November 3, 1928
Army coach accuses Notre Dame of 'unsportsmanlike' practice during halftimes
By Willie Tiringham
West Point, NY (BS wire) -- Army head football coach Biff Jones won't have to face rising football power Notre Dame for another week, but that hasn't stopped the coach from shooting off his mouth. And what Jones is complaining about is what Notre Dame head football coach Knute Rockne will be shooting off his mouth about -- at halftime. "Hey, you know, it's like, I'm not considered the most eloquent guy or nothin'," Jones said. "But that Kanute guy -- Knute, sorry -- he's legend, I'm mean, it's legendary, those speeches he gives at halftime. It's a definite unfair disadvantage and all that."
For the next several minutes Jones stammered out his objections to Rockne's halftime pep-talking abilities. He said an opponent of the Irish could be winning a game at halftime, but if their coach couldn't deliver a good speech like Rockne, then the Irish could come out of the locker room at the start of the second half with "a definite emotional advantage or something." Since halftime happens after the game has begun, Jones said, the rules committee at least ought to investigate whether that advantage is unfair enough to be illegal.
"It's unsportmanlike the way Rockne can speak," Jones said. "I question whether that's legal or not." As he spoke, a distracting dribble of spit formed on his bottom lip, occasionally sticking to his upper one.
"I'm concerned, you know, in terms of the legality of that and how that affects the overall flow and the sportsmanship and especially our function as a team facing Notre Dame," the Army coach said. "Is that not permitted in the rules? Then it should be prohibited. It's that simple. If it is, then the opponent should be allowed equal opportunity to get their people 'up,' so we can match up."
Bulletin Service has learned from a bevy of football officials that not only is Rockne's tactic legal, but also that the rules do provide -- as Jones demanded -- equal pep-talking opportunities for the opponent.
"There's nothing wrong with Rockne's tactic," one official said. "Anybody can do that. It doesn't have to be the head coach giving the pep talk. It can be an assistant coach. Hell, it can even be a drunken walk-on with a storybook tale of perseverance that doesn't pay off until the very last down. Play Jerry Goldsmith music in the background, or the theme from 'Rocky'; we don't care. OK, so those haven't been recorded yet, but you get my drift."
"Basically, this guy should just quit whining about being out-coached, especially before the daggum game even starts," another official told us. "If he's at a coaching disadvantage, tough; that's just part of the game. He just has to try to adapt to it without all the histrionics. Other coaches in college football manage it all the time. I mean, really, what a weenie!"
Jones conceded that Notre Dame might be within the rules. Nevertheless, he said, "it by God ought to be illegal," adding "for cryin' out loud."
Legendary Notre Dame coach Knute Rockne, whose pep talks were so good, some coaches thought they should've been illegal.