When Gary Tranquill became an assistant coach at Ohio State in 1977, Woody Hayes referred to him as "the little bald-headed coach from Navy."
Tranquill, 41, still is little and still is bald, but now he is the head coach at Navy, and he demonstrated today at a news conference that he is anxious to get going in his first head coaching job. He also served notice that he isn't going to try to be another George Welsh or Woody Hayes.
"We're going to do things the Gary Tranquill way," he said.
Tranquill's approach to the game is similar to Welsh's in that he said he believes games are won with defense. "I think you win with skill people and big people, and those are the kinds I'll try to recruit," he said.
"My offensive philosophy is to score. I like to throw the ball on offense because I think that's the part of the game that's fun. It's more of a thrill for me when we throw the football, and I think it's more fun for the players, too. Maybe I have a little riverboat (gambler) in me.
"Passing is dictated by if you have someone who can throw it and someone who can catch it, though. If you don't, you better try to do something else."
Tranquill said he wants to meet with his new team as soon as possible, which most likely will be next week.
Welsh's quarterback and receiver coach at Navy from 1973 to 1976, Tranquill then went to Ohio State to become Hayes' secondary coach. When Hayes was fired, he became the defensive coordinator at West Virginia in 1979 and has been the offensive coordinator there the past two seasons.
Today's news conference was Tranquill's introduction to the local media. Neither he nor Athletic Director J. O. (Bo) Coppedge would disclose terms of Tranquill's contract.
"I asked for a 20 year, $150,000 contract, and he offered six months at $10,000," joked Tranquill. "We compromised somewhere in between."
Tranquill, who is witty, outgoing and smooth, said his first priority is to put together a coaching staff.
Welsh took all but two of his assistants to Virginia with him. Bill Haushalter and Joe Krivak also were asked to join Welsh, but declined. Tranquill said he has offered them positions on his staff.
Coppedge said that Tranquill was the leading candidate from virtually the very beginning of the search.
"The first guy we contacted and offered the job to was Roger Staubach," said Coppedge of the former Navy all-America and Dallas Cowboy quarterback, "but he didn't want to coach."