A Coaching Mystery

The current edition of the College Football Historical Association’s newsletter includes and article titled “Mystery Solved.” The author, Timothy Hudak, was researching the life of Hall of Fame coach Frank “Iron Major” Cavanaugh when he unexpectedly came across a reference to Cavanaugh coaching the University of Nebraska at Omaha football team in 1919. Knowing that the war hero was with Boston College at that time created a mystery to be solved. He wondered, “How could a man fresh from recovering from serious wounds suffered in the closing stages of the war, with a wife and six kids, coach at two schools at the same time located in opposite parts of the country?”

Hudak’s further investigation revealed that they were two different men. The Omaha coach was Frank P. Cavanaugh; the Iron Major was Frank W. Cavanaugh. Case closed. However, a similar case but not involving war injuries and a wife and six kids actually happened decades earlier.

From 1895 through 1899, Glenn S. “Pop” Warner coached teams at two different teams quite distant from each other. He coached Iowa State all five years while leading Georgia (1895-6), Cornell (1897-8), and Carlisle Indian School (1899). The question is: How did he do it?

A year after graduating from Cornell with a law degree, Warner had passed the bar but hadn’t yet developed  a substantial practice. So, when the Iowa State graduate football manager offered him twenty-five dollars a week plus expenses to coach their team, he seriously considered the offer. Curious about other possibilities, he contacted some southern and western schools. The University of Georgia offered him thirty-five dollars a week plus expenses for the ten-week period starting September 15.

He then told Iowa State he was willing to coach their team for four weeks beginning in early August. Unable to find a better coach, they offered him one hundred fifty dollars plus expenses for thirty days. An alumni player would assist him while he was there and would take charge after he left.

Warner had no losing seasons with Iowa State, one losing (3-4-0) and one undefeated (4-0-0) season with Georgia, two winning seasons (5-3-1 and 10-2-0) with Cornell, and a strong season (9-2-0) with Carlisle. Warner’s promotion to athletic director at Carlisle in 1900 ended his double-coaching career.

Pop Warner with Jim Thorpe

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2 Responses to “A Coaching Mystery”

  1. packdynasty Says:

    Here is scan of Iowa State Football program 1896 when Pop was paid by them to Coach

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