You can’t talk about American culture without including college football. In fact, one of the reasons why professional football is successful is because a strong foundation was put in place by the sport at the collegiate level. It is impossible to think about football without looking at some of the college coaches who had a huge impact on this game. Take a look at some of the coaches who transformed this sport into what it is today.
- Walter Camp: Yale 1888 to 1892
Walter Camp played football for Yale, and in 1880, he submitted proposals that would revolutionize the sport. His proposals included adding a line of scrimmage, the idea of downs, and the scoring system. The rules prior to his proposal were different for each region, so this changed the sport.
Camp became Yale’s coach when he was 29 years old. He led the Bulldogs to three national championships in his five years of coaching. In 1888, Yale outscored its opponents 694 to 0 in thirteen games. Camp is considered the Father of American Football.
- Pop Warner: Carlisle Industrial School 1899 to 1903 and 1907 to 1914
The rules of football were designed for eleven players on each team. However, Pop Warner was playing with teams of fewer than eleven. He had to find a way to compete. He was creative and came up with tactics to do so. One was the single-wing formation. He also introduced shifts, fakes, and the forward pass, and he led his team in four seasons with only one loss each. He also introduced shoulder pads and the three-point stance.
- Fritz Crisler: Michigan 1938 to 1947
Prior to World War II, college football limited substitutions. Once a player was subbed, he couldn’t come back until the next quarter. The war caused a shortage of players, so in 1941, the rules were changed to allow unlimited substitutions. Crisler took advantage of this change, and he created the depth charts that became an important part of football strategy.
- Bud Wilkinson: Oklahoma 1947 to 1963
Bud Wilkinson boasts the longest winning streak in college football’s top division. He led Oklahoma to 47 straight wins from October 1953 to November 1957. His team was one of the first unstoppable dynasties in the sport, and they used the rushing attack frequently. They were the first team to use a 3–4 defense. Another innovation was the no-huddle, which allowed them to throw Maryland off in the Orange Bowl and win the championship.