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Pat Putnam
June 29, 1970
Led by a coach who doesn't give a hang about hair, the University of California, which hadn't won an NCAA track championship since 1922 and didn't score a point last year, got off fast to win at Des Moines
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June 29, 1970

Cal Cuts Down The Barberians

Led by a coach who doesn't give a hang about hair, the University of California, which hadn't won an NCAA track championship since 1922 and didn't score a point last year, got off fast to win at Des Moines

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When young Dave Maggard moved up from assistant to head track coach at the University of California at Berkeley last summer, he called in his troops and told them he would measure only their times and distances, not their hair or their politics. He was, he said, a track coach, not a barber. He intended to run a track program, not a sociology class. Give yourself 100% in life, baby, he said. Just give me the same on the Tartan. Goatees began to flourish; so did performances. Hair grew long, times grew short. Morale, a problem at Cal in recent years, soared. Outsiders laughed and said Maggard was nothing but a hippie coach. They didn't say it to his face. He's 6'3" and 250 pounds, a quiet giant with short hair who finished fifth in the shotput in the 1968 Olympics. "I'm hardly a hippie," he says. "I just don't agree with a lot of people who make a big thing out of mustaches and long hair. Within reason, every guy is an individual."

Last weekend Maggard and his individuals slipped into Des Moines, Iowa for the NCAA championships and were immediately seeded to finish somewhere between C. W. Post and Occidental, if that high. The year before they hadn't scored a point. They hadn't won an NCAA track and field championship in 48 years. They won, of course.

Cal won by scoring only 40 points, while 59 other teams were carving up each other and the remaining 673 points, and when night fell on Des Moines last Saturday the only favorite in town left standing was Sally Rand, Christian College, class of 1919, who was stripping at Sasto's Club on Sixth St.

The first to fall was everybody's favorite, UCLA. Its highly touted 440 relay team never got past the first handoff in Thursday's preliminaries. UCLA and Texas-El Paso had posted the fastest times this year, 39.4, and neither figured to do worse than pick up the eight points for second place. But Ronnie Welch, UCLA's leadoff man, pulled a muscle rounding the turn, and when Reggie Robinson stuck out his hand for the baton it wasn't there. "Well," said UCLA Coach Jim Bush to UTEP Coach Wayne Vandenburg, "I guess that wraps everything up for your team."

"Like hell it does," said Vandenburg. "We haven't scored a point yet."

Now a slight favorite, UTEP began adding up its point potential: the 440 relay team, Paul Gibson in the 220 and the 120 hurdles, three sprinters, a few here from the field, a few there from the six-mile. "I get 50 plus," said Vandenburg late Thursday night, "but when you start talking about sprints and relays anything can happen. UCLA figured it gave us a 10-point jump when it dropped the stick, but it can happen to us and we're both back to zero."

That's what it became Friday—zero. UTEP was disqualified in the 440 relay for running out of its zone before the handoff was completed. Then it was zero-minus. All three UTEP sprinters failed to qualify in the 100.

It got worse. UTEP's Kerry Pearce, one of the favorites, and John Bednarski didn't score in the six-mile, won by Ohio's Bob Bertelsen in the NCAA-record time of 27:57.5. Gibson, however, took the 120 hurdles as expected.

Then it was time for the 100 final: people like Mel Gray and Jim Green and Herb Washington—and a couple of kids from California, Eddie Hart and Isaac Curtis, who finished one-two. Cal went from nothing to 18 points and the lead in 9.4 seconds.

"It's nice to be ahead," said Maggard Friday night, "but I won't say I'm surprised. A lot of people could win this thing: Oregon, Brigham Young, Washington State. UCLA isn't out of it yet. They still have two pole vaulters who could do well. And all of Villa-nova's great runners go tomorrow."

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