Monday, May 27, 2013



                Igor’s (Dan Sinclare’s) gravelly voice was on the message tape.  Wild Bill Dutton would be visiting him in Ione Tomorrow (Tuesday) and Wednesday.  Wild Bill is 83.  Did any of the boys want to give him a holler?  He wants to give any one the chance to re-connect over the next 48 hours.

            Wild Bill warned Igor that he had a different lady than five years ago.  As Ray Willsey used to say, Wild Bill was obsessed by two things—and one of them was football.

            Who was Wild Bill Dutton?  Son of a Buck, lad, if you have to ask that question you will never understand Cal football!

            From his bio you might find that “He lettered as a player under Pappy Waldorf in 1953 and spent eight years as an assistant coach from 1964-71 under Ray Willsey.”

                But that misses the point entirely.

                Wild Bill was as unique a coach as Cal was a unique place to don pads. 

                You see, just donning the Blue and Gold at Cal is unlike football anywhere else in the world.  Just like Cal is unlike any other College experience—running out of the Tunnel in Memorial Stadium means you’ve experienced something very few athletes (at any talent level) have ever, or will ever experience. 
                (Do tree sitters, Subject A, Stat 10 or Mario Savio ring a bell or two?)

                Throw Back is much too modern a word for Wild Bill.  His personality was as straight forward as his flat top hair cut.  What you saw was what you got—nothing froo froo about that man.

                He was a patriot—true blue—and back in the 60’s had no time for those “long hairs” or that “Mary Annie” stuff kids were smoking.

                His voice was so deep, he could have sung baritone for Frankie Vali and the Four Seasons.  Like E.F. Hutton, when he spoke, people listened—and no one wondered who was thundering at them.

                “Better you had died at child birth than to have fumbled inside the five” was one of his quaint expressions.

                Wild Bill coached the grunts—the D lineman who made a living anonymously, grinding it out, play after play in the trenches.  

                Myrel More handled the linebackers and Wild Bill the D lineman.  They championed the famous Bear Minimum Defense back in ’68.  It was said that no team that played Cal (win or lose) that year won the following Saturday.  They were just too physically beat up.

                I’ve never checked to see if that is really true, but it doesn’t have to be.  It’s the metaphor that counts.   As Cosmic Ray said, we could have been national champs that year (we finished 16th) had we only played in telephone booths.  We may not have been the quickest 22 in the country—but we were the toughest.

            Among the many D lineman he sent to the pros back then were perennial All Pro Ed White (moved to offense) Sherm White, and Dan Goich.  

                Wild Bill’s boys loved him.  He actually came in contact with more kids than any other position coach, because he also ran the scout team (we called ourselves “The Green Weenies” in honor of the green slip overs we wore) against his first team defense.

                Comedian Bob Sarlatte (a former green weenie like moi)  has made a living out of imitating coach Dutton giving the scout team a “trap play” which would fool a Goich or White into over committing and getting burned.  Alas, just as the “trick play” was about to unfold, Wild Bill’s voice would echo off the wall at Edwards (where we practiced), “I’m looking at you Ed White!  Don’t get trapped by that pulling guard!”  With that the kid’s helmet would be spun around on his head and he’d be peering through the ear hole, having received an unpleasant forearm “rip” from Ed, who didn’t fancy looking bad in front of his coach.

                When Craig Morton had retired from the Denver Broncos and was made head coach of the Start up Denver Gold, the first coach he Hired was Wild Bill.  Curly knew that Wild  Bill understood young men and how they craved to become the best they could be.

                We assumed Wild Bill was an anachronism when in the 90’s Tom Holmoe hired this 70 year old has been.    Yet according to his bio:

                After Cal's aggressive style of play on the defensive line helped Cal post a league-leading 125 tackles behind the line of scrimmage in '98, his group helped the Bears lead the Pac-10 in sacks with a school-record 51 in 1999 and another 44 last year. Among the players who have gone through his tutelage are 1999 Pac-10 sack leader Mawuko Tugbenyoh, two-time All-Pac-10 choice Jacob Waasdorp and first team All-American Andre Carter, the first round pick of the San Francisco 49ers this past April.

                Apparently these kids loved the loveable Luddite and none of us where surprised.  The kids that played for him still remember and admire him today. 

                So if you’re of a mind, give him a call on Tuesday or Wednesday.  (916) 806-7027. Or just send him a note:

            If you never met him, but like Cal football, maybe you just want to send him a thank you.  He took care of many mothers’ sons—in ways no other coach ever was able to do.

            Wild Bill:  They broke the mold when they made him.  We were blessed to have come under his orbit.  Let me restate: Cal was blessed to have come under his orbit--twice.


1 comment:

Jack Stirton said...

I had the opportunity to be a BEAR and played with both Bill and his brother in the early 1950's. The last time we saw Bill was on a trip with to the Bears versus Oregon that we won the team trip at a Pappy's Boy's Banquet in the last year of Holmoe's coaching career at CAL. My good friend Net Leiba reminds me of Bill's years at CAL during his years when Bill coached under Wilsey. We get together at least twice yearly with our Pappy's Boys group. They include many of the older guy like we are becoming. GO BEARS! !!
Jack 1951 - 1953