Since I had the good fortune to spend five years as line coach at West Point, I know pretty well what is going on there this week. Bed sheets in varying degrees of artistry hang from every window. Even the lowly plebes are in on the act. "Mr. Dumbjohn," the upperclassman inquires, "what does a plebe rank?"
"Sir," the bracing plebe intones, "The superintendent's cat, the commandant's dog, the waiters in the mess hall, and all the admirals in the whole damn Navy." The middies have their own devices.
Next week's Army-Navy game should be the most evenly matched Service struggle in years. This is the way I sum it up. Both lines are just about equal. "Quick" is the word that best describes them. The regime tends to give them that lean and hungry look, and to carry on with Mr. Shakespeare, "such men are dangerous." Defensively, both lines react fast to the ball and tackle with reckless abandon. The downfield blocking of both teams is a joy to behold. This ardor results in many penalties but clipping is inevitable when teams block as well as these two, downfield.
Both backfields are blessed with speed. Army is perhaps a trifle faster. Coach Blaik, an old cavalry officer, has followed to the hilt the sayings of another old cavalry officer, General Nathan Bedford Forrest: "Get thar fustest with the mostest." Fumbles sometimes result from this speed-up tempo and this could be a factor in the game. Army possibly has more poise, but the '54 edition at the Naval Academy has been aptly named "A Team Called Desire."
Coach Eddie Erdelatz told me, "This is the best team that I've ever coached at the Naval Academy. We intend to ask no quarter or give no quarter."
Coach Blaik might not admit that this was his best team, but I'm certain that his sentiments about quarter are the same.
With the game a week away, I pick Army.