Note: The following article appeared more than a half-century ago in 1952’s
Great Moments in Stanford
Sports. The mighty fine compilation of outstanding essays has been
out of print for more than 50 years, but The Bootleg feels compelled to call
attention to the innovative old ball-coach that helped put Stanford Football on
the map in the 1920s and 1930s. Before Pop arrived in 1924, Stanford had lost
the Big Game five consecutive years plus one unofficial game in 1918! The future
member of the College Football Hall of Fame immediately guided the team to a
famous 24-24 tie in 1924 and proceeded to go a sparkling 5-1-2 against
Stanford’s arch rival across the bay and make three Rose Bowl appearances in
nine seasons as head coach! His 10-0-1 team of 1926 is considered Stanford’s
only recognized national championship in football. The
1926 team was awarded the Rissman National Trophy and later declared national
champions through a combination of the Dickinson System, Helms Athletic
Foundation, National Championship Foundation and Sagarin
managed to obtain permission from the editor, our friend, the late Professor Peter Grothe [AB ’53, AM ‘54] to
reprint it here for our Bootleg readers’ enjoyment.
Stan ford '21, was editor of the Stanford Daily as an undergraduate. He
joined the San Francisco Examiner sports staff in 1925 and became sports editor
of the San Francisco Chronicle in 1934. He has initiated several
movements, such as making Edwin Atherton Commissioner of the Pacific Coast
Conference and starting "Living War Memorials," which developed a national
following. He has received numerous awards for sports stories and is
ex-president of the Football Writers' Association of America.
is Glenn Scobey "Pop" Warner "Coach of All the Years?"
else could be?
have no way of knowing what was in the mind of the Scripps-Howard editors but we
doubt if they sought a man to fit the title they invented. We suspect they said
among themselves, "Old 'Pop' Warner, out in Palo Alto, deserves recognition that
has never been accorded him. Let's make him 'Coach of All the Years.' "
did, and "Pop," who coached Stanford from 1924 through 1932, was honored along
with Charles A. Taylor of Stanford who was named as "Coach of the Year" for
Alonzo Stagg might have merited such an honor. Mr. Stagg did much with the
forward pass in the early days. He has contributed a great deal, but it is
difficult to say exactly what, in any material sense. Perhaps his greatest
contributions have bordered on the spiritual.
Shaughnessy? His one-year development of the T formation at Stanford in 1940
revolutionized the college game for the time. But his “system” was a clever
combination of others.
Rockne? If he had lived he might still lead the football world, but his life was
crushed out. His "Notre Dame shift" and box offense were abandoned, even at
“Pop” Warner can watch any football game presenting any two teams anywhere in
the land and see employed something he himself first invented.
the crouch start for backs. A man leaning slightly forward with one or two hands
on the turf can get away faster than a man from a stand-up start. Sure, "Pop"
items invented by "Pop" Warner have become integral parts of football, so much
so that nobody remembers that somebody had to invent them in the first place.
Like the wheel in machinery, maybe, or the white line down the
greatest contribution was the wing back-the back who takes an attacking position
to block a tackle in from the outside. There is no "system" that does not employ
the wing back one way or another. When "Pop" brought 'it out it was so different
that the late Walter Camp styled it the "Carlisle Formation" in honor of the
Indian school with which Mr. Warner first won great fame.
was a time when T formation "systems" threatened to diminish the importance of
wing backs. All through that time "Pop" Warner insisted, "Smart coaches will
bring back the emphasized wing-back attack, sooner or later."
lived to see his prediction fulfilled. The University of Michigan under Fritz
Crisler is credited with having developed the greatest attack in the last ten
years of college football. It was strictly wing-back business.
took his wing and made it a double wing. The fullback handled the ball from
center on every play. To get wide of end on something besides the double reverse
he installed a guard-out lateral. It was one of the most beautiful of all
gridiron attacks, back in I928. The so-called "buck-lateral" featured by many
Big Ten teams today is but slightly different in principle.
rules makers had trouble with "Pop" at times. Against Harvard in I903 he had
Jimmy Johnson stuff the football up the back of the jersey of a fellow Indian,
Charles Dillon, who romped unmolested to goal. That was Pop's idea of a good
joke on Harvard.
developed a screen pass against a charging line in his first years at Stanford.
If all members of the opposing line charged, as most did in those times, there
was no defense against it. That caused the restrictions on the screen which
"Pop" liked power, masked power. Concentrate more power at a given point than an
opponent could resist, but apply it before the opponent knew just where it would
Mr. Warner had his offense going right, he didn't care what his quarterback
called. He figured any play ought to work. Within reason, of course. If
opponents started concentrating defense at particular points, the quarterback
was supposed to find out and act accordingly. He had reverses, doubles, and
laterals with which to beat concentration.
sat on his own bench in Portland one afternoon and watched his own Stanford
team, striking for the goal, go through the reversing sequence from center to
full to halfback. The play appeared to jam.
heck," grunted "Pop," "what did they do, fumble?" At the moment quarterback Tex
Walker was crossing the end zone far in the left comer of the field. Yes, "Pop"
liked to fool people, and that day he was quite happy, even though he had fooled
himself along with everyone else.
has contributed much to football imagination, for the benefit of anyone able to
pick up where he left off. More, he has contributed to the basic structure of
the game. Many have offered fads, hunches, ideas good for the moment. Their
formations blossom and fade, but many of "Pop's" formations will be used
forever. His "wing back system" will never die. [Ed. Well, maybe "never" was a
bit of a stretch]
is why Glenn "Pop" Warner, 80 years old now, is properly designated "Coach of
All the Years."