Spring 2017

Sunday at One

This profile of Bill Parcels '64 was first published by the WSUAA in its January/February 1996 issue of Wichita State University Alumni News.

One o'clock Sunday must be a formidable time for a National Football League coach. At game time, the field of possibilities sprawls wide-open. Game-day strategies can either work like a charm or go strangely awry. In an instant, players can make the plays of a lifetime or crash mangled to the Astroturf, their hopes for the season dashed by a shoulder separation, a torn ligament or worse. The team can lose — or win.

Veteran NFL coach Bill Parcells ’64 has faced down hundreds of Sundays-at-one and come away with a reputation for winning. He stands as one of only 17 NFL head coaches to scale the pinnacle of their profession and reach the Super Bowl. Far fewer have snagged two Super Bowl championships, two Super Bowl rings, two Vince Lombardi trophies.

“I know football isn't important to mankind, in the big picture,” Parcells says over the phone from his off-season home in Florida. “But any time you've been to the top in a highly competitive industry like football, you know how hard it is to get there. There's a tremendous price to pay, and good fortune has to nurse you along. But once you've won on that level, you want to keep winning."

Parcells lives and breathes football. Now head coach of the New England Patriots, he captured his two Super Bowl wins as head coach of the New York Giants, leading them to victory in Super Bowl XXI in 1987 against the Denver Broncos and Super Bowl XXV in 1991 against the Buffalo Bills.

Parcells' competitive nature, his drive to win, is legendary. Judith “Judy” (Goss) Parcells ’64 describes her husband of 34 years as "driven." Parcells himself has said, “No one loves to win more than I do.” But winning for the sake of winning isn't the force that motivates him. As he writes in his book “Finding a Way to Win,” published Dec. 1995: “That desire (to win) goes beyond the scoreboard, or the fame, or the money. Those are just the incidentals, the by-products of winning. For me the point is something else: Can you contribute to greatness? Can you witness — even just for a moment — and end product that reflects character and courage and pinciple?"

Parcells' own character, his directness and common sense, his philosophy that man is responsible ultimately for both his good fortune and his bad, his belief in hard work and his pride in a job well done, his practicality and loyalty were forged, along with his skill at sports, durin ghis childhood in New Jersey.

"My folks bought their first house in Hasbrouck Heights,” Parcells recalled. “It was right across the street from a huge, vacant lot. There were always games going on there. So I was really very young — four or five years old — and I was playing baseball, football, things like that. My dad must have seen this as something positive for me and encouraged me to participate. That's kind of how I got started in sports; as I got older, the interest kep going and I stayed with it."

During the mid-1950s, Parcells earned the reputation of being the best athlete at River Dell High School in Oradell, N.J. It was here that he met Mickey Corcoran, the high school basketball coach whose influence on Parcells would be lasting.

“Mickey Corcoran got me interested in the profession of coaching,” Parcells says. “I saw Mickey help a lot of young people, and that's influenced me as a coach." Parcells still listens to the advice of his first and perhaps most respected mentor.

For both Corcoran and Parcells, one of the most rewarding aspects of coaching is the interaction with the players. Parcells has always seemed to enjoy close player-coach relationships with the members of his teams. He's been described as 'one of the boys' because of his easy rapport with players and his knack for joking around. But that doesn't mean he isn't deadly serious about his profession and his philosophy of coaching.

“A coach's job is to give the athlete a design, a structue that will provide him with a chance to utilize his skill," Parcells says. "The second thing a coach has to do is get the players to do it — to envision the plan and aspire to the common goal. In other words, the coach has to motivate his team to perform, much like a teacher has to inspire students to learn."

Parcells was lured to Kansas by a football scholarship and enrolled at the University of Wichita in 1961. He was one of a number of athletes from the northeast U.S. recruited by Shocker head coach Hank Foldberg. Parcells joined the Shockers as a quarterback, but was moved to tackle and helped the team make it to the '61 Sun Bowl. The next two seasons, he started every game. In 1963, the year the Shockers finished as co-champions of the Missouri Valley Conference, he won a tackle spot on the All-Conference team and earned a starting position in the Challenge Bowl in Corpus Christi, Texas.

"We always used to tease Bill about his weight," former teammate Hank Schichtle '64 recalls. "He arrived on campus as a 180-pound quarterback and left four years later as a 235-pound tackle — a testament to his ability to put food away! But, really, Bill was always a knowledgeable student of the game."Schichtle, who played quarterback for the Shockers, is now an executive with Brite Voice Systems, Wichita.

"The only problem I had with him,” Schichtle jokes, "is keeping him quiet in the huddle. With his training as quarterback, he always wanted to do the talking."

Parcells enjoyed his university days in Wichita. “I met my wife there," he relates, "and two of my daughters were born there. Judy and I still have friends we met at the university. Going to school away from home, getting to be independent — it was a maturing process for me." He graduated from Wichita State with a degree in physical education in 1964.

"I remember seeing Bill around campus," Judy recalls. "I used to work in the sports publicity office, and he would sometimes come and sit and talk to me in the afternoon." The couple, who married while students at WSU, now have three grown daughters, Suzy, Dallas and Jill, and two grandchildren.

Besides football and classes, Parcells' collegiate experience included working at a Wichita entrepreneurial landmark. "I remember a lot of football players worked at the Pizza Hut on the corner of Hillside and 17th. That was back when there were only about six or eight Pizza Huts in the whole world,” he recalls with a laugh.

"I was one of those football players who worked there," says Steve Barilla '68. Barilla, now the president of Techna-Plastics Services Inc., Lehighton, Pa., was best man at Bill and Judy's wedding. "We made great pizzas. In fact, we're what made Pizza Hut great!"

Even after 30-plus years, the comradery among Shocker teammates is evident. "Bill," Barilla says, "would get a goal in mind and keep going until he'd reached it. He was headstrong in that way. But he'd do anything for you to help you reach your goal."

After graduation, Parcells was the seventh-round draft pick of the Detroit Lions, but opted to accept an assistant coaching position at Hasting College in Nebraska. After a year, he returned to his alma mater for a brief coaching stint before going on to other college assistant coaching positions. He became head coach at the Air Force Academy in 1978. A year later, he joined the Giants staff, then zigged to the Patriots as a linebacker coach in 1980 and zagged back to the Giants in 1981 as an assistant coach. He was named Giants head coach at the end of the 1982 season.

In 1991, he retired from coaching because of health concerns and signed a multiyear contract with NBC as a studio analyst on the pregame show "NFL Live." He liked the work, but coaching is his passion. So after successful coronary artery bypass surgery and a two-year absence from the NFL, he signed on as head coach with the Patriots, a battered franchise with the infamous distinction of ending the 199s season with 42 turnovers, 65 sacks, more than 1,000 yards of penalites and a 2-14 record.

This season, the third under Parcells' leadership, the Patriots posted a 10-6 record. "We're still working hard to improve," Parcells says with fire in his voice. "We have a plan."

He doesn't elaborate, but football aficionados say he's shaping the team in his likeness: direct, aggressive, powerful.

"During the football season, and football is really a year-round business," Judy relates, "Bill is totally focused on football. He's very intense."

So intensely focused is Parcells, that he has few outside interests other than family and close friends. "My range of activities is very narrow for most of the year," he admits. "I'm not very well read, not too up on current events while football is in season. But I do like to play golf once in a while, and I like horse racing. Judy and I own a few horses. That's something we enjoy together."

But even at the races, football isn't out of mind. One of his horses is named Nickel Defense. And the other?

Sunday at One.



Shocker Football Players Return to Campus for a Special Look Back at 1963

This June, former Shocker football players reunited on campus for a series of events, hosted by WSU Athletics and assisted by the WSU Alumni Association.

Sunday at One

This profile of Bill Parcels '64 was published by the WSUAA in its January/February 1996 issue of Wichita State University Alumni News.

NRA All-American

The National Rifle Association's inaugural All-American honors for excellence in trap shooting went to Kevin Maloan ’85.