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Dan Jenkins
September 16, 1974
The NFL coaches are perceptively and irreverently described by an old fan
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September 16, 1974

Ever See So Many Geniuses?

The NFL coaches are perceptively and irreverently described by an old fan

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LOU SABAN, The Bills:

The Garbage Man and a career head coach. He invites any waived player, cast-off or retread to try out for his teams. He has been the head man at Case Tech, Northwestern, Western Illinois, Boston, Buffalo, the University of Maryland, Denver and now at Buffalo again. If Owner Ralph Wilson can figure Saban out, he may be the only one who can. After he won the AFL title with Buffalo in 1964 on Cookie Gilchrist's running, he traded him. After he signed a multi-year contract to coach Maryland, he left after one. After he signed a 10-year contract at Denver, he left after five. Once he quit coaching to go into private business.

The only clue to his past is a statement: "I don't think winning is everything. There ought to be more to football than drawing circles and diagramming plays."

Says Wilson: "Lou doesn't think it's the same game it once was. Paying high salaries to rookies and dealing with lawyers and accountants have taken some of the fun out of the game. He thinks there are forces taking the game away from the coaches."

Saban was a Chinese language interpreter in the China- Burma theater during World War II. Maybe he ought to try Chinese on the lawyers and accountants. Meanwhile, he can just let O.J. Simpson run.


Smooth. Good guy. Nice-looking. At Oklahoma one of those sharp young men with a stunning record. Chuck was there with the Steve Owenses, Jack Mildrens and Greg Pruitts. And the Wishbone. In six years he won or tied for the Big Eight title three times, he had a Heisman Trophy winner (Owens), he finally beat Texas and he coached one of those Games of the Decade against Nebraska.

At New England last year his pro debut was, shall we say, a quiet one. The record was 5-9, but he has Jim Plunkett, and now he has traded for Jack Mildren, who, if he can make the squad as a defensive back, is capable of coming in and running the Wishbone again, just to see what would happen.

"It could never be a major part of your offense in the pros," says Chuck. "You'd have to have six quarterbacks, and a dozen running backs, and you'd have to find fast linemen rather than big ones."

JOHN RALSTON, The Broncos:

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