Author: Coach Hugh Wyatt
Originally Published: October 31, 2005
By Coach Hugh Wyatt
I was fortunate enough to have a conversation last week with Andy Kozar.
That’s Andy Kozar, who played linebacker and single wing at Tennessee for the legendary General Bob Neyland in the photo.
It was pretty exciting for me, talking nuts-and-bolts single wing football with a man whose 1951 Cotton Bowl performance as a sophomore (two fourth quarter touchdown runs that enabled the Vols to come from behind to defeat Texas, 20-14) earned him a spot in the Cotton Bowl Hall of Fame, who starred the next year on Tennessee’s 1951 national championship team, and made All-SEC as a senior.
Andy Kozar came from the Johnstown, Pennsylvania area originally, and recalled being recruited, along with an undersized guard from the same are named Frank Kush, by Michigan State’s Duffy Daugherty.
But he chose Tennessee, and despite his size – 6-3, 230 pounds, quite large in those days, he was converted from a lineman to a fullback his freshman year.
He told me that Coach Neyland didn’t particularly care whether his players were big — he wanted them lean and fast, and he tried in vain to get his fullback’s weight down. When his best efforts were to no avail, he did the next best thing, and listed Kozar in the game program at only 192 pounds.
Andy remembered his first game against Alabama, when a Bama defender tackled him, and finding him quite a handful, looked at him as they both lay on the ground and said, “By God, you ain’t no 192!”
In 1952, his senior year, he led the Vols in rushing. Think about that one a minute, you single-wingers — your fullback is your leading rusher! For his performance that year, Andy Kozar was named All-SEC.
Following graduation, he pursued a career in physical education, earning both his Master’s and his Ph. D. from the University of Michigan. (In 1998 he would receive the Alumni Achievement Award from Michigan’s Division of Kinesiology.
After Michigan, he returned to Tennessee, where over a 37-year academic career he advanced from instructor to professor to department head to executive assistant to the President of the University.
He became a nationally-renowned expert on paddleball and racquetball, and among his many achievements, he has been a national champion in paddleball and a Michigan state champion in racquetball, and has written several books on both sports.
Now Professor Emeritus of health, exercise and safety science at the University of Tennessee, Dr. Kozar remains very close to Tennessee sports. “Phil Fullmer and Pat Head (Summitt) were both students of mine,” he told me proudly, and now his game-day responsibility entails arranging for the clergymen who give the invocations at every UT game. (“This is the Bible Belt,” he reminded me.)
Dr. Kozar remains a strong advocate of exercize himself, and still works out faithfully five days a week, riding a stationary bike every morning for 30 minutes and running in the pool at the University twice a week.
Our conversation went on at some length, touching on the General’s dabbling in sidesaddle-T, as well as his decision to run his single-wing from a balanced line. Believe me when I tell you that Dr. Kozar really knows, and remembers, his football.
Dr. Kozar’s book, “Football as a War Game: The Annotated Journals of General R.R. Neyland” (Falcon Press, 2003) is an amazing look into how the General approached the game of football.
It is like going to a college library and digging into the notebooks of a great coach, except that Dr. Kozar has already done the hard research for us, with page-by-page copies of General Neyland’s journals, along with explanatory notes, photographs, lists, practice schedules and, yes, doodles. Even great coaches doodle occasionally. (Remind your wife of that the next time she catches you drawing plays on the placemat at the restaurant.)
In the words of Dr. Kozar, it’s “the general’s own words and thoughts on a day to day, game to game basis, as he wrote them on paper.” And the general certainly kept amazingly detailed journals. He wrote down everything, including his innermost thoughts on his players and his opponents.
“Football as a War Game” contains more than 200 pages of General Neyland’s handwritten thoughts, coaching strategies, play diagrams (including some really wild ones, from formations you’ve probably never seen anywhere else), practice schedules, lists of maxims and beliefs, anecdotes and more. There are more than 250 photographs. Dr. Kozar’s commentary all along the way provides his personal insight into the general’s thinking.
The book is beautifully bound, and in my estimation is well worth the $75 price. It is not for the casual fan, but for the serious football historian, for the devoted single-winger, and anyone building a football library, it is a must.
Mail orders to:
Dr. Andy Kozar
6501 Sherwood Drive
Knoxville TN 37919
(Make checks payable to FALCON PRESS)
Incidentally, Dr. Kozar told me he sold a couple of copies not long ago to Bill Belichick, who I am betting kept one for his own private collection (I am told he has a very extensive one) and gave the other to his dad, Steve, a long-time college coach who once coached against General Neyland while at Vanderbilt.
Opponents of the Vols may not like to hear this, but all proceeds from the sales of Dr. Kozar’s book will go to the Robert R. Neyland Athletic Endowment in the Volunteer Athletic Scholarship Fund.
Copyright 2018 Hugh Wyatt. All rights reserved. www.coachwyatt.com