The Honolulu Advertiser ran a Washington Post story (stay with me here) about Army coach Rich Ellerson today, which chronicles his efforts to turn around the Black Knight program.
The piece gives a lot of great insight into the changes that Ellerson has brought to the program, but the best quote about Ellerson comes at the end of the story. Army defensive tackle Victor Ugenyi, when asked to compare Ellerson to former Army head coaches Bobby Ross and Stan Brock, drops this gem:
He’s more like a hippie football coach. He’s from the West Coast. He gives a different perspective because you’re used to everything being by the book. When Coach Ellerson comes and switches it up, it makes you think.
A “hippie coach” at West Point? Hey, why not. At this point I’d hire Tommy Chong himself if it helped get Army over the hump against Navy.
In all seriousness, some of the changes that Ellerson has made are drastic. While installing the triple-option offense, the coaching staff moved 18 players into new positions, including 6-foot-10 inch wide receiver Ali Villanueva, who played tackle last year. Villanueva, a senior, leads the team in catches and receiving yards this season.
Ellerson also required that all players take the Army physical fitness test in an effort to bring the team closer to the Corps of Cadets. In previous years, some players had been able to ride a bike instead of the mandatory two-mile run.
“They see us doing the exact same things they’re doing, and it’s `OK, maybe they are working for us, maybe they’re part of us,'” Ugenyi told the Post.