Ross steps down from football post at Army
WEST POINT, N.Y. ” Bobby Ross retired Monday as Army’s football coach after three seasons with the Black Knights, leaving behind 2005 Truckee High grad Jamie Maehler.
The former NFL coach, who had a 9-25 record at Army, will be succeeded by offensive line coach Stan Brock.
“I think there’s a point in time when you feel like it’s your time to retire, and I think I’ve reached that time,” the 70-year-old Ross said in a statement. “I think there is an issue of having a certain degree of energy, which I feel is very important for anyone leading a college football program. I feel that I was lacking in that area.”
Army athletic director Kevin Anderson said Ross told him of his decision on Thursday night.
“He came back from a recruiting trip and had to go home because he was ill,” Anderson said. “He looked at me in the eye and said, ‘I can’t give the energy.’ He didn’t want to shortchange the academy or the cadets.”
Ross’ announcement came as a surprise to Maehler and his teammates, who were called for a meeting in the school’s auditorium to receive the breaking news.
“It was really unexpected. I was really surprised,” Maehler said. … “Everybody was kind of looking around at each other in shock.”
But while Ross played a role in Maehler’s decision to commit to Army, the 6-foot-4, 213-pound receiver said he would have made the same choice had he known Ross would be retiring early.
“He was a big influence on me coming to Army, but sometimes you get dealt a different hand,” Maehler said. “I still can’t imagine myself anywhere else.”
The 48-year-old Brock, who played for Ross on the 1995 San Diego Chargers team that reached the Super Bowl, said he was also surprised to hear the news, even though he and Ross had talked about the future.
“He knew it was my ultimate goal, but the timing was a shock,” said Brock, who has never been a head coach at the Division I level but had five years of head coaching experience in the Arena Football League before coming to West Point with Ross. “I thought coach was going to be here.”
While Maehler said he enjoyed playing for Ross and would have liked to continue, he’s glad the new head coach was promoted from within the system ” as opposed to someone being brought in from outside who knows little about Maehler and the work he has put in the past two seasons to climb the depth chart. Plus, Maehler said, Brock is a likable guy who is knowledgeable and energetic.
“Brock is a really fired-up guy,” he said. “I think he’s ready for the job. He knows his stuff and he brings a lot of excitement. He’s very passionate about the game. I have a lot of confidence in him.”
Ross came out of retirement to coach an Army team that had been on a 15-game losing streak and was the first in NCAA history to finish a season 0-13 (2003).
Speculation that Ross might leave began shortly after Army’s 26-14 loss to the Navy Midshipmen in December. The Black Knights finished the season on a six-game losing streak. Ross’ son, Kevin, the offensive coordinator, took much of the blame for the Black Knights’ sputtering offense.
Before his arrival at West Point, Ross was 77-68 in the NFL with the Chargers and Detroit Lions and spent 15 years as a college coach, including stints with The Citadel (1973-77), Maryland (1982-86) and Georgia Tech (1987-91). His 1990 Georgia Tech team went 11-0-1, sharing the national title with Colorado. His college record was 94-76-2 before he accepted the Army job.
Ross, a Virginia Military Institute graduate, hoped to duplicate what he had done at Georgia Tech in the late 1980s. And after two seasons of improvement ” Ross had nearly the same record at Army (6-16) as he did at Georgia Tech (5-17) ” he seemed to be right on track.
But Georgia Tech went 7-4 in Ross’ third year and was co-national champion the next season (1990). Although the Black Knights lost their last six games by an average of 20 points last season, there were signs of progress. Army won seven of its last 17 games under Ross, and nine of the last 16 losses have been by 14 points or less. In the three seasons (2001-03) that preceded Ross’ arrival, Army was 4-32, suffering those 32 losses by an average of 21.6 points.
“Coach Ross has improved our program dramatically,” Anderson said. “I know that he’s having a hard time leaving because he feels he has the program where he wants it. It was hard for him to walk away.”
” Sylas Wright contributed to this story