When I joined the staff at the University of Central Missouri as a Graduate Assistant football coach, they had already established a tradition of playing very good defensive football. Head Coach, Terry Noland, had a defensive background, and believed in populating the defense with good athletes.
Mike Foster was the defensive coordinator and had instituted the slogan “Dirty Red” (red and black were our school colors). “Dirty Red” was an attitude that we instilled in our defense… a rallying cry… a clarion call. It wasn’t about playing dirty (illegal, unethical) but rather giving everything you had on the field of play.
- It meant being completely spent, exhausted, muddy, sweaty, bruised, and sore.
- It meant doing everything you could to make a play… sacrificing your body, running, crawling, jumping over people, or laying out… whatever it took.
- It meant everyone ”bought in” completely… you trusted that the guy on each side of you, in front, and behind you literally had your back… resulting in great team effort and great team defense.
We carried on the tradition and the slogan during my tenure as defensive coordinator at UCM.
The phrase was more than words… our players believed. In one seven year span, from 1987 to 1993, the University of Central Missouri had the MIAA Defensive Player of the Year five times!
- 1987 – Jeff Wright
- 1988 – Mark Peoples
- 1990 – Mike Glass
- 1992 – Bart Woods
- 1993 – Bart Woods
I am sure that all of these honored players would agree that one reason they were selected for this individual award, was because each of these years we played great “team” defense. We had more than one player or position that teams had to account for – which freed up these great players to make great plays. We were typically at the top of the league in most defensive categories, and many years ended up being nationally ranked as well… as high as 2nd in the nation in scoring defense in 1992.
Players still use the phrase “Dirty Red” as part of their post football vernacular. I think it is a reminder of that bond… that attitude… that brotherhood. They use it as a sign off on Facebook, a greeting, or even name their home brewed beer (Coach Hulet), “Dirty Red”.
When Coach Hulet left UCM as my DB coach to become the defensive coordinator at William Jewell College (colors red and black), he instituted the phrase and attitude there as well, and continued it the next year when I became the Jewell head coach. In fact, I was fortunate to be able to carry on the “Dirty Red” slogan and attitude at a string of schools that had red as one of their colors: UCM, William Jewell, Wester, Derrick Thomas Academy, and Truman High School. At each stop along the way, I enjoyed telling stories about the original “Dirty Red” defenses and players at the University of Central Missouri. And at each stop along the way, the players at the new school came to know, admire and emulate the players of old. The only bad news… the school I am at now (Bridger) has green and gold as their colors.
Jeff Floyd – email@example.com