From the rubble
of the late Pacific Coast Conference had sprung a new conference of five
schools—USC, UCLA, California, Washington and Stanford—with the cumbersome
title of Athletic Association of Western Universities. This year the conference
expanded to include Washington State, and there is an excellent chance that
both Oregon and Oregon State will soon join.
stirred the new AAWU to meet the competition at Washington. Young coaches were
hired: John McKay at USC and Marv Levy at California. They brought young ideas
with them. (A Phi Beta Kappa at Coe, Levy got his master's degree in history at
Harvard.) They filmed practice sessions to help diagnose weaknesses and they
introduced novelties in coaching techniques that have sharpened offensive and
defensive stratagems. For example, Levy has a clock scrimmage where one unit is
given the ball on the 40-yard line with two minutes to play and the score 13-7
against them. "This hones a team's ability to determine an attack to fit a
given and often desperate game situation," says Levy. At USC, John McKay
sometimes starts his game units off near the goal line and orders them to pass
or run for a touchdown, using anywhere from 14 to 18 men on defense to make
imaginative coaches are only part of the reason for the West's success this
season. There are, after all, young coaches with imagination in every
conference in the country. UCLA's coach, Billy Barnes, thinks the population
growth in California is largely responsible. "There are simply more people,
more students than ever before," he says. "With all these students you
are bound to find more and better football players or tuba players or anything
else you care to select." There are now 791 high schools in California
playing football, 149 more than 10 years ago.
All of the
coaches in the AAWU agree that the quality of high school coaching has improved
tremendously in recent years.
more stress placed on making the boy understand the theories of football,"
says Barnes. "For instance, why you execute a block a certain way rather
than just teaching the boy by rote."
With the increase
in potential college students in the West Coast area has come a natural rise in
academic standards in all six AAWU schools. Coaches have concentrated on
getting brighter, more adaptable youngsters and, to a large degree, they have
discovered with pleasant shock that they've gotten better football players,
too. As a result, the unending worry of keeping subacademic types in school has
There has also
been a sharp increase in junior colleges in California, from 42 to 59 in 10
years. The junior college system up and down the Coast has done much to provide
the larger schools with better-grade football players. A system almost
restricted to the West, the two-year junior college permits a player who is
substandard academically to repair his report card while he is polishing his
football skills. In Washington, where the instate entrance grade point is lower
than that for out-of-state students, the junior colleges permit a student to
establish residence and thus qualify under the instate requirement.
players have only two years of eligibility left when they transfer, but their
level of play has become so advanced in recent years they have little trouble
adjusting to major-college football. "A few years ago," says Mel Hein,
the old pro center, now an assistant at USC, "none of us expected much help
from a jaycee boy before the end of the year but more likely not until the
second. Not anymore. Right now we have the finest set of linebackers we've ever
had and all three played junior college football last year."