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Francis Schmidt
circa 1920
circa 1920
Born (1885-12-03)December 3, 1885
Downs, Kansas
Died September 19, 1944(1944-09-19) (aged 58)
Spokane, Washington[1][2]
Alma mater University of Nebraska

Francis Albert Schmidt (December 3, 1885 – September 19, 1944) was an American football player and coach of football, basketball, and baseball. He served as the head football coach at the University of Tulsa (1919–1921), the University of Arkansas (1922–1928), Texas Christian University (1929–1933), The Ohio State University (1934–1940), and the University of Idaho (1941–1942), compiling a career record of .718.

Schmidt's teams were known for trick plays involving multiple laterals and non-standard tackle-eligible, and even guard-eligible, formations. The press labeled Schmidt's approach as the "razzle-dazzle offense." Because Schmidt's teams were known for high scoring, the media nicknamed him Francis "Close the Gates of Mercy" Schmidt. Schmidt was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a coach in 1971.[3]

Schmidt also served as the head basketball coach at Tulsa (1915–1917, 1918–1922), Arkansas (1923–1929), and Texas Christian (1929–1934), compiling a career record of .782, and the head baseball coach at Arkansas (1923–1929), tallying a mark of .373.

Playing career and education[edit | edit source]

Schmidt was born in Downs, Kansas, and played college football at the University of Nebraska. He earned a varsity letter with the Nebraska Cornhuskers in 1905 and received a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln College of Law a few years later.

Coaching career[edit | edit source]

From 1915 through 1916, Schmidt joined the football coaching staff as an assistant at the University of Tulsa. World War I, however, interrupted Schmidt's coaching career. He served in the United States Army and rose to the rank of captain. Schmidt was hired as the Tulsa head football coach in 1919. In his first season, Tulsa finished with a record of 8–0–1 and outscored its opponents 592–27. Schmidt's record at Tulsa was 24–3–2 in three seasons. Schmidt had defeated Arkansas by a score of 63–7 in 1919, and the Razorbacks hired Schmidt away from Tulsa in 1922. In seven years at Arkansas (1922–1928), his record was 41–21–3. While at Arkansas, he was also the coach of the basketball and baseball teams; it was not uncommon during that time for coaches at major universities to coach more than one sport.

Schmidt's most memorable years, however, were at Texas Christian and Ohio State. In five years at TCU (1929–1933), he won two Southwest Conference championships and had a record of 47–6–5 (.853). In seven seasons at Ohio State (1934–1940), Schmidt won two Big Ten Conference titles and was 39–16–1 (.705).

Schmidt's most notable contribution to popular culture came in his first year at Ohio State. The Columbus press asked Schmidt about the team's chances of beating rival Michigan. Schmidt replied, "Those fellows put their pants on one leg at a time, the same as everyone else." This phrase had previously been a Texas regionalism, but because of the press attention given to Schmidt, it soon became an internationally known cliché. Ohio State beat Michigan the first four years Schmidt coached there. Since that time, any Ohio State player that defeats Michigan is awarded a "Gold Pants Charm", a gold lapel pin shaped like football pants.

Schmidt finished his football coaching career with a two-year stint at Idaho (1941–1942),[4][5][6] then a member of the Pacific Coast Conference, with a 7–12 record. With male civilian enrollment extremely curtailed due to World War II, Idaho (and four of the five other northern division teams) discontinued football before the 1943 season.[7]

Death[edit | edit source]

While still living in Moscow, Schmidt's health began to fail in the spring of 1944. He spent his last three weeks at St. Luke's Hospital in Spokane, Washington, where he died on September 19 at age 58.[1][2][8][9][10][11][12] He was buried in Kansas, at Riverview Cemetery in Arkansas City.

Head coaching record[edit | edit source]

Football[edit | edit source]

Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs AP#
Kendall / Tulsa Orange and Black Hurricane (Oklahoma Intercollegiate Conference) (1919–1921)
1919 Kendall 8–0–1 1st
1920 Tulsa 10–0–1 1st
1921 Tulsa 6–3
Tulsa: 24–3–2
Arkansas Razorbacks (Southwest Conference) (1922–1928)
1922 Arkansas 4–5 1–3 6th
1923 Arkansas 6–2–1 2–2 T–4th
1924 Arkansas 7–2–1 1–2–1 7th
1925 Arkansas 4–4–1 0–2–1 6th
1926 Arkansas 5–5 0–1 6th
1927 Arkansas 8–1 2–1 3rd
1928 Arkansas 7–2 2–1 2nd
Arkansas: 41–21–3 8–12–2
TCU Horned Frogs (Southwest Conference) (1929–1933)
1929 TCU 9–0–1 4–0–1 1st
1930 TCU 9–2–1 4–2 3rd
1931 TCU 8–2–1 4–1–1 2nd
1932 TCU 10–0–1 6–0 1st
1933 TCU 9–2–1 4–2 T–2nd
TCU: 45–6–5 22–5–2
Ohio State Buckeyes (Big Ten Conference) (1934–1940)
1934 Ohio State 7–1 5–1 2nd
1935 Ohio State 7–1 5–0 T–1st
1936 Ohio State 5–3 4–1 T–2nd
1937 Ohio State 6–2 5–1 2nd 13
1938 Ohio State 4–3–1 2–3–1 6th
1939 Ohio State 6–2 5–1 1st 15
1940 Ohio State 4–4 3–3 T–4th
Ohio State: 39–16–1 30–9–1
Idaho Vandals (Pacific Coast Conference) (1941–1942)
1941 Idaho 4–5 0–4 10th
1942 Idaho 3–7 1–5 9th
Idaho: 7–12 1–9
Total: 156–58–11
      National championship         Conference title         Conference division title
Indicates Bowl Coalition, Bowl Alliance, BCS, or CFP / New Years' Six bowl.
#Rankings from final AP Poll.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 "Francis Schmidt dies in Spokane". (Ohio). September 20, 1944. p. 16. https://news.google.com/newspapers?id=tdhOAAAAIBAJ&sjid=vf8DAAAAIBAJ&pg=3292%2C2280874. Retrieved May 1, 2012. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Coach Schmidt dead, Spokane". (Idaho). September 20, 1944. p. 7. https://news.google.com/newspapers?id=iXdfAAAAIBAJ&sjid=mi8MAAAAIBAJ&pg=2356%2C5176831. Retrieved May 1, 2012. 
  3. Blanchette, John (August 12, 2006). "Coach was first Vandal to enter Hall of Fame". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). p. C6. https://news.google.com/newspapers?id=EWhWAAAAIBAJ&sjid=NvMDAAAAIBAJ&pg=7006%2C594693. 
  4. "Francis Schmidt, formerly of Ohio State, is chosen head football coach at Idaho". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). March 17, 1941. p. 6. https://news.google.com/newspapers?id=GsdeAAAAIBAJ&sjid=JTIMAAAAIBAJ&pg=1665,5646400. 
  5. "Vandal coaches". Gem of the Mountains, University of Idaho yearbook. 1942. p. 64. http://issuu.com/uidahodigital/docs/gem1942/68. 
  6. "Idaho athletics coaches". Gem of the Mountains, University of Idaho yearbook. 1943. p. 230. http://issuu.com/uidahodigital/docs/gem1943/234. 
  7. "Idaho, Washington State, and O.S.C. withdraw from Northern Division football loop". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). September 24, 1943. p. 8. https://news.google.com/newspapers?id=hLJeAAAAIBAJ&sjid=wS8MAAAAIBAJ&pg=1485%2C5122152. 
  8. "Coach Schmidt of Idaho dies". (Spokane, Washington). September 20, 1944. p. 10. https://news.google.com/newspapers?id=tnFWAAAAIBAJ&sjid=eeQDAAAAIBAJ&pg=5523%2C1470390. 
  9. "Schmidt dies". (Washington). September 20, 1944. p. 13. https://news.google.com/newspapers?id=bd1YAAAAIBAJ&sjid=bvUDAAAAIBAJ&pg=5310%2C3824434. 
  10. "Death claims Francis Schmidt, ex-coach at the U. of Idaho". (Washington). September 20, 1944. p. 13. https://news.google.com/newspapers?id=bd1YAAAAIBAJ&sjid=bvUDAAAAIBAJ&pg=5256%2C3822927. 
  11. "Texas recalls Francis Schmidt". (Spokane, Washington). September 21, 1944. p. 10. https://news.google.com/newspapers?id=tnFWAAAAIBAJ&sjid=eeQDAAAAIBAJ&pg=5519%2C1691953. 
  12. Blanchette, John (November 6, 2009). "Schmidt adds spice to UI's tale". (Spokane, Washington). http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2009/nov/06/schmidt-adds-spice-to-uis-tale/. 

External links[edit | edit source]

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