Thus Paul Dietzel, former assistant to Red Blaik at the academy became the first non-graduate of West Point to take over the reins of head coach in more than half a century
ARMY WAS RIGHT IN GRABBING DIETZEL
By Dan Daniel
N.Y. World Telegram-and The Sun
For the past week I have been trying valiantly to digest sports page comment on the case of the fleeting football coach. With four years to go on his contract with Louisiana State University, where he received an annual salary of $18,500, Paul Dietzel asked to be released to shift to West Point at a similar salary. West Point joined in his plea.
Dietzel, with house rent-free and marketing facilities at PX prices, is $5,000 better off than he was at Baton Rouge,La. Once again, reviewing the job which commentators did on Dietzel's flight from the Bayous, I find there was a lot of pussy footing and dodging. Many writers feel impelled to give the military academy a tanning for going after a coach under contract. But they threw cream puffs.
I don't believe Army did anything reprehensible. Having fired Dale Hall because he had lost three straight Navy games, and having decided to abandon the ancient system of picking West Pointers as its football coaches. Army went after the best man for the job and grabbed Dietzel. Contracts with football coaches actually bind only the colleges involved. If a coach is fired before expiration of his pact, he must be paid off. If on the other hand, he wants to leave before his term runs out, holding him captive would hurt his coaching, and his team.
I condone Army's stealing Dietzel because I agree with Pentagon brass that West Point should have the greatest football team and the best in coaching. Annapolis, too, should be thus equipped but the urgency for top position there not quite so great as it is at the Point. Russia may not give a damn about the class of Army football teams. But we cannot afford to have West Point elevens kicked around and Soviet attention called to the situation.
Now let us take a look at Dietzel. Many of the sports page reviewers have gone out of their way to stress his manly beauty. Most of the pieces referred to him as handsome. Be that as it may, Paul will produce or get heaved even, as was Dale Hall, handsome or ugly. I did not class Knute Rockne and Pop Warner as matinee idols. Red Blaik was passable. But they all had to win. I know one of the greatest surgeons in the country and he looks like Dracula.
Of course, in getting away from Baton Rouge, from LSU recruiting duties and the LSU gridiron furor, Dietzel did himself a lot of good. But in accepting $18,500, Paul made a sucker deal and Army stuck to a cheap policy.
Coaching at the Point could produce ulcers. The responsibilities toward the Cadets, toward the Pentagon, toward the great American football public, are greater than those besetting a coach in any other institution in the college field. Its tough to get into West Point and it's extremely difficult to stay in, especially since those cribbing scandals. Having been an assistant to Red Blaik, Paul took the post with complete awareness of the strains involved.
Inducements offered to qualifying young men by the academy are attractive enough. But they don't begin to compare with the grants-in-aid and other financial arrangements, in addition to curriculum easements, which are thrown at gridiron material in the LSU area of competition. LSU's chagrin over having lost Dietzel already has worn off. From an Associated Press story out of Baton Rouge, it would appear that Army grabbed the wrong man and should have taken Charlie McClendon, his assistant, who has landed Paul's job.
The dispatch hollers: "Charlie McClendon, the man who built Louisiana State's unyielding defense," etc. The next paragraph shouts: "McClendon long was believed to be the man behind the scene in LSU's football success."
In short, West Point left the power behind the LSU throne at Baton Rouge.