The greatness of Raiders owner Al Davis is remembered in this episode that traces the beginning of his coaching career at Adelphi College all the way through to his jump into professional football.
Al Davis began his coaching career back in 1951 at tiny Adelphi College in Garden City, NY. Davis came in as not only a football coach but also a baseball coach. He quickly established his name among the college football coaching ranks as a new up-and-coming phenom. He spent three years there until he was inducted into the US Army during the Korean War in 1953.
His years in the Army were predominantly spent as a successful young football coach. The Fort Belvoir Engineers became an eastern powerhouse after Private Davis reported there as a 24-year-old football coach in 1954. During this time, he coached several players who would go on to storied professional careers.
While at Fort Belvoir he not only established himself as a football coach, but he made large strides in his personal life. Davis had started dating a young Carol Sagal when he was up in Syracuse and continued to court the young lady who he affectionately nicknamed “Carolee.” After the games, he warned her after that life with him might not be much fun because of his dedication to football. Luckily for Davis, Carol loved sports. She did not care about the prominence of football, and they married in 1954.
After being discharged from the service, Davis took on a position coaching football in Charleston, SC for The Citadel. Davis received quite a bit of credit for The Citadel’s success in the 1955 season. After the 1956 season, Davis applied to be a head coach but was denied. He resigned as a result.
Following his success at The Citadel, Davis made the trek to California and accepted a coaching and recruiting position at the University of Southern California (USC). The program was on NCAA probation when he arrived, which initially affected his ability to recruit. In spite of the obstacles, Davis was successful at his position.
However, in 1959, NCAA sanctions again reared their ugly head and Davis himself was the center of recruiting violations. Even though Davis had been successful, he was removed from recruiting and informed that he would not be retained as a coach for the Trojans. As one of his last acts as a USC coach, he attended a sports banquet. When he returned home from the banquet, Carol had a telephone message for him. This message paved the way for his journey into professional football.