JOCK SUTHERLAND (1947) - SPHINX OF FOOTBALL
(article by Eddie Beachler, reprinted from September 1947 Huddle magazine)
Football coaches may come and go, but Dr. Jock Sutherland remains as indestructible as a sphinx. Jock bears more than a passing resemblance to the Great Sphinx of Giza - only one of the "Seven Wonders" of the ancient world still in existence.
Of course, the "Sphinx of Football" still has a few thousand years to go before proving as durable as the famed Egyptian pyramid. But just ask rival coaches if you doubt that he isn't hewed out of the same stone.
Jock's record is the wonder of the modern football world.
For 28 years, he has pyramided teams into national championship contenders. Jock has never coached a losing team. Whether the "Sphinx of Football" can maintain that pace during the coming season is a question that Pittsburghers will jam Forbes Field to see answered.
In many ways, the '47 campaign shapes up as the greatest challenge of his brilliant coaching career.
Without Bill Dudley - the National League's leading ground gainer and most valuable player -some Steeler fans tossed in the sponge even before the squad went to camp.
The sceptics, however, were given a jolt recently when the Steelers upset the Green Bay Packers, 24-17, for the first time in history. It was only an exhibition game and the Packers were far behind the Steelers in conditioning. The result might have been quite different a month later. But it was a great tribute to the coaching genius of the "Sphinx of Football."
Virtually everyone, especially rival coaches and players, conceded that the Great Stone Face, as Jock was aptly named some time ago, performed a near-miracle last year. Can he do it again?
The Steelers were underdogs against every foe save Detroit and Boston, yet managed to stay in the thick of the Eastern division race and finish with a 5-5-1 record.
Dudley was the key performer in every victory. Now that he has gone with his whims to Detroit for a $25,000 salary (Bill couldn't adjust himself to the Sutherland system of coaches instructing even the stars how to play), the Steeler squad is virtually starless.
Of course, there are a few well known college players - Johnny Mastrangelo, all-American guard at Notre Dame Paul White, Double-A Michigan halfback who came in the Dudley deal; Bobby Cifers, Tennessee.
But compared with other pro squads, the Steelers are no more distinctive than the night shift at J. and L.
Still, "things are better with the Steelers," Dr. Sutherland insists, with a rare burst of optimism. "The boys have fine spirit and are working hard."
At the same time, he hastens to point out that "every team in the league thinks it will be better… we know the other teams will be better ... and the league itself is stronger."
The "Sphinx of Football" explains that the current crop of college stars is "not just another graduating class… but an accumulation of talent that was stored up by the war years."
Jock even goes so far as to predict that the "war-time crop (college graduates) will push the old pros out… these college boys will be the pro stars of tomorrow… this is the season football begins to catch up with what it lost during the war."