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UC Davis Centennial
100 years of service, solutions, impact
Photo: Jim Sochor

Although Jim Sochor officially retired in 1993, he is still active, volunteering with the UC Davis athletics program and its alumni to promote football and high-quality athletics. (Tony Novelozo/Axiom Photo and Design)

UC Davis Stories

Jim Sochor’s story

About Jim Sochor

Photo: Jim Sochor

Jim Sochor was UC Davis’ head football coach from 1970 to 1988, athletic director from 1989 to 91, and golf coach from 1992 to 1998.

He took a leave of absence during spring quarters 1997 and 1998 to be the offensive coordinator for the Scottish Claymores, NFL Europe’s spring developmental league to help coach the team in games throughout Europe. In 1999 he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.

In addition to volunteering and assisting to raise funds for UC Davis Intercollegiate Athletics, Sochor is active throughout the region giving speeches on leadership and team-building, and counseling individuals and teams on sports psychology.

Our toughest game took Chinese philosophy and a good plan

Every game is a challenge, but the 1986 game with University of the Pacific comes to mind as the toughest game I ever had to prepare for.

This is when UOP had a football team. They were a I-A school when we played them. This was a school with 60-80 full rides.

We had zero scholarships. UOP had spring practices, six to eight full-time coaches and a beautiful stadium. We had — truly — one full-time coach.

As we prepared for the University of Pacific, we watched a film of the game they had just played with Minnesota. It was a big game for UOP, playing somebody in the Big 10. UOP beat Minnesota 24–14, so we evaluated the film in preparation.

UOP looked awfully good

We were saying, "Wow, UOP looks awfully good here. What do we do here?"

But the more we watched the film, the more things came to light of about how we could approach our offense and defense and special teams (like the kickoff team).

We put together a really wonderful game plan. On the Thursday of that week we had a dress rehearsal. We covered every detail, every substitution, every play on the game field at Toomey.

On Friday, the athletic director and I went down to UOP to speak at their luncheon. UOP had 300 people all in orange and black there.

So when I spoke, I related to them how marvelous a football team they had, what a great victory they just had and how proud they must be of that football team because of how well it represented their university.

Sun Tzu’s Art of War

I had just read The Art of War by Sun Tzu. It was the first classic book ever written on the art of war. I was well aware how important the element of surprise was in battle — and how significant it was to take a low profile about your own forces.

The game was on Saturday. It was a beautiful afternoon, and the game was regionally telecast. When we began, we immediately took the football down the field and scored. We played very well defensively. We went into halftime with a 21-6 lead.

We immediately came out in the second half and scored 10 more points and led 31-6. Well, UOP regained their composure and returned the next kickoff for a touchdown and proceeded to take control of the game and even went ahead of us in the score.

We battled hard to regain the momentum and ended up winning the game 45-41 in the last minute of the game. We learned early on that much of our success was in our belief system that we could compete with the best.

Our philosophy always has been, "You come first as a student and athletics is a bonus. And we want that bonus to be the best experience you will have in the university."

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