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The 1953 Press Guide
Rich Linde, 17 July 2009

I have over 40 Washington Husky media guides in my possession. Some of them take up a lot of library shelf space. For example, the 2004 media guide totals 400 pages. Per NCAA edict in 2005, the printed media guides have been restricted to 208 pages or less. This means that most of the Husky record book has been left out of the current guide. However, the record book along with accompanying statistics can be found online at gohuskies.com in PDF form, the downloading of which requires patience and good connection speed.

There is some talk of eliminating printed media guides altogether. According to Eye on Sports Media, “There are two competing proposals on the table. One, backed by the PAC 10 and Big Ten, would eliminate printed guides entirely. The other, put forth by the Southeastern Conference would allow for continued printing, but ban their distribution to recruits.”

Eliminating the production of printed media guides would involve significant cost savings for many universities.

The media guides in my possession date back to 1953. In particular the 1953 guide -- which features on its cover Left End George Black, who caught 42 passes for 637 yards and 7 touchdowns in 1952 -- contains some interesting facts in its 32 pages.

  • For one, did you know that legendary coach Lou Saban was an assistant coach at Washington in 1953? He left Washington in 1954 for an assistance job at Northwestern and was named its head coach in 1955. Later, Saban coached the Buffalo Bills to the AFL championship in 1964 and 1965.

  • Legendary Minnesota quarterback Bobby Cox played on the 1953 Husky freshman team.

  • Inducted into the Husky Hall of Fame in 1988, tackle George Strugar, known as a "one-man wrecking crew," played on the freshman team in 1953. As a professional football player, Strugar played for the Los Angeles Rams, the Pittsburg Steelers, and the New York Titans/Jets.

  • Tackle Dean Parsons (225, 6-7) was the biggest player on the 1953 Husky varsity squad.

  • Sandy Lederman (185, 5-11, So) assumed the quarterback’s role in 1953, following the legendary Don Heinrich. In 1952, Heinrich led the nation in passing, completing 137 passes.

  • Lederman’s claim to fame was a 69-yard touchdown pass completion to George Black against Utah in 1953. In that year, he also completed a 57-yard touchdown pass to Mike Monroe against Colorado. Lederman completed 92 of 189 passes for 1157 yards and 8 touchdowns. He was picked 14 times, in a season that went 3-6-1. Washington lost to Colorado by a point, but beat Utah by a touchdown.

  • In shutting out Oregon 49-0 in 1952, the Huskies intercepted 9 passes. QB George Shaw threw 7 of them, which is still a Husky record. Shaw was the first pick in the 1955 NFL draft and played for the Baltimore Colts.

  • In 1953, Don Heinrich, Hugh McElhenny and George Black held most of the Huskies offensive statistics.

  • Six of Washington’s 1953 opponents operated out of the single wing predominately. The other four used the T formation, as did the Huskies.

  • Tickets to Washington’s home games were priced at $3.50.

  • The Huskies’ canine mascot went by the simple appellation, “Ski.”

  • The hotels in which the team would stay on its 1953 road trips are listed in the press guide.

  • The 1953 press book lists Washington fourth in its aggregate Pacific Coast Conference standings (dating from 1916 to 1952) behind USC, California and Stanford. Following Washington are Washington State, UCLA, Oregon State, Oregon, Idaho and Montana. Up to that time, the Huskies had won 114 games, lost 90 and tied 18. The guide lists Washington as PCC champions in 1916, 1919, 1925, and 1936.

In 1953, John Cherberg assumed the head coaching job at Washington, following Howard Odell, who was fired after going 7-3 in 1952.

University President Dr. Henry Schmitz had this to say about the firing: “There was no consideration of the win-loss record nor was there any criticism of Coach Odell as an individual. Rather the problems concern itself entirely with relationships involved in the general management of the athletic program.”

Prior to his being named head coach, Cherberg mentored the Husky freshman football teams, with Odell naming him freshman coach in 1948. After losing his first game to the Oregon Ducklings, 25-24 in Portland, Cherberg’s pups won 22 straight games. Basically, his freshman coaching record was the touchstone of his resume printed in the 1953 press book.

Beating out Lederman for the job as chief helmsman, Bobby Cox (180, 6-0, So.) quarterbacked the Huskies in 1954. Just as he hit his stride, Cox decided to quit. Caught in the squabble between ‘downtown’ alumni and Cherberg, and fearing for his own eligibility, he transferred to Minnesota and sat out the 1955 season. He led the Golden Gophers to a 6-1-2 record and a No. 12 ranking in the final AP poll in 1956. Cox was pictured on the Nov. 4, 1957 cover of Sports Illustrated next to a caption that said “Bobby Cox of Minnesota: Best College Quarterback.”

In October 1955, Cherberg, a tough disciplinarian, suspended Lederman for exhibiting a "poor attitude." Cherberg told Lederman not to show up for practices or games. Relationships between the players and coaches became more strained as the 1955 season progressed.

Steve Roake quarterbacked the Huskies in 1955, as did Al Ferguson in 1956. 

Cherberg coached three seasons at Washington, ending up 10-18-2. He left the program in turmoil after the 1955 season

As a result, QB Lee Grosscup and several other promising freshmen from California left the Huskies in January 1956. Grosscup transferred to Utah and was a first-round draft pick in 1959, going tenth in the draft.

The upshot of it all, Cherberg was the second of Washington’s coaches to be fired because of a players’ revolt. His exit speech included words that would eventually torpedo the Pacific Coast Conference, “Could it be I was fired because (booster) Torchy Torrance was faced with the possibility of losing control of some of his players? Is it true that some players are receiving $200 a month—far above the amount approved by the grant-in-aid program?”

Those remarks led to an NCAA investigation of a slush fund run by an organization of Washington boosters. Eventually, the old PCC was replaced by the AAWU in 1959, a five-team conference consisting of the four California schools and Washington.


Richard Linde can be reached at malamute@4malamute.com

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