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John Heisman Biography

Football Mad, Chronology, Growing Reputation: Auburn And Clemson, The Glory Years: Georgia TechSELECTED WRITINGS BY HEISMAN:


American college football coach

John William Heisman was immortalized in 1936, the year of his death, when the New York Downtown Athletic Club changed the name of its annual trophy awarded to the best college football player in the nation to the Heisman Memorial Award to honor the club's former director. Best known today for his name on that trophy, Heisman is also recognized for his innovative coaching during the developing years of American college football. Walking the sidelines for thirty-six years as the coach for eight different schools, Heisman was at the pinnacle of his career during his fifteen years at Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech). His often dictatorial style with his players and his habit of running up the score on his opponents sometimes hurt his popularity, but no one denied his ability to extend the game of collegiate football into new areas of strategy and style. One of the earliest and strongest supporters of legalizing the forward pass, he is credited with inventing or first implementing such modern-day offensive formations as the center snap on the signal of "hike" or "hep" from the quarterback, the double pass and fake pass, the later-outlawed hidden ball trick, and what became known as the Heisman shift.


The Principles of Football, Hill Street Press, 1922.

Sketch by Kari Bethel

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Famous Sports StarsFootball