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"But if you're going to be demanding and get those kids to die for you out there, you'd better hug 'em off the floor, you'd better be concerned about their lives, and you'd better give 'em love."
Presley's mixture of affection and abuse has worked beautifully over the years. His teams have won 517 of 726 games over 28 seasons. Last year at Menlo he became the first coach to win the Charles B. Emerick Teaching Prize.
The question naturally arises: If this Presley guy is such-a genius, such a great motivator and such a defensive wizard that pro coaches call him in to teach their players—which they do—how come he's not working at a major college?
Age is one reason. Not many schools are willing to hire a man 56. An even more likely reason is Presley's habit of raving about gutless administrators and namby-pamby psychologists.
More than 10 years ago, practically on the eve of his being named the coach at College of San Mateo, a good junior college job, Presley got into a brawl with two hecklers at a Cubberley High game. Avina got the job instead, built a good record and moved on to Portland. In 1966 Presley did get an assistant's position at Gonzaga, with a good chance of taking over as head man in a few years, but he had a dispute with his boss and left.
If he had his life to live over, Presley would do many things differently, but he would still be a coach. He speaks about his calling with revival-tent fervor.
"Coaching can be discouraging at times," he told a clinic recently, "but far more often it is deeply satisfying and rewarding. Youngsters are naive, they are variable, they are sometimes obstinate and incomprehensible, but they are also warm, flexible, loyal and incurably optimistic. They lift us up when we are down, they deify us when we and all our peers know that we have feet of clay, and they constantly reaffirm our faith in the innate goodness of man.
"No matter how much we give of ourselves to our kids, we can never match by half what they give us in return. We tend to bellyache and despair at times. Some of us are petty and belittle our fellow coaches, and all of us by necessity are a little insane. But we should count our blessings because we in the coaching profession are the most fortunate people on the face of the earth."