"Judge Gary, of the United States Steel Corporation, Schwab of Bethlehem, Rockefeller, Ford, and others of their ilk, if they had known a little football in their younger years, would have made excellent head coaches." This statement is set forth in an article by P. E. Dutcher '08, manager of the University eleven in '1907, in the current issue of the Alumni Bulletin.
The idea that natural playing ability does not make a good coach comes at a most timely moment, when the selection of a coach to succeed R. T. Fisher '12 is imminent.
Mr. Dutcher's article is quoted below in part:
Stars Seldom Shine as Coaches
"The fact that a man had great natural ability, handled his position easily, and became an outstanding player, was, in my experience, an almost sure indication that he would not be a good instruction coach. I saw it tried again and again with the same result. A similar situation has proved more or less true in golf. The teachers of such great players as "Bobby" Jones, Alexa Stirling, and others have not been tournament winners themselves, and I believe I am safe in saying that the outstanding professional golfers can point to few, if any, of their pupils who have also risen to great success. A rough and ready sort of reasoning seems to fit this condition.
Example Only Part of Coaching
"The natural player has the faculty of doing many things instinctively and has often the further power, usually lost in late childhood, of accurate physical imitation. He performs remarkably because of fine physical development and temperament coupled with a very fast visual and muscular reaction. His success comes without the need of hard thought and practice in overcoming the details--he does them instinctively. When he tries coaching he may be successful with that rare bird, one of his own kind, but he cannot impart his strength, imitative ability and quick reaction to the average man and he has never gone clear through be difficulties and mental processes which the average man must master to become proficient at his position. The natural player depends mainly on physical example, which is only part of the story.
Fair Players With Brains Best For Job
"On the other hand, a man who, in spite of lack of physical superiority, makes himself a fair player through study, practice, and good brain work, may often prove an excellent coach. 'Bill' Reid is a good example of this. With no extraordinary physical endowment, he had the mental ability to make himself a good player, and later he had a genius for analysis and instruction in such a way that the average man understood not only the what, but, vastly more important, the how and why of his position. Reid was a human dynamo, and spared neither his men nor himself. Starting with a disorganized system, he toiled literally night and day, and succeeded in building a foundation which was, I believe, one of the reasons for Haughton's (then an assistant coach) later success. Reid missed success in his own time mainly, I feel, because he worked himself so hard that toward the end of the season he was almost a nervous wreck. He left a heritage to Harvard football of a very carefully prepared diary of his two season's work with the reasoning behind all actions. Then, to cap it all, he devoted most of the winter after his final season to a 300-page criticism of his own work. Two years later Haughton stepped in as head coach and won. I happened to see him the evening of that Yale game, and he was big and generous enough to say that he had based his whole season on Bill Reid's criticism."
Tad Jones is Exception to Rule
An example of an exception to this rule is mentioned in T. A. D. Jones, the Yale mentor. He was both a star performer and an excellent coach.
Another question discussed is that of having a college graduate for a coach. Here are Dutcher's views on this subject:
"What it the solution? There is no perfect one. The older universities are hardest hit, for they confine themselves to their own graduates, then choice is limited perhaps among younger graduates who have this latent ability but have not found themselves in a business way; or among the still fewer older players who may have this ability and at the same time be so situated that they can devote the time. Under any circumstances the choice among their own graduates may be very limited and, except through a fortuitous condition, rather poor.
The university authorities do not hesitate to go outside their own graduates for their teaching staff. They feel no loss of pride, but rather a sense of satisfaction in obtaining an outstanding man from outside. Of course the man they pick is one whose ability is great and whose ideals correspond with theirs. I see no more reason why our choice of head coach should be limited to a Harvard graduate, if the ability, with the ideals of good sportsmanship, can best be found elsewhere."
The article goes on to discuss certain statements made at the debate which was held recently on overemphasis:
"Call football players 'modern gladiators' if you will, but remember that the ancient lost everything, while the modern loses a little pleasure perhaps, but gains permanently in other ways."