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Pop Warner

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"Glenn Warner" redirects here. For the soccer coach at the Naval Academy, see Glenn Warner (soccer coach).
Not to be confused with the youth football league, Pop Warner Little Scholars.
For other uses, see Pop Warner (disambiguation).
Pop Warner
Glenn Scobey Warner in 1921.png
Warner in 1921
Sport(s) Football, baseball
Biographical details
Born (1871-04-05)April 5, 1871
Springville, New York
Died September 7, 1954(1954-09-07) (aged 83)
Palo Alto, California
Alma mater Cornell University
Playing career
1892–1894 Cornell
1902 Syracuse Athletic Club
Position(s) Guard
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1895–1896 Georgia
1895–1899 Iowa State
1897–1898 Cornell
1899–1903 Carlisle
1904–1906 Cornell
1907–1914 Carlisle
1915–1923 Pittsburgh
1924–1932 Stanford
1933–1938 Temple
1939 San Jose State (associate)
1905–1906 Cornell
Head coaching record
Overall 319–106–32 (football)[n 1]
36–15 (baseball)
Bowls 1–1–2
Accomplishments and honors
4 National (1915, 1916, 1918, 1926)
1 SIAA (1896)
3 PCC (1924, 1926, 1927)
Amos Alonzo Stagg Award (1948)
College Football Hall of Fame
Inducted in 1951 (profile)

Glenn Scobey Warner (April 5, 1871 – September 7, 1954), most commonly known as Pop Warner, was an American football player and coach. Warner coached four teams to national championships: in 1915, 1916, and 1918 with University of Pittsburgh and in 1926 with Stanford University.[1] He is known for his coaching of Carlisle Indian Industrial School, a federally funded off-reservation Indian boarding school, turning it into one of the premier football programs during the early 1900s.[2] He is considered to be one of the innovators in American football and was inducted as a coach into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1951.[3] He has also contributed to a junior football program that became known as Pop Warner Little Scholars, a popular youth American football organization.[4]

Warner served as the head coach at the University of Georgia (1895–1896), Iowa Agricultural College and Model Farm (1895–1899), Cornell University (1897–1898, 1904–1906), Carlisle (1899–1903, 1907–1914), Pittsburgh (1915–1923), Stanford (1924–1932), and Temple University (1933–1938), compiling a career college football record of 319–106–32.[n 1] Pre-dating Bear Bryant and Bobby Bowden, Warner had the most wins of any coach in major college football history.[5] Warner was the innovator behind the single-wing formation, a precursor to the modern spread and shotgun formations.[6] Amos Alonzo Stagg called Warner "one of the excellent creators".[7][8] According to Warner biographer Francis J. Powers, "In the late '20s and early ' was flooded with coaches who learned their football from either Pop or Knute Rockne".[9] According to Allison Danzig, "With the exception of Knute Rockne of Notre Dame, Pop Warner was the most publicized coach in football."[10]

Early years[edit]

Glenn Scobey Warner was born April 5, 1871, on a farm in Springville, New York. He was the son of William Warner, a cavalry officer during the American Civil War, and Adaline Scobey, a schoolteacher.[11][12] In 1878, the railroad arrived, and four years later the family moved to a house on East Main Street.[13]

Glenn Warner was a plump child sometimes known as "Butter".[13] He played baseball from an early age and was a skilled pitcher.[14] Warner's main street house drew several friends. Once a neighbor told his mother that all the boys playing would damage her lawn. "I'm raising boys, not grass," she responded.[14]


Large young man in a turtleneck and football pants, with hands on hips.
Warner in a Cornell uniform, c. 1894

Warner had no plans to enter college when he graduated from the local Griffith Institute in 1889, but decided to attend Cornell University's law school after losing money while gambling on horse races. "I dare not write to my father and tell him I was broke", Warner explained.[15] His father had always wanted him to be a lawyer, and the intention of entering law school prompted his father to send him $100.[15]

Warner was known as "Pop" because he was one of the oldest students at Cornell.[16] There he took part in track and field, boxing, and football. He was the school's heavyweight boxing champion for two years.[17] He played football during his last two years as a student,[18] with no previous training in the sport.[18][n 2] He was a guard and senior captain of the 1894 football team, which posted a 6–4–1 record.[19][n 3] After graduation Warner briefly worked as an attorney in Buffalo, New York.[21]

Coaching career[edit]


In 1895, Warner decided to quit his job as an attorney. He wrote to several universities and was eventually hired by the University of Georgia as its new head football coach at a salary of $34 per week.[22][n 4] Georgia joined the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association (SIAA), the first athletics conference in the South, as a charter member.[25]

Man in a coat and hat faces left
Warner on the Georgia sidelines.

Warner's first Georgia team had three wins against four losses, including one by an illegal forward pass.[n 5] He was rehired at a salary of $40 per week for ten weeks,[22] and the next season Georgia had one of the school's first great teams,[27][28] going undefeated and winning its first conference title.[29][30]

During those two years Warner played two games against another young, would-be coaching legend: John Heisman. Heisman was the head coach at Auburn University and the two faced each other in the 1895 and 1896 games of the "Deep South's Oldest Rivalry" a historic annual confrontation that is still being played today.[28] In 1895, the Auburn Tigers defeated the Bulldogs 12 to 6. The Auburn team was led by its quarterback Reynolds "Tick" Tichenor, known for his great punt returns.[31] Tichenor executed the first "hidden-ball trick" in Auburn's earlier game against Vanderbilt,[n 6] and ran it again against Georgia.[33] The next year Tichenor had to face Richard Von Albade Gammon, a star quarterback in his first year under Warner.[27] During the game both quarterbacks played well, and, unlike the previous year, it was Warner who emerged victorious 16 to 6.[31][n 7]


Due to his outstanding performance of 1896, Warner returned to his alma mater Cornell,[28] which paid him twice his salary at Georgia.[35] He retained his head-coaching position at Iowa State and coached Cornell for the next two years, gaining a record of 5–3–1 in 1897 and 10–2 in 1898.[36] In the latter season, Cornell outscored its opponents 296 to 29.[37] Despite its success in the 1898 season, there was tension within the team, whose assistant coach lobbied to replace Warner and was backed by a large section of the players. Acknowledging an issue with his leadership, Warner quit before any decision was made at the university.[37]

Iowa State[edit]

During his first year at Georgia, Warner was also offered a head coaching job at Iowa State University, whose season started in mid-August while Georgia's started a month later. He was offered $25 per week to go to Iowa during the interim and to provide weekly advice during the rest of the season.[38] Soon after Warner left for Georgia, Iowa State had its first game of the season. In Evanston just north of Chicago, the underdog Iowa State defeated Northwestern 36 to 0. A Chicago sportswriter called the team "cornfed giants from Iowa" while the Chicago Tribune's headline read, "Struck by a Cyclone". Since then, Iowa State teams have been known as the Cyclones.[39] Overall, the team had three wins and three losses and, like Georgia, Iowa State retained Warner for the next season. In 1896 the team had eight wins and two losses.[40] Despite leaving Cornell in 1898, Warner remained as the head coach of Iowa State for another year. During his last three years at Iowa State the team had a winning season but Warner was unable to match his 1896 triumph.[40]


In 1899, soon after leaving Cornell, Warner became the head coach of the football team at Carlisle Indian Industrial School, a flagship U.S. Native American boarding school founded to teach Native American children and young men skills to advance in American society. Its late 19th and early 20th century football teams are considered one of the nationally prominent teams of the period.[41] Warner was paid $1,200, an exceptionally high salary for the time.[42]

Warner played against Carlisle during his second year at Cornell, and was impressed by Carlisle's approach to the game. Since the players were outweighed by every other team in the nation, they relied upon speed and agility rather than size and physical force.[43] He recognized Carlisle as an instance of what he considered the game's future.[43] As the new coach, Warner had to interact with young players different than the white, east-coast students with whom he previously worked. At the beginning, his approach was similar to the then-usual coaching techniques that involved the use of rough language and cursing as part of a strict routine.[44] The Native American students were unused to this and several of the key players stopped attending practice sessions. Once he realized what happened, Warner adjusted his technique; he said he "found I could get better results. I don't think I ever swore at a player from that time. Maybe I did a little cussing, now and then, but never at players."[45]

Warner's coaching brought immediate improvement. In both 1897 and 1898 the Carlisle teams went 6–4. In 1899, his first year, Carlisle won nine matches and lost two; the losses were against the country's two best teams, Harvard and Princeton. That year also saw Carlisle's first major victory, beating one of the "Big Four" teams – Penn 16 to 5.[45] At the end of the season Carlisle met Columbia in New York City's Polo Grounds, one of the premier sports venues of the time.[n 8] The Columbia Lions were defeated 42 to 0; according to Sally Jenkins writing for

In the Columbia game, the Indians used the crouching start for the first time in football history ... Until that day the standard position for offensive backs, before the ball was snapped, was with feet well apart, body bent forward and hands on the knees. Warner figured that if sprinters could get a faster start with their hands on the ground, partially supporting their bodies, then the same method would increase speed in football. Warner had the Indians practice the crouching start for a long time in practice and then sprung the stance against Columbia. Soon all teams were using the crouch for both backs and linemen.[47]

At the end of the year Warner was also asked to take on the responsibilities of athletic director, to coach all sports in the department; his salary was more than doubled.[48] A track and field program was started the same year. Warner knew little of the sport; to prepare for his coaching he purchased all available text and consulted with Jack Moakley and Mike Murphy, two of the leading head coaches of that time.[49][50] The program became successful; as a sport, running was a part of Native American tradition and students from the southwest were known for their stamina in long distance events.[48][51]

A football team picture, men in sweaters
1903 Carlisle Indians; Warner at top right

Warner's next two years were not as fruitful. The 1900 football team went 6–4–1, losing three games to the Big Four. The 1901 season was a losing one; Carlisle went 5–7–1.[36] The following year the team re-emerged at 8–3.[52] "By 1902 Carlisle was more deceptive than ever. One piece of razzle-dazzle installed by Warner was the double pass: Quarterback Jimmie Johnson would toss the ball to a halfback sweeping laterally – who then tossed it back to him. Under the quick-footed Johnson, a future All-America, the shifting Carlisle lines looked like a deck of cards being shuffled."[42]

Also in 1902, Warner played one professional football game for Syracuse Athletic Club during the first World Series of Football, held at Madison Square Garden. In the first professional indoor football game the Syracuse squad upset the heavily favored New York team. During the series, Warner received a serious cut on the side of his head. While he laughed it off at the time, he was replaced with Blondy Wallace for the rest of the series.[53] For the entire tournament, Warner and the other team members earned only $23; the expected earning was $300 per player but the tournament was a financial failure.[54]

The 1903 season was a success; the team lost only two games.[36] The 12–11 loss to Harvard is known for the "hunch-back" or the "hidden-ball" play Warner learned from Heisman. Though in this case Warner had a tailor sew elastic bands into the waists of a few players' jerseys before the game, so the play could be reliably executed.[42] The play was tried during a Harvard kickoff; once the ball was caught, Carlisle formed a circle around the returner. With the aid of a specially altered jersey, the ball was placed up the back of the same player. Next, Carlisle broke the huddle and spread out in different directions. Each player except the returner, who had the ball hidden in the back of his jersey, feigned carrying the ball. The ruse confused the Harvard players, who scrambled to find the ball carrier. The returner, with both of his hands free, was ignored and he ran untouched into the end zone.[55][56]

Brief return to Cornell[edit]

In 1904, after five years at Carlisle, Warner returned to Cornell. Warner's 1904 team showed little improvement over a poor season the previous year. The following two years saw significant improvement; the 1905 team lost to Penn, the undefeated champions, by one point.[36] Their game next year was a 0–0 tie, with Cornell losing only one game – to Princeton.[57]

Return to Carlisle[edit]

After three years at Cornell, Warner returned to Carlisle. Warner's second period at Carlisle is considered to be his greatest.[n 9] Between 1907 and 1914, there were five seasons in which the team won ten or more games.[36]

Blue and yellow figures drawn in formation
A single-wing punt formation illustrated.

During this time at Carlisle, Warner made several significant contributions to the offense of the game: the crouching start or charge, the current body block technique, the spiral forward pass, and the single and double wingback formations.[59] Under Warner, Carlisle quarterback Frank Mount Pleasant and fullback Pete Hauser became two of the first regular spiral passers in football (the forward pass was legalized in 1906).[60][61] Warner credited Hauser with tossing the first one.[62] In 1908, Warner introduced the technique of body blocking, in contrast to blocking with the shoulders.[63]

Of his entire time at Carlisle, Warner considered the 1907 team to be "about as perfect a football machine as I ever sent on the field".[42] The team posted a 10–1 record, outscored opponents 267 to 62, and pioneered an elegant, high-speed passing game; one of the first teams to throw the ball regularly and deeply downfield.[42] For the first time in 11 years, Carlisle defeated Harvard on the road 23 to 15.[59] Carlisle also won 26 to 6 over Penn.[64] On the second play of the Penn contest, Pete Hauser threw a 40-yard spiral pass, hitting his receiver in stride.[65] At the time such a pass was stunning and unexpected; it is considered by one writer today an evolutionary step in the game.[42] The team also included a young Jim Thorpe, considered one of the greatest athletes who ever lived,[66] and All-American end Albert Exendine.[67]

A team picture, men in sweaters
The 1911 Carlisle Indians pose with a game ball from the upset over Harvard.

According to Jenkins:

To take advantage of the Indians' versatility Warner drew up a new offense ... "the Carlisle formation," but later it would be known as the single wing. It was predicated on one small move: Warner shifted a halfback out wide, to outflank the opposing tackle, forming something that looked like a wing. It opened up a world of possibilities. The Indians could line up as if to punt – and then throw. No one would know whether they were going to run, pass or kick. For added measure Warner taught his quarterbacks to sprint out a few yards to their left or their right, buying more time to throw. The rest of the players flooded downfield and knocked down any opponent who might be able to intercept or bat away the pass.[42]

In 1907 Thorpe weighed 155 lb (70 kg) – light for a football player. Warner played him as a substitute, encouraging him to put his time into track and field.[42][59] By 1909 Warner had Thorpe competing and winning in 14 track and field events. In 1911 Thorpe began training for the upcoming Olympics, and in 1912 he won gold medals in the pentathlon and decathlon at the 1912 Olympic Games in Stockholm.[n 10]

1911 was another stand-out year for Carlisle football, posting a 11–1 record.[36] Thorpe had grown to 180 lb (82 kg) – big enough to be a starter. The team defeated Harvard 18 to 15, with Thorpe scoring all of Carlisle's field goals.[69] Walter Camp selected Thorpe first-team All-American. One source claims Thorpe was "recognized as the greatest player of the year and a man whose kicking is likely to revolutionize the game."[70]

A man pulling a wire above his head, and another smaller man crashing into what hangs from the wire
Jim Thorpe tackling a dummy made of weights and pulley on wire, with Coach Warner. 1912.

Warner considered the 1912 team to be brilliant and adaptive; he constantly experimented with new plays and formations. According to Powers:

In 1912, against Army, the Indians showed an extension of the wing-back system. In that game, Warner had both halfbacks close to the line and flanking the defensive tackles. That was the start of the double wingback offense, which enjoyed tremendous popularity until the T formation was modernized with the man in motion. The double wing became the most effective of all systems for effective forward passing since it permitted the quick release of four receivers down the field.[59]

Carlisle dominated the next two years—both the 1912 and 1913 teams had only one loss.[36] His salary increased to a sum of $4,500 per season.[71] In 1914, however, there was a major change in administration in Washington; federal money was considered to be better spent in the midwest rather than schools like Carlisle.[59] Many students left, and this affected the team, which went 5–10–1. After that season Warner left Carlisle to become the new head coach at Pitt.[59]


When Warner arrived at the University of Pittsburgh in 1915, it was 128 years old but was now located on a new campus with 3,900 students.[71] Warner inherited a team in good shape, full of future All-Americans,[71] and coached the Pittsburgh Panthers football team to its first undefeated season. Six of eight games, all of which were shutouts, were played at home on Forbes Field, including a 45 to 0 win over Carlisle.[36] At Pitt, Warner coached his teams to 29 (33 if the Naval Reserves loss is not counted) straight victories and has been credited with winning three national championships (1915, 1916 and 1918).[72] Coaching Pittsburgh from 1915 to 1923, he compiled a record of 60–12–4.[73]

A coach conversing with a football player
Warner (right) and Pitt captain Bob Peck during the 1916 season.

While the 1915 season was a success, the next year's team is known as one of the greatest of Warner's career.[74] The Panthers again went undefeated, and like the previous year, six of the eight games where shutouts. 32 out of the 35 players were from the western part of Pennsylvania, near Pittsburgh.[75] Overall the team scored 255 points and conceded 25. Warner considered this team to be an improvement because its defense was even more dominant than that of the previous year.[75] The Panthers were considered to be the consensus national champions and Warner gained the status as one of the greatest coaches in football.[76]

A smiling old man in glasses and overalls, hands on hips.
Warner during the 1917 season at Pittsburgh.

In 1917, the United States entered World War I, and some players including Andy Hastings and Jimmy Dehart went into service.[76] Despite the war, Pittsburgh still played a full season and was again undefeated, though it was not awarded the national championship.[n 11] The team lacked the punch of the previous year but still dominated its opposition. One of the key aspects of its success was the opposing coaches' inability to address Warner's evolving strategies; according to Powers, "His reverse plays were a mystery, although Pop always was willing to explain them in detail to any other coach".[76]

John Heisman, now the head coach of Georgia Tech, which also went undefeated, challenged Warner to a post-season game. Warner declined and the game was moved to the next season, giving Tech the claim to the 1917 national championship, the first for any Southern school.[78] On November 23, 1918, in Pittsburgh, Georgia Tech was defeated 32 to 0.[79] Powers wrote:

At Forbes Field, the dressing rooms of the two teams were separated only by a thin wall. As the Panthers were sitting around, awaiting Warner's pre-game talk, Heisman began to orate in the adjoining room. In his charge to the Tech squad, Heisman became flowery and fiery. He brought the heroes of ancient Greece and the soldier dead in his armor among the ruins of Pompeii. It was terrific and the Panthers sat, spellbound. When Heisman had finished, Warner chortled and quietly said to his players: 'Okay, boys. There's the speech. Now go out and knock them off.'[79]

A player with a football runs past others.
Tom Davies runs against Georgia Tech, 1918.

The 1918 season was cut short at the end of November due to the continuing effects of World War I and the influenza pandemic.[80] Only five games were played; the season's final game was in Cleveland against the Naval Reserve. It resulted in Warner's first loss at Pitt and is one of the most controversial matches in Pitt's history.[81] Despite the loss, multiple selectors named the 4–1 Panthers of 1918 the national champion of that season.[82] The team was led by freshman running back Tom Davies, who averaged 150 yards per game over his four-year career.[83][84]

Warner, along with some reporters covering the game, said Pitt was robbed by the officials.[81] The referees said the official timekeeper's watch was broken, who arbitrarily ended the first half before Pitt was able to score, and then allowed the Reserves extra time in the fourth quarter to pull ahead 10–9.[85][86] Though he refused to acknowledge its legitimacy,[n 12] Warner's 29-game winning streak came to an end. Moon Ducote kicked the 41-yard, game-winning field goal for the Naval Reserve, prompting Warner to say he was "the greatest football player I ever saw".[87]

The 1919 season began with high expectations; World War I was over and several key players had returned from service.[88] However things did not go Warner's way; at the beginning of the season problems with the offensive line and on the flanks became apparent. The first defeat was away at Syracuse, where the Orangemen won 20 to 3. Overall the 1919 Panthers posted six wins two losses, and one tie.[89]

The Panthers returned to undefeated status during 1920, albeit with ties against Syracuse and undefeated Penn State. For the 1921 season, the team's record dipped to 5–3–1,[36] but Pitt made college football history on October 8, 1921. Harold W. Arlin announced the first live radio broadcast of a college football game in the United States from Forbes Field on KDKA radio as the Pitt Panthers defeated West Virginia 21 to 13 in the annual Backyard Brawl.[90]

Prior to the 1922 season, Warner announced he was leaving to take the head coaching position at Stanford, but he honored his contract and remained at Pitt through 1923. 1922 resulted in an 8–2 record,[36] and the season ended with the Panthers taking their first cross-country trip, by train, to defeat Stanford, coached by two Pitt assistants sent ahead by Warner, 16 to 7 in Palo Alto.[91] Andrew Kerr became the head coach at Stanford during Warner's last two years at Pitt.[91] Warner's final season was his worst at Pitt as the Panthers stumbled to a 5–4 record in 1923.[36] However, the Warner era at Pitt closed on a high note with a 20 to 3 victory over Penn State on November 29.[92]


Football on the Pacific Coast had been on the rise since the late 1910s.[n 13] Early in 1922, Warner signed a contract with Stanford University, under which he would start coaching in 1924 after his contract with Pitt ended.[94] Health concerns, the significant raise in Warner's pay, and the rising status of Pacific Coast football made Warner make the big change. Years later he wrote:

I felt my health would be better on the Pacific coast. Weather conditions at Pittsburgh during the football season are rather disagreeable, and much of the late season work had to be done upon a field which was ankle deep in mud. At the close of every season I would be in poor physical condition, twice being rendered incapable of coaching while I recuperated in a hospital. Doctors advised me that the climate of the Pacific coast would be much better for a man of my age and in the work in which I was engaged.[95]

One man stands next to another, with his hand upon his shoulder
Warner (right) and Ernie Nevers at Stanford.

In 1924 Warner began his nine-year career at Stanford University.[n 14] When Warner started coaching Stanford was one of nine teams in the Pacific Coast Conference (PCC). He inherited a notable squad from the previous year, which included Ernie Nevers – whom Warner considered his greatest player,[91] – and two All-American ends Ted Shipkey and Jim Lawson.[96]

One of that season's highlights was the final game against Stanford's arch-rival California at California Memorial Stadium, the last game of the regular season. Before the game both teams were undefeated. Stanford had not beaten California in football since 1905.[96] Towards the end of the game California was leading 20 to 3; California's coach Andy Smith was sure the game was over and began taking out regular players.[81] Warner seized the opportunity to combine passing with the trick plays he was known for – a fake reverse and a full spinner – and Stanford was able to stage a comeback.[n 15] The game ended as a 20-to-20 tie.[81]

Because the result was California's second tie, Stanford was chosen to play in the Rose Bowl on New Year's Day against the University of Notre Dame's Fighting Irish, coached by Knute Rockne, who like Warner is still considered to be one of the greatest coaches in football history. The game was a test between two different and significantly influential systems in football;[11] Powers said, "The Warner system with the wing backs, unbalanced line and gigantic power [and the] Knute Rockne system with its rhythmic, dancing shift, lightning speed, balanced line and finely timed blocking".[98] Notre Dame's backfield was composed of the legendary Four Horsemen. Nevers played all 60 minutes of the game and rushed for 114 yd (104 m) — more yardage than all of the Four Horsemen combined.[99] While Warner's offense moved the ball, it was repeatedly unable to score and Notre Dame won the game 27 to 10.[100]

During the 1925 season, Stanford lost just one PCC game to Washington.[101] California was finally beaten 27 to 7. It was also the first year of a new rivalry: against coach Howard Jones and the University of Southern California (USC) team.[n 16] In their first meeting, at the Los Angeles Memorial Colosseum, Stanford scored twice in the first half but had to dig in and hold off the Trojans from a comeback to win 13 to 9. Because of the loss to Washington, Warner's team was not invited to the Rose Bowl.[101]

Stanford won all of its 1926 season games, crushing California 41 to 7 and narrowly beating USC 13 to 12.[104] Warner's team was invited to the Rose Bowl to play against Alabama. As in the game against the Fighting Irish, Stanford dominated the game but was unable to win, and the game ended a 7-to-7 tie.[104] Following this game, both teams were recognized as national champions by various publications.[n 17]

The 1927 season was a period of underachievement and ultimate success. Stanford lost its third game 16 to 0 against non-conference St. Mary's College. Stanford had dominated offensively but St. Mary's blocked kicks and scored from Stanford's fumbles. Warner attributed the team's problems to its players' feelings of superiority and underestimating its opponents.[106] Stanford's next loss was against Santa Clara, also a non-conference team. Warner was out recruiting and was not present at the penultimate game of the season, which Stanford lost 6 to 13.[106] The new rivalry game against USC also resulted in a 13-to-13 tie.[106]

The same year Stanford beat California 13 to 6. That game saw an instance of the bootleg, the invention of which some credit to Warner. According to Powers:

Stanford put the game on ice in the fourth period when Pop introduced the bootlegger play, which was to be widely copied and still is in use. On the original bootlegger, Warner made use of Biff Hoffman's tremendous hands. Hoffman would take the pass from center and then fake to another back. Keeping the ball, he would hide it behind him and run as though he had given it to a teammate. Sometimes defensive players would step out of Hoffman's path, thinking he was going to block. Hoffman "bootlegged" for the touchdown against California ...[107]

Despite the two losses, the team finished the season as a co-champion of the PCC. It was invited to the 1928 Rose Bowl to play against Pitt, Warner's former team that was now coached by his protégé Jock Sutherland. Warner broke his losing Rose Bowl streak, beating Sutherland 7 to 6.[108] The win was Warner's last appearance at the Rose Bowl; the 1928 team was not invited because it again lost two games to non-conference opponents and also lost to USC, that year's conference champions. The 0-to-10 defeat was Warner's first loss to USC's coach Howard Jones. A positive highlight of the year was the last game against Army at Yankee Stadium, which Stanford won 26 to 0.[109]

The 1929 season is known for Warner's regular use of the hook and lateral, a play that involves a receiver who runs a curl pattern, catches a short pass, then immediately laterals the ball to another receiver running a crossing route.[110] The Stanford Daily said on October 25, 1929: "The trickiness that Pop Warner made famous in his spin plays and passing is very evident ... The frosh have been drilling all week on fast, deceptive forward and lateral pass plays, and together with the reverses will have a widely varied attack".[111] That season also brought Warner his second straight loss to Jones; Stanford was beaten by the Trojans 7 to 0. Now USC rather than Stanford won the conference and headed to the Rose Bowl.[110] Jones continued to beat Warner each year until 1932, Warner's last season at Stanford. Because of the five defeats in a row, Warner received severe criticism from Stanford alumni.[n 18] Warner and Jones played eight games; Jones won five, Warner won two, and one game was a tie.[113] However, against Stanford's main rival California, Warner won five games, tied three, and lost one.[112]


Warner left Stanford for Temple University in Philadelphia after the 1932 season, his final head coaching job.[n 19] He was paid $75,000 for five years, which was one of the largest salaries ever offered to a coach.[115] The 1934 team went undefeated in the regular season, losing to Tulane in the first Sugar Bowl. One of the stars of the game was Dave Smukler, whom Warner considered one of his great fullbacks.[115]

In later years Warner said he regretted his decision to leave Stanford for Temple.[112] He said he left because he became concerned about the changing funding priorities of Stanford. The university's leadership was planning to make the university primarily a graduate school; because of an increase in junior colleges forming in California, the administration saw less need for undergraduate instruction at Stanford.[112] Because fewer students were admitted, higher grade requirements for incoming students made enrolling more difficult, and student athletes began enrolling at USC and California rather than at Stanford. Warner soon realized he had made the wrong decision; due to the economic effects of the ongoing Great Depression, the number of applicants to Stanford decreased significantly and admitting athletes again became easier.[112]

In Warner's last game, Temple upset the Florida Gators 20–12, who were coached by future Temple coach Josh Cody.[116]

San Jose State[edit]

While coaching at Temple, Warner's permanent home remained in Palo Alto, the location of Stanford University. Following his retirement in 1938, he was immediately recruited as an advisor to Dudley DeGroot, a center at Stanford and the head coach at San Jose State University, which was very close to Palo Alto.[115] While officially an advisor, Warner was immediately put in charge of the offense. According to Powers, "DeGroot had been using a single back offense but Pop immediately changed to the double wing, much to the doubts of San Jose players. However, the formation began to click and San Jose not only enjoyed an undefeated season but was the highest scoring team in the nation."[117] The same year the San Jose State Spartans played against College of the Pacific, coached by Amos Alonzo Stagg. It was the first time the two legendary coaches had met since 1907, when Warner was coaching Carlisle and beat Stagg's University of Chicago 18 to 4.[117] Warner's and DeGroot's San Jose State defeated Stagg's Pacific Tigers 39 to 0.[117]


Warner married the former Tibb Lorraine Smith in Springville on June 1, 1899.[118]

Warner often smoked Turkish Trophy cigarettes.[7] He was also known to drink — his trainers were instructed to supply him with "cough medicine".[7] Warner developed a penchant for painting with watercolors;[14][119] and he also had a woodworking shop in his garage.[7]

Retirement and death[edit]

Warner retired from San Jose State and coaching in 1940. He died on September 7, 1954, at the age of 83, in Palo Alto, California, after suffering from throat cancer. His widow died in 1961.[120]

Coaching legacy[edit]

3 men crouched, one standing
1924 Stanford team: line coach Claude E. Thornhill, Warner, assistant Andrew Kerr, and team captain Jim Lawson

For his contributions to football, the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) awarded Warner the Amos Alonzo Stagg Award in 1948.[121] Warner's name is widely known for the Pop Warner Little Scholars program, which began in 1929 as the Junior Football Conference in Philadelphia. It was intended as a program to keep children busy and out of trouble. In 1934, soon after Warner joined Temple, he was asked if the program could be renamed as the Pop Warner Conference, and he agreed.[122] Today, approximately 325,000 children between the ages of 5 and 16 are mentored through the program.[123]


Warner brought many innovative playing mechanics to college football, including:

Coaching tree[edit]

Warner's disciples include:

  1. Charley Bowser, a Pitt end who coached at his alma mater.[135]
  2. Doc Carlson, who was also a star in basketball. He later became Pitt's basketball coach and led the team to the national championship.[136]
  3. Tom Davies, back at Pitt, coached at Geneva and Allegheny.[83][84]
  4. James DeHart, a Pitt quarterback who went on to become the head coach at Washington and Lee and Duke universities.[137]
  5. Dudley DeGroot, a center at Stanford who was the coach at San Jose State when Warner became the advisory coach. Later in his career DeGroot became the head coach of the NFL's Washington Redskins.[138]
  6. William Henry Dietz, Carlisle tackle who was coach at Washington State, Haskell, and was the first coach of the Redskins.[139]
  7. Katy Easterday, Pitt back coached at Waynesburg.[140]
  8. Albert Exendine, Carlisle end who coached at several universities, most notably Georgetown.[67]
  9. Skip Gougler, Pitt back assisted at his alma mater.[141]
  10. Andy Gustafson, Pitt back coached at VPI.[142]
  11. Harvey Harman, Pitt tackle, coached at Penn and Rutgers.[143]
  12. Pat Herron, a Pitt end who went on to coach at Indiana and Duke universities.[144]
  13. Orville Hewitt, a Pitt fullback who was an assistant at Alabama.[145]
  14. Jimmy Johnson, Carlisle quarterback assisted at his alma mater.[146]
  15. Andy Kerr, assistant for Warner who went on to coach at Colgate.[147]
  16. Herb McCracken, Pitt back who coached at Allegheny and Lafayette.[148]
  17. George 'Tank' McLaren, a two-time All-American who was a football head coach for ten years after graduation.[149]
  18. Charley Moran, a Carlisle assistant who went on to coach at Texas A&M and Centre.[150]
  19. Frank Mount Pleasant, a Carlisle quarterback coached at West Virginia Wesleyan and Buffalo.[151]
  20. Rufus B. Nalley, a Georgia back who coached at the Georgia Institute of Technology.[152]
  21. Ernie Nevers, a Stanford back who coached the Duluth Eskimos and Chicago Cardinals.[153]
  22. Bob Peck, a Pitt center who was the athletic director at Culver Military Academy.[154]
  23. Bemus Pierce, Carlisle guard who coached at his alma mater and at Buffalo.[155]
  24. Don Robesky, Stanford guard, was a line coach at Bakersfield College.[156]
  25. Eddie Rogers, Carlisle end, coached at his alma mater.[157]
  26. Harry Shipkey, Stanford player, coached freshman football at his alma mater.[158]
  27. Ted Shipkey, Stanford end, coached for Arizona State and New Mexico.[159]
  28. Dale Sies, Pitt guard, coached the Rock Island Independents.[160]
  29. Chuck Smalling, Stanford fullback, assisted at Ole Miss.[161]
  30. Jake Stahl, Pitt guard, coached at Duquesne.[162]
  31. Jock Sutherland, a Pitt end who became a head coach and replaced Warner in 1924. He coached Pitt for the next 14 years and later became the head of Pittsburgh Steelers.[163]
  32. Fred H. Swan, Stanford guard, coached at Temple.[164]
  33. Edwin Sweetland, Cornell tackle who coached at several universities, including Kentucky and Syracuse.[165]
  34. Tiny Thornhill, a Pitt tackle who later became a coach at Stanford University.[147]
  35. Jim Thorpe, a Carlisle back who went on to coach the Canton Bulldogs and was the first president of the National Football League.[166]
  36. Ed Walker, end at Stanford, coached at Ole Miss.[167]
  37. Edgar Wingard, assisted Warner at Carlisle, coached at Maine.[168]
  38. Frank Wilton, Stanford back coached at Miami (OH).[169]

Head coaching record[edit]


Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs
Georgia Bulldogs (Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association) (1895–1896)
1895 Georgia 3–4 2–4 4th
1896 Georgia 4–0 3–0 T–1st
Georgia: 7–4 5–4
Cornell Big Red (Independent) (1897–1898)
1897 Cornell 5–3–1
1898 Cornell 10–2
Carlisle Indians (Independent) (1899–1903)
1899 Carlisle 9–2
1900 Carlisle 6–4–1
1901 Carlisle 5–7–1
1902 Carlisle 8–3
1903 Carlisle 11–2–1
Cornell Big Red (Independent) (1904–1906)
1904 Cornell 7–3
1905 Cornell 6–4
1906 Cornell 8–1–2
Cornell: 36–13–3
Carlisle Indians (Independent) (1907–1914)
1907 Carlisle 10–1
1908 Carlisle 11–2–1[n 1]
1909 Carlisle 8–3–1
1910 Carlisle 8–6
1911 Carlisle 11–1
1912 Carlisle 12–1–1
1913 Carlisle 10–1–1
1914 Carlisle 5–9–1
Carlisle: 114–42–8[n 1]
Pittsburgh Panthers (Independent) (1915–1923)
1915 Pittsburgh 8–0
1916 Pittsburgh 8–0
1917 Pittsburgh 10–0
1918 Pittsburgh 4–1
1919 Pittsburgh 6–2–1
1920 Pittsburgh 6–0–2
1921 Pittsburgh 5–3–1
1922 Pittsburgh 8–2
1923 Pittsburgh 5–4
Pittsburgh: 60–12–4
Stanford Indians (Pacific Coast Conference) (1924–1932)
1924 Stanford 7–1–1 3–0–1 1st L Rose
1925 Stanford 7–2 4–1 2nd
1926 Stanford 10–0–1 4–0 1st T Rose
1927 Stanford 8–2–1 4–0–1 T–1st W Rose
1928 Stanford 8–3–1 4–1–1 3rd
1929 Stanford 9–2 5–1 2nd
1930 Stanford 9–1–1 4–1 3rd
1931 Stanford 7–2–2 2–2–1 T–5th
1932 Stanford 6–4–1 1–3–1 7th
Stanford: 71–17–8
Temple Owls (Independent) (1933–1938)
1933 Temple 5–3
1934 Temple 7–1–2 L Sugar
1935 Temple 7–3
1936 Temple 6–3–2
1937 Temple 3–2–4
1938 Temple 3–6–1
Temple: 31–18–9
Total: 319–106–32[n 1]
      National championship         Conference title         Conference division title

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e The NCAA credits Warner with a career football coaching record of 319–106–32. The College Football Data Warehouse gives him one fewer win with the Carlisle Indians in 1908 for a career record of 318–106–32. Neither includes the five seasons at Iowa State (1895–1899) during which time Warner co-coached the Cyclones to a record of 18–8 while he simultaneously coached at three other schools.
  2. ^ Nobody in his hometown owned a football. His only exposure to the new sport at a young age was with an inflated cow's bladder, and, as few knew the rules, the game more resembled soccer.[14]
  3. ^ That year Cornell lost to Michigan, marking the first time Michigan was able to beat an Ivy League team.[20]
  4. ^ For a ten-week season ($340), approximately $10,000 in today's dollars.[23] For the 1895–96 academic year, Georgia's entire student body consisted of 126 students.[24]
  5. ^ North Carolina was "in a punting situation and a Georgia rush seemed destined to block the ball. The punter (Joel Whitaker, out of desperation[26]) with an impromptu dash to his right, tossed the ball and it was caught by George Stephens, who ran 70 yards for a touchdown."[26] Warner complained to the referee that the play was illegal. However, the referee let the play stand because he did not see the pass.[26] The teams played a second time and North Carolina won 10 to 6.
  6. ^ Auburn still lost to Vanderbilt 6 to 9, the first game in the south decided by a field goal.[32]
  7. ^ Richard Gammon died soon after the following season's game against the University of Virginia.[27] Tichenor and Gammon played together in 1897 as Tichenor transferred to Georgia, taking Gammon's place as the starting quarterback, who shifted to fullback.[28] In the game against Virginia, Gammon was playing defense and suffered a severe concussion after taking part in a tackle. With coaches' help Gammon was able to walk, but he lost his consciousness shortly after getting off the field. He remained unconscious and died early the next morning.[34]
  8. ^ Columbia had also previously upset one of the Big Four – having beaten Yale 5 to 0.[46]
  9. ^ Warner was once asked by a reporter from the Carlisle Herald to name an all-time Carlisle football team. It included in the line: Albert Exendine, Martin Wheelock, Bemus Pierce, William Garlowe, Charles Dillon, Emil Hauser, Edward Rogers; and in the backfield: Jimmy Johnson, Jim Thorpe, Joe Guyon, and Pete Hauser.[58]
  10. ^ Lewis Tewanima, another Carlisle track and field athlete who competed in Stockholm where he won the silver medal in the 10,000 meter run, was considered a ward of the state with Thorpe. Warner was delegated to accompany them to the Olympics.[59] Warner's 1907 quarterback Frank Mount Pleasant was also an Olympic athlete who competed in the 1908 Summer Olympics in London.[68]
  11. ^ The team was known as "The Fighting Dentists" because on occasion every position was filled by dental students.[77]
  12. ^ According to Warner's timekeeper, the fourth quarter ran for 49 minutes and according to official statistics, there were 52 plays in the first half and 52 plays in the fourth quarter.[81]
  13. ^ At the 1917 Rose Bowl, the University of Oregon defeated University of Pennsylvania 14 to 0. While at the 1920 Rose Bowl, Oregon lost to one of the recognized national champions, Harvard, by one point: 6 to 7. The next year, Andy Smith's University of California team beat an undefeated Ohio State 28 to 0, making California the widely agreed national champions of the 1920 season.[93]
  14. ^ Stanford was founded in 1887 and had fielded a football team every year since 1892, with the exception of 1906 to 1917, when football was dropped due concerns over the sport's increasing numbers of injuries and deaths. Along with other west coast schools the sport of rugby was played instead.[96]
  15. ^ Nevers did not play due to a broken ankle.[97]
  16. ^ Jones won 1921 and 1922 Big Ten conference titles while heading the University of Iowa.[102][103]
  17. ^ Parke H. Davis selected the Lafayette Leopards, coached by Herb McCracken, Warner's former player at Pittsburgh, as national champion.[105]
  18. ^ During Warner's latter years at Stanford, USC became the undisputed leader of the west, winning multiple national championships.[112]
  19. ^ For the 1933 Stanford season Warner was replaced by Claude "Tiny" Thornhill, his assistant coach and also one of his star players at Pittsburgh. That year Stanford beat USC 13 to 7 ending the Trojans' 23-game unbeaten streak. Stanford won the PCC and played in the Rose Bowl, where it lost to Columbia 0 to 7.[114]


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External links[edit]