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Shave Off That Thing!
John Underwood
September 01, 1969
This, in effect, is what Oregon State Coach Dee Andros told Linebacker Fred Milton (left). Milton refused to shave his beard, Andros kicked him off the team and all hell broke loose. Andros survived the furor, but other coaches haven't been as lucky, notably Bob Ward of Maryland, who quit after his football players rebelled
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September 01, 1969

Shave Off That Thing!

This, in effect, is what Oregon State Coach Dee Andros told Linebacker Fred Milton (left). Milton refused to shave his beard, Andros kicked him off the team and all hell broke loose. Andros survived the furor, but other coaches haven't been as lucky, notably Bob Ward of Maryland, who quit after his football players rebelled

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"But I cut practices from two hours to an hour and a half one time because the players said the last hour was pure drudgery. We immediately had better practices and better spirit. I had a rule about wearing medallions and I took that one off. Change is always necessary. Policy is created by change. There could easily come a day when I will allow neat mustaches if it is the consensus of the team and does not distract from our purpose, but I will not do it to appease some pressure group. That is exactly the reason I haven't hired a black assistant coach. I'll hire one, but only when I believe in his ability, his worth as a coach and a man. To do otherwise is unfair to him and to everybody. That's not progress, that's extortion.

"Some people will hold all this against me," Andros continued, "and I'm sure it has hurt our recruiting of black players. We went after two good ones and never had a chance. But I've coached 20 years and was never reproached by blacks before. No one ever charged me with racism. If you're a bigot it will catch up to you and you won't win. Several black athletes have come to me and told me they sympathize with my position in this thing, but they are afraid to speak out. That's why I know this will straighten out. With all the fuss, we've never had better morale. Never. I don't expect a repeat of this episode. I have too much faith in my kids."

In May, after eight weeks of study, a student-faculty commission at Oregon State issued a report to the president of its findings on the Milton-Andros case. The committee was made up of six faculty members and four students, including one former football player, George Carr, who is the new president of the BSU at Oregon State. By the conciliatory tone of the report, it was evident that Andros had won his point.

The conclusion of the commission was that "neat mustaches" should be allowed but beards were "doubtful," and that Andros had violated Milton's rights. "but not deliberately." Andros said he would take the recommendations under advisement, but he would decide which to accept and which to discard. Athletic Director Barratt said he would leave the rules up to his coaches. As hot as the issues had been, Andros couldn't resist poking a little fun at himself. He said The Great Punkin went back East last March for a coaching clinic and made a stop in New York City to leave his wife and child with one of his brothers, who is a New York advertising executive. The brother met them at the airport. Since the last time Andros had seen him, he had grown a lovely Vandyke.

The football jersey bearing No. 28 is the only one ever to be retired by the University of Maryland. It was worn by Robert Richard Ward, an All-America guard under the late Jim Tatum during the vintage years (1948-51) of Maryland football. Ward played at 185 pounds. A friend remembers him as a man of almost fanatical determination. "You thought twice before you tried to burn Bobby Ward," he says. Ward himself says: "I have always been an aggressive person. At 185 pounds, playing guard, I had to be aggressive."

Ward had served a 15-year apprenticeship as an assistant coach at Maryland, Iowa State, Oklahoma and Army when he came back to Maryland as head coach in January 1967. His last stop had been at West Point. He loved coaching at West Point. The regimentation of the corps inspired him; the disciplined cadets on the Army team responded to his aggressiveness. At West Point coaching was fun for Bob Ward. He said when he took the Maryland job he would try to give his players "the same zest for the game I had when I played."

In his first year as head coach Maryland lost nine straight games. "It was a nightmare," Ward says. "The first Maryland team ever that did not win a game. I worked so hard I got numb. I was in the office by 6:30 every morning and some nights I wouldn't get home until after 10 and still we lost. I'm sure the boys had their confidence shattered. It didn't help mine, getting the hell kicked out of us. By the end of the season we were all numb."

The second season came and went with only slight improvement. Maryland won two, lost eight. Ward had done the things he thought necessary. He had been demanding, he had been aggressive, he had driven his players and he had driven himself—the same formula that made Jim Tatum, his mentor, a roaring success. But Ward had not been a success. As his troubles mounted, it was his critics who roared.

Last March, at a meeting called by Athletic Director Jim Kehoe, 120 players—some no longer on the team—and a three-man committee representing the university met with Ward and his assistants. Thirty-one of the players looked Bob Ward in the eye and told him they did not want to play for him anymore. They accused him of physical abuse and belittling them, of fear tactics, of threatening the loss of scholarships, of "a lack of communication." They questioned his technical ability.

To a man, they came to the hanging neatly dressed in coats and ties—"we're nice, clean-cut guys, we're not regular college protesters," said one—and they presented their case in an orderly fashion. "They were poised and showed dignity and deep conviction," said Kehoe.

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