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True Blue

True Blue: The Carm Cozza Story

Carm Cozza
with Rick Odermatt
Copyright Date: 1999
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 304
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  • Book Info
    True Blue
    Book Description:

    For thirty-two years there was no finer example of excellence in college football than Coach Carm Cozza's program at Yale University. This engaging book is Cozza's story, the reminiscences of a caring and principled teacher whose course material was athletic competition, whose classroom was a football field, and whose final exam was The Game against Harvard, with tens of thousands on hand to grade the performance.Cozza brings us behind the scenes for the famous 29-29 "loss" against Harvard in 1968, he recalls the antiwar protesters in the 1970s who were less than enthusiastic about a combat sport, and he marvels over the courage of 1989 captain Jon Reese, who played a game against Cornell with a broken jaw, enabling Cozza to win his tenth and last Ivy League title. He tells stories about some of the outstanding men who played for him, among them Dick Jauron, Gary Fencik, Calvin Hill, Brian Dowling, Rich Diana, John Spagnola, Rudy Green, John Pagliaro, Kelly Ryan, Stone Phillips, and Jack Ford. He recounts how difficult it was to adhere to the highest standards of academic excellence and amateur purity while major college teams were lowering standards, abusing rules, and exploiting athletes in the quest for victories and revenue. And he offers thoughts on how Yale-and similar elite schools-can invigorate their football programs without succumbing to the excesses of the big-time conferences.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-18568-3
    Subjects: Education

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-x)
    Rick Odermatt
  4. CHAPTER ONE The 29–29 “Loss”
    (pp. 1-16)

    It seems odd that after all the wins and losses, the most memorable game I coached at Yale was a tie. But that’s a fact, and nothing I can do now or could have done then will ever change it.

    Some people insist that it wasn’t a tie at all. The headline the next day in the Crimson, Harvard’s student newspaper, read: Harvard wins 29–29. When you are as heavily favored as we were that afternoon in 1968, anything less than outright victory has the sting of a loss. And believe me, I felt the sting as severely as...

  5. CHAPTER TWO Proud Italian Stock
    (pp. 17-30)

    It took a long time for me to decide to write this book. I can’t tell you how many times over the past ten or fifteen years some former player or alumnus said to me, “Coach, you should write a book.” That’s understandable because the story of Yale football is compelling. A lot of wonderful young men put on that blue-and-white uniform and took the field in Yale Bowl to become a part of one of America’s oldest and most storied sports traditions. Some of them were great athletes. Others—most of them, I suppose—were less than great, but...

  6. CHAPTER THREE First Time East of Pittsburgh
    (pp. 31-43)

    Once I got settled, my years at Miami University were wonderful. I played both football and baseball, got a fine education, and was coached by two of the all-time greats of college football, Woody Hayes and Ara Parseghian. Not only that, but I had two future coaching greats, John Pont and Bo Schembechler, among my teammates. John was also my roommate and later the best man at my wedding.

    Imagine that. Where could I have gotten a better foundation for a career in coaching than at Miami University from 1948 to 1952? I wasn’t certain at the time that I...

  7. CHAPTER FOUR The War Years
    (pp. 44-56)

    A lot of things changed from the time Brian Dowling and Calvin Hill cleaned out their lockers in November of 1968 to the following August, when a new Yale team reported for two-a-day practices. Not only had those two superstars graduated, leaving us with a squad of what I would call normal-type players, but the whole campus had under gone a dramatic change in student attitude and behavior. It’s hard to imagine how different the university environment was from one season to the next. Somehow, in the span of barely nine months, the giddy excitement of the big game in...

  8. [Illustrations]
    (pp. None)
  9. CHAPTER FIVE Hooked on Coaching
    (pp. 57-64)

    The call was waiting for me when I walked off the eighteenth green at the National Cash Register golf course in Dayton, Ohio. It was the summer of 1976, and I was playing in a charity tournament for multiple sclerosis in honor of my old coach Ara Parseghian. As soon as someone told me there was a call for me from New Haven, I had a good idea who it was and what it was about. And I knew my life was about to change.

    So I wasn’t surprised to hear Kingman Brewster’s voice on the phone. He was the...

  10. CHAPTER SIX A Few of the Brightest
    (pp. 65-84)

    Dick Jauron was at Harvard Stadium that November day in 1968 when we “lost” 29–29 to John Yovicsin’s Crimson. He lived only a few miles northeast of Cambridge in Swampscott, Massachusetts, where he had just finished his senior season as one of the most sought-after running backs in the country. He was named to the high school All-America team byParademagazine and was being wooed by the likes of Notre Dame, Alabama, and Ohio State. He was at the top of our recruiting list, too, of course, as he was at Harvard and who knows how many other...

  11. CHAPTER SEVEN As Tough as They Come
    (pp. 85-95)

    I tried never to speak in superlatives. I’m not sure why that was, but if I had a player who was truly outstanding, I’d just say that he was pretty good. If Joe Montana had played for me, I probably would have said something like, “He’s as good as any quarterback we have in camp at the moment.” My conservative comments drove sportswriters crazy. They called me a lousy quote because I never went out on a limb, never made a controversial statement. With that in mind, let me make a flat-out superlative statement with the benefit of hindsight. Kevin...

  12. CHAPTER EIGHT Fred the Dog, Etc.
    (pp. 96-119)

    Not all my recollections fit neatly into a particular chapter. There are humorous tales to tell and random thoughts to express that have no logical place in the sequence of these pages. So I have strung together a few observations and anecdotes in this catch-all chapter in the hope that these bits and pieces help tell the story of Yale football in my time. My only regret in writing this book is that I can’t mention each person who touched my life or acknowledge each event that held meaning for my family and me, but there simply isn’t room. Every...

  13. [Illustrations]
    (pp. None)
  14. CHAPTER NINE Just One Miracle Short
    (pp. 120-135)

    It has been more than ten years since I watched from the sideline as Kelly Ryan performed his string of miracles, but I still get palpitations. Every time I think of those three games, almost four, when he snatched victory from the jaws of defeat in the last minute of play, I have to breathe deeply to calm myself. That son of a gun nearly drove me crazy, winning games that looked hopeless as the final seconds ticked off. Three times in 1987, Kelly led us to victory in the last minute of play. In a span of five weeks,...

  15. CHAPTER TEN Broken Jaw and All
    (pp. 136-147)

    It was just after dark when I left the field house on a rainy Halloween night, one of those spooky October twilights that stir childhood memories of ghosts and goblins. I can’t say that I felt any particular apprehension as I drove past the cemetery on Derby Avenue on my way home to supper. Maybe I should have. Our Tuesday practice had gone well. We were in high spirits after the previous Saturday’s 23–22 squeaker over Penn. In fact, that 1989 team was loaded with high-spirited players, very much reflecting the inspirational leadership of the captain, Jon Reese.


  16. CHAPTER ELEVEN Unlikely Hero
    (pp. 148-164)

    Most good athletes run with their toes pointed slightly inward. Darin Kehler ran like a duck, with his feet pointed out. Most good quarterbacks are taller than six feet, with enough body weight to sustain the punishment of onrushing linemen. Darin Kehler stood just under 5-foot-10 and weighed about 165 pounds. Most good quarterbacks work on their throwing skills year-round and go to sleep at night with visions of pass receivers picking their way through zone coverage. Darin Kehler gave up football after a freshman season spent primarily as a defensive back to concentrate on baseball. In September of his...

  17. CHAPTER TWELVE The Last Best Years
    (pp. 165-191)

    There was no more awe-inspiring setting in college football in the twentieth century than a Yale-Harvard game before a capacity crowd in the Bowl. It was more than a football game. It was a celebration of the bright college years at two of the world’s greatest institutions of higher learning. And it was a contest between two schools and two sets of alumni whose animosity for one another was born of mutual respect. Neither side will ever admit that The Game contained elements of good humor and play-acting along with genuine feelings of superiority. But athletic rivalries of such intensity...

  18. [Illustrations]
    (pp. None)
  19. CHAPTER THIRTEEN The So-Called Decline
    (pp. 192-214)

    When I set out to write this book, I knew that there would have to be a chapter on the so-called decline of Yale football. Frankly, if there were a way to avoid the subject altogether, I would. Not because I don’t have strong opinions on the subject, but because it is nearly impossible to state the facts honestly and not appear to be making excuses. Furthermore, it is impossible to talk about the top quality players we were unable to bring to Yale without demeaning the ones we did recruit as though they were second choices. That’s unfair and...

    (pp. 215-226)

    The decision to retire was painful. I won’t pretend that it wasn’t. Just when it felt as if we were about to turn the corner and get back on the winning track, it was time for me to go. I was sixty-five when I decided to step down, sixty-six when I coached my last game, and I had been in the job for more than three decades, so there was nothing for me to complain about. In fact, I was blessed to have had such a long and successful run. Still, it felt like my life was coming to an...

  21. Honor Roll: Cozza’s Thirty-Two Seasons
    (pp. 227-234)
  22. Index
    (pp. 235-242)