Paul Dietzel, young, blond, tall, lithe and supercharged, leaped onto the stage of Thayer Hall at West Point a couple of weeks ago, a microphone looped around his neck, and announced he had a surprise. Head coach at Army since last January and called by some the Mike Todd of college football, Dietzel (see cover) emcees weekly meetings of the Point's Quarterback Club, attended by cadets, officers and friends of Army. Dale Hall, Dietzel's unhappy predecessor (he lost three out of three to Navy), started the club but seldom handled the program; Dietzel, a witty speaker, a chart man, an organizer, an inveterate coiner and borrower of aphorisms and, these days, the busiest man at the Point, delights in leading it. The purpose of the mass get-togethers is to explain game strategy and allow the coach to answer questions. Two panels sit on the stage and read questions. Here and there are signs like "Bean Boston" and "Muzzle the Mutts." For Navy it was "Mothball the Fleet" and "Crumble Crabtown." Under Dietzel, Army is strong on signs, slogans and epigrams. He posts them in the team's locker room and does the artwork himself. Some of his favorite ones are scattered throughout this article.
The surprise was a genuine Republic of China coolie hat. Sixteen hats had been sent to Dietzel from Formosa by Colonel Stuart O'Malley. The imagery was clear and a roar went up. Coolie hats suggest Chinese Bandits; the Chinese Bandits are Dietzel's and now the Point's main trademark.
The Bandits idea—thought up by Dietzel at the University of Cincinnati, popularized by him when he was head coach at LSU and transported by him to the Point—may be the greatest piece of football psychology since Rockne's 1928 plea to the Notre Dame team at half time in the Army game to "win this one for The Gipper." The Bandits are defensive specialists, reveling in their cruel name. While they are not always the best players on the squad, they usually develop into the fiercest.
"The Bandits are getting wilder and wilder," Dietzel murmured after a recent practice, his blue-gray eyes alight with visions of what they might do to Quarterback Roger Staubach and the Navy offense. A few members of the staff had objected to the designation as being undignified, but Dietzel overrode objections. "I could have called them Rough Riders," he says, "but that wouldn't be Paul Dietzel."
The two other Dietzel teams—the 11 best players who play both offense and defense, and the strictly offensive team—are called the Regulars and the Go team. They are more sophisticated. The Bandit uniform has a bandit on the jersey, of course, and a red Chinese bandit with a hatchet stenciled on the socks; the Go team wears rockets on its fronts and a gold stripe around the socks; but the Regulars, presumably the senior citizens of the team, play in dignified plain jerseys (with numbers, of course) and are distinguished from their fellowmen by a black stripe on their socks.
It is the Bandits, naturally, who have captured the wild enthusiasm of the corps (as they captured the enthusiasm of LSU rooters) and who inspired a scary LSU chant that went:
Chinese Bandits on their way,
Listen to what Confucius say!
Chinese Bandits like to knock,
Gonna stop a touchdown, CHOP! CHOP!
Applause welled up from the Quarterback Club audience as Dietzel produced one of the hats from a box and bounded down the aisle with it. He presented it to Colonel Russell (Red) Reeder, assistant director of athletics—"the chief Chinese Bandit," Dietzel called him. Reeder donned the hat, and an alert corps photographer jumped into the aisle and snapped his picture.
Bounding back on the stage, Dietzel cued the Army- George Washington film, spicing explanations of the plays with throwaways like, "I don't know how we kept from scoring on that play, but we did," and, about a reverse that failed, "One of the officers gave me that play." The audience chuckled, Army having won 14-0. The first non- West Point graduate to become head coach since 1911, Dietzel finds that sly pokes at the military go over big. So do references to Navy.
Tongue in cheek, he wondered how poor Jimmy Stewart, the Navy halfback, was. Stewart was the player who feigned injury in the game against Pitt, limped to the sideline, where he was disregarded by Pitt pass defenders, and sprinted downfield to catch a pass that gave Navy its first touchdown—a trick play often used by sandlot teams. Pitt appeared shocked by the duplicity and folded. "Well," summed up Dietzel in a kind of moral tone, "at least that shows what we're up against." The partisan audience was amused.