For all his glad-hand and courtly ways, Dietzel is a hard loser, brooding about a lost game for months afterwards. After Michigan beat Army in early October, Dietzel was extremely depressed and refused to read the papers about the game. "It was like having a bright new shiny car and seeing it plunge to destruction into an abyss," he says. Losing to a supposedly weak Oklahoma State 12-7 two weeks ago was even harder to take, but Dietzel blamed himself for not getting his team up and feels Army may be the better for it—come Navy.
Dietzel, who neither smokes nor drinks and is an enthusiastic member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, which frowns on smoking and drinking, set up pins in a bowling alley as a youngster for clothes money (his parents were divorced when he was 7), was an assistant butcher while attending college and at one time thought of becoming a doctor. However, after being selected to the Little All-America (he was center on the Miami University, Ohio team and its captain) he was persuaded by his coach, Sid Gillman, to take up coaching football. Dietzel went to West Point as plebe coach in 1948, to the University of Cincinnati in 1949, to the University of Kentucky (under Bear Bryant) in 1951, to West Point a second time in 1953 and to LSU in 1955. "We never thought of Paul as anything but a West Point coach," says Colonel Emory Adams, athletic director at the academy. "It's as though he's finally come home."
It is safe to say that Dietzel, with his effusive personality and sporty pepper-and-salt jackets, has changed the Point more than it has changed him. After the Penn State game—-Army's biggest win of the year—where cadets in the stands wore coolie hats, a cadet captain was heard to remark that the place was getting to be more like a college campus every day. In one game the cadets were even using the phrase "To hell with Tech" as a cheer. Dietzel himself never says anything stronger than dad-burn.
To the end of beating Navy, Dietzel works a 16-hour day, watching films, planning game strategy, overseeing scrimmages in his briskly competent way ("Let's fire up there, Gos!"), urging some of the players to improve their grades, coloring his charts and sketching his signs ("'When the going gets tough, the tough get going" is one of the latest).
Whether his gimmicks—or Wayne Hardin's—are worthwhile or not will not be determined, by Army's stern criterion, until after Army plays Navy. At another recent Quarterback Club meeting Dietzel discussed Army's schedule—which some criticize as being too easy—and concluded with uncharacteristic grimness: "That last game, you understand, is fairly important to me." It sure is.