Football, Basketball, Wrestling; All In Butch Jordan's Repertoire
(This is third in a series of articien profiling the new members of the Harvard football coaching staff. The remaining articles will appear daily throughout the week.)
In Butch Jordan the Crimson has itself a paradox for a line coach. He is a paradox in personality, for it is not often that one finds a Big Nine heavyweight wrestling champion who doubles as a family man and a part-time camp councillor. He is a paradox as a coach, for he teaches the Michigan philosophy of speedy, quick line play, but himself is the epitome of the classic block-of-granite tackle.
This is not to say that Jordan violates his own principles of line play, however. He just just has had to adapt them to a physical framework that the casual observer would associate more with stolid immovability than shiftiness. He has had plenty of opportunity to do so in his long and varied athletic past, which extends back to the late '20s, when he was an all around school star at Clare, Michigan.
Four Years With G. M.
Butch took four years out from education after graduating in 1931, going to work for General Motors to earn the wherewithal to get to Michigan. But he did not completely also touch with athletics during this period, for he played center forward on a G.M. basketball team in his spare hours. This was all a stopgap measure until be got to college in 1935, where he went back to his first loves, football and wrestling.
College, however, just marked the real beginning, of his troubles, as well as his successes, in the field of athletics. His Freshman year passed by quietly enough, partly because Michigan plebes do not play outside games, but almost as soon as Butch got to the Varsity he received a leg injury which knocked him out for the season.
Even in his brief appearances that year he made a lasting impression on his team-mates. In the opening game against Indiana, Butch, who was playing at tackle next to one Arthur Valpey, was running the Hoosier backfield in the first quarter. He had accounted for about 10 tackles in as many minutes when on one play he collided head-on with fullback Bert Hoffman and collapsed dizzily upon the turf. In his dazed condition he only realized that his left thumb was broken, but the trainers on the bench surmised more. They rushed out onto the field to investigate and started plying him with question to find out how hard he had been hit. They asked him his name, they asked him that day it was, and finally they asked him what he was doing that afternoon. Butch sat up, fingered his injured thumb, pondered the 60,000 fans in the stadium a minute, and shook his head. "I'm sorry, fellas, I'm just not interested," he replied.
It was two games later that he received his leg injury which gave him a season-long rest, but even then he was not through with bad luck. Soon after the beginning of the wrestling season his knee ligaments were so badly torn in a match that he had to drop out of school for a year.
When he came back in the fall of 1938 his luck had changed. He won a position on the Varsity, alternating at guard and tackle during the season, which proved to be Bob Kipe's last with the Maize and Blue. That winter he won the Big Nine Conference heavyweight wrestling championship for the first time and was elected captain for the following year. As if that weren't enough to keep him busy, he also took on the task of running a day camp for boys, a job he continued after graduation by running a camp in Wyoming during the summer for four years.
His achievements in the 1939 season were a repetition of his former triumphs, only more so. Once again he was a first string lineman on Fritz Crisler's great team of that year, the team that Tommy Harmon made famous. And once again he was Big Nine wrestling champion.
So when he graduate he had little trouble locating himself a coaching job. He started out at Wakefield High School, where he took over football in the fall and basketball in the winter. His success her landed him a job with Allegan High the following year, where he stayed until joining the Navy after Pearl Harbor.
Four years of service led him fur and wide, first with a V-5 outfit, where he played a season of football with the Bernic Bierman-coached Iowa Seahawks. Later on he was transferred to Pearl Harbor where he was co-coach of the Fort Island team there until his discharge in the fall of 1945, at which time he made a boe-line back to Michigan where he took on the dual jobs of assistant line coach and Varsity wrestling coach.
In his two years there he got a thorough indoctrination, as did Art Valpey and Davey Nelson, into the art of teaching the Crisler system. Butch selects his players primarily on the basis of intensity, speed, and quickness of reactions. Once he has linemen singled out he keeps after them to hit Iow, hard, and fast, but on matters of stance and position he gives his boys a free hand.
So far, he has not been disappointed in the results, even when compared with his Michigan team of last year. "There are several Harvard players who could make any team in the country," he thinks, although he admits that the academic standards at Cambridge make it tougher for his present pupils to devote themselves to football here than elsewhere. But even this isn't too important to the coach: wanting to win football games is what counts and apparently a Harvard man wants to win as much as anyone else.
Butch has confidence that they will continue to want to win. As the squad trooped into the field house after the Brown game Jordan turned to one of the waiting scribes and observed calmly, "You see, I told you we'd have a 500 season."