Here in the South, a “bird dog” is just another name for a Pointer. Pointers are a hunter’s best friend; dogs that track game birds and point at them so the hunter can find them. Like those hunters employing their trusty canines, the Naval Academy had a nationwide system of “pointers” in the 1950s and 60s led by the legendary “Rip” Miller. Instead of game fowl, though, these scouts looked for athletic talent. Scouts would identify high school athletes and alert Navy coaches, who could then begin the process of recruiting them. The similarity to the relationship between the hunter and his dog earned this scouting network the nickname, “Birddogs.” The Birddogs were once labeled by Time Magazine as “perhaps the most extensive recruiting service in college football. ”
Over time, as information became more readily available and college football became less of a regional affair and more of a national one, “Birddogs” became obsolete. Players can now mail their own highlight tapes to coaches, and they do it to schools across the country. While civilian talent scouting might be a thing of the past, the spirit of the Birddog as a far-flung advocate for Navy athletics remains, and is the inspiration behind this blog.
Or maybe it’s just to heckle from the balcony. It’s what the internet does best!
So there you have it. Hopefully a couple more “Birddogs” will catch on and have some fun with this. Happy reading!