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How Buddy Teevens '79 Transformed Football Forever

Sep 25, 2018   |   by Brad Parks ’96   |   Dartmouth Alumni Magazine

A few years ago, Coach Teevens looked like a goner. Then he reorganized his staff and started a radical experiment: no tackling in practice.

... Dartmouth remains alone in the no-tackle wilderness—both in the league and the nation.

“No one is as far out there as Buddy is right now,” says Robert Cantu, cofounder of the CTE Center at the Boston University School of Medicine and arguably the nation’s leading authority on the condition. “A lot of coaches, like Nick Saban at Alabama and David Shaw at Stanford, are aware of the research and want to make changes. Buddy is at the forefront of doing something about it.”

One of the efforts Teevens remains involved with is the Mobile Virtual Player (MVP), a remote-controlled football robot. It began as a hairbrained idea of Teevens. One day in the spring of 2011 he asked classmate and Thayer School research engineer John Currier ’79, Th’81, if he could make a tackling dummy move. Now Teevens’ small startup venture, MVP LLC, has a staff of six, including ex-football player Ryan McManus ’15 and ex-rugby player Quinn Connell ’13, Th’14, who helped design the prototype as an undergraduate at Thayer.

While Currier admits MVP is “still something of a novelty,” it is now being used by half of the teams in the NFL and 33 colleges. “A lot of coaches are realizing they can’t just spit tobacco and run the Oklahoma drill anymore,” he says. “There is a strong and universal trend toward less contact in football, and MVP is part of that paradigm.”

MVP and Teevens have been featured on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, in The Boston Globe and The Washington Post, and on an ad that ran during last year’s Super Bowl—just part of the glut of attention the coach has garnered as college football’s leading no-tackle evangelist. He’s become a go-to speaker at coaches’ conferences and recently got a visit from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who dropped in on spring practice to witness the Dartmouth Way. He calls Teevens “an innovative leader whose impact is reaching all levels of our sport.”

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