SANTA CLARA’S FIRSTFAMILY : Three Generations of Malleys Have Handled the Broncos With Iron Reins

Times Staff Writer

It began with George.

He was the first of the Malleys associated with the University of Santa Clara football team, and probably the toughest.

It’s been 60 years since he captained the football team from his position as an offensive end. He also played baseball and basketball and found time to become one of the top amateur boxers on the West Coast.

Says former classmate Jim Jennings: “George was a little bit of a pistol.”


With plenty of ammunition always ready to fire.

While coaching the University of San Francisco in the late 1930s, Malley was giving a halftime speech at Kezar Stadium in a game against hated St. Mary’s College, imploring his players with the rhetoric common in those days.

“He had some great pep talks,” his brother, Hugh, said. “He never used any of that get-them-for-the-Gipper or any of that stupid stuff. This particular time, at Kezar, he told his players, ‘I’m not just telling somebody else to go into battle. I’ll lead you into battle.’ ”

And with that declaration, he stood up, marched over to the wooden door that separated the two locker rooms and started yelling for St. Mary’s head coach Slip Madigan.


“He wanted a piece of Slip,” Jennings said, “and he wanted him right now.”

Madigan declined the offer.

Next came Pat.

He was George’s son, the Broncos’ guard and linebacker for several seasons in the early 1950s and the man who led Santa Clara back from the dead over the past quarter century as head coach.

The school had fallen from heights few teams have ever known. The Broncos won both the 1936 and ’37 Sugar Bowl games. In ’36, under head coach Buck Shaw, they upset top-ranked LSU, 21-14. In ’37, they finished an unbeaten regular season as the No. 2 team in the nation, having allowed a total of just nine points all year. Again, the Sugar Bowl. Again, LSU. Again, Santa Clara won, this time by a score of 6-0.

The Broncos also played in the 1950 Orange Bowl, defeating a University of Kentucky team coached by Bear Bryant, 21-13.

But two years later, the football program ended, a victim of hard financial times, a loss of traditional opponents (both St. Mary’s and USF had dropped football) and the increasing popularity of professional football in the area after the arrival of the San Francisco 49ers.

It was Pat Malley who was brought in from San Francisco’s St. Ignatius College Preparatory school in 1959 to resurrect the program.


In three years at St. Ignatius, Malley won two city titles. And he brought the core of those teams with him to try and emulate some of the ghosts of football past at Santa Clara.

It could never be what it was. But under Malley, it was probably as good as it could be.

The program didn’t exactly come roaring back. That first year of the football rebirth, the Broncos played just five games. At first, Malley was prohibited from traveling more than 50 miles to face an opponent. Then, the limitations were extended to the state line. And eventually beyond.

Through it all, Malley kept winning.

Playing NCAA Division II ball, Santa Clara, in 26 years under Malley, was 141-100-3. Only five of those 26 years were losing seasons.

Twenty-four of Malley’s players, including quarterback Dan Pastorini (a No. 1 draft pick of the Houston Oilers) and receiver Doug Cosbie (Dallas Cowboys), went on to sign professional contracts.

Under Malley, Santa Clara produced 20 Little All-Americans, eight Academic All-Americans and four NCAA post-graduate scholarship winners.

Malley, who also served the school as athletic director for 20 years, was Northern California College Coach of the Year in 1963, ’65, ’67 and ’80 and NCAA District 9 Coach of the Year in 1979.


He could give a halftime speech with the best of them. Santa Clara basketball coach Carroll Williams remembered one occasion when Malley addressed the team in a darkened locker room.

“It sounded like his voice was coming from up there,” Williams said, looking skyward.

Finally, the lights came on and there was Malley, exhorting his troops while standing on a table.

Malley had other offers. At one point, he had a chance to go to Notre Dame as an assistant. But the day before he was due to give his answer, Santa Clara presented him with a new car.

So much for that decision.

Malley started leading football teams at age 5.

True, it was as an unofficial mascot for his father’s USF squads. When those teams would come rushing onto the field, they would be led by little Pat Malley, complete with uniform.

But even at that age, he learned from his father.

When it came to St. Mary’s, it was certainly like father, like son.

Pat once underwent surgery for skin cancer. The Broncos had lost to St. Mary’s in his last game before the operation. As he was being wheeled into the operating room, he looked up at his wife, Carmel, and said, “Great. I may not come out of this and the last thing I’ve got to remember is us losing to St. Mary’s.”

Malley did come out of that surgery, but the cancer finally proved fatal. He died in May this year at 54.

Now, there is Terry.

This third-generation Malley spent five years on campus as a quarterback, redshirting one season.

Now, he is trying to step into the shoes he has followed all his life, trying to become the man who succeeds a legend.

He’s off to a good start. As a matter of fact, he’s off to the best start they’ve seen around here since 1967. When the Broncos take the field tonight at North Campus Stadium to take on Cal State Northridge, they will bring a 7-1 record.

For the head coach, the start was almost imperative. Terry’s installation in his father’s position was not automatic.

Anything but.

Malley beat out several other candidates for the job, but there were reservations about him. He is only 30, and he had never been a head coach. Starting out under those circumstances at Santa Clara would be bad enough, even if your father wasn’t the type for whom they build statues.

“There were some people waiting to see me fall on my face,” Malley said, “some people tired of hearing the name Malley connected with Santa Clara, some people tired of hearing about what goody-two-shoes the Malleys are.

“But some friends of my father rallied around me and helped.”

One of those friends was Don Bordenave, principal at Santa Clara High and a Bronco volunteer assistant coach for the entire Pat Malley era. He has stayed on to help Terry.

“Terry submerged his personality under Pat for a long time,” Bordenave said. “People are just starting to know him now. We (the assistants) weren’t going to let him fail.”

Bordenave had an answer for those critics who thought Pat should have done more to prepare Terry.

“He was very worried about Terry’s future. You have to know what Pat went through,” his longtime assistant said. “He fought death until he couldn’t fight anymore. He wasn’t ready for anyone to succeed him. A lot of people thought he should have been preparing for his departure. He was preparing for his return. That’s why he lasted so long.

“It’s been a rewarding time proving Terry could succeed. He has given a human edge to practices. He’s not the run-your-head-through-the-wall type. He feels he needs to teach. He doesn’t need to have the players hit. He knows they can hit. He’s very quiet. If he needs to assert himself, he does.

“But Terry is not Pat. Terry will never be Pat. Terry is Terry. People will have to learn that. Terry will be himself and he’ll be a success.”

Success was something that always seemed to slip away from Terry Malley.

A letterman in both football and baseball at Bellarmine Prep, he had quarterbacked one of the top teams in the state as a junior in high school, then didn’t get to do much in his senior year when the squad went to the wishbone.

Malley came to Santa Clara with the idea of playing quarterback for his father.

For a long time, it remained just an idea.

Ahead of him were Clyde LeBaron, who later played professionally in Canada, Mike Knott, who later played for the Kansas City Chiefs, and Kaipo Spencer, who was the total offense leader among high school quarterbacks in his home state of Hawaii.

So Malley sat.

George Malley, who would die in his late 70s in 1979, was still feisty during the years his grandson occupied the Bronco bench. George would call his son, Pat, after every game and ask if Terry had played. Pat would say no. George would hang up.

“It was hard on him,” Terry said of his father. “It was hard on me. I didn’t think it was right. We didn’t talk too much. I had redshirted a year and I was ready to leave Santa Clara. Getting my education and getting on with my life seemed more important.”

Instead, Pat and Terry talked it over and the younger Malley came back and got the starting job in 1976, his senior year.

Even then, it wasn’t just handed to him.

“He (Pat) had a good quarterback on the team named John Hurley (who later played with the Washington Redskins),” Terry said. “He wasn’t just going to put me ahead of Hurley. I was going to have to win the job, and win it by a knockout. Then, the team voted me a captain even though I was second string. My father thought that was the players’ way of telling him they thought I should have the job.”

They were right.

The younger Malley led the Broncos to a 7-4 record, including a victory over Fresno State. Santa Clara hasn’t beaten a Division I school since. The Broncos scored 310 points that year, setting a school record that still stands.

Terry began his coaching career as a football assistant at San Jose’s Leland High, then moved to Moreau High in Hayward. In 1980, he went to work for his father, coaching the quarterbacks and receivers.

Pat’s cancer was discovered in 1982.

“They didn’t catch it right off, but he knew where he stood and he figured he’d find a way to beat it,” Terry said. “It scared the heck out of him, but he didn’t want to sit around and say, ‘Feel sorry for me.’ A lot of the family cried a lot and that drove him up the wall. He didn’t want to sit around and be in a depressed environment. He wanted to look for something positive.”

After the initial surgery, doctors told Pat that if no signs of the cancer returned for 18 months, he had a good chance to survive at least five more years.

So Malley went back to coaching, and lost himself in his X’s and O’s. That was his nature anyway. When a player accidentally ran into him on the sidelines in spring practice in 1984, Malley wound up with three cracked ribs. Instead of going for medical help, he stoically remained on the sidelines and continued to coach.

And that’s where he stayed until, near the end of the crucial 18-month period, the cancer reappeared.

Near the end, a priest at Santa Clara asked Malley if he was afraid to die.

“Nope,” he replied, “just reluctant.”

Seriously weakened at that point, Malley participated in spring practice this year via a golf cart. When that was no longer possible, he still wouldn’t give up. He would look at videotapes of the practices from his bed.

“That last week, he told me to bring some videotapes by,” said Terry, who was running spring practice. “He told me, ‘Let’s look at some things. I want you to do this. I want you to do that.’ Then he went into the hospital on a Tuesday. He died on Saturday.”

So many people attended the funeral service, seats had to be set up in the street outside the church.

Today, six months later, Carroll Williams shakes his head at the thought of Pat being gone.

“At first, I walked into the athletic office through the back door because I couldn’t stand to walk by his office,” Williams says. “It’s still so hard to believe. I always felt, until the end, he would beat it. He always seemed to find a way out of any predicament. You figured he would find a way out of that.

“He always had time for other people’s problems. He would come into his office and lie down because he was so weak, and you would still come in and tell him your problems.

“He was a classic,” says Williams. “It’s a shame people like that have to die. If you didn’t like that man, you wouldn’t be happy in this world.”

Chip off the old blocking guard?

That’s what a lot of people at Santa Clara are saying about Terry Malley these days.

“He’s been a lot smoother than I thought he would be,” Williams said. “Sometimes, when you close your eyes and listen to him, you almost think you might see a younger Pat out there. I’ve seen him mature in the job. He’s going to be his own man. He handles the mantle very well.”

Malley shrugs off such talk.

“My father instilled in me that being a Malley was special,” he said, “but he told me, ‘You just do what you can do. Live with the right morals and go as hard as you can.’

“He would sit down with me and tell me, ‘I made a mistake here. If this ever does happen to you, do this or do that.’ ”

Malley certainly doesn’t shrug off the responsibility he has assumed.

“I wanted to carry the thing on that Dad had started,” he said. “He had run around like a chicken with its head cut off for such a long time, working so hard. I didn’t want to see the thing die.”

The next Malley is on the way.

Terry has learned that his wife, Leslie, is pregnant.

“If he’s a boy,” Terry said, “I just hope he’s well-rounded.”

It would help if he had big shoulders as well. He has quite a legacy to carry.