The University of Redlands won only two football games in the previous two seasons. One was by forfeit.
Thus, the prospects for the 1988 season were nothing if not dismal.
The Bulldogs had a new coach.
They had only 5 seniors and 16 letterman from the 1987 squad.
They failed to complete a winning season since finishing 6-4 in 1980.
So, get this: They’re 2-1 and feeling great.
Mike Maynard, the rookie coach, is not ready to call it a mission completed, but no doubt he has influenced change since arriving at Redlands last March.
“Obviously the first problem was to organize a staff and recruit a football team,” he said. “In my first meeting we had only 25 players come out.”
Numbers were not the only problem. Such a streak of misfortune resulted in an attitude problem, one that was difficult to dissolve.
“That was a real problem for us because to a certain point the kids were afraid to try,” Maynard said. “They had lost for 2 or 3 years and they were getting tired of it. We tried to convince the kids to try again.”
Maynard devised a scheme to instill pride throughout the program. He gave the players “ownership of the team. We told them it’s not the coaches’ team, it’s your team,” he said.
Maynard, 31, also brought with him his experiences from Claremont-Mudd-Scripps where he was a defensive coordinator for 4 seasons.
“We came in expecting to win and the kids felt they could do that all along,” he said. “To be honest the kids that came from the program (last year) weren’t that bad. They just kept finding ways to beat themselves.”
The ineptitude continued when Redlands made 5 turnovers in a 10-0 loss to Occidental in its season opener Sept. 17.
Then came a 47-0 victory over Pomona-Pitzer and a 17-10 victory over the University of San Diego.
“We came into the season wanting to be a ball-control team,” Maynard said. “I always believed that in order to win you have to have good ball control. My philosophy is that you have to have a good run defense and be able to run the football.”
The Bulldogs are ranked No. 1 in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference in rushing offense and rushing defense. Redlands also has two of the conference’s best running backs--seniors Eric Carlson at tailback and 235-pound Ruffin Patterson at fullback.
“We have a run-first emphasis,” Maynard said. “We don’t mind throwing the football but we run first.”
The successful running game has come with an inexperienced offensive line.
Maynard said Ken Miller, an assistant who was Redlands’ head coach the last 4 years, played an important role in reviving the line.
As for the team’s overall success, Maynard said school officials deserve credit.
“I’m enjoying a lot more administrative support than he (Miller) did, so that’s been an important part of our success,” Maynard said. “They want to win here but they want it to be part of their whole program here.”
And, with only 5 seniors on its 50-man roster, the future is no longer frightening for the Bulldogs.
But the 1988 season is hardly finished. Maynard is aware of the six remaining games, including a repeat matchup against Occidental.
“It’s only 2 games, and 2 wins don’t make a season and we realize that,” he said. “But the kids have worked very hard to improve and I think we’re headed in the right direction.”
Considering Redlands’ recent past, that much is true.
Azusa Pacific University has been selected to play host to the NAIA men’s and women’s national track and field championships, May 25-27, 1989, for the second straight year.
The Cougars, who have won an unprecedented six straight NAIA men’s track championships, were the logical choice, said Wallace H. Schwartz, NAIA associate executive director.
“Azusa Pacific has excellent athletic, housing and meal facilities, particularly the track,” Schwartz said. “Campus administrators will be able to build on the groundwork of advertisers and sponsors they began to develop a year ago. And it’s a documented fact that the Cougars have developed one of the nation’s best track and field programs.”
The meet draws about 1,000 athletes and coaches.
College Division Notes
Many of the leading men’s and women’s tennis players from NCAA Division II and III and NAIA programs will compete in the 1988 Rolex Southern California regional singles championship from Friday through Sunday at Pomona-Pitzer in Claremont. The winner advances to the Intercollegiate Tennis Coaches Assn. nationals, Feb. 4 and 5 at the University of Minnesota. . . . Dan Daley, a senior wide receiver at Pomona-Pitzer, has caught 12 passes in the first 2 games and needs 33 more to become the career leader in catches in NCAA Division III. . . . Kathy Welter of Cal State Bakersfield, who guided the Roadrunners to a 54-9-1 record and its first Division II championship last season, has been named the division coach of the year by the National Softball Coaches Assn. . . . Kevin Patterson, a graduate assistant for the Cal Poly Pomona men’s basketball team last season, has been named a Bronco assistant. He was also an assistant at Diamond Bar High for 4 years. . . . Kelly Conway, a former player and coach at UC Riverside, has been named an assistant men’s coach at the school. He replaces York Strother, who became an assistant at Nevada Las Vegas. . . . The Biola women’s volleyball team is ranked No. 4 in the latest NAIA poll. The Eagles are 14-2, including a victory over two-time defending NCAA Division III champion UC San Diego last week. . . . Coach Mike Sutton of Claremont-Mudd-Scripps registered his 200th career water polo victory in a 7-6 win over UC Davis Saturday. In his 10th season, Sutton has a 200-98-1 record. . . . Many of the top NAIA and NCAA Division II and III teams in the Southland will compete in the Biola Invitational men’s and women’s cross-country meet at 10 a.m. Saturday at La Mirada.