- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
This weekend a balding, bespectacled gentleman with the nose of a hawk and the title of Head Football Coach at Columbia University can afford to take it easy. With no game of his own, he may even go down to Philadelphia to watch Army play Navy. He knows both of these teams well, and philosophically, too. One of them beat him by 55 points; the other less but plenty. So did nearly everybody else (notable exception: Columbia 7, Harvard 6), but this did not greatly bother Lou Little. As he has most years, Little this fall had to fashion a Columbia team out of an assortment of undergraduates that would set a Big Ten coach quivering with job insecurity.
Not Lou. He long ago stopped worrying about his personal fortunes. With a 24 season record of 106 wins, 94 losses and 10 ties, Little is probably the most envied man in his "profession," not because of his record, which on the surface is not distinguished, but because of his university, which is. The pressure to win at all costs that makes many coaches' lives a hell on earth simply doesn't exist at Columbia.
A good sample of the kind of support Little gets came last year after a so-so season of four wins and five losses. Robert Harron, assistant to the president of the university, was approached in the Columbia Club by an aging football enthusiast who shook his head solemnly. "Pretty bad season," he muttered.
"We'll do better next year," Harron told him.
"We'd better," the old grad said grimly. "If we don't, Lou Little's liable to leave us for another school."
With that kind of backing it would be easy for most men to forget they ever had other ambitions. Not Lou Little. He still wishes, at the age of 61, that he had had enough sense to follow his original intention of studying medicine and becoming a country doctor.
"Coaching," he will tell you, "is something I wouldn't recommend to anyone. I tell my boys that if they're smart enough to get into Columbia, they have no business going into professional football or coaching. They ought to aim at something more productive and worthwhile like medicine, law or engineering."
Little does a great deal more than simply lecture to his boys. He exerts pressure in strong doses with the result?probably unique in college football?that more than half of a typical year's squad actually winds up in graduate or professional study of some kind. Little is particularly proud of his players who have become doctors. It's a sort of compensation for his own lapse.
THE WELL-ROUNDED MAN
But while Little preaches that the primary purpose of any college should be academic development, he doesn't underrate football and other competitive sports. "I think every college undergraduate should participate in some form of competitive activity," he said recently. "It's just not right for a student to go to college and not give something in return in the way of campus participation and leadership."