Ansbach's George has won more than anyone
By GREGORY BROOME | STARS AND STRIPES Published: September 24, 2014
If it were up to Marcus George, there would be a lot more names accompanying his atop the list of DODDS-Europe’s winningest coaches.
There would be the names of coaches and teammates who helped form his philosophy of football.
There would be the names of the young players who have bought into and executed his game plans.
There would be the names of school administrators who gave him the resources to succeed.
There would be the names of assistant coaches and supporters who helped create and sustain the programs that delivered all those victories.
“It’s not about me,” George said.
However, expediency and tradition hold that a head coach is credited with the wins and losses earned by the team under his charge. And by that measure, George is now the most successful coach in DODDS-Europe football history.
Though DODDS-Europe does not officially keep such records, league historians James Benton and Erik Majorwitz and the website hsfootballeurope.net all maintain that Ansbach’s 50-8 win over Bitburg on Saturday gave George his 164th career win as a DODDS-Europe head football coach. That gives him one more than retired Aviano legend Ken McNeely.
Reached by phone Wednesday, McNeely gracefully passed the metaphorical torch.
“He’s a great football coach. He’s done a lot of wonderful things for DODDS-Europe football,” McNeely said. “I want to congratulate him. He’s deserving.”
Informed that a story about his achievement would be published in Stars and Stripes, George took the time to defer credit Wednesday before heading off to the latest afternoon practice session of his three-decade DODDS-Europe coaching career.
“I’ve been fortunate to have the opportunity to coach at some great places,” George said. “I’ve stuck around long enough to win a few ball games.”
As he tells it, George was just a reasonably competent coach placed in advantageous situations such as Fulda, Frankfurt, Hohenfels and Ansbach.
“I just didn’t do anything to screw it up,” George said.
But George’s colleagues know better. Even as George was earning wins, he was earning the respect of his peers.
“When you are coaching against him, you can count on two things for sure,” Hohenfels coach Larry Daffin said. “His team will be fundamentally sound and disciplined, and if yours is not, it will be a long day.”
Vilseck coach Jim Hall said George “has been a great mentor to me, someone that I look up to.”
“Marcus’ teams will be well-prepared, will run the offense and defense to perfection and will attack your weaknesses,” Hall said. “You better be prepared to coach your butt off the week that you play him if you want to survive the game.”
Wiesbaden coach Steve Jewell considers George the “gold standard” for DODDS-Europe football coaches.
“He garners respect not by his words, but by his actions,” Jewell said.
Naples coach Steve Altstiel was even more succinct.
“Coach George knows football,” Altstiel said.
It was fitting that George’s record-setting victory came against coach Mike Laue and the Bitburg Barons, Ansbach’s nemesis over the last decade. Last fall, the Barons won their 32nd consecutive game, breaking the record 31-game streak that George and the Cougars enjoyed between 2006 through 2009.
Laue also had complimentary words for his longtime rival. He described George as “a very dedicated and knowledgeable coach that has worked hard year-round year after year to give his athletes the best opportunity to succeed.”
George’s Cougars have another such opportunity over the weeks to come.
Daffin’s defending-champion Hohenfels Tigers are certain to mount a fierce defense of their hard-earned 2013 championship. And Saturday’s outcome might not spell the end of the Barons’ own title fight. Meanwhile, Vicenza lurks in Italy as a potential threat.
But this edition of the Ansbach Cougars has the talent, experience and – of course – coaching to win George his first title since the 2008 Division II European crown.
Ansbach’s 3-0 start has come at the expense of two 2013 playoff teams in Naples and Bitburg. And the wins have been convincing: the Cougars have scored at least 40 points in all of their games while yielding just a single touchdown in each.
Two more regular-season wins would lock the Cougars into a top playoff seed. Three wins after that would deliver the championship.
Forget the 164. For Marcus George, those are the wins that matter right now.