Newest Cradle of Coaches
statue - Paul Brown ’30
f Paul Brown’s dad had won the father-son argument, the legendary football coach would have been a lawyer.
Basketball captain and football quarterback at his high school in Massillon, Ohio, Brown was too small to play football at Ohio State, but, according to his widow, he was “pressed” by his father to go there anyway to study law.
Mary Brown told this story at the Cradle of Coaches dinner Sept. 21 during Miami’s 2012 Homecoming Weekend:
“Three weeks into his program as a freshman he went home and begged his father to please let him transfer to Miami. Lester Brown said, ‘No, Paulie boy, you will go back to Ohio State, and you will finish what you started there. We’ll look at your grades, we’ll see what Miami has to offer, and you can then help me determine where your education is going to lead you.’ Well, guess what? This is where his education led him. He really loved Miami, and he felt like this was where the cornerstone for his whole life began.”
When Brown ’30 retired after 45 years of coaching, he said he had no regrets. He then shared his life philosophy, which he adopted during his undergraduate days from Elizabeth Hamilton, Miami’s first dean of women, “The eternal verities will always prevail. Such things as truth, honesty, character, and loyalty will never change.”
Coach of the Cleveland Browns, his namesake, and co-founder and general manager of the Cincinnati Bengals, he was known for quoting “the eternal verities” during preseason practices.
The Saturday morning of this year’s Homecoming Weekend, Mary and grandson, Paul, joined family, friends, and fans in unveiling Brown’s statue in the Cradle of Coaches Plaza at Yager Stadium. His is the ninth and final statue in the plaza, the plaza being inspired by a gift by Bob ’58 and Marian Hummel Kurz ’58. While Miami’s sports information director, Bob coined the phrase Cradle of Coaches after he put together an extensive list of all the legendary sports figures who started in Oxford.
Standing in the entrance to the bronze statues honoring coaching greats at the heart of the Cradle tradition is one of Thomas P. Van Voorhis, intramural director, coach, physical education instructor, and athletic administrator for Miami 1921-1956. He taught many of the Cradle members.
“I wanted to make sure that my grandfather was recognized as a pioneer,” said Dan Van Voorhis, who provided the $1 million gift for the nine heroic-scale figures created by Lewes, Del., sculptor Kristen Visbal. “My grandfather was a teacher to most of these guys, and he was a sports legend. We wanted to keep the Van Voorhis legacy at Miami going.”
Earl “Red” Blaik ’18
Head football coach for Dartmouth for seven years and West Point for 17, he directed a “series of superb teams,” according to the New York Times. His Army teams won consecutive national championships, three of his players earned the Heisman, and 11 became Hall of Fame players. The colonel was one of the first college coaches to implement a two-platoon system, using players strictly for offense or defense, and was also among the first to analyze the game play-by-play.
Paul Brown ’30
Of his Miami days, Paul Brown said, “I had a very happy time. I played football, I was the quarterback, I was the punter, I was the passer, I held for the placekicker … I was in it thick.” First head coach and namesake of the Cleveland Browns, coming from the head coaching position at Ohio State, he later became co-founder, part owner, and general manager of the Cincinnati Bengals. A major figure in developing the NFL, he is considered the “father of the modern offense.”
Carm Cozza ’52 MA ’54
Speaking at a reunion for the 1950 Miami Salad Bowl victors, he told his teammates, “I was recruited by Sid Gillman, and when I got here Sid had left and George Blackburn was the head coach my freshman year. Then he left. I had Woody Hayes my sophomore and junior years, and of course Woody went to Ohio State, and I had Ara Parseghian my senior year. At the time, I didn’t think it was the greatest thing in the world, because we just got used to a coach, and then he would go on. But being a coach, it probably was the best thing that ever happened to me.” He went on to lead Yale football for 32 seasons, winning 10 Ivy League championships and being named UPI New England Coach of the Year four times and Eastern Coach of the Year.
Paul Dietzel ’48
At the 2010 unveiling of his statue, Miami’s All-American center told the Dayton Daily News, “While I was in the Army, Anne [now his wife, then his sweetheart and a cheerleader at Miami] kept writing me every day and I kept getting letters from Sid Gillman, the coach at Miami, too,” he grinned. “… when I came out of the service there was no doubt where I was going.” After serving as an assistant to Red Blaik at Army, Gillman at Cincinnati, and Bear Bryant at Kentucky, he took over the struggling Louisiana State University program. In his fourth season the team won the national title, and he became the youngest man ever to win Coach of the Year.
Weeb Ewbank ’28
“Got his big break” when asked to teach and coach all sports in McGuffey Lab School, part of Miami’s School of Education. One year he was also acting coach for Miami’s basketball team. “Boy, I really had to work pretty hard that time, runnin’ back and forth between McGuffey Gym and Miami’s Withrow Court.” He followed Paul Brown into the pros, first as head coach with NFL’s Baltimore Colts, then with AFL’s New York Jets, becoming the only man to coach winners of NFL, AFL, and World championships.
Ara Parseghian ’49 MEd ’54
Already Miami’s freshman coach for football and basketball, he was offered Miami’s head football coaching job when Woody Hayes left for Ohio State. Since he was equally interested in basketball, he told Bob Kurz in Miami of Ohio … The Cradle of Coaches, “If one job had opened before the other, who knows? I may have become a basketball coach and lasted a season and a half.” Went on to be head coach at Northwestern and then Notre Dame. During his 11 seasons with the Fighting Irish, aka “the Era of Ara,” he compiled a 95-17-4 record for a .836 winning percentage.
John Pont ’52 MS ’56
Pont’s playing career as a Miami halfback was the stuff from which legends emerge. His jersey, No. 42, was the first ever retired by Miami. On Parseghian’s staff as freshman coach, when Parseghian left Miami, Pont, at 28, became the country’s youngest major-college head football coach. He went on to be head coach at Yale and then Indiana, becoming the only coach to take a Hoosier team to the Rose Bowl. As a result, he was named NCAA Division I-A Coach of the Year. He also coached at Northwestern, started a football program at Cincinnati’s College of Mount St. Joseph, and created a semi-professional football league in Japan.
Bo Schembechler ’51
“… as we all related back to Miami, we related to some of the greatest years of our lives. The guys we played with, the teams we played on, the people that coached us, and all of that has had a tremendous effect on the way we coach,” Bo told Kurz for his book in 1983. During his 20 years as head coach at the University of Michigan, he never had a losing season. A consummate “coach’s coach,” he combined superb technical command of the game with a fiery disposition.
Tom Van Voorhis
During his 35 years as an instructor, athletic administrator, and coach at Miami, he shaped hundreds of the young minds that would go on to build Miami’s revered Cradle of Coaches tradition. His innovations in college athletics programming remain prominent on college campuses nationwide.
Most of the material on the coaches is from Miami of Ohio … The Cradle of Coaches by Bob Kurz ’58.