Dudley DeGroot became New Mexico's head football coach in 1950 after spending two season at West Virginia University. His first team produced a 2-8 record, followed by a 4-7 mark in 1951. It was after the '51 season that UNM President Tom Popejoy and the UNM Athletic Council announced plans to initiate a de-emphasis of athletics with football at the top of the list.
The announcement left returning players, many of whom played both offense and defense, unhappy because the two platoon system had been inaugurated and UNM didn't have enough bodies to try it.
DeGroot saw how limited his talents were and decided to concentrate and gamble on an all-out defense. Every facet of defense DeGroot had coached over 30 years came into being at practices.
A dedicated and aggressive defense devised by DeGroot and his relentless assistants brought UNM unofficial "Defensive Team of the Year" honors by all of the major wire services. The season totals were a 7-2 record with five shutouts. The Lobos allowed just 46 points in nine games, an average of 5.1 a game.
DeGroot was named Skyline Coach of the Year and five Lobos were named honorable mention All-America: captain and tackle Jack Barger, linebackers Larry White and Jim Bruening, guard Don Papini and kicker Mike Prokopiak. After UNM, DeGroot was named director of Armed Forces athletics programs for all of the U.S. Army bases in the European theater.
DeGroot had a stellar career in athletics and coaching. He was Stanford's first football All-American in 1922, competed in basketball, swimming and water polo, and played on the U.S. Olympic team that won the World Rugby championship in Paris in 1924. DeGroot coached collegiately at Stanford, Cal Santa Barbara, Menlo College, San Jose State and Rochester, and professionally with the Washington Redskins and the Los Angeles Dons, later to become the Rams.
DeGroot died in 1970.