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Walter Bingham
October 22, 1962
Far West football, which seldom has had more than one good team at a time, suddenly has six, and they are a match for anyone
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October 22, 1962

Big Surge On The West Coast

Far West football, which seldom has had more than one good team at a time, suddenly has six, and they are a match for anyone

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In spite of the wealth of football talent on the Coast, AAWU coaches recruit more vigorously and in wider range than ever before. "I think Owens' success in the Rose Bowl gave all coaching staffs the incentive to go out and come up with the goods," says George Dickerson, former UCLA coach. When Marv Levy arrived at California, he and Athletic Director Pete Newell worked night and day on recruitment. Newell was astonished when he talked to several prominent athletes from other schools who said they might have attended California except that no one had approached them. Consequently, Levy has burned three sets of tires off athletic department automobiles in the last two years making runs into the hinterlands. California's recruitment program has awakened other schools. Len Casanova, coach of Oregon, praised the Levy-Newell combination this summer. "Too often when we meet a good prospect," he said, "we learn that California has already talked to him."

Stanford, which likes to think of itself as the Harvard of the West, has also accelerated its recruiting program. "We're going farther afield," says Chuck Taylor, the athletic director. "We work harder on the Rocky Mountain area [probably because of Coach Jack Curtice, who came directly from Utah], in Texas and in the Northwest." The Stanford roster shows that 27 of the 55 listed players are from out of state, and that 18 are from southern California.

Since the arrival of Jim Owens at Washington, West Coast football teams have put great emphasis on speed. Coaches are always on the prowl for linemen who can cover five yards in nothing flat. "I don't think the West Coast compares physically with the Big Ten," says Don Clark, former USC coach. "They can still outmuscle us, but our quickness makes up the difference." At Washington the Huskies go through their exercises with the precision of the Radio City Rockettes, responding to the hoarse barks of the quarterbacks who stand at the rear. In this manner they become accustomed to the voice of the signal-caller and react instantaneously to the precise signal on which they are to move. It is the initial thrust, Owens feels, that can overpower a beefier opponent.

Basically, however, the West Coast style of play is to stress defense. "I know we're playing a lot better defense," John McKay says. "And when I say 'we,' I mean all the Coast schools. UCLA certainly showed that on those goal-line stands against Ohio State. I feel our defense against Iowa forced them into a good many errors. You've got to be stubborn to win against cop competition and that stubbornness should begin on defense."

A West Coast offense is generally a balanced attack. Owens, unless he has an outstanding quarterback such as Bob Schloredt, never uses the forward pass except as an integrated weapon in a comprehensive attack. Most AAWU coaches agree with Owens. Even Jim Sutherland, the soft-spoken Washington State coach, announced recently that he was abandoning his emphasis on the forward pass, despite having a record-setting end in Hugh Campbell.

"How many passing teams are winning?" he asked. "To be effective you must have 65% completions and there isn't a college passer who can do this."

Sutherland has a young team and next year Washington State may be the big power on the West Coast. California, too, has a coming team, loaded with sophomores and juniors. And, of course, there will be UCLA, USC and Washington. One thing is certain. With all the coaches intent on building dynasties, West Coast football seems headed for its strongest era. The big crowds that have deserted the stadiums in favor of baseball and pro football will return. When they do, they will be watching what may be the best football in the country.

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