You Have to Pay the Price - Earl (Red) Blaik

In 1960 Earl (Red) Blaik, the former head football coach at West Point, wrote his biography with the able assistance of his good friend and writer, Tim Cohane. It is the story of Red's life from his early childhood, through his years as a cadet, as an officer in the military, and through his coaching duties, both at Dartmouth and at the Academy.

The book published in 1960 entitled, "You Have to Pay the Price" was reviewed by many authors and sports reporters--one being Arthur Daley of the New York Times in the autumn of 1960 in his column, SPORTS OF THE TIMES, written exclusively for that paper. In it, Blaik writes about the most disapointing and discouraging time in his life and the experience he was forced to endure--The Cheating Scandal in West Point in 1951.

                               SPORTS OF THE TIMES
                                  By ARTHUR DALEY
                                
The New York Times
                                   November, 1960

  The Price Came High
                                         
    When Earl (Red) Blaik was a 16 year-old schoolboy
    in Dayton, Ohio, the turbulent Miami River broke
    through the levees and inundated the city.  The Dayton
    flood was his introduction to catastrophe and the
    retired West Point football coach uses it as the taking-
    off point for his swift-moving, long-awaited
    autobiography, "You Have to Pay the Price," written
    with the unobtrusive ghostly assistance of Tim
    Cohane.
   
    "Thirty-eight years later," says the still scarred and
    tormented redhead, "I was to know catastrophe and
    desolation again, of a different sort, but carrying the
    same kind of shock of a world torn asunder. That was
    the expulsion from West Point of ninety cadets for a
    breach of the Honor Code. The ninety included almost
    my entire football team; among them was my own
    son, the expulsion, in one sense, was the greater
    tragedy."
   
    If Blaik speaks with bitterness, he also speaks from
    knowledge.  For the first time, this ugly and unhappy
    incident is presented in its proper perspective. Not for
    an instant is any phase of the code violation
    condoned, but the heading of that most rewarding
    chapter makes clear Red's feelings. He calls it "The
    Ninety Scapegoats."
    
   
 Political Football
   
    "My objection," he writes with undisguised resentment,
    "is to the inept, callous, and sometimes evasive
    manner in which some of those in authority handled a
    most complex problem."
   
    To him the punishment never fit the crime.
   
    "I shall always believe," he continues, "and not
    without good reason, that if football players had not
    been involved in such wholesale numbers, the
    violations would have been internally resolved."
   
    Although this cause celebre attained the tag of "the
    cribbing scandal," there never was any cribbing, per se,
    involved.  In 1951, West Point authorities stupidly
    gave the same examinations to half a class on one day
    and to the other half of the class on the next day. The
    repetitive-writ system they called it.  Human nature
    being as it is: there were leaks from the first group to
    the second.
   
    There was no cheating in the classroom at any time.
    Some of those expelled took these illegally given tips
    to shorten their work load.  Others tutored less bright
    cadets, but accepted no aid themselves.  Still others
    knew about the scholastic hanky-panky, but did not
    report it.  Ninety were men enough and honorable men
    enough, to admit It.  Some admitted nothing and stayed.
    The ninety were dismissed.
    
  
 Whetted Axes
   
    "Certainly, ninety fine young Americans of good
    families and records," writes Blaik, "do not suddenly
    become 'men without honor' unless sornething basic in
    a system Is wrong and extraordinary conditions and
    circumstances are affecting them."
   
    The entire affair was handled in such Draconian
    fashion that it rankles the redhead as much now as it
    did then.
   
    "The involvement of so many prominent athletes,
    especially football players," he recounts, "provided a
    vindictive few on the Post a relished opportunity to
    whet their blood-axes.  From these came fantastic tales
    almost too grotesque to recite.  For example, one
    officer assisting the investigatory group said, 'They
    probably threw the Navy game."  Dignity went out the
    window.
   
    "Although I had the opportunity to present my views
    to the superintendent of the academy, at no time
    during the investigation was I called on to appear
    before the Tactical Board.  Nor was my request granted
    to appear before the Academic Board.  I had requested
    that I be permitted to place all the information in my
    possession before this board.  This I was never
    permitted to do.  The recommendation of dismissal was
    devoid of mature thinking."
   
    Eventually, the matter went before George C.
    Marshall, the Secretary of Defense.  "Marshall's
    services to his country are unquestione


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