Ray Jauch is a proven winner and that's why he has been selected as the first coach of Washington's entry in the United States Football League.
Berl Bernhard, owner of the Washington team, confirmed yesterday that Jauch will officially be named coach at an 11 a.m. press conference today, at the Touchdown Club. Terms of the contract were not revealed but it is believed to be a long-term pact calling for about $150,000 a year.
Jauch, 44, is in his 12th season as a coach in the Canadian Football League and his teams have compiled a 110-80-4 record, including a Grey Cup victory in 1975.
"It is extremely important for a new team to get off to a good start and to do that I think you have to have someone with head-coaching experience," Bernhard said. The other top candidates were assistant coaches in the National Football League, Paul Lanham of the Los Angeles Rams and Jimmy Raye of the Atlanta Falcons.
"We're not gambling," Bernhard continued. "Ray has a full range of experience. What it all boils down to is that he's a winner and that's what this business is all about. He has such a phenomenal record every place he's been."
Jauch's Winnipeg team is in first place with a 5-1 record and, according to a team spokesman, there are seven or eight players whose contracts expire at the end of the season and would be available to play in Washington.
Dieter Brock, Winnipeg's quarterback for the last nine years and the CFL's player of the year the last two, recently signed a five-year contract. Given the opportunity, however, he said he "would love to play for him (Jauch) down there. And other players would feel the same way."
Each USFL team has been assigned one CFL team to sign players from. For Washington, that team is Winnipeg.
"They're getting a great coach," continued Brock, 30. "As far as helping me, he has been tremendous. I owe almost all of my development as a top quarterback to him. I used to roll out a lot more, but with his style of offense, I have been able to just drop back."
The only drawback to Jauch's selection is that he won't be available until the CFL season ends. The playoffs start Nov. 14 with the Grey Cup set Nov. 28.
"From our standpoint, it's more important to wait a little bit to get a person who's going to be with us for a long time," Bernhard said. "He's a classy guy and I think we'll have a classy football team.
"In all the checking we've done, everything points to his teams having a very creative offense and that goes a long way toward having an exciting team. He's a tough coach who commands respect."
Jauch, a halfback on Iowa's 1959 Rose Bowl team, played two years at Winnipeg before tearing his Achilles' tendon in the 1961 Grey Cup game. He began his coaching career at his alma mater, then joined Neill Armstrong's staff at Edmonton in 1966.
"We only had three coaches at the time, so I had Ray doing everything," recalled Armstrong, former coach of the Chicago Bears and now in charge of research and development for the Dallas Cowboys. "He started on offense and then went to defense. His coaching success since then is pretty well documented."
When Armstrong went to Chicago, Jauch got his head coaching opportunity, taking a losing team and building it into a Grey Cup champion. He still looks back on that as his greatest achievement.
"When I came there we were the worst and when I left we were the best," Jauch said by phone from his home in Winnipeg. "That was my biggest thrill. The championship is always the ultimate goal."
In 1977 Jauch was promoted to director of operations, but after a year he said he wanted to get back in coaching and took the job at Winnipeg.
Following a 4-12 record in his second season, the Blue Bombers have qualified for the playoffs the last two years with 10-6 and 11-5 records.
"Ray knows how to run a football organization," said Dick Myers, Washington's general manager. "He's been associated with winning. He knows what it takes. I think everybody will feel comfortable with him."
Jauch's coaching philosophy focuses on passing. Brock threw for a CFL record 4,796 yards last year and this season he is ahead of that record pace.
"On defense, Winnipeg concentrates on stopping the pass with a 'six-bits-back defense,' " Jauch explained. "Most teams have their nickel-back defense where they put in a fifth secondary man for passing situtations. We start with five and add a sixth. We have the best defense in Canada."
Although Jauch won't start working here until late November, Myers said that he would begin working on assembling a staff now that the coach finally has been selected.