Walter Camp was the Father of American football...

He wrote most of the rules which helped transform the Rugby-esque game of the 1860’s into something closely resembling the game we know today.  Camp Coached Yale to a 67-2 record from 1888-1892.  Among his best players at Yale was Amos Alonzo Stagg, named as an end on the first All American Team, in 1889.

As an aside, Stagg spent the 1891-1892 season coaching football at Springfield College, while he picked up his Masters in Physical Education.  While at Springfield, then called the Young Man’s Christian Training School, Stagg played on the first basketball team, a brand new sport created by James Naismith, a teacher trying to create an indoor winter sport for the mostly future Phys Ed teachers at the college. 

Stagg served as Head Coach of the University of Chicago from 1892 through 1932.  The list of his coaching innovations is even longer than those which came from the mind of his mentor, Camp.  Among the players that Stagg coached were Frank Hering (1893-1894) and Jesse Harper (1905). 

Hering is called the Father of Notre Dame Football.  He coached the Irish, 1896-1898, also serving as the Captain and QB in 1896.  Before Hering, our teams (and most teams in that period) did not have a full-time Head Coach.  Hering has also been called the “father” of “Mother’s Day” because he proposed the creation of this National Holiday in a speech several years before its adoption.  Hering later became a faculty member at Notre Dame and a prominent member of the local community, beginning early outreach to the those folks then called Negroes. 

Harper spent 1906-07 as Head Coach at Alma before moving on to Wabash for the 1910-1913 seasons.  At Wabash, Harper experimented with the little-used forward pass.  The forward pass was legalized and its role expanded after the Roosevelt Commission reforms of 1905.  The former Rough Rider was responsible for taking some of the roughness out of a game which was causing numerous deaths and many serious injuries. 

From 1913 through 1917, Harper served as the Head Coach at the University of Notre Dame.  His most famous pupil:  Knute Kenneth Rockne.  The forward pass, from Quarterback Gus Dorais to End Knute Rockne, was the primary weapon ND used to upset Army in 1913.  This was the game which put the tiny, Midwestern college on the national football map.  After Rockne’s graduation, he became Harper’s assistant for four years, before replacing him, in 1918.  1971, Harper was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame, joining Camp, Stagg, and Rockne.

Rockne’s coaching tress is also very long.  Stay tuned for my research on the many Notre Dame that Rockne coached who later went on to serve as Head Coaches.

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