The Lonely end

In the 1958 football season, Earl Blaiks last season as head football coach and athletic director at West Point, the colonel came up with a new offensive formation called the "lonely end" as it was dubbed by the nations media. It was a new "gimmick" created to keep opposing defenses confused and off-guard and as the article says, to create scoring opportunities. That it did.

by seasons end, Army had an undefeated season and was ranked number 3 in the national polls behind LSU and Iowa and finished 8-0-1 being tied only by Pittsburgh.

Joe Williams,columnist for the Buffalo, N.Y. Evening News wrote this article on October 20th of that year writing about Blaiks adeptness at creating what he described as "turmoil"---



by Joe Williams

Special to The Buffalo Evening News

NEW YORK, Oct. 20 1958 -For a mild-mannered, reserved gentleman who abhors turmoil and industriously shuns the spotlight, Col. Earl Blaik has demonstrated a strikingly anomalous talent for the controversial and the spectacular in college football. In the early '40s it was two-platoon football. You'll recall there was one team for offense, an entirely differ- ent one for defense, and whenever the occasion beckoned, there were one-play specialists to kick, pass, sprint, fake or impersonate MacArthur. Notwithstanding that the unlimited substitution rule which made this type of football possible had considerable support, there was dissent from responsible quarters, and as the antis increased in volume, if not in number, the Army coach made one of his rare appear- ances before the press.

By then platoon football had been on display long enough for the fans to get fully oriented. Most of them seemed to like it. Blaik's chief contentions were (a) it made for a better, faster game (which it did), and (b) it gave more boys a chance to play (which was also true).

A vigorous, unremitting opponent was Gen. Bob Neyland, Tennessee coach, and fellow West Point alumnus. This had developed into a fight in which the old school tie and family loyalties carried no weight. Dave Camerer also enlisted with the rebels; Dave had starred in the line for Blaik at Dartmouth in the '30s, and was "one of his boys."

A central role in a public debate, which was not always held to a temperate key, was the last thing Blaik bargained for. Still, as has been noted, he didn't hesi- tate to stand up and fight back. And it may be he was right all along. Each year the rules committee makes it easier to substitute. Soon all restraints may disappear again.


The most widely publicized and engaging formation of the season is a thing called the "lonely end." This is a Blaik creation. If it were just another flanker, as Notre Dame's Terry Brennan likes to argue, it would not have aroused the curiosity it did, professionally or otherwise. The extreme distance from which the end is separated from the rest of the line is what makes it different. Five to 10 yards is the conventional distance. The "lonely end" is out 20 to 30. So far out, in fact, he never joins his teammates in the huddle and gets his signals by visual radar.

The basic purpose of the "lonely end" (as in all such gimmickry) is to keep the defense off balance and increase scoring opportunities. Although not abundantly stocked, Army has an uncommonly diversified arsenal, including right and left- hand passers, a bevy of fine receivers, two tremendous ball carriers, good team speed, a fullback you don't hear much about, but who is made to order for the quick openers . . . and, for the first time in aeons, a quarter- back who can make the plays. Currently . . . for what it's worth . . . Army is rated as the No. I team in the country. Top Stories