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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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After the meeting one player said, "I never hated anyone in my whole life the way I hate that man. I only wish they'd given us more than five minutes to speak. I have that much to say." Another said that Ward "just doesn't know football. He just screams at us. He gets so emotional on the sidelines he can't think straight."

Ward didn't defend himself. He listened to the charges and declined to answer them. He says now that he cannot recall having a worse experience. He was stunned by some of the comments, angered by others, disillusioned by the whole thing. "Don't they know what it takes to win?" he asked a friend. Two days later Ward resigned. Until now, he has kept his silence.

"There were so many things, so involved, too deep to go into, you'd need days to hear it all," he says. "I won't go into all the specifics, but it wasn't the good players who started it. It was the guys who couldn't fight their way out of a paper bag, guys who sat on the bench and couldn't take it and a couple of pip-squeak cub newspaper guys who don't know what football's all about.

"It happens. Some little sawed-off guy, 5 feet 5, 135 pounds, he can't help it, God made him that way, but he can't play, so he gets on the campus newspaper and all of a sudden he's got power he never thought of having. That's what it's all about on campuses today, power, whether it's in qualified hands or not, and when boys see other boys getting it they want it, too. They just copy what the rest of the kids are doing. They're like sheep."

The student paper, the Maryland Diamondback, had been on Ward almost from the start because he moved all the football players into the top two floors of a dormitory named Ellicott Hall. "That meant we had to move a few of the other students out to other dormitories and the paper made a big fuss about it," Ward says. "But Maryland had a history of athletes flunking out. My thought was—and I was advised to do this by Mr. Kehoe, which is ironic, because he had a lot to do with my leaving—that putting them together might be a good thing. [Kehoe denies he had anything to do with the move.] I wanted closeness with my players, a year-round communication, which is ironic, too, in view of what was said later. And, of course, when they did rebel they were all together, right where I put them, and every night it was like a convention for the gripers.

"I cracked down on many things. I wanted them to keep their rooms presentable, to go to class. If they had an early class and weren't out of their rooms by 7:15, I went around and got 'em out. I ordered a study period from 7:30 to 9:30 every night, Sunday through Thursday. I had a coach in there. I kept a close check on their grades. The first year we had only two boys flunk out.

"After awhile I got reports of some boys being out to 2 and 3 o'clock, getting into trouble. Not big trouble, but enough where I got calls from the campus police. The study period was being abused, too. Parents told me their boys couldn't study because of the noise. So we ordered a 12 o'clock curfew, and the boys that were in academic trouble we moved to the seventh floor. For awhile the seventh floor was restricted—nobody out after 7. We discontinued that because my assistant told me the boys got too restless. They wanted to get out a little. Go get a pizza. The boys who were doing all right were kept on the eighth floor and they could go and come as they pleased.

"I know the ones who were in trouble griped about all the restrictions, but the point is, if anybody was interested in their academic welfare it was me. I worked so hard on that I probably neglected other things.

"When we went on the field, I got pretty mean with them. Not mean, but aggressive—grab 'em, slap 'em on the helmet, that kind of thing, things if you don't know what football is all about, you can't understand. I said when I walked through that gate I was going to be the toughest man on the field. What I've heard about Bear Bryant makes me think I did things a lot like him, things I believe it takes to win. At Army, they responded. We won eight games and Tom Cahill was named the Coach of the Year. But at Maryland they didn't want to fight for it.

"A lot of guys quit or were put off the team my first year—bad apples with bad attitudes, guys who always griped. It's always the same ones who cause the problems. The same guys. I understand the guys who got into trouble are still getting into trouble, causing problems. One boy said I kicked him and I might have with the side of my foot, the way you do when you're in the heat of coaching and you're trying to get things done.

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