Bob Sutherland photo from 1947 program
Jock Sutherland

His first impression of the Steeler squad places Mastrangelo at the top of the list. The Vandergrift guard has the makings of a great football player.

There is only one player on the squad who can outrun him - halfback Joe Glamp, a deluxe field goal kicker in the bargain. Mastrangelo's speed and 210 pounds played no small part in throwing the champion Chicago Bears for a 16-0 loss in the Chicago All-Star game.

Along with Mastrangelo, several other new linemen promise to make the Steelers even tougher than they were when they established themselves as the stoutest defensive team in pro football last year.

Frank Wydo, towering "submarine" tackle from Duquesne and Cornell universities, is a coming star. And with Paul Stenn, 250-pound veteran acquired from Washington, gives the Steelers a potent one-two tackle punch.

Elbie Nickel, unknown from Cincinnati, has been added to a bang-up group of ends, which with the benefit of a year's experience may become the toughest in the pro circuit.

Bryant Meeks, of Tennessee, and Bronko Kosanovich, of Penn State, could give veteran Chuck Cherundolo even more help than he expected at center. Everyone seemed to be disappointed with the Steelers' debut in an exhibition with the Bethlehem Bulldogs in Erie early last month, save Dr. Sutherland.

"We made a lot of mistakes," he conceded, "but the Bull­ dogs were a good minor league team. They were up for us - four touchdowns seemed to be about right. We've had these things to contend with before."

Sutherland teams are notoriously slow starters. In 1933, W and J held one of his best Pitt teams to a 9-0 score in the opener. Pitt went on to the Rose Bowl a year later and lost only to Minnesota firing that two-year span.

In 1935, little Waynesburg played another great Panther squad to a 14-0 standstill in the opener. A year later, Pitt once again was in the Rose Bowl, and licked Washington for the national title.

Jock's teams, built on split-second timing and precision, require a lot of polishing. They have a habit of picking up steam as the season progresses, and by November, his good ones are rolling along unbeatable.

Rated off their showing in Cambridge Springs camp drills and exhibition games, five halfbacks - Johnny Clement, Cifers, Walt Slater, Paul Davis and Bob Sullivan - appear capable of taking up the slack left by Dudley.

Clement, triple-threat Texan from Southern Methodist, is heir apparent to Dudley's left halfback shoes. "He's fighting for those first downs - I like that," Dr. Sutherland observed.

Sullivan (Iowa) and Davis (Otterbein) have possibilities of being the surprise bundles. And Cifers, although hampered by injuries, is a bang-up blocker, along with ball-carrying talents.

After watching Cifers work out by himself on an off-day given the squad after the Bethlehem game, the Doctor passed out this diagnosis: "he'll come."

This could become one of the passingest teams Jock has had. Clement heads a group of capable flingers and Val Jansante (ex-Duquesne) tops a sweet flock of receivers. Jock never was a great pass enthusiast.

But the defense has developed to such an extent that he's got to throw the ball to make his running attack effective. The "Sphinx of Football" sees the T-formation dominating the game again this season. But you can bet your priority on a new car that he'll stick with his pet single and double Wingback system. It hasn't let him down yet.

"No offense has hit its peak," Dr. Sutherland predicted. "There is no stagnation in any football offense." He went on to explain that the "defense makes you do things you don't want to do. The Warner system at one time had six or seven unstoppable plays. But the defense finally caught up. So, you've got to make little adjustments here and there to keep a step ahead."

There are some critics, including a few of his former players and coaches, who think Dr. Sutherland is passing up a good bet in not mixing in a little "T" and man in ­ motion with his wingback system. They claim he is using the same stuff he employed at Pitt 10 years ago and that opposing coaches know exactly what to expect by now.

One former associate, going out to coach on his own, boasted: "I've got everything the Old Man has and more - I know where he's wrong." But the record of the all-knowing disciple has failed to prove this.

What the critics overlook are the little refinements which the Silent Scot adds to his "bang-bang-bang" power plays from day to day… And his knack of organization and attention to detail which would make him a success in any line of business.

The record speaks for itself. No one active in the game today can touch his record of developing national championship contenders both in college and professional ranks. It is more than coincidence, good material or luck that he has never coached a losing team in 23 record-smashing seasons.

The immortal Knute Rockne's 13-year mark of 105 vic­ tories and 12 defeats at Notre Dame still is the best short- time performance. It is a matter of speculation to say what the years might have done to 'Rock's" remarkable winning percentage of .897 had his career not been broken off early by an air crash on March 31, 1931.

Over the long haul, the late Fielding H. (Hurry-Up) Yost leads the parade with 196 wins and 34 losses. The Michigan Magician posted a 29-year percentage of .852.

But it is the "Sphinx of Football" who shows the way today for coaches with more than 15 years in big-time competition. Jock's 20 years at Lafayette and Pitt produced 144 triumphs and 28 defeats for a percentage of .837.

His closest rivals still active in the college game are Wallace Wade and Frank Thomas. In 21 years at Alabama and Duke, Wade nailed down 161 decisions, lost 36 for an .817 percentage. Thomas has been almost as successful, nabbing 137 while dropping 33 in 19 years at Chattanooga and Alabama for an .806 batting average.

While the competition and schedules weren't nearly as hot in the South, Jock still led 'em by a husky margin.

Trailing the Big Five in the all-time college rankings are the late Gloomy Gil Dobie, .787; the late Dan McGuigan, .783; the late Howard Jones, .777; Fritz Crisler, .772; Dana X. Bible, .730; and Bernie Bierman, .728.

Several more recent arrivals in big-time competition have made sensational starts, notably Frank Leahy, Gen. Bob Neyland, Paul Brown and Buff Donelli. But it is unlikely that anyone ever will match the "start" of Dobie. Gloomy Gil directed undefeated teams for 12 straight years - two at North Dakota and 10 at the University of Washington (1906-17). It took a war to lick him.

Yet even with that tremendous head- start, Dobie's complete record failed to measure up to the Sutherland log.

Gen. Neyland's performance at Tennessee rates more than passing mention. In 15 seasons, he built the Volunteers into a leading national power with 127 wins, 15 losses and eight ties. That's a winning percentage of .894, just three points shy of Rockne. However, it wasn't until recent years that Tennessee played top-notch schedules.

There was a one-year lapse in Jock's record (1939) after he left Pitt. And a four-year gap later when he traded one of the biggest salaries in the game for a Navy uniform during World War II.

These two developments never were completely understood. To many people, Jock was as inscrutable as a sphinx. They knew him only from watching him direct games stoically from the bench. Pacing back and forth in recent years when material ran thin was virtually his only show of emotion.

But beneath the features of stone runs a strong current of sentiment. His pep talks are rarely of the blood and thunder, do-it-for-dear-old-Pitt type. But in his farewell meeting with the 1938 squad – his last at Pitt, the all-Americans and scrubs alike came out dabbing their eyes.

At a Pitt alumni dinner, he once declared that "if I ever have a son - I'd want him to be like Marshall Goldberg." That's how Goldie rated in the "Old Man's" book. And he wasn't talking only about Marshall's football ability.

It was pride that kept him in retirement for a year following his abrupt departure from Pitt when the Panthers were at the top of the national heap.

There was no compromise in his makeup. Pittsburgh was and likely always will be his first love. He thought there was still a chance Pitt would give the game a fair shake again. But he had insisted that either the material be kept on par with the schedule, or the schedule reduced.

Jock Sutherland, George Halas and E.L. Lambeau

He would "never send a team out on the field which didn't have at least a chance of winning." Giving up football and a reported $18,000 job at Brooklyn during the war was hard, too, especially for a Scotchman. But his boys were "in," and although past 50, that’s where the “Old Man” wanted to be.

Returning to Pittsburgh after the war to lead the Steelers out of the gridiron wilderness was a natural.

Jock's three-year pro record chops his all-time percentage down a bit to .804. But with skeleton squads (two at Brooklyn and last year with the Steelers), he still managed to turn out teams which were surprise contenders for pro titles right down to the wire.

No professional coach can match the Sutherland record. George Halas and Curly Lambeau come closest. In 21 seasons, the Chicago Bears won 181 and lost 54 under Halas for a .770 pace. Lambeau, home town boy who made good, led the Green Bay Pack­ er-, to 225 triumphs and 83 losses for a .735 mark over a 27-year stretch.

It requires only a fast glance at the records to see that the “Sphinx of Pittsburgh” has taken over where the “Rock of Notre Dame” left off.

Editor’s notes: The Steelers finished 8-4 for the season:

September 2st vs Detroit Lions 17 10
September 29th vs Los Angeles Rams 7 48
October 5th @ Washington Redskins 26 27
October 12th @ Boston Yanks 30 14
October 19th vs Philadelphia Eagles 35 24
October 26th @ New York Giants 38 21
November 2nd @ Green Bay Packers 18 17
November 9th vs Washington Redskins 21 14
November 16th vs New York Giants 24 7
November 23rd @ Chicago Bears 7 49
November 30th @ Philadelphia Eagles 0 21
December 7th vs Boston Yanks 17 7

1947 saw the Steelers make their first playoff appearance confirming the unique coaching ability of Jock Sutherland. Sadly, Sutherland passed away the following year.

Dr. Jock Sutherland's All-time football coaching record:


1947 Steelers roster>>>

1947 Steelers media guide Jock Sutherland bio>>>

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