d get six yards…He was big and fast, could go around end, and also could get short yardage.”

That following summer, Bob Mathias became the first person to win two Olympic decathlon championships, as well as the first person to appear in the both Rose Bowl and the Olympic Games in the same year.

He was so popular that played himself in a movie about his life, “The Bob Mathias Story.”

(Interestingly, his high school coach was played by Ward Bond, who had played football at USC as a teammate of John Wayne, and would appear alongside Wayne in 23 films.  Bond would later gain fame as the star of the TV series Wagon Train.)

Later, he was a four-time Republican Congressman from the Fresno area, and after leaving office he was a consultant to the  President’s Council on Physical Fitness, and after serving as a fund-raiser for the US Olympic Committee,  he became the first director of the United States Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs.

*********** Pretty easy one for me, since playing against Tulare teams on the field named after him in HS and later was an assistant coach at Tulare Western HS for four years: Bob Mathias.  

Congressman Mathias went to Tulare Union HS (formerly the Redskins, now the Tribe).  The football field all three high school use is Bob Mathias Stadium on Tulare Union's campus.  He’s still very much a valley legend.  I had a relative (I think a great-grandadughter, but it's been almost ten years so I don't recall) in one of my classes.


Michael Burchett
Woodlake, California

*********** Hugh,

Any self-respecting sports-loving native of Central California (which I am one) would know who Bob Mathias was.

Mathias was the pride of Tulare (pronounced too-LAIR-ee), he was the ultimate ATHLETE.  At Tulare Union HS he became the best high school fullback in California (if not the entire West Coast); led the basketball team in scoring (18 points per game); and of course was a phenom in track and field for the Redskins (the mascot since has fallen victim to the PC crazies in CA and they are now called "The Tribe").  The stadium at the high school is named Bob Mathias Stadium.

The Central Valley has also produced some other great athletes:

Rafer Johnson - Track and Field/Basketball/Football - Kingsburg
Frank Gifford - Football - Bakersfield
Tom Seaver - Baseball - Fresno
Dutch Warmerdam - Track - Fresno
Frank Chance - Baseball - Fresno
Young Corbett III - Boxing - Fresno
Les Richter - Football - Fresno

There's a bunch of others, but these are the most notable, and hall of famers.

Have a great week!

Joe Gutilla
Austin, Texas

*********** From Pete Porcelli - Watervliet, New York

Was he the guy who was a motivational speaker? who was the motivational speaker who did its easy to be great?

I don’t think he did motivational speaking but he would have been a good one!

My coach in high school was ahead of his time  it was Bob someone who did the motivational speaking former olympian

I’ll bet you’re thinking of Bob Richards - great pole vaulter.

*********** QUIZ - A native of San Francisco, he was an Olympic sprinter, winning medals in Helsinki in the 400 meters and as part of the 4 x 400 relay team.

As a college football player, he led the nation in rushing and touchdowns scored his senior year, and helped lead his team to a 9-0 record.

His team, still considered one of the greatest college football teams of all time, was not invited to a bowl game. Yes, there were far fewer bowl games then, and yes, his team did not have the kind of following that bowl games want, but almost certainly a major reason was the opposition of the major bowls - located in the South -  to inviting teams with black players. He was one of two black players on his team, and the rest of the players on the team made it clear that there was no way that they would play without their black teammates.

He was a first round draft choice in the NFL - the third pick overall - and was co-rookie of the year.

He played for four different teams over 15 seasons.

He was named first team All-Pro seven times, and was named to the NFL’s All-Decade team for the 1950s.

He was so highly thought of that he was once traded for NINE players.

american flag TUESDAY,  MAY 9,  2017  - “No war is over until the enemy says it's over. We may think it over, we may declare it over, but in fact, the enemy gets a vote.” Secretary of Defense James Mattis

*********** The argument over which is the best college team ever continues...

Let me enter my nomination:  Army, 1945.

That team had two Heisman Trophy winners - Doc Blanchard and Glenn Davis - running the ball, and a Sullivan Award (given to the nation’s top  amateur athlete) winner - Arnold Tucker - at quarterback.

In nine games, they outscored opponents 412-46.

Yes, they did play a couple of softies, but they also beat six ranked teams - #3 Navy (32-13) , #6 Michigan (28-7) , #8 Penn (61-0), #9 Notre Dame (48-0), #13 Duke (48-13) and #19 Wake Forest (54-0) -

Overall, their opponents  had a winning percentage of .691.

Navy lost only to Army.   Duke lost only to Army and Navy.  Notre Dame tied Navy and lost only to Army and a powerful Great Lakes Naval Training Center Team coached by Paul Brown and loaded with college stars. Michigan finished second in the Big Nine (Michigan State, the tenth school to join the conference, had yet to be admitted).

(So impressed was Army coach Earl Blaik with Michigan's use of two separate units - one for offense and one for defense - that he adopted the system himself at West Point, where he gave the two units the military term "platoons.”)

Six members of that 1945 Army team were named first-team All-America: DeWitt “Tex” Coulter; John Green, Hank Goldberg, Al Nemetz - and Blanchard and Davis.

Blanchard swept the nation's individual honors, winning the Heisman and Walter Camp Trophies and the Maxwell Award. Davis would win the Heisman the next year.

*********** After listening to Hillary Clinton’s excuses for losing the election, I do believe the lady could learn a few things from football coaches.

Or from a certain Confederate general. 

I happened to come across this, in a review of Stephen W. Sears’ new book, “Lincoln’s Lieutenants:” 

Asked why the Confederates had lost the Battle of Gettysburg, Confederate Major General George Pickett said, ‘I always thought that the Yankees had something to do with it.’”

*********** Hugh,

OK...what came first?  The Stacked "I" formation?  Or the "I" formation we all saw USC run for so many years.  Was it Tom Nugent who came up with the Stacked "I"?  Or, did John McKay take one of the backs out of it to make his tailbacks famous, and add a wide receiver threat?  Or is it all just semantics?

I had a lot of success running the Stacked "I" a number of times in my DW package while coaching at various schools.  It was one of only four formations I ran (Tight, Slot, Stack, and Spread).  We could run unbalanced from any of them.  Move a back with any of them.  Utilize motion (or not) with any of them.  Defenses had a heckuva time trying to figure us out.

Joe Gutilla
Austin, Texas

Hi Joe-

I think Tom Nugent first came with the regular I, then the stacked I - which he called his “Shifty-I” because he shifted into a lot of different formations.

When I first began coaching in 1970 I tried to copy a lot of what  Hank Stram and the Chiefs were doing (they’d just won the Super Bowl) -  including shifting from the Stacked I.

I shifted out of it a lot over the years.

Stack (I got the stack Super Power from a coach named Jerry Pugh) is still a staple part of my Double Wing offense.

*********** STICK TO SPORTS?

ESPN last week laid off around 100 reporters and on-air personalities, and BTIG media analyst Rich Greenfield said the net's main challenge is that "subscribers are falling, eyeballs watching are falling, and they have way, way overspent on sports rights." He said, "They are scrambling to reduce costs. There is no other way to read it."

Conservative talk show host Steve Deace concurred, saying, "This is the evolution of how media has evolved." However, he added politics "certainly has played a role in how deep the cuts had to be."

Deace: "It has hastened their demise. When your business model is collapsing, the last thing you do is narrow your potential base."

BUZZFEED's Steven Perlberg wondered how ESPN became "such a flashpoint conservative meme."

Deace and Republican strategist Matt Mackowiak claim that they "trace the beginning conservatives’ criticism" of the net to its coverage of Michael Sam, who publicly came out as gay prior to the '14 NFL Draft. Deace said, "They drove this into the ground" (, 5/2).

YOUGOV's Paul Hiebert cited data from the market research company that a quarter of all current ESPN customers are "considering cancelling their cable subscription at some point in the future." However, there also is "some truth to the idea that conservatives have grown cold" to the net. YouGov's numbers "show that ESPN impression scores among Republicans have dropped" by half in the last four years. Democrats have "kept a relatively stable view of the network during the same period."

This comes as Caitlyn Jenner in '15 was given the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage at the ESPY's, while ESPN fired MLB analyst Curt Schilling in part for "posting controversial content" on social media. In both cases, Republican sentiment toward ESPN "declined" (, 5/3).

In Chicago, Mike North writes the net hiring Ray Lewis in '13 was the "beginning of ESPN's negative ratings." The company will continue to lose subscribers "unless they start to give the flyover states some representation" (Chicago DAILY HERALD, 5/5).

***********  I have a good understanding of how you block your reach play after watching the 2011 camp DVD and comparing it to the wristband play cards. Can you explain to me why you prefer to hand off instead of pitch the ball?

Do you consider that play in the superpower family or is it a stand alone play that has complement plays with it?

Obviously you can boot off of it. 47C could be married to it. Possibly 6 G-O. Would you consider 3 trap at 2 not in a series with 88 reach because of the severe change in the B  Back's path?


I have from time to time let the runner go into slightly more motion (“Ripper”) and tossed the ball and it’s been okay, but I keep coming back to using the handoff.

The three main reasons for the handoff on the reach sweep-

1. Done with sudden, quick motion, it means that even after the ball is actually handed off, it can still look to the defense like any one of several plays.

2. It sets up the bootleg

3. It enables the “follow” - the QB sweep.  This is what the QB is instructed to do anyhow if he misses the handoff.

Reach isn’t a stand-alone play. I actually consider RIP 88 Reach to be the Godfather of the “RIP” family - Counter, G, Trap, Bootleg.  I want defenses to be conscious of the Reach play whenever they see motion.

The Trap, I should point out,  fits right into the family because when the ball’s snapped and the QB pivots as if to hand off on the reach sweep the defense momentarily loses sight of the B-Back.

*********** QUIZ:  A native of Lawrence, Massachusetts, Tom Nugent started out as a high school coach in Virginia after World War II, then got his first college head coaching job at VMI.  While there, he invented the I-formation.  The formation proved so successful that it  came to the attention of coaches at bigger programs, including Notre Dame’s Frank Leahy and USC’s John McKay, and today, in various forms,  it’s considered a staple of offensive football

From the VMI, he moved south to Florida State, which had only begun playing football six years earlier.  Not long before that, it had been a women’s college; now, it’s a national power.

At FSU, two of his best known players were Burt Reynolds, who scarcely played because he injured his knee, but would go on to become a famous actor, and Lee Corso, who served under him as a graduate assistant for one season, then as a full-time assistant for seven more seasons, and now, retired as a coach himself, enjoys great fame as a TV sports personality, especially on college football GameDay.

After six years at Florida State, he moved on to a Maryland.  I had the good fortune to be living in Baltimore at the time and to witness first-hand his football ingenuity, which included the “Typewriter huddle,” cross-country passes on kickoff returns, and increasing his kicker’s jersey number after every made extra point and field goal.  He also recruited Darryl Hill, the first black player to play major college football in the South.

Tom Nugent was never an assistant coach.  He was head coach at three different places, and left all of them with a winning record.  His overall record was 89-80-3.


MARK KACZMAREK - DAVENPORT, IOWA - My college coach opened the door for Bobby Bowden at FSU by having 2 horrible seasons prior (that was Darrell Mudra - successful everyplace else he coached)

*********** Tom Nugent was almost the first to put players' names on jerseys...

From the Washington Post in 1961…

Nugent names on jerseys

*********** Then there was  “Chile Bean” - When Bernardo Branson, a Maryland soccer player from Chile, first showed off his place-kicking ability, Lee Corso, then a Maryland assistant, was impressed.  “When he booted it,” Corso said, “It looked as if he could drive it through a brick wall.”

The Maryland players liked him - called him “Chile Bean” - and the fans loved him.  Or at least they loved the number gimmick.

Tom Nugent excited Maryland fans by making Bramson his "human scoreboard" - adding to his jersey number every time he scored with a kick.

Against South Carolina in the second game of the experiment, he started out wearing 3 (earned the week before against Oklahoma) then changed it to 4 and then 5 with extra points,  then to eight with a field goal, and then, finally, 9.

By season’s end, his number was 44.

The folks back home in Chile were amazed to hear that he was playing American football. “He said, They could not believe a player could sit down on the bench during the whole game and just kick a couple of times and still be on the team.”

Bramson wearing zeroBramson wearing three

Above Left: Pre-season, Bernardo Bramson wears Number 0.  Holding for him is QB Phil Petry, who would later star for me in Hagerstown, Maryland.
Above Right: On the Maryland sidelines, Bramson’s number is changed to “3” after making a field goal in the opening game.

*********** Although there are numerous reasons for which Tom Nugent should be known around Maryland - including being the coach who integrated Maryland - and ACC - football,  there is definitely one reason that a lot of Terp fans aren’t aware of. 

From 1917 to 2014, Maryland beat Penn State only one time - and Tom Nugent was the coach who did it.

It was for good reason that the esteemed college football analyst, the late, great Beano Cook, once predicted on a pregame show that Penn State would beat Maryland that day.  “Why?” he asked, rhetorically. Then he answered his own question: “Because Penn State ALWAYS beats Maryland.”

In 1961, when a Nugent-coached Maryland team beat Penn State, 21-17, it was the Terps’ only win over the Nittany Lions in the 20th Century.  In fact, after that win, the Terps would lose 28 more times (with one tie in there), before finally winning again, 20-19, in 2014. 

*********** From Sports Illustrated, September 23, 1963…
Maryland Coach Tom Nugent, the most inventive mind and fastest mouth in football and a man totally unappreciated by Clemson's Howard, will have a team good enough to knock off either Clemson or Duke and interesting enough to watch if it never wins a game. Nugent now has a "shifty I offense" (Howard says that sounds like Nugent) in which the wingback will occasionally shift into the line to become a split end and the split end will drop off to become a wingback, the good of which only time and Tom Nugent will tell.

Maryland also has Darryl Hill, the first Negro ever to play in the ACC, ready to start at wingback. He is a 165-pound transfer from Navy, and he "moves," says Nugent. Even better are Dick Shiner at quarterback and Tailback Len Chiaverini, who led the ACC in rushing last year with 602 yards. Maryland's line will be smaller and faster than last year's and could be pushed around quite a bit. But Shiner's arm and Nugent's guile will take the Terrapins a long way.
“Unappreciated by Frank Howard?"

That's putting it mildly.

A brash, fast-talking Yankee who, though years removed from his native Massachusetts, still had a pronounced New England accent, Tom Nugent really got under the skin of Clemson’s crusty old Frank Howard.  Howard had been coach at Clemson for almost 20 years when Nugent arrived on the scene at Maryland, and the two were like oil and water. Howard was old school -he’d been a single wing coach up until the 1950s; Nugent represented everything new and shiny and modern.  And, of course, he was a Yankee, while Howard, a native Alabamian, exemplified every stereotype ever ascribed to rural southern whites. (What I’m politely trying to say is that in the absence of any evidence to the contrary,  my recollection of him is as, well, a redneck.)

Howard was opinionated and said whatever he damned pleased and didn’t care at all what people thought about it. Once, before a game with Georgia,  he referred to the Bulldogs as  “that team from the knucklehead league.”

He scoffed at Nugent’s many innovations, and before one Maryland-Clemson game, mocked Nugent’s use of “high school plays.”

Nugent’s response?  “Well, when you’re playing against a high school coach…”

(For the record, in his seven years at Maryland, Nugent was 5-2 against Ole Frank. Ironically, in 1965, Howard switched to the I formation.)

maryland press guide                                                       
*********** Years ago, when newspapers were far more important than they are now, colleges put out  Press Guides.

Now, they’re called Media Guides. In many cases, they don’t even bother to print them any more - they just put them online.

I have a collection of old ones that I accumulated years ago, rescued from the newspapers I was writing for before they could throw them out.

This is the cover of Maryland’s 1965 Press Guide.  The coach, of course, is Tom Nugent.  The player is Walt “Whitey” Marciniak, a 5-10, 220-pound fullback from Old Forge, Pennsylvania.  You may have heard of his daughter, Michelle.  She was USA Today, Naismith, Parade, Gatorade and Converse National High School Player of the Year at Allentown Central Catholic High, and as point guard at Tennessee she led the Vols to two SEC titles and a National Championship.

Uh, about Maryland's colors... they really are red and white, black and gold.  They are the colors of the Maryland flag, which represents the coats of arms of 
the Calverts and the Crosslands, the families of the parents of the founder of Maryland, George Calvert, Lord Baltimore.    I love the Maryland flag, and I wish that Underarmour (founded by a former Maryland football player named Kevin Plank) would come to its senses and realize it doesn't look good plastered  all over the Maryland football helmets.

Typewriter Huddle
*********** Tom Nugent’s “typewriter” huddle in its original form.  It was VERY radical.  At that time, EVERYBODY was in a closed huddle.  The only question was whether to make it circular or rectangular.

Corso and Shiner

*********** Maryland quarterback Dick Shiner, who until 2014 was the only Maryland quarterback ever to beat Penn State, is shown in a 1963 photo with assistant coach Lee Corso.  Ironically, the two stars of the Maryland victory over Penn State were both Pennsylvanians, Shiner from Lebanon and receiver Gary Collins from Williamstown.  Shiner went on to a solid if not spectacular NFL career.  Collins starred in the Cleveland Browns’ last NFL championship game win (1964) and is one of the best players not to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Dick Shiner:

Gary Collins:

*********** The best evidence that Tom Nugent invented the I Formation…

Allison Danzig, in his great  book, “The History of American Football,” quotes from a letter Tom Nugent wrote dated April 20, 1954:

“When we defeated Georgia Tech in 1950, it (the I formation) was carried in many of the Southern newspapers as an innovation in football.  There has been much publicity during the past  two or three years regarding Notre Dame’s use of the formation; and… in the Sporting News and in Frank Leahy’s syndicated column, full credit for the invention was given to me.

“Coach Bernie Crimmins, one of Leahy’s assistants, came to VMI and stayed with us while he studied the I, or true T, as is is known.  He returned to Notre Dame with our films and other material.  The following year Notre Dame made successful use of the I and it received considerable national publicity.”

*********** I can’t leave Tom Nugent without saying something about the intertwined stories of Darryl Hill and Jerry Fishman.

Forget “Brian’s Song.”  “Darryl and Jerry” would have made a much better story.

Hill was a a wide receiver, a slender, quiet, well-educated kid from a private school in Washington, DC.  Fishman was a big, hard-nosed kid from Norwalk, Connecticut, a 6-1, 230-pound linebacker with a mean streak.  But the two guys had something in common - fighting prejudice.  Daryll Hill was black, Jerry Fishman was Jewish. 

Recalled Fishman, ”He being the only black and me being the only Jew, we used to call ourselves 'The Onlys.’”  

Theirs was a symbiotic relationship: In return for Fishman looking out for Hill, Hill helped Fishman academically.

A nice article by Stan Goldberg, who as the sports editor of the Frederick (Maryland) News-Post, right out of the University Maryland, employed me during basketball season to help cover local high schools:

Stan Goldberg - Darryl Hill

Jerry Fishman didn’t mind egging on the opposition.  In fact, in Maryland’s 1964 win over Navy, he helped bring an end to the series between the two teams.  He twice gave the Brigade of Midshipmen the finger, the first time after they booed him for what they thought was a cheap shot in front of the Navy bench, and the second time - this time using both hands - after Ken Ambrusko’s 101-yard kick return sealed the Terps’ win.

Darryl Hill and Jerry Fishman

More Jerry Fishman

Fishman, quoted at the time of the renewal of the Maryland-Navy rivalry

“Black Man, White Field”  - A really nice video special on Daryll Hill and some of his experiences as the South’s first black player.  Of special interest is his recollection of an incident with him and Brian Piccolo.

*********** QUIZ:  A native of the San Joaquin Valley, he was 17 and still in high school when he won the Olympic gold medal in the decathlon.

After a year of prep school in Pennsylvania, he enrolled in college in California.

There, he won four national collegiate decathlon championships; in dual meets, he often competed in as many as seven events.

In football, he played two years as a running back, and helped his team to the Rose Bowl by returning a kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown against USC.

The following summer, he became the first person to win two Olympic decathlon championships, and the first person to appear in the both Rose Bowl and the Olympic Games in the same year.

He starred in a movie about his life.

Later, he was a four-time United States congressman from California.

american flag FRIDAY,  MAY 5,  2017  - “When you’re young, you look at television and think, There’s a conspiracy. The networks have conspired to dumb us down. But when you get a little older, you realize that’s not true. The networks are in business to give people exactly what they want. That’s a far more depressing thought."   Steve Jobs

*********** Greg Koenig, of Cimarron, Kansas, sent me a link to Alumni Football’s Web site

Sounds like it is a very big deal.  I swear Greg said that in Kansas alone there are at least 30 games scheduled for this summer.

*********** Regarding my serendipitous discovery of Weston, Missouri, Coach Mark Kaczmarek, of Davenport, Iowa wrote, “I see you've been following the "Blue Highways" that William Least Heat-Moon wrote about 30+ years ago...That is the sort of travel a native Cheese-head is used in Iowa, that same joys of discovery occur on those types of travels.”

(It may have been that long ago - God help us all - but the “Blue Highways” he refers to is a great book about the author’s travels around the United States by leaving the main roads and traveling those “Blue Highways” - the backroads that when they do show up on maps are often just thin blue lines.)

*********** Classic CYA:

The U.S. State Department issued a travel alert for Europe on Monday, saying U.S. citizens should be aware of a continued threat of terrorist attacks throughout the continent.

Malls, government facilities, hotels, clubs, restaurants, places of worship, parks, airports and other locations are all possible targets for attacks, the State Department's alert said.

Which, it seems to me, covers just about every square inch of Europe.

*********** I don’t normally print emails that coaches send me after clinics, but this one I had to print…

Thanks so very much for having (us) there to experience the Double Wing Offense.  The 5 coaches who were at Chappell’s for dinner on Saturday evening treated us like we had been with them for years. 

A lot of you guys understand the feeling I had when I read the email - It’s like getting a letter from a stranger complimenting you on the type of kids you have on your team.

I’m pleased and proud of the sort of brotherhood that we’ve been able to create over the years and it’s always gratifying when coaches new to our system experience it - and then become a part of it.

(LEFT) Coaches Greg Koenig of Cimarron, Kansas and MIke Benton of Colfax, Illinois.  Coach Benton celebrated his birthday at the clinic.
(RIGHT) Coaches John Cruse and Dave McFeely of Bradford, Ohio and Kyle Ross, of Polo, Missouri


(LEFT) Brady Brewer, Rodger Williams and Bryan Brewer, of Rio, Wisconsin; (RIGHT) Two great Iowa coaches - Brad Knight of Clarinda and Kirk Ferentz of Iowa City -  have their pictures taken together at Chappell's

chappells helmets

(LEFT) Some of the MANY helmets on the ceilings at Chappell's

*********** Chappell's is a must stop for coaches.  Most of the Omaha area has a helmet up....always fun to send your kids around to try and find helmets they recognize.

Jerry Lovell
Bellevue, Nebraska

*********** This might tell you something…

Dartmouth College, an elite Ivy League school in Hanover, New Hampshire, conducted a survey of students to determine their openness to having a roommate with opposing political views.

Among those who indentified as Republicans (there can’t have been that many at an Ivy League school), 69 per cent said they’d be open to the idea. 

Among the far more tolerant, far more inclusive, far more open-minded  Democrats, only 39 per cent said they would.

*********** Secretary of Defense James Mattis dashed the hopes of a handful of service academy athletes who harbored aspirations of playing professional sports after graduation when he announced in a memo that all graduates of service academies (and ROTC programs at other colleges) must first serve a minimum of two years of active duty before they may be permitted to consider offers from professional sports organizations.

This reverses a policy announced just a year ago by  Ashton Carter, perhaps the worst Secretary of Defense in our nation's history.

"The military academies and ROTC exist to develop future officers who enhance the readiness and lethality of our military services," he said.  "During their first two years following graduation, officers will serve as full-fledged military officers carrying out normal work and career expectations of an officer who has received the extraordinary benefits of an ROTC or military academy education at taxpayer expense.”

My take:

GEN Mattis is right. The argument has been advanced that it would be “good PR” for the academies to be represented in the NFL and other such leagues - that it would help recruitment. 

I call bulls— on that.

Yes, I suppose there is an outside chance that some service academy graduate running down under kickoffs or on an NFL team's practice squad (which is where most of these guys wind up) might actually help academy recruiting, but I doubt it. Besides, it's not as if the academies need any help in that area. More than 10,000 kids every year - highly qualified kids, I might add - compete for a little more than 1200 slots at each of our three defense-department service academies. (The Coast Guard Academy and the Merchant Marine Academy are not part of the Defense Department.)  The American taxpayers then spend close to $500,000 to train them as officers - not as professional athletes.

Every one of those slots is precious, and we shouldn't be filling them with people who aspire to be pro athletes.

It’s not good for the morale of the other cadets and midshipmen, who already think that athletes receive special breaks.

And it’s sure to bring into question by some the need for service academies in the first place. (Most people don't know this, but there is, and always has been, a powerful group of liberals who would love to shut the academies down or greatly reduce them in size, importance and influence.)

Some in favor of the "pro pass" are sure to bring up  Alejandro Villanueva, a West Point graduate who now starts on the offensive line for the Steelers.  Only one problem:  “Ali” definitely did not get a pass in order to play pro football.  He served in the US Army for four years, and during that time he saw more combat than many soldiers see in a 20-year career.

Something else that isn’t mentioned in these articles: they mainly talk about football players, but this being the 21st Century in which we’re forced to say, despite all evidence to the contrary,  that all sports are of equal importance, "PR" passes for "pro athletes" have gone to soccer players, minor league baseball players, and women in assorted sports.   Pardon my cynicism, but I rather doubt that a guy playing Class A baseball or MLS soccer is inspiring many youngsters to want to one day be  Army officers.  I mean, if the military is such an important career, why aren’t you out soldiering instead  of batting .243 here in River City?  (Unless, of course, the object is to recruit more people who’ll bail right after their graduation.)

***********  A great thing about putting on a clinic is the good questions that it produces afterwards.  One such question regarded a blocking rule.

Q. I see on the playcard for 66 SP the  playside linemen's rule is G-O-AL. Gap-On-? What does AL stand for? Attack Linebacker?

It means “Angle - Late.”  It’s a way to let him know that if there’s nobody in his inside gap, and nobody on him (or if he’s in doubt about whether a man is on him), he comes off at an angle - but not right away. He doesn’t fire out immediately and leave a gap in our front.  First he takes a jab step in place, and then comes off at an angle.   This is important -  he doesn’t fire straight out at a linebacker directly over him. He comes inside at a 45 degree angle, blocking anything in his path.

Q. So if the playside tackle gets an outside shade, like a 5 tech, is that considered On?

Most likely,  “Yes.”

For a tackle, a 5 tech (touching his outside half)  is as good as “ON” and he and the TE will be double-teaming that 5 (who, because of our tight splits, is also a 7 where the TE is concerned!)  If it’s a gray area,  if there’s any doubt on the tackle’s part,  we want him to hang around - to keep alive the possibility of a double team before leaving his post. (Therefore, when in doubt, we “Angle Late.”)  We have never been hurt by an uncovered tackle who’s slow off the ball.  We have, however, been hurt by a tackle who fires right out and leaves a gap in our front.

The graphic below shows what a right tackle would see as “GAP,” “ON” or “QUESTIONABLE.”  If it’s questionable, his orders are: “ANGLE LATE”


*********** Listening to Hillary enumerate the reasons why she lost  reminded me of an old joke that made the rounds back when I was in marketing with a beer company.  

Seems a big dog food manufacturer decided to introduce a new dog food.

It had all the nutrients any dog could possibly need - good for teeth, coat, etc. - and it could  be sold at a lower price than its competitors and still be profitable.

The manufacturer’s  advertising agency put together a terrific marketing plan, from name, to logo, to package design, to advertising, to sales incentives, to store displays.

The sales force was called in for a big kickoff meeting, then sent out into the field to get the product into stores nationwide. Advertising commenced on radio and TV and in newspapers and magazines, and the product began to fly off the shelves. Stores called for immediate reorders, and the factory had to be put on a second shift just to keep up.

This went on for a couple more weeks until suddenly, the orders stopped coming in.

Alarmed, the head of the company sent his chief assistant out into the field to find out what was going on.

After a few days, having hear nothing, the boss telegraphed his assistant: “WHAT HAVE YOU FOUND OUT?”

The assistant’s reply was terse:


*********** From the National Football Foundation’s most recent newsletter:

Rogers Redding, the national coordinator of College Football Officiating, provides insights about rules changes and the mindset of college football referees. The CFO is the national professional organization for all football officials who work games at the collegiate level.

"Length of game" is a topic under active discussion among conference commissioners, athletics directors, television people and other stakeholders of college football. The NCAA football rules committee has also been looking at this, as game times have crept up over the last several years.

Since 2008, when games at the FBS level averaged three hours and nine minutes, game time on average in 2016 stretched to three hours and 22 minutes, an increase of 13 minutes. Of course, this is an average that washes out a lot of detail. But it is clear that with a growing number of teams running high-powered offenses that generate more plays and more touchdowns, the overall length of games has naturally gone up.

In discussing this trend, the rules committee has not settled on an optimum game length. But the general sense is that times as long as three and a half hours would not be good for the game. As the committee seeks ways to deal with this, we find very little support for making rules changes that would take plays out of the game. And so we look for ways to manage the length of the game by addressing how to manage the dead-ball times. Officials are charged with the responsibility of being efficient in handling dead-ball intervals and plays where the game clock stops, such as incomplete passes.

One point of emphasis for the officials this year will be to have better control of the length of halftime. By rule the halftime is 20 minutes, but there are often some delays in starting the countdown. Also, current rules allow the schools to mutually agree that the halftime will be longer than 20 minutes. One small but perhaps significant editorial change for 2017 is this: the teams will be allowed to agree on a shorter halftime, but they may not make it longer than 20 minutes. And the Referees are being instructed to start the 20-minute halftime countdown as soon as the first half ends, per the language of the rule. The hope is that these steps will halt the trend for longer game times.

*********** Back in the 1980s, when cable television was in its infancy, two things came on the scene that revolutionized sports reporting:  USA Today and ESPN.

The shame is how good they could have been.   Now, they’ve become irrelevant.

Both thought they were too big to fail - that they were so big and powerful they could do anything they wanted.

ESPN thought that it could keep forcing their $7 a month charge onto every basic cable subscriber, many of whom never watched sports.

Trying to keep up - er, down - with what it perceived as a changing demographic, the Worldwide Leader gave us Hip Hop sports coverage, female play-by-play, and a host of loathsome former athletes serving as analysts.

USA Today downsized, in actual size and in literary value. 

Both turned left politically and lectured us on the right way to think. (Gay athletes are to be admired.   “Caitlin” Jenner gets an ESPY.) 

I cancelled my subscription to USA Today almost five years ago and I’ve never missed it, and I can’t remember the last time I watched anything on ESPN other than football games and College Game Day.

KEVIN MCCULLOUGH - LAKEVILLE, INDIANA (when i first started coaching a lot of teams were running "the  veer"......the Wacker/Morton how-to book really gave me a chance to study it and learn about had to learn the offense to try and defend seemed like every clinic i went to i would listen to a "veer" coach to learn more about it)

*********** Sent along by Ken Hampton, of Raleigh, North Carolina - a link to a great site managed by a West Point graduate named Phil Burns

Some great photos and stories about the 1948 Army team (and Captain Bill Yeoman) from the West Point yearbook, “The Howitzer.”

1948 Army Team

QUIZ: Bill Yeoman played center and linebacker for Army in the years following World War II. In his three years at West Point, he snapped the ball to two Hall of Fame quarterbacks (both, coincidentally named Arnold) - Arnold Tucker and Arnold Galiffa - and he captained the 1948 Army team. 

After graduation he served as an officer in the US Army, attaining the rank of captain, but in the words of his Army coach, Earl “Red” Blaik, “he was bitten early by the football bug,” and in 1954 he resigned his commission and joined Duffy Daugherty’s first staff at Michigan State. The Spartans went 3-6 that season, but the next season they went 9-1, won the Rose Bowl game, and finished Number Two in the nation.  After eight seasons at Michigan State, during which the Spartans had only two losing seasons and four Top Ten finishes, Yeoman accepted a job at the University of Houston, which had only begun playing collegiate football 15 years earlier, in 1946.

There, he would rock the very foundations of football: he introduced a new, high-scoring triple option attack that revolutionized offensive football and came to be known as the Houston Veer; he recruited Warren McVea, the first black athlete to play football for a major college in the state of Texas;  and not only took the Cougars into the prestigious Southwest Conference, but won the conference championship - and beat Texas, 30-0 - in Houston’s first year of membership.

In his 33-year career, he assisted at just one school, Michigan State, and served as head coach at just one school, Houston.  In his 25 years as head coach, he built a relatively  unknown program, snubbed by the bigger, better-known programs in Texas, into a national power.  He produced 46 All-Americans and sent 69 players to the NFL. He retired following the 1986 season with an overall record of 160-108-8.

What kind of a team captain was he?  Coach Blaik in his memoirs, “You Have to Pay the Price,” recalled a game against Stanford:  “when one of our ends missed a tackle, to permit a Stanford back a 4-yard gain, our Captain Bill Yeoman advised that miscreant, ‘Let that happen again and you’re through!’”

An interview with Bill Yeoman

A great example of Bill Yeoman as a man of honor…

*********** Mrs. Yeoman’s obituary

*********** Several years ago, at the suggestion of my friend  Mike Lude, I spoke on the phone with a longtime coach named Clarence “Dan” Daniel,  who’d assisted Mike years before at Colorado State.  Dan proved to be a very interesting guy.  He’d coached in a lot of places and knew a lot of people and he told me that he was on hand the day the Houston Veer was “invented” in 1964.  He was on Bill Yeoman’s staff, and he said that they were getting ready to play Mississippi State (he was pretty sure that’s who it was).   The scout team was running the Mississippi State offense when a “State” halfback ran a simple dive and broke it straight up the field, untouched, for a touchdown.  Coach Yeoman happened to see this and immediately dashed over to see what had happened - where his defense had broken down.  What had happened, it turned out, was that the “Mississippi State” tackle on the playside had blown his assignment, releasing onto a linebacker while leaving unblocked the defensive lineman he should have blocked.  The dive had hit so fast that the unblocked Houston lineman had charged upfield, right past the running back, and with every Houston defender to the inside walled off by blockers, there was no one left to make the tackle.

Great story. 

In fairness, though, my training as a historian requires me to  note that in an interview years later, Coach Yeoman remembered the incident a bit differently.  They were playing Penn State, he recalled,  and they were having trouble blocking Penn State’s front when in frustration he told his tackle “as long as you’re not blocking anybody anyhow, you might just as well get out of the way” - and the rest is history.

Not to dispute either account - I’m sure both men told their versions numerous times over the years with complete confidence in their veracity - I think it’s fair to say that they’re in total agreement on one fact: the origin of the veer was pure serendipity - accidental discovery of something good.

Dan Daniel, incidentally, died with his boots on.  He passed away in June of 2015 at the age of 82,  looking forward to his fourth season as an assistant at Iowa Western Junior College.

*********** Could you imagine being at those first practices when they were figuring out the option?

John Bothe
Oregon, Illinois

Several years ago I spoke to a guy named Dan Daniel who had been a Yeoman assistant and claimed to have been there the day a guy on the scout team, running a simple split-T dive, broke a big one against the Houston starting defense, and Yeoman rushed over to find out what had gone wrong.  What he discovered led to the revolutionary idea of leaving two guys unblocked, and headaches galore for defensive coaches.


PS - at Chappell’s in KC Saturday night, the owner, Jim Chappell, spoke very highly of your coach, Bob Reade, and pointed to an "Augies" helmet hanging from the ceiling right above our heads!

For a guy that would never hang out in a bar himself, Coach Reade was really good to the tavern owners.  He had a guy in the Quad Cities that donated a case of champagne to the graduating senior football players every year.  They just loved it when he stopped by to pick it up every year.

I remember him saying at a clinic that a really big motivating factor at Geneseo was for kids to be able to sit in the tavern one day and hold their heads high because their team had carried on the Geneseo tradition.

*********** QUIZ:  A native of Lawrence, Massachusetts, he started out as a high school coach in Virginia after World War II, then got his first college head coaching job at that state’s Military College.  While there, he invented a formation in which his three running backs were lined up in a straight line behind the quarterback.  The formation proved so successful that it  came to the attention of coaches at bigger programs, including Notre Dame’s Frank Leahy and USC’s John McKay, and today, in various forms,  it’s considered a staple of offensive football

From the military school, he moved south to a state college which had only begun playing football six years earlier.  Not long before that, it had been a women’s college; now, it’s a national power.

At that school, two of his best known players were one who scarcely played because he injured his knee, but would go on to become a famous actor, and another who served under him as a graduate assistant for one season, then as a full-time assistant for seven more seasons, and now, retired as a coach himself, enjoys great fame as a TV sports personality, especially on college football Saturday mornings. 

After six years at that second school, he moved on to an ACC school in the Washington, DC area.  I had the good fortune to be living in Baltimore at the time and witness first-hand his football ingenuity, which included the “Typewriter huddle,” cross-country passes on kickoff returns, and increasing his kicker’s jersey number after every made extra point and field goal.  He also recruited the first black player to play major college football in the South.

He was never an assistant coach.  He was head coach at three different places, and left all of them with a winning record.  His overall record was 89-80-3. 

american flag TUESDAY,  MAY 2,  2017  - “Hire paranoids. Even though they have a high false alarm rate, they discover all plots.”  Herman Kahn, noted intellectual

************  The Kansas City clinic was a great  event, with coaches from seven different states in attendance.  There were a couple of staffs there with - how do I say this? - “non-Wyatt” Double Wing backgrounds, and we did our best to translate, but there were also a number of guys who go back with me to the late 90’s or so: coaches such as Mike Benton, of Colfax, Illinois;  Mike Foristiere of Wahluke, Washington (formerly of Boise, Idaho); Brad Knight of Clarinda (formerly Galva-Holstein), Iowa; and Greg Koenig of Cimarron (formerly Beloit), Kansas.  Those guys have been running my stuff long enough and well enough that if I should ever lose my place at a clinic they could easily bail me out. 

Very close to them in experience and right up there in success with the Double Wing was Coach Todd Hollis, from Elmwood, Illinois, who brought along his right-hand man, Mike Walker. At Rio, Wisconsin, the Double Wing was introduced back in the late 1990s by a coach named Nick Crawford, but then he left, and in recent years hard times have hit.  Current coach Brian Brewer was sold on the Double Wing by Coach Crawford, and he was on hand with two young, eager assistants - his son, Brady Brewer, and Rodger Williams.  Coach Kyle Ross, from Polo, Missouri, has been running my system since 2010, and in seven years his worst season has been 6-5.  It’s been nearly 12 years since I met with Coach Greg Hale from Bradford, Ohio to install the Double Wing, and at some point he moved on. Now, he’s back, assisting.  He’s recovering from a medical setback at the moment, but new head coach Dave McFeely and assistant John Cruse, were back for a refresher course.  There was a lot of very interesting and informative give-and-take among the guys in attendance, and I think we all learned a bunch, myself included.  Sam Knopik, head coach at Kansas City’s Pembroke Hill School hosted a couple of my clinics a few years ago, and he was there with Mike Rutherford and Dean Brendel.  Sam started corresponding with me when I first went on the Internet and he was coaching football in Ukraine!

Dinner Friday night was at Tanner’s, in Platte City, Missouri.  For me the highlight was watching poor Brad Knight, the only Iowa Hawkeye in the room, having to deal with the crossfire from a trio of Badgers on one side and a Cornhusker on the other.

On Saturday night, several of us who hadn’t yet left for home met for dinner at Chappell’s, in North Kansas City.  Sam Knopik introduced me to it  few years ago.  I guess Chappell’s is considered a sports bar.  But it’s not a sports bar in the sense of a Buffalo Wild Wings - there are only three TVs in the place.   It’s actually a sports museum, but only if your idea of a museum includes good food and drink along with the exhibits.  As a museum, its collection of sports memorabilia, and pictures, pennants and football helmets (several hundred hang from the ceilings of its several rooms) makes it worthy of comparison to the Baseball or Pro Football Halls of Fame.

coaches at chappell's

The owner/host, Jim Chappell (it’s pronounced “Chapel,” he told us, not the fancier “shah-PELL”) seemed quite pleased to have a collection of football coaches on hand, and gave us the grand tour of the place.  He’s a native midwesterner, originally from Keokuk, Iowa, and he’s a wealth of sports information, especially as it pertains to Kansas City and the states surrounding it.

He let us behind the bar to take the picture above.  (Left to Right: Greg Koenig, Brad Knight, Hugh Wyatt, Todd Hollis, Mike Walker, Dave McFeely, Mike Foristiere, John Cruse and Jim Chappell.  Does it look like I'm covertly drawing a glass of Blue Moon?)

Jim invited us to add to his collection of helmets, informing us that 50 per cent of the coaches who told him they’d bring him a helmet actually did so, and said he wouldn’t want to have to classify us among the “other fifty per cent.”

There's so much to see and do around Kansas City - the World War I Museum and the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum for sure - and so many good BBQ places - Arthur Bryant’s and Oklahoma Joe’s, that I know of - but I would put a visit to Chappell’s, at lunch or dinner time, near the top of my list.

*********** Having to kill an hour or so Sunday afternoon before turning in my rental car and heading for the airport, I drove around north of the KC airport.  Seeing a sign on I-29 advertising a “Weston Brewing Company,” I turned off at the Weston exit, figuring that if there was actually a brewery in town, it couldn’t be all bad.


The first things I noticed as I got a couple of miles off the freeway were large, grassy  estates, horse farms like the kind you’d see in the Northern Virginia hunt country.  One place must have had enough money invested in its white rail fencing alone to buy nice houses for a half a dozen or so of us poor football coaches.

mccormick's distilleryAnd then, coming over the crest of a hill where, I was forewarned, trucks might be entering the highway, I drove past a sign at the entrance to the McCormick Distillery.  One of those new distilleries that have spring up all over the place, I figured, but oh, no - below the name on the sign, it read “Superb Spirits Since 1856.”  WTF? That was before the Civil War began.  (Officially, anyhow, because the fighting over slavery had already broken out just across the river in "Bleeding Kansas.")

I drove on, and after passing the Entering  Weston sign I found myself driving through a neighborhood of nice houses on tree-shaded streets.  I came to the top of a hill where I was given no choice but to turn left, and when I did I found myself looking down a Main Street that took me back in time.  Yes, there were new cars and pickup trucks parked on both sides of the street, but the architecture on both sides was from a time long gone - even before the McCormick Distilling Company started making booze..

I had to pull off and do a little online research.  The distillery, I found, was established by a guy named Holladay, who started the Pony Express, whose easternmost terminus was just to the north, in St. Joseph, Missouri.  The distillery has changed names a few times, but it is the longest continuously operating distillery in the United States and it’s on the National Register of Historic Places.

The town itself (originally “West Town,” according to one account) was settled in the 1830s, and until the admission of Texas in 1845 it was  the westernmost settlement in the United States.  It was a busy steamboat port until 1881, when the fickle Missouri River flooded and shifted its channel a couple of miles away, leaving Weston suddenly landlocked and without its lifeblood.  (I can just see the whores and card sharps leaving town.)

WESTON MOWeston isn’t that far from Kansas City, and it’s obviously a popular day-trip destination.   It’s got quaint restaurants and taverns and plenty of antique stores, and a drive down its Main Street is an invitation to park the car and get out and walk around.

As for the Weston Brewing Company, I found myself pressed for time and never did find it.  I’m told that it dates back to the 1840s when a German immigrant, found the area ideal for the production of lager beer (what most of us now simply call beer), which requires long storage under cool conditions.  In those days long before artificial  refrigeration, the answer was to store the beer undergound, and the limestone in that area enabled him to dig caves large enough for those purposes.  The brewery was closed in 1919 by Prohibition, and it was only in 2005 that it came back into being.  It definitely does not sound like some back-of-of-a-tavern operation, with a couple of stainless steel tanks. Next time, I’ll visit it, especially the bar located underground in one of the old caverns.

There’s a lesson, here, of course - we all need to get our asses off the Interstate and do a little exploring.

*********** Some of the coaches at the clinic said that “alumni football” is catching fire in their areas, and one of them mentioned a school near him that reputedly had raised more than $40,000 promoting one such game.  The company that promoted the deal charges $150 per player and provides the uniforms and - presumably - the insurance, and  rents the  facilities. The two schools get all proceeds from presales, while the promoter keeps all gate sales.

Mock you may, but they’re playing football.

*********** One of the coaches at the Kansas City clinic, Mike Walker, said he’s been officiating spring semi-pro football in Central Illinois.  Eight-man semi-pro football.

A couple of the coaches there have had experience coaching nine-man football (basically, you drop two of the linemen - or, to put it another way, you line up like Georgia Tech and then tell the split ends to go sit down).  We all agreed that, since there’s only a one-man difference between eight- and nine-man anyhow, we’d all prefer to coach the nine-man game because for a coach it’s much, much closer to the 11-man game.

*********** The big donors at Duke are referred to as Iron Dukes.  The name pays tribute to the amazing 1938 Duke football team, which first earned that nickname.  Coached by the great Wallace Wade, who in 1931 had been lured away from Alabama by Duke (can you imagine Nick Saban leaving Alabama to coach at Duke?) Duke was undefeated  during the regular season. And not only undefeated, get this - unscored-on.  Chosen to play USC in the Rose Bowl, the Iron Dukes led, 3-0, until the final 40 seconds of the game, when USC broke through with a touchdown pass and defeated the Blue Devils.  It had to be devastating to those kids. It’s way too late now to find out, but I would love to know what that several-days-long train ride back to North Carolina was like.

DUKE 18  VPI (Virginia Tech) 0
DUKE 27 Davidson 0
DUKE 7 Colgate 0
DUKE 6 Georgia Tech 0
DUKE 7 Wake Forest 0
DUKE 14 North Carolina 0
DUKE 21 Syracuse 0
DUKE 7 NC State 0
DUKE 7 Pitt 0

*********** Hi Coach,

I enjoyed the Single Wing article and the link to the Single Wing web site. One of the authors on the site coaches at Staunton River High School in Bedford, VA, about 20 miles from where I grew up in Lynchburg. They were an offensive machine this past season. The Single Wing has become popular in the central Virginia area. I know of at least three teams there that run the offense. Last fall I was able to watch a Single Wing team just north of Lynchburg, Amherst, play Jefferson Forest High School. I was intrigued by some of the formations they ran and struck by the similarity in blocking schemes with the DW/Open Wing. I'm sure there are many flavors of Single Wing, but this one had many similarities to what we do.

Jim Crawley
China Grove, North Carolina

*********** At Chino Hills (California) High, the basketball team is looking for a new coach.

The former coach, who couldn’t do any better than 30-3 this past season, was informed last week that he wouldn’t be coming back.

This means that the kids at Chino Hills will be getting their third coach in as many seasons.

None of this makes any sense until you learn that Chino Hills is the school of the Ball brothers - and Super Parent LaVar Ball.

Ball Senior originally supported  the most recent coach, but then, toward the end of the season openly criticized him in the sports media.

Note to anyone applying for the Chino Hills job.  There is some talent there.  The youngest Ball brother, LaMelo, has two years left. 

So, alas, does LaVar.   After LaMelo graduates, LaVar can move on to building the family brand or criticizing his sons' college coaches. Or both.



*********** Rip Engle was born and raised in Elk Lick Township, a small town in Western Pennsylvania near the Maryland line.  He got his first job at the age of 14, driving mules in  coal mine.  He didn’t play high school football (he had been promoted to mine foreman) and when he entered college he played in the first football game he ever saw.

His first coaching job was in Waynesboro, Pennsylvania, where he spent 11 years as the high school head coach.

His first college head coaching job was at  Brown, an Ivy League school, and after going 7-2 and 8-1 in his final two years there, he was hired by Penn State in 1950.  He brought along his former quarterback, a kid from Brooklyn named Joe Paterno, to help teach his system, and Paterno decided he liked coaching so much that he passed up a chance to go to law school and instead remained as an assistant coach.

When Rip Engle retired after 16 years,  he’d compiled a 104-48-4 record.  He never had a losing season at Penn State.  His only non-winning season was his last, when the Lions finished 5-5.

On his recommendation, his successor was Joe Paterno, the Ivy League quarterback who’d come with him 16 years earlier to help out on a temporary basis.

Paterno would take the Penn State program to the very heights of college football, winning 409 games in his 46 years there.
But Rip Engle built the  foundation.

(On a side note - it was Rip Engle who unconsciously set the Penn State style by insisting that there be nothing gaudy or fancy about Penn State's uniforms.  He was not one to boast or show off. As he once told Paterno when refusing his request to tart up the uniforms: "How will it look when we lose?")

QUIZ: He played center and linebacker for Army in the years following World War II. In his three years at West Point, he snapped the ball to two Hall of Fame quarterbacks (both, coincidentally named Arnold) - Arnold Tucker and Arnold Galiffa - and he captained the 1948 Army team. 

After graduation he served as an officer in the US Army, attaining the rank of captain, but in the words of his Army coach, Earl “Red” Blaik, “he was bitten early by the football bug,” and in 1954 he resigned his commission and joined Duffy Daugherty’s first staff at Michigan State. The Spartans went 3-6 that season, but the next season they went 9-1, won the Rose Bowl game, and finished Number Two in the nation.  After eight seasons at Michigan State, during which the Spartans had only two losing seasons and four Top Ten finishes, he accepted a job at a Texas school that had only begun playing collegiate football 15 years earlier, in 1946.

There, he would rock the very foundations of football: he  introduced a new, high-scoring option attack that revolutionized offensive football, recruited the first black athlete to play football for a major college in the state of Texas, and not only took his team into the prestigious Southwest Conference, but won that conference's championship in its first year of membership.

In his 33-year career, he assisted at just one school, Michigan State, and served as head coach at just one school.  In his 25 years as head coach, he built a relatively  unknown program, snubbed by the bigger, better-known programs in Texas, into a national power.  He produced 46 All-Americans and sent 69 players to the NFL. He retired following the 1986 season with an overall record of 160-108-8.

american flag FRIDAY,  APRIL 28,  2017  - “Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.” Michelangelo

Our dog’s recent surgery - operations on both knees - has forced a change in my plans.

This coming weekend I’m headed to Kansas City, and I have to leave my wife at home to handle the care and the rehab.

That won’t work for the Raleigh clinic, though, because she has plans that she can’t change.  That means that I’m going to have to be around to handle the care, and that means having to cancel - or at least postpone - the clinic.

It disappoints me because I was looking forward to seeing some old friends for the first time in a couple of years, and in working with old friend Dave Potter - not to mention seeing our daughter and son-in-law.

I’ve already been in touch with those guys who’ve sent in their registrations telling them “the check’s in the mail,”  but just in case your check IS in the mail right now, I’ll be mailing you a refund.

*********** The NFL’s holding its draft outdoors - in front of the steps leading to the Art Museum - the steps up which the fictional Rocky ran in training for a fight.

It figures that a phony organization like the NFL would capitalize on a phony story - a feel-good movie about a nonexistent hero.

Actually, as arrogant as they are, I fully expected them to insist on holding the draft in our nation’s birthplace - Independence Hall -  with the Liberty Bell gonging in the background to signify when a team goes on the clock.

And High Commissioner Goodell, dressed like Benjamin Franklin, spectacles and all.

*********** Hugh,

ESPN is moving that bowl game from a baseball stadium to a soccer stadium.  Same place the FCS Championship game has been played the last few years.  Nice venue, but it's still a soccer stadium.

That's CHUCK BEDNARIK in your quiz.  Frank Gifford knew who CHUCK BEDNARIK was.  Old Chuck tackled Gifford so hard (I believe it was in a Championship game) that Bednarik knocked Gifford out cold.  The collision literally knocked Gifford off his feet!  Some called it a cheap shot, but watching the old film of it, and knowing that a "clothesline" tackle was legal back in those days,  Not the way we teach it today, but WOW, Gifford had to be asking for the license plate of the truck that hit him.

Speaking of North Catholic and what Coach Raves did for them, have you heard about what's going on with the head coach of DeSoto HS in the Dallas area?  Check it out: 

Have a great week!

Joe Gutilla
Austin, Texas

The story could turn out to be very sick.  A very successful coach in a football-crazy town in Texas is fighting to keep his job.  He’s white, the town is majority black.  But get this - the opposition to him does not appear to be coming from the players or their parents.  In fact, it appears that it may be white-inspired.  This is crazy.

*********** I was speaking with Mike Lude on Tuesday.  Mike is 94 years old, but in terms of his physical condition and mental acuity he’s the equal of a man 25 years younger. 

He lives in Tucson, and he’s rehabbing from knee replacement surgery and he says the doctor - the team ortho guy from the U of Arizona - considers him his poster child for recovery and rehab.

Mike said he knew he was in trouble when his knee kept him from going out on his morning four-mile walks, but now he’s only about six weeks away (“once all the kinks are out,” according to his doctor) from resuming normal walking.

Every talk with Mike is a guided tour for me, back into the days of football before and after World War II, and this time was no exception.  For some reason, the name of Nick Skorich came up.  Nick Skorich played with the Steelers, from 1946 to 1948.  He was a 5-9, 200-pound guard in the days when the Steelers were still playing single-wing football - in the NFL.  And then he retired from playing and took a high school coaching job at Pittsburgh Central Catholic.

That’s when Mike met him.  They were both at Michigan State,  the summer before Skorich took over at Central Catholic.  Mike was coaching the line at Delaware under Dave Nelson, but because in those days college coaches had only nine month contracts, he had the summer off and was was taking classes to finish up his master’s.  Scorich, finding himself having to teach in a high school, was doing the same thing.

Mike said they hit it off and became great friends, and for the next four years, until Scorich left Central Catholic to become a Steelers’ assistant, Mike said Delaware got “lots of players from there.”

Scorch moved from the Steelers to the Packers, but after one year in Green Bay he joined Buck Shaw’s staff in Philadelphia, and when Shaw retired after the 1960 championship season, he became the Eagles’ head coach.

HIs first year, with former backup QB Sonny Jurgenson taking over,  he was quite successful, going 10-4 and winning the long-gone “Runner-up Bowl.”

But in his second year, the Eagles went 3-10-1, and worst of all from the standpoint of Philly fans, they were thumped, 49-0 at home by the Packers - the same team they’d beaten two years earlier to win the NFL championship.

When the team went 2-10-2 in his third year, he was gone.

He was hired by Blanton Collier in Cleveland in 1964 - the year the Browns upset the Colts (Baltimore) to win the NFL title, and after the 1970 season, when Collier retired, he succeeded him as head coach.

Under him, the Browns went 9-5, 10-4 and 7-5-2, but when they finished 4-10 in 1974 he was fired again.

Until his retirement, he served as NFL Supervisor of Officials.

*********** To the degree that they have facilitated a massive transfer of wealth from non-native gamblers to tribes in need of revenues, Indian casinos have been a great success.

But as to whether they’ve done anything at all to advance the public’s awareness and appreciation  of American Indians’ history and culture, I submit this quote by a 69-year-old Battle Ground, Washington woman, interviewed on opening day of the Cowlitz tribe’s massive new casino in LaCenter, Washington, just north of Portland:

“I’m excited to be here to celebrate the Native American culture.”

*********** A lot of games here in the Northwest - especially in this, the rainiest winter/spring in anyone’s memory - are postponed because of weather.  But the skies were clear Tuesday when the Columbia River High girls’ golf team had to cancel its match.  Seems they got stuck in traffic.  The Grand Opening of the new Cowlitz Indian casino caused traffic on northbound Interstate 5 to come to a standstill for hours, and when it was apparent that they weren’t going to get to the course on time - there being no alternate routes - they managed to turn around and head home.

*********** Jim Otto and his number (00) reminded me of a guy who played for us in Philadelphia named Benny “Jabo” Johnson.

Benny was “sold” to us by his agent, a guy  named Ed Gottlieb.  Not to be confused with Eddie Gottlieb, the basketball Hall of Famer, this guy insisted on being called “Judge” Gottlieb (because, I suppose, he had been a judge somewhere).

If there’s one thing that the World Football League can be said to be famous for, it’s the fact that it really gave rise to the agent.  Seemingly out of the woodwork came guys astute enough to realize that there was money to be had peddling players to teams that knew absolutely nothing about their clients, and on a larger scale, playing one league against another.

Ed Gottleib was an agent, and to hear him tell it, a damned good one.  He would rattle off names of his clients, names I’d never heard before, in the manner of someone who mentions something obscure and possibly spurious but knows that you won’t challenge him for fear of seeming ignorant.

He negotiated hard on behalf of Benny Johnson.  Benny had played a few years with the Oilers. Benny would consider coming to Philadelphia, but on one condition: he had to have one of two numbers - either 33, because that was the age of Christ when he was crucified, or 0 (zero) because that symbolized universality, or infinity, or the world being round, or somesuch nonsense.  I was only interested in getting him signed without giving away everything we had (which wasn’t much), and since Cecil Bowens (a very promising running back from Kentucky) had already insisted on 33, Benny had to be happy with 0.

Benny was a decent football player - although not as good as Gottlieb had made him out to be - and pretty nice guy.

I vividly remember him in the locker room in the Astrodome in August, 1974.

After opening the season with a 33-8 win over the Portland Storm in front of a huge home crowd (that’s  a story for another time), just seven days later we were beaten by the Houston Texans.

It was a really poor performance, and worst of all from the standpoint of our coach’s ego - which could barely squeeze into the Astrodome - we were shutout.  11-0.  Ugh.   What made things worse was that evidently it was the first time in our coach's career,  (he'd spent a half season or so as head coach of the Chargers and several years in the minor leagues before that ), that he'd ever been shut out.

Well, the coach, Ron Waller, as vulgar a man as ever stepped on a football field, really lit into the team.  I don’t remember exactly what he said -  smart phones were far in the future - but I do remember exactly what Benny Johnson said.

I was standing next to him, and, looking straight ahead, he said, “Man, we didn’t TRY to lose!”

*********** Clipboard Nation may be worth a look.  Can’t tell at a quick glance whether it’s going to cost money, but since they ran an ad in the AFCA Newsletter, I have my suspicions.  Take a  look and let me know what you think.

*********** Humor - and wisdom - from the Internet…

It's time for a clear, serious grammar lesson… 

In a recent linguistic competition held in London and attended by, supposedly, the best in the world, Samdar Balgobin was the clear winner with a standing ovation which lasted  over 5 minutes. 

The final question was:  How do you explain the difference between COMPLETE and FINISHED in a way that is easy to understand?

Some people say there is no difference between COMPLETE   and FINISHED.
Here was his astute answer:

When you marry the right woman, you are COMPLETE.

When you marry the wrong woman, you are FINISHED.

And when the right one catches you with the wrong one, you are…………


He won a trip around the world and a case of 25 year old Scotch.

***********  I just remember seeing that old NFL Films "Crunch Course" (still have that on VHS somewhere) where they show that hit over and over.  And Gifford talks about how it was a clean it, because if it wasn't he probably wouldn't be there to talk about it.  No QB's looking for flags in those days.

That's the same film where Deacon Jones talks about hitting guys with this gleam in his eye that makes you wonder if it weren't for football that he would have done something really bad to some poor fool.

And Dick Butkus talks about his favorite film scene being the head rolling down the stairs in "Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte."

And, I wish I remembered who, one old-timer talked about the men of the 101st Airborne being brave, but being on kickoff team may be a bit like that.  

Todd Hollis
Elmwood, Illinois

Kickoffs sure have changed, now that they limit “wedges” to two men!

*********** QUIZ - As they walk off Franklin Field, Philadelphia Eagle Chuck Bednarik is the player in the middle is consoling Paul Horning (5) and Jim Taylor (31),  two members of the losing Packers following the 1960 NFL championship game.  He doesn’t look that tired, but he should - he just finished playing the entire game on both sides of the ball - center on offense and linebacker on defense.  At the age of 35.

The son of Slovakian immigrants, he grew up in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania speaking Slovak as his first language.  At 17, right out of high school, with World War II going on, he joined the Army Air Corps.  In all, during the war, he flew 30 combat missions over Germany.

Following the war he played college football as a single wing center and linebacker under famed coach George Munger, and was a three-time All-American.

Although not a back, he finished third in the Heisman voting following his senior season.

He played his entire NFL career for one team; they won the NFL title his first season with them, and he was still playing when they finally won again, 11 years later.

He was 10 times named All-Pro.

He is a member of both the College and the Pro Football Halls of Fame - he made it into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility - and in 1969, long after his playing days were over, he was voted “Greatest Center of All Time.”

He took great pride in being the last of the true, old-school two-way players, and in his later years he publicly scoffed at the very idea that Deion Sanders, a notorious non-tackler, could double as a wide receiver and be seriously considered a two-way player.

Bednarik centering

Bednarik over Gifford

KC Smith sent along the photo at right, one of the most famous in NFL history, and wrote,  “Iggles stadium.."The Linc" has a 30 foot copy of that picture in the upper concourse area.  While I don't believe Chuck was a hatchet man, I don't think he minded people thinking he was capable of being one.”

I wrote: It’s somewhat unfortunate, because it’s a frozen moment,  just one nanosecond of action,  and it has forever portrayed Bednarik in the minds of many as a hatchet man.  He didn’t actually stand over the downed Frank Gifford for several seconds.

However, I’m with Coach Smith - He did take great pride in being a hard guy. I just don’t think he would have appreciated being considered a dirty player.  He was tough enough playing it straight.

On the left, he's shown as a center at Penn. My high school coach, Ed Lawless, played with him there. Ed was right out of high school, and Bednarik was right out of World War II.  Ed said that nobody screwed with Chuck.  Said he was like a caged lion in the locker room before games.  And he said that he had to be watched closely in scrimmages because he’d take  shots at anybody;  more than once one of the coaches, a gentlemanly sort, would have to say, “Now, Charles, you have to remember, these are your teammates.”

Josh Montgomery - Berwick, Louisiana
Ken Hampton - Raleigh, North Carolina - #5 is Paul Hornung and #31 is Jim Taylor just beaten by the Eagles in 1960 NFL Championship game.  They were both 25 years old and Chuck Bednarik was 35 years old.
Shep Clarke - Puyallup, Washington
Greg Koenig - Cimarron, Kansas - .What a football player! And what a nickname: Concrete Charlie! (A fitting nickname - even though it came from his off-season job with a concrete company!)
Dennis Metzger - Richmond, Indiana - The picture is from the only championship game that Vince Lombardi’s Packers lost.  #5 is Paul Hornung and #31 is Jim Taylor, who along with Bart Starr may have been as good a backfield that played together in that era.  And all three of them are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Adam Wesoloski - Pulaski, Wisconsin
John Vermillion - St. Petersburg, Florida
Mark Kaczmarek - Davenport, Iowa - That championship game was the 1st football game that I really was fully & completely aware of as I watched the Pack with my family in Hillsboro, WI
Mike Yanke - Cokato, Minnesota - SI did an excellent article on Bednarik a few years ago. In that article he was quoted about playing the game of his life at age 35, while NVB received the MVP award (a new car) for 9 of 23 passing.  Thanks for doing these heritage pieces.
John Bothe - Oregon, Illinois
Todd Hollis - Elmwood, Illinois
DJ Millay - Vancouver, Washington - played for the Eagles and was a waist gunner on a B-24. He was in one of the (many) books I read about WWII in high school.
Jerry Lovell - Bellevue, Nebraska
Pete Porcelli - Watervliet, New York
Joe Gutilla - Austin, Texas
Kevin McCullough - Lakeville, Indiana - three Hall of Famers
Will Stout - Wasilla, Alaska
KC Smith - Walpole, Massachusetts
Sam Knopik - Kansas City, Missouri

*********** QUIZ - He was born in a small town in Pennsylvania and got his first job at the age of 14 driving mules in  coal mine.  He didn’t play high school football (he was working) and when he entered college he played in the first football game he ever saw.

His first coaching job was in Waynesboro, Pennsylvania, where he spent 11 years as high school head coach

His first college head coaching job was at an Ivy League school, and after going 7-2 and 8-1 in his final two years there, he was hired by a large state school in 1950.  He brought his former quarterback along with him to help teach his system, and the quarterback decided he liked coaching so much that he passed up a chance to go to law school and instead remained as an assistant coach.

When he retired after 16 years,  he’d compiled a 104-48-4 record.  He never had a losing season there.  His only non-winning season was his last, when his team finished 5-5.

His successor? It was that same Ivy League quarterback who’d come with him 16 years earlier to help out, and had remained on his staff the entire time.

Building on the solid foundation that was already built, that successor would take the program to the very heights of college football, winning 409 games in his 46 years there.

american flag TUESDAY,  APRIL 25,  2017  - "I don’t care what's written about me so long as it isn’t true."  Dorothy Parker

*********** Recently, I gave a fellow named Jerry Haymore  permission to reprint an article of mine on his new Web site. The Web site, “Fear the Wing,” is dedicated to advancement of the single wing in its many forms, and it looks very promising.   I highly recommend a look.

My article, about TCU great Dutch Meyer and his then-revolutionary Spread Formation (developed in the 1930s to take advantage of the great arm of a guy named Sammy Baugh)…

*********** (On the subject of Dan Rooney)


My wife went to North Catholic.  Actually went to homecoming with Dan Rooney's grandson.  She remembers him (the grandson) was a very nice guy who did not have any of the issues that could go along with being from such a wealthy family.  Everything I've hear about the Rooney's leads me to believe that they have stayed pretty well grounded in who they are/were.  What an interesting story about how he "won" the Steelers!  Talk about "found money."

A little on North Catholic.  When Anne was in school the soccer team outscored the football team FOR THE SEASON.  Central Catholic was the powerhouse (Dan Marino is an alum).  

Anyway, the Trojans were a perennial bottom feeder.  Until just a few years ago.  Pittsburgh judge Bob Ravenstahl took over as the football coach.  His d-coordinator was the father of my wife's best friend, so I've heard all of the stories about the team first hand.  Anyway, Coach "Rave" turned that thing around (74-30 in nine seasons).  He even took them to their first state championship!  (both WPIAL and PIAA - so he won at Heinz Field and at Hersey!).  This was 2013.  

But, North Catholic was building a new school in the "North Hills" and the clientele was going decidedly up-scale.  The school (donors) wanted a splash, so Coach Rave was out before the 2014 season, coming off a state championship, and in was a former Steeler, a "name" guy, Jason Gildon.  North Catholic would be moving up in classification and needed a guy who could coach "with the big boys."  After all, that team would have Gildon's two sons, Mike Tomlin's son, Joey Porter's son.  Well, on December 8, 2016, Jason Gildon's contract was not renewed.  Now, his record was good (17-6), so there's something more to it (unless the semifinals are no longer good enough for North Catholic).  The whole thing is such a contrast to the Rooney's and the way they run the Steelers.  

I sat with Coach Ravenstahl at his daughter's wedding this past New Year's Eve.  He's coached for a long, long time.  And he's been to the top.  This past year he took over, "un-retired" (he was given the option of retiring or firing at North Catholic), at Vincentian Academy, a team that had gone 3-15 in its first two years as a varsity program.  So, he was starting at the bottom again.  He said things were tough.  The best player was the worst teammate and numbers were paper thin.  Coach Rave played the kid, and if he could go back he'd do it all differently, sit the kid, take his lumps, and the losses (which came anyway).  It was very interesting that I found myself looking at the championship ring on this man's finger while listening to him talk about the things he didn't do correctly or needed to do better in the future.  I don't know if he will get it turned around at Vinentian, but they are better for having him.  And as for North Catholic...I wonder if they've seen the peak and are starting a tumble down the other side.  I suspect they need to take a little look at the namesake on that stadium and figure out how things are supposed to be done.  

Todd Hollis
Elmwood, Illinois

North Catholic brings back memories… The Yale Captain my sophomore year was a guy named Jack Embersits.  He was a 175-pound guard/nose guard (two ways) who was - still is - the hardest hitter I’ve ever seen.  I spent my entire season on the scout team offense getting drilled by him.  He was a Pittsburgh kid, from North Catholic, and the story at the time was that when he went to Yale on his recruiting visit he said, “You mean we get to play on grass?”  That story was given credence by one of my roommates, a guy from a section of Pittsburgh called East Liberty, and subsequently by old films of John Unitas’ playing on bare fields.

*********** Is it my imagination or are the crowds at the spring games down somewhat?

I didn’t see Alabama’s crowd, but LSU wasn’t even half full.  Penn State had a decent crowd, but if that had been a regular-season crowd, the people in the athletic department would have panicked.

LSU, considering that this was the Tigers’ first spring with a new OC, was doing an awful lot of complex-looking  formation stuff - shifting and motions.  They didn’t sit still very often.

As a matter of fact, a couple of times they lined up in what we’d call “WEST” or “EAST” formation.  And then proceeded to send a man in motion.

*********** ESPN has acquired the Miami Beach Bowl and plans to move it to Frisco, Texas.

Good riddance, I say, to any game played in a baseball stadium, as this one was.

Needless to say, it will undergo a name change.

*********** Ralph Russo of the Associated Press list the Power 5 teams with the toughest non-conference schedules:

The teams, and the games that put them on the list:

Oregon: Nebraska, at Wyoming (what genius came up with the idea of scheduling an away game at 6,000 feet?)

Florida: Michigan (at the Jerry Dome), Florida State

Florida State: Alabama (in Atlanta), at Florida

South Carolina: NC State (at Charlotte); Clemson

Pitt: at Penn State; Oklahoma State

USC:  Western Michigan; Texas; at Notre Dame

Georgia: Appalachian State; at Notre Dame; Georgia Tech

Georgia Tech: Tennessee; at UCF; Georgia

How about on the other end - the non-Power 5 conference teams who have to schedule up?

Western Michigan? The Broncos open at USC, then visit Michigan State the next weekend.

Fresno State? The Bulldogs open at home against FCS Incarnate Word, then travel to Alabama; the following week, they’re at Washington.

*********** I was wondering if anyone was going to catch, and make mention of, the Hillary "anal" remark!

How appropriate was that?!  I almost fell out of my seat when that happened! There was not even a flinch, on the set, from anyone there!

Could it be that they all, subliminally, agreed with it!?

J.C. Brink
Stuart, Florida

*********** A guy wrote in to our local paper, upset that for the seventh straight summer there’ll be no AAA baseball in Portland.  The main reason is that the rich Easterner who owns the local MLS soccer team got exclusive rights to the baseball stadium and converted it (at whose expense, I don’t know) to a soccer-style stadium.  With no place to play, the baseball team, the Beavers, moved to Tucson.

In a sense, evicting baseball to make room for soccer is a metaphor for what’s happened to Portland, and to America in general:  soccer has become the normal sport to play.  Little kids start playing soccer when they’re still in diapers,  and never get around to playing baseball.  Before you know it, little Tanner has turned seven and he’s been “selected” to play on an elite travel team and - presto! - one more degrading step toward the Europeanization of America.

The guy who wrote the letter said it’s his hope that one day the Portland Timbers, who play “a so-called sport where most of the time nobody wins”  will move to Europe (“where they belong”) and baseball will return to Portland.

*********** Steve Kerr, coach of the Warriors, made the trip to Portland this past weekend for his team’s playoff game against the Trail Blazers - and then had to stay in his hotel room and miss Saturday night’s game, suffering from headaches, nausea and neck pain.

He’s had two two back operations since the Warriors’ NBA title win in 2015, and things haven’t gone well.  He missed 43 games last season.

He told reporters, “I can tell you if you’re listening out there - if you have a back problem, stay away from surgery.  I can say that from the bottom of my heart - rehab, rehab, rehab.  Don’t let anybody get in there.”

*********** A coaching friend wrote: Saw an interesting bit on a news program this morning.  Rogers has a new "automated" tackling dummy.  They demonstrated it on the news program, and had a video of it.  The guest speaker was Buddy Teevens, head coach at Dartmouth.  His program uses "them" extensively.  Since incorporating the dummies into his practices his defensive players apparently have not had the need to practice "live" tackling for the last couple of years.  Not sure how good Dartmouth's defense has been lately but Teevens did say the device has cut back injuries by 80% since he started using it. They are controlled by a remote (kinda like Madden).  Sign of the times?  The cost?  $1,500.00 EACH.

The Teevens story has been getting a lot of ink since last summer.

The robots might be good for giving college players “live” reps, but somebody at some point had to actually teach those guys how to tackle - that’s us - and throwing themselves at a dummy, motorized or not, isn’t going to teach our kids.

Once we’ve taught the basics well,  at our small school we would then need, oh, at least four of the damn things to get close to the same number of reps that we now get.  PLUS some responsible managers or coaches to operate the robots.  PLUS a smooth surface to operate on. Our school district can’t even maintain our “grass” field, let alone spring for artificial turf, so I'm thinking maybe our parking lot would work…

*********** Americans may have cut back on their smoking, but because of increases in the price of cigarettes, they’re spending more.

I read this in the Wall Street Journal and I’m still in a state of disbelief:

According to an market-research firm called Euromonitor International, “Americans spent more at retail stores on cigarettes in 2016 than they did on soda and beer combined.”

Jim otto snapping*********** Jim Otto was a pro football ironman if ever there was one.

He was a native of Wausau, Wisconsin who played his college football at Miami.

As a center, he played played 15 seasons and never missed a game - 308 consecutive games - because of injury. This despite having nine knee operations during his career.

In all, he had 28 different operations on his legs.  Not all of them went well and several times his life was in danger as a result of infection.

Several years after his retirement, he had to have a leg amputated.

He played his entire career with one team: 10 years in the AFL and five in the NFL.

He was an All-Star every years of his AFL career and is on the All-Time All-AFL team.  He made All-NFL three times, and he’s in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

In all those years, despite playing for a team that boasted of a “Commitment to Excellence,” he played on only one championship team - an AFL championship team that then lost in the Super Bowl to the NFL champion.

His distinctive number, 00,  in all likelihood will  never be worn again by any player at his position.  It was given to him his second year as a pro, and was meant to be a play on his last name (“OUGHT-OH”).


MARK KACZMAREK - DAVENPORT, IOWA - growing up, he was one of the few non-Packers I admired...maybe b/c he was a Wausau native!
JOE GUTILLA - AUSTIN, TEXAS - Used to watch him snap the ball to one Daryle Lamonica, the "Mad Bomber".  Lamonica was our hometown hero in Clovis, CA.  The high school football stadium was named after him.  Every kid growing up in Clovis at that time knew about the Mad Bomber.
MIKE CAHILL - GUILDERLAND, NEW YORK - He’s in the U of Miami Hall of Fame
DENNIS METZGER - Richmond, Indiana - I didn’t realize that he played before the championship Raiders.  And the Super Bowl loss would have been to a team that had a commitment to excellence; Vince Lombardi’s Green Bay packers.

Leaving Franklin Field*********** QUIZ - As they walk off Franklin Field, the player in the middle is consoling two members of the losing team following an NFL championship game.  He doesn’t look that tired, but he should - he just finished playing the entire game on both sides of the ball - center on offense and linebacker on defense.  At the age of 35.

The son of Slovakian immigrants, he grew up in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania speaking Slovak as his first language.  At 17, right out of high school, with World War II going on, he joined the Army Air Corps.  In all, during the war, he flew 30 combat missions over Germany.

Following the war he played college football as a single wing center and linebacker under famed coach George Munger, and was a three-time All-American.

Although not a back, he finished third in the Heisman voting following his senior season.

He played his entire NFL career for one team; they won the NFL title his first season with them, and he was still playing when they finally won again, 11 years later.

He was 10 times named All-Pro.

He is a member of both the College and the Pro Football Halls of Fame - he made it into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility - and in 1969, long after his playing days were over, he was voted “Greatest Center of All Time.”

He took great pride in being the last of the true, old-school two-way players, and in his later years he publicly scoffed at the very idea that Deion Sanders, a notorious non-tackler, could double as a wide receiver and be seriously considered a two-way player.

american flag FRIDAY,  APRIL 21,  2017  - “‘Free’ is very expensive for someone.” Maine Governor Paul LePage

***********  Well-meaning people who want to make football safer (and, as many of us suspect, some not-so-well-meaning people who want to eliminate football altogether) have been pushing for some time to reduce injuries by reducing exposure to injury-causing collisions and falls and whatnot. And what better way to do that  than to cut down on practice time?

Why, sure.  Think of how much safer gymnastics would be if kids didn’t spend so much time practicing all those flips.  Think of the ski-jumping injuries that could be prevented if they didn’t make so many practice jumps.   Motocross?   No kids would get hurt practicing  if all they  had to do was line up on race day and - ride.

And football?  Why can't our kids just learn to tackle on Friday nights?

Larry Kidbom, head coach since 1989 at D-III Washington University in St. Louis wrote a very good response to those who haven’t thought this through - who would reduce football injuries by reducing practice time.
To make our game safer, many people are rallying behind the thought of practicing less. This is far from the truth. Each practice opportunity is an opportunity to teach our players to block better, to tackle properly, and to play with speed in a game where awareness is created best through repetition. As a coach, I need time with our players to do that. Most coaches teach tackling in a confined space. Proper tackling is important not only to the tackler, who needs to use proper technique; it is important for the person who is tackled. He needs to learn to fall safely, and absorb the hit.

*********** There are the Alabamas and the Oregons and the like, where no luxury is overlooked in their football facilities.  And then there are the Duquesnes, where not so long ago there were no locker rooms, and players had to take their equipment back with them to their dorms. And then they had to leave their stuff in the hallways, not in their rooms, because it smelled so bad.

I imagine the hallways didn’t smell so great, either.

And then up stepped the late Dan Rooney, President of the Pittsburgh Steelers - and a Duquesne grad. (In case you didn’t know, it’s pronounced “doo-KANE,” and it’s named for the French Fort that once stood on the site of present-day Pittsburgh.)


IN 2016…

*** Seventeen FCS schools averaged 100 per cent or more of capacity:
Appalachian State - 113%
Oklahoma - 106
Ohio State - 105
Kansas State, Nebraska - 104
Michigan - 103
Baylor - 102
Utah - 102
Ole Miss, Oregon - 101
Alabama, Georgia, Michigan State, North Carolina State, Notre Dame, Old Dominion, TCU - 100

*** Thirteen teams drew over 1 million fans to their games (home and away, neutral sites and post-season games)- NOTE: SEVEN of them are SEC schools, and FIVE are Big Ten schools
Alabama - 1,365,657
Michigan - 1,260,897
Tennessee - 1,248,060
Ohio State - 1,220,416
Texas A & M - 1,175,229
Penn State - 1,167,449
LSU - 1,098,072
Auburn - 1,070,171
Clemson - 1,058,626
Nebraska - 1,047,833
Florida - 1,037,498
Georgia - 1,030,318
Wisconsin - 1,009,017

*** Seven schools averaged more than 100,000 fans at their home games, and FIFTEEN of them averaged more than  80,000 per game.  Here’s the significance of that, something that has to stick in the craw of the NFL suits, who would have us believe that they, and they alone, ARE football:  Only one NFL team - the Dallas Cowboys, who averaged 92,539 - would have broken into that list of 12.  Next highest NFL team - the Giants, at 78,789 - doesn’t make the cut.

Michigan - 110,468
Ohio State - 107,278
Texas A & M - 101,917
Alabama - 101,821
LSU - 101,231
Tennessee - 100,968
Penn State - 100,257
Texas - 97,881
Georgia - 92,746
COWBOYS - 92,539
Nebraska - 90,200
Florida - 87,846
Auburn - 86,937
Oklahoma - 86,857
Clemson - 80,970
Notre Dame - 80,795

*** For the 19th straight year, the SEC led all conferences in average attendance:
SEC - 77,507
BIG TEN - 66,151
BIG 12 - 57,531
PAC-12 - 50,073
ACC - 49,734

*** 16 Bowl games drew crowds of 45,000 of greater:
The Top Ten (I asked the “sponsors” for a little something  in exchange for including their names, and none of them returned my calls, so I left their names out.)
Rose Bowl - 95,128
Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl (Semi-Final) - 75,996 (I’ll make an exception for Chick-Fil-A)
CFL Championship game - 74,512
Fiesta Bowl (Semi-Final) - 71,279
Music City Bowl - 68,496
Texas Bowl - 68,412
Orange Bowl (67,432)
Alamo Bowl (59,815)
Cotton Bowl (59,615)
Sugar Bowl (54,077)


FCS average attendance top five:
Montana - 25,377
James Madison - 19,844
Florida A & M - 19,710
Jackson State - 19,660
North Dakota State - 18,556

DIVISION II average attendance top five:
Grand Valley State - 12,549 (third year in a row at Number One)
Tuskegee - 10,130
Miles - 9,624
Pittsburg State - 9,612
Fort Valley State - 8,850

DIVISION III average attendance top five:
St. John’s (Minn.)  7,787 (the Johnnies have led D-III for 15 of he past 16 years)
Wisconsin-Whitewater - 5,718
Wabash (Indiana) - 5,512
Wesleyan (Connecticut) - 5,280
Hampden-Sydney (Virginia) - 5,125

*** The MAC Championship Game in Detroit drew 45,615 fans, topping the previous high of 28,085. That was back in 1998, when Toledo played Marshall on Marshall’s home field.  You think that Western Michigan’s exciting season might have had anything to do with this year's increase?

*** Miami’s average attendance per game was up 23 per cent from 2015.

*** This past year’s Army-Navy game drew its highest TV audience since 1992.

*** Old Dominion, which drew 120,708 to six home games in 2016, has sold out every game since it brought back football in 2009,

*** If college football’s your game, Birmingham is the place to go to find kindred souls.

For the 15th straight year, the Magic City was the Number One local market for ESPN’s college games.

*********** College wrestling took another hit with the announcement that Boise State was dropping the sport.  This hits high schools as well - one state champion from our area who’d committed to Boise State now finds himself in search of a school.

Unlike all the other wrestling programs that have fallen by the wayside in an effort to achieve a mythical “gender equity” (there were 117 Division I wrestling schools in 1988-89, and just 76 this past season), Boise’s wasn’t the victim of Title IX.

Wrestling just wasn’t bringing in enough revenues to offset its costs.  Well, duh.  At Boise State (and most other places) only two sports pay for themselves - and the other 14 the school offers. Football and, to a lesser degree, men’s basketball, pays the bills.

Funny that they brought up costs, because at the same time they announced they were dropping wrestling, the Broncos announced they were adding baseball.

Seven other schools play baseball in the Mountain West, Boise State’s conference.  That means a lot of travel.  It also means a much bigger budget than wrestling got - Fresno State’s and Nevada’s baseball teams have budgets of over $1 million.

*********** I swear he was identified as a Democrat from Missouri, but some guy on TV named Calloway sure had a strange way of praising Hillary Clinton, referring to “Her place in the anals of American history…”

I gave you the set-up.  It's up to you to furnish the punch line.

*********** Another nice Tom Harmon write-up:
Good point about scholarships and the Bootin’ Babe of Adams State.  D2 has only 36 schollys to give, which makes it even more incomprehensible, BUT they can split their scholarships…so maybe this ballyhooed publicity stunt is actually about a ¼ financial award deal.
Just got a great book from the library called “”The All-Americans” by Lars Anderson.  It features four stories about war and football, much like the Tom Harmon saga.  If you’ve never read it, I guarantee you will enjoy it.
Will give you an update on Hillsdale spring ball soon.
Shep Clarke
Puyallup, Washington

(Shep Clarke’s son, Wain, is contending for a starting outside linebacker spot at Hillsdale College - you know, that private college in Michigan that still adheres to solid American values and has never taken a nickel of taxpayers’ money.   Good point about the slicing and dicing of scholarships - no one actually said it was a FULL scholarship.)

*********** Barry Switzer once said, in so many words, that what Bill Snyder accomplished at Kansas State was the greatest coaching achievement in the history of college football.

And that was before he left Kansas State, then returned after a few years for a second act, one that’s still ongoing.

The people in Kansas know what he’s done.  Drive the back roads of the Sunflower State and see the K-State “Power Cat” logos on mailboxes and barns and you get a feel for the passion that he’s built.  The state may have two state universities - Kansas (“KU”) and Kansas State (“K-State”) but if ever there was a state with a city-and-country divide between its two schools, this is it.  City folks?  They’re Kansas Jayhawks.  Country and small-town folks?  “EMAW!” - Every Man a Wildcat!

Coach Snyder’s  been there so long now that lots of you young fellers may only know of K-State as a football power, but it’s impossible to describe how forlorn the K-State program was when he took over.  

But back in the 70s, a guy used to put out a weekly newspaper feature called “The Bottom Ten,” a spoof on the popular “Top Ten” ratings.

The state of Kansas usually got special mention for having TWO teams in the Bottom Ten.

But occasionsally, Kansas would escape.  The Jayhawks would have a decent year from time to time.  I mean, John Hadl, Gale Sayers, Bobby Douglass, Nolan Cromwell - they were damn good athletes.

Kansas State?  The “Mildcats” were ALWAYS at the top (or bottom, if you will).

And then came Bill Snyder.

A great article describes how he discovered he couldn’t win by going after all the four- and five-star recruits, because after spending time and resources on recruiting them,  they’d wind up going to the Oklahomas and Nebraskas anyhow.  So he took a “road less travelled” (any Robert Frost fans out there?) approach - he went after the kids who got overlooked, the kids that the big-time guys were too busy to recruit.

It meant a lot of spade work - getting out into the hinterlands, where the big guys never went,  and establishing relations with lots and lots of high school coaches, in small schools that might only occasionally - if ever - have a K-State prospect.  It meant talking to anybody and everybody who might know something about a recruit - teachers, principals, even cafeteria workers - to find out what he was really like.  And it meant trying to gauge the upside of a kid who wasn't yet  a finished product in football terms, because he went to a small school where he played three sports instead of concentrating on just one.  And it meant coaching that kid up.

As a result of numerous trips to Kansas, I became  a huge fan of Coach Snyder and the K-State Wildcats.  He is an absolute marvel and the kind of man I would advise a young coach to emulate.

He undoubtedly has had many enticing offers to go elsewhere during his time at Kansas State, but he remained a Wildcat to the core, and K-State fans expressed their gratitude by naming their stadium in honor of him and his family.

If I needed anything further to admire him for, it would be his working with the US Army, at nearby Fort Riley.  Along with then Lieutenant Colonel (now General) Pat Frank, Battalion Commander of the Black Lions, he helped develop a working relationship between the Wildcats and the Black Lions - holding joint training exercises with soldiers and K-State players, putting on camps for the kids of Black Lions while they were deployed in Iraq, and hosting Black Lions and their families at K-State games.

***********  I’m not one for conspiracies.  I’m not one of those who think that Aaron Hernandez’ “suicide” was faked by the Massachusetts Correctional staff. But I do believe his death has to be connected in some way with Donald Trump and the Russians.

*********** You've got to hand it to Urban Meyer - the guy can recruit.  He could go out and get people like Aaron Hernandez, Percy Harvin and the Pounceys  - and then convince a Tim Tebow to play on the same team with them.

*********** “I think in some ways I knew more American history when I finished grade school then many college students know today. And that’s not their fault - that’s our fault.”  Author David McCullough


JOSH MONTGOMERY - BERWICK, LOUISIANA (“The most interesting facet of the story is this: when the heck would anyone, nowadays, find two backs that talented from Kansas and Wake Forest?”)
MIKE FORISTIERE - MATTAWA, WASHINGTON (“Looking forward to the clinic in Kansas City.”)
GREG KOENIG - CIMARRON, KANSAS (“The other guy in the photo is Gale Sayers, the ‘Kansas Comet’”)
TOM HINGER - WINTER HAVEN, FLORIDA (“That doesn’t look like James Caan in that photo.”)
KC SMITH - WALPOLE, MASSACHUSETTS (Brian Piccolo, from Pittsfield!”)
CARL KILBURG - HEBRON, INDIANA (“The Bears used to hold preseason practice just down the road from where I live, at St. Joseph's College in Rensselaer, IN. Sadly, the college is closing its doors after this semester ends.”)
JERRY LOVELL - BELLEVUE, NEBRASKA (“Sayers was an Omaha Central grad....the starting point of I-Back High......went to Kansas instead of Nebraska.”)
DJ MILLAY - VANCOUVER, WASHINGTON (“Brian's Song was the first movie that ever made me cry.”)

*********** Brian Piccolo was born in Western Massachusetts but grew up in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where he played high school football at St. Thomas Aquinas, well know for the football players it’s produced.

He was a very good running back at an ACC school, and led the nation in rushing his senior year, earning him ACC Player of the Year honors.

Although undrafted by any NFL club, he managed to hang on and make a career of it, finally earning a starting backfield position.

Gale Sayers, the guy on the left in the photo was his roommate on road trips and was much better known. A movie, “Brian’s Song,” was made about their friendship.

Brian Piccolo's  career was cut short by the cancer that ended his life in 1970 at the age of 26.

(The movie really was a tear-jerker, a wonderful story of the kind of friendship that at that time few Americans outside of sports could imagine - a black guy and  white guy loving each other and able to joke about their racial differences. What a shame that we can’t return to those days when so many of us still shared the dream of racial harmony.)

(1) Reputedly, his last words (to his wife, Joy) were, “Joy, can you believe this sh—?”
(2) He was not the first Piccolo to earn fame on the gridiron, not the first from Western Massachusetts.  He was preceded by Luigi Piccolo, from Leominster - who as "Lou Little" played college football at Penn and pro football for the Frankford Yellow Jackets, then served as head coach at Georgetown and Columbia.

*********** QUIZ - He was a pro football ironman if ever there was one.

An offensive lineman, he played played 15 seasons and never missed a game - 308 consecutive games - because of injury. This despite having nine knee operations during his career.

In all, he had 28 different operations on his legs.  Not all of them went well and several times his life was in danger as a result of infection.

Several years after his retirement, he had to have a leg amputated.

He played his entire career with one team: 10 years in the AFL and five in the NFL.

He was an All-Star every years of his AFL career and is on the All-Time All-AFL team.  He made All-NFL three times, and he’s in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

In all those years, despite playing for a team that boasted of a “Commitment to Excellence,” he played on only one championship team - an AFL championship team that then lost in the Super Bowl to the NFL champion.

His distinctive number, which in all likelihood will  never be worn again by any player at his position, was given to him his second year as a pro, and was meant to be a play on his last name.

american flag TUESDAY,  APRIL 18,  2017  - “When you see ten problems rolling down the road, if you don’t do anything, nine of them will roll into a ditch before they get to you.”  Calvin Coolidge

*********** Maybe it’s because they’re often in even closer contact with the players than coaches; maybe it’s because players learn they can trust them; and maybe it’s because it doesn’t matter to them how good the players are out on the field.  Whatever the reason, some of the most influential people in the lives of college football players have been equipment managers and trainers.

One such person was Dick Hall, longtime equipment manager at West Point (Army).

Back when Homer Smith was Army’s coach, a player named Bobby Johnson was elected captain for the 1974 season.

But when he was diagnosed with cancer in his arm, and told his football days were over, he didn’t want to remain as captain when he wasn’t going to be able to play.

That’s where Dick Hall came in.  He told Johnson, “If all your teammates think that much of your leadership that they want you to be a captain, that is what you’re going to do.”

Years later, Johnson remembered how important that advice was. ”Dick's words meant everything to me," he said, "and helped me do the harder right than to pursue a lesser path. While in Walter Reed (Army Medical Center) for the entire summer, I had to first deal with the fact that I had cancer and could not play football again. Dick let me know that there were other ways to lead and that my responsibility was to the team and not myself. His words allowed me to be the captain of the team and show my support in everything I did. His words got me through one of the most challenging times in my life and I will forever be indebted to him."

*********** “As for the ideal play for a given situation, there is none. Great calls are only great after they have beaten the defense.”  That was Pepper Rodgers.  Or Homer Smith.  The two were co-authors of “Installing Football’s Wishbone T Attack.”  Pepper Rodgers was a Georgia Tech graduate and a very smart guy.  But Homer Smith was a Princeton graduate and an extremely erudite student of the game so I’m going  with him.

*********** Charlie Wilson, of Crystal River, Florida, really likes belly series football and wishbone football.  He’s coached them and he’s researched them and he knows them and their histories as well as anyone I know.

wishbone tWhen he answered the question about Mark Harmon he mentioned the bible of the wishbone, “Installing Football’s Wishbone T Attack.”  It's a big book.  It is outstanding,  with all sorts of information and tips
valuable to any coach of any system;  it's an absolute must for anyone wanting to run the bone as well as it can possibly be run.  It was written by Pepper Rodgers and Homer Smith.  At the time it was published, Pepper Rodgers was head coach at his alma mater, Georgia Tech, and Homer Smith was head coach at Army.  But its reason for being was the great success they’d enjoyed with the wishbone at UCLA, their previous stop, when Rodgers was head coach and Smith was the offensive coordinator.  I’ve heard them both at clinics, and they were excellent, and the book is a reflection of the fact that they were both very smart and articulate coaches.  You can find copies, but they’re not cheap - around $35-$40.  On the other hand, as a collector’s item, that’s not expensive at all, and when you consider that so much of the stuff the mail order guys try to sell you nowadays -  unstoppable offenses on a series of three $39 DVDs -  is crap, $40 is well worth the money. (Ever wonder how come, if every offense is unstoppable,  half the teams on Friday night lose?)

I would add that for anyone wanting an understanding of the very basics of the wishbone offense, I’ve never seen anything better than Darrell Royal’s “Wishbone T.”  When I bought it, back in the late 70s, it was on 16 mm film.  I actually got to speak (very briefly) with Coach Royal himself when I bought it.  I thought it was so well done - still do - that it was the inspiration for the first video I produced, “Dynamics of the Double Wing.”

*********** Hugh,

Things aren't the same anymore (I sound like my dad).  But in all honesty NOW I know WHY he felt the way he did about my generation, and why so many of us now understand why our fathers felt that way.  What we knew, and what we felt as youngsters...and how we viewed things, and were taught as youngsters is...well...history.

I've tried and tried to convince people that young people today are virtually the same as they have always been...and in "some" ways they are. MOST ways they are NOT!    

I know you're not a big fan of Lou Holtz, but he said it best in one of his books I read, "One of the differences between people today and a generation ago is that today people are concerned primarily about their rights and privileges.  A generation ago people were primarily concerned about obligations and responsibilities."

Betcha that ESPN guy who interviewed you is more concerned about his rights and privileges.

Anyway...enough negative.  Here's wishing you and Connie and your entire family a Blessed Easter!

#99 in that picture was Tom Harmon of Michigan and that movie actor son of his is former QB of LA Pierce CC and UCLA's Mark Harmon.  After Mark Harmon graduated from LA Pierce CC Mark was offered full rides by Oklahoma and UCLA.  Chose UCLA over Oklahoma.  Can't say I could blame him with one Steve Davis running the Sooner wishbone offense.

Joe Gutilla
Austin, Texas

Right on Tom Harmon.

Wrong on Lou Holtz -  I LOVED the North Carolina State and Arkansas and Minnesota Lou Holtz. One of the wittiest guys I’ve ever heard, with the coaching to back it up - and then he had to go to Notre Dame and go Saintly on us.

Don’t even get me on "Doctor Lou."  Like Madden and so many others who get overexposed, he became a self parody!

*********** You’ve probably heard - the story’s been making the rounds - of Konrad Reuland and Rod Carew.

Reuland, a former Baltimore Raven, was just 29 when he died unexpectedly of an aneurism back in December.

In a sense, though, Konrad Reuland lived on - his donated heart and one of his kidneys were transplanted in Rod Carew, the Hall of Fame baseball player, now 71.

Recently, the Reulands met with Rod Carew, and assured him that he was now a part of their family.

“We lost a wonderful man, so it had to go into a wonderful person,” Mrs. Reuland told Rod. “I couldn’t be happier that it went to such a wonderful man.”

Amazing twist - when Konrad was 11 years old, he came home excited about having just met Rod Carew.

*********** Spring games - I love ‘em.  Indiana looked okay on Friday night.  Hell, nobody looks bad in a spring game.  Nebraska had a nearly  full house.  Amazing.  Tanner Lee, Huskers' transfer QB from Tulane,  looked pretty good.  Michigan and Ohio State both looked good, of course, but at the very start, Ohio State’s game looked like the Pro Bowl - glorified two-hand touch.  Meantime, on my other set, the Utah game looked like war.  Quite a contrast, until Meyer loosened the leashes. USC looks scary good.  Arizona State?  Hard to tell.  Stanford must have had a women’s field hockey game going on in their stadium, because they played their spring game on a practice field.  Weird. The camera angles sucked and it wasn’t worth watching.  Minnesota looks pretty good.  They were pretty good last year, and they seem to have adapted well to the new coach.   Minnesota starts out with an easy schedule, so it might be a while before they lose, but I predict that at some point this “Row the Boat” business is going to get old. 

*********** You have to admit, it’s kind of funny that one of the best known football stadiums in America named for a college - is named for a college that doesn’t have a football team.

We're not talking Harvard Stadium or Yale Bowl.  We're talking  University of Phoenix Stadium, home of the Arizona Cardinals. It’s named for a for-profit college that not only doesn’t have a football team, but doesn’t really have a campus, either.  Instead, it offers classes in lots of different cities, and it evidently thought it was good advertising to pay to put its name on a pro football stadium.

But now, nine years into a 20-year stadium-naming contract, it wants out. 

Maybe they can get out of the lease, but if they can’t - they should consider doing  what real colleges do, and sell the naming rights to “their" stadium - the one they’re already paying to put their name on.  I can think of one company that could use some good advertising right now. How does United Air Lines Field at University of Phoenix Stadium sound? 

*********** The women have responded.  Not content to sit back and watch males posing as “transgendered females” take over their sports, they’ve found  a small opening in the male sports front - placekicking.

An Arizona girl named Becca Longo has just “made football history” (blah, blah, blah) by being awarded a scholarship to kick at D-II Adams State, in Colorado.

What’s stranger actually  than the idea of a woman place kicking is the notion of a college spending a scarce scholarship on a kicker. Customarily, kickers walk on and then, if they prove to be good enough, they're awarded a scholarship.

Nothing against Ms. Longo.  She seems like a good kid and evidently is a pretty good kicker.  But Iike so many kickers, she's not a football player, and I’ve argued for years that the whole concept of specialists - non-players -  that do nothing but kick is an aberration that mocks our game.

(Once again, The Wyatt Rule: no player on a team may kick the ball in any fashion more than once in any game.)

Meantime, prepare to get sick of reading and hearing about the exploits of the female “football player” from Adams State.

*********** Everybody gets a statue nowadays, or so it seems, so why not a statue of Ken Griffey, Junior outside Seattle’s Safeco Field?

Well, I’ll tell you why not.  Hell of a player and all that, but  I can remember the day that precious “Junior” jilted Seattle - demanding to be traded to another team to be closer to his family.

And just like that, poof - he was gone.

Many years later, his career nearing its end, he wrapped things up with a year or two in Seattle - and now, evidently, all is forgiven.

*********** An Australian psychologist theorizes that claiming to be transgender is in because it’s cool -  the newest way that young people can call attention to themselves.  (“Gay” now having become commonplace, it’s no longer cool.)

One responder to the article said, “I think a lot of the kids who would have had eating disorders 20 years ago are the ones now claiming to be transgendered.”

*********** The announcement in the newspaper began formally enough,  paying proper respect to age-old conventions:

Mr. and Mrs. ——— are pleased to announce  the engagement of their daughter ————  to ——————.

Blah, blah, blah.

But then ...

“The couple reside in ————, Washington and plan a winter wedding in 2018.”

“They became engaged while vacationing in Belize.”

 I sure do struggle  with the realities of today’s shackup culture:


CHARLIE WILSON - CRYSTAL RIVER, FLORIDA - Tom Harmon against Ohio State -
(PS: Son Mark had a Style as well.  Look at the cover of Rodgers and Smith's Installing... and that reaching, wide base look and then look at    Nice genes.
KEVIN MCCULLOUGH - LAKEVILLE, INDIANA - Where would NCIS be without him?

Tom and Mark Harmonharmon movie poster

ABOVE LEFT - That's Tom Harmon and Mark in 1965. Mark was 13 years old.  According to Mark, Tom was a great father:

ABOVE RIGHT: Just think: If Johnny Manziel had stayed in college for four years,  we might have had "JOHNNY FOOTBALL OF A & M"

tom harmon with planeharmon helmet

ABOVE LEFT: Tom Harmon in front of his bomber, which was shot down over China. He was awarded the Silver Star, the third highest award a member of the Army (it was still the Army Air Corps then - no Air Force yet) can earn, after the Medal of Honor and Distinguished Service Cross.

ABOVE RIGHT: A good look at the leather helmet whose construction inspired the paint job that's replicated on today's Michigan helmets. (I read somewhere that his nose was broken 13 times, an occupational hazard for tailbacks in the pre-face mask era.  Photos from later in life - like the one above with son Mark -  show that he undoubtedly had a nose job.)

1. In his final game against Ohio State, won by Michigan 40-0, he ran for three touchdowns, threw for two TDs, kicked four extra points, and punted three times for an average 50 yards.  And - remember, that was Iron Man football - he intercepted three Buckeyes’ passes.
2. Shortly after graduation, he starred in the movie, “Harmon of Michigan.”
3. He briefly played pro football with the Los Angeles Rams, but gave it up to pursue a career in broadcasting
4. He married actress Elyse Knox, and Elyse was married in a wedding gown made of the silk from the parachute he used in landing inside China.
5. He and Elyse had three children.  Son, Mark, was an outstanding wishbone quarterback at UCLA and is a well-known actor. One of their daughters, Kristin,  married popular singer Ricky Nelson; the other, Kelly, was married to automobile executive John DeLorean, and after their divorce she has managed to do quite well as an actress and a model (the Tic-Tac Mint Lady).

*********** A native of Gary, Indiana, Tom Harmon is perhaps the greatest athlete ever to come out of the Hoosier State.  In high school he was the national scoring leader in football with 150 points and a star on the school basketball team. He won state titles in both the 100-yard dash and the 220 low hurdles, and in the summer he threw two no-hitters in baseball.

But it was in college where he became the best-known football player in America, as one of the greatest single wing tailbacks ever to play the game.

In his three years as a varsity player, his team went 19-4-1.  He also found time in the off-season to play on the Michigan basketball team for two seasons.

He led the nation in scoring in both his junior and senior years.   He rushed for 2151 yards and 33 touchdowns and threw for 1396 yards and 16 touchdowns.  He averaged 38 yards per punt and he kicked 33 extra points and two field goals. And he played all 60 minutes eight times.

He was a unanimous All-American both years, and after his senior year received every individual honor it’s possible to win.

After he graduated, he starred in a movie based on his college football career.

In World War II he served as a pilot in the Army Air Corps, and twice had to parachute from his planes before they crashed, once in a jungle in South America, and once behind enemy lines in Japanese-occupied China.   For his bravery in action he was awarded the Silver Star.

After the War, he briefly played professional football, but gave it up to embark instead on a long and successful career as a broadcaster.

He and his wife, a former actress,  had three children: one daughter married a famous singer, another a well-known automobile executive.  His son was an outstanding wishbone quarterback at a major college and is now a well-known actor.

quiz*********** QUIZ - He was born in Western Massachusetts but grew up in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where he played high school football at famed St. Thomas Aquinas, well known for the football players it’s produced.

In college he was a very good running back, leading the nation in rushing his senior year, and earning  ACC Player of the Year honors.

Although undrafted by any NFL club, he managed to hang on and make a decent career of it, finally earning a starting backfield position - shorly before being diagnosed with cancer.

He died of it in 1970 at the age of 26.

The guy on the left in the photo was his roommate on road trips and was a much better known player. A movie was made about their friendship and the way they dealt with his illness.

ANSWERS TO - be sure to include your name and your town

american flag FRIDAY,  APRIL 14,  2017  - “Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake."  Napoleon Bonaparte

*********** Dan Rooney is dead, and I am saddened. To make things sadder still, with him has died one of the last remaining ties to the old NFL guys - the Rooneys, Halases, Maras and, yes, Marshalls -  who built from scratch the football league that the corporate types have turned into Big Football.

*********** A few weeks ago I spoke at length with a writer from ESPN about the current switch to a softer, deader shotgun snap.  And then I provided him with a little bit of research on the topic, from my copy of Pop Warner’s 1927 book as well as notes from the 1938 University of Pittsburgh coaches clinic.  He told me he’d let me know when the story came out, and Tuesday, he did:

Hey Hugh, the story ran today. Here's the link!

Jared Shanker — ESPN -

I should have known better than to cooperate with The Worldwide Leader.  Should have let him do his own f--king research.

I read the article and wrote back,

Nice article.

I may or may not have mentioned that I had been teaching this at clinics since 1998, well before the current crop  of shotgun coaches even came on the scene.

I think that  when one does the research I did to provide you with the Warner quote, it’s customary to give some credit.

And - very important point - I have way too much respect for the great coaches of the past to have ever referred to  Coach Sutherland (or Jock Sutherland) as “Jock.”


Hugh Wyatt

I heard from a few people who know better

Kurt Heinke Facebook post

***Coach Wyatt,

I saw this article and immediately thought of you and how you've taught the Center's snap when in gun, one handed or two handed.

Thought you'd like to see this article for yourself before ESPN College Game Day makes a segment out of it this fall, I'm sure they will.  😉


Brian Mackell
Glen Burnie, Maryland

***Sorry if you already saw this or had it in the news.  Isn’t this the way you have always taught it?

John Bothe
Oregon, Illinois

Lud Wray centering
Lud Wray, whom I write about farther down the page, is shown in a 1921 photograph taken while he was playing for a team called the Buffalo All-Americans.  He is definitely not preparing to make a spiral snap.

*********** Forgot to mention that the Miss State scrimmage was called to an abrupt end by Dan Mullen after a defensive back took a pretty nasty shot at a teammate, hitting him in the head with his helmet and knocking him silly.

Mullen sent the offender in and called a halt to the proceedings, and that was that.

This relatively modern trend of defenses  gearing up to injure - to “intimidate” - an opponent is ugly enough as it is, but to see it taking place against a teammate is just another leak in the football ship.

As a history major, I know this:  nothing is forever. You think football’s too big to die?  I grew up in a time when horse racing and boxing were as big as pro football.
Whatever happened to them?

*********** Hugh,

The statute of limitations does not apply to college mascots.  You will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, sentenced to live the rest of your born days being chastised by the head Indian, er...Native Warren herself.  Oh the agony!!

Joe Gutilla
Austin, Texas

(I have a stockpile of Tomahawk missiles just in case Elizabeth, the Indian Queen,  ever gets anywhere near my fort, er, house.)

***********  Amherst (Mass.) announced that its official mascot will be the Mammoths...

Unofficially, they’d been the Lord Jeffs, but research disclosed that Lord Jeffrey Amherst had been guilty of spreading disease among Indians by distributing infected blankets.

I’m telling you… the day is not far off when Yale - yes, Old Yale, which has been a college since 1701 , and was named in 1716 in honor of a gentlemen named Elihu Yale -  will be forced to deal with the fact that the benefactor for whom it's named  made some of his fortune in the slave trade.

***********  Longtime Texas high school coach and  Texas Tech head coach Spike Dykes passed away April 10. He was 79..

In all, he coached for 41 years, all but three of them in the state of Texas.

He was by all accounts a great character, and much loved.

A native of West Texas, he began his career as a high school coach, serving at seven different Texas high schools,  and didn’t become a college coach until he was 34, when Darrell Royal hired him in 1972 as an assistant at Texas.

After Royal retired, Coach Dykes assisted at New Mexico and Mississippi State,  then returned to coach high school football in Midland, Texas.  After four years there, he joined the Texas Tech staff as defensive coordinator in 1984.

When he was named  head coach at Texas Tech two years later, he was 48 years old.   The Red Raiders had had just one winning season in eight years, but during his 14 years in Lubbock, he led Texas Tech to a school-record four consecutive bowl games, and  six wins against both Texas and Texas A&M.

Evidently, because he’d been so many places and known so many people, there are Spike Dykes stories told all over Texas. Kevin Sherrington of the Dallas Morning News told a few of them…

An early stop on Spike Dykes' long, winding road to Texas Tech and everlasting glory as the king of coaching characters was San Angelo, where he worked for Emory Bellard, inventor of the Wishbone. Unfortunately, Spike was also the swimming coach. To say he wasn't particularly suited for the position is being kind. Had he fallen into the pool, he might have drowned.

Nevertheless, he coached 'em up as best he could, in a style uniquely Spike's.

"Remember to hold your breath," he told his charges, "and never get too far from the bank."

Sherrington told of the time his first meeting with a boss nearly went south…

His first day in San Angelo, Spike had lunch with the school superintendent. Over chicken-fried steaks, a bottle of ketchup proved stubborn, so Spike gave it a couple of hard whacks.

Looked up, and the ketchup had squirted across the table, smack dab on the superintendent's tie.

"My first day on the job," he'd say, recounting the episode, "and I thought I was gonna get fired."

And yes, that’s his son, Sonny Dykes, who was head coach at Cal.

*********** Negative motivation has its uses. 

Back in the early 80s, when basketball coach Paul Graham was an assistant to Dave Bliss at SMU, Coach Bliss invited him to go golfing at a prestigious Dallas country club. Coach Graham, unfortunately, had never so much as picked up a golf club. Predictably, he wound up providing a lot of laughs for the other three guys in the foursome.  Burned up, he went out and got himself some clubs and began to practice obsessively: he put up a net in his backyard and got up at 5 every morning to hit balls into it; he went home for lunch every day and did the same; and  after work he came home and hit balls until well after dark. Every chance he got, he went to the driving range, where he hit balls by the hour. "All I could think about was those people laughing at me," he told Ken Goe of the Portland Oregonian.  Amazingly, the next time they played, he beat the boss by three strokes. "You've been practicing," Coach Bliss observed. Answered Coach Graham, "Coach, you'll never laugh at me again." (

A story for your kids showing how a real competitor reacts to failure.)

***********  With the exception of Alaska and Southwest, I hate airlines.  With those two, flying is almost pleasurable.

I used to like Northwest, but then Delta acquired them, and there they went.

And I used to like Delta, too, back when they were a southern airline, and reflected southern  courtesy and civility.  Now, Delta might as well be Air Greyhound, a cold, uncaring corporate giant like all the rest, whose sole aim is to make more money this quarter than the last by trying to see how many people they can cram into aluminum tubes before bones begin to break.

I especially despise the snarly attitude of today’s flight attendants, the crusty descendants of the bubbly, friendly, helpful young women who once made flying a joy.  Now, they stand around idly by,  arms folded, totally unconcerned as passengers  board planes with enormous items of “carry-on” and then try to cram them into the overhead bins.  And God help you if you somehow misunderstand something they say and give them the impression that you are being uncooperative. They have more power than the Supreme Soviet ever did, and with a seeming eagerness to use it.  And, worst of all, as you depart the plane, those same flight attendants will stand by the exit and chat with one another as if they hadn’t seen each other in four or five months, far too engrossed in their chatter to acknowledge the departing passengers and thank them for spending hundreds of dollars with their company.

It’s one of the things that’s been lost as America has checked the social graces, and  businesses have become Walmart-ized.  It used to be that if you bought just one lousy chair, the guy who owned the furniture store down on Main Street would hold the door open for you and thank you profusely on your way out.  Same thing when you bought a necktie at the men’s wear store. Now, nothing in particular against Walmart, or Home Depot or Staples, but - if you don’t use self-checkout - you’ll get checked out by some bored, indifferent “associate” who NEVER says “thank you,”  acknowledging that without people like you and your business they might be out of a job.  Oh, no.  YOU’RE the one who says “thank you.” (Ever noticed that?)  And they, routinely, respond with, “No problem.”  (WTF ever happened to “you’re welcome?”)

Anyhow, on the subject of snarly airlines, United is now in deep for their handling of one Dr. Dao, a guy whom they dragged bodily from a plane because, we’re asked to believe, they “needed his seat.” And while I question the good sense of a guy who didn’t simply get up and leave the plane when he was asked to do so,  especially once the bulls arrived, I can’t help thinking that if the bad publicity and the big lawsuit that's sure to come will help knock some of the attitude out of these a$$holes who run the airlines, then it’s all to the good.

***********  I was listening to the attorney for Dr. Dao, the guy who now stands to become very rich after the way United and Airport Security physically ejected him from an airplane.  As he droned out about how Dr. Dao was “standing up for airline passengers everywhere,” I turned to my wife and said, “It’s just a matter of time before somebody compares this guy to Rosa Parks.”

Well. The lawyer guy mentioned all the mail they’d been receiving, from all over the world (now, how in the hell do you suppose people found out that fast where to send their letters?), and he wasn’t more than two minutes in before he mentioned one letter writer from Ireland who said that Dr. Dao was “a modern-day, Asian Rosa Parks.”

Holy sh—.  Talk about stolen valor.

This guy's being mentioned in the same breath with Rosa Parks?  With a woman whose courageous stand started a city-wide movement that led to the lifting of a law requiring black people to sit in the backs of buses?   (A movement that led  to other civil rights advances; a movement that first brought to prominence a young Atlanta pastor named Martin Luther King, Jr.)

*********** It’s getting to be that time again this year…  A few years ago, when a local area high school’s principal retired, they narrowed the field of applicants to succeed him to six, and then to two.  Of the two,  one of them was from outside the district and the other was the current assistant principal. The job was finally offered to the outsider, a person with impressive credentials. But three of next year's seniors, who’d attended a "Meet the Candidates" night held by the school board,  took exception to the board's selection and circulated a petition, eventually  signed by more than half the school's student body, asking the board to reconsider its decision.  At the same time, a similar petition was submitted to the board by several teachers.

The board held firm, but good luck to the new principal coming into that climate. (The assistant principal, no doubt disappointed, denied any involvement in the petitions, but  seemed to tip her hand by telling the local paper she wasn't sure whether she'd stay on to assist the new principal.)

What really got my attention as I read the newspaper article was a comment by one of the student petitioners. He told the newspaper that there should have been student input in the decision, because "We're the final customers."

Whoa.  Time out.

Uh, actually fella, as long as you're going to use a business model, let me clear something up for you: students are not the "final customers" of a school.  Neither, although you'd never know it from the way administrators cave in to them, are their parents.

Customers, by definition, are purchasers - those who pay for a product or service. That would mean, then, that the customers of public schools are the taxpayers, the ones who pay for the product. It would be helpful to all concerned if educators would try to remember that. (Parents, of course, to the extent that they’re also taxpayers, are certainly among the customers, but by no means are they the only ones.)

The students are the product that the taxpayers are paying for, and somehow, to carry the analogy further, I don't see the people at Ford or General Motors, whose business it is to care what customers think, asking the cars for their input.

*********** Darwin Award  Nomination:  A 25-year-old Connecticut guy ran his car into a stone wall at 1:20 in the morning and was charged with operating under the influence.  His car was unregistered and uninsured.  And he was wearing a tee-shirt that read “HOLD MY BEER AND WATCH THIS.”



His given name was deBenneville Bell, but for almost his entire life, he was “Bert.”  He was truly a man of the people and a football lifer.  He’d known hard times in his days as a coach and owner, but football was in his blood, and he proved to be the perfect man for the NFL at a life-or-death point in its history.

There were no airs about him; he conducted a lot of the league business from the kitchen of his suburban Philadelphia home, where he could be reached, day or night, by anyone with league business to talk about.

One little-known bit of pro football history concerns his being an owner.  When the original Philadelphia-area NFL team, the Frankford Yellow Jackets, went out of business following the 1931 season, the league took over the franchise.

The NFL then spent a year looking for someone to operate a team in Philadelphia until July, 1933, when it awarded an expansion franchise to Bell and his partner, Lud Wray.  (Historical note: It’s not accurate to say that the Eagles were a continuation of the defunct Yellow Jackets.)

Wray, a college teammate of Bell’s, had played professionally and was head coach of the University of Pennsylvania (Penn, not Penn State) for three years until he was fired after the 1930 season.  Penn, used to success,  finished a disappointing 5-4, although to be fair to Lud Wray, the losses were to Wisconsin, Notre Dame, Cornell and Navy.  (His only comment at the time of his firing was a quote from the Sermon on the Mount: “Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”)

NRA posterIn 1932 Wray coached the NFL Boston Braves (later to become the Washington Redskins), but in 1933 he hooked up with Bell to acquire the Philadelphia NFL franchise.   Bell and Wray named their new team the Eagles, after the symbol of new President Franklin Roosevelt’s National Recovery Administration.  

As part-owner of the Eagles, Wray became their first head coach.  (Lud Wray was legendary around Philadelphia.  When I was a high schooler, our coach, a Penn guy, would often refer to jumping jacks as “Lud Wrays.” Perhaps he invented them?)

Want another historical tidbit?  In 1933, with the hiring of Lone Star Dietz - who may or may not , it turns out, have been a real Sioux Indian - and the signing of several Indian players, the Boston Braves’ owner, George Preston Marshall, renamed his team - the Redskins.  Ironically, years later, Marshall, who had no objections to signing Indians,  would be the last NFL owner to sign a black player.

***********  My brush with Bert Bell took place when I was around ten or eleven.  Along with some other kids, I was at the Union League in downtown Philly to receive some sort of award.  (The Union League is about as prestigious as a city club can get.  It was formed in 1862 to support President Lincoln, and it has thrived ever since as THE club that Old Money belongs to - and New Money aspires to belong to.)

Anyhow, it was a pretty big event, and there were all sorts of representatives on hand from Philadelphia’s sports teams - players and coaches from Penn, the Phillies and A’s, the Warriors and the Eagles.

At some point, we kids scattered around the room to get as many autographs as possible.  I was already a very serious sport fan, and I knew all the stars from their pictures in the sports pages.

But I also knew who that older guy was over there, sitting at a table with a bunch of other guys about his age.  It was Bert Bell!  Holy sh—!  The Commissioner of the NFL!  (Historians will tell you that the NFL hadn't arrived as a big-time sport yet, but I didn't know that.)

I approached him and asked for his autograph and I remember the reaction to this day - his tablemates needled him and he laughed uproariously at the idea that some young kid would bypass all the big-name stars in the room and ask him for his autograph.  But he wouldn’t let a kid down, and I walked away with his signature.

QuizAs much as any man, Bert Bell was responsible for the fact that in professional football, alone among major sports, a team in a small market like Green Bay could compete against  major-market franchises.  His dedication to providing a level playing field for all teams, and for always putting the interests of the league first, built the NFL to the point where it attained equal footing with college football.

He was born to a wealthy, aristocratic Philadelphia family, and attended the exclusive Haverford School. He attended Penn, where he was a four-year starter at quarterback, then remained at his alma mater as an assistant coach.  Off the field,  he acquired such a reputation as a hard-living playboy that his father disowned him.

He fell in love with a showgirl and managed to get her to marry him - but only after promising her he’d quit drinking.  He kept his pledge, and never took another drink.  In the depths of the Depression, he took $2500 he'd borrowed from her, and joined with a few partners in acquiring a pro football team.

He would own two different NFL teams (three, if you count the time during World War II when a manpower shortage forced him to merge his team with another team in the same state as his). For a brief - very  brief - period,  he coached as well as owned one of his own teams. By most measurements - either gate receipts or win-loss record - he was not successful as an owner. By any measurement, he was not  successful as a coach - his “career” win-loss record is 0-2.

But when he was put in charge of the league's fortunes, he proved to be the indispensable man.

He succeeded the first commissioner the NFL had ever had, and immediately upon taking office, had to deal with competition from the All-American Football Conference, a well-bankrolled rival league that challenged the NFL's domination of pro football. 

Then, after successfully bringing about a merger between the NFL and the AAFC,  he had to contend with raids on NFL rosters by the Canadian Football League.

Bell also inherited a potentially-disastrous point-shaving scandal involving members of the New York Giants, causing him such consternation about gamblers tainting the game that he established a league anti-gambling policy that exists to this day. (It’s likely that he would have resigned before presiding over a league in which Las Vegas fielded a team.)

Undoubtedly because he had first-hand experience as a “have-not” owner, he promoted the concept of the draft,  in which NFL teams would draft college players, and do so in the inverse order of their league finish the previous season.

He also established the NFL practice of starting out every season by matching strong teams against strong teams, weak against weak. "Weak teams should play other weak teams while the strong teams are playing other strong teams early in the year," he insisted. "It's the only way to keep more teams in contention longer into the season."

He also was responsible for professional sports' first - if limited - form of free agency, by which a player wishing to jump teams after his contract expired could play an "option year" with his old team, after which he would be free to go anywhere.

Under his leadership, pro football became the first major sport to become truly national, when Dan Reeves was given permission to move his Cleveland Rams to Los Angeles.

Fearing the the potential of television to ultimately destroy the live gate that all NFL teams then depended on, he rammed through a "blackout" policy which prohibited televising of any team's home games, whether sold out or not.

"Television creates interest and this can benefit pro football," he conceded. "But it's only good as long as you can protect your home gate. You can't give fans a game for free on television and also expect them to pay to go the ball park to see the same game."

Bell remained totally opposed to a policy, since adopted,  of waiting to see if a game sold out, and then televising it once it was. He argued, ”It's not honest to sell tickets to thousands of people on the premise of no television, and then after all the tickets are gone, to give the game away on television."

Partly as a result of his insistence on the blackout,  attendance per game more than doubled during his tenure as commissioner,

Bert Bell died with his boots on, suffering a heart attack while attending a late-season game in 1959 between the Eagles and Steelers, the two teams with which he'd been involved as an owner.

He was first to grant recognition to the NFL Players' Association, and the NFL Players' Pension Plan was named in his honor.

He was a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame's first class.

Thanks to the sound foundation he built, he turned a prosperous league over to his successor, Pete Rozelle, who would take it to the very top of American sports.

quiz photo***********QUIZ:  A native of Gary, Indiana, he is perhaps the greatest athlete ever to come out of the Hoosier State.  In high school he was the national scoring leader in football with 150 points and a star on the school basketball team. He won state titles in both the 100-yard dash and the 220 low hurdles, and in the summer he threw two no-hitters in baseball.

But it was in college where he became the best-known football player in America, as one of the greatest single wing tailbacks ever to play the game.

In his three years as a varsity player, his team went 19-4-1.  He also found time in the off-season to play varsity basketball for two years.

He led the nation in scoring in both his junior and senior years.   He rushed for 2151 yards and 33 touchdowns and threw for 1396 yards and 16 touchdowns.  He averaged 38 yards per punt and he kicked 33 extra points and two field goals. And he played all 60 minutes eight times.

He was a unanimous All-American both years, and after his senior year received every individual college honor it’s possible to win.

After he graduated, he starred in a movie based on his college football career.

In World War II he served as a pilot in the Army Air Corps, and twice had to parachute from his planes before they crashed, once in a jungle in South America, and once behind enemy lines in Japanese-occupied China.   For his bravery in action he was awarded the Silver Star

After the War, he briefly played professional football, but gave it up to embark instead on a long and successful career as a broadcaster.

He and his wife, a former actress,  had three children: one daughter married a famous singer, another a well-known automobile executive.  His son was an outstanding wishbone quarterback at a major college and is now a well-known actor.

ANSWERS TO - be sure to include your name and your town

american flag TUESDAY,  APRIL 11,  2017  - “When people get used to preferential treatment, equal treatment seems like discrimination.”  Dr. Thomas Sowell

*********** Surprise!  Boys can run faster than girls.

In Connecticut, a high school boy who “identifies” as a girl (calling himself/herself “Andraya”) has been smoking everybody in girls’ track.  And to show what a wonderful job our schools do in teaching tolerance, it seems, from what I can read, that everybody’s just fine with it.

It’s only a matter of time before an all-boys (identifying a girls, of course) relay team cleans up at a girls’ state meet.

*********** “In preparing boys to become tough combat officers, it is especially important to enforce a rugged, though sane, approach to injuries.  In battle, it is fatal for the living to grieve over the dead or wounded.  In football, we operated on the assumption that in 70 or 80 per cent of the injuries, the player could carry on.  If you got softhearted and gave him two days off, he’d need a lot more than that before he got back into action.” 

That was Colonel Earl “Red” Blaik, legendary Army football coach from 1940-1958, in his memoirs, “You Have to Pay the Price,” written in 1960.

(Just in case you wondered where all those insensitive football coaches got all their “play while hurt” ideas - those ideas helped build the culture that helped us win World War II.

And they’re the same ideas that today’s libs have been working so hard to shield our little boys from.

After all, who needs toughness in today’s more enlightened time?  What we need is sensitivity.  Toughness?  Not when we live in an age where we can pay other people’s children to defend our country.)

*********** Maybe I shouldn’t be telling you this, because from what I understand, it’s going to cost a bunch of money to undo something  I did 40 years ago, but considering that the statute of limitations has long since passed, here goes…

Banks BravesIt was 1977 and I’d been hired as head coach and AD at Banks High School in Banks, Oregon, a small town about 30 miles west of Portland.  As one of my first orders of business, I set out to come up with a cool logo for the helmets.  There’s a bit of design in my background - I once spent the better part of a year in college intending to major in architecture, and before getting into high school coaching I’d worked in advertising and marketing and for a commercial printing firm - so it was a pretty easy task.   Banks’ teams were the Braves - and, boy, did I have a great Brave. Well, actually - Dartmouth did.  From the letterhead of some of the stuff their coach had sent me back when I was in high school, I’d saved the logo - a profile of a Brave,  most likely a Mohawk or a member of another Iroquois Confederation tribe.  He was very cool looking, my idea of a true Indian brave. He was definitely no one to mess with.   I photocopied the logo, sized it correctly, then cut it and pasted it inside a large “B,”  gold with blue trim.

And I sent the artwork off to a decal supplier, and that was that.  Looked nice.

I only stayed at Banks for two years, and then I moved on to a job much closer to home in Vancouver, Washington (Banks had been an hour’s commute one way).  But the logo stayed, and wound up on everything - uniforms, message boards, and the gym floor.  What the hell - glad they liked it.

But eventually,  Banks got caught up in the state of Oregon’s hysteria over anything deemed remotely offensive to Indians - er, Native Americans, er, Natives.

The state  managed to remove most traces of offending nicknames and logos from most state high schools, but Banks somehow held on.  Finally, faced with the inevitable, they managed to work out a compromise with a nearby tribe:  they could keep the nickname - but that damned logo had to go.

What to do about a new logo?  Well.  From the AP’s story…

The district’s new mascot, designed by the tribe and district with help from Nike, will now be two capital B’s aligned back-to-back and surrounded by a zig-zagging line. Viewed horizontally, the B’s look like a mountain range and symbolize the town’s location at the crossroads of coastal mountains and a fertile valley.


Me?  I truly thought that that guy was one great representation of a brave - still do.  And I thought that naming your teams after a class of people known to fight fiercely and to the finish was paying tribute to them - still  do. 

I had nothing to do with the nickname.  But I confess to being the logo guy, and for that I apologize to any and all native Americans offended by it.  No insult or offense intended.  (Dartmouth having long ago dropped their “Indians” nickname in favor of “Big Green,” I rather doubt that anybody there will hold my shameless use of their discontinued symbol against me.)

In the meantime, Banks schools estimate it’ll take some $95,000 to replace the now-offensive logo on all school property - uniforms and facilities.   (That’s where I figure the statute of limitations comes in. If it doesn’t, I’ll just bill them $2500 a year for the use of my art work and call it even.  And hope that Dartmouth doesn't find out.)

*********** I should hate Harvard, I suppose, but I don’t.  Yes, they’re my old school’s archrival, but they’ve always been good competitors and they’ve never been snotty about the fact that for the last decade, in football, they’ve played Navy to Yale’s Army.

So I rooted for their hockey team in the Frozen Four, and felt bad when they lost in OT to Minnesota-Duluth.

An interesting sidenote was the role a Navy SEAL played in helping the Crimson hockey team get as far as they did.

*********** Not to accuse the NFL of hypocrisy or anything, but less than a month after approving - by a vote of 31-1 - the relocation of the Oakland Raiders to the once-forbidden city of Las Vegas, it appears that Big Football could fine several of its players who took part in something called the Pro Football Arm Wrestling Championship.  The competition, set to be shown on TV in May, took place in - omitted - a casino, where league rules prohibit player appearances.

This ought to be good: one of the players is the Steelers. James Harrison, who has never been known to back down from a fight. 

Stay tuned.

*********** They may not be the real thing, but to me, college football spring games are still a lot better than anything else we’ve had to watch since the national championship game, and Saturday I gorged myself on watching Ole Miss, Purdue, Auburn and Mississippi State. 

Couple of observations:

1. Teams sure are looking more and more alike offensively.  The differences are very subtle and probably not discernible to the average viewer. The danger is that if they’re all doing somewhat the same thing, it becomes more than ever a question of who has the best players - which means more pressure to recruit, which means a greater likelihood of cheating.

2. Nobody had given the equipment guys the NCAA’s new “pants and knee pads must cover the knee” memo yet.

*********** It’s been more than two years since former Army fullback - and Black Lion Award winner - Mike Viti made his walk across America to honor the more than 6800 soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen who died in battle since 9/11, but I was reminded of it once again when my friend Greg Koenig  sent me a nice article he’d come across.

Mike is now back at West Point, coaching the Army fullbacks.  I told Greg I can only imagine what a great fullback he’d be in Army’s current offense - the wishbone - or, for that matter, the Double Wing.

*********** Tim Tebow may have been mocked by the Main Stream Media during his days in the Big Time - his openly-expressed Christian beliefs being so, you know, controversial - but in his new life as a minor league baseball player, he is one of the biggest things ever to hit Columbia, South Carolina.

*********** Tony Romo???  Doing CBS’ top game every Sunday???

I have nothing against the guy and I actually thought he was a pretty good quarterback overall.

But geez - it’s not as if he was so popular - except perhaps in Cowboy land - that you’d expect CBS to slip him right into its number one broadcast team.  But there you go.

Oh, well.  It's not necessarily permanent.   You can always get injured in the broadcast booth…

Buff DonelliCORRECTLY IDENTIFYING BUFF DONELLI-  In a more formal time, when it wasn’t always considered proper just to call a person by his nickname, he was often referred to in print as Aldo “Buff” Donelli.  But NOBODY ever called him that.  NOBODY ever called him anything but “Buff.”

JOE GUTILLA -  AUSTIN, TEXAS - When I read your quiz this morning I was immediately reminded of the Saturday I spent at Nickerson Field in Boston watching one of my former high school players.  

He was offered a full-ride to BU out of JC, and while I was coaching in NH at that time he invited my wife and I down to Boston to visit, and watch him play as BU's starting NT against UNH.

In one of the most thrilling college football games I've seen.  BU lost in double OT 52-51 when their game tying PAT to send the game into triple OT hit the back of the helmet of one of the BU linemen, bounced around, and was picked up by a BU player who apparently ran it into the end zone to WIN the game, only to have the play nullified because fans had stormed the field.  It was crazy.  

Which leads me to the quiz.  The coach was Buff Donelli.  The school was... Boston University.  And the player was Harry Agganis.

JOHN VERMILLION - St. AUGUSTINE, FLORIDA - By the way, I loved all the cool info about Alan Ameche. Also, you're right on about ESPN's moving of Sage S. I haven't been able to watch that abomination of a network for quite a while. In fact, I love your blog, period. Thanks.

KC SMITH - WALPOLE, MASSACHUSETTS - Buff Donelli coached the Golden Greek!
KEVIN MCCULLOUGH - LAKEVILLE, INDIANA - I was able to hear coach Gillespie talk at Notre Dame......stressed fundamentals and's bad about Sage Steele......a good reporter( IU grad) who was punished for reporting the other side of the coin

COLUMBIA PRE-SEASONAlthough formally he was always referred to as Aldo “Buff” Donelli, no one ever called him anything but “Buff.”

He is, and will almost certainly remain,  the only American college football coach ever to score a goal in a World Cup soccer game.

And in all likelihood he will remain forever the only person ever to coach a college team and a professional team at the same time.
Buff Donelli grew up playing soccer, but he was also an outstanding football player.  He played college football at Duquesne, where he punted and kicked field goals with either foot.  An outstanding soccer player, he scored America's only goal in a 7-1 loss to Italy in the 1934 World Cup. It would be 56 years before an American team would score another goal against Italy in World Cup play.
In 1941, while coaching Duquesne,  he was hired to coach the Pittsburgh Steelers at the same time. He coached the Steelers in the morning and the Dukes in the afternoon, but after five NFL losses, commissioner Elmer Layden ordered him to relinquish one job or another, and he chose to stay with Duquesne.  Good decision: Duquesne finished undefeated.

After stints as an assistant at Columbia and as head coach of the NFL Cleveland Rams,  then military service in World War II, he was hired at Boston University.

With B.U. teams that featured the great Harry Agganis (the “Golden Greek”), he compiled from 1947 through 1956, a 46-34-4 record, once finishing in the A.P. top twenty.
From Boston U, he moved to Columbia, succeeding the legendary Lou Little at Little’s request.

He coached at Columbia from 1957 through 1967, during which time his son, Dick, played quarterback.  In 1961, he coached the Lions to  their only Ivy League championship ever, one they had to share with Harvard.

His greatest player - Harry Agganis

Quiz***********  QUIZ - As much as any man, he was responsible for the fact that in professional football, alone among major sports, a team in a small market like Green Bay could compete financially against  major-market franchises.  His dedication to providing a level playing field for all teams, and for always putting the interests of the league first, built the NFL to the point where it attained equal footing with college football.

He was born to a wealthy, aristocratic Philadelphia family, and attended the exclusive Haverford School. He attended Penn, where he was a four-year starter at quarterback, then remained at his alma mater as an assistant coach.  Off the field,  he acquired such a reputation as a hard-living playboy that his father disowned him.

He fell in love with a showgirl and managed to get her to marry him - but only after promising her he’d quit drinking.  He kept his pledge, and never took another drink.  In the depths of the Depression, he took $2500 he'd borrowed from her, and joined with a few partners in acquiring a pro football team.

He would own two different NFL teams (three, if you count the time during World War II when a manpower shortage forced him to merge his team with another team in the same state as his). For a brief - very  brief - period,  he coached as well as owned one of his own teams. By most measurements - either gate receipts or win-loss record - he was not successful as an owner. By any measurement, he was not successful as a coach - his “career” win-loss record is 0-2.

But  put in charge of the league's fortunes, he proved to be the indispensable man.

He succeeded the first commissioner the NFL had ever had, and immediately upon taking office, had to deal with competition from the All-American Football Conference, a well-bankrolled rival league that challenged the NFL's domination of pro football. 

Then, after successfully bringing about a merger between the NFL and the AAFC,  he had to contend with raids on NFL rosters by the Canadian Football League.

He also inherited a potentially-disastrous point-shaving scandal involving members of the New York Giants, causing him such consternation about gamblers tainting the game that he established a league anti-gambling policy that exists to this day. (It’s likely that he would have resigned before presiding over a league in which Las Vegas fielded a team.)

Undoubtedly because he had first-hand experience as a “have-not” owner, he promoted the concept of the draft,  in which NFL teams would draft college players, and do so in the inverse order of their league finish the previous season.

He also established the NFL practice of starting out every season by matching strong teams against strong teams, weak against weak. "Weak teams should play other weak teams while the strong teams are playing other strong teams early in the year," he insisted. "It's the only way to keep more teams in contention longer into the season."

He also was responsible for professional sports' first - if limited - form of free agency, by which a player wishing to jump teams after his contract expired could play an "option year" with his old team, after which he would be free to go anywhere.

Under his leadership, pro football became the first major sport to become truly national, when Dan Reeves was given permission to move his Cleveland Rams to Los Angeles.

Fearing the the potential of television to ultimately destroy the live gate that all NFL teams then depended on, he rammed through a "blackout" policy which prohibited televising of any team's home games, whether sold out or not.

"Television creates interest and this can benefit pro football," he conceded. "But it's only good as long as you can protect your home gate. You can't give fans a game for free on television and also expect them to pay to go the ball park to see the same game."

He remained totally opposed to a policy, since adopted,  of waiting until to see if a game sold out, and then televising it once it was. He argued, ”It's not honest to sell tickets to thousands of people on the premise of no television, and then after all the tickets are gone, to give the game away on television."

Partly as a result of his insistence on the blackout,  attendance per game more than doubled during his tenure as commissioner,

He died with his boots on, suffering a heart attack while attending a late-season game in 1959 between the Eagles and Steelers, the two teams with which he'd been involved as an owner.

He was first to grant recognition to the NFL Players' Association, and the NFL Players' Pension Plan was named in his honor.

He was a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame's first class.

Thanks to the sound foundation he built, he turned a prosperous league over to successor, who would take it to the very top of American sports.

ANSWERS TO - be sure to include your name and your town

american flag FRIDAY,  APRIL 7,  2017  - "I can picture in my mind a world without war, a world without hate. And I can picture us attacking that world, because they’d never expect it."   Jack Handey

*********** Hi Hugh,

I seldom miss the news even when vacationing in South Carolina so the story on fixing the " home made hair cut" made me chuckle. For thirteen years we ran those basic run and pass plays you taught us on your first visit in 1995. Over the years we added some formations and from time to time a trick play or two. However we stuck with the basic DW and resisted making major changes.  I seldom missed a clinic when you were in the east and enjoyed picking the brains of other DW coaches. It seemed as if I always learned something to make the DW work better. We averaged ten wins a year and a hand full of championships. We did it by listening to what you had to say,  concentrating on the little things, teaching fundamental football, and working hard on special teams.

During that ten year period we won four western Maine titles, we were second place finishers four times and we played in four state title games winning two. We averaged ten wins a year for the thirteen years we were there and only failed to make the play offs that first year. But what  success we had was because of you and along the way we added the small drop step for the QB, the hockey stick for the QB, more unbalanced formations, moving wings up, the stack, the Wildcat, the xx lead and a variety of line drills such as the circle for line pulls and the bench to teach the stance. All things we learned from you and the clinics and many other small things too numerous to mention lol. Also over the years the tip page invaluable.

Today I would probably move to the open wing but over the years  package DW, was good to us.

So I chuckled when I read your advice to the staff that went out own their own and asked for help. Having lived it I knew what you said was dead on.

Jack Tourtillotte
Rangely, Maine


I appreciate that.

There’s just so many guys out there right now who got their Double Wing from God-knows-where and there’s so many of them who’ve done a crappy job of running it’s led an awful lot of people to believe that “it doesn’t work.”

I guarantee you that if you and Tim had still been coaching at Boothbay, you’d have won a couple more state titles since 2007.

Enjoy SC!

Before becoming principal at Maine’s Boothbay Region HS, Jack Tourtillotte had been head football coach at Old Town, Maine.  At Boothbay, once he had things under control as principal, he was able to double as offensive coordinator under head coach Tim Rice.  Before Jack and Tim Rice took over in 1996, Boothbay, with just 285 students the smallest school in the state of Maine playing football, had won just 30 games in the 30 years between 1965 and 1995 and the community had seriously debated dropping football.

Things got off to a slow start.  In 1996, sitting at 0-7, Jack, figuring he had nothing to lose, decided to try the Double Wing, based on what he’d read in an article I’d written for Scholastic Coach Magazine. Not only did they win their next game, but in the one after that they upset a playoff team to finish 2-7.  In Boothbay, a two-game winning streak was enough to keep the old-timers talking all through the long winter; they had no idea that what they’d seen was the start of a golden era for Boothbay football.

What sold Jack on the Double Wing was  the fact that in the season’s final game, Boothbay bobbled the opening kickoff before recovering it on their own four - and then put on a 96-yard drive that took 26 plays and ate up 18 minutes.  That’s when Jack had me out to Boothbay to put on a clinic for his staff and a few other New England-area coaches.  What a great time we all had!

The Boothbay Seahawks kept improving, and by 1998,  they made it to the state final game before falling to Stearns High of Millinocket, 12-6.  They came so close: the game was tied 6-6 with three minutes to play, and a Boothbay drive had the Seahawks on the Sterns 38 yard line.  A 25-yard criss-criss counter took the ball down to the Stearns 13, but the Seahawks were called for holding.  Backed up to midfield, the drive stalled and they had to punt - and Stearns returned the punt for the winning score!

Tim Rice was named Maine Coach of the Year for all classes.   Over the next nine seasons, the Seahawks made it to the state finals four more times, and won the state championship twice.

And then, following the 2007 season,  Jack and Tim retired.

I’m nobody’s fool.  I had just taken the head job at Ocean Shores, Washington, and I needed a good assistant, and I managed to con Jack into joining me there for the season.   Jack did a terrific job as my line coach, and although our defense was always touch-and-go, our Double Wing was so effective that we went 7-3 with a team that had gone 1-9 the year before.  (We lost those three games by a total of 11 points.)

 Jack and a college teammate of mine originally from Alabama named Mike Creamer stayed with us at our place and helped me greatly.   Jack loves life and can have a good time anywhere and he was great company.  He and Mike quickly hooked up with a group of bridge players in town.  That kept them busy a couple of nights a week, and several evenings after practice,  Jack,  a true  Mainer,  would make great use of the local seafood, treating us to his home-made clam chowder and fried oysters.  A highlight for my wife was when Jack’s lovely wife, Sue, came out to join us for a week.  (Sure was nice of her to lend me Jack for the season.)

*********** Wayne Duke, former commissioner of the Big Ten died last week.  In his 18 years as commissioner, he did a number of things to improve the Big Ten and college sports in general.

He forged the idea of revenue sharing - no matter their teams’ records, all schools shared in the conference’s revenue.

He opened up the Big Ten to more bowl games. When he took over, only the Big Ten chamapion played in a bowl game - The Rose Bowl.  That policy was changed in 1975, allowing more schools to appear in bowl games - and producing more conference revenues for its members to share.

He was the leader of a drive  to limit football scholarships, ending the practice of the conference “haves”  stocking up on players.

He hired C.D. Henry from Grambling as assistant commissioner, the first black assistant commissioner of any conference.

He hired Phyllis Howlett, the first female assistant commissioner of any conference.

During Duke’s time on the NCAA Division I Basketball Committee,  he saw the tourney expand from 25 schools to 48 (and, ultimately to today’s 64+), and the opening of the tournament to schools other than conference champions, and the televising of all games.

*********** I was looking for some info on an old-timer, thumbing through “The Game That Was,”  by Myron Cope.  Myron Cope was a longtime Pittsburgh radio guy and a huge Steelers’ fan.  He’s the guy who came up with the idea of the “Terrible Towel” - the gold towels that Steelers’ fans wave at games.  The book contains stories of the old days as told by some of the greats of the game:  Ed Healy… Indian Joe Guyon… Red Grange… Johnny Blood…. Ole Haugsrud… Dutch Clark… Clarke Hinkle… Cliff Battles… Art Rooney… Don Huston… Tuffy Leemans… Sammy Baugh… Alex Wojciechowicz… Bulldog Turner… Bullet Bill Dudley… Steve Van Buren… Marion Motley... Bill Willis… Bobby Layne… George Halas.

It was published in 1970, when lots of those guys were still alive, and author Cope just let them tell their stories in their own words.  To say the least, they were colorful guys.

Tough, too.  Guys who came up the hard way.  It mightn’t be a bad idea for today’s “white privilege” bunch to read about these guys and countless others like them - even after they made it to the “big time!” - before going any further.

I really got caught up in the reminiscences of Bulldog Turner.  (His real name was Clyde, but as he told Cope, “nobody calls me Clyde except my wife.  And that’s when she’s mad.”) The longtime center-linebacker for the Bears and a perennial all-Pro, Turner was a big, rough Texan,  one of the toughest men who ever played the game. And he was as “country” as they came.

He told one story about how, ineligible to play on his high school team in Sweetwater, Texas, he ran away from home to try to convince some college - any college - to take him.  (Things were a bit looser in those days):

I’ll tell you how country I was. I got up to Lawton, Oklahoma (to Cameron State Agricultural College) and I went in there and met the athletic director and the coach and all. I had been better than two days getting there.  It was wintertime, and I was half frozen.  The coach looked over at me and said, “Son, why don’t you come over to the cafeteria with us and have lunch?”

Well, that word cafeteria scared me to death.  Never heard of it.  Didn’t know what the hell a cafeteria was.  So rather than expose my ignorance, I said, “No thank you.  I just ate before I came in.”  Which was a damn lie, because I hadn’t eaten in two days by this time.


Embarrassed, he headed south to Wichita Falls, Texas

Wichita Falls is not too far down from Lawton, yet it took me a couple of days to get there.  See, I noticed these Mexicans coming by me on the highway in big new cars, and I said, “I’ll be damned! Down where I live, Mexicans don’t drive many of them cars like these.” But directly one of them came by without a hat on, with just a band around his head, and finally it dawned on me - “Goddammit, these are Indians up here!”   They had struck oil and they was driving these big ol’ cars, but the difficulty was they wouldn’t pick you up.  So I was two days getting to Wichita Falls, and then I spent the night there, which made five days and five nights without a meal.

In the morning, I hitchhiked down as far as Throckmorton (home of the great Bob Lilly, BTW - HW), not far south of Wichita Falls, and I was starving to death.  I walked into a filling station, which was also kind of a grocery store, and I asked, “How much them apples?”  The man had some green apples there, and as I told you, I had bought some new gloves when I left home and I wanted to find out what I could get most of for my gloves.  I said, “I want to trade my gloves for something to eat.”

The man said, “I’ll trade you a sack of them apples for your gloves.  They’re twenty-five cents a sack.”


Here was George Halas’s method of operation in practice.  First, he’d say, “Give me a center!”  Then he’d say, “Bausch!”  He’d say, “Give me two guards!” Then he’d say, “Fortmann and Musso!”  Well, the first time I heard George say, “Give me a center!” I didn’t wait for nothing more and ran out there and got over the ball.  I noticed he looked kind of funny at me, but I didn’t think anything about it.  I later found out that Pete Bausch was the center - a big, broad, mean ol’ ballplayer, a real nice German from Kansas.  But all I knew was George drafted me number one and I had signed  a contract to play center, and I thought when it come time to line up, I should be at center.   From the beginning, I was over endowed with self-confidence.   I feared no man.  So I just went out there and got over the ball, and I was there ever since. They didn’t need Pete no more.


Remember my telling you how ol’ Ed Neal (300-pound Green Bay middle-guard - today, a nose tackle”)) would beat my head off? Well, I said to Halas one day, “You can run somebody right through there, ‘cause Ed Neal is busy whupping my head.” I suggested we put in a sucker play - we called it the thirty-two sucker - where we double-teamed both of their tackles and I would just relax and let Neal knock me on my back and fall all over me.  It’d make a hole from here to that fireplace.  Man, you could really run through it - and we did, all day.  But later, ol’ Ralph Jones - he used to be a Bears coach and was coaching a little college team - Ralph told me he had brought his whole team down to watch the Bears play the Green Bay Packers that day, and he told them, “Now boys, I want you to see the greatest football player that ever lived.  It’s Bulldog Turner.  I want you to watch this man on every play and see how he handles those guys.”  But see, ol’ Ralph didn’t know about that sucker play, and later he said to me, “Goddamn if you wasn’t flat on your back every play!”


You know, I was captain of the Bears for about seven, eight years.  I was never appointed captain but I made myself captain.  See, George Wilson was appointed captain, but a lot of times George would by a bit swollen making a decision, so when a decision would come up that had to be made that took some thought, I would go up there with him and I’d say, “George, you get them in the huddle. I’ll tell the ref what we want.” And George would go back there in the huddle, although, of course, he’d been on the team several years before I was.

After Wilson quit, I still never was appointed captain.  We just didn’t have an official captain for about five years while I was doing it all myself.  One day, finally, something come up in a meeting and Halas said, “Turner’s your captain.  Talk to him.”  But up till then he had never appointed me, ‘cause to be a captain you didn’t only have to be a good player and a leader of men, but your off-the-field activities had to be real good, too, which mine weren’t too good.  So he never would appoint me captain.

Those men followed me, even up to the quarterbacks, who in many cases asked me what plays to call.  One time in 1949 we were playing a prison team up in Michigan or somewhere.  It was an exhibition game to raise some money for charity, and we furnished the prison team with a certain number of players.  Anyway, George Blanda was a rookie then, and the coaches were fixing to cut him.  But he was in the game and we had a fourth-and-one situation inside the fifty-yard line, which it seemed like a pretty good call to go for the first down.  Blanda came back to the huddle and he couldn’t think of a play.  He said, “I don’t remember those plays.  Wh- wh-what plays we supposed to call to make one yard.

I said, “I’ll tell you one.  It’s called twenty-nine direct cross buck.”  Now, that was one of those plays were you’re gonna go all the way or you’re gonna lose ten yards. But Blanda didn’t know that.  He said, “Yeh, okay.  We’ll run the twenty-nine direct cross buck.”  Well, our halfback took off around the end, and he had gone forty yards when he remembered he was supposed to hide the ball behind his back. So there, where it didn’t matter, he put the ball behind his back and went the rest of the way for a touchdown.  The coaches thought that was a damn smart play to call, and they kept ol’ George Blanda on that account.”

*********** “The Ugliest Title Game Ever? Asked the Wall Street Journal’s Ben Cohen and Andrew Beaton…
The writers make a great case for the affirmative.

North Carolina’s win over Gonzaga was supposed to be a game of college basketball’s two best teams that showcased all the sport had to offer. What happened instead might have made James Naismith think again before he repurposed his peach buckets.

LeBron James spoke for millions at home when he tweeted: “I can’t watch this anymore, man!

There was one saving grace that kept Monday’s game from dragging on even longer.

*********** Also in the Journal, a piece by one of my favorite writers, Jason Gay, on the NCAA’s insane decision to play its biggest basketball games in football stadiums:

I was there and also not there. I’m not trying to be cute. As Roy Williams might say, I was just so daggum - dadgum - far away.

There seems to be some sort of celebration brewing on the court. Or maybe it’s another television time-out. Is there any time left on the clock?  I’m not really sure. The basketball game is so far away, it could be a wedding.  Or a cat show.

My seat for the title game was not the worst seat in the house, but I’m comfortable saying it was the second-worst.  One row from the tippety-top of the University of Phoenix tuna can, it was a certifiable nosebleed, a Bob Uecker special.  I’m not even sure it was still in Arizona.  Technically, I believe it was closer to San Diego.

To  get there, I had to climb escalators, and stairs upon stairs. I had to spend a week at base camp on the 100 level in order to acclimate to the altitude, and then another week acclimating on the 300 level.

*********** A couple of guys have written to me about the latest unstoppable offense, this one called The Texas Slot-T. 

I may be way off base on what the Texas Slot-T is all about, but from what I’ve been told, it sounds very much like the  "Slot" formation which I’ve run off and on for years. John Dowd, in the Rochester, New York area, comes to mind as one of “my guys” who did a nice job with it several years back.  I haven’t used it much since 2008.

I first saw it in an article in Texas Coach Magazine  20+ years ago, and then I got deeper into it thanks to my getting to know a great coach from Illinois named Gordie Gillespie, who ran it at Joliet Catholic and then at St. Francis College.

(To say he was successful at Joliet Catholic is an understatement: in his 27 years there, he won five state championships, including four in a row from 1975-1978.  HIs overall record was 222-54-6, and in 1991 the Chicago Tribune chose him as the coach of its “All-Time Illinois High School Football Team.”)

Gordie and a friend of mine, Ralph Balducci, had dinner at our place, after which Gordie critiqued some of our Double Wing stuff.  He later sent me some video of what they were doing at St. Francis.

*********** Denny Oram is being buried tomorrow, in Frederick, Maryland.  When I first met him,  it was the summer of 1968, and we were to become teammates on a newly-organized football team called the Frederick Falcons.  It was an amazing group of people - a couple of kids right out of high school, a couple of us who were college graduates, three or four guys who were coaches and teachers at the Maryland School for Deaf (and were deaf themselves), and most amazing, blacks and whites - among the latter some guys who could legitimately be called rednecks - playing together in a town that was still struggling, not always successfully,  to put its tradition of segregation behind it.  (For those who don’t know their history, Maryland, although it remained in the Union, was  a slave state - Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglas, two of the greatest names in the history of the anti-slavery movement, were born into slavery in Maryland. Harriet Tubman helped runaway slaves to escape from Maryland.  And in rural Maryland especially, even in the 1960s, traces of the segregated South remained.)

I hadn’t played in a football game since 1959, the fall of my senior year, when I injured my knee early in the season, and never returned to play.

And now, after nine years of dealing with the disappointment of knowing that something that was so important to me was gone forever, the thrill of knowing that I was actually playing football again was indescribable.

Amazingly, the team turned out to be pretty good.  We went undefeated - tied one game early in the season, but won all the rest.  If you’ve ever been on such a team, you know the feeling you get, the feeling that you’re special - that you’re destined to win.

Where most semi-pro teams are poorly run, poorly-organized, minimally disciplined  grabass operations, the Falcons were well-run.  The head coach, Dick Shipley, a former Maryland football player in the days when the Terps were national champions, ran the whole thing.  

Dick’s long dead now, but he had a powerful influence on me when, a couple of years later,  I found myself thrust into the position of head coach  myself.

Dick Shipley had an uncanny knack for getting the best out of people - he could be hard when he had to be, easy when he had to be.   He had a very good sense of humor that made things fun, but there was no doubt when he was serious.  And he had an admirable ability to get an extremely diverse group of people to play as one, with one goal, without their even thinking about what he was getting them to do. 

Most people in the community, I’m sure, saw Dick Shipley as just a football coach trying to win games, but looking back at the times - remember, it was only months after Dr. King was assassinated - he was subtly bringing about changes in racial attitudes that had stood for a couple of hundred years. 

Dick seemed especially fond of Denny Oram, a quiet, shy black kid who sometimes seemed to lack direction, and without football might very well have been running with the wrong crowd.

Denny Oram and I never really got to know each other.  We had almost nothing in common.  I was white, he was black.  I was 30 and he was just 18.  I was a college graduate, married with four kids. He was a recent high school graduate and single. I had a really good job with a brewery, and he was looking for work.  I was vocal, while Denny may have said two words all season.  But we both loved football, and we shared the bond that teammates everywhere share.  We played beside each other and respected each other as teammates.

Tomorrow, Denny Oram will be buried.  And Don Shipley, Dick Shipley’s son, who was a young boy back when I played, will deliver the eulogy.

I pray that Denny had a good life.   May God rest his soul.

***********  Recently,  ESPN,  which has been hemorrhaging subscribers partly  because of its left-leaning approach, announced it was going to tone down the politics.

Funny thing, though - they started out by toning down one of their very few on-air people who aren’t flaming lefties.

Sage Steele has been replaced on ESPN’s NBA Countdown.  Nothing to see here, we’re told.  She’s simply been “reassigned.”  Right.  “Purged” is more like it.

(Sage Steele is special to me because she’s the daughter of Gary Steele - respected by Army football people everywhere as the first black player to play at West Point.)

Sage Steele’s sin is that she’s one of a growing number of black (or mixed-race) persons being crucified (figuratively) for not toeing the leftist line - for daring to express conservative views.

1. She criticized Colin Kaepernick for refusing to stand for the national anthem.

2. She had  the temerity to complain about missing a flight because of the airport immigration protests:  “So THIS (a photo of the mob outside the LAX terminal) is why thousands of us dragged luggage nearly 2 miles to get to LAX, but still missed our flights.  Fortunately, a 7 hour wait for the next flight to Houston won’t affect me that much, but my heart sank for the elderly and parents with small children who did their best to walk all that way but had no chance of making their flights. Love witnessing people exercise their right to protest!  But it saddened me to see the joy on their faces knowing that they were successful in disrupting so many people’s travel plans.  Yes, immigrants were affected by this as well.  Brilliant.

That was, I thought, pretty compassionate.  She admitted that she could deal with it, but felt for “the elderly and parents with small children.”  Immigrants, too.  Sad she was “saddened” by the attitude of the protestors.  And for THIS, she was vilified by the sort of cretins who seem to think the sacrosanct “right to protest” includes carte blanche to deprive others of their rights.

3. She said - OMG - that the worst racism she’s faced has been from blacks. Here’s what she said: "There are times that I believe that we, as African-Americans, can be hypocritical, and that is to not look ourselves in the mirror when we are saying certain things and blaming other groups for one thing when we are doing the exact same thing. The worst racism that I have received, and I mean thousands and thousands over the years, is from black people, who in my mind I thought would be the most accepting because there has been that experience. But even as recent as the last couple of weeks, the words that I have had thrown at me I can't repeat here and it's 99 percent from people with my skin color. But if a white person said those words to me, what would happen?"

The vile comments that she’s been exposed to on Twitter simply confirm what I’ve feared for some time - we’re f—ked.

So much for that “dialogue on race” we’re constantly being told that we need to have.

*********** After mentioning a number of illustrious graduates of Brooklyn’s Erasmus Hall High School, alma mater of Sid Luckman, I did a bit of digging, and came up with even more…

Bob Arum - Boxing promoter
Jeff Chandler - Actor
Norm Drucker - NBA referee,  then NBA Supervisor of Officials
Waite Hoyt - Hall of Fame pitcher and long-time Cincinnati Reds’ play-by-play man
Marty Ingels - Actor/comedian/agent
Ned Irish - Founder of the New York Knicks and their president from 1947-1974
Dorothy Kilgallen - Newspaper journalist and TV game show panelist
Bernard Malamud - Pulitzer Prize-winning author
Norma Talmadge - Movie star of the 1920s
Eli Wallach - Actor on stage, screen and TV


Josh Montgomery - Berwick, Louisiana
Dennis Metzger - Franklin, Indiana
Tom Hinger - Winter Haven, Florida
Adam Wesoloski - Pulaski, Wisconsin
Jerry Lovell - Bellevue, Nebraska - One of many Colts with a successful off-field career. (You’re right. Mainly because the owner, Carroll Rosenbloom encouraged them to stay in Baltimore in the off-season and helped many of them get established. HW)
Don Gordon - South Deerfield, Massachusetts - “These are fun!”
Mark Kaczmarek - Davenport, Iowa - Alan "the Horse" Ameche...pretty easy for a "Cheesehead" having grown up in Hillsboro, WI...My Dad's college coach was Milt Bruhn's asst. Clark Van Galder, so one of my earliest football memories is a tour of the UW facilities & seeing a replica Heisman in the mid to late 50s (at 7 or 8) & attending the Purdue game...I think I was more impressed by the Purdue band's big bass drum than any of the football - (Ameche helped recruit one of my HS teammates.  He was very impressed that The Horse was driving around in a new Nash Rambler - made in Kenosha. HW)
Ken Hampton - Raleigh, North Carolina - (I almost put his restaurant partner, Gino Marchetti, until I reviewed the questions details more closely.)
John Vermillion - St. Petersburg, Florida - one of my all-time favorites. Reserved and tough as hell, a guy I wanted to be like in high school.
Joe Gutilla - Austin, Texas
Kevin McCullough - Lakeville, Indiana
John Bothe - Oregon, Illinois
Joe Ferris - Florence, Wisconsin
Tom Davis - San Marcos, California
Jim Franklin - Flora, Indiana

*********** I went to high school in Philadelphia, at Germantown Academy (“G-A,” as everyone calls it.) It was an old school - its original building was built in 1760 - and over the years, it got closed in by the city, leaving no room to expand.  We had a 1/5 mile, five-lane cinder track around our football field, and a 90-yard practice field adjoining it.  That was it.  Besides the varsity team, we had 70-, 80-, 90-, 105-, 120- and 135-pound teams, and somehow they all practiced and played there. We played baseball, there too, in the spring - home plate was in one corner of the football field, and it was, oh, maybe a 250 foot stroke to hit one of the school buildings in right field. I saw many a home run when a ball hit to right field went down the driveway between buildings and all the way out into School House Lane.

The other teams in our league - the Interacademic League - had far better facilities and much more room. Our big rival, Penn Charter, was less than a mile away - when we were younger, on the “pound” teams, we’d actually walk over there to play them.   But its campus was huge, a giant spread of green in a rather nice, leafy neighborhood.

Sometime in the 1960s, a wealthy Philadelphian offered to donate his estate in suburban Fort Washington to G-A for a new, modern campus, one that would put G-A on a par with its competitors - Penn Charter, Episcopal Academy, Haverford School and Malvern Prep.  Just one condition: they had to admit girls.   (As I heard it, he had granddaughters and he wanted them to go there.)  Done.  Few of us grads liked the decision, but in terms of the long-term viability of the school, it was the only choice.  G-A families were moving to the suburbs.

Which brings us to Alan Ameche.  After his retirement, he moved to Malvern, Pennsylvania, in the far western suburbs of Philadelphia. Being Catholic, he figured on sending his sons to the nearby Catholic school,  Malvern Prep.  From that point on, it would be an understatement too say he was an “involved” parent.

From “Alan Ameche,” by Dan Manoyan - 2012

Alan Ameche had a nickname around Malvern Prep School and it wasn’t “the Horse.”

At the Malvern, Pennsylvania school, which all four of the Ameche sons attended, the senior Ameche was known respectful as “the Owner,” as in the owner of the football program.  Technically, of course, high school football  programs don’t have owners, but owner pretty much described Ameche’s role within the program.

After his premature retirement from the Colts, he had plenty of time on his hands (money was not a problem - he and partner Gino Marchetti had done okay when they sold Ameche-Gino Foods to Marriott- HW) - some might say too much time - and Malvern's football program was, to say the least, his pet project. Ameche did everything for the down-and-out program,  from supplying it with the best equipment to hand-picking its coach. But perhaps his biggest contribution to the program was donating his four sons - Brian, Alan Jr., Michael and Paul.

“I remember when we first moved to the Philadelphian area, it was about the time my older brother (Brian) was just getting ready to start high school,” Alan Jr. said.   “My dad knew he had four sons that were going to be playing football at Malvern Prep over what?  A 10- to 12-year span, and Malvern Prep was not competitive in football at that time.  The year before my brother got there, I don’t think they won a game in the league, and they had a history of going winless.

“My dad had it in his mind that if his kids were going to go to that school, that things had to change.  He singlehandedly made that change.”

One of Ameche’s first moves was to get rid of the man who was football coach at Malvern at that time.  After an 0-8 season in Brian’s freshman year and two wins the following year, when Alan Jr. joined his older brother on the varsity, Ameche had seen enough.

Ameche lobbied to have the current coach replaced with successful local youth coach Jack “the Shark” McGuinn.  It turned out to be a good move, because McGuinn coached at Malvern from 1969 through 1977, posting a 64-14-1 record.

“I remember we started two-a-days my sophomore year and one day we came to practice and we had a new coach,” Alan Jr. said. “He got rid of the coach…He was there one day and gone the next.   There was a guy my dad had in mind who was a very successful grade school coach and the next thing we knew, he was the coach.

“The new coach drove us relentlessly and made us win football games.  The first year we were the co-champions of our league.   That’s what this guy did.  He was such a tough coach that he took the same group the previous guy had and went on to establish a dynasty at Malvern.  Malvern is still a dynasty.”

But Ameche didn’t stop with appointing his handpicked choice for coach.  He went after players.

“My father not only created a change at coach, he went to the headmaster and said, ‘We’ve got to get some players in here,’” Alan Jr. said.  “The teams we were competing against in our league were recruiting players, so he felt we had to recruit some players to keep up with them.  They were bringing in kids to play for them and Malvern wasn’t.  My dad changed that.”

To that end, Ameche started a scholarship program at Malvern. The program served a double purpose.  It bolstered Malvern’s football program while giving a quality education to underprivileged kids.

“My dad told the coach go out and pick five kids a year from the Catholic grade school system in Philadelphia, which is a very big system,” Brian Ameche said.  “By our junior year, we were league champions.

“My dad was known around the school as the owner of the football team.  The game films would come to our house and be shown in our living room.  The coaches would all come to our house to watch the films with our father before the players would see them.

“We had several Universal gyms set up in our three-car garage, and players were actually required to come over to our place and work out on a regular basis.  We were essentially the physical fitness center for the football program.”

*********** An interesting side note to the Alan Ameche story:

He married Yvonne, his high school sweetheart, while still in college. When he won the Heisman, she was already the mother of two children.  They raised six children and remained married until his death in 1988.

The Heisman Trophy group is a tight group, and she continued to attend the annual award ceremonies.  At one of them, she met former Army great (and Heisman winner) Glenn Davis, whose wife had died, and in 1996 she and Davis were married. Davis died in 2005.

So, yes - Yvonne Molinaro Ameche Davis was married to two Heisman Trophy winners.

You want more?  The Ameches’ daughter, Catherine, married the brother of John Cappelletti, 1974 Heisman Trophy winner.

***********  QUIZ

He was a very good college football player, but soccer was his first love. 

As a college football player, he drop-kicked with either foot.

As a soccer player, he was good enough that in 1954 he was inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame.

In 1934, in a World Cup qualifying match in Rome,  he scored all four goals in a 4-2 US win over Mexico.  (It would be the last time the US beat Mexico until 1980.)

In the next round, in a 7-1 loss to a far superior Italian team he scored the only US goal.

And then he became a football coach.

In 1941, he coached an NFL team and a college team - at the same time.  He coached the pro team in the mornings and the college team in the afternoons, and he did this until the NFL commissioner told him he had to choose one or the other.

The pro team was then 0-5.  He chose to stay with the college, and went undefeated that season. A small western Pennsylvania Catholic school, it was 29-4-2 in his four seasons there.

From 1946 to 1956, he was head coach at a large Eastern college.  While he was there, he coached one of the greatest football players of all time, a son of Greek immigrants who would be drafted Number One by the Cleveland Browns but would choose, instead, to play baseball for the Red Sox. Although it discontinued football in 1997, the school in those years played a national schedule, and he took it to a 46-34-4 record and at one point a top-25 ranking.

Moving on to an Ivy League school in 1957, he coached there until his retirement in 1967.

William Campbell, who played under him there, would go on to coach at the school himself, and then go on to great success as a businessman in Silicon Valley.  Campbell donated the weight room at the college in honor of his coach.

american flag TUESDAY,  APRIL 4,  2017  - “The left doesn't care about winning the debate; they want to cancel the debate.” Mark Steyn

*********** Sure glad I don't coach basketball.  I couldn't have made it through that NCAA final game without strangling at least one official. Seriously, though, it's a rare football game that the officials can take total control of the way they did that one.

***********  My son, Ed, wrote… According to my research – if Gonzaga wins – they will be the 3rd smallest school to win the title. Gonzaga has a total of roughly 7,400 students. Holy Cross (1947) is tiny, only 2,500 or so students and La Salle (1954) is about 6,000 total.  Georgetown (1984) has fewer undergrads than Gonzaga but something like 10,000 grads.

Which got me going…

I’m sure that  LaSalle was a lot smaller in 1954 - but so, most likely, was Gonzaga.

Funny, at the time, growing up in Philly,  we never gave a thought to how small LaSalle was. They had Tom Gola and that was enough, we thought.  After all, their big rival was USF, and it wasn’t very big, either.

I get the sense, looking back, that possibly basketball was the consolation prize for those who didn’t/couldn’t play football.

Lots of small schools were good. Holy Cross, of course. (Cousy, Heinsohn.)  NYU was good, and so was LIU.  CCNY won both the NCAA title and the then-prestigious NIT - in the same year.  Bradley was very good.  So was Dayton.  Duquesne was a power.  St. Bonaventure, Niagara and Canisius were good.  St. Johns, of course, was plenty good.  DePaul and Loyola and St. Louis were good.   Basketball then was primarily an Eastern game, a big-city game, a Catholic-school game.   At least two of the three usually applied.

It’s almost as if there was an NCAA rule that good big-time football schools were barred from having good basketball programs. 

I don’t remember many big football schools being very good in basketball. Indiana won an NCAA title in the 1950s.  Football?  Gimme a break. Oklahoma State was always pretty good in basketball, but nothing special in football.  Cal won the title once, but their glory days in football ended in 1952 and they had only one winning season until 1968.  Cincinnati was not at that time much of a football school. Kansas had a couple of decent seasons in football in the early 1950s, but back then, nobody in the Big Eight beat Oklahoma - which, by the way, wasn’t all that good in basketball.  North Carolina won in 1957 under Frank McGuire, a New Yorker who was one of the first to figure out he could win by convincing New York kids to come south to play basketball.  But in football? The Tarheels had TWO winning records (back to back 6-4 seasons) between 1949 and 1963. Kentucky was pretty good in football in the late 40s and early 50s, actually winning the SEC in 1950, but after the 1953 season their coach, a fellow named Bear Bryant, got tired of coaching at a basketball school and moved to Texas A & M, and UK football’s played second fiddle ever since.  Ohio State, with Lucas and Siegfried (and Knight) may have been the first real football power than I can recall winning the NCAA title.  They won the NCAA championship in 1960 but haven’t done it since.  But, as if to confirm my theory, the Buckeyes’ football team that year (the fall of 1959) suffered through a 3-5-1 season, their only losing record in the 19 seasons between 1947 and 1966.

UCLA?  In 1954 UCLA (coached by Red Sanders) was football all the way. A guy named John Wooden was their basketball coach, but he didn’t get his Bruins to a Final Four until 1962, and a National Championship until 1964.

*********** When I was a kid, the barber shop where I’d go - McFarland’s, on Germantown Avenue - had a sign that read “Haircut… $1.00”  (this was a long time ago, guys).  Right underneath: “Repair a home-made haircut… $2.00”

Moral:  Next time, leave it to the pros.

Not too long ago, I found myself trying to repair a homemade haircut, er, Double Wing.  A team had been running a “Double Wing.”  Sort of.  I have no idea where they got it. What they were doing, I suspect, was running a few plays that they’d seen somewhere.  They may even have found some “assignments” on the Internet.  Or perhaps they’d reverse-engineered some plays that they saw online, and  then, assuming that the players they saw were doing what they were supposed to be doing,  they put into their own words what they thought they saw them doing.

What they didn’t find out, though, was the key to running any system effectively - WHY those players were doing what they were doing, and HOW their coaches had taught them those things.

So these guys wound up walking around with a home-made haircut.   Fortunately, before they decided to give up and junk the idea of the Double Wing as something that “doesn’t work,” they were smart enough to recognize that they had a problem, and  that they needed a fix.

They were bright guys and eager to learn. They were coachable.   They took good notes and they asked plenty of good questions.  They were surprised at all the things they hadn’t been doing, and all the things they had been doing (but doing wrong).  

Best of all, though, they were encouraged because they saw those things as things they could immediately  improve on.  When we parted, I think we were all confident that they were on their way to a dramatic fix.

I sent them off with this advice:  Install a simple package, and teach it well.  Know what you’re going to teach, practice teaching it to your staff before you try teaching it to the kids, and then, make sure to be patient. “Talk it, Walk it, Run it, Rep it.”

Above all, make sure it’s taught correctly.  You only get one chance to install it correctly, then the cat’s out of the bag. You don’t want to be wasting time going back and having to correct things that weren’t taught right the first time.

I advised the head coach of the importance of not losing his “stones” - keeping things simple often means having to deal with others - including your own assistants - who’ll insist on “opening up the playbook.”

Resist, I told him.  Keep a steady hand on the tiller and be a model of patience and persistence. To paraphrase something I heard another coach say, when they ask if you have any other plays, tell them, “Of course I do.  And just as soon as we show we can run these plays to perfection, I’ll give you another one.”

*********** I was talking last week with John Simar, who, when I first met him more than 15 years ago, was President of the Army Football Club - the association of former West Point football players.   John played a key role in getting the Army Football Club to sponsor the Black Lion Award at West Point and present it every year to a football player on the current Army squad.  Each recipient’s name is added to a permanent plaque in the football locker room, beginning with the very first winner, Will Sullivan, of Atlanta, in 2004.

Knowing John had worked with Lou Saban at West Point, I asked him to tell me a few things about Saban.

He was a very smart guy, John said.  And as you might expect of a guy who didn’t last long at a job, he was a bit insecure.  (Paranoid might be the appropriate word.)

But what struck me was a story John told to illustrate that Lou Saban had a good heart.  John said he and Lou were in Cleveland, recruiting, and off to the side, as they entered their hotel,  an elderly custodian who was sweeping the sidewalk happened to drop his broom. Seeing this, Saban went right over and picked it up and handed it to the man.  Returning to John, he said, “We gotta take care of each other.”

John Simar’s story is one worth telling…

John played football at West Point under Tom Cahill, graduating in 1972.  His first coaching assignment was at West Point in 1979 as Homer Smith’s recruiting coordinator. After Smith was fired, he was retained as recruiting coordinator by Lou Saban.  Saban left after one season, but John stayed on as recruiting coordinator under Saban’s successor, Ed Cavanaugh. John stayed in that position until Jim Young was hired in 1983, when John added coaching the tight ends to his recruiting duties. That lasted just one year, and then Young made one of the most dramatic changes - and brought about about one of the most dramatic turnarounds - in college football history.   After going 2-9 in his first year, Young junked his pro set offense and went all-out wishbone, with a senior named Nate Sassaman, who hadn’t run a play as an option quarterback since high school, at the controls.  John Simar was put in charge of coaching the wide receivers (“wide blockers,” he says they jokingly called themselves).  In their first year running the ‘bone, Army went 8-3-1, beating both Air Force and Navy and narrowly losing to Michigan State, 10-6, in a bowl game.   Certainly a highlight of the season was going into Knoxville and playing a good Tennessee team (they beat Alabama that year) to a 24-24 tie.  After the change  to the wishbone, Coach Young had only one losing season - 5-6 in 1987 - and he finished with an overall record at West Point of 51-39-1.  (He is the last Army coach to go out with a winning record.)  When Jim Young retired, John Simar, who had switched to coaching running backs in 1987, stayed on with new coach Bob Sutton, who had been Young’s defensive coordinator (and now serves in that capacity with the Kansas City Chiefs).

John left West Point following the 1994 season to become Director of Athletics at Charlotte (NC) Country Day School, and in 1999 he was named Director of Athletics at the prestigious Lawrenceville School, in New Jersey.  The Lawrenceville position, it should be pointed out, entails greater responsibilities than most colleges, with 64 teams in 34 different sports - 32 teams each and 17 sports each for both boys and girls. The list of sports includes indoor track, water polo, crew, squash and fencing in addition to the usual sports offered by large, well funded high schools.

John retired from Lawrenceville in 2013, but stayed active in sports by spending the 2014 and 2015 seasons helping coach the Princeton sprint football team.

Here’s the kind of guy John Simar is: In 2005, at age 55 and retired from the Army for more than 10 years, John volunteered to return to the Army, taking a leave of absence from Lawrenceville in order to spend a year with US troops in Kuwait as a “morale welfare recreation coordinator.”

Why?   “I didn’t want to do a fund-raiser or send handy wipes over,” he told the Middletown, NY Times-Herald-Record. “I think all (West Point graduates) owe a service that never ends. I see all these 25-year-old young men with two tours in Iraq, some going on three. I wanted to help them in some way.”

*********** "Make the big time where you are."  Frosty Westering

I'll bet if I were to say "Jimmer Fredette," an awful lot of you would say, "Hey!  Whatever happened to him, anyhow?"

Well, what happened to him was that he has become the biggest name in basketball  in the biggest basketball-loving nation on earth - China.  He's playing for a team in Shanghai coached by Brian Goordjian, a friend of  my son who has coached in Australia and has gone on to become the Red Auerbach/Phil Jackson/Pat Riley of China.

***********  If you had any doubt that the end times are near, this is from Sports Business Daily:

NASCAR is considering making its cars quieter, according to several sources, a move that could make it easier for fans to talk to each other during races and engage more socially.

Quieter cars could be targeted more toward millennials, who place heavy importance on the social experience of attending sporting events. For example, many teams in stick-and-ball sports have developed standing areas where fans can gather and socialize instead of being restricted to a standard seat.
Safe spaces at NASCAR tracks.  Thanks, Millennials.

When they said, “It’s all over but the shouting,” this must have been what they meant.

*********** Hi Hugh,

We are in the middle of an April first snow storm and it reminded me of another over twenty years ago. You arrived in Boothbay in the middle of another April first storm and it changed SeaHawk football for a decade and I made a life long friend. My where has the time gone it seems like only yesterday.

I thought about coming out for the Kansas clinic but we are staying a month in South Carolina so it did not time up. Please say hi to Connie.

Good luck at the clinic.

Jack Tourtillotte
Rangely, Maine

I’m so glad that you reminded me!  My football travels have afforded me the chance to visit some great places and meet some great people, and my visit to Boothbay and meeting you and Sue ranks right at the top.

I recently showed some people the video I shot of Dan Kaler.  Of course they loved it!

My only regret about that visit 20+ years ago is that Connie couldn’t be with me - she was home working to support us! - because she loves New England even more than I do, and she’s a snow lover.

Great to hear from you - our love to Sue.

*********** Whether Gonzaga wins or not…

*********** Whether North Carolina wins or not…

*********** Found this in a Notre Dame program from 1980…

Jim Gruden


Josh Montgomery - Berwick, Louisiana
Don Gordon - South Deerfield, Massachusetts
J.C. Brink - Stuart, Florida
Mike Benton - Colfax, Illinois
Joe Gutilla - Austin, Texas
John Vermillion - St. Petersburg, Florida
Ken Hampton - Raleigh, North Carolina
Tom Davis - San Marcos, California
Adam Wesoloski - Pulaski, Wisconsin
Kevin McCullough - Lakeville, Indiana (Growing up in southeastern Indiana,with no pro-football around we got “Da Bears” as our home team on the Indy stations……I remember the day my pops brought me home "the History of the Chicago Bears" right away i knew Sid Luckman…)

Mark Kaczmarek, of Davenport, Iowa wrote - The great Sid Luckman...My daughter lived on the SW corner of Prospect Park in BKLYN for a couple of years before moving to Park Slope...part of my exercise routine, while in NYC, included walking around the park & I would on occasion head a little farther South as I walked to the East, on the Southern border of the park's ball diamonds & tennis courts, to see old Erasmus High historic was closed,as a HS, in the 90s...Al Davis, Neil Diamond, Roger Kahn, Sam Rutigliano, Jerry Reinsdorf, Micky Spillane, Babs, & Mae name a few who were also grads

Good for you. And there was  Lainie Kazan and Beverly Sills and Bobby Fischer and Billy Cunningham and…

All this was pointed out to me once (with great pride) by Bruce Weber, an Erasmus Hall grad and publisher of Scholastic Coach.

(Erasmus Hall, which is no more, has such an illustrious list of graduates, people who have attained success in a wide variety of fields, that there is a web site devoted to them.)

*********** Sid Luckman was George’s Halas’ choice to be the quarterback in his T-formation.  Halas worked out a deal with the Steelers’ Art Rooney to draft Luckman, then trade him to the Bears.

But despite Halas’ machinations, Luckman wasn’t sure he wanted to play pro football.  He had a chance to go into the trucking business with his brothers.

He wound up signing, of course, and went on to become the prototype of the modern pro T-formation quarterback - a guy who did all the passing while leaving the running to the other  backs.

In 1940, he led the Bears to a 73-0 win over the Washington Redskins in the NFL championship game. Just three weeks earlier, the Redskins had beaten the Bears, 7-3.  The Bears had made it to the Redskins’ six-yard-line, but on the last play of the game, Lucian’s pass went incomplete because, the Bears’ receiver argued, he was held on the play.  There was no interference call, and Halas’ complaints (“I probably used all the words I had learned in the Chicago streets and in ball parks and training camps and maybe even made up a few new ones,” he wrote in his memoirs) were to no avail.

The Redskins’ owner, George Preston Marshall, was a character on his own, and he let Halas have it.

“The Bears are a bunch of crybabies,” he told the newspapers. “They can’t take defeat. They are a first-half club. They are quitters. They are the world’s greatest crybabies.”

Let that be a lesson.  Three weeks later, the Bears were ready.  On their second play from scrimmage, Bill Osmanski ran 68 yards untouched, and the rout was on.

PRO QBSIn the photo at left, Sid Luckman is in the middle, between two players the Bears drafted in 1948 - and paid a lot of money for..  On the left is Johnny Lujack, described by his college coach, Notre Dame’s Frank Leahy, as “the greatest all-around football player it has been my privilege to coach.”  High praise, indeed, coming from a man who coached 16 consensus All-Americans.  At Notre Dame, Lujack played quarterback and safety, and was the Irish placekicker.  He lasted only four seasons with the Bears before returning to Notre Dame to assist Leahy, but while with the Bears he started a number of games while Luckman was hurt, and in the 1950 season, he set an NFL record of 11 rushing touchdowns by a quarterback (it’s since been broken).

On the right is the famed Bobby Layne, from Texas. He’s a story in himself.  Layne was traded by the Bears not long after the photo was taken (“my biggest blunder, Halas called it”), and went on to a long career known as much for his love of partying after (and sometimes before) games as for his grit and competitiveness on the field.

How about this one - in 1950, they brought in a rookie quarterback who as a place kicker would make 156 straight extra points over the next five years.  A young guy named George Blanda.

Over the years, Halas “lent” Luckman to various colleges to help them learn the intricacies of the T-formation.  Notre Dame’s Frank Leahy had Luckman assist him at several spring practices.  His own college coach, Lou Little used him.  Halas seems to remember Army’s Earl Blaik having Lucian up to West Point, and while I can’t find any way of confirming it, it appears plausible.

Despite being called “Papa Bear” by newspaper guys, George Halas was anything but warm and fuzzy. He has been described as cold, hard, stingy, tough, crude and more.  He grew up hard, on the streets of Chicago, and his upbringing dictated the way he would run his football team; for years, the Bears’ very existence was hand to mouth, and he simply couldn’t afford to let sentiment influence the decisions he had to make, as owner and as coach.

But evidently he had a soft side where two of his players were concerned.  One was the great running back Gayle Sayers.  The other was Sid Luckman, the player who helped him revolutionize offensive football.

Among his many mementoes,  Luckman treasured a letter he received from George Halas on May 24, 1983, five months before Halas died.  (A football coach would understand.)

My Dear Sid,

“I love you with all my heart.”

When I said this to you last night as I kissed you, I realized 44 wonderful years of knowing you were summed by by seven words.

My boy, my pride in you has no bounds.  Remember our word, “now!”  Every time I said it to you, you brought me another championship.

You added a luster to my life that can never tarnish.  My devoted friend, you have a spot in my heart that NO One else can claim.

God bless you and keep you, my son.  “I love you with all my heart.”

Sincerely yours,


Quiz subject*********** The son of Italian immigrants who settled in the Midwest, he was a high school standout who went on to star as a running back for his home state university.

Playing two ways in college, he was an outstanding running back and linebacker and helped his school earn its first-ever Rose Bowl berth.   He won college football's highest individual honor after his senior season, even though he’d had a better season his junior year.  He’s a member of the College Football Hall of Fame.

His size and strength made him hard to bring down, and earned him a nickname that stuck with him throughout his career.

He was an NFL first-round draft choice and was named Rookie of the Year. He scored a touchdown the first time he ever touched the ball as a pro, and he scored the winning touchdown in “The Greatest Game Ever Played.”  He was a good receiver and blocker, too, but a combination of an Achilles heel injury and a clash with head coach Weeb Embank - and the fact that he was already involved in the business that would make him wealthy - led him to retire after just six NFL seasons.

In retirement, he became quite successful in business, helping run a large mid-Atlantic quick-food restaurant chain that he and a teammate started.

The father of six, his oldest son was an All-Ivy defensive end at Yale.

He underwent triple bypass surgery when he was only 46, and died at age 55 just a few days after a second bypass procedure.

american flag FRIDAY,  MARCH 31,  2017  "In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act." --George Orwell

*********** Obviously I’m pretty excited about having two schools from the Pacific Northwest in the Final Four.  But I don’t kid myself - while  Seattle is a legitimate producer of big-time talent, there are few northwest kids on the roster of either Oregon or Gonzaga.

Oregon has three guys on its roster from Canada.  (One of them, Chris Boucher, a 6-10 rebounder and shot blocker from Montreal, was injured  in the Pac-12 tournament, and their appearance in the Final Four despite his absence shows how solid they are.)

And as my son, Ed, points out,  people shouldn't get too carried away with the ‘little school in the Northwest’ thing with Gonzaga.

Only “big-time” sports guys, who mainly only know what they read, would push that narrative.

Gonzaga is Gonzaga and has been for at least ten years.  They might play in a lesser-known conference - and on the West Coast at that - but only that and  the size of their arena (which they have sold out for years) keeps them from being considered "elite" at the level of the Dukes, Kansases, Kentuckys and North Carolinas.

They can recruit.  Anywhere. In addition to their star, Przemek Karnowski, the 7-1 bearded senior from Poland, they have freshmen from Denmark (6-11), France (6-10) and Japan (6-8) on their roster.  They have quality transfers from big-time programs - Cal, Missouri and Washington - and only one of them, Niger Williams-Goss, from suburban Portland, is a Northwesterner.  And he actually played his high school ball for Basketball Prep - er, Findlay Prep - in Las Vegas.)

But South Carolina, the legitimate “surprise” team in the tournament, can go out and find the kids, too.  The Gamecocks have players on their roster from Australia, Canada, Gabon, Estonia and Senegal. And two or three South Carolinians.

North Carolina actually has six North Carolina kids on its 15-man roster, and four of them see significant playing time.

What makes this Final Four especially exciting is that only one of the schools - North Carolina - is what you’d call a truly “elite” program.  But they’re all really good, good enough, as they’ve all demonstrated, under tough conditions, that it won’t be a surprise if any one of them wins it all.

To me,  considering what they’ve accomplished under Mark Few, Gonzaga illustrates as much as anything the importance of the  coach in college basketball success.

But then, come to think of it,  so does Oregon.  And South Carolina.  And, yes - give Roy his due - so does North Carolina.

Moral: Of course it takes good players.  But it takes good coaches to find them and land them.  And develop them and keep them in school. You can’t get to the Final Four without having a damn good coach.

*********** I got a good chuckle recently when a newly-hired coach said that one of the ways he intended to succeed at his new job was to get the numbers up - and to do that, he was going to “recruit the halls like crazy.”

As soon as I saw that, I said, “he’s got to be young.”

Sure enough, he was.

Young coaches think that they’re the first ones ever to think of something.  I was one once, and I plead guilty.

This “numbers” thing is getting to be a royal pain in the ass for football coaches everywhere.   The NFL has  created a situation where their  ignoring the seriousness of concussions in professional football players has (likely) led to  a significant number of former players suffering from long-term effects of head injuries.  And as a consequence,  the media (and parents) have jumped to the conclusion  that football, even the kind  played by kids, will surely lead to long-term dementia in their children.  The end result is the decision by the head of the household, which increasingly, in American families, is Mom: “My son’s not playing football.”

Add to that a general laziness in our male population borne out by statistics showing a dramatic increase in obesity among our youngsters, and the addictive powers of video games (Madden lets you be the star without all the hard work and sweat) and you’ve got large numbers of kids who wouldn’t play football if they were paid to do it.

Increasingly, even in small schools, kids are concentrating on a single sport, and at an earlier age. Soccer is notorious for that.  Basketball grabs off a lot of the athletic kids. And depending on the size of the school and the section of the country, year-round baseball, ice hockey and lacrosse are becoming common.

Top it all off with our feminized society’s growing antipathy toward masculinity and masculine pursuits, and football becomes the bullseye  on the anti-testosterone target. 

But that hasn’t stopped administrators from continuing to evaluate their football program by the number of kids standing on the sidelines at games.  They conveniently overlook that fact that unless those kids are all players, or potential players, every one of them represents a potential malcontent, with trigger-parents eager to share their unhappiness with school board members.

They love to tell coaches about all the big kids “walking the halls” who ought to be playing football, but in many cases they know exactly what the coaches know about those big kids - they’re unathletic, they’re soft, they’re lazy, they have terrible work habits, and they’re spoiled rotten.  They’ve never had to do anything in their lives that they didn’t want to do - yet somehow they’re going to go out for football and work their asses off while a coach is there correcting everything they do?  Get real.

Which gets me to the naive young coach who’s going to recruit the halls.  He obviously hasn’t considered that in a school of, let’s say, 600 or so kids  the previous coach, who’d been there, let’s say, five or six years, knew every boy in the school.  Maybe he was the PE teacher, too, which meant that at some point he had every boy in class at least once, and he got to see what kind of an athlete he was.  It’s hard to believe that that former coach didn’t make at least one pass at any kid showing even the slightest bit of promise.

So to all those newly-hired head coaches who think they’re the first ones who’ve ever thought of “recruiting the halls,” I say: good luck winning with those kids.  Soon enough, if you last, you’ll one day be an old coach yourself - and you’ll know why those kids were walking the halls.

*********** The late Herman Masin, longtime editor of Scholastic Coach magazine, was still using a mechanical typewriter when he retired in 2008.

That’s stretching things a bit, but to guys like Herman, a lover of sports and a great writer, I suspect that as much as anything, his typewriter linked him to the past and the people he’d come to know though his 72 years in his position.

There’s nothing like the sound of keys clacking away under the fingers of someone hurrying to get his thoughts onto a page, a sound that led the gangsters of the 1920’s to jokingly refer to a machine gun as a “typewriter.”

Once you heard the sound of a busy newspaper newsroom, it was something you'd never forget.

To anyone who’s made the transition from typewriter to computer, there’s no question that typing with the computer has huge advantages over the typewriter.

When I was working in personnel with a pro football team, part of my job was to update our roster.  During training camp, that was an especially tough assignment, with players coming and going so frequently that the roster could change several times a day.  With more than 100 guys on the roster, there was no time to type up a new roster every time someone was cut or someone was brought in, so the only solution was to “cut-and-paste.” 

If John Smith came in and we assigned him - let’s say - Number 42, we’d type up John Smith’s info on a separate sheet of paper, in the same format as our roster, then cut that info into a strip.   Then, we’d cut the main roster between Number 41 and Number 43 and pull the two pieces apart to make room for John Smith’s info to fit between them.  With a little paste (rubber cement, actually) we’d stick the strip with John  Smith’s info on it underneath and adjust it until the info fit in as well as possible, and that was that.  For the moment.

When a player was cut, we trimmed his info from the main sheet and brought the remaining two pieces of the main roster together.  And so forth.  (I told you it was a bitch.)

We would make photocopies of that for distribution to coaches and the PR department, who’d distribute it to the media.  We’d do the best we could, but it was inevitable that lines would start to look crooked.

Eventually, we’d have to start fresh.  When you’re typing a 100-man roster - Number, name, height, weight, age, college, and prior pro experience  - it’s a long, tedious job.

Oh - you didn’t want it in numerical order?  You say you wanted it in alphabetical order?   You a$$hole.  Why didn’t you say so?  There goes another hour or two shot to hell.

Nowadays, of course, you simply enter the data once and then you can insert or delete as you wish.   You want alphabetical or numerical order?  No problem.  We can sort that roster by number, name, age - any characteristic you want.

How many copies you want?  All you have to do is tell your printer to print and tell it how many.

You probably never heard of carbon copies.  You probably had no idea  that that “cc” in an email means "carbon copy." It's an old secretarial abbreviation.

Before Xerox and other dry copiers came along, if you needed just one or two copies of something you were typing, you slipped a sheet of carbon paper under the sheet you were typing on, and then another sheet of plain paper under the carbon paper.  And then, assuming you hit the typewriter keys hard enough, the ink-like material on the back of the carbon paper would make a duplicate image of your key-strike on the second typewriter sheet.  You’d be making a “carbon copy.”

It was not a very forgiving process.  I won’t even mention the problems you ran into when you made a mistake on your original (and, obviously, on your carbon copy, too).  Carbon copies were messy, and there was a limit on the number of them you could make from one original.

In the main, computers are an incredible improvement.  But there are ways in which technology has made our lives worse, and I would definitely consider the virtual keypad of the iPhone or the iPad to be one of them.  Yes, they represent taking a step backward in order to take several steps forward - but they’ve still taken us backward.

And the keyboards on even the best of laptops aren’t even close to the real thing.

For anyone who’s ever actually used a real typewriter, there’s nothing like the feel of actually hitting a mechanical key. Best is a big desk typewriter, then a portable, and finally, an electric.

Now, for people like me - there’s QWERKYWRITER! A mechanical typewriter keyboard that works with your iPad.

Now - I can’t wait to get one.  The feel and sound of a real typewriter keyboard, with the incredible advantages of a powerful computer!

While talking about mechanical typewriters - you want to see something ingenious?  Check out a musical compositon called "Typewriter."

***********  I suspect that the 31-1 vote allowing the Davis family to move the Raiders to Las Vegas indicates that someone - not saying who - got FBI files on the other NFL owners.  Otherwise, it’s hard to justify the decision.

It’s funny how they’re already talking in terms of “Raider Nation.”  Oakland?  Who the hell needs Oakland.  It doesn’t matter where we play.  Raider fans are Raider fans.   Raider Nation, blah, blah, blah.

So for the next two years, the Las Vegas Raiders will play in Oakland.  Why does that sound like a bad idea?  Oh, wait - I forgot. Those people in the stands?   They don’t care whether it’s “Oakland” or “Las Vegas.”  They’re just proud, patriotic  members of Raider Nation - wherever the team plays - and they’re just honored to be able to host the team for the next two years, until it moves to a more suitable place.   It’s their patriotic duty.

Meantime, my friend Doc Hinger and I have been doing a little brainstorming.

First of all, whether it’s Oakland for the next two years or Las Vegas three years from now, there are going to be empty seats in NFL stadiums.  We already see them in Jacksonville.  Well, we don’t actually see the empty seats - they’re covered.  And - amazingly - we've been seeing them in Los Angeles. We’ll be seeing them in LA again next year.

Here’s my thinking:  when they can digitally impose yellow first-down stripes and multi-colored corporate logos on football fields… when video game developers can produce highly life-like characters…

Why wouldn’t someone be able to develop “virtual crowds” - images of people that can be digitally imposed on unoccupied seats?

Sure, they’d still look empty  to those poor schlubs at the stadium - but who cares about them?  To the people who really matter - the TV viewers who are turned off by the sight of empty seats, the advertisers who need constant reassurance that the NFL is still highly popular,  the NFL bigwigs whose lifeblood is the continued growth in popularity of their product -  it’s important to see people in the seats.

So get with it, developers.

Now, here comes Doc Hinger’s idea:  we’ll put “real” people in those seats. Maybe you.   For a price.  Want to be in the stands at this Monday night’s Saints-Rams game?  Yes, yes, I know you live in Buffalo and you can’t get off work, but we can put you there.  We’ll superimpose your face on a “real” person.  We’ll even be able to tell you what section you’ll be sitting in (maybe even the exact seat) so you can tell your friends and - we still have to work this out with the networks -  arrange to get you on camera and give you a rough idea when you’ll be on.

That’s it, up to this point.  We haven’t figured out costs yet, but you’ll hear soon.  In the future, we plan on being able to let you choose from a variety of team shirts (even your favorite player’s number) or, if you wish, to let you go bare-chested (males only, which may get us in trouble with the ACLU).  Face-painting is also a possibility. 

Eventually, we’ll allow you to choose your action:  sad and dejected,  wildly excited, sleepy - or drunk.

Stay tuned.

*********** Correctly Identifying C.R. Roberts

John Vermillion - St. Petersburg, Florida
Adam Wesoloski - Pulaski, Wisconsin
Tim Brown - Athens, Alabama
Jerry Lovell - Bellevue, Nebraska
Ken Hampton - Raleigh, North Carolina
Mark Kaczmarek - Davenport, Iowa
Kevin McCullough - Lakeville, Indiana

*********** C.R. Roberts was a big (6-1, 215-pound) USC single wing fullback who went on to play for four seasons in the NFL, all with the 49ers.  1956, when Roberts travelled with the Trojans to play against the University of Texas, he became the first black player to play against a white player in the state of Texas.  (For the record, USC won, 44-20, and Roberts rushed for 251 yards in 12 carries.)

There’s no telling what kind of stats he could have wound up with - he had scoring runs of 73, 50 and 74 yards in the first half alone - and didn’t play at all in the second half.

Roberts recalled that  SC coach Jess Hill was concerned about continuing to play him “because there was getting to be a lot of tension in the air.”

That the game was even played was remarkable, beginning with the stand taken by the USC players when they refused to go to Texas without their black teammates.   And then, when hotels refused to accommodate the black players, Coach Hill moved the team. 

In an interview years later, Roberts recalled black and Hispanic spectators - required to sit in the end zone - getting very excited at the sight of a black man on the field, and then even more excited by his performance.

“Just by getting to play in that game,” he said, “I felt I had won.”

With the 49ers, he teamed with Y.A. Tittle and R.C. Owens and J.D. Smith to form what came to be called the “All-Initial Backfield,” or “Alphabet Backfield.”

*********** In C. R. Roberts’ own words  (slightly edited to correct misspellings of Darrell Royal’s and Walt Fondren’s names)

In my last year at SC. there was a controversy.

There was a racial problem when we played Darrell  Royal's University of Texas Longhorns deep in the heart of Texas. In 1956 Blacks were forbidden to stay in the downtown hotels in Austin, Texas. We had three black players on our team. They were Lou Byrd, Hillard Hill and myself. Coach Jess Hill was told that he could not bring any black players with the team because they would have no place to stay and athletic competition between blacks and whites was forbidden in the state of Texas.

Coach Hill threatened to cancel the game. Texas then agreed to let the black players stay in the YMCA outside of town. I refused to stay anyplace other than with the team even after they found another YMCA downtown. Texas relented, and I got on the team bus to leave for the game.

Going to the game was different for me this time. On our ride to the airport the bus driver turned on a black radio station for us for the first time. I will never forget that ride to LAX, The sun was shinning beautifully, and the Clovers were singing one of my all time favorites “One Mint Julep”. I felt so good that I didn’t know what to do. It seemed to me the rest of the trip to Texas was uneventful, although the rest of the world had a different perspective.

We arrived at the hotel in downtown Austin and they refused to check us in. Jess Hill took the team to another hotel presumably owned by an SC alumnus and we were finally admitted. That night, they even admitted blacks and Mexicans into the end Zone seats for the first time.

At the Football Stadium:

It was sheer bedlam at the University of Texas Stadium as you see and hear the fans cheering. Tonight you could believe it when everyone tells you that football is “Texas Heaven” because Texas fans sure love their football. But as I warmed up I could hear some of the loudest cheering coming from the end zone.

Blacks and Mexicans were encouraged to see football in this stadium for the first time, and tonight they were cheering for us, USC.  Boy that made me feel good. I remembered the coach’s words before the game. “CR don’t worry about what they do and don't  listen to any names they call you. I assure that we are all safe.”

During the game I started out playing both ways, linebacker and fullback. Right away I went head hunting for their quarterback Walt Fondren. He was special. His coach was the great Darrell Royal and he was called the million-dollar quarterback because his daddy was rich and he could throw the hell out of that football.

Starting the game I was feeling good. I had tackled their quarterback at least two times when the coach called me over and took me out of the game. After only a few plays I was taken off defense and told to play offense only. I figured this was a good idea because the crowd was getting ugly every time I made a good tackle or two.

I am not sure but during the second quarter it seemed that the coach would take me out of the game every time we got ahead or the crowd got upset (I was happy because there could have been a riot). I played a little while (offense only) during the third quarter and never got back into the game again.

I remember that we played some good football during that game but I remember what happened after the game most of all.

For me, the after game excitement made this the best trip we took all year. Every black hotel worker in Austin must have come to my room to see us that night. The hallway outside our room was packed with people all night long.

They had come from far and wide just to see us. Everyone was so proud just to see us staying in the hotel that I don’t remember ever going to sleep. My roommate Lou Byrd and (now Mayor of Inglewood) I just talked to everyone all night.

History was made:

We had beaten Texas 44-20 that night and I had played only 12 minutes on offense. I was the first back in USC history to carry the ball for 251 yards in one game. I held the record for the most yards gained in one game for 23 years. My record of 251 yards and three touchdowns in twelve minutes of playing time still stands today.

This was a significant game. That day in Texas was the first time a Division One University had ever played an integrated team in that conference. We integrated the Southwest Football Conference for the first time. The same school USC and Sam Cunningham would integrate the Southeast Conference some years later when they played in Alabama.


In the photo at left,  taken after the USC-Texas game, Roberts and his backfield running mate, the great Jon Arnett, dump cups of water on each other.  Couple of things to note:  (1) considering those were the days long before serious weight training became the norm, Roberts was trim and very well-muscled; (2) Notice Arnett’s jersey.  Like most top-grade jerseys of the time, it was kept from coming off by a tail that passed under the crotch and buttoned in the front - see the three button holes above the crotch.  I wore such a jersey in college and still have it somewhere.  I have no idea why they were made this way other than probably to keep the shirt tail from coming out.  (To this day, I can’t stand the sight of a football jersey not tucked in.)

***********Here 's a video with some clips of C.R. Roberts against playing Texas in 1956.  He’s playing fullback in the SC single wing, and he breaks a couple of long ones on buck-lateral plays.  USC is still wearing the Northwestern stripes.

Interestingly, although I knew that Jim Brown  had integrated  the Cotton Bowl in January of 1957,  I’d never known until I did this research, that  C.R. Roberts had first broken the color barrier in Texas months earlier.

*********** Not to be the one to spoil a good story, but as a history major
I did learn something about research...

It’s widely stated that when C.R. Roberts and USC played at Texas in 1956 it was the first time a black player competed against a white player in that state.
Wikipedia says it so it must be true.

Uh-oh, kids.   Never, never use Wikipedia as your primary source.

Until Kevin McCullough brought it to my attention, I had completely forgotten that some time ago I had written on here about the legendary Wally Triplett.  Wally Triplett is special to me because he’s a Philly guy - he went to Cheltenham (Pennsylvania) High, which is the arch-rival of my wife’s high school, Abington High.  Cheltenham is a rather wealthy area, but for most of its existence, it’s had its “colored section,” an area called LaMott, in honor of Lucretia Mott, a prominent abolitionist.   Wally Triplett, to be precise, is from LaMott.

In addition, I worked for a couple years in Baltimore with Wally Triplett's cousin, the late John Triplett, a great person who was an outstanding football player himself at Morgan State.

Of this, there is ABSOLUTELY NO DOUBT: years before C.R. Roberts faced the Longhorns in 1956, Wally Triplett played football in the state of Texas against white people.

In 1948,  when Penn State played SMU, Wally Triplett became the first black player to play in the Cotton Bowl.  (The Cotton Bowl, in case the people who contribute their knowledge of history to Wikipedia don’t know, was played then, as now, in Texas.  And SMU, like all major college teams in Texas at the time, was all-white.)

Therefore, until someone else comes forward, Wally Triplett of Penn State is the first black man to play football against a white player in Texas.

Not in any way does this diminish the importance of CR Roberts and his accomplishment, and I certainly wouldn't want to be the one to say to him, "Mr. Roberts, I hate to have to tell you, after all these years of thinking you were the first..."  As we all should know, even eight years after Wally Triplett, courageous blacks in the South were still having to break down racial barriers, one by one, on the football fields and elsewhere.

Wally Triplett had several other firsts, including being the first black player to letter at Penn State, and the first black player to be drafted by the NFL.

Mr. Triplett is still alive, in his 90s, and living in Detroit (he played pro ball with the Lions) in the same house he’s lived in since 1957.

An article in back in November tells this man’s remarkable story.

It’s entitled, “A Lions’ Legend: Hidden and in Plain Sight” and it’s a great read.


*********** QUIZ - The son of Jewish immigrants, he was a graduate of Brooklyn’s famed Erasmus Hall High School. He is one of the greatest players ever to come out of an Ivy League school.  Although a single-wing tailback in college, as a pro he became  the first great T-formation (under center) quarterback in NFL history.  He led his team to the most one-sided win in NFL history - in a championship game, yet.  He's shown in the photo at left as a college player, and in the right photo, as a pro, he's the one in the middle, with his backups on either side.

american flag TUESDAY,  MARCH 28,  2017  "A man always has two reasons for what he does - a good one, and the real one."
John Pierpont (J.P.) Morgan

*********** Sure am glad I asked the question - what is the only member of a power 5 conference that has never played in a major bowl game or made it to the Elite Eight in basketball?  - before the answer (South Carolina) not only crashed the Elite Eight but made it to the Final Four.

*********** After their shameful creation of stupefyingly easy majors, and then recruiting players so lazy and indifferent to education that they wouldn’t even attend the classes - much less do the “work” - it’s wonderful to learn that North Carolina’s Luke Maye, whose last-split-second shot beat Kentucky Sunday night, is serious enough about his studies - and the reputation of his basketball team - that he was right on time for Monday morning’s 8 AM class (Business 101).

HIs classmates gave him a standing ovation.

Maye is a Carolina kid.  His dad, Mark, played QB for the Tarheels in the early 80s.  In high school in Greensboro, Mark Maye was all-state in football, basketball and baseball.  At UNC, an injured shoulder limited his career, but after graduation he returned to NC as a graduate assistant - where he met his future wife, a UNC basketball player.  Good choice.  She is 5-11.   Their son, Luke, grew to be 6-8.

*********** Would love to see UCLA in those uniforms again.  Of course I don't think Nike would get it right anyway.  

When I played high school ball back in the late 60's our school colors were blue and gold and we proudly wore the UCLA insert on our jerseys.

Here's a question...did the USC insert show up at the same time the UCLA insert did?  Or did the Trojans come up with their own version of the "insert" after UCLA did just to aggravate their crosstown rival?

Joe Gutilla
Austin, Texas

I used to love those uniforms. Even the numbers were different from the block style that everyone else wore.

I know that UCLA was first with the inserts.  I have photos from 1955 and 1956, when UCLA was wearing the Inserts and USC was wearing “Northwestern” stripes (one wide one between two narrow ones) on their sleeves.

By 1959, though, I have a picture of USC’s famous McKeever twins in USC uniforms with shoulder inserts.  One-color inserts.

Sanders said he added the inserts to make his players look faster.

I loved ‘em because my Colts  (Baltimore)  wore ‘em.

Now, after  it became too expensive to have those low-wage workers in third world countries sew in the inserts, apparel companies are trying to create the same effect by printing the stripes.  It ain’t the same, looks dumber than hell, but I guess it fools the millenials.

*********** My son, Ed, came across this hour-long ESPN feature on the WFL, where I spent two years of my life - and got 20 years of football experience… 

The best part of it to me is that it devotes quite a bit of time to Vince Papale, on whose “true story” the movie “Invincible” was (loosely) based.  Just in case anyone might have thought I was a crackpot, claiming that there was no truth to the story that Papale was just a bartender whose only football experience consisted of Sunday morning games of rough touch, before the Iggles games,  the ESPN show provides conclusive video evidence that Papale had two seasons of professional football experience when the Iggles signed him.  Nice story, but the guy had considerably athletic ability and tremendous drive and he was not unknown.

*********** Coach,

Red Sanders?  UCLA

Good Q and A regarding the open wing and double wing. Any run oriented coach now faces this dilemma. We all want the ability to run for 300 yards and control the ball for 30 minutes. But we also need to move the ball against a superior defense at times.  Run dominated coaches receive more criticism and hiring predjudice than ever before.

One thing I think that helps is working in the summer on your pass routes with the QB and ends first before camp starts. Installing them, maybe some 7 on 7. Kids are willing to work on that.

Then during camp getting to your base offense and run game. If they have been in your system for a while they will pick that up quick. I do believe you still start the OL with run blocking first and foremost though. They can pick up pass pro later.

Also I feel you need to be realistic enough to realize that some teams are better than you. You  can have as many "packages" as you want and you will still not beat them. 50% of all teams lose on Friday night.

The key is trying to determine what is missing from your base attack that might help you win a game without working on so much stuff that you weaken your base.

Sorry for the ramble.

John Bothe
Oregon, Illinois


First of all, you’re right on Red Sanders.

And secondly, you’re right on the mark with what I’ve been thinking.

We do not teach pass blocking per se, and when we do, it’s fairly aggressive, at least on the  playside.

We’re not into blitz pickup and that sort of business.

We still throw a lot of play action, but even when we do that, we usually hinge back on the defense.

Being stubborn, and being creatures of the football culture, we supposed to believe that we can beat anybody, but the longer I’m in it the more I’ve come to terms with the truth of your statement:  50% of all teams lose on Friday night.

Please “ramble" any time it means sharing your wisdom.  There are a lot of guys out there who would love to know what you know but are afraid to ask because they might look stupid.

*********** INTERNET WISDOM—
Ted Nugent, the Michigan Mad Man, is one of the  few conservatives in the entertainment business, but he easily offsets a couple of hundred of the liberal lemmings who would follow Hillary off a cliff.  He was, the story goes, being interviewed by a liberal journalist who also happens to be an animal rights activist, and the subject of deer hunting - Nugent is an avid bow hunter  came up.

"What do you think is the last thought in the head of a deer before you shoot him?,” The journalist asked.  “Is it, 'Are you my friend?' or is it 'Are you the one who killed my brother?'"

Nugent replied, "Deer aren't capable of that kind of thinking. All they care about is “what am I going to eat next”, “who am I going to screw next”, and “can I run fast enough to get away”.  They are very much like the Democrats in Congress."


Josh Montgomery - Berwick, Louisiana
Charlie Wilson - Crystal River, Florida
Don Gordon - Greenfield, Massachusetts
KC Smith - Walpole, Massachusetts
John Grimsley - Jefferson, Georgia
Adam Wesoloski - Pulaski, Wisconsin (Who kindly included a few play diagrams of Red Sanders’ balanced-line single wing)
Joe Gutilla - Austin, Texas (“When I played high school ball back in the late 60's our school colors were blue and gold and we proudly wore the UCLA insert on our jerseys.”)
Ken Hampton - Raleigh, North Carolina (I love this quote from Coach Sanders about UCLA vs. USC rivalry:  "Beating 'SC is not a matter of life or death, it's more important than that.”)
Mark Kaczmarek - Davenport, Iowa (on UCLA’s importance of beating SC, "it's not a matter of life or death, it's more important than that!”)
Tim Brown - Athens, Alabama
John Bothe - Oregon, Illinois
Jerry Lovell - Bellevue, Nebraska
Tom Davis - San Marcos, California
Dave Potter - Cary, North Carolina
John Vermillion - St. Petersburg, Florida

Wrote Charles Chiccoa in Bruin Report Online

He loved good music and good whisky. The music was Dixieland, the whisky Jack Daniel's.

(he) was a Southerner by birth and predilection. He had some of the prejudices of the South when he first arrived in southern California because he didn't realize they were prejudices. They were, if such a thing is possible, innocently acquired. The crime, if any, was heredity. But (he) used the epithet for Negroes, for instance, so innocently in his early career that he once used it addressing a mixed audience. It had never occurred to him it would be offensive because he had not intended it as such. As it turned out, it was the white persons in the audience who raised a public protest. The Negroes accepted it in the spirit in which it had been used—as part of a joke.  Sanders, in short, treated Negroes as friends, not as special citizens before whom it was necessary to put on a special set of manners.

With a largely southern coaching staff brought with him from (the South), Sanders played more Negroes than almost any university in the entire country, certainly more than his principal coast rivals. It has been claimed that this was because (the school) enrolled more, but this argument is invalid. Football players are not selected from the student body a tlarge in this day and age of big-time college football. They are selected as carefully as members of the Union League Club, and it is perfectly possible to find a topnotch football squad of one or many colors and one or many creeds.  (He) saw only football players, not minorities.

As for those powder-blue UCLA jerseys…

In the black and white world of the fifties, Sanders brand new powder-blue jerseys, tan pants and gold helmets made the Bruins appear entirely gray on TV and in the newspapers, a very cool monochrome. It was believed he changed from UCLA's traditional royal blue to this curious pale blue in order to make it harder for opponents to read the fat little white numbers on the distant, wide angle shots of scouting film

*********** Wrote the LA Times’ Keith Thursby, in 2008, the 50th anniversary of Red Sanders'  death…

“Red Sanders was the first Wizard of Westwood.”

Sports Illustrated did a feature on him

His story in three parts…




*********** Red Sanders gave us football coaches two witty quotes that have earned the ultimate tribute: they have become cliches, worn bare by coaches, fans, sports writers and sports talk guys.

His first claim to immortality described  the UCLA-USC rivalry:  "it's not a matter of life or death, it's more important than that!”

HIs second has been attributed to numerous others, but research shows clearly that Red Sanders - not Vince Lombardi, not Joe Kuharich, not Murray Warmath - was the first to say

  “Winning Isn’t Everything; It’s the Only Thing?”

Quote Investigator: The earliest strong match located by QI appeared in the “Tallahassee Democrat” of Tallahassee, Florida on February 7, 1950. The saying emerged from a dialog recounted by the columnist Fred Pettijohn. The name “Frnka” looks odd but is correct. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI:

Tulane football Coach Henry Frnka recently asked UCLA mentor Red Sanders. “Winning isn’t everything, is it, Red?” To which Sanders replied. “No, it isn’t everything; it’s just the ONLY thing.”

There is evidence that Vince Lombardi and other coaches employed this saying in subsequent years, but based on current knowledge Sanders achieved victory; he won the motto creation competition.

*********** The saddest quote ever attributed to Red Sanders was probably the last thing he ever said.

His female companion in the hotel room where he died said his last words (to her )were, "Football is a great game. You should come out this fall and see a few games."

VANDERBILT 1948 STAFF*********** This is the Vanderbilt staff in 1948, just prior to their leaving, en masse, for UCLA.

Red Sanders, of course, is seated at his desk.

Seated on his left is Tommy Prothro.  Prothro, a Memphis native, played at Duke, where he was a blocking back (single wing quarterback) for the great Wallace Wade.  At Duke, he played baseball (his father was a former major league baseball player and manager) and lacrosse. After graduation, he spent a year as an assistant at Western Kentucky, then entered the Navy and after the War, he was hired in 1946 by Sanders to be his freshman coach at Vanderbilt. He was promoted to the varsity after one year, and  went along when Sanders was hired by UCLA in 1949 (he brought his entire staff of four assistants with him).

At UCLA, Prothro was Sanders’ backfield coach.  Following the 1954 season, he was hired as head coach by Oregon State, and in 1957, running the single wing that he knew best, he took the Beavers to the Rose Bowl.  Eight years later, he had the Beavers in the Rose Bowl again.  They haven’t been back since.

Prothro left Oregon State for UCLA in 1965, and coached the Bruins for six seasons.  In 1961 he moved to the NFL where he coached the Los Angeles Rams for two seasons and the San Diego Chargers for four years.

He was considered a brilliant tactician, and was well known as an expert bridge player.

He coached two Heisman Trophy winners - Terry Baker at Oregon State and Gary Beban at UCLA.

You talk about irony: Oregon State has played in just three Rose Bowl games.  Prothro was their coach in two of them.  But in the third, the famous 1942 Rose Bowl that was moved to Durham, North Carolina because (less than a month after Pearl Harbor) of wartime restrictions on large crowds on the West Coast, he started against the Beavers as Duke’s quarterback.

Standing at left is Jack Myers, who went on to quite a career himself.  He was Sanders’ line coach (in those days of two-way football, that meant coaching both offensive and defensive lines) at Vanderbilt and UCLA.

A West Virginia native, Myers played college football at Tennessee, where he learned his (balanced-line) single wing play under the great General Robert Neyland.

In 1957 he left UCLA to become head coach at Iowa State, but left after one year to become head man at Texas A & M. In 1962 he joined Tom Landry’s staff with the Dallas Cowboys, first as offensive line coach and then as offensive coordinator, and served through the 1986 season.

Red Sanders and Ronnie Knox*********** In the photo at left, Red Sanders is shown with Ronnie Knox.  To put it in a way you younger guys might better relate to,  Ronnie Knox was Lonzo Ball in a football uniform.  He was supremely gifted.   And his father, Harvey Knox, was the 1950s edition of Lavar Ball.  Harvey Knox was actually worse, because he was pretty much the first of his kind, and he did his act on a national stage.   Since him, we’ve had many years to grow accustomed to meddling, intrusive parents.  And of course nowadays we have agents, the real kind and the street kind.

To much fanfare, Ronnie chose to go to Cal - which was then the great power of the West - but then, after some conflict between Harvey and Bear’s coach Pappy Waldorf, he  transferred to UCLA.    A side effect of the Harvey and Ronnie Knox saga was the exposing a pay-for-play scandal at major West Coast schools that led to the breakup of the old Pacific Coast Conference.

Ironically, although Ronnie Knox was a very good passer, he wasn’t that great in the UCLA system because he wasn’t the kind of runner that the single-wing requires in a tailback.

Read more on Ronnie Knox and you'll find out that when Ronnie wound up with the Chicago Bears, Harvey bumped heads with George Halas.  Big mistake, Dad. Wrong guy.
* Why Ronnie Knox Quit California

* The Sordid Tale of Ronnie Knox and the Dissolution of the PCC

***********  The 1954 Rose Bowl is a feast for Old School Football nuts.  It featured Michigan State’s “Multiple Offense” (an unbalanced full-house T from which the Spartans would occasionally shift and, in their early days, would snap the ball through the QB’s legs directly to the fullback, the  first step in  spinner series, against the UCLA balanced line single wing - both right and left formations - and, according to the announcer, former Michigan State coach Biggie Munn, a Bowl game surprise - a short punt formation.  At about the 13 minute mark they run a pretty nice screen from it.

*********** This year’s Coach Wyatt Kansas City Clinic will be Saturday, April 29 at the same place as last year, the Quality Inn and Suites, 1201 Branch St.,  Platte City, Missouri. 

The major emphasis will be on (1) new ideas in the Open Wing, including a sharing of experiences by coaches in attendance, and (2)   a slimmed-down Open Wing package that won’t take away emphasis from your base Double Wing offense.

In other words, you do not have to remove your Double Wing tattoo.  But you might want something useful and productive to do with your kids during the summer. 

And in addition, there’s that old football adage that when you’re down by as many touchdowns as there are possessions remaining, it’s probably time to go to Plan B.

Although there are other hotels in the area, I recommend the Quality Inn.  It’s quite nice, and they’ve set aside a limited number of rooms at a special rate of $79.99 (same as last year).  They expect a busy weekend, so to make sure you get a room - and the rate - call soon (816-858-5430) and be sure to mention Coach Wyatt Clinics. 

If you’re flying in, there’s no need to rent a car - the Quality Inn runs a shuttle to and from the airport.

*********** For the first time in two years, there will be a Coach Wyatt Clinic on the East Coast - Saturday, May 13 in the Raleigh-Durham, NC area, at East Wake High School, in Wendell, North Carolina (just east of Raleigh).  More Details on Friday.

Quiz subject carrying the ball

*********** QUIZ: One of the best players ever to come out of San Diego, in 1956  he became  the first black player to play college football against white players in the state of Texas, and in that game he ran for 251 yards - a school record that held up for 23 years.  In the pros, he played in a backfield consisting of four guys whose “names” were C.R., J.D., R.C., and Y.A.

american flag FRIDAY,  MARCH 24,  2017  “Our Constitution  was made only for a moral and religious people.  It is wholly inadequate for the government of any other.”  John Adams

***********  Coach,

I need a little advice, and your experience is gold when it comes to this.

The coach I listened to at that clinic that had gone open wing from traditional Wing-T said that if they could do it all over again they would jump in with both feet that first year.  They didn't, running a mix of both traditional and gun.  He felt that some of the mesh points, QB (and RB) footwork, etc., were affected because they are different depending.  

My initial feeling was, "yes, that sounds reasonable."  But now I find myself thinking that my guy, the coach that I know myself to be, wants to be able to line up in double wing and slam the ball down some guy's throat.  Not that I can't change, but I'm not sure if I don't want to always have that in my hip pocket.

I remember you saying that you went open wing for a full season. And then one season you brought double wing out part way through and just destroyed teams (who had seen you on film all year in open wing).  Sounds like now you do a bit of both.

Jump all in?  Be able to do both?  Pare down the double wing stuff if I think we will be in open the majority of the time but still have a 'package' so that when the time comes (like Coach Koenig says) we can DO WHAT WE DO?


In looking back, I think it’s been important to me never to get far from the Double Wing.  

I’ve come to think of it as “majoring" in Open Wing and “minoring” in Double Wing.  It could just as easily be the other way.

They may seem like two vastly different offenses, but they’re not, really.  The main reason why we can run both and still think among the same lines is that I believe I’ve been able to do so without taking the toughness out of our linemen.  There is very little difference for them.

Open Wing has been our major mainly because that’s what I've spent the summers teaching my QB’s and receivers to do.  I've found it a lot easier to go from the Open Wing to the Double Wing because if you start out running the Double Wing and want to “open it up” you’re just not going to have enough time during in-season practices to introduce the Open Wing passing game and the QB reads and - this is very important - the wide receivers’ blocking.  That’s what the off-season (in our state, that means the summer) is for.

Interestingly, just from the kids’  comments and reactions, it seemed that when we started out running Open Wing and the Double Wing was our change-up package (our minor), they really seemed excited about getting into it and they seemed to like it more than they did back when it was the only thing we ran.

I kept the Double Wing package very simple.  At first, it was simply Super Power Right, Super Power Left, and Wedge.  We often ran it right from the line, simply calling out “RICKY,”  “LUCY,” and “WILLIE.”  (Very high-tech.)

As we expanded, we added Super Criss-Cross both ways, and a simple pass both ways.

And because I had two very good wingbacks, we got a lot out of running that package from Tight Stack.  The important that there is that there was absolutely nothing additional for the linemen to learn.

By keeping it VERY simple, it didn’t take up as much practice time as I’d thought it would.  Part of that is owing to the fact that we can rep a lot of plays in our team period because we always go no-huddle in practice, and because I’ve done it enough that I know what to look for.  I imagine that that applies to you, too.

I must confess that except in obvious situations - needing long yardage, needing to score quickly, needing to hold onto the ball, needing to power it - I still haven’t determined a right time or reason to go from one to the other.  My tendency (the Double Winger in me)  is to stick with what’s working.  And in my case, I found that when we were pounding people with the simple Double Wing package, the Double Winger in me stayed with it, and left that beautiful Open Wing on the table.

I’d say that it’s important, whichever you consider to be your “major,” to make sure that you give your “minor” some work every game. You never know when it’ll come in handy.

If you’re an exclusively Double Wing team, I guarantee you that there will come a time when you’ll wish you could open it up, or when you’ll lose a good player or two because they (or their dads) don’t like your offense, or when people will get on your ass for running “that damned Pop Warner offense.”  (Or pass you up for a job because of it.)

And if you’re a total spread team, you’re crazy if you don’t ever wish that you could play power football in certain situations. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to drive it in from the five - or take five minutes off the clock?   If you’re at a small school, you may only be running from spread because that once-in-a-career quarterback came along.  What are you going to do when he graduates? (Or when he goes down?)

I look at running both packages as being better prepared for the hand you’re dealt. You never know when that minor will save your bacon.
When they’re interviewing you for that great coaching job and and they ask if you’ve ever taught health, it’s always helpful to be able to say that you had a minor in health.  And if you get the job, you’ll wind up teaching health and you’ll be glad you knew what to do.

Long-winded answer.  Great question.

*********** Not so long ago, I mentioned the Wing-T Bible, “Scoring Power with the Winged T Offense,” by Forest Evashevski and Dave Nelson, published in 1957 after Evashevski’s Iowa team introduced the explosiveness of the offense to a nation TB audience in the 1957 Rose Bowl.

I thought you might enjoy reading some of Coach Nelson’s introduction  (he’s the inventor of the offense, now known as the “Delaware Wing T”, and he’s the guy who actually wrote the book).

The authors had the good fortune to learn their football from one of the greatest teachers the game has ever known,  H. O.  Fritz Crisler. Having played for Mr. Crisler, it gave us the opportunity to have a direct line to the teachings of Amos Alonzo Stagg, the grand old man of football who was Crisler's coach. The soundness of the teaching we received from our coach is demonstrated by the fact that many of the principles taught us in 1940 are the basis for the attack that won in the Rose Bowl in 1957. The debt to Coach Crisler is not only for the technical knowledge of the game he passed on, but the skill of organization, the art of coaching psychology and the concept that the game of football is the greatest experience possible for a young man.

Many people have contributed to the development of the winged T offense, both directly and indirectly. Members of the University of Michigan coaching staff from 1939 to 1948 contributed a basic foundation for the system. The staff at the University of Iowa, Elliott, Flora, Piro, Kodros, Burns, and Hilgenberg, made the success of the 1956 team possible; and the coaching staffs from 1950 to 1956 at the universities of Maine and Delaware laid the foundation for the offense. Harold Westerman, head coach at the University of Maine, and Milo (Mike) Lude, present line coach at the University of Delaware, were two of the people who helped originate the system in 1950.    Since 1952, Irvin Wisniewski and Harold Raymond have made contributions which have helped develop the offense to its present status.  Tad Weiman, athletic director at Maine, was a great help in the development of a football philosophy because of his reservoir of knowledge concerning the game in all its aspects.

Since 1950 the coaching staffs have had to solve many problems in order to keep the offense productive. As we moved from year-to-year, we discovered many mistakes we had made and in most cases our opponents discovered them before we did.We know there will be many more problems that will need solving and that there is no such thing as a perfect offense. When the problems become too great and we are not able to remedy our ailments, we will then reach a decision to operate offensively with some other system. However, we are well aware that this is a total offense and that there is the possibility that any phase of it can be defenses convincingly. We know this to be true as the offense has been defensed in one or more phases. Despite the defensing of one phase or another, we do not lose confidence in the offense because we rely on the multiplicity of it to carry us through.

At this stage we would like to state that we are not salesmen attempting to sell an offense and our only objective is an explanation of what we have been doing offensively.

Most all parts of this offense have been borrowed over the last ten years but the basis for the majority of the principles is the offensive system developed and taught by the football staff at the University of Michigan ten years ago. Consequently, this offense represents 80 per cent single wing and 20 per cent T-formation.

A fair question to be answered at this time is why do we prefer this offense over others in use today? The six reasons we give are not restricted to our system. Most everyone has the same opinion of their mode of attack or they would not be using it.

Number one and most important, we feel that we get maximum utilization of the talent available. Second, the offense gives us an adequate method of ball control. Third, the offense has an ability to score as evidenced by the fact that Delaware has scored in the last 57 games and only twice since 1951 has scored only one touchdown. Iowa scored in every game in the 1956 season while winning the championship. Fourth, we feel we have adequate balance between passing and rushing with the passing game camouflaged by the run because the basic internal rushing game with lead post and trap blocking aids protection. During the fall of 1956, Delaware ate one pass of 125 thrown.  Of course there were ten interceptions and we wish the ball had been eaten on those occasions. Fifth,  it is our belief that it is possible to have a flexible attack that is able to adjust to a multiplicity of defense. Last, it is been our experience that the system is simple to teach and more important, easy for the squad to learn.

There have been many discussions about the advantages and disadvantages of one offense versus another in regard to inclement weather. We have no arguments to substantiate the belief that has become fairly common that this offense because of a combined single wing and T philosophy has an advantage in weather that limits offensive  play. However, during the last five years, seven games have been played in heavy rains or snow and all seven resulted in victories.  At least three of these contests should be classified as major upsets. A minimum of fumbles, because the ball is exchanged a fair distance from the line of scrimmage,  coupled with power blocking could be the reason for these results. Added to this is the continually growing myth among our personnel that bad weather is to their advantage.

*********** God, I hope this is all made up…

A high school football coach in Spokane is in some deep sh—.

Let’s see…  he’s been accused of exposing himself; of defaming a high school girl; of - at the least - being unaware of a form of hazing that sure sounds like sexual assault.

Remember, at this point, these are all charges.  Nothing more.  I don’t know the guy, but I coached against him a long time ago, but not long after that he moved to the other end of the state, and he’s had some success there.  He won the state title in 2010.

What brought this to a head was an incident that occurred at a “leadership camp” he held for some 45 kids last summer.  (I'm wondering if I'd ever have  45 kids on a team worth taking to a "leadership camp,"  but that’s neither here nor there.)  There, one of the kids reported, the coach, while standing at the grill cooking hotdogs, put his joint in a hot dog bun and made some comment about the size of the wiener. 

The school handled the discipline internally and he was allowed to coach this past season.  (They went 5-5, for what that’s worth.)

But then, following the season - perhaps because some people thought that the punishment was insufficient - there came new accusations.

In one case, he was heard to refer to a female student, who evidently preferred the company of the school’s hockey players,   as a “puck slut.”  (The school doesn’t have a hockey team, but as is the custom in Junior A hockey, many of the Spokane Chiefs hockey team are out-of-towners who live with local families and attend local high schools.)

And then it surfaced that it has been the custom among team members to “celebrate” a player’s birthday by - there’s no way I can delicately describe such a disgusting act - penetrating him with their fingers.  Yes, “penetration,” if you doubt that this is sexual assault.  They call this gruesome practice “juicing,” and although the coach denied any awareness of the existence of the practice on his team, he was, to my surprise, familiar with the term and used it in his denial.

On a side note, I do find it interesting that these ostensibly virile young men would gang up on a (same-sex) teammate and engage in  a creepy homoerotic act eerily resembling prison rape. 

I hope that this is not true.

If true, this is some sick sh— and - like it or not - it gives all football coaches a bad name.

He has denied everything except the statement about the girl, which he claims was taken out of context.

According to materials obtained by the Spokane Spokesman-Review, he has said,  “I do a lot for this school. It is going to be difficult to replace me at this time.”

Mais non, mon ami.  I find French (“Of course not, my friend”)  appropriate because not so long ago on these very pages I quoted Charles deGaulle: ’The graveyards are full of indispensible men.”

*********** After watching the interrogation of Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch, I've found the alternative to waterboarding:

Strap bad guys in a chair and force them listen to questioning by Patrick Leahy and Al Franken.

I would confess to dozens of crimes I never committed.

***********  When you hear a name like George Hunter III,  you think of a kid playing soccer for an elite New England prep school.

Instead, he’s a Florida high school junior whose reckless disregard for the law is likely to cost him an opportunity most high school football players would die for.

An outstanding defensive back, he’d already been offered by Maryland, Virginia and Florida Atlantic when he was charged last Friday with possession of marijuana with intent to sell.  Well, yeah, I guess he was going to try to sell it  - he had 590 grams of the sh--. 
(20 grams is all it takes to be charged with possession with intent to sell)  If he was planning on smoking all that by himself, evern with a little help from his homies,  he’d have been too busy smoking to play football.

And this wasn’t a one-time “mistake,” as a defender would otherwise try to frame it.

Only a month ago, he was arrested trying to sell stolen phones.  Big mistake. The prospective customer  was an undercover police officer.

In a better world, he’d have been serving a bit of time in Juvy for that first offense, but instead, he was on some sort of probation, one of the terms of which was that he attend school every day.   Why do I think that teachers at the school were not pleased with the court for that part of the sentence?

Meantime, the kid may have a “III” after his name, but I have a hard time believing that there’s a father in his house.

*********** I no sooner say that what ails way too many boys nowadays is a lack of fathers in the homes, than a story comes along to make me want to take it all back.

You get a new kid on your team.  He's good.  He could help you win a state title.  But it's that damn pet of his:  it's a king cobra that he insists on keeping in his locker -  and he’s not very careful about locking it.

Okay, just joking.  Purely hypothetical.

But here’s a case almost as bad. Heard of Lonzo Ball?  How about brothers LiAngelo and LaMelo?   Pretty good basketball players.

Meet Dad Lavar Ball (if you haven’t already).  LeBron James has, and it didn’t go well.

***********  Man, if I had $3 million to throw away, here’s where I’d throw it.

And from the sound of the narrator, I bet he’d throw in a case of Coors Banquet Beer.

***********  Correctly Identifying JACKIE JENSEN -

TWO-SPORT STARK.C. Smith - Walpole, Massachusetts

Tim Brown - Athens, Alabama

Mark Kaczmarek - Davenport, Iowa - My remembrance is hazy, but my Dad either played with or against him when he was on a team that won their (Navy) fleet football championship…since they won, I’m guessing with!

Adam Wesoloski - Pulaski, Wisconson

Ken Hampton - Raleigh, North Carolina

Joe Gutilla - Austin, Texas

Kevin McCullough - Lakeville, Indiana

Tracy Jackson - Dallas, Oregon


In a time when Americans read magazines,  the Saturday Evening Post was one of the biggest, and many of its covers were done by legendary illustrator Norman Rockwell. This was sent in by KC Smith and Mark Kaczmarek.  As the green rookie up from the sticks stands in the Bosox locker room, veteran Jackie Jensen stops tying his shoes and looks up at him.

Jackie Jensen is the only athlete to play in an East-West game (selection to which was once a great honor), a Rose Bowl, a World Series and a baseball All-Star Game.

He was married to an Olympic diver.

He died of a heart attack at a very young age. At the time, he was coaching at a prep school in Virginia.

Mystery coach and QB*********** QUIZ:  A native Tennesseean, he played quarterback for his hometown college, and went on to coach there before and after World War II.

From there, he moved west, taking his balanced-line single wing with him.  He took his new school to two Rose Bowls and its only national title.   HIs overall record there was 66-19-1 (.773) and he was 6-3 against the cross-town rival.

The jersey color that he introduced (to make it harder, in a time of black and white film,  for opponents to see the player numbers) has become a school trademark, and the distinctive shoulder stripes that he added became known by the school’s name.

One August, just before the start of fall practice, he died of a heart attack in a hotel room.  It’s hard to get to the truth after all these years, but it’s football lore that he died in the company of a “woman of ill repute.”

(On hearing this, my wife said, “I’d kill you.”)

In those days, such news was kept suppressed.  Nowadays, it would have dominated the media - mainstream and social - for days.

It was a terribly sad and sordid end to the life of a man who was greatly admired in his adopted town and remains the best coach the school has ever had.  

american flag TUESDAY,  MARCH 21,  2017  "Four brave men who do not know each other will not dare to attack a lion.  Four less brave, but knowing each other well, sure of their reliability and consequently of mutual aid, will attack resolutely." Ardant du Picq, 19th Century French Colonel


*********** The slick marketing guys who run more and more college athletic departments insist on telling us how important “branding” is.

Uh, I spent a little time in advertising and marketing, and although that was a few years ago, certain principles of marketing haven’t changed and never will.

One of them is that if you want the public to buy your product, packaging matters.   Does it ever.  It’s how your brand stands out - how it’s recognized.  There are dozens of well-known products that you’d identify by their packages alone, even if they left off the name. 

I can’t imagine a successful consumer products company  playing hide-and-go-seek with their customers by changing packaging once a week, yet that's what today's colleges insist on doing.

I'm talking about “alternate uniforms.”

Colleges have already sold you the tickets, and there’s only so much you’re going to spend on their high-priced food and drink.  So what’s left?  Sell you the packaging.  The uniform.  The colleges and their apparel suppliers are so into all those Saturday afternoon disguises that it’s obviously a major goal of the athletic department to sell you the uniform.   “Welcome to Fightin’ Warthogs football and Military Appreciation Day! And how about those camo jerseys that your ‘Hogs are wearing?  You can get one for yourself!  And what a great gift!  Go to and get the same authentic camouflage jersey that your Warthogs are wearing today!”

Alternate uniforms lead, inevitably, to alternate colors.  Bet you never knew that black was one of your school colors. Or gray. (How many times has your beloved team run out onto the field in all-gray?)  And quick: name Oregon’s colors.  All of them.

Alternate nicknames?  “Indians,” “Red Men” and (gasp!) “Redskins” are out.   Geez - how many different mutations of Hawks or Wolves can they keep coming up with in the never-ending search for new, more politically-acceptable nicknames?

Alternate fight songs?  More Washington fans know “Tequila”  (the song, I think) than “Bow Down to Washington.”  Stanford  dumped its distinctive fight song, which had served well for decades, in favor of the immortal “All Right Now.”  Iowa and Wyoming fans get fired up when their bands play “In Heaven There is No Beer.”

Alternate school names?  Money helps.  Thanks to a rich guy (try to guess his name), Glassboro State is now Rowan.  Western Maryland is McDaniel.  If you've got the money, you can probably get Yale to listen to you.

But there’s a far more common reason why dozens of schools have changed their name: check out how many small state colleges  have excised the word  “State” from their name.  ("State" evidently recalls their earlier days as state teachers’ colleges.)  And, of course, “university” is a must - an essential show of status.  Colleges that may not even be known outside their own county,  colleges no bigger than your high school, now insist on having “University” at the end of their name. 

And what’s with all the branch campuses, anyhow?  How did we wind up with Texas Austin?  North Carolina Chapel Hill?  Nebraska Lincoln? 

Don’t even get me started on “Army West Point.”

***********  You can’t make this up…

It probably never occurred to girls who decided to “identify” as boys that that didn’t mean an escape from what, in gentler times, girls used to refer to as their “visitor,” or “the curse.”

Their period, guys.  We’re talking menstruating.  Something that’s perfectly normal for biological women.

This does present some challenges for “transgender females,” (and the people who associate with them), so just to let  impressionable school children know that it’s perfectly normal for boys and men to menstruate,  along comes a character called “Toni the Tampon,” (Toni with an “i”).

No jokes, please, about your next Hallowe'en's costume.

*********** Hello Coach, I am really enjoying your coaching material.  There is no doubt I will do a better job coaching the wing this year.  I was looking at some of your other videos and I know I would like to get your Safer and Surer tackling video, and unless the camp video your sent me is similar, I think I would benefit from the practice with/out pads video also...... 

I do have a couple question from the videos.   1) The Beloit camp video shows them pitching in G-reach, while your videos show your handing off in rocket.  Have you changed or is this a Beloit preference? Handing off seems safer but the pitch looks like it gets you to the outside faster.  2) Also, In the Beloit video the quarterback starts motion by moving his foot instead of the ready cadence, and it appears they typically go on Go.  I liked the looks of that and wondered if there is a disadvantage to going that route. 


Good observations.  The Safer and Surer Tackling video and the Practice Without Pads are not duplicative.

There are lots of ways of running a sweep and in fact Beloit is back to handing off (although it’s not Rocket motion - which goes in front of the QB - but “Rip” motion)

For quite some time, I - and the Beloit coach, Greg Koenig - have determined that starting motion with the foot and snapping on “GO” eliminates a lot of teaching time and a lot of potential errors.  I don’t believe that we’ve had a false start in five years.

*********** Good morning, Coach!

Trust you and Mrs. Wyatt are doing well. All good here with the family...both Caleb and Jacob recently ended their first seasons coaching High School basketball. Caleb at Kuna High in Idaho (Girls basketball assistant) and Jacob at Orting High (Boys Frosh Coach). At LC, we ended up going to the tournament and placing 4th. Only loss over there was to Kings by 3 - thought we had them!

Anyway, I read you News from Tuesday and enjoyed your thought about Coach Rueck of OSU. When I was officiating college basketball, I worked a LOT of his George Fox games - including a number of D-III playoff games. But I will never forget the first game I ever worked was my first season of working college basketball, and so the first time I had worked one of his games. They lost to an NAIA team from (then) Western Baptist. I called a foul on one of his players with less than 20 seconds to go, and the made free throws ended up being the winning margin.

After the game, as I got to my car in the parking lot, I realized I had a flat tire! So I began the process of changing the tire. It was, of course, pouring down rain. A few minutes into the job, I hear a voice ask me "Hey, you need a hand with that?" I looked up, and it was Coach Rueck! He stood there in the pouring rain and helped me change my tire, and when we were done he shook my hand and said "I hated that call you made, but it was the right one. Nice job tonight."

I have nothing but respect for that man.
DJ Millay
Vancouver, Washington

Wow - that’s a lot like a TV commercial I’ve seen - for Toyota, I think.

***********  Good morning Hugh,

Just finished reading your News this good St. Patrick's Day morning.  I wish you and Connie the very best, and will lift a shot of Jameson for the both of you!

Did I ever tell you that my wife and I spent a week in County Cork?  No blarney (actually we visited the old castle, but unfortunately my health at the time wouldn't permit me to climb the narrow winding steps to the top to kiss the stone).  I also made a short stop to the Jameson distillery (not quite sure how I got back to the hotel though...train?). wife introduced me to her counterpart over there and her husband, who was the local "football" coach!  Gaelic football.  He invited me to speak at his club on American football that evening.  So...there I was in front of about 25 guys (players and coaches) giving them an impromptu 20 minute speech on the American game, and then must have fielded about 30 minutes of questions!  Great group of guys who invited me to share a "pint" (Guinness of course) with them at their club bar.  Yes, most of the sports clubs over there have a bar on their property.  Those boys know how to do it up right!  Next day they picked me up at the hotel to take in a Gaelic football game between their club and a club from County Kerry.  Now there's a game that is testament to what hard-nosed, tough, Irish sportsmen are.  Had a great time.

Have a great day my friend!

Joe Gutilla
Austin, Texas


Great hearing from you.

Great St. Patrick’s Day story.  Sure wish I could drink the beer that I once could!

But I’ll have me a pint o' Guiness with me dinner.

Two of the most memorable games in my life were rugby matches while in college  - against the Montreal Irish club.  Once at our place, once at theirs.  They introduced me to the quaint rugby tradition of beating the snot out of each other and then drinking and singing together afterwards.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day to you.  I hope you and Bernadette are well!

*********** Greg Gutfeld said it back in October of 2015, when there were 17 candidates hoping to get the Republican nomination - “It’s like Trump’s football and all the other candidates are soccer.”

*********** Remember some time back, when ammunition was hard to get, and there were all sorts of stories about federal agencies stocking up on ammo?

A lot of people were saying at the time that it was the administration’s method of controlling guns when it couldn’t get legally:  let the deplorable have their guns - just don’t let ‘em have any ammo to shoot.

I hope that it won’t be long before our new president and his appointees  look into an astonishing fact brought out last June in the Wall Street Journal by Dr. Tom Coburn, a former Senator from Oklahoma and Adam Andrzejewski, CEO of

The number of non-Defense Department federal officers authorized to make arrests and carry firearms (200,000) now exceeds the number of US Marines (182,000).  In its escalating arms and ammo stockpiling, this federal arms race is unlike anything in history.  Over the last 20 years, the number of these federal officers with arrest-and-firearms authority has nearly tripled to over 200,000 today from 74,500 in 1996.

For example, the IRS has 2,316 special agents.  From 2005 through 2014 the IRS spent nearly $11 million on guns, ammo and “military-style equipment.”

The Department of Veteran Affairs has a force of 3,700 law-enforcement officers guarding VA medical centers.  As recently as 1995, the VA had exactly zero officers with firearms authorization.   It spent more than $8 million on guns, ammunition, body armor and - night-vision equipment(?)

The Environmental Protection Agency has spent nearly $800 million since 2005 on its “Criminal Enforcement Division.”  Think about that next time you get ready to dump grass clippings down the drain.

Here’s the best: Cal-Berkeley acquired 14 (fourteen!) 5.56 mm assault rifles, and Yale 20 of them from the Defense Department.

Can you believe it?  Arsenals like that, and they let protestors run wild!

*********** To show how far women’s basketball has come - overall - in the age of  Title IX…

Baylor beat Texas Southern, 119-30.  No matter how good you are, you can’t beat ANYBODY that bad unless they are REALLY bad. And that’s a college program, with scholarship athletes.

I wrote this over a year ago…

 Title IX has been around since 1972, but here it is, 42 years later, and when you open up your morning paper, there they are:   65-12, 56-6, 72-26.

They’re the scores of girls’ high school basketball games.

42 years!    WTF has been going on all this time?

Bobbie Kelsey, the coach of the Wisconsin women’s basketball team, had an answer for what ails her sport.

    Women’s basketball, can you hear me? Get your butt in the gym. You’ve got people throwing the ball over the basket. Nobody wants to watch that. I don’t. I enjoy watching good, solid basketball that people make their shots, whether I’m coaching against them or it’s my team doing it.

    You can’t nap your way to being a great shooter, and Facebooking it, and all these things teenagers do. You need to put the phone down, stop Face-timing, stop tweeting, and get your butt in the gym.

Got that, girls?  Get your butt in the gym.

***********  Cael Sanderson’s hiring by Penn State as its head wrestling coach may be one of the great coaching hires of all time.

In St. Louis last weekend, the Lions won individual titles at  149, 157, 165, 174 and 184 to take the NCAA championship for the sixth time in the last seven years.

Since his hiring, he missed a national title in his first year, 2010, but in his second year, 2011, the Lions won the national title - their first since 1953.

To prove they were for real, they won again in 2012, 2013, and 2014.

They missed in 2015, but they won it again in 2016 and this year.

In addition to six national titles at Penn State, Sanderson has a second-place finish to his credit while coaching at Iowa State.

Not to diminish his accomplishments in any way, but he still has a ways to go to catch the legendary Dan Gable, whose 15 titles while at Iowa may never be matched.

On the other hand, as a wrestler, his record was 159-0, with four D-I national titles, only the second person ever to accomplish that.  Gable, incredibly, was not the other one.  Gable, possibly the greatest wrestler of all time, lost the final match of his career, and with it the national championship.

*********** The body isn’t even cold yet.  Less than a week after the University of Washington fired its basketball coach, Lorenzo Romar, it went out and hired a guy who’s been an assistant coach for 22 years - 22 f—king years! - at the SAME PLACE.  He’s never been a head coach.

Oh, well - his name’s Mike Hopkins and he’s been at Syracuse, where supposedly he was Head Coach in Waiting while Jim Boeheim decides what to do.  As it now stands, Boeheim is set to retire after next season.

Check that.  Once Syracuse got the news of Hopkins’ leaving, they moved quickly to offer Boeheim a contract extension, and he accepted the offer.

My biggest concern is that there is such a huge difference between the responsibilities of a head coach and an assistant coach, and I can think of a lot of very good long-time assistants who, given their first shot at a head coach at a big-time school, didn’t hack it.

And then there’s the fact that “Cuse has had some NCAA problems over the years; but I'm sure that Hopkins, like all coaches, knew nothing  about any of it.

Oh, well.  Go Huskies.

*********** Recognizing Ben Schwarzwalder and Jim Brown

Josh Montgomery - Berwick, Louisiana
Ralph Balducci - North Portland, Oregon
Dave Potter - Durham, North Carolina
Ken Hampton - Raleigh, North Carolina
J.C. Brink - Stuart, Florida
K.C. Smith - Walpole, Massachusetts - Coach Schwartzwalder has an interesting bio...a real hero in WWII
Adam Wesoloski - Pulaski, Wisconsin
Joe Gutilla - Austin, Texas
Tracy Jackson - Dallas, Oregon
Kevin McCullough - Lakeville, Indiana - I didn’t realize coach Schwartzwalder was a war hero
John Grimsley - Jefferson, Georgia
Clay Harrold - Grinnell, Iowa
John Vermillion - St. Petersburg, Florida - (where, incidentally, Coach Schwartzwalder died)
Joe Ferris - Florence, Wisconsin
Tom Walls - Winnipeg, Manitoba
Todd Hollis - Elmwood, Illinois

(By the way, I have no idea what happened to the "wing-T" in the photo. As some of you noticed, there is a wing missing.)

Ben Schwartzwalder

Most people know - or know of - the great Jim Brown. What most people know about his coach, Floyd "Ben" Schwartzwalder, comes from the movie, "Elmira Express," in which the screen writers enhanced the story of a talented young black player named Ernie Davis by throwing in a touch of racism, provided, conveniently, by Syracuse's crusty old coach, Ben Schwartzwalder. Judge him, if you must, but judge him by the standards of his time - and don't forget that among the football schools of the East, Syracuse was a pioneer in playing black players. Bernie Custis, who died recently, played two years for Coach Schwartzwalder (1949-1950).  Custis is considered to be the first black pro QB of the modern era (although he had to go to Canada - Hamilton - to make it happen).

Floyd "Ben" Schwartzwalder was a native of Point Pleasant, West Virginia who graduated from Huntington High in 1929 and went on to play for the West Virginia University Mountaineers under the legendary Greasy Neale as a 152-pound center. After graduation, he spent eight years as a high school football and wrestling coach at Sistersville, Weston and Parkersburg, West Virginia, and had just finished his first year at Canton (Ohio) McKinley High, one of the most prestigious high school jobs in America, when World War II broke out. He enlisted in the Army shortly after Pearl Harbor and served in Europe as a paratrooper in the famed 82nd Airborne, jumping into combat three times, including a D-Day jump behind enemy lines. He received the Silver Star, Bronze Star and Purple Heart, and four battle stars, and rose to the rank of major.

After his discharge, he spent three years as coach at Muhlenberg College, in Allentown, Pennsylvania where he was 25-5-0, and was hired in 1949 by Syracuse, where he remained until his retirement 25 years later. As he built his program from regional to national power, his teams reflected his personal toughness, and were famous for their bruising, hard-nosed play. He was noted for his emphasis on the ground attack (his teams outrushed the opposition over his career by more than 22,000 yards), and the great running backs it produced, several of them going on to become outstanding pros. Included in that list are Jim Brown, Larry Csonka, Jim Nance and Floyd Little. Ernie Davis, the first black player to win the Heisman Trophy, could possibly have gone on to become the best of them all, but he was diagnosed with leukemia before his rookie season, and died without ever playing a down of NFL football.   Another great Syracuse running back, John Mackey, was switched to tight end upon his arrival in the NFL, and became one of the greatest in the history of the game at that position. (Anyone who ever watched Mackey run with the ball after a pass reception can only imagine what a great pro running back he'd have made.)

Coach Schwartzwalder's 10-0 1959 team finished with a Cotton Bowl win over Texas and won the national championship. Few college teams ever manhandled opponents the way that team did: running Coach Schwartzwalder's unbalanced line wing-T to perfection, the Orange outgained opponents - get this - 4,515 yards to 962. The Syracuse line that year, nicknamed the "Sizeable Seven," featured such future professionals as Al Bemiller, John Brown, Roger Davis, Bob Yates and Maury Youmans. Coach Schwartzwalder was named National Coach of the Year, and served a term as President of the American Football Coaches Association.

When he retired, Coach Schwartzwalder had more career wins than better-known coaches such as Knute Rockne, Frank Leahy, Earl Blaik and Bud Wilkinson, and  was third among active coaches in wins - behind only Bear Bryant and Woody Hayes. He is one of very few men to have coached at the same major college for 25 years or more, and at the time of his retirement his string of 22 straight non-losing seasons was an NCAA record. It was during Coach Schwartzwalder's tenure that the number 44 became associated with great Syracuse running backs, with Jim Brown, Ernie Davis and Floyd Little all wearing the number. So much does Syracuse honor the number that it is more than mere coincidence that it is part of the university's telephone exchange - 443 - and its zip code -13244.

Coach Schwartzwalder died in 1993 in St. Petersburg, Florida and is buried in Onanadaga County Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Syracuse.

TWO-SPORT STAR*********** QUIZ - He was an All-American fullback who as a baseball player was good enough to be league MVP.

A native of Oakland, he served in the Navy after graduation, and after World War II attended a college near home.

The first time he ever touched the ball in college,  he scored a touchdown on a 56-yard punt return, and he scored on a 67-yard run in the Rose Bowl against Northwestern.

He left college after his junior year - a very rare happening at the time - to sign with Oakland of the Pacific Coast League for a $40,000.

After a season in Oakland he was sold, along with a teammate named Billy Martin, to the Yankees, who hoped that he’d be the successor in center field to Joe DiMaggio.  Instead, the job went to a kid named Mantle, and our guy was traded to Washington.  From there he was traded to Boston, where he batted cleanup after Ted Williams.

He could do it all. He had speed - in his first season in Boston he led the league in stolen bases - and he had power - in his six seasons with the Red Sox, he drove in more runs than anyone in the League, including Williams and Mantle.

And then it ended.  Suddenly.  His baseball career had begun in the days of travel by train, but as teams increasingly began to fly, he had problems with flying that, combined with other anxiety issues,  developed into a full-blown phobia, and despite his efforts to deal with it, it led to his premature retirement from the game.

american flag FRIDAY,  MARCH 17,  2017  HAPPY ST. PATRICK'S DAY - “God invented whiskey so the Irish wouldn’t rule the world”  columnist Jim Bishop, 1962, who said he often heard his late father say it

*********** After 15 years as head basketball coach at the University of Washington,
Lorenzo Romar is out.  He’s a good man by any measure, and I defy you to find anyone who will say anything bad about him;  but unfortunately, his Huskies’ failure to make the NCAA tournament for the sixth straight year doomed him.

That doesn’t mean that the soap opera that’s been going on in the background isn’t continuing.

It started last year, when he brought in a new assistant, Michael Porter.

Porter had a slim coaching resume other than a couple of years as an assistant on the Missouri women’s team, but the fact that he had two very promising prospects for sons certain enhanced his employability. (In all fairness to Romar,  there was a history between him and Porter.  The two had once played together on an Athletes in Action team, and then Romar had coached Porter on the AIA team.)

On arrival in Seattle, Porter’s older son, 6-9 Michael, Jr., almost immediately committed to Washington.  He wasn’t an unknown.  Last year he’d led his high school team in Columbia, Missouri to a state title.

At about the same time Porter, Jr.  committed, he enrolled in Seattle’s Nathan Hale High.  In a town that’s produced a lot of good basketball players, Nathan Hale had never - ever - been even a minor power.  But that all changed before this season when a new coach came on board - former NBA all-star Brandon Roy.  Himself a product of Seattle schools, Roy may not have had much of a coaching background, but he sure knew where the players were, and whaddaya know - with a slew of transfers, led by Michael Porter, Jr., Nathan Hale rolled to a state title and a national ranking no lower than Number Two, wherever you looked.  Porter, Jr. was as good as advertised, and by all accounts, when (not if) he comes out after one year of college, he will be the NBA’s number one draft choice.

Younger brother, 6-10 Jontay,  also committed to UW. He was pretty good, too.

But now that Lorenzo Romar is gone, things have got to be scary in the Porter household.  With Dad out of work, they’ve got to be worrying about their next meal, let alone how they’ll able to afford to go to college.

Heh, heh.  Almost immediately follow the news of Romar’s firing,  the younger Porters announced their decommitments and Dad, it appears, already has a job lined up.

Dad’s job prospects brightened with the news that Missouri has just hired themselves a new head coach, Cuonzo Martin, who’d been head coach at Cal.  Like you, I’m guessing that he’ll find a spot on his staff for an assistant with two 6-10 sons.

Sadly,  Romar had put together an outstanding recruiting class, ranked number two nationally by ESPN, and now they’ll scatter to the four winds.

If I lived in Missouri, I’d look forward to next basketball season. And I’d stand back and watch the struggle that’ll ensue among high school coaches in Columbia,  over who gets Jontay.  All that’s at stake is a state title, like the one Michael Jr.’s team won last year.

As for the UW and its loss of a star recruit - this past year, they had Markelle Fultz.  Hell of a player.  How good?  Could very well be the top pick in the NBA draft.  Yet despite his presence, the Huskies won only two games.  (Trivia:  If Markelle Fultz does go Number One, it will be the second year in a row that the top pick came from a team that didn’t even make it to the NCAA tournament.  So much for star power.)

*********** Read a great article about Villanova coach Jay Wright and what he learned about the importance of ATTITUDE.

************ Arizona’s state association (AIA) passed a new amendment to its bylaws lifting restrictions on what high school coaches can do in the off-season with their teams and players. Football coaches still will not be permitted to put players in pads and helmets, but they will be able to coach their own kids in 7-on-7 games.

According to most football coaches, 7-on-7 as a club sport coached by outsiders had begun to take on all the appearances of AAU basketball.

Said one AAU basketball coach, "The AIA will be shocked when top players choose AAU over high school, but it's moving that way. I have four players right now debating skipping high school season next year to train, because they feel it would better prepare them for college than the Arizona season."

This is going to put more pressure on high school coaches to go year-round, but if not them, then who?  Somebody is going to be working with those kids and exerting influence over them.

An area 7-on-7 coach boasted of the exposure he was able to give a promising quarterback at a 7-on-7 tournament in Las Vegas featuring over 300 teams. “When you've got a kid who is all-state first team and throws over 3,000 yards and missed three games, who is a phenomenal athlete, my goal is to try to help this kid get out of high school, open the door. The door was open (last) weekend."

Said a Phoenix-area high school coach, "Football is really the only major sport not dominated by clubs.  However, with the increasing prevalence of year-round 7-on-7, this could be shifting. I have college coaches telling me stories of dealing with 7-on-7 coaches when it comes to recruiting certain skilled athletes in other parts of the country, likening them to 'street agents.'

"Unfortunately, naive parents are driving this new economy of experts – trainers, recruiting services, 7-on-7 coaches. Parents are being sold that this is what they have to do to get their kids exposure. This comes at the expense of the high school coach who typically has the best interests of the student-athlete at heart. The question comes down to who is the better influence on the student-athlete? The club guy/trainer, who has a direct financial interest in that individual? Or the high school coach, who has a greater interest in development of the person?"

There’s definitely a concern that there will be pressure on kids.  Said one principal. "This may end up hurting multi-sport athletes. Unfortunately, athletes may feel they have to participate in out-of-season practices, instead of participating in another sport."

A Phoenix-area football coach agrees. “Even now,” he says, “the pressure to devote oneself to a single sport by participating in club basketball or club baseball or club softball or club volleyball or club soccer is very strong. Many great athletes are convinced by myopic coaches that their only hope for athletic scholarships in college is by entirely devoting themselves to one sport throughout these precious high school years of competition.

"If coaches are granted permission to not merely cajole their athletes to join club teams but can actually legally conduct practices all year long, then the number of premature high school specialists will surely grow, and that is bad for high school athletics and bad for high school athletes. High school coaches need a respite from the intense demands of their sport and high school athletes should get to be kids and experience the joy of competing in multiple sports."

In the main, though, another principal believes the new amendment is a good thing.

“Our student-athletes are already participating in club/AAU sports," he said "This amendment will essentially allow our coaches to work with our student-athletes and help them develop their skills during the offseason….  Ultimately, this is a good thing for the Arizona athletics as long as coaches still provide students with time away from the sport and encourage multi-sport participation, if that’s what the student-athlete chooses."

*********** Hi Coach,

I want to thank you ,again, for your work with your coaching blog.  I look forward to reading it every Tuesday and Friday.

I thought that you might enjoy this quote that I read in a magazine that is attributed to Coach Lou Holz:  

Lou Holtz (2006) once said "Coaching gives one a chance to be successful as well as significant. The difference between the two is when you die, your
success comes to an end. When you are significant, you continue to help others be successful long after you are gone.

It has been a long, snowy winter in Montana.  Spring will soon bring some   coaching clinics. At Last!!

Thank you!!

Marlowe Aldrich
Saint Francis Junior High Coach
Billings, Montana

*********** There used to be jokes about this... No more Homecoming Kings and Queens at the University of Minnesota.  Instead, they’ll be of any sex/gender and they’ll be called “Royals.

*********** A Canadian college removed the weight scale from its fitness center because - seeing your weight can be a “triggering event.”

Mirrors are next.

*********** Coach,

I headed to Quincy, IL this past weekend for the Tri-State Football Clinic.  Brad Dixon of Camp Point High School puts this clinic on and does a great job.  Well organized, efficient, and best of all, GREAT speakers.  You see, Brad is a wing-T guy, and he admits to being selfish in his desire to start a clinic.  He wanted to bring in the best guys he could find at the stuff he wants to know about.  So, this clinic is wing-t heavy, but not exclusively.  So, once again, the speakers weren't the typical "this guy won a championship this year so you should want to hear him" kind of guys. Instead, they were like-minded guys who have demonstrated their competence over the long haul.  One of the three best clinics I've ever been to.  The others were the last Tri-State Clinic I went to in 2015 and the Hugh Wyatt clinic I attended in Chicago a number of years ago.

A few thoughts from the clinic:
    1    Jeff Duke presented on his philosophy of 3D coaching.  Coaching the body, the mind, and the heart.  A speaker brought in in part by the FCA, I was challenged and inspired.  I ordered the book as soon as I walked out of the session.
    2    Lawson, MO runs the 'open wing' but with wing-t.  Head coach Todd Dunn has been at it for a long time as a wing-T guy.  158-43, 1 state championship, 2 runners-up, 1 semifinal.  It's not much of a stretch to see what your open wing is when viewing theirs.  They transitioned three years ago and are now fully open-wing.  Their offensive coordinator was nice enough to sit down with my staff for an hour and answer lots of questions.  It was nice to talk to a guy who went through the 'growing pains.'  As most decent coaches will do, he was willing to share game films and anything else.  Again, not your stuff, but they are really good so it's good to have a chance to watch it in action.
    3    Erle Bennett from Centralia, MO is one of those legend-type guys.  34 years, 200-61, 2 state championships, 1 runner-up, 1 semifinal.  Absolutely traditional wing-t guy.  Been at it so long that he mentioned conversations he used to have with Chuck Clausen about the Jet and Rocket (and wing-T).  Key takeaway:  "The 15-18 year old mind is like a water bottle.  You can only fill it up so far before it will overflow.  Don't give them more than they can handle.  And if you add something, you have to take something away."  His teams have beaten Lawson's teams the last few years, so I asked his opinion on the move to shotgun and he gave it an unqualified "go for it" with one caveat - you have to have someone who can throw the ball.  
Have a great day.

Todd Hollis
Elmwood High School
Elmwood, Illinois


I very much appreciate the kind words.

Sounds like it was a great clinic with a lot to offer the coaches.

The water bottle analogy is a great one, and one that all of us - myself included - need to remember.

*********** To think that this could all have been prevented if his father had just let him have a cheeseburger every once in a while!

*********** At one time, I was serving on a community panel, and at our first meeting, everyone had to introduce him or herself.  One guy, maybe 25 years old, said that at the present time he was working for the local cable company, but he was going to become a motivational speaker.

I thought, WTF?  Aren't you missing something? Doesn’t that come after - not before - you’ve accomplished something noteworthy?

Anyhow, as we all know if we’ve ever had to book a well-known personality to give a “motivational speech,”  there’s a lot of money in it - money that I’ve felt for the longest while was money down the gurgle.

And then, as I was rooting through a lot of old magazines, I came across an article that supported my belief.  Several years ago, former NFL great Fran Tarkenton wrote something in an issue of Management magazine that was reprinted in Scholastic Coach magazine.  That’s where I saw it.  Considering that he was taking on a sacred cow of  sports and business leadership - motivational speaking - it took a lot of guts.  It was especially gutty, considering that he’d been making a decent living as a motivational speaker.

Over the years, corporations have paid me handsomely to give motivation speeches. I am a slow learner, but eventually I do learn. After giving hundreds of talks, I realized that all I was doing was entertaining the troops.  I was making them laugh,  getting them to clap their hands and getting them to feel “motivated.”

But was I getting them to perform any differently? I don’t think so.

I don’t give motivational speeches anymore.  They don’t work in football, and they don’t work in the business setting.

If an athlete is constantly performing well, I am willing to call him well-motivated.  I don’t wonder about what’s going on inside of him.  That’s his business, not mine.  And I don’t think that pep talks or hard language can contribute anything to his motivation.

If coaches and business managers want to increase performance, they are going to have to change their own behavior, not call for the speaker with the magic potion.  There is no easy, simple solution to motivating people.  There is only your own behavior and your day-to-day interaction with your people.

Behavior management has focused on specific and measurable performance and the actions of managers that affect it. The focus is practical, not theoretical.  It can be called systematic common sense.

Lombardi was a great example to his players. He was able to break complex tasks down into simple tasks that the players could master.  He gave clear directions and he provideD a lot of feedback - some of it praise. IHIs example and his ability to teach produced high performance.

Successful executives almost always are good models.  They exemplify hard work, dedication, and the ability to learn from others, make decisions, and follow through.  By example, they teach their people how to succeed.

I am convinced that the first requirement of leadership is to exemplify desirable behavior.

In short, talk is cheap.

***********  I know those people that put up the billboards don’t even know me, but what the hell.   It’s the thought that counts.

March 20 is International Day of Happiness,” (mark it on your calendar) and to “help Americans celebrate and rekindle their inner joy,” a Vancouver, Washington based organization called The Joy Team has embarked on a national feel-good campaign called Smile Across America.  It consists of posting 56 billboards in 41 cities across the country, sharing such uplifting sentiments as:

"Think happy. Be happy." “Be you. The world needs more of your kind of awesome.”  "Something wonderful is about to happen." “You are loved. Pass it on.” "Stop. Smile. Breathe. Life is beautiful."  “Be excellent to each other.”   "You make a difference."  “You matter.”  “You make a difference. We're so glad you're here.” “You are an inspiration.” “We all belong.”

Here’s the one I liked best :  "Do more of what makes you happy."  Yeah.  Screw everybody else.  Just as long as it makes you happy.

Anyhow, this got me to thinking about starting an organization called Disaffected Association of Dads (DAD).  For a price, I'd put up billboards outside schools providing  motivational messages from overbearing parents

You’re getting the shaft
You’re not playing because the coaches don’t like you
You only skipped one practice
You know most of the plays
Four F’s are passing in my book
Your dumbass coach is the only reason why you’re not starting
With that offense you're running, people won't get to see what you can do
They should throw the ball more.  To you.
Those coaches don’t even want to hear that you were an All-Star in Pop Warner
You tried to make that tackle on that long run
The all-star team selections were rigged
The coach should be getting you college offers
If you were a pro they’d cut Brady and keep you
Everybody else in the stands agrees with me
Nick Saban called and wants to know why you’re not starting

*********** I’m not sure how much longer Gonzaga can hide behind the “Cinderella” label, because by any measure other than the conference they play in, the Zags (it’s pronounced “zag,” not “zahg”) or, more formally, the Bulldogs, are a big time basketball program.

They win, they win against big-time competition, they draw big crowds on the road and you have to know somebody to get a ticket to a Zags’ home game.   And they’ve done this, year after year, as long as I can remember.

In their hometown - Spokane, Washington - they have no competition.  Other than high school sports and minor league baseball and hockey, there’s nothing else in town.  Gonzaga is (figuratively speaking) Spokane’s pro franchise.

And if you believe an article in the Guardian, a London-based publication, the Zags are “the Central Hope for the Struggling City of Spokane.”

WTF?  “Last hope?”  “Struggling city?”  Saved by a basketball team?

Gosh, if Gonzaga doesn’t win, could Spokane become the Camden, New Jersey of the Northwest?

Here's a sample:

Last year, Spokane ranked as the 22nd most dangerous city in the United States, up from 26th the year before. Last year alone there were 10 murders, 1,100 violent crimes, and 12,000 property crimes. President Trump’s message of gloom and doom resonated acutely with Spokane and the deeply conservative US congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers has represented Spokane County since 2005. Spokane’s unemployment rate is stalled at about 7%, the highest for a medium- or large-sized city in Washington and double the rate of Seattle. Over 17% of Spokane’s population lives below the poverty line. Spokane, in short, is a town in desperate need of success, vicarious or otherwise.

Notice the shot at Spokane because its Congresswoman is “deeply conservative?”  Actually, the city itself is rather liberal, a leftist island in the middle of a very conservative area, but even so, it’s a damn nice city.

Crime? Spokane had 10 murders last year.  But these were not gang killings or murders of complete strangers.  Jut about all of them involved people who knew each other, and most of them were cases of domestic violence.

I would live in Spokane in a heartbeat.  It’s in the heart of a four-season playground.  Not many cities in the world can match it for the  natural beauty of its surroundings -  mountains, forests and lakes.   Idaho’s spectacular Lake Couer d’Alene is just 45 minutes to the east.  And low humidity, guys, which means no bugs!  It doesn’t rain nearly as much as it does in Seattle, either.  Best of all, it’s a small city that offers big-city culture and conveniences. Eastern Washington University is in suburban Cheney, just 25 minutes from downtown.  Washington State University is an hour and a half to the south.  Spokane’s got a nice airport and it’s served by real airlines, not something with “commuter” or “express” at  the end of the name.

It really isn’t fair to compare it statistically to Seattle, the glamorous Northwest giant six hours to the west on the other end of the state. But get this, you poor schlubs who live and labor in Seattle - in Spokane, you can afford to buy a house.  Really.

Here’s a slide show of some beautiful shots of Spokane.  Some struggling city. There are plenty of cities in the United States where you couldn’t take a single shot that would make the cut.

Funny - on the Guardian’s site, they’ve posted a sign, like the ones held by those scruffy guys standing by the entrance ramp to the Freeway: “If you use it, if you like it, then why not pay for it.  It’s only fair.” 

Yeah.  Will write for food. The only thing that’s missing is “God Bless.”

Believe me - after that POS article, they owe us money.

***********  It never stops, does it coach?  (see below)

Kind regards,

Eric C. Heintz
Puyallup, WA

Thanks, Coach.

From the friendly folks at the NFL where they can’t  be bothered with teaching their own players how to tackle.

Pete acts as if he and his rugby guru invented tackling, and he's got credibility because of all  the Legion of Boom crap, but the problem is that long after he’s gone we’ll be stuck with this sh--.

If he weren't in such a crappy division I’d give him two more years.

Appreciate the note.

This is from the Web site of USA Football - self-styled "Governing Body" of our sport.  They tell us to "take the head out of tackling."

Hmmm.  Sure looks to me as if contact was initiated with the front of the helmet.  In fact, it looks like a freeze-frame from a “HOW NOT TO” photo.

Show this to an official you know.  I’d be surprised if he didn’t call this a textbook example of “Face Tackling.”

It's illegal.

Here's what the Rule Book says...

RULE 2, SECTION 20, ARTICLE 1:  Illegal helmet contact is an act of initiating contact with the helm against an opponent.  There are several types of illegal helmet contact:

b. Face Tackling is an act by  defensive player who initiates contact with a runner with the front of his helmet

Face Tackling NFHS

Above the is NFHS' illustration of face tackling - other than the fact that the USA Football shot is a few frames later and the kid has begin to lift, there's not a lot of difference between the two

I know face tackling when I see it, because it was still legal when I started coaching and we had to eliminate teaching it.


(Shh. Don't tell USA Football.  Let's see how long it takes them to correct it.)

*********** INTERNET HUMOR


'I have always wanted to have my family history traced, but I can't afford to spend the money to do it.  Any suggestions?'



‘Start a rumor that you’re being considered by President Trump for a cabinet position.’

*********** I came across an article in a recent Coach and AD Magazine that I found very thought-provoking.

The author, Josh Hils, is described as “ a veteran high school coach of 18 years.”

Participation in sports is a hot item with administrators, who think that the ideal football program is one in which every member of the student body - male and female - is in a football  uniform;  and with football coaches, who on the one hand are badgered by administrators to “get more kids out” and on the other hand foresee the aggravation of having to deal with large numbers of players who will never see action.

With coaches, especially football coaches - on the hot seat because, for assorted reasons,  numbers are down, you’d think that last thing anyone would be suggesting would be making cuts.

But there author Hils is,  making a case for - gasp! - cuts.

The majority of us were brought into coaching with the mindset that the opportunity to be part of a team is beneficial and rewarding for everyone involved. Sports are supposed to be an extension of the academic experience and teach valuable lessons about personal growth, character and working toward a common goal. All of this seems to fly in the face of making cuts. After all, cuts prevent opportunities for student-athletes. How can an athlete grow if he or she is cut from a team or program? Not to mention, parents who call to complain about their child being cut often say, “They will be happy to just be on the team.”

This sounds odd, but cutting kids can be beneficial for the team, athlete, parent and coach. Here are four examples of how.

1. Athletes who sit the bench build resentment.    Kids are asked to make all kinds of sacrifices - they play basketball in summer leagues and they go to camps.  They faithfully attend practices during Christmas vacation (sorry- winter break) - and then they don’t play. 

2. Establish a predictable philosophy for team selection.  Make sure your criteria are well known.  Writes  “some programs allow juniors to play on junior varsity teams, while others do not. It all depends on the numbers for your program. However, if you have to make cuts, consider the junior year the key factor.  If a player is not varsity caliber as a junior, it probably means you should cut them. If all things are equal between a sophomore and a junior with respect to ability, talent and skill, go with the sophomore. Upperclassmen are not typically OK with freshmen and sophomores playing over them while they sit on the bench.

3. Other opportunities are available for athletes.   Nowadays, there are plenty of other opportunities for kids who get cut.

4. Keeping kids can lose kids. Kids who don’t play will eventually bail anyhow.  And in the long run, when word gets out that you just stockpile a bunch of kids, they’ll stop coming out.

The author likens no-cut policies to the dreaded trophies-for-everybody culture that’s helping to neuter our boys.

We owe it to our student-athletes to provide genuine opportunities for success through athletics. Predictable playing time, earning the opportunities, and fulfilling a meaningful role within a team or group best reflects what happens in life beyond high school. Nobody gets a job or gets into college just because they filled out the application. You have to earn the spot. You have to be the best person for the job. You have to fill the need and fulfil the role you are given.

We do a disservice to student-athletes when we don’t cut. We are not preparing them for life beyond the walls of school. We create a false sense of accomplishment, which can lead to resentment, a poor attitude and a lifetime of negativity.

ed and wombat

*********** That’s a wombat, mate, and that’s my son, Ed.  Ed, who lives in Melbourne, Australia,  went camping this past weekend with my grandson, Sam, and said the little fella and a few others like  him were wandering  around the camp site, rummaging for food..  


Josh Montgomery - Berwick, Louisiana

Ken Hampton - Raleigh, North Carolina

John Vermillion - St. Petersburg, Florida ("I talked with him a lot during his time at Army, and I genuinely liked him. We frequently met for breakfast at Schade's in Highland Falls, and it was always a pleasure for me.")

Adam Wesoloski - Pulaski, Wisconsin

Tom Davis - San Marcos, California

Kevin McCullough - Lakeville, Indiana

Jerry Lovell - Bellevue, Nebraska (“He coached about an hour away from us in 1991 at Peru State College in beautiful Peru, Nebraska....Home of the Oak Bowl.”)

Before getting into coaching, Lou Saban was an All-AAFC lineman for the Cleveland Browns, who won four AAFC titles during his time there.  He was the very first coach the Patriots (then the Boston Patriots) ever had, and he won two AFL titles at Buffalo (1964-1965) and was AFL Coach of the Year both years.  In Denver, he drafted Floyd Little. In his second go-round at Buffalo, he’s given credit, rightfully, for turning the Juice loose.

In chronological, here's  where Lou Saban coached:
Case Tech - 3 years (first year, 1950)
Washington - assistant coach - 2 years
Northwestern - 1 years
Western Illinois - 3 years
Boston Patriots - 2 years
Buffalo Bills - 4 years
Maryland - 1 years
Denver Broncos - 5 years
Buffalo Bills - 5 years
Miami - 2 years
Army - 1 year
Central Florida - 2 years
Martin County HS - 2 years
South Fork HS - 1 year
Georgetown HS - 1 years
Middle Georgia Heat Wave - 1 year
Peru State - 1 year
Tampa Bay Storm - 1 year
Milwaukee Mustangs - 1 year
SUNY Canton - 6 years
Chowan University - 2 years (last year, 2002)

Read more about Lou Saban, a very interesting man

*********** QUIZ:  The photo is from the mid  1950s - who is the coach and who is the player?
quiz - player and coach


american flag TUESDAY,  MARCH 14,  2017  “Everybody should do at least two things each day that he hates to do, just for practice.”  William James

***********  Scott Rueck is the coach of the Oregon State women’s basketball team - has been since 2010. 

When he was hired as the Beavers’ head coach, he’d just won the  Division III national title at little George Fox University, in Newburg, Oregon.   At George Fox, his overall record was 288-88.

At OSU, Rueck has continued to do well.  Overall, his record in Corvallis is .655.

Last year,  the Beavers went 32-4 and made it to the Final Four before losing to - surprise! - UConn. They finished ranked second in the nation.

This year, they’re 29-4 heading into the NCAA tournament.  They finished first in conference play, but their 48-43 loss to Stanford in the Pac-12 Tournament final probably cost them a Number One seed.

Anyhow, the guy can coach.

Interesting guy.  He’s just 5-4.  “When you’re small like I am,” he told the Portland Oregonian back in 2010, “not a lot is usually expected of you. I’ve had to prove myself at every level of everything.  I’ve had to achieve. I’ve had to fight like crazy.  But it’s made me who I am.”

There was something else in that article that really stuck with me, because it’s very close to the way I feel about the kind of guys I want on my team.

He puts a great deal of emphasis on team play and togetherness.  His recruiting “litmus test” of whether a girl would be a good fit in his program was an interesting one. He told the Oregonian that he would ask himself whether the girl would be enjoyable to sit next to on a long van ride to an away game.

“If she can be my shotgun when we’re driving up to Spokane or all over Hawaii,” he said, “I know she’ll fit.”

*********** If you think NFL tackling sucks, you’re right.  And if you think it bothers many NFL people, you’re wrong.

That’s because more and more, the main goal is not to take the ball carrier to the ground.

Increasingly, it’s either to protect one’s self, or to “punish” the ball carrier, or to strip the ball away.

Especially the last point,  Hall of Famer Rod Woodson told the New York Times a few years ago.

“If somebody did a study of players trying to make a strip before tackling,” he said, “I bet a couple miles is being had in yards-after for trying to get the strip.  That would bring to light how silly it is to always try to get the strip.  I was always taught, since 1987, tackle-strip, tackle-strip.  Now, it seems like it’s strip-tackle.”

*********** This came from the introduction to “Football,” a hardback training manual put out by the US Navy in 1943, when we were deeply involved in the greatest war the world had ever seen, and the  Navy viewed football as an ideal means of training its leaders…

When he was Director of Athletics at Annapolis (the US Naval Academy),  Admiral Jonas H. Ingram in his first message to the Midshipmen stated:

“The closest thing to war in time of peace is football!”

He now commands one of the large task forces at sea.

The analogy of football and war is becoming more and more apparent every day.  The benefits of training in football are helping American soldiers, sailors, and  marines in their wartime duties.

The strategy of war so far is displayed in every game of the season.

We must:

seek out the opponent’s weakness and pound on it;

shift the point of attack when the opponent is strengthened at that point;

use the element of surprise as a devastating scoring play;

realize that few games are won by defensive measures alone and that well-trained reserves continually represent the margin of victory;

know that the continuously successful team must possess a varied and coordinated attack, in the air and on land, and must be able to hold its ground;

have the foresight to punt and bide time for  scoring opportunity, and when it is offered, to attack with speed, power, deception with complete confidence and with a will that does not permit failure.

The capacity of our football players to absorb the shock and pain of violent physical contact without wincing, and to rally strongly and courageously in the face of misfortune and adversity is familiar to all who know the game.  The football player accepts blows from Fate and his adversary as part and parcel of the game and stays in there swinging.  He combines fortitude and strength with bodily skill and agility, and these facts with split-second thinking and reactions.  These are the same qualities that make our fighting men the toughest and best in the world.

Competition is as old as the Navy itself and it is just as traditionally Navy as John Paul Jones.  In peace time and in war time, the method the Navy has used to train its crews is competition. One turret crew has competed against another, ship has contested against ship in engineering and communications as well as in gunnery.  Aircraft squadrons have trained by competing against one another in machine gun practice, camera gun and bombing. The high state of efficiency and the remarkable records that the Navy has made in this war already in gunnery and aerial warfare are ample proof that these competitive methods are very worthwhile.

Jeez - this is so 1940s.  “Shock and pain of physical contact?”   You call that a sport?  “Misfortune and adversity?” Not my son.  “Blows from fate and his adversary?”  Not if I can help it.  “Competition?”  Oh, no you don't.  That means you’ll have losers.  “Fighting men?”  That’s not very inclusive.  What about women?

That’ll give you the idea of the kind of nation we were the last time we fought a war with the object of winning it.

Now, if somebody were to write something like that, he’d be more likely to do so in praise of soccer, and he’d have to change “fighting men” to “fighting persons of all genders.”

***********  Football games without coaches on the sidelines?  Impossible!  Can’t be done.

But guys,  that’s the way the game originated.

Coaches got the players ready.  And then the players played.


Somehow, the old-timers managed to play the game without a dozen guys up in the press box, connected by wireless phones to people on the sidelines who hold up huge signs with mysterious images on them, as players pause at the line of scrimmage looking back over their shoulders for Instructions From Headquarters.

They were playing football quite satisfactorily before coaches were even allowed to send in plays, and well before the technology existed to send plays directly to radio receivers in players’ helmets.

How about practice?  Think you can teach your quarterback to call his own plays? 

What about his having to stay on the field when you don’t have the ball?  Your quarterback?  On defense?

He can do it.  Other guys have.

Imagine having to turn one of your (two-way) starters into a kicker!

It’s been done.

Is today’s high-technology game a better game?  Who knows?   It’s a matter of opinion.

*********** Before every one of its games, one of the conferences flips a coin with a player on it.  A Heisman Trophy winner from that conference who was killed in the service of his country.

Who’s the player?

Correctly identifying Nile Kinnick of Iowa:

Ken Hampton - Raleigh, North Carolina
Kevin McCullough - Lakeville, Indiana

Iowa's Nile Kinnick  was  a classic single-wing tailback.

He ran, passed, punted and returned punts  and - get this - drop-kicked extra points. And he played defense. In his senior year, he  threw only 31 passes, but 11 of them were for touchdowns.  He was involved as a runner or passer in 16 of the 19 touchdowns Iowa scored.  Playing both ways, he was on the field for a stretch of 402 consecutive minutes, missing on the second half of the season opener - a runaway Iowa victory - and the final 18 minutes of his final game.

He won the Heisman Trophy in 1939 and gave an acceptance speech that left veteran sportswriters scrambling for superlatives.

In addition to his football achievements, he  was by all accounts an outstanding individual - he was student body president his senior year, and was named to Phi Beta Kappa, the exclusive academic fraternity. He graduated cum laude, and was his class’ commencement speaker.

He turned down a  genrous  offer from the NFL’s Brooklyn Dodgers and enrolled instead in Iowa Law School.

He left law school after one year and enlisted in the Naval Air Reserve and  reported for active duty just three days after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

He was training to be a fighter pilot, and in his last letter to his parents, he wrote,  "The task which lies ahead is adventure as well as duty, and I am anxious to get at it. I feel better in mind and body than I have for ten years and am quite certain I can meet the foe confident and unafraid. I have set the Lord always before me, because He is at my right hand. I shall not be moved. Truly, we have shared to the full life, love, and laughter. Comforted in the knowledge that your thought and prayer go with us every minute, and sure that your faith and courage will never falter, no matter the outcome, I bid you au revoir."[

On June 2, 1943, he was on a routine training flight from an aircraft carrier off the coast of Venezuela when his fighter developed an oil leak so serious that he couldn’t make it back to the carrier and was forced to try an emergency landing in the water.  His plane crashed and he went down with it.  His body was never recovered.

He was the first Heisman Trophy winner to die, just a little more than he was a month before his 25th birthday. 

The Iowa Stadium is named in his honor and Iowa plays an excerpt from Kinnick’s Heisman speech on the Kinnick Stadium scoreboard before the national anthem at every Hawkeyes’ home game.

He’s also honored by the Big Ten every football season:  the coin tossed before every Conference football game bears his likeness.

Don’t let all the references to ‘State University of Iowa’ confuse you.  They’re not talking about what we now call Iowa State.  It’s what we call “Iowa.”  That’s how it was known then; it’s now officially “The University of Iowa.”

What we now call “Iowa State” is officially “Iowa State University of Science and Technology.

It reminds me of the year that prior to the Apple Cup here in Washington they were selling two different types of tee-shirts.  One read “Washington State is THE University of Washington.”  The other read “The University of Washington is THE Washington State University.”

*********** It's tournament time!  And, reminds Jason Gay of the Wall Street Journal,

"This is the best of amateur sports in America, and nobody makes money off this thing except  for the coaches, schools, sponsors, vendors, networks, and the NCAA.

*********** While rummaging through Iowa football history I came across some great stuff.

First was some video of the1957 Rose Bowl, won by Iowa over Oregon State, 35-19.

Oregon State was running Tommy Prothro’s balanced-line single wing; Iowa was running, for the first time in front of a national TV audience,  its wing-T offense.  The 1956 Iowa team (the Rose Bowl, remember was played on New Year’s Day, 1957), was coached by Forest Evashevski, who had been a teammate at Michigan of Dave Nelson, then head coach at Delaware.  Nelson, with his assistants Milo “Mike” Lude and Harold Westerman, had modified the single-wing which Nelson had learned at Michigan under the great Fritz Crisler by moving the quarterback (whose responsibilities in the single wing had primarily been serving as the “blocking back”) under center.  At that time, a quarterback under center was referred to as a “T-formation” quarterback, and the new formation became known as the “winged” (not “wing”) T.

(It’s ironic that just as the Wing-T offense derived from the Single Wing 60-some years ago, we now see things coming full-circle, as various coaches move their QB back from under center line up in what they call  a “Direct Snap Wing-T” or “Shotgun Wing-T.” Basically, though, as any old-timer will tell you, it's the  Single Wing with a sexier name.)

The Nelson “Winged T” was first run at the University of Maine; when Nelson moved on to Delaware, Westerman stayed on as Maine’s new head coach, but Mike Lude accompanied Nelson as his line coach.  At Delaware, the Blue Hens had such success with the “Winged T” that it drew the interest of Nelson’s old teammate, Evashevski, who’d just come off the 1955 season at Iowa, his fourth season there, with a a 3-5-1 record.

Nelson gave Evashevski and his staff complete access to his staff and players - and to his system - and when the Hawkeyes went 9-1 in 1956, and won their first Big Ten title in over 30 years - and made their first appearance ever in the Rose Bowl - it was the talk of  football insiders. 

But what really brought the “Winged T” to the attention of most football people - and the American public - was their convincing Rose Bowl win.

The Rose Bowl for years had been the top football game of the season.  There was no Super Bowl then, and the NFL championship game was of little more consequence than any of the major bowl games.

Later in 1957, in response to the tremendous interest in the offense generated by Iowa’s Rose Bowl performance, Evashevski and Nelson “collaborated” on a book which is now a classic, “Scoring Power with the Winged T Offense.” 

To say that Evashevski and the “Winged T” were a success at Iowa is an understatement.  He had a hell of a run with it.

In 1957, the Hawkeyes were 7-1-1.   In 1958, they were 8-1-1, their only loss coming in their final game, after they’d already clinched the Big Ten title, to Ohio State.

Those were still the days when most polls awarded the national championship before the bowl games, and that year, LSU was voted number one going into the bowls.

But following the 1959 Rose Bowl, a spectacular offensive display in which Bob Jeter ran for 194 yards on nine carries and Iowa trounced  Cal, 38-12, the prestigious Football Writers’ Association voted Iowa  the National Champion.

Here’s that video:

In 1959 Iowa dropped to 5-4, but the Hawkeyes roared back in 1960 to finish 8-1-1, tied for first in the Big Ten.

And then, following the 1960 season, Evashevski retired as coach to become full-time Athletic Director.  He was only 42, but he never coached again.  It does, however appear that he became “that” AD, the  kind of ex-coach who intends to cement his own claim to immortality by seeing to it that his successors as head coach never have a chance to succeed; perhaps, many suggested, he harbored hopes of being hired back as head coach.  That never happened, and in 1970 after an investigation into some irregularities over expenses, he was fired as AD.

“Collaborated” in referring to the 1957 book is the wrong word.  It was Nelson’s offense and Nelson’s production (actually, most of the work was done by Mike Lude) all the way.  However, the book might never even have been published if it were not for the work of Evashevski at Iowa in drawing attention to the offense.  Who knows? Perhaps, without Iowa’s great season, the “Winged T” might have remained a small-school wonder.

It often brings to mind a stanza from Thomas Grey’s “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard,” one of the greatest poems in English literature.  In his eloquent way, he asks the age-old question: what happens if a tree falls in the middle of the forest?

“Full many a gem of purest ray serene
The dark unfathom'd caves of ocean bear:
Full many a flower is born to blush unseen,
And waste its sweetness on the desert air.”

*********** In the 1959 Rose Bowl video (an Iowa thumping of Cal), Cal’s QB is Joe Kapp.  The Same.  He’s running Cal’s Belly-T, and you’ll notice that the option pitch was still being made underhanded.

Joe Kapp was a hell of a tough guy, made to order for those days of two-way football.

I saw him play rugby for Cal when they came east and played Yale, and he was a stud.  (Back in those days, some of the West Coast schools did away with spring ball and played rugby instead.  Earlier in the 20th century, playing rugby was their answer to the nationwide concern over fatalities in football.) 

He was a decent QB, in the CFL and in the NFL, but he was never known as a great passer.

As my friend Charlie Wilson noted, “Joe Kapp was the Master of the “Option Pass”: ‘When Joe throws the ball, you have the option of catching either end…’ (Sonny Jurgensen?)”

*********** THE WISDOM OF BOB READE - PART III – FROM MY 1986 CLINIC NOTES (My comments in parentheses)
































I shared these notes with a friend, John Bothe, a high school coach in Oregon, Illinois, who was a Division III All-American for Coach Reade at Augustana, and asked him if he’d care to reminisce a bit about his coach.

He wrote…

Wow Coach, Where do I start? I could write for days.

I'm sure you got a lot of X's and O's from the clinic and his excellent book that he wrote. But that is only a fraction of the reasons for his incredible success. From the things that you have written about him previously I believe that you understand that so I will focus on the "other" things.

What you see is what you got from Bob Reade. I have seen him from two different directions. One as a player for him and the other as a reader of his book and listener at his clinics. I can assure you that everything matches up.
No public persona or behind the scenes mysteries. One of the only other coaches that I consistently heard the same thing about was the great Don James, a good friend of Coach Reade's.

No man was more about the team and fairness than Bob Reade. I saw him scold our starting RB, who just set a single game playoff rushing record minutes before, for being late to the post game dinner. The only man I saw totally preach the team as much as Coach Reade may have been the late Bo Schembechler.

He was unaffected by outside influences. No booster, parent, or voice from the stands persuaded him to do anything other than what he felt was exactly the right thing to do. As a coach that may be the biggest thing that I took from him to this day.

Great family man with 11 children.

Great faith. No question about his devotion to God and the Catholic Church.

Those are a few things that I take away. It was not always perfect. I grumbled as much as any other player but I would not trade a second of my time with him.

You remember the games when the double wing was cooking and you didn’t need to do anything other than the base plays out of tight formation?

That was Coach Reade's philosophy of formationing.

Coach Reade had all the formations that a 3 back offense can have but only used them when needed. Wing right was the base formation.

He was not a coach that would send in a number of formations early in a game to see how you would adjust. He instead used them to distort a defense that was prepared to defend the base offense from wing right.

The end over formation was popular for him and I still use it when needed. He also had a set of unbalanced formations that he could use if needed.

He only pulled linemen on wing counter and fullback trap.

The off-set I set was called Overload and was very helpful to get the left halfback, or 2 back, involved in the game.

In concept, I suppose that defensive coordinators might think that they had him nailed down. But then, when he came out in Overload, all he did was sweep or run off-tackle, and despite knowing that, they still didn't do a very good job of stopping him.

Despite the fact that he did not throw very often he had an effective passing attack. He would throw play action at any time and he was throwing to score. We actually spent a lot of time working on the passing game in practice for a run-heavy team.

I think that a lot of people equate the Augustana Wing-T with Coach Reade's immense success. As you found out from that clinic in 1986, there is a lot more to it. “The Wisdom of Coach Reade” is a great title for it. He just had a different perspective and a different way of looking at things.

There were better strategists and teachers in coaching than Coach Reade. Honestly, you have done more to refine your offensive system than he ever did with his. But do you know of anyone else that had such consistent success in the transition from high school to college coaching? He truly knew the value of all three phases of the game and how to keep them cohesive.

Another thing that I have always thought was interesting was that his high school and Augustana records are nearly identical.

*********** QUIZ:  From 1950 through 2002, he coached at 20 different places (21, if you consider that at one of the pro team, he made two stops.) He didn’t stay long in any one place.   He was head coach of three pro teams (one of them twice), three Arena League teams, five major college teams
(Army, Maryland, Miami and Northwestern), four smaller colleges , and three high schools.  And he spent two years as an assistant at a major college in the Northwest.


american flag FRIDAY,  MARCH 10,  2017  “Visit with your predecessors from previous administrations. They know the ropes and can help you see around some corners. Try to make original mistakes, rather than needlessly repeating theirs.”  Donald Rumsfeld

*********** Here’s all you need to know about the state of American education today:

It was A Day Without Women Thursday, and a large number of the women who skipped work were school teachers. Public school teachers. So many, in fact, that some public schools simply closed for the day.  Nice example.

Meanwhile, at private schools, it was business as usual, male and female teachers doing the jobs teachers contract to do: teaching academic subjects instead of carrying signs and chanting. 

*********** Disney, ESPN’s parent company, is throwing a fit because the World Wide Leader isn’t the corporate ATM that it once was. For various reasons, ESPN, which charges cable systems a whopping $7 per subscriber per month, is losing 10,000 subscribers every month. 

Partly it’s the economy, partly it’s more and more people “cutting the cord” (dropping cable or satellite service), partly it’s the young audience’s increasing reliance on social media for their sports information.  But I go along with those who say that a lot of it is a reaction to ESPN’s increasingly blatant liberal approach to stories (can you say Caitlyn Jenner?). 

Meanwhile, Disney proceeds to double down on pushing the Agenda with a redo of Beauty and the Beast, this time with a little male-to-male attraction thrown in for the kiddies.

*********** When Dick MacPherson left Syracuse after the 1990 season to become head coach of the Patriots, the Pats were really bad.  There were changes in ownership and threats to move the franchise.   Coach Mac lasted just two seasons before being fired.

"I never got fired until there,” he told in 2009.  “That was the biggest present he (the owner) ever gave me. I think I had five or six years left on my contract. Fine."

In 2010,  in the AFCA’s publication, “The Extra Point,” he recalled, “When I left Syracuse to go back to the pros, there was more than one reason why I left and I think the main one was that I was getting into my sixties and I wasn’t going to be coaching that much longer, but I wasn’t set financially.  The opportunity came for the pros and I couldn’t refuse because it protected me and my family. That’s the main reason why I left. But in today’s market (with college coaches making millions), I think I might have stayed.”

*********** Just behind my love of football and of history is a love of anthropology - the study of culture.  Especially American subcultures.  One of those is popularly called Pennsylvania Dutch.

A city kid from Philadelphia, I spent several summers at a YMCA camp “upstate,” first as a camper and then as a counselor.

The camp was located in a beautiful valley between what we called “mountains” in northern Lebanon County, about 80 miles west of Philly.

It was in what’s still called “Dutch Country.”

The area was originally settled in the 1700s by Germans, who landed in Philadelphia and then moved westward in search of land to settle on.  Actually, there was no “Germany” then;  they were people from various independent states that would later become part of a unified Germany.  But they spoke a Germanic language, and they referred to their language as “Deutsch,” which became corrupted by English speakers as “Dutch.”

Ever after, they came to be known as “Pennsylvania Dutch,” or just plain “Dutch.”  They referred to themselves as “Dutchmen,” or “Dutchies,” and so did the English speakers (like me).  Yes, some well-meaning folks  did attempt to set the record straight and call them “Pennsylvania Germans” (that’s what my high school Pennsylvania history book said), but it just didn’t take. (Maybe they should go south and try their luck calling Cajuns “Louisiana French.”)

It’s the “Pennsylvania Dutch” country, not “Pennsylvania German Country,” where the tourists go.  There’s Pennsylvania Dutch folk art (notably the designs painted on barns - SEE BELOW) and there’s Pennsylvania Dutch cuisine. Good, solid, stick-to-the-ribs food, and plenty of it. (I’ve written here before about my love of scrapple.)


And there is Pennsylvania Dutch talk.

When I was a kid, there were still some old-timers in that area - most of them to the south and east of Lebanon County, in Lancaster, York and Berks Counties - who spoke German.  Real German.  To a German of today, it might have been about as recognizable as a Scotsman’s English is to me, but it was German nonetheless, with an occasional bit of English mixed in.

Far more common were the younger folks,  who spoke English, but with an accent heavily influenced by German (“Cherman”).  “Cow” was “cah.” “Yes” was “yah.”  Jesus was “CHEEZ-iss.”   The letter “w” was often pronounced as “v”, and occasionally the reverse - a “v” became a “w.” A hard “g” (“chee”) could sound (“sahnd”) like a “k.” “Th” became “d”.  “S” sometimes came out (aht) “sch.” 

Pronunciation of the letter “r,” of course, was a problem, especially at the end of a word, as it is for any speaker of another language who tries to speak American English. (We’re the only people on earth who “chew their r’s,” especially as you move farther west.)

There was often a different sentence order (“go da road dahn.”) (“Throw the cahs over the fence some hay.” “Vee vass koin’ da road dahn to Lebnin (Lebanon).”

“Once” is used a lot.  It can mean “now.” (“Throw me dahn here some hay once.”) Or it can mean nothing specific. “Yet” can mean “still.”  (“Sorry I’m late.  Is there any food yet?”)  Instead of being “all out” of something, they just say it’s “all.”  (“The beer’s all” means “we’re aht of beer.”)

To outsiders (ahtsiders) the stereotypical Pennsylwania Dutchman was a rural type who may have seemed like a bumpkin but under the surface was a treasury of wisdom and common sense.  We all heard aphorisms, told as if they were the original thoughts of the Pennsylvania Dutch: “Ve get too soon oldt und too late schmart.” “A stout wife and a big barn never did a man no harm.” And our elders would laugh at the Pennsylvania Dutch key to a long, happy marriage: “Screwin’ don’t last; cookin’ do.”

Just as there once were dozens of comedians who told jokes in Yiddish dialect in New York (the only place where the audience could understand and appreciate it), I can remember Pennsylvania Dutch comedians.

There was an old World War II joke about the Pennsylvania Dutchman who was asked if the German planes he saw were Fokkers.

“Naw,” he said, “Dese Fokkers vass Messerschmidts!”

There is a sing-songishness to Pennsylvania Dutch that’s instantly recognizable to someone who knows where he is and what he’s listening to.

Pennsylvania German (“Cherman”) is not unlike Cajun French, and it’s every bit as much in danger of extinction.  And just as Cajun French survived as long as it did because of isolation from the mainstream English culture - the Cajun French lived in the swamps and bayous of South Louisiana - so has German survived in Pennsylvania largely because of another form of isolation:  the cultural isolation of the Amish and other conservative Mennonites in “Pennsylvania Dutch Country” has enabled them to retain much of their culture, including their language.

I stumbled across a series of videos (“wideos”) called “Ask a Pennsylvania Dutchman,” in which a guy named Douglas Madenford, who teaches German at Penn State, portrays a Pennsylvania Dutchman who answers viewers’ questions. His credentials are solid:  he grew up in Berks County, Pennsylvania and German was the second language spoken in his home.  His performance is remarkable.

You may not appreciate it, but, possibly because hearing him makes me nostalgic, I think it’s fantastic.

A Pennsylvania Dutchman on “Dutchified English”

A Pennsylvania Dutchman on Pennsylvania Dutch food

A Pennsylvania Dutchman on Snack Foods

A Pennsylvania Dutchman on “Foreigners” (from New York and New Jersey)

Douglas Madenford:

*********** Remember David Reaves, the newly-hired co-offensive coordinator at Oregon who was on the job less than two weeks when he was pulled over and nailed for DUI?

In a New York minute, he was notified that the University had begun the process of firing him.

Before they could do that, though, he resigned.  (To “spend more time with his family?”)

This week, the university announced the terms of his settlement.   Uh, “settlement?”

He’ll be paid $3,750 for 26 hours of work. (I’ll save you the math - that’s $144 an hour.)

Oh - and also, a $60,000 “lump-sum payment, according to the agreement.”

WTF?   Guy gets fired and they send him off with $63,750.

Think of it - most of you you working stiff teacher-coaches out there have to work a whole year for that.

*********** This year, the ACC is holding its basketball tournament in Brooklyn, after years of holding it in Greensboro, North Carolina.

That suits Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim, who lipped off about Greensboro.

Perhaps forgetting that he’s the Syracuse coach and not the director of marketing, he noted that there were “business benefits” to be gained from holding tournaments in major cities.

And then he asked, rhetorically,  “How many players do they have in Greensboro?” (To which I’d be tempted to say, “I don’t know Jim.  How many players are there in Syracuse?”)

He concluded by saying, “There’s no value in playing in Greensboro. None.”

In response, the Greensboro people were far more gracious that I would have been,  but they did manage to get in a nice little zinger:

“We kindly disagree. But I guess you can lose in the 1st round anywhere.”

*********** Bronco Mendenhall, head coach at Virginia, talked about about taking over at BYU as a 38-year-old first-time head coach.

“The biggest adjustment for me as a head coach,” he said, “was the sheer volume of decisions I had to make on a daily basis.  You got from coaching one group of players to the entire team, then there are the assistant coaches, their families, stockholders, the media, it goes on and on. It places someone who is a first time head coach in a constant state of readiness.” 

One of a new head coach’s biggest jobs, of course, is building a staff.

“The first thing you need to do is give each candidate a chance to self-select for the job, which means you educate that person about your program, your values, and the job itself.”

(This is an area, I’ve found, where most head coaches, even experienced ones, are lax.  If you don’t let people know right up front what you’re going to expect of assistants - what it’s going to be like coaching on your staff - you greatly increase the chances of a serious misunderstanding at some point down the line.  In the first stage of an interview, I go over a list of 20 things that I expect of an assistant. None of them are related to football knowledge, I might add.  I ask the candidate after every point if he can coach under these conditions, and if he says “No” to any of them, we shake hands and I wish him well.  It’s much easier on everyone to have a guy decide right now, at this point, that the job’s not a good fit for him.)

In the process, Mendenhall said, he’s looking for a commodity that’s becoming increasingly valued throughout our society: grit.

“I love people with an unbreakable will and spirit.  I need to get a sense that a candidate has this.  The first thing I look for is will over skill.”

If he passes the self-screening and the “grit” test, the candidate is given opportunities to demonstrate five “coaching competencies”:

On-Field Performance - how the candidate teaches the fundamentals. He asks candidates to explain how they teach what they know in a way that makes sense to players.

Recruiting - in front of Mendenhall and his entire staff, the candidate watches film of a recruit and then critiques him.

Camaraderie and Communication - throughout the process, Mendenhall looks for signs that the candidate can work with the staff - and vice-versa.  He looks for a person who can express his point of view but, once a decision has been made, accept it and move forward.

Classroom: the candidate is “in the barrel” - he stands at the white board and makes a presentation to the staff.

Game Day: In an effort to observe how well the candidate can think on the fly, Mendenhall fires questions at him requiring quick answers - down-and-distance situations,  correct schemes to use against certain offense and defenses.

(From “This is the AFCA”, July/August 2014)

*********** “People complain that the SAT is biased and that the bias explains why students don’t do well.  That’s true - it is biased.  It’s biased against people who aren’t well educated. The test isn’t causing people to have bad educations, it’s merely reflecting the reality.  And if you don’t like your reflection, that doesn’t mean you should smash the mirror.”

“If your children don’t read or do math, why would you think they would do well on the SAT?”

“If we want people to get good scores on the SAT, I have a suggestion: stop complaining about how unfair the test is and do your homework.”

David S. Kahn, Author of numerous college-prep test books

*********** Had an interesting talk today with Jared Shanker, a writer for about the end-over-end dead-ball center snap (as opposed to the conventional spiral snap)  that’s coming increasingly into use in college ball.

Those of you who’ve been with me from the earliest days recall that I first “invented” the Wildcat (come on - all I did was name it) back in 1998, when I was coaching the La Center (Washington) Wildcats.

I’d had some experience running single wing the year before, but it was a bad experience.  We had six snaps go over the head of our 6-3 tailback.

What really made the Wildcat work for us was the way we snapped the ball.  It started when I spoke with a high school coach in Virginia whose name I failed to write down. I wish I knew, so I could give him credit.  He was running a direct-snap offense, and he said his tailback was so close - heels at three yards - that his center could make the snap with his head up. The trick, he said, was to snap the ball low and slow.  He said his kids practiced snapping against a beach chair.  As long as they didn’t knock it over backward, it wasn’t too hard.  

It worked pretty well for us.  In one weeks time we installed it, and we introduced it that Friday night, a miserable, rainy night on a muddy field.  We beat a better team, at their place, and the next week we put 50 points on our opponent. 

And then I mentioned this to Ed Racely.  Ed, a onetime coach who left football and did well as a builder, knew just about everyone who was anyone in the heyday of the single wing - he was a great friend of the late Ken Keuffel, longtime single wing coach at New Jersey’s Lawrenceville School - and he was able to tell me a lot about the single wing center snap.

The main thing he told me was that there was a school of single-wingers who subscribed to the belief that an end-over-end snap was preferable to the spiral snap because it was easier to teach the center and the ball was easier for the backs to see and to catch.  The chief proponent was Dr. John B. “Jock” Sutherland of Pitt.

I tried it and it worked, and from there I began showing it to coaches at camps and clinics.   Everywhere I showed it, coaches were amazed at how easily they themselves were able to make the end-over-end snap (although one guy did hit the ceiling of the room at a clinic in Providence). I presume that those who took the idea home and decided to employ a direct-snap in their offenses find it easy to teach to their kids.
(No, I certainly didn’t invent it.   All I take credit for is reviving a technique that had pretty much become extinct.)

Invent it? Hardly. A few years later, I splurged on a rather expensive book authored in 1927 by the great Pop Warner.  (It’s sad to think that for all his accomplishments as a coach, he’s best known for the use of his name by a youth football organization.  Of course, Joe DiMaggio, one of the greatest baseball players of all time, became better known to new generations of Americans as the guy in Mister Coffee commercials.)

In his book,  Warner wrote about the center snap, and to my amazement, he acknowledged that there were - even then - two schools of thought.

Pop Warner Center Snaps

Here’s what he wrote:
Either method of passing the ball to the backs is good form.  The end-over-end pass is the easiest to learn and for the backs to handle, and repeated timing with a stop watch has shown that the simple end-over-end pass is just as fast as getting the ball to the punter  as is the more intricate spiral.  (To be fair, punters at that time didn’t stand 13 yards deep - HW)  The spiral pass from center has absolutely no advantages over the end-over-end method  as far as I have been able to determine, and I never encourage or teach it; but, as stated above, either method is good.

Not hard to tell which one Pop Warner favored.

Interestingly, while today’s offensive football has attained a sophistication that none of the old-timers could have dreamed of,  some of the stuff the spread shotgun guys think they’ve been inventing have their roots in stuff that was being done in the 30s, 40s,  50s and 60s.

*********** The stories go back and forth about whether Donald Trump’s phones were tapped.  One thing that seems to persist, though, is the explanation from Barack Obama’s mouthpieces that the former President (gee, it feels good to say that) “didn’t order” any such wiretaps.

But since that’s  usually the dodge for a college coach whenever one of his assistants gets caught doing something outside the rules, I tend to be skeptical.  The head coach’s instructions, in all likelihood, were, “Your job is to recruit and I don’t want to know a thing about what goes on.”

The classic tale of such ordering-without-giving-the-order is the murder in 1170 of Thomas Becket, the Archbishop of Canterbury, by men loyal to King Henry II.

If there had been Congressional investigations in those days, the King could have plausibly denied that he had anything to do with the crime.

But while he didn’t exactly order  the murder, there could be little doubt in their mind what he wanted when his men heard him say, “Will no one rid me of this troublesome priest?”

*********** QUIZ:  Only one Power Five school has never played in the Rose, Orange, Sugar, Cotton or Fiesta Bowl - or made it as far as the Elite Eight in basketball.

Correctly identifying South Carolina:

Ken Hampton - Raleigh, North Carolinia

Adam Wesoloski - Pulaski, Wisconsin

Jerry Lovell - Bellevue, Nebraska

Ed Wyatt - Melbourne, Australia

Kevin McCullough - Lakeville, Indiana

South Carolina has the facilities… they have the fan support… they’ve had good coaches… and their state produces good football players. 

I think that the fact that from 1971 to 1991 - a time when the NCAA expanded its field and major bowls entered into contracts with major conferences - South Carolina was playing lone wolf .

They dropped out of the ACC in 1971 over basketball (back in the days before 64 teams made the NCAA basketball tournament) and went independent for several years before joining the SEC in 1991.  

At that time, the NCAA Tournament field was 25 teams - max - and only conference champions made it to the tournament.  There were not “at-large” entries.

Meantime, back in 1954, the ACC honchos came up with a great idea - a conference tournament to decide their champion.  It became a HUGE money maker for the schools. Tickets were distributed equally among the eight member schools, and with a limited number of tickets in great demand, big donors - Iron Dukes at Duke, Diamondback Terrapins at Maryland, etc. - had the inside track to buy them, and schools used the right to buy tickets as leverage to solicit donations.  I remember big Maryland donors from our town going to Greensboro (where it was held for years) for a week of golf, basketball and fun - not unlike the Masters now.

When the conference expanded to include schools such as Georgia Tech, Miami, Pitt and Boston College, it meant that the ACC could play in larger venues in big cities - this year, it’s in the traditional ACC stronghold of Brooklyn?I?.  But it also meant an end to the good old days of a week of golf and basketball in Carolina in the spring.

In 1971, the tournament idea finally hit the wall.  South Carolina went 14-0 in the regular season - quite an achievement in the toughest basketball conference in the country - and lost in the tournament finals.  To make matters worse, in the final NC State stalled the entire game, and finally won, 42-39 in overtime. And SC missed the dance.

(Not to take anything away from those great UCLA teams of those years, but the truth is that in those years, teams did not travel cross-country to play regional games, and with very few good teams in the West, there were times when UCLA didn’t play a tough team until it reached the Final Four. And in the meantime, every year four or five ACC schools better than any of UCLA’s opponents would stay home - or settle for the NIT.)

That was the final straw for South Carolina, and the Gamecocks pulled out of the ACC.  They went independent for a while, then joined a basketball-only minor conference, and finally, in 1991, began play in the SEC. 

An article in the New York Post about former Gamecock Bobby Cremins, who later coached at Georgia Tech, tells the story…

In 1954, when the ACC first formed around the Research Triangle schools in Raleigh (N.C. State), Durham (Duke) and Chapel Hill (North Carolina) the nascent league also decided that it would determine its champion not by a 14-game conference schedule but by a three-day tournament at season’s end.

It was a radical concept. There were fewer conferences then, but all of them leaned on the regular season to produce a champion. And in a time when only one team per conference was allotted an NCAA Tournament bid, the all-or-nothing nature of the ACC Tournament invited a unique brand of pressure and anxiety every year. Especially if you were having a great year.

And the 1969-70 South Carolina Gamecocks were having a great year.

Frank McGuire was the coach, back in the college game after a three-year sabbatical in the NBA, and same as he’d done during his eight-year stay at North Carolina he’d begun to build the program by raiding his old New York City neighborhoods. He lured Cremins out of All Hallows, Tom Owens out of Manhattan’s LaSalle Academy, Tom Riker out of St. Dominic’s on the Island. And their best player was John Roche, a junior who had also gone to LaSalle.

“It was a great team, we revered Coach McGuire, wanted to get him to a Final Four, wanted to win for the people in Columbia who’d welcomed us all from New York, practically adopted us,” Cremins says. “It was all there for us. Win the ACC and we’d play two games on our home court in the East Regional, and there wasn’t anyone going to beat us there.”

The first part was the tricky part. The Gamecocks went a perfect 14-0 in ACC play, earned the top seed, but had to travel to enemy territory in Charlotte for the league tournament. Still, after surviving a 34-33 scare from Clemson in the first round they were routing Wake Forest in the semifinals when Roche rolled his ankle working a 2-on-1 fast break with Cremins. He would play the championship game, but he was hobbled. N.C. State slowed the game to a crawl, won 42-39 in double overtime.

A South Carolina-centric blog called “The Rubber Chickens” argues that in the long run, now that football rules the roost ,leaving the ACC was the best thing that ever happened to Carolina, er USC, er South Carolina.

Frustrated by the North Carolina-centric nature of the conference, and what was seen as uncompetitive academic standards, South Carolina bolted from the ACC in 1971.  After wandering in the wilderness as an independent, and then as a member of the now-defunct Metro Conference, we were in the right place at the right time when the SEC was looking to expand in 1990.  As a lifelong Gamecock fan who came of age during the putrid Metro days, I can recall many who bemoaned our departure from the ACC as a stupid move by the USC administration at the time.  Well, guess who look like geniuses now?

Paul Dietzel and Frank McGuire, that’s who.

McGuire’s teams were the bad boys of the ACC.  They were street toughs from NYC who didn’t take crap from the “whine” and cheese crowd in the Tar Heel state.  After getting jobbed repeatedly by the conference powers, McGuire thought that enough was enough and lobbied to get his boys out of the ACC.

In football, a guy named Freddie Solomon was as dominant a high school player as anyone had ever seen.  But due to the ACC’s academic standards, which were more stringent than those of the NCAA, Freddie could not play at USC.  We all know what happened to Freddie. After a guy named Rice, he’s probably the next best receiver to ever play for the San Francisco 49ers.

When USC pulled out of the ACC, the strong rumor was that Clemson would also be leaving.  Supposedly it was a pact.  Turns out that CTU (that’s evidently how they refer to  archival Clemson) left us high and dry; instead, deciding to stay in the ACC after USC boldly (foolishly some say) stepped out as an independent.  I can remember some USC folks speaking with bitterness about the perceived double cross pulled off by CTU.  For years, you can bet that CTU thought they had really screwed us.  I hope they had a lot of fun while it lasted, because we are doing all, and I mean ALL the laughing now.

Sure, we sucked for the first few years we were in the SEC.  No doubt about it.  We weren’t ready to compete with the big boys and it was painfully obvious to just about anyone who watched.  We won a game or two here and there, but overall, we were overmatched.  But guess what else was happening while we took our lumps?  The Gamecocks were getting paid, and paid well.

The SEC, unlike some other conferences, is basically an equal pay out league.  While UT, Bama, and LSU were winning championships and raking in the dough for the conference, Carolina was building its war chest.  The SEC also brought credibility.  With credibility came coaches like Ray Tanner, Lou Holtz and Steve Spurrier.  And now, after a long period of paying dues, some success has started to roll in.  No more are we the throw-in team needed to get the SEC to 12.  Now we are legit.

During our time in the SEC, the national landscape has changed considerably.  The SEC is now the unquestioned powerhouse conference in America.  And there’s a HUGE gap between first and second.  Oh, and where does our former conference, the ACC, now rank?  Maybe 5th.  And that’s on a good day.

*********** QUIZ: Before every one of its games, one of the conferences flips a coin with a player on it. 

Who’s the player?

american flag TUESDAY,  MARCH 7,  2017  "When I was young, I observed that nine out of ten things I did were failures. So I did ten times more work."  George Bernard Shaw

*********** Writer and scholar Tunku Varadarjan, an English citizen born in India,  wrote a great article in the Wall Street Journal about two American heroes.  You probably didn’t hear about them, because their heroics were overshadowed by the bigger story that they were part of.

The bigger story, was something the press loves to write about -   a sick, racist white guy who shot and murdered a Person of Color.  And a foreigner at that - an East Indian engineer working in this country.   And to top it all off, the sicko supposedly said something like “Get out of my country.”

The victim was sitting in a bar and restaurant in suburban Kansas City with a friend.  The friend, also an Indian, was shot, too but survived.

But there was a third person shot.   His name is Ian Grillot.   He’s a white guy from Kansas who in an unselfish act of true heroism was shot while rushing to the defense of the two “foreigners.”

Wrote Mr. Varadarajan, “It was simple American heroism, of the kind that still comes naturally to citizens of a country that sees no contradiction between individualism and selflessness, a country where the most frequent reaction to hatred or malice is a powerful indignation—and the triggering of a duty to respond.”

The murderer immediately cut out.   He fled to another place, across the state line in Missouri, where over a drink he bragged to the barmaid that he’d just killed a couple of “Middle Easterners.”  Maybe he was so demented that he thought that boast would earn him a free drink, but the barmaid, to her credit, took him seriously and managed to call the police, then keep the guy - an admitted murderer - occupied until they could arrive.   She's white also.

The unsung heroes, overlooked in the rush to tell how racist Americans are, were a couple of ordinary Americans, doing what Americans do best - not attacking people of a different color,  but, in Mr. Varadarajan’s words, “two brave and humane citizens who decided that a racist wasn’t going to get away with murder.”

*********** Some people are calling it The Biggest Basketball Story of the Year.  Maybe it is.  Northwestern is finally going to play in the NCAA Basketball Tournament.   And now we're down to just four Division 1  teams that have never been to the Dance.

*********** My birthday note to Coach Mark Kaczmarek last week - “Go Bell! Beat Stars!”  He got back to me with, “Few, very few would recognize that reference!”

The reference was to 1974.  The World Football League. I was Player Personnel Director of the Philadelphia Bell, and Mark “Coach K” Kaczmarek was the starting center for the New York Stars.

*********** The head coach at Auburn, Alabama High School doesn’t teach a class. His job title is “Head Football Coach and Director of Football Operations.”  For that, he’s paid at least $123,000, considerably more than his principal.

Alabama state Representative  Craig Ford would like to see that corrected,  introducing a bill in the state House of Representatives that would cap the amount of money paid to coaches who don’t also teach to 75 per cent of what the school’s principal is paid.

Ford said that paying a coach three times what a teacher makes sends the  wrong message.

“I understand that coaches do a good job, and they do a lot for raising money for athletics,” he said.  “But you go to school for K -12 to get an education. That's first and foremost, and we've got to make sure we're providing adequate supplies and adequate resources in the classroom.”

Personally, I have no quarrel with Rep. Ford on this one.  But let’s be real - this can’t pertain to much more than a handful of the state’s coaches.

So if I were a state legislator, I’d go along with his bill,  but I’d attach a rider - a salary floor.  Instead of worrying about a handful of  big dogs at the rich schools, I’d put something in there for those guys coaching in small, rural schools and poorly-supported inner-city schools, guys who are working their asses off for stipends of $4,000 a year or less.   I’d call for a minimum stipend for the head coach of 20 per cent of the district’s average teacher’s salary.

*********** Under the headline “Single Mom Struggles to Manage Debt,” an article in  our local paper told of the struggles of a divorced 38-year-old Seattle-area woman with three kids - one in college and two others, 10 and nine. 

Only after reading halfway through the article about all her struggles to make ends meet were we told about a “live-in boyfriend.”

Nice.  She’s got two elementary-age kids and she’s shacked up.  Way to expose your kids to the most dangerous person in any child’s life - their mother’s boyfriend.

Guy’s got a good deal, too, it sounds like.  He “helps out”, we’re told, by “contributing to the household,” whatever that means.

To help her get her finances straightened out,  an organization called Financial Planning Association of Puget Sound put her in touch with a planner who had some really good advice for her:

“Cut expenses and increase income.” 


*********** I was reading through the obituaries in my National Football Foundation newsletter, and I came across the name of Larry Hickman, former Baylor player.

Holy sh—! I thought.  Larry Hickman?!? From there, I googled “Larry Hickman and Bruce Turnham,” and bingo.

Baylor was playing Tennessee in the 1957 Sugar Bowl.   Tennessee led, 7-6,  in the second half when perhaps the ugliest scene in the long history of college football took place:

From the official Sugar Bowl site…

Tennessee guard Bruce Burnham and Baylor guard Charley Horton got into a scuffle on the ground.  Burnham got in a couple of punches.  Seeing that, Hickman rushed in and kicked Burnham in the face.

The defenseless Vol lay sprawled on the field quivering, ribbons of blood covering his features.  "I thought the boy would be gone before we got him off the field," commented a physician on the scene.  "There's no way anyone could excuse what I did," Hickman reflected decades later.  "I think I was so keyed up...In my mind I saw him doing something he shouldn't, and I guess I just flashed temper."

Hickman was banished from the game and Burnham was taken to Touro Infirmary.  For the rest of the Sugar Bowl, Hickman sat on the Baylor bench, head in palms, sobbing.

Read the story on the site.  It’s just as I remembered it.  And then, if only to take a look at Tennessee’s famed balanced-line single wing, check out the video that accompanies it.  It was two-way football, which meant that offensive players also had to play on defense - which explains why the offenses - especially the passing game - were relatively unsophisticated.  (In the air, the two teams - combined - were 4 of 21 for 40 yards.)

For the most part, Baylor ran from a full-house, double-tight  formation.  Their offense, the Split-T, was being run by a lot of top teams at the time, including mighty Oklahoma. It started with a halfback dive that could lead to an option. You can see early signs of the Spit-Back veer that would come along in another 10 years.

Tennessee ran the balanced line single wing made famous by the great General Robert Neyland.  They showed a very nice weak side power, and they ran a couple of buck-lateral plays (the ball is snapped to the fullback, who runs at the hip of the blocking back, either taking a handoff and running trap, or handing off and giving the backing back a few possibilities).  And the tailback’s handoff to the fullback up the middle is a definite precursor of the inside zone play that’s become a staple of today’s shotgun spread offenses.  Tennessee’s wide-tackle six base defense was also a trademark of The General and the many other coaches he influenced.

Baylor was good - Hickman, the fullback, was a hard runner, but the Bears’ star was a running back named Del Shofner.  He was tall (6-3) and fast (he was a sprinter on the track team), and as soon as he got to the NFL (he was the 11th player drafted) he was turned into what then was called a flanker back (now a wide receiver).  He went on to enjoy an 11-year NFL career with the Rams and then the Giants in which he made All-Pro five times.  Their best lineman was Bill Glass, an All-American who played one year in Canada before going on to play 11 seasons in the NFL, first with the Lions and then with Browns.  He was named to the Pro Bowl four times.  He later became a pastor and still conducts a prison ministry. Larry Hickman played two years in the NFL and three in the CFL.

Tennessee was even better.  With All-American tailback Johnny Majors and Coach of the Year Bowden Wyatt (no relation), the Vols were 10-0 going into the game.  The Vols had shut out three opponents  and held five others to just a single score.   Majors finished second in the voting to Paul Hornung.  (It was a controversial vote, because although Horning did go on to a Hall-of-Fame career in the NFL, he remains the only Heisman winner to play on a losing team, and there are those - especially in Tennessee - who will argue that it was the mystique of Notre Dame that gave him the edge.)  Majors was small, and he played just one year in the CFL before embarking on a coaching career that would include stops at Iowa State, Pitt (where he won a national championship), and finally at his alma mater.  The Vols’ captain and best lineman was John Gordy. He would go on to start for the Lions as a rookie and spend his entire 11-year career in Detroit, making the Pro Bowl three times.  He and his training camp roommate, Alex Karras (of “Blazing Saddles” fame) persuaded author George Plimpton to follow up his highly successful inside look at the Lions (“Paper Lion”) with a book about linemen.  The book,  “Mad Ducks and Bears,”  was also successful.  In 1999, while living in California,  he became state director of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and by the time of his death 10 years later he had established FCA chapters in nearly every high school in Southern California.

The film stops before the unfortunate kicking incident.  It’s just as well.   For lovers of the game, it’s enough just to see two good teams from that era go at it.

*********** I’m very excited about a soon-to-be released film entitled “None More American - Army football in Post-9/11 America” - 

According to publicity, it  “profiles twelve former players that embody the true spirit of Army Football: Selfless Commitment. Brotherhood. Fierce Determination. Relentless Effort. Young men who chose the more  difficult path of service to country at a time when America was at war, sacrificing the typical college experience to prepare to lead others into combat, and who served honorably when called upon."

One of the players who’ll be interviewed is Greg Gadson.  Perhaps you’ve read on this site or elsewhere about his fight to return to active duty after losing both legs to a land mine in Iraq. Maybe you remember how in 2007 he was an inspiration to the New York Giants in their run to the Super Bowl championship, and in recognition, the Giants awarded him a Super Bowl ring.

One story that I’m looking forward to hearing more about is the beautiful friendship forged on the Army football team between Greg Gadson, and his linebacker mate on the other side, Chuck Schretzman. 

They became best friends; they were best men at each other’s weddings and they’ve been there for each other for better or worse.  Chuck was there for Greg the instant he learned of his inury.

Now, it’s Chuck Schretzman who’s battling.  He’s fighting MLS - Lou Gehrig’s disease.

*********** Things have reached a sorry state when the people who oversee soccer, the least American of our sports, show more balls than those who oversee football, the most American of our sports…

While Roger the Dodger  blathers about players' rights to express themselves,  U.S. Soccer on Saturday announced a bylaw requiring that United States players must "stand respectfully" during national anthems prior to all national team games.

The bylaw was prompted by Colin Kaepernick wannabe Megan Rapinoe, who knelt during the anthem before a US women's team game against Thailand in September.

Women's team coach Jill Ellis said she was happy with the policy.

"I've always felt that that should be what we do, to honor the country, have the pride of putting on the national team jersey. I said that previously. I think that should be the expectation," she said.   "That's our workplace out there, and I think we should represent ourselves and our country. So yeah, I'm pleased with that."

*********** Dick MacPherson coached for 10 years at Syracuse.  He took the Orange to five bowl games,  and his bowl record was 3-1-1.   He was the AFCA Coach of the Year in 1987, after the Orange finished 11-0-1, tying Auburn in the Sugar Bowl and finishing fourth in the nation.

In the AFCA’s publication, The Extra Point, he recalled his job interview at Syracuse:

When I was interviewing for the Syracuse job, they had the brand new Carrier Dome, they had players and all that stuff.  They had just fired the coach. I said to them, “I’m from the Cleveland Browns and we’re going to the playoffs.  I’ve had coaching experience in the Northeast (in seven years at UMass, he was .778 in Yankee Conference competition), and it looks like I’m the kind of guy you would like, but suppose I go 2-8, 3-9, 4-6 and 5-5 in my first four years.  What will you think of me then?”

The chancellor says, “Coach, we’ll think of you.  We don’t know where the hell you’ll be coaching, but we’ll think of you.”

*********** Star Washington receiver John Ross (“the Third”) just ran the fastest  40 ever recorded at the combine - 4.22.

THAT, for those of you who didn’t know about Washington going into their game against Alabama, is why those of us who did were mystified at the Huskies’ seeming unwillingness to throw deep against the Tide.

Subsequently, it was revealed that Huskies QB Jake Browning had injured his arm late in the season, and underwent surgery shortly after the playoff game.

*********** Fay Vincent has served as CEO of Columbia Pictures and as Commissioner of Major League Baseball.

From his father, he said, he learned the values of decency, honor and pride.

“During his lifetime I occasionally felt that he was totally behind the times with his regular injunctions to that I do my best and honor the family name.”

Now, Vincent remembers some of the important things his father taught him:

“Always be a gentleman.  To my father, a gentleman is someone who never offends another person needlessly.”

“It is more important to be able to write and speak well than it is to be able to succeed in athletics.”

“A pension is important… A good job is one that is secure and not always the one with the highest pay.”

“My father valued hard work over brilliance and saw most professions as predatory.”

“There is no such thing as an honest politician.  He viewed politicians with the same cynical eye he cast on doctors, lawyers and priests.  He accepted the argument that there must be some good and decent ones but he was suspicious until solid facts prevailed.”

“If your boss or employer is not making money on you, you will eventually lose your job.  Your work has to permit him to profit on what you produce.   If you and the employer just break even you are not being properly productive.  Get to work early and stay late if necessary.”

*********** The NCAA Football Rules Committee on Friday released a list of “recommendations” for the 2017 season aimed at enhancing player safety. This means that they are as good as in the rule book.

One rule change would prohibit defenders  from jumping over offensive linemen on field goal and PAT attempts.  At present,  defensive players are permitted to leap over linemen provided they don't land on another player.

Another proposal  - call it the no-diva rule - would require players to wear knee pads that actually cover the knees.  I presume that means that receivers and defensive backs will have to visit tailors to have their pants lengthened.  Grief counselors will be provided for them.

*********** Correctly identifying Chuck Mills

Jerry Lovell - Bellevue, Nebraska
Ken Hampton - Raleigh, North Carolina
Adam Wesiloski - Pulaski, Wisconsin
Josh Montgomery - Berwick, Louisiana

From 1959 to 1997 Chuck Mills  was a head coach at seven different colleges, from Division III to Division I and back to Division III.  Although he coached at some places where it’s very hard to win, his overall record was 132-133-5.   He was the first coach to take an American college football team to Japan (in 1971), and in his honor, Japan’s annual most valuable player award (similar to our Heisman) is named in his honor.   He was head coach at two different service academies - but never played against Army, Navy or Air Force.

He coached at Utah State and Wake Forest.  He took his Utah State team to play in Japan, and  for that, he's admired in Japan as a pioneer of the game.

Chuck Mills'  overall record reflects that fact that he worked at places where it’s hard to win.  He once said, “I give the same halftime speech, over and over.  It works best when my players are better than the other team’s players.”

Service academies? Well no, he never coached against Army, Navy or Air Force. But he coached one year each at the US Merchant Marine Academy (1964) and  the US Coast Guard Academy (1997).

*********** QUIZ:  Only one Power Five school has never played in the Rose, Orange, Sugar, Cotton or Fiesta Bowl - or made it as far as the Elite Eight in basketball.

american flag FRIDAY,  MARCH 3,  2017  "The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good."  Samuel Johnson

*********** Jay Wilkinson, son of legendary Oklahoma coach Bud Wilkinson, was a pretty good football player in his own right. 

Leaving his home in Norman to attend Duke, he was a marked man from day one.  Well, almost.  In the late 1950s and early 60s, freshmen were ineligible for varsity play.

But the first time he ever touched the ball in a varsity game, he fielded a punt and raced 63 yards for a touchdown.  In his senior year, he was named to several All-America teams and was named ACC Player of the Year.  He was that good.

In 2013, he delivered the keynote address at the AFCA convention’s kickoff luncheon, and he shared some great stories with the coaches in attendance.

He told of the time his coach at Duke, Bill Murray (a great coach, by the way), was talking about recruiting with a young assistant he’d just hired.  The assistant asked him what he was looking for in a player, and Coach Murray answered by telling him a parable.

Out on the field, a player gets knocked down, but he jumps right up, ready to go again.

A play or two later, a second player gets knocked down, and he gets up quickly and gets back into the action.

The next play, a third player gets knocked down, and just like the first two, he jumps right up, ready for more.

“Coach,” the assistant said, “I know just what you mean. We’re looking for players with tenacity, and perseverance and heart!”

“No,” said Coach Murray.  “We’re looking for the guy who’s knocking everybody down!”


*********** I'm assuming that the statute of limitations on ticket counterfeiting has long passed, and it’s okay for me to print this. It’s a souvenir of my days in the World Football League - a blank sheet of tickets for the Southern California Sun, which played their (its?) games in Anaheim Stadium.

This blank represents one set of season tickets, 10 games in all.

The tickets were pre-printed  by some giant ticket manufacturer such as Weldon, Williams and Lick, in cartons of several hundred sheets, attached as one long, continuous form, and perforated so the sheets could later be separated.  Each sheet was further perforated so that the individual tickets could be detached, and at the top and bottom of every ticket were blank spaces where the specific location (AISLE, ROW, SEAT) for each sheet - each set of tickets -  was printed by the team.

(For those of you who don’t remember the early days of computer printing, the holes on the side of the sheet were for the sprockets of the “tractor” that pulled the long long, continuous form through the printer.)

After the ticket locations were printed, the individual sheets of 10 games each were separated and the strips with the holes in them detached, and the sheets were mailed out to the season-ticket holders.

Nowadays, as counterfeiters have become more proficient (and as the escalating prices of tickets has incentivized counterfeiters), teams and ticket makers have had to fight to try to stay ahead of them. The result has been much higher ticket costs for the teams, but they can afford it:  take a look at the price of those 1974 tickets ($5.50 a game!) and then ask yourself how many times that figure they’d be going for in today’s sports market!

***********  I come from a wrestling family.  T shirts and shorts  with T shirts tucked in was for practice.

Real men wore singlets.

For safety reasons you wear the singlet so your fingers don’t get caught in the guy’s shirts.

What is this world coming to?

Pete Porcelli
Watervliet, New York

PS -that qb sack rule, hell maybe I should throw the ball 40 times and have the linemen do lookout blocks and send the receivers long.  Great chance of a 15 yarder for the attempted sack.

(No kidding. Even if you don’t have a passer or receivers or blockers -  between pass interference and roughing the passer, you’ve still got a decent chance

***********  I am starting fresh with your system, your labeling and your offense.  My goal is to be competitive and win the games we should and maybe a few that no one thought we would. (I guess that is probably every coach's goal)  I have a thousand questions that I could ask but I will refrain and try to only hit you up now and then.  I would love to know your thoughts on what an appropriate play list for a junior high that will typically has less than 15 players would be if you were coaching. It does not look like I will have a back that can make things happen on his own when others fail to do their job. When I look at your plays and alignments and shift I see the positive in them all and how they could work together but I know I need to keep my list smaller and run the plays right and not try to wow the crowd or the other team with a bunch of alignments and shifts.  I guess my question is this, What would be the smallest play list that you would want to go into a game or even a season with?


You are wise to realize the important of “less is more."

We have won games using nothing more than these three plays:

Super Power Right and Left

Counter (I Use Super Criss-Cross) Right and Left

Wedge at 2

We didn’t even throw a pass - but we were prepared to throw 88 Brown and 99 Black.

When you realize how many plays are wasted simply because they’re not run well, by executing a very limited list of plays to perfection, you will be very tough.

***********  The late Barry Goldwater, longtime Senator from Arizona and unsuccessful candidate for President in 1964, was a really great man - a man’s man - with a great sense of humor.  Although his father - and therefore, his name -  was Jewish, his mother was a Protestant, and he was not a practitioner of the faith.  Nevertheless, to once-exclusive country clubs which discriminated against Jews, his name alone was enough to bar him.  The story goes that on one occasion, he showed up (unknowingly)  at one such club for a golf date with a couple of friends who were members. Much to everyone’s embarrassment,  the group was denied permission to play.  Goldwater managed to defuse the difficult situation with aplomb and humor.  Pointing out that while his father was Jewish, his mother was Episcopalian, so, he asked,  “How about if I only play nine holes?”

*********** It’s a real trick to know when to go.

Bobby Bowden came to West Virginia as offensive coordinator for Jim Carlen, and when Carlen moved on after the 1969 season, Bowden was promoted to head coach.

He inherited a winning program, and he kept winning.

But his 1973 team finished just 6-5, and when in 1974, after high pre-season expectations, the Mountaineers finished a disappointing 4-7, the wolves began to circle. Someone planted a “For Sale” sign on his lawn.  He was  hanged in effigy.  A sign outside a dormitory window read “Bye-bye Bobby.”

“It was right across the street from my office,” Bowden said. “I couldn’t ever forget that. I saw it many times. I had gotten used to it and I thought it was part of the scenery.”

Remembers an assistant,  Donnie Young, “When you went to the supermarket people didn’t talk to you. We all got it. The only people we had was us.  You drive to work and there would be signs on the poles. You’d go to the stadium and across the top was an area on the back wall and they’d have written on there ‘Bowden Must Go.”

Enough was enough. “I remember saying to Ann,” he recalled, “ 'If you and I ever get a chance to leave here, and not that we are, but we have every right in the world to because people are fickle and this is a fickle profession.’”

In 1975, with the pressure mounting, against all odds the Mountaineers finished 9-3 with a bowl win over Lou Holtz' NC State Wolfpack.

In six years at West Virginia, Bobby Bowden was 42-26 and a winner once again.  But he’d seen how the fans could be, and - get this - unlike today, when college coaches get fired and walk away with millions, it was the practice at West Virginia then for head coaches to work with one-year contracts.

So when Florida State came calling, he was outta Dodge.

Recalled Coach Bowden years later, “What I did in ’74 was I saw how quick people will turn on you. I saw how quickly my friends would turn on you. How quickly people who used to invite me to their parties quit inviting me.”

Heres' the gist of the story...

*********** In response to last Tueday’s “Hook ‘em Horns” story, Tim Brown, of Athens, Alabama brought up the Houston Cougars’ sign. Great sign.  Great story behind it.  According to the U of Houston’s Web site, “The tradition dates back to 1953, when the first Shasta, lost a toe in a cage door on her way to a game. The opposing team, the University of Texas, mocked UH by imitating the cougar's injury. The Cougars soon adopted that gesture as a symbol of pride.”

My favorite is the New Mexico Lobo sign (Below right) :  New Mexico fans make the sign of the Lobo, ears up, middle fingers and thumb forming its snout. 
(“Lobo,” if you didn’t know, is Spanish for “Wolf.”)  The cheer starts with “EVERYONE’S A LOBO!” and the response, “WOOF! WOOF! WOOF!” is accompanied by the opening and closing of the Lobo’s “mouth,” once for each “WOOF!”

Houston Cougar Sign
Everyone's a Lobo

*********** THE WISDOM OF BOB READE - PART II – FROM MY 1986 CLINIC NOTES (my comments are in parentheses) –

GOALS ARE GREAT -IF THEY’RE REASONABLE… GOALS ARE GREAT -IF THEY’RE ATTAINABLE (Wow. Talk about going against common wisdom. “Goal-setting” was really in vogue back then, treated by many coaches almost as if it were a religion. Not to say that goals weren’t – aren’t – valuable, but far too many coaches, I felt, were talking about goals as if they were some form of black magic, some miracle path to state championships for even untalented teams. I used to sit at clinics and listen to all these state championship coaches talk about their goal-setting, and think, “Great. But what about all the other guys in their leagues who set goals, too?” And right here in front of me was a guy who’d been to the top, saying that while goals had their place, it was important not to set them unreasonably high.

DON’T GIVE A KID SOMETHING HE CAN’T DO (Be realistic and don’t set a kid up for failure.)

YOU CAN’T BE A BALL-CONTROL OFFENSE AND A BEND-DON’T-BREAK DEFENSE (If you’re likely to score slowly yourself, you can’t afford to let your opponents hang onto the ball.)

FIRST STAY IN THE GAME -THEN WIN (Concentrate first on eliminating the things that can get you beaten – turnovers, penalties, missed assignments, incorrect alignment, poor tackling, special teams mistakes -before spending practice time
on anything fancy.)

AS AN OFFENSIVE COACH, I CAN MAKE THE DEFENSE LOOK BAD -THROW THREE TIMES INCOMPLETE FROM THE END ZONE AND THEN PUNT TO THE 40 (If you’re going to be a pass-first team, you’d better be good at it, because otherwise you’re going to have a lot of three-and-outs -without even taking a minute off the clock.)

OUR KIDS DIDN’T KNOW WHAT WE CALLED OUR OFFENSE OR DEFENSE. THEY ALWAYS JUST SAID “IT’S THE GENESEO DEFENSE (OR OFFENSE) -IT’S THE BEST THERE IS”… WHEN THE KIDS BELIEVE IN IT, YOU’VE GOT TO RUN IT -AND FIND THE PEOPLE WHO CAN PLAY IT (Your kids have to believe in what you’re doing, but don’t automatically assume that they will. You have to sell it to them. And to your fans, too!)

(I think he meant “in a few years.” Anyhow, just one more way a winning tradition can help you.)

QUICK MOTION IS DISTRACTING TO DEFENSES, BUT NOT LONG MOTION (Cut down on the defense’s recognition time. Rather than long motion, why not just line the guy up where you were planning on motioning him to?)

WE NEVER RECRUIT A GUY FOR A POSITION - WE SAY, COME AND TRY OUT, AND THEN WE’LL GET YOU IN  THE ACT (This can save a lot of headaches later on, when you may have to ask a tight end to switch to tackle.)

WE’LL RUN A PLAY FOR A MONTH BEFORE WE’LL USE IT (You can’t expect a play to work in a game if it hasn’t been rock-solid in practice)

DON’T GIVE A KID YOUR WHOLE OFFENSE AND LET HIM SCREW IT UP -ONE TIME OUR QB HAD 8 RUNNING PLAYS AND 4 PASS PLAYS (Be realistic about your QB’s limitations and keep him within them. Maybe he can’t win it for you by himself, but he can lose it for you by himself.)

WE DON’T CARE IF YOUR DEFENSIVE BACKS ARE TACKLING OUR RUNNERS -BUT WE DON’T WANT YOUR LINEMEN DOING IT. THAT’S HOW BACKS GET HURT (Coach Reade did not employ complex line blocking schemes. See the next point.)

EVERY MAN’S BLOCK IS IMPORTANT, BECAUSE YOU DON’T WANT BACKSIDE DEFENSIVE LINEMEN POLISHING OFF YOUR RUNNING BACKS (His backside offensive linemen usually drive-blocked and rarely released downfield.)

WE ALWAYS SHOW HOW WE WOULD RUN A PLAY WITH BASE BLOCKING, THEN WE’LL SAY, “BUT THIS IS THE BEST WAY TO DO IT.” (Ever since I first heard this, it’s the way I’ve taught every play: “This is 88 base…” Then, “Now that we’ve run 88 Base, let me show you the best way to block it…”)
OUR PHILOSOPHY OF OFFENSE -WE’RE GOING TO MAKE YOU COMMIT UNTIL YOU GIVE US THE PASS (You  may be a running team – but you should always be alert for the opportunity to throw for a score -and able to do it.)

WE’RE GOING TO MAKE YOU COMMIT UNTIL YOU GIVE US THE PASS (You may be a running team – but you should always be alert for the opportunity to throw for a score -and able to do it.)

WE PASS A LOT IN PRACTICE SO IF WE HAVE TO, WE CAN (Just because you don’t throw a lot in a game doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be prepared to do so)

IF WE EVER GET IN A SITUATION WHERE WE HAVE TO THROW, WE’RE NOT VERY GOOD -WE CAN’T THROW AGAINST OUR OWN JV’S IF THEY KNOW WE’RE GOING TO (If you’re a running team, you have to work hard to avoid the situations where instead of playing your game, you’re forced to play their game.)

OUR PASSING IS A COMPLEMENTARY PASSING ATTACK (The passing game is an offshoot of the running game; the ideal is to have a play-action pass off every staple running play)

YOU CAN ACCOMPLISH MORE WITH A GREAT RECEIVER THAN WITH A GREAT QUARTERBACK -MOST OF MY FAVORITE PASSES ARE BUILT AROUND RECEIVERS (Amen. Unfortunately, with America’s continued emphasis on kids’ soccer - and baseball in decline as the game every American kid plays - it’s getting harder and harder to find American kids with dependable hands.)

I DON’T THINK YOU CAN HAVE A BALANCED ATTACK -I DON’T THINK YOU CAN TEACH YOUR LINEMEN TO GO FORWARD AND BACKWARD -I DON’T THINK YOU HAVE ENOUGH TIME TO DO BOTH (This is the  fundamental difference between a run-first team and a pass-first team. The run-first team throws primarily play-action passes and doesn’t have the time to develop a sophisticated passing game. Conversely, an awful lot of pass-first teams have trouble running the ball when they have to.)

ON ACTION PASSES, LOOK DEEP FIRST -THAT’S WHY YOU’RE THROWING AN ACTION PASS ANYHOW (If it’s just yardage you want, in most cases you could probably get it  without risk of an incompletion - by running the ball)

I FEEL YOU LOSE AN HONEST RELATIONSHIP WITH A KID WHEN YOU TEACH HIM A DISHONEST ACT – (“I KNOW IT’S ILLEGAL, BUT...” ) YOU BREAK DOWN SOMETHING YOU CAN’T RECOVER -YOU LOSE MORE THAN YOU’LL EVER GAIN (You can’t fool your players. You’d be amazed at the things they notice. Always remember that your ethics and morality are constantly under scrutiny.)

IT’S HARD ON A “36” TO GET YOUR RH TO RUN A GOOD “48” -IN BACKFIELD DRILLS, WE PRACTICE IT BY SAYING “36 OR 48” (AND TELL ONLY THE QB THE PLAY) AND THEN THEY’LL ALL GO HARD (When you run a  series offense with complementary plays that come off the same initial action, you can do this to make sure you get good faking.)

WE ONLY DRILL THINGS WE WILL USE (The Army calls this “Teaching to the Mission”)

I THINK THE INSIDE BELLY IS THE BEST PLAY IN FOOTBALL (We may disagree on what is the best play, but if you don’t believe this about your base play - whatever it is - you should probably find another offense)

OUR TERMINOLOGY LETS US GO INTO A GAME BEING ABLE TO DO THINGS IN THE GAME THAT WE HAVEN’T WORKED ON DURING THE WEEK (There may come a time when you have to improvise – to call a time out and say “let’s do this” - and your system’s language and terminology should allow you to do it.)

IN HIGH SCHOOL, YOU’VE GOT TO HAVE A PROGRAM -YOU’VE GOT TO HAVE A SYSTEM. IT’S IMPORTANT TO HAVE CONTINUITY (It’s best when players know what they’re going to run from year to year. Stability in system comes first, followed next by stability in staff.)

IF YOUR KIDS KNOW WHAT THEY’RE DOING, THEY’LL BEAT BETTER KIDS (Don’t throw too much at your kids. Your ability to throw stuff at them will greatly exceed their ability to learn it. Stay within their limitations - and rep, rep, rep.)

WE DESPERATELY WANT THE DEFENSE TO MOVE WITH US. WE’RE LOOKING TO SET UP COUNTERS (Work to establish your base play and always be on the lookout for a backside defender making a tackle.)

ON DEFENSE - FIRST COVER EVERYTHING THEY CAN DO FROM YOUR BASE DEFENSE (Teach them how to line up and play against any set, any motion, any personnel grouping.)

ON DEFENSE -FORCE OPPONENTS TO BE ONE-DIMENSIONAL -TAKE SOMETHING AWAY FROM THEM (Some coaches have referred to this as “making them beat you left-handed.”)

*********** Hello Coach, I received your coaching material last night, and this is really going to help me.  I have looked at so much double wing material that I was using different philosophies from different coaches and basically inventing my own offense.  Because of this I believe I was not building on the offense properly.  

I have been dealing with this for several years:  you should have one piano teacher… one golf pro… one offensive system.  I don’t really care whether you choose mine or not - just don’t throw mine in with a bunch of other guys' and then expect to get the best from any of us.

You’ve made a very wise observation: by taking a little of this and a little of that you wind up basically inventing your own offense.  Not necessarily bad in the long run, but you are going to wind up making an awful lot of mistakes along the way to perfecting it, and that’s going to take a lot of time and effort.  You make things easier for yourself by adopting just one system that’s already been proved to work, whether it’s mine or somebody else’s.

 He coached 26 years, at three different black colleges, one each in Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. He lasted only one year at his first job, where his record was just 2-8, but when he retired after 25 more seasons as a head coach, his overall record was 159-93-8.  In his last position, he faced legendary coach Eddie Robinson in the annual”Bayou Classic” three times, and won twice.   It was he who said,“ On the East Coast, football is a cultural experience. In the Midwest, it's a form of cannibalism. On the West Coast, it's a tourist attraction. And in the South, football is a religion, and Saturday is the holy day."  No, Mario Puzo’s novel wasn’t about our guy, despite his nickname.

Correctly identifying him as Marino “The Godfather” Casem, who coached at Alabama State, Alcorn State and Southern.

Joe Gutilla - Austin, Texas
Mick Yanke - Cokato, Minnesota
Adam Wesoloski - Pulaski, Wisconsin
Ken Hampton - Raleigh, North Carolina
Josh Montgomery - Berwick, Louisiana
Jerry Lovell - Bellevue, Nebraska

From the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Web site:

Marino Casem, best known for his coaching career at Alcorn State University, has been named the American Football Coaches Association’s recipient of the 2013 Trailblazer Award. The award will be presented at the AFCA President’s Kickoff Luncheon on Monday, January 13 at the 2014 AFCA Convention in Indianapolis. 

The AFCA Trailblazer Award was created to honor early leaders in the football coaching profession who coached at historically black colleges and universities. Past Trailblazer Award winners include Charles Williams of Hampton (2004), Cleve Abbott of Tuskegee (2005), Arnett Mumford of Southern (2006), Billy Nicks of Prairie View A&M (2007), Alonzo “Jake” Gaither of Florida A&M (2008), Fred “Pops” Long of Wiley (2009), Harry R. “Big Jeff” Jefferson of Bluefield State (2010), Edward P. Hurt of Morgan State (2011), and Vernon “Skip” McCain of Maryland-Eastern Shore (2012). The award is given each year to a person that coached in a particular decade ranging from 1920-1970. This year’s winner coached from 1960 to 1969.

“It’s an awesome feeling to be recognized by your peers. It’s an awesome feeling to be recognized by such an award,” said Casem. “It’s a tribute to not only me, but to all historically black colleges and universities and to the many talented student-athletes, outstanding coaches, motivated staff members, distinguished administrators and supportive fans who stood in our corner.”

Casem attended Xavier University of New Orleans where he played on both sides of the ball, as center on offense and as a linebacker on defense. Upon his graduation in 1956, Casem got his first coaching job at Utica College in Mississippi where he coached for a year and married his wife, Betty. He was drafted into the army in 1957, where he served for three years. Casem got his master’s degree from the University of Northern Colorado in 1962 and went straight to Alabama State to work as head coach for a year.

It was at Alcorn State University where Casem truly made a name for himself. Made head coach in 1964, with athletic director responsibilities added in 1966, Casem won his first Black College National Championship in 1968 and repeated the endeavor the next year. Marino would go on to add five more Black College National Championships while at Alcorn State, making his biggest statement with his squad in 1984. It was that team in 1984 that finished its season as the top team in Division I-AA with a 9-0 record, the first black college to achieve that honor. Casem maintained a high drive in his football program while with the Braves, ending his time there with a 132-65-8 record to become the all-time winningest coach in program history. Casem was awarded the Southwestern Athletic Conference’s Coach of the Year award seven times while at Alcorn State.

Casem wasn’t just prolific on the gridiron, but also on the administrative end as an athletic director as well, overseeing the construction of Alcorn State’s athletics complex as well as the design and planning of its football stadium. He was also the athletic director when the Braves became the first HBCU to participate in the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball playoffs in 1978. Coach Casem moved on to become the athletic director of Southern University in Baton Rouge in 1986, where he oversaw the Jaguars become a force to be reckoned with in the SWAC until his retirement in 1999. Under his leadership, Southern quickly became the top overall program in the conference, winning seven SWAC Commissioner Cups, six SWAC men’s all-sport trophies, nine SWAC women’s all-sport trophies and 62 championships. Casem even returned to the football field for three seasons with Southern, in 1987-88 and once again in 1992.

“This is the culmination of a good ride. I’ve enjoyed my days coaching and to be recognized is a great honor,” said Casem.

In addition to receiving the 2013 Trailblazer Award, Casem was inducted into the Southwestern Athletic Conference Hall of Fame in 1992, the Alcorn State University Hall of Honor in 1993, the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame in 1994, the Alcorn State University Sports Hall of Fame in 1996, the College Football Hall of Fame in 2003 and, finally, into the National Association of Collegiate Director of Athletics Hall of Fame in 2006, not to mention a plethora of individual awards from several national institutions. It was through all of his achievements, as football coach and athletic director, that Casem earned his nickname, “The Godfather.”

**********  QUIZ.  From 1959 to 1997 he was a head coach at seven different colleges, from Division III to Division I and back to Division III.  Although he coached at some places where it’s very hard to win, his overall record was 132-133-5.   He was the first coach to take an American college football team to Japan (in 1971), and in his honor, Japan’s annual most valuable player award (similar to our Heisman) is named in his honor.   He was head coach at two different service academies - but never played against Army, Navy or Air Force.

american flagTUESDAY,  FEBRUARY 28,  2017  "The world cares very little about what a man or woman knows; it is what a man or woman is able to do that counts."  Virgil

*********** All this time we’ve been checking out a guy’s wheels, a guy’s motor - when we should have been checking his brakes.

That’s the lesson that’s been learned from the performance of NBA super star James Harden.

Writes Ben Cohen in the Wall Street Journal, “He isn’t uncommonly tall, doesn’t jump especially high and can’t run all that quickly. His wingspan is ridiculous for a normal human being but only barely above average in his profession.  There is almost nothing about his makeup that seems exceptional.”

Says Marcus Elliott, the founder and director of Santa Barbara-based Peak Performance Project (P3), which studies that biomechanics of star athletes,
“By all these traditional performance metrics that we track, he’s pretty pedestrian.”

For the last 10 years NBA players have gone to P3 and allowed themselves to be analyzed: on opening day this past season, 46 per cent of NBA players had been analyzed by P3.

Harden went there after last season and was not especially impressive. He was in the 36th percentile in “lateral acceleration,” and in the 54th percentile in “vertical acceleration.”

Says Elliott, “He’s basically at the NBA norms in most acceleration metrics.”  But - and here’s where the secret to his success lies - the reason why he’s able to get off a shot seemingly anytime he wants: “his deceleration metrics are off the charts.’

His “eccentric force” is in the 98th percentile. His “rate of eccentric force development” is in the 99th percentile.  I don’t know what those terms mean, but I gather it means that this sumbitch can be going full-out and stop on a dime.

The important thing to Harden was what the tests confirmed: “I know what I’m great at and what I’m not great at - and I use it to my advantage.”

Writes Cohen, “It’s common to see players who are better at the exact opposite: accelerating quickly and decelerating slowly. But there’s a reason they don’t start in the All-Star Game.”

That’s because, says Elliott, “Those systems aren’t built to survive.  It’s like a Ferrari with a Volkswagen’s braking system.”

Of course, much of Harden’s unusual ability is God-given. 

But to the extent that the ability to decelerate might be a trait that can be developed or improved, those who coach receivers and running backs, linebackers and defensive backs, might want to dig deeper into what these findings might mean for football.

*********** I have to admit that on first reading it slipped my notice, but my friend Gabe McCown of Edmond, Oklahoma brought to my attention that one recent act of the NFHS Football Rules Committee could change the game of football more than anything that’s been done since Walter Camp changed the game from rugby to American football.

In short, the art of rushing the passer is about to become obsolete.  The sack is about to go the way of the leather helmet.

In expanding Rule 2-32-16, which affords protection to “a defenseless player,”  the Rules Committee has slipped in an astonishing additional level of protection for a passing quarterback.  Beginning next season, it will be illegal to hit “A player in the act of or just after throwing a pass.”

Read that again, guys.  “Just after?” No change there. 

But “In the act of?”


Is this Kevlar for quarterbacks, or what? One day, will your grandkids snuggle up to you and, in hopes of putting off bedtime as long as possible, and ask you to tell them again about what it was like in the old days - you know, when you could hit a quarterback just as he started to throw…?

Hook-sliding, evidently,  wasn’t enough.  Neither was permission to intentionally ground the ball. Now, quarterbacks have just been afforded the sort of cosseting they once got only by wearing yellow shirts in practice. 

As my friend Greg Koenig says, “Soon high school football will look like the Pro Bowl.”

Jack Lambert was prophetic:

*********** A western Pennsylvania mother sent her college-student son a “care package.”  Nothing unusual about that, except that instead of brownies and chocolate chip cookies,  this one contained trash - the trash that he’d been too lazy to throw out.

Good job, Mom.  Hmm.  I suspect there’s no dad at home, at least not one with a pair, because if there were,  this never would have happened.

*********** Coach,

I'm going to miss the clinic, but this weekend Bob Reade will speak at the Augustana clinic as part of the "Legends" session.  When I saw that, I dug out and re-read this article that you shared long ago.  I'm glad I did.

Todd Hollis
Elmwood, Illinois


I have long had great admiration for Coach Reade.  For other readers who maybe didn’t see that newsletter Coach Hollis referred to, here it is, in installments

2008 – ISSUE 5 – By Hugh Wyatt –


Every spring, back in the 1980s, several of us Wing-T coaches in the Pacific Northwest would pool our clinic funds and flya different Wing-T expert out to give us an in-depth clinic. The first year it was Ted Kempski, Delaware’s long-time offensive coordinator. The next year it was Ron Rogerson, former Delaware offensive line coach and Maine head coach who’d been just named head coach at Princeton. (Sadly, Coach Rogerson would die of a heart attack not long after.)

Another year, it was Steve Tosches, who had been Ron Rogerson’s OC at Maine, and had succeeded Coach Rogerson at Princeton after his tragic death. Although he had never coached at Delaware, Coach Tosches did run the Delaware system.

So in 1986, I was a bit disappointed to learn that the people we’d put in charge of getting us a clinician had selected a guy named Bob Reade, from Augustana College in Illinois. Yes, he was a very successful coach, and, yes, he did run a Wing-T of some sort, but it was not MY Wing-T. It was not the pure DELAWARE wing-T!!!! What could this guy show me?

Truthfully, I didn’t learn that much from Coach Reade in Wing-T terms. Our systems were significantly different, and my  mind was closed to any outside influences that might lead me astray, that might corrupt my system. I was way too much  of a purist, way too dogmatic in my belief in the Delaware Wing-T to engage in any such heresy.

But while I didn’t get much that impacted my Delaware Wing-T one way or the other, I got something even better – something that would have a profound effect on my coaching ever after.

Fortunately, long after I’d forgotten most of the other stuff they’d tried to teach me in college, I did retain an ability to take good notes, and I sure was able to take a bunch of them listening to Bob Reade that day. I still have them, and I thought  you might enjoy reading a transcription of them.

Call it The Wisdom of Bob Reade. No matter what your level of coaching, I think you’ll find a few nuggets.

First, though, Bob Reade’s coaching credentials…

1963 -WON 4 GAMES
1964 -WON 6 GAMES
1965 -WENT 8-1….AND THEN…



146-23-1 IN 16 SEASONS

*********** Our local newspaper just put out its annual “Portrait of Clark County” section: (“How we live, work, learn and play.”)

This year, it featured a number of “typical” Clark County people.

Yeah, typical.

One was an Episcopal priest.  A female.

She has a tattooed “sleeve.”

She once played on a local roller derby team.

And - ”her partner is transgender.”  I’m still trying to figure out how that one works. I don't  think I want to know.

*********** In Texas a girl who “self-identifies? as a boy won a state wrestling championship - wresting against girls.

If you’re confused, I apologize.  To be honest, the story had me confused, too, for quite some time.

Here’s the deal: the “girl who self-identifies as a boy” wasn’t permitted to compete against real boys because Texas’ high school sports governing body, the UIL, has ruled that the sex on an athlete’s birth certificate will be the sole factor in determining whether he or she can compete as a boy or as a girl.

With me?

So, instead of the unlikely scenario of a girl-identifying-as-a-boy wrestling against real boys…what they got was a girl, whose “transition” to a boy has involved testosterone therapy, wrestling against other girls - ordinary girls who were barred from using  performance-enhancing drugs.  (In the case of our young
“girl who self-identifies as a boy," such drugs, when prescribed for health reasons, are permitted.)

You don’t suppose, do you, that there might be more girls in Texas willing to scam the game -  to “identify” as boys so they can legally take the drugs that will enable them to become “super girls?”

Not that there's a single shady  doctor in Texas who’d prescribe those drugs.

Oh, no.  Just like there aren’t doctors out there who'll somehow find a way to  get healthy people on disability, to get them handicapped parking tags, or get their Chihuahuas called service dogs.

*********** “For what they gave on Saturday afternoon” is the title of a really nice Web site put together by a West Point graduate named Phil Burns.

Since its glory days in the 1940s and 1950s, Army football has had its ups and downs - mostly downs - but few schools can match its long, storied history, and Phil Burns has done a remarkable job of gathering a lot of that Army football history onto one site.

*********** How f—ked up is Major League Baseball, where they have to get rules changes approved by the players’ union, or wait another season before implementing them?

The New York Times recently conducted a readers’ poll on how to speed up the game.  My suggestions:

1. A time limit between pitches. No-brainer.  Football and basketball have done comparable things and survived.
2. The batter can step out of the box all he likes but every time he does it’ll be a called strike.
3. Seven-inning games on weeknights (M-TH) Check out what shortening contests has done for other sports: Cricket, whose shorter “20-20” version has proved to be  hugely popular…  Rugby, played in the Olympics as a much faster-paced seven-man game… Three-on-three hockey, now used in NHL overtime, which is extremely popular…

*********** I'd sit and watch the box that my TV came in before I'd watch the Oscars.  But from what I gather, those self-absorbed turds, whose sole claim to prominence is an ability to play make-believe by reading something that someone else wrote, blew their lines.  Big time. They mistakenly  gave their top award to the wrong movie.

In the vernacular, they  managed to f--k  up a one-car funeral procession.  Yet these are the people who know how the country should be run.

Wrote a guy named Piers Morgan in mailonline, "what it proved is that the very same people who’ve spent the past year screaming that Donald Trump’s an ill-prepared ignoramus who never gets his facts right are in fact no better themselves."

*********** A syndicated columnist named Kathleen Parker tries to pass as a conservative but she's actually a lefty in disguise. She  wrote a column recently in which she described Dallas-based conservative talk show host Dana Loesch as "Making the sign of the devil with her hand - two middle fingers tucked into the palm, pinkie and pointer extended like two horns."  

WTF?  I thought. Sign of the devil?

I dashed off an email to  Ms. Parker,  saying, “I suspect that what you have chosen to interpret as Dana Loesch's ‘sign of the devil’ is better known to millions of Texans - and tens of millions of sports fans nationwide - as the sign of the University of Texas Longhorns, meaning 'Hook 'em, Horns!'  I realize that that doesn't serve your purposes, but come on."

To her credit, she responded, but  to show how dangerous it can be when you don't know - and don't know that you don't know - this was her response:  “that would be the thumb and pinkie.”

Huh?  Sorry, Kathleen.   Anybody who’s ever known a Hawaiian knows that sign, and knows it ain't "Hook 'em Horns."

Hook em

(I sent her the photos.)

*********** Identifying Bill Willis as the first black player to sign a pro contract - with the Cleveland Browns, who then (1946) were members of the All-American Football Conference (AAFC).  Those Browns were really good - they were champions every year of the AAFC’s existence (1946-1949) , and when the AAFC merged with the NFL in 1950, they won the NFL title, too!

Josh Montgomery - Berwick, Louisiana
Adam Wesoloski - Pulaski, Wisconsin
Ken Hampton - Raleigh, North Carolina
Jerry Lovell - Bellevue, Nebraska

 He coached 26 years, at three different black colleges, one each in Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. He lasted only one year at his first job, where his record was just 2-8, but when he retired after 25 more seasons as a head coach, his overall record was 159-93-8.  In his last position, he faced legendary coach Eddie Robinson in the annual”Bayou Classic” three times, and won twice.   It was he who said,“ On the East Coast, football is a cultural experience. In the Midwest, it's a form of cannibalism. On the West Coast, it's a tourist attraction. And in the South, football is a religion, and Saturday is the holy day." 
No, Mario Puzo’s novel wasn’t about our guy, despite his nickname.

american flag FRIDAY,  FEBRUARY 24,  2017  "Football is nothing but composed accidents. The great art is to profit from such accidents. This is the mark of a genius."  General Robert Neyland

*********** New Oregon coach Willie Taggart has decided to pick  a fight with the biggest newspaper in the state, the Portland Oregonian.  He’s not speaking with the Oregonian’s beat guy, Andrew Greif.

He’s pissed about Greif’s report, a little over a month ago, about the pre-season workouts that wound up with three kids hospitalized and the strength coach suspended for a month without pay.

Briefly, Coach Taggart seems upset about Greif’s use of terms like “grueling,” and “akin to military basic training” to describe the workouts, saying that he and Greif had spoken on the phone before the story was written.

He told the Eugene Daily Emerald that his reaction on reading the story was, “You’ve got to be sh—ing me.”  He said, “I explained exactly what happened and he didn’t report it.”

He said that Greif’s choice of words made the workouts sound “malicious.”

Taggart said he and Greif spoke afterwards and he expressed his displeasure - and then, the next day, Greif went on ESPN’s “Outside the Lines.”

“The story is out there, and then the next day you go on the ‘Outside the Lines’ and just not only stabbed me but turned the damn knife,” Taggart told the Emerald. “He wanted his five or 10 minutes of fame and he got it.”

And that’s that. Taggart isn’t taking questions from Greif. Greik has texted Taggart offering to talk things over, and Taggart has ignored him, saying  “When you do something  negative and it’s going to be personal, then I won't have sh— to do with you.”

This is extremely interesting from a historic and cultural standpoint.  When Mark Twain said, “Never pick a fight with people who buy ink by the barrel,”  it was sage advice.  There was no radio or television.  Years later, when there was radio AND television, I got into a spat with a reporter and I lived to regret it. But since then, we’ve seen the Internet come along and  vacuum up not only the classified ads that once kept newspapers alive, but also a lot of the readers that advertisers pay to reach.

Even in its glory days, the Oregonian had its hatchet-job reporters who tried - unsuccessfully - to take down Oregon coaches.  But that was decades ago, and now the paper is a shell of its former self.

Now, like most newspapers, the Oregonian has had to cut back.  It’s laid off reporters and it publishes just four days a week.

Oregon Ducks’ fans’ don’t turn off their interest on those other three days.  They’ve found other ways to follow their Ducks.

Now,  it’s entirely possible that it needs Willie Taggart at least as much as Willie Taggart needs it.

*********** It would have been a lot simpler if he’d just burned  an American flag…

In Omaha, a man who burned a gay pride flag that he took from the porch of a lesbian couple who lived near him was convicted of felony arson - a hate crime - and sentenced to two years’ probation.

*********** In the hope of stopping the decline in participation in wrestling, some states are contemplating  going away from the long-traditional singlet and going to - shorts and tee shirts!?!

In my opinion, the decline has very little to do with singlets and everything to do with Title IX.   A lot of us predicted years ago that this decline was inevitable,  with colleges dropping their wrestling programs in order to comply with Title IX’s insane requirements.

The lack of opportunities to wrestle in college has certainly affected participation at the high school level, and my hat is off to the dedicated people who’ve kept high school programs as strong as they are.

*********** The major high school football (NFHS version) rules changes have been published.

In digest form: 

(1)  they’ve widened the definition of a “blindside block” to prohibit any block against an opponent “who does not see the blocker approaching.”  I think it may be tough to enforce and it’s going to result in a lot of returns being called back, but I applaud it.  I’m growing tired of seeing questionable shots (was the helmet in front or wasn’t it?) when the real question should have been “did the guy see it coming?”

(2) they’ve outlawed the “pop-up” kick, which has become increasingly popular on onside kicks because of the increase in artificial turf fields with their springiness and predictable bounce.  The pop-up kick is defined as “a free kick in which the kicker drives the ball immediately to the ground, the ball strikes the ground once and goes into the air in the manner of a ball kicked directly off the tee.”

(3) they’ve expand the definition of a “defenseless player” - a guy who’s entitled to protection. They’ll probably need, oh, three or four more officials to police the hits away from the play

(4) A defensive player may not contact the ball prior to the end of the snap, and may not make contact with the snapper’s hand or arm until the snapper has released the ball.  (We’ve seen this - defensive geniuses who’ve instructed their kids to swipe at the ball as (or just before) it’s snapped.   Not sure how this is going to be caught.)

(5) Non-contact “face guarding” will no longer be considered pass interference.   Nice to see, finally, a rule that doesn’t favor the passing game!

(6) Jerseys worn by home teams must be a “dark color that clearly contrasts to white.”   Enough of these artsy-fartsy gray jerseys.  Will they give Nike, Adidas and Under Armour a year to get rid of all the gray fabric in their third-world factories?

That’s pretty much it.  I’d like to see them enforce the existing rule requiring a contrast between numbers and jerseys. One thin contrasting outline isn’t sufficient. In all too many cases it’s getting very difficult to distinguish players’ numbers on film.  Must be a bitch for the officials.

*********** So Ole Miss has been caught cheating, eh?  What a surprise.  How else could they have had the nation’s top recruiting class? How else could they have beaten Alabama two years in a row?

Overall, was that so bad?  Didn’t it make football a lot more interesting knowing there was a good chance that a traditionally middle-of-the-pack (or lower) team might beat a powerhouse?

It’s not a crime to pay a kid to come to your college.  Really, the only thing  wrong with all this so-called “cheating” is that it’s against rules - rules that the colleges themselves established because it was in their best interests to have them.  Rules that they can easily change.

Now,  again in their best interests, I think that college football should allow certain schools to do a little bit of what we now call cheating. 

In the same way that horse races are handicapped, teams could be allowed, based on their last-year finish, a certain dollar figure they could pay to this year’s recruits.

The whole think could be administered by the NCAA, but I think it would be a lot more fun for the weaker schools who never cheated to experience the excitement of buying players, too.

The money would be paid out in crisp 100-dollar bills, in plain white envelopes, slipped by an assistant coach (or a designated booster) to the recruit’s father, mother, coach, uncle or half-brother at a small-town Waffle House.

Can’t you just see future official signing day, when a kid sits in his high school gym surrounded by his extended family as everyone wonders whether he’ll put on the Vanderbilt, the Iowa State or the Indiana hat?

I don’t know how they’re going to square the idea of paying a couple of incoming freshmen with the older guys already on their roster who weren’t paid.  I’m just the idea guy.  They don’t pay me to work out the details.

Meantime, North Carolina, which for years had bogus classes in bogus majors which it hid knucklehead athletes, continues to skate…

*********** Ya think maybe this came from Russia?

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*********** Mark Cuban has been spending a lot of time making sure we all know that he dislikes Donald Trump.

That’s his right, of course, but he’s been given more of a stage than most ordinary Americans because he owns a basketball team.