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."
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.
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.
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.