BROWN BEATS STAGG’S RECORD
Watson Brown beat Amos Alonzo Stagg.
I’ll repeat. Strange as it seems, Watson Brown is now mentioned in same breath as Amos Alonzo Stagg, one of the coolest names in all of sports. Amos Alonzo Stagg! A A Stagg! The Stagg Bowl. Amos Alonzo - the Amos without the Andy, the guy who is in both the football and the basketball Hall-of-Fames. Stagg, the guy who invented the linebacker position, the lateral, the man in motion, the backfield shift, the Statue of Liberty play, the end-around, the quick kick, and brought us equipment like the hip pads and the tackling dummy, who before Stagg came around used to be a guy named Larry. The man is a football god, an icon… and Watson beat his record as the head coach with the most losses – 200. Before this weekend, Stagg’s record at 199 looked unbeatable.
Watson’s Tennessee Tech team lost to Northern Iowa 50-7. I like Watson Brown. I used to play racquetball with Watson Brown at the Oklahoma University Huston Huffman recreation center in 1993 when he was offensive coordinator for Gary Gibbs. We’d play on the challenge court once a week. He was a gentleman both on and off the court but I’m not sure he wants this record. On the other hand, if that is what it takes to be in the same conversation as the Staggster, he might take it.
Watson is Mack Brown’s older brother. Both were pleasant people and their players liked playing for them. Watson was a star quarterback at Vanderbilt, once upsetting Alabama, where he got the pleasure of seeing the underdog knock off the big guy. This penchant for underdogs stuck with Watson because he seemed to like coaching for the underdogs - teams like Austin Peay, Cincinnati, Rice, Vanderbilt, UAB, and Tennessee Tech where he accumulated a record of 128-200-1.
To top it off Watson raced to his 200 losses in 29 seasons plus five games. It took that slacker Amos Alonzo Stagg a full 56 years to lose his measly 199 games. And, just for kicks, Stagg tied 35 games and won 319. Slow loser, that Stagg, stopping off to win a couple of national championships at the University of Chicago.
You can say both these guys, Brown and Stagg, loved coaching. Brown is still at it at age 64 and they had to tell Stagg when he was at Chicago pushing 70 he was too old to walk the sidelines. They fired him. You know how the pressure of the job can get to you and you welcome the opportunity to leave the dreadful winters and move to the warm coast to retire? Amos Alonzo Stagg did just that. He retired from Chicago and moved to sunny California to coach at Pacific University for fourteen years. So you know how it is when you get to be 84 and they tell you might be too old to move your stroller down the sidelines so they fire you, again? Amos Alonzo Stagg does. They fired him, very gracefully, named everything around Stockton, California after him including the fifth tallest Sequoia Tree in the world. Stagg was a head coach for 56 years – 1890 to 1946 – and finally left the game he championed, pioneered and very much created. Except he didn’t. He went on to co-coach with the guy who had second coolest name in football – Amos Alonzo Stagg, Jr. – at the school with the coolest name, Susquehanna University, from 1947 to 1952. The Susquehanna records were not part of his official wins and losses.
Was coaching stressful? Could be. Stagg lived to be only 103 years when he passed. We don’t know how long Watson Brown will keep going. If he does, he’ll probably smash this loss record so badly no one will tie him to Stagg. Just like there is a Stagg Bowl, the Division III championship, there might be a Brown Bowl someday, or a Little Brown Jug or something to commemorate Watson. Maybe an Underdog Bowl or a bowl named after the best head of hair in college football. At age 64, Brown still has that.
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