George Welsh Reflects on the Value of his Navy Training! (2007)

Former Navy and Virginia Hall of Fame Coach George Welsh is a US Naval Academy graduate graduate, and he knew from the time he was a boy that Navy was where he would go to college. His father was a Navy fan and, from the time George was a freshman in high school in Coaldale, Pennsylvania, the two made a yearly trip to see a Navy football game. All it took was one Army-Navy game - then perhaps the biggest game in all of college football -to convince him that Navy was the school for him. Although also recruited by Yale and Columbia, he accepted an appointment to the Naval Academy in 1952.

The Naval Academy had an enormous impact on Welsh's character and his ability to lead men. As a company commander at Navy, he was in charge of some 150 midshipmen. And as an All-American quarterback who called all of his own plays for coach Eddie Erdelatz, and led Navy to a Sugar Bowl win over Ole Miss in 1954, he learned what it took to win.

"I think I had certain leadership qualities coming out of high school but I think the Naval Academy helps you develop them," he said. "I still believe in what they said then about leadership. I learned about what it takes to be a really good leader. The first thing they would say was, 'know your stuff'. If you want to be a good naval officer, you've got to know what the hell you're talking about and what you're doing with the ship. That applies to football too.

"And then they'd used to say, 'and be a man about it.' Stand up for what you believe. If you make a mistake, admit it. If you're the guy in charge, you have got to take responsibility. That applies in football.”

"I'm not a superior motivator," he said. "I still believe that you win games on Monday through Thursday more than you do with some motivational thing that you might come up with on Friday night or Saturday morning. As far as I'm concerned, that's the way to do it. I think that you play like you practice. The top gun pilots in the Navy have a slogan. They say, 'fight like you train, train like you fight.' It's the same thing in football as far as I'm concerned. If you don't practice well, it will get to be a habit and it will catch up to you. You'll lose on Saturday because of it."



George Welsh to Return to Sidelines (2006)
Will lead U.S. in 2007 World Championship of American Football in Japan
Aug. 8, 2006 -

Vienna, Va. - Former UVa and Navy head coach George Welsh has been selected by USA Football to lead the United States national team that will compete in the third World Championship of American Football next year in Kawasaki, Japan.

The 2007 tournament appearance will mark the first time the United States has competed in a world championship event in the sport of football. The tournament, which is run by the International Federation of American Football (IFAF), was previously held in 1999 in Italy and 2003 in Germany.

"USA Football was looking for an experienced coach to lead our first National Team into the World Championship of American Football," USA Football Executive Director Scott Hallenbeck said. "George Welsh's experience and Hall of Fame credentials make him the ideal choice for this position.”

Welsh is currently in the process of identifying and selecting coaches to fill out his five-man assistant staff.

The 45-man United States roster will be made up of college football players who complete their eligibility in 2006. Player selection will begin late in the 2006 college football season when head coaches at all NCAA and NAIA schools will be asked by USA Football to nominate up to two seniors from their teams for consideration.

"It's a distinct privilege and honor for me to coach the first U.S. team in the World Cup of American Football in Japan next summer," Welsh said.

"My staff and I will work very diligently to assemble an excellent team that will represent all levels of the NCAA and the NAIA. These individuals will not only be good football players but outstanding young men of character and high moral standards who are committed to winning and will represent the United States in an exemplary fashion.

"Personally, I'm very enthused about this opportunity to return to the sidelines after a hiatus of six years.”

The United States will be one of six countries competing in the world championship. Japan, the host country and two-time defending champion, Sweden, the current European champion, and Germany have already qualified for the event along with the United States.

Two more countries will qualify for the championship through play-in tournaments in Europe, Asia and the South Pacific later this year.

Responsible for rebuilding two national Division I-A programs, George Welsh guided Navy and Virginia for a total of 28 years, returning Navy to its past glory and lifting Virginia to a new level of success.

A 2004 College Football Hall of Fame inductee, Welsh began his head coaching career at his alma mater, the U.S. Naval Academy, where he led the Midshipmen to three bowl game appearances and their first nine win season in 16 years. In nine seasons (1973-81), Welsh won 55 games, the most in Navy history.

Welsh's legacy at Virginia began in 1982, and in 19 seasons (1982-2000) at the helm, he became the all-time winningest coach in school and Atlantic Coast Conference history. Named ACC Coach of the Year five times and National Coach of the Year three times, Welsh guided the Cavaliers to a share of two ACC titles and set a conference record with 13 consecutive seasons of at least seven wins.

During his time in Charlottesville, Welsh led Virginia to 12 bowl game appearances, including the school's first-ever bowl trip, the Peach Bowl, in 1984. Prior to his arrival, Virginia had only two winning seasons in the program's previous 29 years. Welsh guided the Cavaliers to 15 winning seasons in 19 years. His 189 victories ranked him 24th in Division I-A history upon the completion of his career.

A native of Coaldale, Pa., Welsh graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1956. He played quarterback on the Navy football team and finished third in the 1955 Heisman Trophy balloting after leading the nation in passing and total offense as a senior. He led Navy to a 21-0 upset over heavily favored Mississippi in the 1955 Sugar Bowl. He served as an assistant coach at Penn State under Rip Engle and Joe Paterno for 10 seasons before being named head coach at Navy in 1973.



Navy 21 Mississippi 0
January 10, 19


“George Welsh had more imagination in this game than ever before. He completely baffled Mississippi with his mixture of formations, plays and thinking.”



The battle fought here in January 1815, in which Andy Jackson turned back the British, has been considered by many as one of the most significant in world history. But around these parts the thinking is changed now, some 140 years later. The thinking was changed New Year's Day when Navy defeated Mississippi in the Sugar Bowl.

The Middies blocked and blockaded the Rebels just as effectively as did Admiral David Glasgow Farragut's flotilla here in 1862. Both forces captured New Orleans. Both hurt the prestige of the South. Thank goodness, Farragut was from Tennessee, and Annapolis is south of the Mason-Dixon Line.

Navy was beautifully prepared for this game—a tribute to the coaching of Eddie Erdelatz. The team could not expect to be "up" emotionally after their great victory over Army. Many felt this was a pleasure trip south for the holidays, and the general consensus in this section was that Navy was Ivy-bordered and could not compete with the best in the SEC.

I was with Eddie the night before the game. He was serenely confident, even approaching cockiness, and the Navy team in action bore out the assurance of its coach. Welsh had more imagination in this game than ever before. He completely baffled Mississippi with his mixture of formations, plays and thinking. If he ever lacked poise the Army game gave it to him—and remember, Colonel Blaik, he has another year.

Actually the 21-0 score does not indicate the one-sidedness of the game. From the opening kick-off Navy was dominant. George Welsh returned that kick-off from his 11 to the 30 and the drive was on. It persisted to the Ole Miss 12-yard line. Then a 15-yard penalty for illegal use of the hands set Navy back to the 27.

Welsh, on the option, pitched out to Left Halfback John Weaver who went to the Mississippi 3. From here Fullback Joe Gattuso slanted off tackle to his right for the touchdown. Weaver kicked the extra point and Navy was out front 7-0. The drive had consumed seven minutes and 30 seconds. Ole Miss had not even "come to bat" yet.

Mississippi ranked number one in the nation on defense and fifth in total offense, yet against Navy its defense was never adequate and not once could the Rebels put together a concerted drive. The huge Mississippi line (averaging 203 pounds from end to end) was consistently outcharged by the mobile Navy forwards despite the Middies' weight disadvantage of 18 pounds per man. The Rebel backs were big and fast but never managed to skirt or dent the Navy defenses. And speaking of defenses, Navy used 14 variations. Against these bewildering and tricky techniques the Mississippi attack was stagnant.


Nonetheless the half came with the score still just 7-0. Welsh set Halfback Weaver as a flanker to the right, then threw to Left End Ronnie Beagle who was in the end zone, but coming out of it, when he made a shoestring catch that came close to being a trapped ball. Field Judge Jimmy Hitchcock signaled a touchdown. Linesman Charles Wood, who was in a better position, ruled that while Beagle's feet were in the end zone he fell into the field of play when he caught the ball. The other officials agreed with the decision. Mississippi took over on the six-inch line and moved momentarily out of danger.

Navy took the second half kick-off and duplicated its opening performance. After Gattuso and Weaver had run through, around and over the helpless Mississippi defenses, Welsh dropped back and fired a pass to Weaver in the end zone, who simply took it away from three Rebel defenders. Shortly after, Eagle Day punted the longest distance that I've ever seen—a net of 72 yards. The ball ended up on the Navy seven. It looked as if Navy was in a deep hole, at last, down in the coffin corner. But the Midshipmen didn't know what trouble meant this day. They simply shredded the Ole Miss line. On the drive that followed, Gattuso bore the brunt of the attack. One of his plunges brought him from the Ole Miss 22 to the two-yard line (see opposite page). Then the Rebels stiffened momentarily. Twice Gattuso was stopped short but on the third try he went over. Weaver kicked his third extra point. The score was 21-0, and the ball game for all intents and purposes was over.

Whether Weaver or Gattuso was the greater in this game, I would hate to say, but enough of these backs. I'm an old guard and line coach and I saw a couple of unsung guards today put on just about the best display of guard play that I saw all season. Leonard Benzi at 180 pounds and Alexander Aronis at 183 were masters of all they surveyed. Their blocking was devastating and their defensive display was a joy to behold. But it would be unfair to single out just these two for praise.

This Navy line just might be the secret of its success. Patrick McCool filled in well for the injured Jim Royer at right tackle and John Hopkins has certainly come a long way this season. Wilson Whitmire at center was everywhere on the defense. And of course Ron Beagle and Bill Smith at ends, who, incidentally, are from Kentucky and Alabama respectively, did not treat their Mississippi neighbors like kissing cousins. They harried the Rebel passers all afternoon and blocked opposing tackles as if they owned them.

This may sound like a one-sided story but that's the way the game was. It was fitting that a team called desire showed them in New Orleans what desire really meant.