Jack Cavanaugh

10/9/14

“Mr. Inside and Mr. Outside” is Jack Cavanaugh’s latest book.  It chronicles the story of West Point’s most famous football players, Glenn Davis and Doc Blanchard during the WWII era.

Jack explained that the military academies dominated sports during the war years as their students were exempt from the draft while other schools had their student bodies decimated due to the high demand for man power to feed the war effort.  Often, during those years, West Point would outscore their opponents to such an extent that star players such as Davis and Blanchard would only play for half the game.  Consequently, West Point’s football team went undefeated for three straight years.

Despite the advantage, which West Point enjoyed during those years both Davis and Blanchard were extraordinary athletes.  Davis in particular was probably one of the most gifted athletes to ever play the game.  His abilities were so good that he lettered in track and baseball in addition to football. 

Both Davis and Blanchard were recruited for the West Point team, but neither would probably have attended the academy if it were not for the war.  And, in spite of their recruitment, neither they, nor any other athlete was exempted from the very rigorous schedule and academic requirements for cadets.  These became more demanding as they were squeezed into three years rather than the usual four due to the pressing need for officers in active service.  Davis actually flunked out after his first year failing to master trigonometry and algebra to the required level.  He regained admission the following year after taking remedial courses at a prep school in his native California and then passing a validation examination. 

While Davis and Blanchard were good friends they presented a contrast in personalities.  Davis was a humble studious individual who didn’t seek out the spotlight, while Blanchard was boisterous and known to be a party guy.

While Jack’s book is primarily focused on Davis and Blanchard, it also covers war events that colored that time such as the famous Doolittle raid on Tokyo.  Jack also presents material on post war events and athletes.  He covers the resurgence in the production of consumer goods as well as post-war athletic standouts like Pete Dawkins who was the last Heisman Trophy winner from West Point as well as a Rhodes Scholar.  Pete has shared his own reflections on Davis and Blanchard by writing a forward to Jack’s book.

Questions and Answers

Q.  Didn’t Blanchard have an illustrious career after West Point?

A.  Yes.  Blanchard stayed in the military and became a decorated pilot.  He is also noted for surviving a crash in England where he managed to maneuver his failing plane so it didn’t kill anyone in the crash despite occurring in a populated area.  He retired an Air Force Colonel.

Q.  Could you comment on the size restrictions that the military places on its football players as one reason why their teams don’t do as well today?

A.  Today and for years now many college linemen are over 300 lbs.  West Point at one time wouldn’t let anyone play football if they were in excess of 200 lbs.  Later, they changed this to a sliding scale that depended on the perspective player’s height, but they never allowed the behemoths some schools play.

Q.  Could you expand your comments on Pete Dawkins?

A.  He was extremely popular and as I mentioned highly intelligent and accomplished.