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1975-76: Cornell University head coach

 

"In the history of Cornell football, no head coach ever took over under such bleak conditions."

Those were the words of Robert Kane, the Cornell University athletic director who hired George Seifert in February 1975.

In his book, "Good Sports," Kane described Cornell's woes: "The NCAA had recently penalized the athletic department twice in four months for recruiting and management violations, the (university) president was being portrayed as anti-sports, the football staff had been without cohesive leadership for several months because of personal problems of the head coach (Jack Musick, who was fired Nov. 20, 1974), and three assistants had left for other positions. Thus what little recruiting that was done was woefully ineffective. We were, in reality, the pits."

It was under these circumstances that Seifert took over, and it is reflected in Cornell's record. The team went 1-8 during Seifert's first season, then 2-7 in his second. There were several close losses that Kane said could have been won with more depth. But Seifert was strapped by lack of recruiting time and money. And because of a rule against playing freshmen, he never got to use the players he was able to recruit before the 1976 season.

Kane's replacement as athletic director, Dick Schultz, fired Seifert with two games left in the 1976 season and one year left on his contract.

Cornell proceeded to win the 1976 season finale 31-13 over Penn, and the players carried Seifert off the field in triumph. They were unaware he had already been fired.

Seifert makes no excuses for his 3-15 showing at Cornell and instead blames his own inexperience. "If there was one thing I did wrong at Cornell, it was that I tried to do everyone's job," he has said.

 

 

1975: 1-8
L Colgate         24-22
W at Bucknell     21-6
L Princeton       16-8
L Harvard         34-13
L at Yale         20-14
L Columbia        42-19
L Brown           45-23
L at Dartmouth    33-10
L at Pennsylvania 27-21
1976: 2-7
L Princeton       3-0
L Colgate         25-20
L at Rutgers      21-14
W at Harvard      9-3
L Brown           28-12
L Dartmouth       35-0
L at Yale         14-6
L at Columbia     35-17
W at Pennsylvania 31-13

"My years at Cornell, poor as they were, did teach me a lot," he wrote in the book, "Game Plans for Success."

"I learned the consequences of trying to do too much. I ran the offense and the defense. I recruited. I raised money for the booster club. I even schduled buses for trips. I was doing all these things instead of focusing on winning games."

After being fired from Cornell, Seifert said he just wanted to return to being an assistant coach, grow old there and retire.

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