The article below originally appeared in the Belmont Patch and is being reprinted with permission.
(The author, Fred Baer, is the sports information director at College of San Mateo, a role he also held on November 22, 1963.)
Little did College of San Mateo football coach Doug Scovil (1958-62) realize that he would be thrust onto the national stage in several ways a half century ago when he left CSM to become the backfield coach at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland for the 1963 season.
Winning three conference titles at CSM, Scovil had earned a reputation as a developer of quarterbacks. They included All-American Rick Norman in 1962 and Neal Dahlen in 1959 — who has a world record seven super Bowl Rings as a coach/administrator with San Francisco and Denver, (including General Manager of the Broncos).
At Navy Scovil inherited QB Roger Staubach, who had transferred to the Academy a year earlier from New Mexico Military JC. He had become a late season starter in 1962, engineering Navy to a 34-14 upset of Army — with President John F. Kennedy (a former Naval officer) in attendance.
That 1963 Navy team, led by Staubach, was ranked No. 2 in the USA, with the annual Army-Navy game upcoming 50 years ago this week. Everything changed on Nov. 22, when President Kennedy was assassinated before he could attend that season’s game.
The traditional contest was postponed for two weeks. Members of the Kennedy family were in attendance when Navy prevailed, 21-15 on Dec. 7. Scovil’s pupil was involved in television history that day. CBS director Tony Verna used his new “invention” instant replay for the first time on a live sporting event during that game, in which Staubach starred.
That season Staubach became the first of four JC transfers to win the Heisman Trophy, leading the Midshipmen to a 9-1 record and final No. 2 ranking, although losing to No. 1 Texas in the national championship deciding Cotton Bowl. Staubach was also the first of four players to win both the Heisman and Super Bowl MVP trophies.
Personal note: On that fateful day 50 years ago, this writer was serving in the same role as today – then in his second season as sports information director at CSM. The new College Heights campus had just opened in September. A female student leader came to my office in the Student Center in tears to inform me that JFK had been shot in Dallas. We then watched with others on TV in the building as the sad saga unfolded.A few years later I learned much of the television business from that same TV director, Tony Verna, while serving as researcher and expert consultant for a new weekly track and field series on CBS. It was a great experience working with some of the top NFL TV people, during their off-season from football, as we covered meets around the USA and Europe. And now, in 2013, I will be using instant replay on Saturdayafternoon while producing a telecast of the Bothman Bulldog Bowl for PenTV and KCSM, featuring American River College at CSM. That will be the better remembrance from the developments in the fall of 1963.
The above retrospective came into focus this week while watching a Bob Costas TV show, featuring an interview with Staubach on what transpired 50 years ago on Nov. 22 – and the impact on sports.
Fred Baer is the sports information director for the College of San Mateo.