Army's Young to take second discharge from coaching

December 06, 1990|By Jerry Bembry

It was in 1982, after resurrecting Purdue's football program, that coach Jim Young decided to step away from the field and into the front office -- a move he would regret.

"Football Saturdays were very different that year," Young said this year of being away from the action. "I missed the coaching aspect and the association with the players and the coaches. My life was a very even life. I didn't get down too much, and I didn't have too many highs."

So, Young got back into coaching, moving to the U.S. Military Academy and taking over an Army team that hadn't had a winning record in five seasons. He turned the Cadets around, taking them to the only three bowl games in school history.

Again, Young is about to face life after football, as he will be coaching his final collegiate game Saturday, against Navy. When it's all over at Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia, he said, there will be no more yearning to come back.

"Unlike last time, this is not a quick decision on my part," said Young, who has a 119-71-2 record in 17 seasons at Arizona, Purdue and Army. "Age [55] is one thing. I think I have different reasons now for why I'm doing what I'm doing."

Whatever his reasons, Young probably will be remembered best as the man who turned Army football around. The season before he arrived at West Point, the Cadets were 4-7 and winless against Navy for five straight years.

But, after a 2-9 first season that ended with a 42-13 loss to Navy, Young led Army to an 8-3-1 record in 1984, including a Cherry Bowl win over Michigan State; a 9-3 record in 1985, including a Peach Bowl win over Illinois; and a 9-3 record in 1988, including a one-point loss to Alabama in the John Hancock Sun Bowl.

"One of my fondest memories was that 1984 team, which was excellent," said Young, who was named Coach of the Year that season by the Football Writers Association of New York. "They had been losers, and all of a sudden they started to win and turn the program around."

A key to the turnaround was the abandonment of the pro-type passing offense at the end of his first season in favor of the wishbone offense that had been successful at Air Force.

"The wishbone has been helpful in my accomplishments," said running back Mike Mayweather, who was named third-team All-America yesterday by The Associated Press. "He's been a tremendous coach, and I feel privileged to have played for him."

In addition to making the team a winner, Young made a successful adjustment from life at a major program to the atmosphere at an academy.

"At a lot of major colleges, the most intense period of the day for a football player is football practice," said Young, who was a fullback on Ohio State's national championship team in 1954. "At the academy, that's just one of many intense moments of the day.

"You're dealing with individuals who have been challenged all day long," he said. "You don't have size, speed and quickness, but you have a tremendous mental ability from individuals who work hard and who are disciplined. They'll put it all on the line on the field and play with great intensity."

Young's decision to retire was announced at the beginning of the season, and he will work next year in the performance enhancement program at Army. Since his announcement, he has had little time to dwell on leaving the game.

"I'm just getting ready for us to do our best job against Navy. I have no different thoughts than preparing for any other game," Young said. "After the game, when it's really over, is when you think about that."

atmosphere. "My eight years at Army have been a very positive experience."

Young's record

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Year, school W-L-T 1973, Arizona 8-3-0 1974, Arizona 9-2-0 1975, Arizona 9-2-0 1976, Arizona 5-6-0 1977, Purdue 5-6-0 1978, Purdue 9-2-1* 1979, Purdue 10-2-0* 1980, Purdue 9-3-0* 1981, Purdue 5-6-0 1983, Army 2-9-0 1984, Army 8-3-1* 1985, Army 9-3-0* 1986, Army 6-5-0 1987, Army 5-6-0 1988, Army 9-3-0* 1989, Army 6-5-0 1990, Army 5-5-0 Totals 119-71-2 *-played in bowl game.

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