New-York Historical Society's Bill Shannon Dictionary of New York Sports

Category Archives: College football

Ray Barbuti


(Track and field and college football. Born, Brooklyn, NY, June 12, 1905; died, Pittsfield, MA, July 8, 1988.)  A football star, Olympian, armed services veteran, and long-time college football referee, Raymond James Barbuti first gained attention playing fullback at Lawrence High School on Long Island. He scored eight touchdowns in a game to set New York State high school record that stood for the rest of his life.  At Syracuse, Barbuti was captain of both the football and track and field teams.  In 1928, he won the AAU title in the 400-meter dash, with a time of 51.8 seconds.  The same year, at the Amsterdam Olympic Games, he won two gold medals:  in the 400-meter dash and the 4×400-meter relay.  He covered the 400 in 47.8 seconds, and the relay team finished in a world-record 3:14.2. Barbuti was also a member of the 4×400 team that set another world record (3:13.4) in London a week after the Olympics.  Barbuti served in United States Army Air Forces during World War II and was awarded an Air Medal and a Bronze Star before retiring from the Army with the rank of major.  He later became the director of the Civil Defense Commission for New York State and director of the New York State Office of Disaster Preparedness.  Barbuti worked as a referee at more than 500 college football games. He was inducted into the National Track and Field Hall of Fame in 1967.  – By Qian Wang

Fritz Crisler


Fritz Crisler (College football.  Born, Earlville, IL, Jan.12, 1899; died, Ann Arbor, MI, Aug. 19, 1982.)  Considered the father of two-platoon football, Herbert Orin Crisler was also the most successful Princeton coach ever.  Crisler coached the Tigers for six seasons (1932-37), posting a record of 35-9-5 for a .765 winning percentage, the best ever for a Tigers coach.  He played for (1919-21) and was an assistant coach (1922-29) under Amos Alonzo Stagg at Chicago.  He then became head coach at Minnesota.  Crisler left Princeton to coach Michigan (1938-47), where he perfected his two-platoon system.

Jim Crowley


Jim Crowley (College football.  Born, Chicago, IL, Sept. 10, 1902; died, Scranton, PA, Jan. 15, 1986.)  One of the legendary “Four Horsemen” of Notre Dame, James Harold Crowley was head football coach at Fordham for nine seasons (1933-41).  “Sleepy Jim” coached the second “Seven Blocks of Granite” team (1936-37) and took the Rams to two bowl games.  His 1940 club lost the Cotton Bowl to Texas A&M, 13-12, but his 1941 team (8-1-0) won the Sugar Bowl, edging Missouri, 2-0.  Of Crowley’s nine teams, only one lost more than two games (1934, 5-3-0), and he had a 56-13-7 record, the most wins for any Fordham coach.  In addition to playing at Notre Dame (1922-24), he was head coach at Michigan State (1929-31).

Gar Davidson


Gar Davidson (College football.  Born, The Bronx, NY, Apr. 24, 1904; died, Oakland, CA, Dec. 25, 1992.)  A football star at Stuyvesant H.S., Garrison Holt Davidson had a long and distinguished military career that saw him rise to the rank of Lieutenant General in the Army.  Along the way, Davidson played varsity football at West Point (1924-26) and later was a successful head coach there.  His first team was 9-1 and his five-year coaching record (1933-37) was 35-11-1.

Glenn Davis


Glenn Davis (College football.  Born, Claremont, CA, Dec. 26, 1924; died, La Quinta, CA, Mar. 9, 2005.)  “Mr. Outside” Glenn W. Davis was the speedy half of the deadly Blanchard-Davis backfield that made Army the powerhouse of the nation in college football from 1944 through 1946.  During that span, Davis scored 59 touchdowns (43 by rushing, 14 by receiving and two on punt returns).  He had a 230-yard rushing game in 1945, 191-yarder against Columbia in 1943 and 188-yarder against Michigan in 1945.  All told, Davis gained 2,957 yards rushing in 358 attempts, an average of 8.26 per carry, still the N.C.A.A. career best.  His Army total yardage record stood until 1989, when it was surpassed by Mike Mayweather.  Davis scored 20 touchdowns in 1944 and 59 for his career, both still Army records, and over his career added 850 yards receiving and 1,057 more on punt returns.  In 1944, Davis won the Maxwell Trophy and was picked by the Helms Foundation as the Player of the Year.  In 1945, he was again chosen Helms Player of the Year and in 1946 he won the Heisman Trophy.  After a three-year military career, Davis played professional football with the then-Los Angeles Rams before a knee injury shortened his career.

Parke Hill Davis


Parke Hill Davis (College football.  Born, Kiantone, NY, July 16, 1871; died, Easton, PA, June 5, 1934.)  A Princeton tackle who became a district attorney, Parke Hill Davis was also a college football coach and the game’s leading historian during his lifetime.  Davis started at tackle for Princeton in 1981 and 1892 (the teams were a combined 24-3).  He became head coach at Amherst in 1894, moving to Lafayette the following season, where his three-year record was 26-4-2.  Davis then left coaching to enter politics and, in 1901, became district attorney of Northampton (Penna.) County.  He served as secretary of the football rules committee (1909-15) and edited the annual Spalding Guide until his death.

Pete Dawkins


Pete Dawkins (College football.  Born, Royal Oak, Mich., Mar. 8, 1938.)  Determination helped lift Peter Miller Dawkins from a little-thought-of plebe quarterback to a Heisman Trophy-winning halfback on Col. Red Blaik’s unbeaten final Army squad in 1958.  Dawkins, a polio victim as a child, came back to become the quarterback on his eighth-grade football team a year after being stricken.  By 1955, he was a cadet and plebe quarterback.  In 1956, Blaik moved him to halfback on a team that finished 5-3-1.  That year, Dawkins carried the ball only six games for the varsity, but scored three touchdowns.  A year later, Dawkins was a regular halfback on a team that was to finish with a 7-2 record, but was somewhat overshadowed by his fellow halfback, Bob Anderson, a consensus all-America choice.  Dawkins gained 665 yards in 124 rushes that season (a 5.3 average) and scored 11 more touchdowns.  But in 1958, Dawkins was an undeniable star of the 8-0-1 Cadets.  He turned in an 80-yard punt return against Villanova, rushed for 428 yards in just 78 carries (5.5 yards per carry), caught 16 passes for 494 more yards (setting a national record of 30.9 yards per reception), and scored 74 points with 12 touchdowns.  For his career, Dawkins had 1,123 yards rushing and scored 158 points.  In addition to being captain of the football team, Dawkins was also the president of the Class of 1959 at West Point.  He was also a unanimous All-America selection, winning both the Heisman and Maxwell Trophies as the outstanding football player in the nation.  Retiring as a brigadier general from the Army, he went into financial services, working for, among other companies, Lehman Brothers and Bain & Co.  He was the Republican candidate for senate in New Jersey in 1988, losing to Frank Lautenberg.

Brian Dennehy


Brian Dennehy (College football.  Born, Bridgeport, CT, July 9, 1938.)  A two-sport star (football and track) at Chaminade H.S., Brian Dennehy went to Columbia as a football lineman.  A freshman in 1956 (Lou Little’s last as varsity coach), Dennehy impressed new coach Buff Donelli as a sophomore, becoming the regular right tackle in 1957.  The following year, he was one of only two men to start every game, and was captain-elect of the Lions varsity for 1959.  But that summer, Dennehy left school (though he later returned for his degree), got married, and joined the Marines.  His five years in the Marines included a tour in Vietnam and a shrapnel wound.  By 1970, he was actively pursuing an acting career, starting on Off-Off-Broadway and in dinner theatres.  His first major film, Semi-Tough, came in 1977.  Then came a string of films including 10 (1979), First Blood (1982), Gorky Park (1983), Silverado (1985), F/X (1986), Legal Eagles (1986), and Presumed Innocent (1990).  Dennehy by then was mixing in television and live stage performances, his best-known Broadway effort being the Tony Award-winning Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman’s 1999 revival.

Hugh Devore


Hugh Devore (College football.  Born, Newark, NJ, Nov. 25, 1910; died, Edmond, OK, Dec. 8, 1992.)  A football player at Notre Dame and captain of its 1934 team, Hugh John Devore was also the last head coach of N.Y.U. varsity football.  Devore was hired to resurrect a failing program that had once filled Yankee Stadium but was now reduced to playing before sparse crowds at Randalls Island and the Polo Grounds.  Playing a schedule dotted with opponents such as Kings Point and Brooklyn College, the Violets failed to win and failed to draw.  In 1951, N.Y.U. was 1-7 was outscored, 327-79, allowing over 50 points each to Princeton, Rutgers, Holy Cross, and Boston U.  A 45-0 loss in the traditional final game against Fordham Nov. 29 left the Violets 2-5-1 in 1952.  On Mar. 10, 1953, Chancellor Henry T. Heald, citing heavy financial losses for the program, announced that N.Y.U. was dropping football and canceling the eight games scheduled for that fall.  Devore was 4-17-2 in his three seasons (1950-52) that ended an 80-year tradition for N.Y.U., which fielded its first team in 1873.  Devore previously coached Providence (1938-41), Notre Dame (1945), and St. Bonaventure (1946-48) with some success.  Later, he coached the Philadelphia Eagles (1956-57) and had another tour at Notre Dame.

Paul Dietzel


Paul Dietzel (College football.  Born, Mansfield, OH, Sept. 5, 1924.)  Among the most celebrated college football coaches of the late 1950s, Paul F. Dietzel spent four seasons as head man at Army (1962-65).  Dietzel made his name at Louisiana State (1955-61), where his teams were 49-43-6 overall but his 1958 squad was 11-0, national champions and Sugar Bowl winners.  The Tigers were No. 3 in 1959 and No. 4 in 1961 in the final A.P. polls and the 1961 team won the Orange Bowl.  Despite all this success, Dietzel elected to take the West Point job.  The Cadets were 6-4 in 1962 and 7-3 in 1963.  However, Dietzel’s next two teams had losing seasons and he moved to South Carolina in 1966.  He had originally come to West Point out of what seemed patriotic motives, but he found that military demands, the growing U.S. commitment in Vietnam, and a less-than-fawning press corps made for an uncomfortable situation.  Dietzel was 21-18-1 at Army.

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The Bill Shannon Biographical Dictionary of New York Sports is an open database of sports biographies maintained by Jordan Sprechman and Marty Appel. We welcome public and scholarly contributions and suggestions.

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A prolific author, wire service sports reporter, long time Major League Baseball official scorer, football statistician, sports museum founder, theatrical agency owner and public ... read more

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