HOF coach Parcells has fond recollections of coaching days at HC

In this Sept. 8, 1964, file photo, defensive line coach Bill
Parcells (left) poses with fellow Hastings College football
coaches Dean Pryor, Don Boyett and Lynn Farrell. 

Editor's note: This story appeared in the Hastings Tribune on Feb. 15, shortly after Bill Parcells was elected to the NFL Hall of Fame. Parcells will be inducted Sunday in Canton, Ohio.

First-year coach Bill Parcells accepts a position as defensive line coach of the Hastings Broncos college football team in 1964. It was his only season with the Broncos.

Parcells, 71, was elected to the National Football League Hall of Fame on Feb. 2. With a career record 183-138-1, two Super Bowl wins, and an 11-8 post-season record to his credit, he is widely regarded as one of the truly iconic coaches of his era.

His resume includes multiple coaching assignments at the college and pro levels, including head coaching assignments with the New York Giants, New England Patriots, New York Jets and Dallas Cowboys.

Now retired from the game, he keeps a watchful eye over the NFL as a football commentator for ESPN. He keeps busy by splitting his time between homes in Florida and New York. His favorite pastimes include golf and horse racing.

As he readied for a golf tournament this morning in Florida, Parcells reflected on his career at HC during a telephone interview with the Tribune. He said he is eternally grateful to his former high school head coach Dean Pryor, for giving him the opportunity to coach the Bronco defense.

"I have very fond memories," he said. "It was a tremendous opportunity for me. I was very young and knew I wanted to pursue the coaching field and it was a tremendous benefit for me.

"In a school situation like this, you get to actually do all the hands-on stuff. You're not an intern just starting out doing menial tasks. You're actually out there coaching positions and being responsible for things."

Those responsibilities included washing the players' practice uniforms, building lockers and "things of that nature that wouldn't be such a common practice today for assistant coaches in too many places," he said. "I learned an awful lot. It was really onward and upward from there."

Exhibiting the same intensity he was famous for showing with NFL teams, Parcells was fiercely competitive from the start. He hated to lose, and wouldn't hesitate to express his displeasure with players he felt weren't executing his game plan as written.

In his book, "Finding a Way to Win," he devotes much of Chapter 5 to a play he felt was pivotal in his development as a coach. In an important game against Nebraska Wesleyan, Parcells grew irate with safety Jack Giddings for missing an assignment that cost the Broncos an important touchdown.

Parcells dressed down Giddings with harsh words in front of the entire team, riding him until Pryor stepped in to intervene for the disgraced player. But it was what Parcells' head coach told him that has stayed with him to this day.

"It was a lesson in accountability," he said. "We had gone over that play quite a bit, but Dean told me, 'Parcells, you didn't work at it enough, because Giddings is one of our better players and he didn't get it.'

"That taught me a very vivid accountability lesson. As part of being a coach, you have to be accountable for what your players do, and that was a very good lesson."

Surprisingly, Giddings, now a retired business owner in Hastings, only vaguely recalls the chewing out he received that day. Instead, it was the intensity and desire to win exhibited by Parcells on the field that have left a lasting impression on him.

"He didn't put up with any crud," Giddings said. "He was well organized. If the practice schedule said to do a drill for five or 10 minutes, that's all you did.

"He didn't put up with injuries, either, particularly if they weren't serious. If you were cut and it wasn't too close to the heart, you were still playing. I remember a kid being hurt in practice and Bill came up and said, 'Are you OK?' And he said, 'I want my momma!' And Bill said, 'Get this equipment on somebody that can go!' "

Having played high school football under Earl Applebee, a similarly intense coach, Giddings said he never felt Parcells' rants were over the top. In fact, he believes it was that very intensity Parcells exhibited that enabled him to rise to the level of success he enjoyed as a successful college and professional coach.

"I think you have to be hard-nosed," Giddings said. "The successful ones today are still hard-nosed. He cared about his players. He was just really intense."

Retired Alma City Administrator Steve Waring played defensive end and linebacker for Parcells at Hastings College in 1964. He said he still values that time spent learning the ropes under the fiery coach.

"I wouldn't trade it for the world," he said. "We had a lot of other coaches here who were good coaches, no doubt about it, but he sticks out because of his dominating personality. You couldn't cut him out of a conversation because he always had something valuable to add.

"I liked the way he ran his defenses. He came up with some good schemes that were pretty new at that time. It's too bad we couldn't have kept him longer than one year."

While at HC, Parcells rented a small one-bedroom basement apartment with his wife, Judy, and baby daughter, Suzy, on the corner of Ninth Street and Denver Avenue under the dentist office of now retired dentist John Seberg and his partners. But beyond sleeping there, he was rarely at home, Seberg said.

"He'd get up in the morning and go out to school and had athletics in the evening," Seberg said. "Of course, we went to the athletic events at the college when he was coaching, but we didn't have any contact there."

Because the college had many assistant coaches come and go, little was thought of Parcells' brief stint at that time. It wasn't until he climbed the ranks to the NFL that Seberg and others began to follow his illustrious ascent to Hall of Fame status.

"I think that's great," he said of Parcells' Hall of Fame induction. "He had a good career and went up the ladder well."

For more, see the Tribune e-edition.>>>

Copyright © 2014