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Enright stands by 1973 remarks about young teams


Last updated 9/29/2006 at Noon

Current Fallbrook resident Dick Enright was the head football coach of the University of Oregon in 1972 and 1973, and he considers some comments he made in 1973 still to be true as Fallbrook High School faces a similar situation 33 years later.

A group of Southern California newspaper reporters known as the Skywriters visited each of the Pacific Eight Conference schools and interviewed coaches. Enright spoke to the Skywriters on September 3, 1973.

“We just want to make sure we don’t beat ourselves, and to play like that we’ll have to mature in a hurry. But I’d rather put in that good foundation and maybe lose a couple of games than win without building any kind of base,” Enright told the Skywriters. “I think if you’ll do that, you’ll win anyway; we’ll win sooner or later, and it might as well be sooner.”

Oregon had a 4-7 record in 1972, but the Ducks had won three of their final five games. They had allowed only five points in their final two games of 1972, and they held national champion USC scoreless for three quarters.

Oregon’s 1972 players included senior quarterback Dan Fouts, who in 1973 was beginning a 15-year professional career with the San Diego Chargers. Oregon’s 1973 listed starters at the beginning of the season included only seven seniors and seven juniors. Enright told the Skywriters that he expected six freshmen to make the 1973 traveling squad.

“Having to play young guys when other teams don’t may hurt us for a while,” Enright said to the Skywriters, “but it will help us in the long run. In two years our good young players will be two years ahead of those that didn’t play, and that’s how we hope to ultimately catch up with teams like USC.”

Current Fallbrook High School head football coach Patrick Schmidt knows that it was UCLA and not Oregon who ended USC’s string of PAC-8 championships; Schmidt played on the 1975 Bruins who won that year’s PAC-8 title. Oregon would have a 2-9 record in 1973, and Enright would be dismissed in January 1974. Oregon also finished 2-9 in 1974.

Enright stands by his statements in 2006. “That’s a statement that most coaches make to buy time, but it’s a true statement,” he said. “In the long run I’d rather go with experienced guys. Young guys will get you beat.”

That inexperience contributed to Oregon’s defeats in 1973. “We didn’t have leadership,” Enright reflected.

Inexperience also has other drawbacks. “You need to put the discipline in,” Enright explained. “You need time for them to believe in what you’re trying to accomplish.”

Oregon’s quarterbacks in 1973 were junior Norv Turner, who had thrown 15 passes for the Ducks in 1972, and junior college transfer Herb Singleton. “Not having Fouts was a big deal,” Enright noted.

Oregon’s problems during the 1973 season included an eligibility issue and injuries. Enright also had to remove three starters from the team from stealing furniture. “We were never the same,” Enright said. “It was a bad situation for them and for us.”

While Enright noted in 1973 that Turner’s ability to execute passes would be necessary for the Ducks’ success, he praised Turner’s mental abilities. “Turner has a great deal of knowledge of the game,” Enright mentioned to the Skywriters. “It’s just like having another coach on the field.”

Turner would eventually go into a coaching career, which began in 1975 as a graduate assistant with Oregon and which has included stints as head coach of the Washington Redskins and Oakland Raiders and two Super Bowl championships as the Dallas Cowboys’ offensive coordinator. “It proved out. He’s coaching,” Enright said of his 33-year-old comments.

It remains to be seen how Schmidt will react to his 2006 pre-season quotes 33 years in the future, but Enright has high hopes for Schmidt despite Fallbrook’s young roster. “His heart’s in the right place,” Enright remarked.

Enright himself coached at Gardena High School before joining Oregon as an assistant coach and at Capistrano Valley High School after a National Football League season as the offensive line coach of the San Francisco 49ers. Enright believes that a major key to Schmidt’s potential success will be the backing of the school’s administration. “Your principal to me was always the most important thing,” Enright said.

(The Skywriters quotes were obtained from a San Francisco Chronicle article written by Al Moss.)


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