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OVER A CLIFF...

IT WAS THE DAY AFTER August 10 and all though the office not a creature was stirring, not even a Mouse Davis. A clatter made us jump from our Royal Standard typewriter (Class of '46) to see what was the matter.

The mailman had dropped a book into our mail chute. It was a review copy of The Winning Edge by Cliff Ellis, whose basketball teams at Auburn are beginning to make a lot of noise in the SEC.

The book traces the rise of Ellis from musician, gourmet cook, and ostrich farmer to big-name basketball coach.

His career takes off on the day he becomes a head coach for the first time. The offer is tendered by Ocala Vanguard (FL) High School while Cliff is taking a summer course at Middle Tennessee State University.

Since he doesn't have to report until September, he continues taking his course and brushing up on his golf game. One morning he is accosted by a "middle-aged" hacker who tells him that he likes Cliff's game and would appreciate a few pointers.

The fellow's name in Don Fuoss, who is a football coach, a writer, and wise and worldly in the ways of the coaching market.

When Cliff tells him that his ambition is to become a head coach in Division I, Fuoss has the answer. Everyone is impressed by coaches who write articles and books, and that he himself had started writing as a high school coach and that it had led to a career both in college coaching and book-writing.

Then comes this astonishing passage in The Winning Edge:

"I'm a close, personal friend of Herman Masin, the editor of Scholastic Coach. Its reputation is huge, and I can help you get published. Pick the subject you know best, write an article on it, and I will submit it to Scholastic Coach for you."

And so the miracle happens. Ellis writes an article on his pressing zone defense and turns it over to Fuoss. At Ocala Vanguard months later, the school librarian approaches Ellis and says, "Have you seen the article in Scholastic Coach?"

Ellis can't believe it: "There was my picture and the article. I was now an author, and that was only the beginning. In January, Parker Publishing asked me if I would like to expand my article into a book. Which I did."

A year later the president of Cumberland College calls. He needs a basketball coach and he thinks Cliff might be the man. Would Cliff be interested in interviewing for the job?

When the president sees how young Cliff is (26), he wavers. "I could tell he was unsure," Cliff relates. "I then handed him a copy of the article I had written, and his attitude changed. He obviously was impressed by a young coach who was a published author.

"Writing got me in the door for my first college job at a time when I was still young and relatively inexperienced. It gave me the winning edge."

A word is in order about the gentleman who introduced Cliff Ellis to the magic of the written word.

Don Fuoss was actually one of our legendary contributors of the 1960's. He started writing for us as a high school coach, then moved on to Purdue as a top assistant to Jack Mollenkopf. In his eight years at Purdue, he wrote 16 articles for us, as well as 10 football books for Parker Publishing.

When his name surfaced in The Winning Edge, we called the AFCA for his phone number. It was in Sacramento, CA, where Fuoss had finished his career as a football coach and the athletic administrator at Sacramento State University.

We phoned and got Fuoss on the first ring. We were delighted to discover that he retains all the vitality and sharpness that distinguished him as a coach, writer and friend.
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Don Fuoss's advice helps Cliff Ellis establish his coaching career
Author:Masin, Herman L.
Publication:Coach and Athletic Director
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 1, 2000
Words:645
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