Army's So-Called "Soft" Schedule of 1961

RABBLE takes a look back at the 1961 season through the eyes of <i>The New York Daily News</i>.


by Gene Ward

New York Daily News September 24, 1960

College Football fans know how lucky they are to have the Pitt Panthers in their hometown playing a rough, tough schedule season after season This year the followers of Pitt will be able to watch the Panthers in home matches with Baylor, West Virginia, Navy, Notre Dame, USC and Penn State, a lineup which turns a New Yorker green with envy.

Big town fans, who once feasted on the strong Saturday fodder dished up by Fordham, NYU and Manhattan against standout intersectional opposition-and Columbia, used to have an attractive menu before the Ivy league went anemic- now are starving. They've been reduced to an acceptance of television's watered- down version of the great fall pastime, which is like settling for soda pop over bourbon.

The situation is worse than that this year. Army, one remaining big league college team in the metropolitan area, has fallen afoul of panty waist scheduling with the weakest and most unrepresentative schedule in the Academy's athletic history.

This year the once glamorous Black Knights have hit bottom with a schedule which includes six Peter Popover rivals and only four true caliber teams of major league caliber.

Only 4 Worthy Opponents on Slate

The Cadets picked on little Richmond last Saturday and this week play host to Boston U.; another breather. The rest of the home slate reads: Idaho, West Virginia, Detroit and William & Mary, not a top-30 team in the batch. This leaves only Michigan, Penn State, Oklahoma and Navy as worthy opponents.

If the Cadets won every game it's doubtful Army would be ranked among the first 10 in the nation, You don't gain prestige by clobbering your little brother.

The standard gag going the rounds is being put in question form: "How come Army missed scheduling the White House touch football team?" Coach Dale Hall and his staff, as well as the athletic brass at West Point, have been subjected to this form of ribbing for weeks now, and they're earing a little raw, Td say Army is en-ibarrassed would be putting it mildly. It borders on humiliation because the always-touchy subject of Academy pride is involved.

We certainly would hate to be in the brogans of any Army adherent attempting to defend this Little Lord' Fauhtleroy program against a Navy man.

Although the Annapolis Sailors aren't playing quite as tough a schedule as usual, it still makesthe Soldiers' slate look like sandlot outings. Navy opened with Penn State, a team ranked No. 1 inthe East, faces Miami next and on its 16-game schedule only William & Mary. Cornell and Detroit can be called soft touches.

Starting Oct. 28, the Sailors go against Pitt, Notre Dame, Duke and'Virginia before moving into the Annual battle in Philadelphia against Army.

It could just be that the Naval Academy's tough schedule policy has been a factor in's success against Army in recent years. They have knocked over the Cadets four tinies in the last seven seasons as against two setbacks and a tie.

Blaik Disclaims Blame for Situation

Who's to blaine for the sorry situation? The brass at West Point isn't saying but, at the same time, it is refusing to accept the knocks. The office of Col. Hank Adams, in his third year as athletic director, points out that scheduling is done anywhere from five to 10 years in advance, so it couldn't be the Colonel's fault.

Not the fault of the present super, either, because it was most pointedly pointed out by a spokesman that Maj. Gen. W. C: Westmoreland has been in office less than two years. This would seem to place the blame for the snafu squarely on Earl (Red) Blaik, who resigned as head coach, athletic director and chairman of the athletic board at the close of the 1958 season. These pushovers were signed while Red was at the lielm, but he, too, is refusing to be made the goat.

Blaik, now chairman - of the board of Aveo Corp. in New York, left many fine things to his successor, Dale Hall, but he claims this embarrassing 1961 schedule was not one of them. In fact, on one of his several visits to West Point for practice sessions last spring, Red told Hall the sorry schedule was none of his doing.

It was just at the time that the current slate was being booked that Blaik's troubles with Lt. Gen. Gar Davidson, then the West Point super, began to boil. Blaik found his control of the athletic department, which included the final word on schedule making, was being taken away from him and by the end of 1958 he had fought it, up to here.

All of this buck-passing doesn't change the situation. New York fans still have lost, for this season at least, the only metropolitan area team worth rooting for and Army has become the laughing stock of college football. Top Stories