|Sport(s)||Football, basketball, baseball, track|
|Born||June 12, 1887|
|Died||June 1, 1967
|Coaching career (HC unless noted)|
|Administrative career (AD unless noted)|
|Head coaching record|
College Football Data Warehouse
James Fred "Pop" McKale (June 12, 1887 – June 1, 1967) was an American football and baseball player, coach of football, basketball, baseball, and track, and college athletics administrator. He served as the head football coach at the University of Arizona from 1914 to 1930, compiling a record of 81–32–6. McKale was also the head basketball coach at Arizona from 1914 to 1921, tallying a mark of 49–12, and the head baseball coach at the school from 1915 to 1919 and again from 1922 to 1949, amassing a record of 304–118–7. In addition, he was the athletic director at Arizona from 1914 to 1957. McKale was inducted into the Arizona Sportsmen Hall of Fame in 1959 and was a charter member of the Arizona Sports Hall of Fame, inducted in 1976. The McKale Center, the University of Arizona's home basketball venue, was opened in 1973 and named in McKale's honor.
McKale was named a two-time All-State athlete in both football and baseball at Albion College. He helped the football team win an Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association championship in 1908 and served as the team's captain in 1908 and 1909. A four-year varsity letter winner in both baseball and football, McKale served as the student president of the MIAA in 1909–10.
McKale first moved to Tucson, Arizona in 1911 and served as a baseball coach for Tucson High School. At that time THS had no mascot, so Pop, being from Wisconsin said, "We'll be the Badgers!". And it was not a huge step to make the school's colors red and white. Based on his outstanding record, students from the University of Arizona petitioned university president, A. H. Wilde, to hire McKale as the coach for all athletic teams.
McKale was not only a coach, but also the founder of the Epsilon Alpha chapter of Sigma Nu social fraternity at Arizona. A Sigma Nu Chapter member was also McKale's star quarterback, John "Button" Salmon. In 1926, Salmon he was student body president, starting quarterback for the Wildcat football team, catcher for the Wildcat baseball team.
The day after the first game of the 1926 football season, Salmon and two others were involved in an automobile accident, in which their vehicle flipped over in a ravine. Although Salmon's friends were not injured, Salmon suffered a severe spinal cord injury. In the aftermath of the accident, football coach Pop McKale visited him in the hospital every day. During McKale's last visit, Salmon's last message to his teammates was, "Closer...come closer...Tell them… tell the team to bear down." John Salmon died on October 18, 1926. Following Salmon's funeral, McKale reportedly told the team what he had said in a Las Cruces, New Mexico locker room before a football game against the Aggies of New Mexico State, and UA won a hard-fought victory, 7–0.
The following year, the University of Arizona student body approved that "Bear Down" would be the new slogan for all Wildcat athletic teams. That year, Chain Gang, a junior honorary organization at the UA, held a dance in the newly constructed university gymnasium to raise funds to paint the slogan on the roof of the building. The words are still featured on the roof of the gymnasium, now known as Bear Down Gym. In 1939, the Arizona state legislature issued a decree that "Bear Down" would be the exclusive property of The University of Arizona.
McKale was head basketball coach of Arizona from 1914 to 1921, where he recorded a 49–12 record.
The McKale Center is an athletic arena located on the campus of the University of Arizona in Tucson, Arizona named in honor of McKale, athletic director and coach of all sports at the University of Arizona for a time, a figure at the university from 1914 to 1957. McKale is also credited with giving the university its nickname, the Wildcats. McKale coached the 1914 school football team that played a tough game against California champions Occidental College on Thanksgiving Day where the press deemed the Arizona team "Fought like Wildcats", McKale ensured that the nickname remained.
McKale Pool and McKale Drive
According to historian David Leighton, what is now known as Hillenbrand Aquatic Center, on the University of Arizona campus was originally known as McKale Pool but in 1989, local businessman William G. Hillenbrand contributed money to refurbish the pool and as a result it was renamed in the honor of him and his wife Dolores.
Around 1990, McKale Drive, a small street in between the basketball and baseball fields, was changed to Enke Drive in honor of long-time basketball coach Fred Enke.
Head coaching record
|Arizona Wildcats (Independent) (1914–1930)|
|1918||No team—World War I|
- Pop McKale at the College Football Data Warehouse
- Pop McKale at Find a Grave
- David Leighton, "Street Smarts: Before arena, road named for "Pop" McKale," Arizona Daily Star, June 6, 2014