USD Football 1991

JOE KAPP open with a 92-yard touchdown run, third longest in Cal history. At the time, it was thought to be a broken play. "Pete Elliot's philosophy was to never fumbl e when you had a lead," Hart recalled. "We were on our eight yard line and the play was supposed to be a dive handoff 10 me . That 's what everyone expected, but Pete told Joe not to let any- one else know he was 10 keep the ball. That was pan of the deception. "I just plowed into the line, expecting to have the ball. About nine guys jumped on me. By the time I got up, Joe was at the 50. He broke a couple of tackles at the line, but then he was wide open. He probably was the slowest back on the team, but that's the way Joe was - always coming up with the big play. "The magic of Joe was his running the Split-T Belly option 10 perfection," Hart said. "He did it as well as anyone, ever. He was utilized more as a single-wing tailback than as a quanerback. He could do every- thing. Nearly all the other schools had more talent, but they didn't have Joe. He'd snarl at defensive players and dare them to stop our option play." Kapp fired a TD pass in a 20-1 7 victory over UCLA. scored the winning touch- down to ed ge Was hin gton 12-7 and clinched the PCC title with a two-point conversion pass to Wayne Crow in a 16-15 squeaker over Stanford. Kapp finished his senior year with 56 completions in 97 anempts (57.7 percent) for 649 yards and was the rushing leader with 582 yards. Cal was crushed 38- 12 by Iowa in the Rose Bowl. capping a 7-4 season. The big- ger and swifter Hawkeyes set records with 5 I6 yards of total offense behind Bob Jeter and Willie Fleming, but the win-starved Bears· fans didn't mind. They finally had a winner again. and the man most responsi- ble was Kapp, whose competitiveness at Pasadena was not ignored. "Joe was crazy," recalled Fleming, who became Kapp's teammate with the British Columbia Lions. "I ran 77 yards for a TD in that Rose Bowl and placed us ahead something like 32-0. All of a sudden. I see this Cal guy running into the end zone, shak- ing his fist at me and hollering, 'We've got you guys right where we want you-we're going to kick your bull.· ll was Joe." Whereas Kapp was ultra-intense as a football player, he was a serious student of football who wasn't especially known as a hell-raiser. On the other hand, stories abound regarding Kapp's involveme nt with Newell's championship basketball team, on which he served as a sixth man and enforcer. "Elliot was preny straight-laced, and he kept a tight rein on the football players," Han pointed out. "I don't recall any wild

"I've never coached a bench player who was any better in terms of inciting his teammates to get into the game." -Pete Newell this 6- 10 guy flagrantly elbowed me in the back as I was walking to the free throw line. I reacted by jawing with the guy, and I remember hearing Florence Newell (Pete's wife) yelling from the stands: ' Hit him, Earl! Hit him!' When the first half ended, Joe followed the USC players into their dressing room and chewed them out." That was a relatively tame incident, how- ever, compared to what transpired when Cal was visiting New York City for the annual Holiday Festival. It was Christmas Eve and the Bears were practicing at the 27th Armory on Lexington Ave., the play- ers were weary fo llowing a long cross- country flight, and it was pouring rain. "After practice, I told the guys I'd go out- side and hail some cabs," Newell recalled. "I yelled for this taxi, and it stops about 300 feet away. I told the players not to run because it was slippery. Well, these two drunks waddled out of a bar and saw the cab's doors wide open, so they climbed in one side while one of our players enters the other side. "Joe sees this and becomes incensed. He's yelling, 'It's our cab!' and the drunks don't budge, so he pulls them out of the cab. I remember telling him to go easy. As it turns out, the rest of the guys celebrating in the bar realize what's going on, so they pour out to help their buddies. The bar empties, and the next thing you know we're in a full-scale street fight. "We finally got a couple of skirmishes settled," Newell added, "and I look toward the intersection and see Joe and two or three guys from the bar illuminated by the streetlamp. It was like a scene from a James Cagney movie. Joe kept dodging and faking, and they didn't come within fi ve feet of him." Kapp was no slouch once he got into games, either. Newell remembers him beating Stanford with a last-second shot. Kapp was no longer was with the Bears when they became NCAA champs, but Newell didn't forget. When the champions were honored at a campus rally, the coach introduced him as a member of the team. Joe Kapp indeed was special. •••

~- As Cal's head football coach from 1982- 86, Kapp instilled his fiery, never-say-die attitude in his teams. incidents with those football teams. His hell-raising days followed in Canada, and he got quite a reputation when a teammate cut him with a broken boule, and again when he fou g ht linebacker Lonn ie Warwick in a Vikings' practice. Two altercations, in particular, reveal how seriously Kapp took his role with the Cal basketball team as Newell was build- ing a powerhouse culminating with the NCAA championship team of 1959. Kapp was concentrating on football by then, but he served on the 1957 and 1958 squads. "I've never coached a bench player who was any better in terms of inciting his team- mates to get into the game," Newell said. "Nobody was beuer at leu ing the guys know what was going on. If you were sit- ting next to him on the bench and not say- ing anything, he'd let you know about it." Kapp' s willingness to communicate wasn't restricted to his teammates. During the 1957 season, one of Cal's star players was Earl Robinson, who later was to play major league baseball. Robinson, now an instructor at Oakland's Laney College, is black. One of Cal's opponents in 1957 had no blacks, and Robinson was a target of their verbal and physical abuse on the Bears' court. "It was a very tough and physical USC team," Robinson recalled. "They tried to outmuscle everybody, and we muscled them back. I was having a good game, and they were making derogatory remarks, try- ing to throw me o ff my game. There weren' t any tacit racial overtones, but some people interpreted it that way. "Joe was watching from the bench when


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