Ross retires after 3-9 season at Army

Updated: January 29, 2007, 4:55 PM ET
Associated Press

WEST POINT, N.Y. -- Bobby Ross retired Monday as Army's football coach, and without a victory over Navy in his three seasons with the Black Knights.

The former NFL coach, who had a 9-25 record at Army, will be succeeded by offensive line coach Stan Brock.

Bobby Ross: Coaching Record
Bobby Ross
Bobby Ross retired Monday after three seasons at Army. His coaching record spans 33 years and includes two stints in college and one in the NFL. Ross is 180-169-2 in 27 seasons as a head coach.
Years
School/Team
Record
Pct.
2004-2006
Army
9-25
.265
1997-2000
Detroit Lions*
27-32
.458
1992-1996
San Diego Chargers*
50-36
.581
1987-1991
Georgia Tech**
31-16-1
.543
1982-1986
Maryland
39-19-1
.669
1973-1977
The Citadel
24-31
.436
* -- NFL records include postseason
** -- Co-national champions in 1990

"I think there's a point in time when you feel like it's your time to retire, and I think I've reached that time," the 70-year-old Ross said in a statement. "I think there is an issue of having a certain degree of energy, which I feel is very important for anyone leading a college football program. I feel that I was lacking in that area."

Army athletic director Kevin Anderson said Ross told him of his decision on Thursday night.

"He came back from a recruiting trip and had to go home because he was ill," Anderson said. "He looked at me in the eye and said, 'I can't give the energy.' He didn't want to shortchange the academy or the cadets."

The 48-year-old Brock, who played for Ross on the 1995 San Diego Chargers team that reached the Super Bowl, said he was surprised, even though he and Ross had talked about the future.

"He knew it was my ultimate goal, but the timing was a shock," said Brock, who has never been a head coach at the Division I level but had five years of head coaching experience in the Arena Football League before coming to West Point with Ross. "I thought coach was going to be here."

Ross came out of retirement to coach a team that had been on a 15-game losing streak and was the first in NCAA history to finish a season 0-13 (2003).

Speculation that Ross might leave began shortly after Army's 26-14 loss to the Midshipmen in December. The Black Knights finished the season on a six-game losing streak. Ross' son, Kevin, the offensive coordinator, took much of the blame for the Black Knights' sputtering offense.

Before his arrival at West Point, Ross was 77-68 in the NFL with the Chargers and Detroit Lions and spent 15 years as a college coach, including stints with The Citadel (1973-77), Maryland (1982-86) and Georgia Tech (1987-91). His 1990 Georgia Tech team went 11-0-1, sharing the national title with Colorado. His college record was 94-76-2 before he accepted the Army job.

"I think there is an issue of having a certain degree of energy, which I feel is very important for anyone leading a college football program. I feel that I was lacking in that area."
-- Bobby Ross

Ross, a Virginia Military Institute graduate, hoped to duplicate what he had done at Georgia Tech in the late 1980s. And after two seasons of improvement -- Ross had nearly the same record at Army (6-16) as he did at Georgia Tech (5-17) -- he seemed to be right on track.

But Georgia Tech went 7-4 in Ross's third year and was co-national champion with an 11-0-1 mark the next season (1990). Ross's third year at West Point started at 3-3, but the Black Knights lost their last six games by an average of 20 points.

Still, there have been signs of progress. Army won seven of its last 17 games under Ross, and nine of the last 16 losses have been by 14 points or less. In the three seasons (2001-03) that preceded Ross's arrival, Army was 4-32, suffering those 32 losses by an average of 21.6 points.

"Coach Ross has improved our program dramatically," Anderson said. "I know that he's having a hard time leaving because he feels he has the program where he wants it. It was hard for him to walk away."

Despite his workaholic ways -- Ross said he took off only six days last summer -- the coach never accomplished his first goal of winning the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy, given each year to the winner of the round-robin format between the three service academies. Ross went 0-3 against Navy and 1-2 against Air Force.

The loss to Navy came on the heels of an embarrassing 43-7 loss to Air Force at Michie Stadium in the final home game of the season.


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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