A NEW CHALLENGE
One night after we'd won the C.I.F. championship, Jim Sutherland came to my home. We talked. Jim told me he wanted to get in the big time. "I want to meet a new challenge," he said. "I want to see if my stuff will go in the colleges." So I told Jim, if that's what you want, I will help you and I won't charge you for it. I called Frank Storment, our local Cal "genie," and ascertained that he felt as I did that California could use a slight change in their offense. Mr. Storment contacted Mr. Lynn Waldorf, head coach, and in due course an appointment was arranged for Mr. Waldorf, his assistant, Mr. Wes Fry, and Mr. Jim Sutherland. Jim wound up with a salary that was still below his high school figure, but he sold his home in Pacific Palisades and moved bag and baggage to Berkeley where he bought a new home. Mr. Waldorf had Jim photographed with all the new quarterback prospects and announced in the papers that he was the new Cal aide to coach quarterbacks and ends. And that was the last that anybody heard of Jim Sutherland. He became the forgotten man.
Ronnie still had a couple of big summer games to play before he enrolled at Cal?the annual North-South Shrine game in Los Angeles in August and the big All-American high school game at Memphis, Tenn. In the Shrine game he threw two touchdown passes and was voted the outstanding player. I was given to understand that Cal didn't want him to go to Memphis?Pappy Waldorf was afraid he might get hurt or something?but he played anyway and I got my expenses paid to go down and watch him. In the South we have a saying: just be tough enough and they'll give you candy and fan you while you eat it. Ronnie was also voted the outstanding player in the All-American game, although the East won, 19-13.
The day Ronnie finally enrolled at Cal with all those rosy promises in mind, the disillusionment started. He was told to report to the stalwart in charge of the job program. "Why, son," this gentleman said, "if you went to work on the Berkeley Gazette, that would make you ineligible!" The big TV jobs melted too. I sat down and tried to figure it. It struck me like a bolt out of the blue. Wasn't old man Knox such a rabid football fan that as long as Ronnie was given the opportunity to be a big star he would go along and give his all for the game? Well, I guess they know now. I am not as easy as I appear.
Ronnie's letters also showed his disappointment at the scrimmages. Three days before the Stanford-Cal frosh game he wrote to me: "Dad, we're in for an awful lacing Saturday. We haven't got enough ammunition." I wrote back and advised him to use his own noodle and if he couldn't win with the plays he'd been taught at Cal, to call time out and make up his own he'd learned in high school.
Well, Stanford made 14 first downs before we made one and the score going into the middle of the second quarter was 12-0, their favor. Then Ronnie called time out. He told Terry Prindiville, a converted tackle at right end, "Go three yards and look at me." In three plays, Terry is standing in the end zone with a touchdown pass in his arms. A similar series of plays produced another six-pointer.
Ronnie then observed that the defensive safety man was slowly creeping up behind the line. He called time out again. We do not have a pass pattern to go behind the safety man as Cal's system does not provide for one. So Ronnie tells Delton Morris, a nine-seven sprinter, "On the next play go right past the safety." Zoom! Six! Conversion. Final: Cal 19, Stanford 12.
I decided then and there to have a little talk with Coach Waldorf. After all, it was his system Ronnie was playing under. He said to come over to his house at 9 o'clock. I brought along my good friend Jim Sutherland. Waldorf said to me, "Harvey, just what do you want for Ronnie?" I said, "Pappy, it's simple. Just what you promised him." "And what do you want for Harvey?" I said, "Nothing." "Third, what do you want for Jim Sutherland?" I replied, "Just what you promised Jim when you hired him: 1) to incorporate his offense into yours; 2) to give him a chance to coach offense; 3) to put it in the papers that he definitely is the quarterback and end coach." It took us nine hours to cover these points?until 6 a.m. Pappy just sat there in his chair while I needled him. "Open the wound, Harvey," he'd say, "open it wide," and he'd throw his hands out.
A short time later, Sutherland was given a raise and in spring training it was announced that he was Waldorf's new passing and offense coach. It looked good. But the fact remains that Jim coached 60 minutes of the entire spring training program, no more. And Ronnie still complained of being limited in his offense. He finally went up to see Waldorf of his own volition and told him of his dissatisfaction. Waldorf informed him that he would go out the next day, send all his assistants into the stands, and take charge himself. He did. For my dough, it was the worst scrimmage they ever had at Cal.
TIME TO GET OUT