A Stagg Party in Forest Grove

Amos Alonzo Staff, "The Grand Old Man of Football," joins his son, former Pacific Head Coach Dr. Paul Stagg, and Paul's son, Skip, in Spring 1948.

Football History

Pacific University hosts the University of Chicago in football for the first time on Oct. 26, 2013. There are a number of historic connections between the two schools, particularly in the Stagg family. Dr. Paul Stagg was head coach of the Pacific University Badgers in their heyday, and his father — the famous Amos Alonzo Stagg, long with the University of Chicago — played a role in his development as a coach and with Pacific football.

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As Pacific University searched for a new football coach in 1947, it is certain that the following letter of reference, now in the Pacific University Archives, quickly caught vice president Edwin T. Ingles' eye.
 
"I have not seen Paul for six years, but I have had a chance to know him well as a man because he was a part of our family for twenty five years," the letter began. "It has been my privilege to coach several thousand young men in athletics … I am happy to report that Paul measures high among them in point of character and manhood and dependability.
 
"He is a fine Christian gentleman and has no bad habits. He possesses good judgment, is capable and a hard worker. He is likable and possesses good leadership and is able to manage men.
 
"In my time I have written many hundreds of recommendations for young men. There has never been anyone that I could speak more confidently than I can about Paul."
 
Sincerely,
Amos Alonzo Stagg
 
Within a matter of weeks, Amos' son, Dr. Paul Stagg, would arrive in Forest Grove to begin the greatest period in the history of Pacific football.
 
The Stagg name, of course, is well known in football circles and is especially revered at the Division III level. "The Grand Old Man Of Football" coached at the University of Chicago for 40 years, where he made the Maroons a national power. In the process, he created such innovations in the game as the man in motion and the lateral pass. The Division III championship game, held annually in Salem, Va., bears the Amos Alonzo Stagg name.
 
Both of the elder Stagg's sons, Amos Jr. and Paul, followed the family line on the gridiron. Paul was the starting quarterback at Chicago through some thin years that would mark the end of Amos' tenure, forced out by university president Robert Maynard Hutchins following the 1932 season.
 
When he came to Pacific University in 1947, Paul Stagg was already a well-known name in football and academic circles. Following his graduation from Chicago, Paul followed his father to the College of the Pacific in Stockton, Calif., serving as the freshman coach for one season. He went back east the following year, coaching football and serving as athletic director at Moravian College for the three years before moving on to Springfield College and eventually Worchester Tech, where he was again football coach and athletic director for six years.
 
When 1947 rolled around, Paul Stagg was looking for a new start. "Worchester Tech is a fine engineering college," he wrote in his application letter to Pacific, "but like most engineering schools, the athletic talent is poor and there is not time to develop it." In his six-year tenure, Worchester Tech went 6-23-2, a record highlighted only by a 13-0 win over Harvard in 1945. In his previous four years as Springfield (where Dr. James Naismith invented the game of basketball and Amos Alonzo Stagg scored the first ever basket in 1891), he amassed an 11-19-2 record.
 
He has received his doctorate in physical education from New York University that spring, and it is safe to say that he was looking to move west. His father had just been pushed away from Stockton and was assisting Amos Jr. at Susquehanna University in Pennsylvania, but the family still made the Sacramento Valley home. In a letter of interest sent to Pacific vice president Ingles from March 1947, Paul indicates that he had also applied for the same position at Willamette, but his applications was received two days after Jerry Lillie had been appointed to the post.