Earl Blaik

Earl Blaik’s Teams – National Champions in 1944, 45, 46, Winners of the Lambert Trophy in 1944, 45, 46, 53, and in 58. He was selected Coach of the Year in 1946 and College Coach of the Year in 1953.

Col Blaik – the 1953 Win over Navy – ‘The Return to Glory”

Football’s Greatest Decade – – by Bernie Mcarty

This writer believes West Point 1945 is the greatest team of all time. The 1944 Army team may actually deserve that title, but it was never tested. Army was also undefeated in 1946, 1948 and 1949.

Army’s top stars during 1945-1949 were the effulgent “Touchdown Twins”, Glenn Davis and “Doc” Blanchard, Arnold Tucker, Arnold Galiffa, “Rip” Rowan, Bobby Jack Stuart and Gil Stephenson in the back-field, and up front Joe Steffy, Art Gerometta, Jack Green, Bill Yoemans, Joe Henry “Tex” Coulter, Al Nemetz, and the sterling end duo of Hank Foldberg and Barney Poole.

In 1945 the Newspaper Enterprise Assoc. simply picked the entire Army team as its All-American team, stating no group of All-Americans could beat the Cadets.

Only a world war could have brought together such a collection of players to one institution. But it took the coaching genius of Col. Earl Blaik to mold the players into a cohesive unit.

In truth, Navy personnel was equal to Army’s on an individual basis. The Middies never jelled as a team, however.

The 1951 Army outfit might have been as good as the 1945 Cadets, but the
infamous cribbing scandal wiped out the team.

Joe Steffy said Col Blaik remembered 2 plays that stoodout as special. One was the 93 yard touchdown by Rip Rowan in the A-N game.

The other was a touchdown run to win the game against Navy in 1955. RB Pete Lash ran for 30-40 yards to paydirt during which every Navy player had a shot at him, but he run through them all. Joe said that Lash was a walk-on. Small and played high school FB; Joe said he really did not have the attributes of a great player. BUT, he was tenacious and worked harder than anyone on the team. He succeeded in making the starting team his Firstie year. Went on to become a three star general.

Cadet Blaik – probably 1919 Season

Peter Vann ‘s explanation of Lombardi’s Royal “3Fs”; comments about schooling by Vince Lombardi and a letter by Vince’s Son indicating that because of Peter’s success his Dad was able to climb the professional ranks – – is at Peter Vann.

By WILLIAM N. WALLACE (as edited)
Published: May 7, 1989

Col Blaik was the head football coach at the United States Military Academy, his alma mater, for 18 seasons, 1941 to 1958, and directed a series of superb teams. His teams were named national champions in 1944 and 1945.





See page 88 —

Col Blaik, Army Football Team and the Corps of Cadets

Col Blaik – Coach and Athletic Director

Three of his players – Doc Blanchard, Glenn Davis and Pete Dawkins – won the Heisman Trophy as the nation’s outstanding collegiate player, while Joe Steffy was the only Outland Trophy Winner. Many of his players were All-America selections.

Although a civilian coach and athletic director in his years at West Point, he was always addressed as Colonel, his retirement rank as a reserve officer.

His darkest time came in 1951, when 5l football players were among 90 cadets dismissed from the Academy for violations of the honor code. One was his son, Robert, the starting quarterback. Col Blaik at the urging of General MacArthur chose to stay on at West Point and rebuild the program. That he did, and by 1953 the Army team again was one of the best.

Mr. Blaik’s record at Army was 121 victories, 33 defeats and 10 ties with five unbeaten seasons. He had only one losing season, 1951.

Mr. Blaik graduated from Miami University in his native Ohio and entered the Academy during World War I. He was an All-America End, receiving a degree in 1920, and was named the best athlete in his class.

He resigned from the Army in 1922 and joined his father in a real-estate business in Dayton. He turned to coaching as an unpaid assistant of George Little, who had been his Miami coach, at Wisconsin in 1925. Mr. Blaik went to Army as an assistant coach in 1927 and became head coach at Dartmouth in 1934. His teams there were unbeaten through 21 games, the first of several such streaks for him.

West Point called in 1941 after a series of losing seasons under officer coaches, and he took command.

Col Blaik brought a cerebral approach to football and was an inventive organizer. He kept his distance from the players and chose wisely in naming assistants. Many of them, including Tom Cahill, Paul Dietzel, Sid Gillman, Herman Hickman, Vince Lombardi, Murray Warmath and Bill Yeoman, became successful head coaches.

Col Blaik – 1947

He could be inspiring. Bob Anderson, a fine running back, told of the time Mr. Blaik called him out of the barracks two nights before the Navy game and took him for a walk. Mr. Blaik told young Anderson he would be the key player against Navy. ”I was ready to run through a wall,” said Bob, who turned out to be the hero in the victory.

Col. Blaik’s teams were in many famous games. In 1935, a Dartmouth team beat Yale for the first time; another of his Dartmouth teams upset Cornell in the famous ”fifth-down game” in 1940. There was the 0-0 tie Army played with Notre Dame in 1946, and the end of a 32-game unbeaten streak in a defeat by Columbia in 1947.

Mr. Cahill, who was Army’s coach from 1966 to 1973, said of “Col” Blaik”: ”His impact on the game was outstanding. No one had greater respect. He was caring and kind to everyone and he felt very strongly about West Point and the Army.”

Coach Earl Red Blaik is survived by two sons, Robert and William. He will be buried at West Point.

Published: October 1, 1995

There they were, the fabled Mr. Inside, Doc Blanchard, and Mr. Outside, Glenn Davis, standing in front of the grave of their coach, Col. Earl (Red) Blaik, not far from Michie Stadium, where they became perhaps the greatest running tandem in college football history.

West Point

There, too, at the West Point Cemetery stood Barney Poole, who may have been the only player to have been named an all-American at two different schools: the United States Military Academy and the University of Mississippi. Close by were three other former all-Americans: guard Joe Steffy, who lives only 13 miles away in Newburgh, and quarterbacks Doug Kenna and Arnold Tucker.

Fifty years after winning the second of three consecutive national championships on what Blaik proclaimed as his best team ever, Davis, Blanchard, Poole, Steffy, Kenna, Tucker and 41 other players from the 1940’s — the glory days of Army football — were reunited today under a brilliant sky. Among them were 6 retired generals, including Blanchard, and 16 colonels.

In a weekend celebration that began with a reception aboard the 154-foot yacht Taipan on the Hudson River on Friday night, the players, along with five former team managers and three coaches, began the day with the visit to Blaik’s grave. There, Davis and the retired four-star Gen. Bennie Davis, a tackle on Army’s unbeaten 1948 and 1949 teams, laid a wreath beside Blaik’s football-shaped tombstone. Acting as a spokesman for the players, Kenna, the quarterback of the ’44 team, told the morning gathering of about 150 that Blaik was “the most challenging and demanding person I have ever met, but also the most caring person I ever knew.”

From Blaik’s gravesite, the returning players were bused to The Plain, the Academy parade ground, where they stood as guests of honor at the traditional pre-game march of the Corps of Cadets. Later, they were introduced to the near-capacity crowd of 39,069 at halftime of the Army-Rice game, which ended in a 21-21 tie when the Army place-kicker J. Parker kicked a 44-yard field goal as time ran out. As a further tribute to the former players, the current team wore “throwback” jerseys similar to those worn by the great Army teams of the ’40’s.

“It was a wonderful period that I’ll never forget,” said Davis, now 70, who, like the 71-year-old Blanchard, was an all-American on the ’44, ’45 and ’46 teams. “My days at West Point stay with me everywhere I go. And they mean more than anything to me.”

Playing before the introduction of platoon football, the 6-foot, 175-pound Davis led the nation in scoring in 1944 and played safety on defense. The 6-foot, 210-pound Blanchard led the nation in scoring in 1945 and played linebacker. “I averaged 58 minutes in 1946, my last year,” recalled Davis, who also averaged 11.5 yards a carry in 1945 and whose 8.26 yard career rushing average is still a National Collegiate Athletic Association record. Together, Blanchard and Davis scored 97 touchdowns. Blanchard won the Heisman Trophy in 1945 and Davis won it in 1946.

Only a scoreless tie with a Notre Dame team led by Johnny Lujack at Yankee Stadium on Nov. 10, 1946, prevented Army from going unbeaten and untied for three straight seasons. Over that span, the Cadets won 27 games, 13 by shutout, including 59-0 and 48-0 victories over Notre Dame in 1944 and 1945. After losing two games in 1947, following the graduation of Davis, Blanchard, Tucker and Poole, the Cadets went unbeaten over the next 26 games before losing to Navy, 14-2, in the last game of the 1950 season.

For Blanchard and Davis, it marked the first time in more than a decade that they had appeared together at West Point.
It was Steffy, a regular at Army home games, who served as the catalyst for this weekend’s reunion. “We’re not getting any younger, and I thought it would be nice to get as many people as possible back from those teams in the ’40’s,” he said. “And it’s great that so many came back, including a lot who haven’t been at West Point in many years.”

For most, the weekend was as much a tribute to Blaik, a West Point graduate and the Army coach from 1941 through 1958 (when he retired after another unbeaten season), as it was to them.
“He was a super coach and a very nice person,” Steffy said of Blaik, who died in 1989. “He never, ever raised his voice.”


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