Blaik discusses Ivys and Spring Practice

In the following article, Blaik discusses spring practice and how the lack of it hurt the chances of the Ivy League teams those days being competitive with those teams that formerly were able to play with those schools.

By Col. Earl H. (Red) Blaik
Asbury Park, NJ, Evening Press
September, 1959


The Ivy League teams, especially Yale and Harvard, have done much through their football history to help fashion the game at West Point. They also exerted considerable influence on my own coaching career.

From its beginnings In 1890,, Army football was nurtured by games with Yale and Harvard and by the coaching of old Blues and Crimsons. Dr. Harry Williams, one-time Yale player and later an outstanding coach at Minnesota, was Army's first outside coach in 1891. But the first great builder of football on The Plain, the Godfather of the game there in fact, was a Harvard as well as a West Point graduate, the late Col. Charles Dudley Daly.

Charlie Daly was, an ALL-America quarterback at Harvard just before and at the turn of the-century and at West Point just after. He and the late Ernest (Pot) Graves, another West Point graduate of fine intellect and fine purpose, were of inestimable value to the brilliant Percy Haughton when he built Harvard's not to be forgotten gridiron empire which extended roughly from 1908 through 1915. It was by borrowing the best of Yale football, dominant from the dawn of the American game through 1909 and tailoring it, that Haughton, Daly, and Graves made the Crimson the scourge of the gridiron.


In 1913, Daly and Graves returned to West Point and lifted up the game there. Their undefeated 1914 and '16 teams were the best at the Academy through that time and for years later, Daly and Graves coached almost all of the later Army coaches including head coaches John McEwan, Biff Jones, Ralph Sasse, Bill Wood and myself. All of us learned from them basic values: defense, kicking, condition, spirit, toughness, subordination to team welfare and a fine measure of strategy mind tactics.

As an assistant at Army from 1927 through 1933, I enjoyed helping prepare our teams for Yale and Harvard games that were almost invariably close and exciting- and, I may add, sellouts.

As head coach at Dartmouth, I experienced the satisfaction of trying to match wits with a group of coaches it would be hard to beat, in any, section in any time: Princeton's, Fritz Crisler, Columbia's Lou Little, Harvard's Dick Harlow, Cornell's Carl Snavely, Brown's Tuss McLaughry and, of course, Yale's Ducky Pond and his clever aide, Earl (Greasy) Neale. You had to stay up late nights and still get up only to keep up with that crowd. After I returned to West Point in 1941, our teams gradually developed beyond the strength of the Ivy League and old schedule ties, which had been profitable in every way, were regretfully broken.

But I have always believed that if the Ivy League schools had not handicapped themselves by eliminating spring practice, and, as a natural consequence, otherwise diluted their approach to the game they once championed, they could have gone op playing good football with us. I feel Harvard and Cornell proved this against an undeftated 1948 Army team. Why, even without spring practice the 1955 Yale team upset an Army team that was good enough to upset Navy.


In a future article, I intend to devote more time to the Ivy League's elimination of spring practice and to other phases of their football approach. For now, though, here is a quick size-up of this year's race, which should again be most exciting.

To me, defending champion Dartmouth appears to have a slight but not conclusive edge, and can expect a good battle not only from Princeton and Cornell again, but from Harvard, Pennsylvania and possibly, Yale. I think Buff Donellis predominantly sophomore squad at Columbla, while still a year away from real contention, may be troublesome on occasion. The same Is true of the Brown squad in its first year under John McLaughry, former Amherst coach and talented son of my old friend Tuss.

I have gathered in traveling around the country that many foot folks outside the East labor under the illusion that there are no top pIayers in the Ivy League. Let me assure them that any coach in the country would welcome the following: Dartmouth backs Jake Crouthamel and Bill Gundy and center Ken DeHaven; Harvard quarterback Chuck Ravenel, backs Sam Halaby and Chet Boulris and Hank Keohane; Princeton back Danny Sachs, end Ed Kostelnik and center Frank Svetecz; Pennsylvania back Fred Doelling, end Barney Berlinger and center Ron Champion; Brown's fullback, Paul Choquette, back Bob Carlin and tackle Tom Budrewicz; Cornell's back Phil Taylor, and John Sadusky, tackle John Hanly and guard Dave Feeny. Top Stories