A Look Back at Earl Blaik's First Column

When Earl Blaik retired as head coach and athletic director at West Point on his 62nd birthday in February of 1959, he left a legacy at the academy. This legacy would endure as long as the game of football and athletics in general remain on the scene at our nation's military academy on the banks of the Hudson River.

However the colonel wasn't finished with collegiate football. Along with his new duties as a vice-president of AVCO Corporation, the colonel agreed to write a column twice a week for national syndication. He would be writing about the game he so dearly loved. Not only was he active in forming the College National Football Hall of Fame in Kings Island, Ohio, but for a few years he wrote a national syndicated column for the Associated Press. The remuneration he received was used to set up fellowships for eight worthy college seniors who not only excelled in the great game of football, but also to recognize their abilities in the classroom.

During his entire coaching career, he consistently advocated the concept that a student could not only excel on the playing fields of friendly strife, but also could show the same qualities in their academic work as well. His concept of the true student-athlete was surely born out in the very first of many articles he wrote concerning the game he most certainly loved. This love stemmed from the joy that the game imparted to the player and also to the lessons learned from playing that helped the player cope with the problems and struggles of everyday life.

SPORT ANGLES By Col. Earl H. (Red) Blaik Former Football Coach and Athletic Director, United States Military Academy September, 1959 (as appeared in a column of September, 1959 in the Asbury Park, NJ Evening Press under the heading of SPORT ANGLES)

SEES COLUMN A CHALLENGE

When I retired from coaching last Jan. 13 and stepped down from my duties as Athletic Director in February after 25 years--eighteen at West Point and seven at Dartmouth as the football head coach, I said it was unthinkable to overstay a career.  But it would be just as inconceivable for me to sever completely my connections with the greatest of American games, which has been inseparable from most of my 62 years.  That is, why I was pleased and challenged when The Associated Press invited me to write two articles a week for the newspapers of the country. 

While one is coaching, he Is necessarily preoccupied with the football problems of one school.  Although he is aware that the college game, like any human operation of which the dollar sign is part, is not without its weaknesses and requires continuing revaluation and modification, the individual coach is in a position to contribute relatively little, much as he would like to do more.  In this invitation, I see an opportunity to try to help college football, not in any one school or area or within one peripherized philosophy, but in a broad objective manner to help all colleges everywhere. 

College football today, while not without some abuses, has reached a plateau of excellence in its general conduct, unmatched in any era of the past.  This, emphatically bespeaks the love of and concern for the game by all its levels of administrators everywhere, and they deserve, therefore, every measure of encouragement and help.  I hope to contribute in this way. 

I WON'T DUCK CONTROVERSY

My articles will very frequently be of a controversial and critical nature. But I assure you the controversy will be real, not fabricated, and that the criticism will always be constructive.  It will be directed never at an individual but at something I feel stands correction and improvement.  I repeat, I am concerned with what is good for all the colleges, remembering that what is good and practical in one area is not always so in another.  

The articles I am preparing to appear between now and Friday, Sept. 18, the eve of the first major Saturday of play, will appraise the strength of teams and players in various sections, but they will also speak of changes and trends, good and bad, affecting the game both on and off the field.  Each Friday, beginning Sept. 18, I will analyze where I believe the strength lies in the big game of the next day, yet more often than not I plan, to include in the analysis a controversial or behind-the-scenes factor that has a relation to it. 

Once the season is under way, the articles appearing Tuesday will deal with colorful and dramatic highlights, backgrounds and again, trends and controversies developing on the college scene, either nationally or from a sectional point of view that has some impact nationally.

 ESTABLISHING FELLOWSHIPS

Whatever financial remuneration I receive for these articles will be used to help college football.  I am establishing eight fellowships for post-graduate work. They will be awarded to eight boys, one from each of the N.C.A.A. districts, who have been adjudged as best meeting the following four qualifications:

     They must be seniors. 

     They must be leaders in academics as well as football.

     They must exert a fine influence on their campuses.

     They must be staunch in their devotion to the welfare of amateur sports.

The fellowships will be administered by the National Football Foundations Awards committee, headed by Vincent Draddy. The Foundation Committee will be assisted by an awards committee from each of the eight NCAA districts, each nominating a candidate from its district.  

These fellowships should help project what I believe to be a fact about college football, yet one seldom emphasized: that championship performance and superior scholarship are entirely compatible.


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