Today, Sept. 7, marks the anniversary of the death of arguably the most notable college football coach, Glenn “Pop” Warner. With 44 years of coaching experience, the College Football Hall of Famer aided in molding college football into what it is today. He introduced many formations used in modern football, such as the screen pass, single-wing and double-wing formations.
"You cannot play two kinds of football at once, dirty and good.... You play the way you practice,” Warner once said according to the National Football Foundation. “Practice right...and you will react right."At 21-years old, Warner attended Cornell University where he worked to obtain his law degree and participated in several sports, specifically football. It was here he obtained the nickname “Pop” for being the oldest member of Cornell’s football team.
After graduating, he practiced law for a short time before he traveled south to coach at the University of Georgia. In his first year as head coach, the Bulldogs lost four of the seven games they played that year due to a lack of players, yet in his second year, he led Georgia through an undefeated season.
In 1897, he returned to New York to coach his at his alma mater. As Cornell, he led the team to two years of a 15-5-1 record, but in 1899, he coached at the Carlisle Indian School, remaining there for five years and bringing the team to a 11-2-1 record. Yet, he decided to return to Cornell for three years before wanting to return to Carlisle.The legacy that most people remember him for remains his second run as the football coach at Carlisle. Warner helped his team maintain a solid winning record, only losing four games during his eight years as coach. It was also during this time that he discovered Jim Thorpe, one of the best athletes Warner ever coached.
However, the University of Pittsburgh offered Warner a high salary, so he left in 1914 to go on and bring Pittsburgh two national championship titles and 33 wins.
According to the National Football Foundation, “[Warner] was the first to coach the dummy- scrimmage; he introduced the practice of numbering plays; he was the first to teach the spiral punt and one of the first to advocate the spiral pass; he was the first to use the football huddle; he invented the double-wing formation, with an unbalanced line for more blocking strength.”Warner began working at Stanford University in 1924, which he coached the Cardinal to three Rose Bowl championships and an undefeated season in 1926. Warner met Ernie Nevers, who is among Thorpe as one of the best athletes Warner coached. According to a biography of Warner by Penn State, “Warner believed Ernie Nevers always gave 100 percent, but also said that when Thorpe gave his all, he was unstoppable.”
But, in 1933, Warner moved on to Temple University, only posting a single losing season in his five years there. Temple, however, remains where Warner met Joe Tomlin. Tomlin had created a youth football league and wanted to re-name it, the Pop Warner Conference of Philadelphia, in Warner’s honor. It went on to be the main foundation for the nation’s first national youth sporting program that still exists today.
Warner retired from Temple in 1938, and at the time, he was seventh on the list of the most winningest college coaches with a record of 319-106-32.
After his retirement, he couldn’t quite do away with football, advising San Jose State’s football team for a time, and in 1951, he was inducted in the Hall of Fame.
However, on July 26, 1954, Warner was admitted to a hospital in Palo Alto, Cali. where he underwent an operation on a tumor. Doctors reported that his health was failing fast on Sept. 6, 1954, and the next day, Warner died.
Now, his legacy lives on in the coaches and players that use his methods on the field today.