The monkey is off the back of UC Davis football coach Ron Gould.
The 30-13 victory over Idaho State on Saturday stopped school information officials and folks like me from sifting through Aggie archives, wondering about bad starts to football seasons.
Scribes will no longer ask what keeps Gould’s players and coaches focused in the face of such adversity.
Magically, our Aggies have gone from a team searching for identity to one of the chosen ones — leading the Big Sky Conference, albeit with a 1-0 mark.
Thanks to the win, none of us have to worry about looking up the last UCD team to start 0-5.
However, I am now drawn to that Aggie gridiron group that last went 0-5 (and 0-8-1) — not because I enjoy pointing out futility, but because a handful of the once-young men on that team deserve praise for courage, determination and what many believe was the birth of Aggie Pride.
In fact, with players like quarterback Dick Carriere; linemen Linn Wiley, John Stassi, Dale Weishahn and Allen MacAulay; and backs Gary Carlson, Terry Haynie and Ron Conway; that 0-8-1 bunch went on to post three consecutive winning seasons, culminating in the 1963 Far Western Conference championship.
Next Friday — 50 years after turning coal into diamonds — those 1963 Aggies are having a reunion at Sudwerk. At some point on the evening of the UCD-Montana Homecoming game Oct. 12, the fathers of Aggie Pride will be honored at Aggie Stadium.
Cornerback and backup quarterback Carlson and I sat down and chatted about his ’63 brethren’s accomplishments — and how that cadre of freshmen were not deterred by the winless 1960 campaign.
“It was actually a lot of fun,” Carlson told me. “We had a junior varsity team in those days … and often some of us would play in that JV game, then immediately jump into the varsity game.”
Carlson (a School of Veterinary Medicine professor emeritus) told me the draw of the sport and the bond of the players kept those Aggies going.
It’s interesting to note that in a 41-0 loss to San Francisco State, UCD featured a running back named Bob Foster while the Gators had a recently graduated assistant coach by the name of Jim Sochor.
Will Lotter was the Aggie head coach and Vic Rowen, who spent 29 years at the helm of SFSU, was just starting his legendary coaching tree (Sochor, Andy Reid, Mike Holmgren and Bob Toledo, among others).
Not to spill all the beans here (on Oct. 13, The Enterprise will take a longer look at the team and its reunion), but Carlson said he understands what today’s young Aggies and coach Gould might be experiencing and, he says, even if things don’t work out this season, Carlson believes the future is bright with a 90-man roster featuring only 15 seniors and more than half of the staff new to town.
“Sometimes it takes time,” the Davis resident told me. “Patience is a virtue.”
While I Have You Here: Keep your fingers crossed that everything goes well between now and National Letter of Intent Day in November, but it looks like the Aggie men’s basketball program will welcome Elyria (Ohio) High standout Isaiah Walton — a 6-foot-4 guard who averaged 17.8 points and led his Pioneers to an 18-6 record and deep playoff run last season.
Recruited by schools across the land, Walton gave a verbal commitment to UCD last weekend.
The youngster said the combination of coach Jim Les, a former NBA guard, and assistant coach Chris Davis helped sway his decision. Davis coached Walton’s dad, Harold, while at Kent State.
“My father told me Coach Davis is a good guy and real straight shooter,” the younger Walton explained. “What you see is what you get with him and I liked that. Coach Les played in the NBA at the same position that I play (shooting guard), so who better to learn from?”
“I like everything about the campus,” Walton added. “The people were really nice, the gym and the athletic facilities are great and the campus is so nice, it actually looks like a vacation resort.”
OK, if you say so Isaiah. At least with your hops and scoring ability in town, it will become a destination for basketball fans. A vacation resort? Check back in when classes and practices start.
— Bruce Gallaudet is a staff writer for The Davis Enterprise. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org