Ray Morrison

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Ray Morrison
Ray Morrison.jpg
Sport(s) Football, basketball, baseball
Biographical details
Born (1885-02-28)February 28, 1885
Sugar Branch, Indiana
Died November 19, 1982(1982-11-19) (aged 97)
Miami Springs, Florida
Playing career
1908–1911 Vanderbilt
Position(s) Quarterback (football)
Catcher (baseball)
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1915–1916 SMU
1918 Vanderbilt
1921 SMU (assistant)
1922–1934 SMU
1935–1939 Vanderbilt
1940–1948 Temple
1949–1952 Austin
1918–1920 Vanderbilt
1919 Vanderbilt
Head coaching record
Overall Football: 155–130–34 (.539)
Basketball: 8–2 (.800)
Baseball: 3–3 (.500)
Bowls 0–1
Accomplishments and honors
2 SIAA (as player) (1910, 1911)
3 SWC (1923, 1926, 1931)
1 SIAA (1920)
2x All-Southern (1910, 1911)
Associated Press Southeast Area All-Time football team 1869-1919 era.
1934 All-time Vandy team
SEC Coach of the Year (1937)
College Football Hall of Fame
Inducted in 1954 (profile)

J. Ray Morrison (February 28, 1885 – November 19, 1982) was an American football and baseball player and a coach of football, basketball, and baseball. He served as the head football coach at Southern Methodist University (1915–1916, 1922–1934), Vanderbilt University (1918, 1935–1939), Temple University (1940–1948), and Austin College (1949–1952), compiling a career college football record of 155–130–34. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a coach in 1954.

Morrison was also the head basketball coach at Vanderbilt for one season in 1918–19, tallying a mark of 8–2, and the head baseball coach at the school in 1919, notching a record of 3–3.

Early years[edit]

Ray Morrison was born on February 28, 1885 in Sugar Branch, Indiana. Soon after the family moved to McKenzie, Tennessee, where Morrison attended school. He also spent a year at McTyiere School for Boys.

Vanderbilt University[edit]

To achieve funds for college, Morrison worked on a dredge boat on the Mississippi River for a year.[1]


He played football as a prominent halfback and quarterback for Dan McGugin's Vanderbilt football teams from 1908 to 1911.[2] He is considered one of the best quarterbacks in Vanderbilt's long history.[1] The team posted a 30–6–2 record during his four years.[3] Morrison was selected as the quarterback and kick returner for an Associated Press Southeast Area All-Time football team 1869-1919 era.[4] He weighed some 155 to 159 pounds.[1]


The 1908 squad was hampered by a wealth of sophomores, which McGugin with the help of halfback Morrison led to a 7–2–1 campaign,[5] derailed mostly by losses to Sewanee.

Morrison running against Michigan.


The 1910 team fought defending national champion Yale to a scoreless tie on Yale Field. Yale coach Ted Coy called Morrison "the greatest player I have seen in years."[1]


Edwin Pope's Football's Greatest Coaches on the 1911 team reads "A lightning-swift backfield of Lew Hardage, Wilson Collins, Ammie Sikes, and Ray Morrison pushed Vandy through 1911 with only a 9-8 loss to Michigan." The Atlanta Constitution voted it the best backfield in the South.[6] Ted Coy selected Morrison All-American.[7]

Morrison won Bachelor of Ugliness for the class of 1912.

Coaching years[edit]

Morrison first taught and was athletics director at Branham & Hughes Military Academy in Spring Hill.[3]


Ray Morrison was the first head coach in the history of SMU Mustangs football.[8] He won just two games in two years from 1915 to 1916.[3]

War football[edit]

Upon American entry into World War I, Morrison went to Fort Oglethorpe.

He coached Vanderbilt in 1918 when McGugin left for the military, and led the Vanderbilt team to a 4–2 record. In 1919, Morrison spent a year at Gulf Coast Military Academy as athletics director and teacher.[9]

Return to SMU[edit]

In 1920, Morrison returned to SMU. He notably brought the forward pass to the southwest during his time at SMU.[10] Morrison was one of the first to pass not just on first down, but on first and second down too.[9] Gerald Mann was one of his best passers. His teams earned the nickname the "Flying Circus".[11]


Upon the retirement of the legendary McGugin, Morrison was hand-picked as successor at his alma mater.[12] Morrison brought his own staff from SMU and neglected Josh Cody's coaching abilities.[13]

Morrison first team in his second stint finished second place in the Southeastern Conference (SEC), led by captain and SEC player of the year Willie Geny. The 1936 team was captained by Dick Plasman, the last NFL player to play without a helmet. The 1937 team upset LSU on a hidden ball trick, the school's first-ever victory over a ranked opponent.[14][15] The team's captain was SEC player of the year Carl Hinkle. Morrison was awarded SEC Coach of the Year in 1937.[16]

Fred Russell offered this description of Morrison upon his arrival as coach of Vanderbilt:[2]

A gentle, soft-spoken person who talks out of the side of his mouth with convincing firmness. Eyes with a permanent twinkle, tiny wrinkles about them when he smiles, but a set jaw that seems to enclose teeth constantly gritted tighter. A happy combination that blends austerity and affability into well-nigh perfect personality--that's the Ray Morrison of today who was known to Nashvillians twenty-five years ago as Vanderbilt's whirling quarterback.


After the 1939 season, Morrison resigned from his position at Vanderbilt to go to Temple,[17] and resigned from Temple in 1949.[18] Cody was his line coach.

Austin College[edit]

He finished his career at Austin College. He quit to take over "development and public relations" at SMU,[11] a post he held for eleven years.

Death and legacy[edit]

He died at the home of his son in Miami Springs, Florida at the age of 97.[8]

Coaching tree[edit]

His coaching tree includes:

  1. Josh Cody
  2. Henry Frnka

Head coaching record[edit]


Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs
SMU Mustangs (Texas Intercollegiate Athletic Association) (1915–1916)
1915 SMU 2–5
1916 SMU 0–8–3
Vanderbilt Commodores (Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association) (1918)
1918 Vanderbilt 4–2 3–0
SMU Mustangs (Southwest Conference) (1922–1934)
1922 SMU 6–3–1 2–2 T–3rd
1923 SMU 9–0 5–0 1st
1924 SMU 5–1–4 2–0–4 2nd L Dixie Classic
1925 SMU 5–2–2 1–1–2 4th
1926 SMU 8–0–1 5–0 1st
1927 SMU 7–2 4–1 2nd
1928 SMU 6–3–1 2–2–1 5th
1929 SMU 6–0–4 3–0–2 2nd
1930 SMU 6–3–1 2–2–1 T–4th
1931 SMU 9–1–1 5–0–1 1st
1932 SMU 3–7–2 1–4–1 T–5th
1933 SMU 4–7–1 2–4 6th
1934 SMU 8–2–2 3–2–1 3rd
SMU: 84–44–23
Vanderbilt Commodores (Southeastern Conference) (1935–1939)
1935 Vanderbilt 7–3 5–1 2nd
1936 Vanderbilt 3–5–1 1–3–1 9th
1937 Vanderbilt 7–2 4–2 4th
1938 Vanderbilt 6–3 4–3 6th
1939 Vanderbilt 2–7–1 1–6 11th
Vanderbilt: 29–22–2 17–15–1
Temple Owls (Independent) (1940–1948)
1940 Temple 4–4–1
1941 Temple 7–2
1942 Temple 2–5–3
1943 Temple 2–6
1944 Temple 2–4–2
1945 Temple 7–1
1946 Temple 2–4–2
1947 Temple 3–6
1948 Temple 2–6–1
Temple: 31–38–9
Austin Kangaroos () (1949–1952)
Austin: 11–26
Total: 155–130–34
      National championship         Conference title         Conference division title

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Traughber, pp. 46
  2. ^ a b "CHC: Ray Morrison - Vanderbilt Player and Coach". 
  3. ^ a b c Traughber 2011, p. 47
  4. ^ "All-Time Football Team Lists Greats Of Past, Present". Gadsden Times. July 27, 1969. 
  5. ^ Edwin Pope (1955). Football's Greatest Coaches. p. 341. Retrieved March 8, 2015 – via archive.org.  open access publication – free to read
  6. ^ Charles Weatherby. "Wilson Collins". The Miracle Braves of 1914: Boston's Original Worst-to-First World Series: 13. 
  7. ^ "Dopesters Pick American Teams: Ted Coy Makes Known His Choice of Team, But Camp Has Yet to Name One". The Syracuse Herald. December 4, 1911. p. 12. 
  8. ^ a b "Ray Morrison, Southern Methodist's first football coach, died the...". 
  9. ^ a b Traughber 2011, p. 48
  10. ^ "Shaping College Football". google.com. 
  11. ^ a b "Ray Morrison Quits Austin College To Take SMU Post". The Corpus Christi Caller-Times. December 10, 1952. p. 26. Retrieved February 12, 2017 – via Newspapers.com.  open access publication – free to read
  12. ^ Traughber 2011, p. 49
  13. ^ Traughber 2011, p. 72
  14. ^ "Flashback: Hidden-ball play beat LSU in 1937". 
  15. ^ "VANDERBILT USES TRICK TO END L. S. U. REIGN, 7-6 (October 24, 1937)". 
  16. ^ Traughber 2011, p. 50
  17. ^ "Ray Morrison Is Temple University Grid Coach". Lawrence Journal-World. March 4, 1940. 
  18. ^ "Ray Morrison Quits As Temple Football Coach". Chicago Daily Tribune. January 28, 1949. 


  • Traughber, Bill (2011). Vanderbilt Football: Tales of Commodore Gridiron History. The History Press. ISBN 978-1-60949-423-0. 

External links[edit]