"I told the guys when I came here," Erdelatz says, "that I was gonna coach the way I wanted to be coached when I was playing. Nobody ever helped me by cussing."
Without benefit of profanity, Erdelatz has helped Navy to a 6-2 record this season. More important is his past performance in the one game that is to Navy a season in itself. Navy has played Army four times since Erdelatz left an assistant coaching job with the professional San Francisco 49ers for Annapolis. Under Erdelatz Navy has beaten Army?and the cadets' famous Coach Red Blaik?three times and lost only once.
At 41, Erdelatz still finds himself called "Eddie" by everyone. He is a quiet and easygoing man, but for Navy's Eddie Erdelatz life has been rarely easy and never quiet.
Two weeks after his birth, in San Francisco, his mother died. Erdelatz's father ran a saloon. By the time Eddie was 2 years old he was being raised by a couple past 70. Growing up as an orphan, he went through troubled times until his father stepped back into the picture and sent him to St. Joseph's Academy in Berkeley. It was there that Erdelatz discovered football.
After that it was all football. Erdelatz starred in high school and at St. Mary's College. He started line-coaching at St. Mary's in 1936 and worked his way up as a coach, until Navy called for him.
That was in 1949 and Navy summoned Erdelatz because the Middies had grown weary of losing to Army. They are not yet weary of beating Army, but that's not the fault of Eddie Erdelatz.