Earl “Red” Blaik coached football at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point for 18 seasons, compiling a 121-32-10 record for Army. His teams won national championships in 1944 and 1945 and went unbeaten for 32 games from 1944 to 1947.
Blaik became one of the first college coaches to implement a two-platoon system, using different players for offense and defense. He also was one of the first to chart the opponent’s tendencies on every down with the use of game film.
But all that never would have happened if Blaik hadn’t insisted that West Point drop its requirement that all players meet strict height-to-weight limitations, which he felt hurt Army when it played schools with larger linemen.
Lesson: Don’t take an assignment that will put you at a severe competitive disadvantage.
— Adapted from Fields of Honor, Sally Pont, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.