They were twin stars in the football universe, present at the birth of their respective worlds, bright lights blazing across the sky for two decades and now, ironically, also fading in tandem.
Bob Shoup and Tom Landry.
Each man was the only coach his team had ever known. Each rose to his zenith in the winter of 1971 with a championship. Each stumbled through the late '80s, and each plummeted to his nadir in the summer of '89.
Landry was absent this summer from the California Lutheran University campus, site of the Dallas Cowboy training camp. He was home in Texas, having been fired by new Cowboy owner Jerry Jones several months earlier.
And Shoup was in his CLU office, a bunker against the onslaught of his own administration, which announced last month that Shoup won't be back as head coach of the Kingsmen after this season, his 27th.
What could be Shoup's last season begins today when CLU visits Sonoma State at 1 p.m. Both the coach and the administration agreed that Shoup would coach this season, then take a sabbatical. Shoup had said he would then reassess the situation and decide if he wanted to return. CLU officials said that the decision had been made. He wouldn't return.
"The university has now accepted my premise that there are real questions about my contract that have yet to be resolved, " said Shoup, who has hired an attorney and has threatened CLU with legal action. "We are going to take our time to work things out, think things through. This is a solvable issue. There was just a misunderstanding.
"My tenure status is not what it would be for a normal coach. You don't normally have tenure as a coach. My point is that I have a legal right to return (after a sabbatical). Their point is that it will be awkward to have an interim coach. I understand that. I just didn't like the way things were handled.
"But a year from now, who knows what changes there will have been in people and programs."
School officials have refused to comment on the situation, but it was a change in programs that started the problems.
After compiling one of the best won-lost records in college football (182-81-6) in his 26-year reign, after 13 NAIA District 3 titles, after three trips to the national championship game and the triumph there in '71, Shoup saw his world start to crumble last fall. The program Shoup once labeled "the Notre Dame of the West" had decided to lower its expectations.
Four years ago, the CLU football team, amid much hoopla, moved up to Division II of the National Collegiate Athletic Assn. and joined the Western Football Conference. After years of beating up on the likes of Azusa Pacific and Whittier, CLU was taking a step up to play with the bigger boys.
As it turned out, the big boys were a little \o7 too\f7 big. In the ensuing four seasons, Cal Lutheran's record was 16-27; in conference play, a disastrous 2-19.
Shoup wanted to fight rather than switch. CLU officials took the opposite stance.
Last October, the school voted to drop out of the WFC and down to Division III to join the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.
To some, it seemed like the death knell for one of Southern California's most competitive small-college programs. In the SCIAC, athletic scholarships are prohibited. So is spring football. And off-campus recruiting is limited.
Shoup openly opposed the change.
It got ugly. At one point, Shoup accused his own administration of suppressing an independent report commissioned by the school and written by the athletic director of Pacific Lutheran, an NAIA Division II school in Tacoma, Wash., that advised against the move. Administration officials denied the charge.
"I feel disappointed for past, present and future football players," Shoup said at the time. "Unfortunately, I feel like prejudice triumphed over understanding."
The CLU administration triumphed over Shoup.
It never would have happened in the old days.
It sometimes seems that Bob Shoup's whole life has been a two-minute drill. But through the years, every time he's been bogged down, about to be sacked, time and opportunity running out, he has found a path.
\o7 Flashback to the 1940s:\f7 Shoup is attending Marshall Fundamental junior high in Pasadena. Marshall has a football program and Shoup wants to be part of it.
But he's too small. The minimum weight to make the team is 120 pounds. Shoup weighs 118 1/2.
But he finds two padlocks, sews them to the inside of his trunks and, wearing a grin, proudly steps on the scales.
He makes the team.
\o7 Flashback to the 1950s: \f7 Shoup's father, Donald, is a coach at schools in Crete, Neb., and later in Pasadena. But Bob toys with several other career ideas--doctor, life-insurance salesman, businessman.
Then, Bob Shoup becomes exposed to coaching the way many do, by taking the reins of a team of youngsters. After a season of youth softball, he scratches his head and exclaims, "You mean people get \o7 paid\f7 for this!"