Confirming recent rumors, Oakland named forty-six-year-old Eddie Erdelatz to be the team’s first head coach. Erdelatz, a native of San Francisco and raised in Berkeley, began his football career as an All-American end at St Mary’s, playing there from 1933 to 1935. Following his time in helmet and pads he put in two years as an assistant coach at his alma mater before spending another two years at the University of San Francisco in a similar post. He returned to St Mary’s for two more years before serving in the navy during World War II. Following the war, he was an assistant coach at the Naval Academy until 1947, then spent the ’48 and ’49 seasons on Buck Shaw’s staff with the San Francisco 49ers of the All-America Football Conference. In 1950, Navy tabbed him to be their new head coach. Once there, he turned a floundering program around, winning the Sugar Bowl in 1954 and the Cotton Bowl in 1957. After the 1958 season, he ran into trouble with the academy’s athletic director, Slade Cutler, when he considered an offer to coach Texas A&M, and the fallout ultimately forced him to resign. A candidate for the University of California job before the school hired Marv Levy, Erdelatz was glad to have a chance to coach in the pros.
“Everything has worked out for the best,” he enthused, “I’m home again. I’ve always wanted to stay on the West Coast, and I thank God I’m back here in Oakland. We are in our infancy and it is going to be quite a job pioneering this team. But we have the tremendous support and backing in the city of Oakland to help us over the hurdles….We will make a few mistakes, but I can assure you they won’t be intentional. We will do our level best to give the people of the Oakland something to be proud of.”
Erdelatz, despite being noted for his defensive coaching prowess, had some ideas about offense, too, and said the team would run a Spread-T offense “with flankers and some Wing-T”. But first, he planned to hire assistant coaches as quickly as possible.
Contract terms weren’t disclosed but it was speculated in the press that Erdelatz had agreed to a three-year deal worth between $20,000 and $25,000 per year.
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