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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While not capped by a bowl appearance (the Pear Bowl was not played again after 1951), the 1952 season proved the high water mark of the Stagg era. The Badgers went undefeated for the first time in the modern era, going 7-0-1 and tying with the College of Idaho for the league crown at 4-0-1. The heartbeat of the squad was Frank Buckiewicz Sr., who was named All-NWC in both sides of the ball and was selected as an AP All-American. Buckiewicz would follow Stagg in later years as Pacific head coach from 1965-1980.
 
In those first years, the entire city of Forest Grove enjoyed the presence of football royalty. The "Grand Old Man" himself often made the trip north from Stockton to assist Paul in spring practices. The elder Stagg seemed to take joy in sharing the latest innovations in the family business, as evidenced in the April/May 1948 edition of the Pacific University Alumnews.
 
"While he did not feel that Pacific had what is termed 'finished players' yet, Stagg did prophesy a good future for our team which was the essential drive and spirit for the playing the game under adverse conditions.
 
"Alonzo Sr. came to Pacific about 8 weeks ago to aid his son … (and) brought with him the double flank formation which he has utilized for the last ten years and which is the system used at Susquehanna University. Whereas our system is based primarily on the T-formation Coach Paul Stagg incorporated some of his father's methods and system in pass plays."
 
END GAME
During his first six seasons, Stagg's teams posted a 39-11-3 record. But as he may have foreshadowed in his 1947 letter to the alumni, success would not last. As Linfield made their initial rise as a conference football power, Stagg's shine wore off. In his final eight seasons, the Badgers finished above .500 just once (in his final season) and never finished better than fourth in the conference standings.
 
Following the 1960 season, Paul finally decided to join his father in California. In another ironic parallel linking two same-named schools, Paul Stagg resigned from Pacific in 1960 to become athletic director at the University of the Pacific. The elder Stagg was now 98-years-old, and the chance to be closer surely drew the youngest son south. 
 
Paul took over UOP's department of physical education and athletics, but also charged with overseeing dramatic changes to the department and football program. President Robert E. Burns had decreed that the Tigers' athletic programs would no longer take cross-country trips and that football scholarships would be phased out. It was a challenge that Dr. Stagg would not be able to meet, resigning in frustration in 1966.  "There were too many problems and too few answers," he noted upon his departure, "and I found myself in the middle."
 
Paul Stagg would never return to college athletics, remaining in Stockton where he operated a direct-mail and printing business with his wife, Virginia. University of the Pacific would never again be a top caliber football program and would discontinue the program in 1995, three years after Pacific University cut its program.