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Like most head coaches today, Dodd does very little actual coaching himself. "Most of the coaching I do is with my staff," says Dodd. "We get together for planning sessions in the morning and we go over what I want them to do with the team that day. The method is mine. The technique is mine. But the actual teaching, that's something else. Oh, I'll get out there and show a boy how to punt or how to quarterback. These are the things I'm best at. But how to throw a brush block, or how to block downfield or how to tackle—I've got specialists on my staff to teach these things, and they teach them better than I ever possibly could. Coaching nowadays is a complicated proposition. When I played at Tennessee, General Neyland had two assistants and that was it. Times have changed since then. I've got anywhere from 16 to 19 coaches out working with the squad every day. You have to have offensive specialists and defensive specialists. Sort of two-platoon coaching. The head coach—he spends most of his time talking to quarterback clubs, answering phone calls from alumni, making personal appearances, talking to reporters. Sometimes I feel lucky to get out on the field on a Saturday afternoon."
Though Dodd is only 48, there are always rumors that he will give up coaching and become full-time athletic director, yielding the Tech eleven to Assistant Head Coach Ray Graves.
"There's always stories about me going to quit," laughs Dodd. "I'm only 48 and I've got a lot of years left. But I'll tell you this. I've been in this game too long to have to start taking a lot of guff from people because we've had a bad season. The day the complaints start coming in about Bobby Dodd, that's the day I quit. I figure it takes about two bad seasons to get people down on you. Then they start yelling and calling you names. Well, just as soon as that starts happening, I'm through. I'll just step down and let Ray Graves take over. But as long as things are going right—and they seem to be—I'm going to coach football. Hell, it's fun. And I like it."
Dodd rubbed the bridge of his battered nose tenderly. It had been broken years ago when he was an undergraduate at Tennessee. Oddly enough, the injury was not suffered in football, but in basketball. "Vance Maree," Dodd laughed. "That old son of a gun Vance Maree busted my nose. We come down to Atlanta to play Tech in basketball. I was a guard. Vance—now he was a great football player, a tackle on Tech's Rose Bowl team—but at basketball he was nothin' at all. Well, he come up and whopped me on the nose with his elbow or something, and I went off on queer street for a minute or two. One of the trainers plugged my nose with cotton and we went on with the game. We beat Tech—I forget what the score was—but we beat 'em anyhow. My nose was hurting a little after the game and I think I decided to give it a good blow. Well, sir, a piece of bone that seemed like the size of a walrus tusk comes plunking out and my nose just caved in on one side and it's been like this ever since. There wasn't any way you could put that bone back up in there. And I never got hurt a lick playing football."
Bobby was never much of a student at Tennessee. He never did graduate, a fact he regrets to this day. Consequently, Dodd has a near obsession about the importance of a diploma and he insists that his players complete their studies and graduate. Because of this he keeps his athletes on scholarship long after their athletic eligibility has expired. For it often takes five years for a boy to receive a diploma at the tough engineering school.
Asked if he had any special plans for the game with Auburn on Saturday, Dodd grinned impishly and replied:
"Oh, maybe we'll brush up on the Kingsport pass play a bit. It works pretty good against Auburn. We used it against them four years ago and scored four times. The quarterback fakes, hides the ball, then throws to one of his ends. You never saw men so free as our ends were against Auburn. I call it the Kingsport play because I picked it up from my old high school coach Ed Sprankle at Kingsport. I guess we must have scored 40 touchdowns with it at Tech."
Across the state border in Auburn, Alabama, a couple of days later, Coach Ralph (Shug) Jordan of the Alabama Polytechnic Institute, gritted his teeth when reminded of how Tech fooled him with the Kingsport pass. "That damn old wobbly little pass liked to killed us that day," he recalled. "But I learned my lesson."