Earl Blaik

Earl Henry "Red" Blaik (February 15, 1897 – May 6, 1989) was an American football player, coach, college athletics administrator, and United States Army officer. He served as the head football coach at Dartmouth College from 1934 to 1940 and at the United States Military Academy from 1941 to 1958, compiling a career college football record of 166–48–14. His Army football teams won three consecutive national championships in 1944, 1945 and 1946.[1] Blaik was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a coach in 1964.[1]

Earl Blaik
Earl Blaik head coach at West Point, 1945
Biographical details
BornFebruary 15, 1897
Detroit, Michigan
DiedMay 6, 1989 (aged 92)
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Playing career
1915–1917Miami (OH)
1918–1919Army
Position(s)End
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1924–1925Miami (OH) (assistant)
1926Wisconsin (assistant)
1927–1933Army (assistant)
1934–1940Dartmouth
1941–1958Army
Administrative career (AD unless noted)
1948–1959Army
Head coaching record
Overall166–48–14
Accomplishments and honors
Championships
3 National (1944–1946)
Awards
All-American, 1919
AFCA Coach of the Year (1946)
College Football Hall of Fame
Inducted in 1964 (profile)

Early life and playing career

Miami University basketball team in 1917 (3199633017)
Miami University basketball team in 1917, Blaik is second from the right.

Blaik was born in Detroit, Michigan, the son of William Blaik, a blacksmith and carriage maker who emigrated from Glasgow, Scotland in 1883. In 1901 the family moved to Dayton, Ohio, where his father became a contractor.

He played college football for three seasons at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio under Chester J. Roberts, George Rider and George Little and two seasons at the United States Military Academy at West Point where he became a third-team All-American. Following his graduation in 1920, Blaik served in the United States Cavalry for two years. After his military service, Blaik married and worked in the construction business with his father.

Coaching career

During the 1924 and 1925 seasons, Blaik worked as a part-time assistant coach for Miami University. For a few months in 1926, he accepted a coaching position on the staff of University of Wisconsin–Madison head football coach George Little. In 1927, Blaik became a part-time coach at the United States Military Academy until 1930 when he was accepted on the staff as a full-time assistant coach.

In 1934, Blaik was hired as head football coach at Dartmouth College. At Dartmouth he coached for seven seasons and compiled a record of 45–16–4, his Dartmouth teams had a 22-game unbeaten streak from 1934 to 1937. He coached one Hall of Fame player at Dartmouth, Bob MacLeod.

In 1941, Blaik was tapped to be head football coach for the United States Military Academy. Army had suffered two consecutive losing seasons in 1939 and 1940, a first since 1906, and dropped its requirements for its coach to be a serving graduate and that all players meet restrictive height-to-weight limitations. The latter was a condition Blaik made as a requirement for him to accept the position, believing Army to be severely handicapped in the size of its linemen. The United States Naval Academy did not have the same restrictions and the Army surgeon general was persuaded to drop the requirement for football players.

At West Point, Blaik coached for 18 seasons compiling a 121–32–10 record. Blaik's Army teams had a 32-game unbeaten streak from 1944 to 1947, won consecutive national titles in 1944 and 1945, and finished second in the nation in 1946 with their record blemished only by a scoreless tie with rival Notre Dame at Yankee Stadium. In 1946, Blaik was selected as the AFCA Coach of the Year. In 1948, he became one of the first college coaches to implement a two-platoon system, using players strictly for offense or defense.[2] Blaik was also one of the first coaches to analyze the game play-by-play, charting a team’s tendencies on every down with the use of game film.[3]

During his tenure at West Point, Blaik coached three Heisman trophy winners, Doc Blanchard in 1945, Glenn Davis in 1946 and Pete Dawkins in 1958, as well as a total of 11 Hall of Fame players. Twenty of his former assistant coaches became head coaches in their own right: Paul Amen, George Blackburn, Clarence Boston, Eddie Crowder, Paul Dietzel, Bobby Dobbs, Sid Gillman, Jack Green, Andy Gustafson, Dale Hall, Tom Harp, Herman Hickman, Stu Holcomb, Frank Lauterbur, Vince Lombardi, John Sauer, Richard Voris, Murray Warmath, Bob Woodruff, and Bill Yeoman. Legendary fighter pilot Colonel Robin Olds also served as an assistant coach to Blaik. Dietzel, while at LSU, and Murray Warmath, while at Minnesota, won national championships as head coaches. Gillman, while head coach of the San Diego Chargers won an AFL championship. Lombardi, as head coach of the Green Bay Packers, won five NFL titles and the first two Super Bowls.

During Blaik's tenure, the Army team adopted the nicknames "Black Knights" and "Black Knights of the Hudson", which has now come to refer to all intercollegiate athletic teams at West Point.

Among his West Point players, Blaik was known for being a stern and disciplined coach. They nicknamed him "The Colonel."

Later life and death

COL Earl "Red" Blaik's tombstone, West Point Cemetery
Red Blaik's tombstone at West Point

Blaik resigned as head football coach of Army on January 13, 1959 to become a vice president at the Avco Corporation. In 1964, he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. His alma mater, Miami University honored him by induction into the university's Athletic Hall of Fame in 1969. Blaik received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Ronald Reagan in 1986.

Blaik died in 1989 at age 92 in Colorado Springs, Colorado. On September 25, 1999, the football field at West Point's Michie Stadium was named Blaik Field in his honor.

Portrayal in media

In 2005, ESPN produced a television film called Code Breakers about the honor code scandal that plagued Blaik's 1951 team. In the film, Blaik is portrayed by actor Scott Glenn.

Head coaching record

Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs Coaches# AP°
Dartmouth Indians (NCAA independent) (1934–1940)
1934 Dartmouth 6–3
1935 Dartmouth 8–2
1936 Dartmouth 7–1–1
1937 Dartmouth 7–0–2
1938 Dartmouth 7–2
1939 Dartmouth 5–3–1
1940 Dartmouth 5–4
Dartmouth: 45–15–4
Army Cadets (NCAA University Division independent) (1941–1958)
1941 Army 5–3–1
1942 Army 6–3
1943 Army 7–2–1 11
1944 Army 9–0 1
1945 Army 9–0 1
1946 Army 9–0–1 2
1947 Army 5–2–2 11
1948 Army 8–0–1 6
1949 Army 9–0 4
1950 Army 8–1 5 2
1951 Army 2–7
1952 Army 4–4–1
1953 Army 7–1–1 16 14
1954 Army 7–2 7 7
1955 Army 6–3 15 20
1956 Army 5–3–1
1957 Army 7–2 13 18
1958 Army 8–0–1 3 3
Army: 121–33–10
Total: 166–48–14
      National championship         Conference title         Conference division title or championship game berth

References

  1. ^ a b Earl Blaik at the College Football Hall of Fame
  2. ^ When Pride Still Mattered, David Maraniss, p.105, Simon & Schuster Paperbacks, New York, NY, 1999, ISBN 978-0-684-84418-3
  3. ^ When Pride Still Mattered, David Maraniss, p.100, Simon & Schuster Paperbacks, New York, NY, 1999, ISBN 978-0-684-84418-3

External links

1940 Army Cadets football team

The 1940 Army Cadets football team represented the United States Military Academy in the 1940 college football season. In their third and final year under head coach William H. Wood, the Cadets compiled a 1–7–1 record and were outscored their opponents by a combined total of 197 to 54. The season was the first since 1899 in which the Army football team was outscored by its opponents. In the annual Army–Navy Game, the Cadets lost to the Midshipmen by a 14 to 0 score. The Cadets also suffered blowout defeats to Cornell (45-0) and Penn (48-0).No Army players were honored on the All-America team. Three weeks after the end of the 1940 season, the War Department ordered coach Wood back to active troop duty and named Earl Blaik as head coach for the 1941 season.

1941 Army Cadets football team

The 1941 Army Cadets football team represented the United States Military Academy in the 1941 college football season. In their first year under head coach Earl Blaik, the Cadets compiled a 5–3–1 record and outscored their opponents by a combined total of 105 to 87.The season represented a four-game improvement on the prior year's record of 1–7–1. Army opened with four wins, then played a scoreless tie with undefeated Notre Dame at Yankee Stadium. The eleventh-ranked Cadets then lost on the road in consecutive weeks to Harvard and Penn. In the annual Army–Navy Game, the Midshipmen won for the third straight year.

Army halfback Hank Mazur was selected by Life magazine as a third-team player on the All-America team.

1942 Army Cadets football team

The 1942 Army Cadets football team represented the United States Military Academy in the 1942 college football season. In their second year under head coach Earl Blaik, the Cadets compiled a 6–3 record and outscored their opponents by a combined total of 149 to 74. In the annual Army–Navy Game, the Cadets lost to the Midshipmen by a 14 to 0 score. The Cadets also lost to Penn and Notre Dame.Four Army players were honored on the 1942 College Football All-America Team. Tackle Robin Olds was selected as a first-team player by Grantland Rice for Collier's Weekly. Tackle Francis E. Merritt was selected as a second-team player by both the Central Press Association (CP) and the Newspaper Enterprise Association (NEA) and was later inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. Halfback Henry Mazur was selected as a second-team player by the International News Service (INS). End James Kelleher was selected as a third-team player by the Sporting News and NEA.

1943 Army Cadets football team

The 1943 Army Cadets football team represented the United States Military Academy in the 1943 college football season. In their third year under head coach Earl Blaik, the Cadets compiled a 7–2–1 record, shut out five of their ten opponents, and outscored all opponents by a combined total of 299 to 66. In the annual Army–Navy Game, the Cadets lost to the Midshipmen by a 13 to 0 score. The Cadets also lost to Notre Dame by a 26 to 0 score, but won convincing victories over Colgate (42-0), Temple (51-0), Columbia (52-0), and Brown (59-0).Two Army players were honored on the 1943 College Football All-America Team. Center Cas Myslinski was a consensus first-team honoree, and tackle Francis E. Merritt was selected as a first-team player by Football News and a second-team player by the Associated Press.

1944 Army Cadets football team

The 1944 Army Cadets football team represented the United States Military Academy in the 1944 college football season. Led by head coach Earl Blaik, the team finished with a perfect 9–0 season. The Black Knights offense scored 504 points, while the defense allowed 35 points. At the season’s end, the team won a national championship. The team captain was Tom Lombardo. In 1950, Lombardo was killed in action during the Korean War.

1945 Army Cadets football team

The 1945 Army Cadets football team represented the United States Military Academy in the 1945 college football season. The Cadets were coached by Earl Blaik in his fifth year and finished the season undefeated with a record of nine wins and zero losses (9–0). The squad was also recognized as consensus national champions for the 1945 season. For the season, the Cadets' offense scored 412 points, while the defense allowed 46 points.

1946 Army Cadets football team

The 1946 Army Cadets football team represented the United States Military Academy in the 1946 college football season. The Cadets were coached by Earl Blaik in his sixth year and finished the season undefeated with a record of nine wins, zero losses and one tie (9–0–1). The squad was also recognized as national champions for the 1946 season by several selectors. The Cadets outscored their opponents, 263 to 80.

This season's Notre Dame game at Yankee Stadium, a matchup of the top two in the rankings, is regarded as one of college football's Games of the Century; it was a scoreless tie.

1947 Army Cadets football team

The 1947 Army Cadets football team was an American football team that represented the United States Military Academy as an independent during the 1947 college football season. In its seventh year under head coach Earl Blaik, the team compiled a 5–2–2 record, was ranked No. 11 in the final AP Poll, and outscored opponents by a total of 220 to 68. The team played its home games at Michie Stadium in West Point, New York.

Army's loss to Columbia on October 25, 1947, broke the Cadets' 32-game unbeaten streak dating back to November 1943.Army guard Joe Steffy was selected by the Football Writers Association of America as the 1947 recipient of the Outland Trophy as the best guard or tackle in the country. Steffy was also a consensus first-team pick for the 1947 All-America team, and he was later inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. Steffy and Army fullback Elwyn "Rip" Rowan received first-team honors on the International News Service's 1947 All-East team.

1948 Army Cadets football team

The 1948 Army Cadets football team represented the United States Military Academy in the 1948 college football season. Led by head coach Earl Blaik, the Cadets offense scored 294 points while the defense allowed 89 points. At season’s end, Army was ranked sixth in the nation.

1950 Army Cadets football team

The 1950 Army Cadets football team represented the United States Military Academy in the 1950 college football season. Led by head coach Earl Blaik, the team finished with an 8–1 record. The Cadets offense scored 267 points, while the defense allowed 40 points. Bob Blaik was the starting quarterback.

1951 Army Cadets football team

The 1951 Army Cadets football team represented the United States Military Academy in the 1951 college football season. Led by head coach Earl Blaik, the team finished with a record of 2–7. The Cadets offense scored 116 points, while the defense allowed 183 points.

1953 Army Cadets football team

The 1953 Army Cadets football team represented the United States Military Academy in the 1953 college football season. Led by head coach Earl Blaik, the team finished with a record of 7–1–1. The Army Cadets finished the season by winning the Lambert-Meadowlands Trophy, awarded to the top college team in the East.

1954 Army Cadets football team

The 1954 Army Cadets football team represented the United States Military Academy in the 1954 college football season. In their 14th year under head coach Earl Blaik, the Cadets compiled a 7–2 record and outscored all opponents by a combined total of 325 to 127. In the annual Army–Navy Game, the Cadets lost to the Midshipmen by a 27 to 20 score. The Cadets also lost to South Carolina by a 34 to 20 score.Four Army players were honored on the 1954 College Football All-America Team: halfback Tommy Bell (FWAA, INS-1, NEA-2); end Don Holleder (AFCA, INS-2, NEA-1, UP-1, CP-1); guard Ralph Chesnauskas (AP-1, UP-3); and quarterback Pete Vann (INS-2, UP-3, CP-2).

1955 Army Cadets football team

The 1955 Army Cadets football team represented the United States Military Academy in the 1955 college football season. In their 15th year under head coach Earl Blaik, the Cadets compiled a 6–3 record and outscored all opponents by a combined total of 256 to 72. In the annual Army–Navy Game, the Cadets defeated the Midshipmen by a 14 to 6 score. The Cadets also lost to Michigan, Syracuse, and Yale.No Army players were honored on the 1955 College Football All-America Team.

1956 Army Cadets football team

The 1956 Army Cadets football team represented the United States Military Academy in the 1956 NCAA University Division football season. In their 16th year under head coach Earl Blaik, the Cadets compiled a 5–3–1 record and outscored all opponents by a combined total of 223 to 153. In the annual Army–Navy Game, the Cadets tied the Midshipmen by a 7 to 7 score. The Cadets also lost to Michigan, Syracuse, and Pittsburgh.Army guard Stan Slater was honored by the United Press as a third-team player on the 1956 College Football All-America Team.

1957 Army Cadets football team

The 1957 Army Cadets football team represented the United States Military Academy in the 1957 NCAA University Division football season. In their 17th year under head coach Earl Blaik, the Cadets compiled a 7–2 record and outscored all opponents by a combined total of 251 to 129. In the annual Army–Navy Game, the Cadets lost to the Midshipmen by a 14 to 0 score. The Cadets also lost to Notre Dame by a 23 to 21 score.Two Army players were honored on the 1957 College Football All-America Team. Back Bob Anderson was a consensus first-team selection. Center Jim Kernan was a second-team selection of the International News Service (INS).

1958 Army Cadets football team

The 1958 Army Cadets football team represented the United States Military Academy in the 1958 NCAA University Division football season. Led by head coach Earl Blaik, the team finished with an undefeated 8–0–1 season.

The Cadets' offense scored 264 points, while the defense allowed 49 points. At season's end, the team was third in the national rankings.

Army Black Knights football

The Army Black Knights football team, previously known as the Army Cadets, represents the United States Military Academy in college football. Army is currently a Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) member of the NCAA. The Black Knights currently play home games in Michie Stadium with a capacity of 38,000 at West Point, New York. The Black Knights are coached by Jeff Monken who is in his sixth season as head coach. Army is a three-time national champion, winning the title from 1944-1946.

With the exception of seven seasons (1998–2004) where the team was a member of Conference USA, Army has competed as an independent, meaning that they have no affiliation with any conference. Currently, Army is one of six FBS schools whose football teams do not belong to any conference; the others being BYU, Liberty, New Mexico State, Notre Dame, and UMass. However, all of these schools belong to conferences for all other sports. Army is primarily a member of the Patriot League, BYU is primarily a member of the West Coast Conference, Liberty is in the Atlantic Sun Conference, New Mexico State is in the Western Athletic Conference, Notre Dame is part of the Atlantic Coast Conference, and UMass belongs to the Atlantic 10 Conference.

Three players from Army have won the Heisman Trophy: Doc Blanchard (1945), Glenn Davis (1946), and Pete Dawkins (1958).The three major service academies—Air Force, Army, and Navy—compete for the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy, which is awarded to the academy that defeats the others in football that year (or retained by the previous winner in the event of a three-way tie). Army has won eight CIC Trophies, most recently in 2018.

List of Army Black Knights football seasons

The following is a list of Army Black Knights football seasons for the football team that represents the United States Military Academy in NCAA competition.

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