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HISTORY

SOME OF SPORTSELITEMAG’S FAVORITE ALL-TIME COACHES:

THESE COACHES WERE INSTRUMENTAL IN CHANGING THE CULTURE OF THE GAME.

 

Edward Gay Robinson (February 13, 1919 – April 3, 2007) was an American college football coach at Grambling State University.

Coach Robinson played a major role in developing young black men on how to become productive men. His coaching was not only about football it was also about life. The era in which Coach Robinson coached there were not many opportunities for black coaches and athletes to advance to a higher level in professional sports. However, with his lack of resources he was able to build a power house football team that led him into becoming one the all time wining coaches in the history collegiate football. During his coaching tenure at Grambling State University, Coach Robinson was able to see some of his college football players advance to the NFL.

Robinson was born in Jackson in East Feliciana Parish, Louisiana, to the son of a sharecropper and a domestic worker. He went on to graduate from McKinley Senior High School in Baton Rouge in 1937. He went on to earn his bachelor’s degree from Leland College in Baker in East Baton Rouge Parish, then went on to obtain his Master’s degree from the University of Iowa in Iowa City in 1954. Robinson was a member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity.

Robinson spent fifty-six years as the head coach at historically black Grambling State University in Grambling in Lincoln Parish in northern Louisiana, from 1941 through 1997. He was hired by the college president and head baseball coach, Ralph Waldo Emerson Jones.

During his coaching career, Robinson compiled 45 winning seasons, including winning or sharing 17 Southwestern Athletic Conference championships and nine black college football national championships.[1]

After his retirement, Robinson was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease; he died on April 3, 2007, at Lincoln General Hospital in Ruston, Louisiana, after being admitted earlier in the day

 

Paul William “Bear” Bryant (September 11, 1913 – January 26, 1983) was an American college football coach. He was best known as the longtime head coach of the University of Alabama football team. During his 25-year tenure as Alabama’s head coach, he amassed six national championships and thirteen conference championships.

For many years Coach Paul Bear Bryant race relations were being questioned because he did not have any African American football players on his Alabama football team. Coach Bryant denied the allegations and said, due to the culture at the time did not warrant any black football players on the team. In order to improve race relations, Coach Bryant phoned Coach John McKay of the University of Southern California and asked Coach McKay if he would schedule a football game against his Alabama team. This game was scheduled to showcase the speed, talent, and athleticism of African American football players  that played on Coach McKay USC football team. Coach Bryant knew that if the Alabama Alumni and Administration got the opportunity to see the African American football players skills, that they would have a different perspective of the African American football player.

The game was scheduled on one condition that next year Alabama would have to travel to USC to play a game in front of USC fans. Coach Bryant agreed to play in the 1970 season opener against a strong University  of Southern California team led by African American fullback Sam (Bam) Cunningham. Cunningham rushed for 150 yards and three touchdowns in a 42-21 victory against an overmatched Crimson Tide.  After that season, Coach Bryant was able to recruit Wilbur Jackson as the first African American and a junior- college transfer named John Mitchell, together Jackson and Mitchell became the first African Americans to play for Alabama. By 1973, one third of the team starters were African American.

Upon his retirement in 1982, he held the record for most wins as head coach in collegiate football history. At the University of Alabama, the Paul W. Bryant Museum, Paul W. Bryant Hall, Paul W. Bryant Drive and Bryant–Denny Stadium are all named in his honor. He was also known for his trademark black and white houndstooth or gingham hat, deep voice, casually leaning up against the goal post during pre-game warmups, and frequently holding his rolled-up game plan while on the sidelines. Before arriving at Alabama, Bryant was head football coach at the University of Maryland, the University of Kentucky, and Texas A&M University.

 

John Harvey McKay (July 5, 1923 – June 10, 2001) was an American football player and coach. He was served as the head coach at the University of Southern California from 1960 to 1975 and of the NFL‘s Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 1976 to 1984. In 16 seasons with the USC Trojans, McKay compiled a record of 127–40–8 and won nine AAWU/Pacific-8 Conference titles. His teams made eight appearances in the Rose Bowl, winning five times. Four of his squads captured national titles (1962, 1967, 1972, 1974).

McKay moved to the NFL in 1976 to become the first head coach of the expansion Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In 1976 and 1977, Tampa Bay lost the first 26 games they played. McKay’s team improved by the end of the 1970s, making the playoffs three times including an appearance in the NFC Championship Game in 1979. McKay was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a coach in 1988.

 

 

 

Henry Louis “Hank” Stram (pronounced /ˈstræm/; January 3, 1923 – July 4, 2005) was an American football coach. He is best known for his 15-year tenure with the American Football League‘s Dallas Texans/Kansas City Chiefs and the Chiefs of the NFL. Stram won three AFL Championships (more than any other coach in the league’s history) and Super Bowl IV with the Chiefs. He also coached the most victories (87), had the most post-season appearances (6) and the best post-season record in the AFL (5–1). Stram is largely responsible for the introduction of Gatorade to the NFL due to his close association with Ray Graves, coach at the University of Florida during Gatorade’s development and infancy. Hank Stram never had an offensive coordinator, defensive coordinator, or special teams coach during his legendary career with the Dallas Texans/Kansas City Chiefs.

Professional football coaching career (1960–1977)

Stram was an innovator, a shrewd judge of talent, and an excellent teacher. He helped develop Hall of Famers Len Dawson, Bobby Bell, Buck Buchanan, Willie Lanier, Jan Stenerud and many others like Johnny Robinson, Ed Budde and Otis Taylor. He was also the first coach in professional football to use Gatorade on his sidelines and run both the I formation and two-tight end offense, still used in professional football today. On defense, the Chiefs employed a triple-stack defense, hiding the three linebackers behind defensive linemen.

He was considered a motivational genius, and his emphasis on the Chiefs’ wearing of a patch commemorating the AFL in Super Bowl IV was one of his typical ploys, extracting maximum effort from players who had been derided by proponents of the NFL. Stram was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2003, ironically, nine years after Bud Grant, the man whose team he had convincingly defeated in Super Bowl IV, had been enshrined. At the Hall of Fame ceremonies, Stram was so weakened by the effects of diabetes that Len Dawson pushed his former coach onto the stage in a wheelchair. Stram’s induction speech was then played from a previously-recorded videotape.

Stram’s contributions to the game, like those of other AFL pioneers, helped to change the face of professional football.