Amos Alonzo Stagg

Facts about Amos Stagg

Amos Alonzo Stagg died at 102 years old
Born: August 16, 1862
Best known as: Football coach at the University of Chicago, 1892-1932


Amos Alonzo Stagg Biography

Amos Alonzo Stagg helped build the modern game of football during his 41 years as head coach at the University of Chicago. Known as “the grand old man,” he’s credited with football innovations ranging from the huddle to the Statue of Liberty play.

Amos Alonzo Stagg enrolled in Yale as a divinity student in 1884, and starred there at both football and baseball. After graduation, Stagg decided he was better suited to coaching than to the pulpit. He first coached in Springfield, Massachusetts (where he worked with basketball inventor James Naismith) and then was hired as head football coach at the University of Chicago in 1892.

While at Chicago he went on to win seven Western Conference and Big Ten championships (in 1899, 1905, 1907, 1908, 1913, 1922, and 1924). More significantly, he came up with innovations including “the tackling dummy, the huddle, the reverse and man in motion plays, the lateral pass, uniform numbers, and awarding varsity letters,” according to the University of Chicago. Stagg was also known for clean living: he wouldn’t touch tobacco or alcohol and reportedly never used a word stronger than “jackass.”

He was forced to retire at Chicago after the end of of the 1932 season, when he reached the age of 70. But that wasn’t the end of his coaching career: he went to the College of the Pacific and coached there from 1933-46, and then moved on to Susquehanna University, where he assisted the head coach, Amos Alonzo Stagg, Jr. — his son — until 1952, when he finally retired for good at age 89.  (Almost for good — he kept up a advisory role as kicking coach at Stockton College until he was 96.)

Amos Alonzo Stagg’s career record as a head football coach was 314-199-35.  He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1951.

Extra credit

Amos Alonzo Stagg was 5’6″ tall, according to the College Football Hall of Fame… He married Stella Robertson on September 10, 1894, and they had three children: Amos Jr. (b. 1899), Ruth (b. ?) and Paul (b. 1909).  Stella died in 1964 at age 88… The College of the Pacific later became the University of the Pacific; Stockton College was also called Stockton Junior College and San Joaquin Delta College… At Yale, Stagg was a member of the Psi Upsilon fraternity and the Skull and Bones Society… Stagg “coached track for 32 years, baseball for 19 years, and basketball for one season” while at Chicago…  He also “invented the batting cage for baseball and the trough for overflow in swimming pools,” according to his entry at the College Football Hall of Fame… Amos Alonzo Stagg’s 41 years as head coach at one school were a college football record until surpassed by Joe Paterno in 2007. Paterno was head coach at Penn State from 1966 until he was fired in 2011.


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