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ARMY'S RETURN TO POWER
Booton Herndon
November 22, 1954
Three years ago a great West Point football machine was destroyed. Here is the story of how Col. Red Blaik, despite a personal heartbreak, rebuilt Army into a top 1954 team
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November 22, 1954

Army's Return To Power

Three years ago a great West Point football machine was destroyed. Here is the story of how Col. Red Blaik, despite a personal heartbreak, rebuilt Army into a top 1954 team

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This Saturday, Nov. 20, the corps of cadets will sit down to a noonday dinner of:

Pineapple coleslaw with sweet-cream dressing
Baked Shepherd's pie with Dutchess potato crust
Buttered garden peas
Bread, butter
Cupcakes
Coffee with light cream

Rollie Bevan, however, edited this menu down a bit for the football squad. With a little practice game coming up, they will have:

Orange juice
Steak, 4 oz.
Two slices toast, one pat butter
One glass milk

Most Army players would weigh 10 pounds more at any Bevan-less institution. But Coach Blaik has said, many a time, that his rawboned 190-pounders pack a far greater punch than rubber-tired pros outweighing them by 60 pounds.

ORGANIZATION, SIR!

Most pro teams don't scrimmage at all, and many colleges cut down on it after the season is underway. Blaik, whose own day runs from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. and who hasn't taken a vacation in 13 years, has his men knocking heads three days a week right on through. He even takes movies of his scrimmages, and he and the staff spend hours a day studying them. When the boys come out to practice, the coaches are laying for them with clip boards detailing every mistake. This, sir, is organization.

If a staff of Army psychologists was assigned to draw up a directive establishing heredity and environmental background for coaches, football, they could not possibly better that of Earl H. Blaik. His father was a Scotch immigrant who became a prosperous realtor and community leader. "Blaik-built" still means a good house in Dayton, Ohio. But the elder Blaik saw to it that Earl worked for his spending money.

Blaik's mother was a warmhearted churchwoman with a bright sense of humor who had hot homemade bread with butter and sugar on it waiting when he came home from school. Blaik today is a man of great inner security, almost standoffish, but with some humor and no false pride. He has a habit of sitting with Rollie Bevan after practice, nervously tearing off strips of adhesive tape and sticking them somewhere. Someone once called him to the phone during a tape-tearing session, and he jumped off the training table and fell flat on his face. He'd absent-mindedly taped his own feet together. The colonel was able to laugh at himself.

Blaik played a lot of end at Miami University in Ohio, then lettered in three sports at West Point. He put in a year in the cavalry, but, like so many other officers of the inflated postwar Army, resigned and went into business. He did a little part-time coaching on the side, and it wasn't long before he was at it full time. He went to West Point in 1927, and was civilian assistant to three successive regular Army officers before he woke up. He became head coach at Dartmouth, and promptly began putting together great teams.

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