Homer Hazel

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Homer Hazel
Homer Hazel.jpg
Sport(s) Football, basketball, baseball, track
Biographical details
Born (1895-06-02)June 2, 1895
Piffard, New York
Died February 3, 1968(1968-02-03) (aged 72)
Marshall, Michigan
Playing career
Football
1916 Rutgers
1923–1924 Rutgers
Position(s) End, fullback
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
Football
1925–1929 Ole Miss
Basketball
1925–1930 Ole Miss
Administrative career (AD unless noted)
1925–1930 Ole Miss
Head coaching record
Overall 21–22–3 (football)
54–32 (basketball)
Accomplishments and honors
Awards
All-American, 1923
All-American, 1924
College Football Hall of Fame
Inducted in 1951 (profile)

Homer H. "Pop" Hazel (June 2, 1895 – February 3, 1968) was an American football player and coach. He played college football at Rutgers University in 1916 and again from 1923 to 1924. Considered an outstanding punter, kicker, and passer, he was selected as a first-team All-American as an end in 1923 and as a fullback in 1924. He was the first player selected as an All-American at two different positions. He also lettered in baseball, basketball and track at Rutgers.

Hazel served as the head football and basketball coach and athletic director at the University of Mississippi from 1925 until his resignation in early 1931. After leaving his position at Mississippi, he was a professional golfer for four years. In 1951, Hazel became one of the inaugural inductees into the College Football Hall of Fame.

Early years[edit]

Hazel was born in 1895 at Piffard, New York. His father, John Hazel, was a New York native who worked as a farm laborer. His mother, Margaret Hazel, was an Irish immigrant.[1] In 1909, Hazel moved to Litchfield Township, Michigan,[2] where his father was a farmer and 15-year-old Homer worked as a farm laborer.[3] In 1912, he enrolled at Montclair Academy in New Jersey and became a football star there.[4][5] He also excelled in the broad jump and discus throw at Montclair.[6]

Rutgers[edit]

Hazel enrolled at Rutgers University where he played at the fullback position for the 1916 Rutgers Scarlet Knights football team.[7] He set a Rutgers record in 1916 by kicking five field goals. He was the only player in the country to kick multiple field goals in 1916.[8] After the 1916 season, Hazel left Rutgers due to a lack of funds,[9] and to marry and start a family.[10]

Hazel was married in March 1917 to Marguerite Lorenz. They had three children, and Hazel took jobs as a farm laborer and later as a worker in the mines of the Flint Foundry Company. By 1920, he had been promoted to a superintendent position at a salary of $5,000 a year.[11]

Hazel returned to Rutgers in 1922. He began competing in discus and shot put in the spring of 1922. Upon his return, Hazel was 26 years old, had a wife and children, and was referred to as a "veteran freshman".[12][13] Eligibility rules prevented him from playing on the Rutgers football team in 1922, so he instead worked as an assistant coach under George Sanford.[11]

In 1923, with his eligibility restored, Hazel, at age 28, starred for the Rutgers football team. He was credited with the longest pass in college football that year, a pass that covered 69 yards in the air.[14] He also scored a touchdown on his own kickoff on October 6, 1923, when an opposing player fumbled the ball behind the goal line, and Hazel fell on the loose ball for the touchdown.[15] At the end of the season, Hazel was selected by Walter Camp as a first-team end on the 1923 College Football All-America Team.[16]

In 1924, a 29-year-old Hazel became known as "one of the best passers and kickers in the country."[17] He was selected by Walter Camp, Football World magazine, and All-Sports Magazine as the first-team fullback on the 1924 College Football All-America Team.[18][19][20] He was the first player to receive All-America honors at two different positions.[11] Walter Camp reportedly said that Hazel could have been an All-American at any position.[11]

After the 1924 season, Cornell coach Gil Dobie published a column describing Hazel's unusual punting style:

"Hazel employs a style in punting that is unusual. After receiving the ball from center he takes a couple of steps almost directly to the right, so that when his foot hits the ball he is practically facing the sideline. . . . [N]ot only could he send the ball down the field high and far and straight as a dye, but he was uncanny in placing it."[21]

Hazel also won letters for Rutgers in baseball, basketball, and track.[22] He also competed for Rutgers in tennis and lacrosse.[11] He graduated from Rutgers in June 1925 and was regarded as "one of the greatest all-around athletes in Rutgers history."[22]

Coaching career[edit]

In February 1925, Hazel signed to become the head football coach at the University of Mississippi.[23] Homer coached the Ole Miss Rebels football team for five years, compiling records of 5–5 in 1925, 5–4 in 1926, 5–3–1 in 1927, 5–4 in 1928, and 1–6–2 in 1929.[24] His five-year record as head football coach was 21–22–3. After the poor showing in 1929, the Ole Miss student body and alumni were reportedly opposed to Hazel's tactics on the football field. Hazel resigned his post at Ole Miss in January 1930.[25] Thad Vann, who played for Hazel at Ole Miss from 1926 to 1929, later credited Hazel with "launching the University of Mississippi's rise as a national football power."[26]

Hazel was also the Ole Miss Rebels men's basketball for five years, compiling a 54–32 record.

Later years and family[edit]

Hazel was married to Marguerite Lorenz in 1917. After resigning from his position at Ole Miss, Hazel moved to Marshall, Michigan, where he lived for the following 38 years.[2][11] He became a professional golfer for four years.[9] Hazel and his wife had three children, including sons Homer and Bill who played college football for Ole Miss.[5][11] Son Homer was captain of the 1941 Ole Miss football team and died in a plane crash in 1942.[11]

Hazel worked for 20 years as a personnel director, including stints at Eaton Manufacturing Company and Wilcox-Rich Corporation.[5][11] In 1951, he was elected by the country's sports writers and broadcasters as part of the inaugural class (32 players, 21 coaches) to be inducted into the newly organized Football Hall of Fame (later renamed the College Football Hall of Fame) located on the Rutgers campus near the site of the first college football game.[27]

Hazel retired in 1960, and his wife died in 1962.[2] Hazel died at Community Hospital in Battle Creek, Michigan, in February 1968.[2] He was 72 years old at the time of his death and had undergone abdomenal surgery twice in the days before his death.[10]

Head coaching record[edit]

Football[edit]

Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs
Ole Miss Rebels (Southern Conference) (1925–1929)
1925 Ole Miss 5–5 0–4 T–20th
1926 Ole Miss 5–4 2–2 T–10th
1927 Ole Miss 5–3–1 3–2 7th
1928 Ole Miss 5–4 3–3 T–9th
1929 Ole Miss 1–6–2 0–4–2 19th
Ole Miss: 21–22–3 8–15–2
Total: 21–22–3

References[edit]

  1. ^ Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Census Place: York, Livingston, New York; Roll: 1071; Page: 4B; Enumeration District: 0044; FHL microfilm: 1241071.
  2. ^ a b c d "Homer H. Hazel, Charter Member Of Football Hall Of Fame, Dies". Marshall Evening Chronicle. February 5, 1968. 
  3. ^ Ancestry.com. 1910 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Census Place: Litchfield, Hillsdale, Michigan; Roll: T624_649; Page: 10A; Enumeration District: 0111; FHL microfilm: 1374662.
  4. ^ "Forty Candidates Out for Rutgers Practice". The Washington Times. September 7, 1916. p. 11. 
  5. ^ a b c "Hazel, All-America At Fullback and End, Has Two Sons on Mississippi Grid Squad". Corsican Daily Sun. 13 February 1939. 
  6. ^ "Homer Hazel Is A Star In School Games". New Brunswick Daily Times. May 27, 1916. 
  7. ^ "Rutgers In Brown's Lair: Scarlet Team May Be Minus Services of Homer Hazel". The New York Times. October 28, 1916. 
  8. ^ Parke H. Davis (December 17, 1916). "Novel Football Marks Produced by 1916". Galveston Daily News. 
  9. ^ a b "Homer "Pop" Hazel, Member Biography". National Football Foundation. Retrieved November 12, 2015. 
  10. ^ a b "All-American Hazel Dies". The Pantagraph. February 5, 1968. p. 11. 
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h i Harry Grayson (December 4, 1942). "Pop Hazel Did More Than Die for Dear Old Rutgers, First All-American at Two Positions". The News-Herald (Franklin, Pennsylvania). p. 7. 
  12. ^ "Tosses Shot Like Orange: "Veteran Freshman" at Rutgers Surprises Coach". The New York Times. April 2, 1922. p. 28. 
  13. ^ "Rutgers Star Wed Eight Years, Father of Three Children". Olean Evening Herald. November 3, 1924. p. 1. 
  14. ^ "The Longest Pass". Ironwood Daily Globe. December 24, 1923. 
  15. ^ John H. Wallace (October 1, 1925). "Hazel's Record Touchdown". Berkeley Daily Gazette. 
  16. ^ "Walter Camp's All-American Team". Alton Evening Telegraph. 1923-12-19. 
  17. ^ Grantland Rice (November 4, 1924). "The Sport-Light". The Ogden Standard-Examiner. p. 7. 
  18. ^ "Walter Camp Slights Big Three In Naming All-America Eleven: Football Expert Neglects To Name Princeton, Harvard or Yale Man on His First Team". Appleton Post-Crescent. 1924-12-30. 
  19. ^ "Handcock Honored on All-American By 'All-Sports'". Iowa City Press-Citizen. 1924-12-05. 
  20. ^ ESPN College Football Encyclopedia, p. 1156
  21. ^ Gil Dobie (January 8, 1926). "Homer Hazel's Great Punting for Rutgers Against Cornell". The Brooklyn Daily Eagle. p. 22. 
  22. ^ a b "Homer Hazel, Great Rutgers Athlete, Gets Diploma". The Ogden Standard-Examiner. July 5, 1925. p. 10. 
  23. ^ "Hazel Signs as Coach". Altoona Tribune. February 7, 1925. p. 8. 
  24. ^ "Mississippi Yearly Results (1925-1929)". College Football Data Warehouse. David DeLassus. Retrieved November 12, 2015. 
  25. ^ "Homer Hazel Gives Up Ole Miss Post". The Anniston Star. January 17, 1930. p. 14. 
  26. ^ "Vann expresses sorrow: Former Ole Miss coach, Homer Hazel, dead at 72". Hattiesburg American. February 5, 1968. 
  27. ^ Ted Smits (November 4, 1951). "32 Players, 21 Coaches Elected To First Football Hall of Fame". The LaCrosse Tribune. p. 15. 

External links[edit]