This Day in College Football History – December 1st

Charlie Bachman (December 1, 1892 – December 14, 1985) was a player and head coach. Bachman was an Illinois native and an alumnus of the University of Notre Dame, where he played college football. He served as the head football coach of Northwestern University, Kansas State College, the University of Florida, Michigan State College, and Hillsdale College. Bachman was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a coach in 1978.

Bachman was born in Chicago, Illinois in 1892. He received his high school education at Inglewood High School in Chicago, where he was standout athlete in football and track and field. Bachman attended the University of Notre Dame from 1914 to 1916, and played for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team alongside Knute Rockne. He was named an All-American at guard in 1916, making Walter Camp’s second team. Bachman briefly held the world record in the discus throw during the spring of 1917,  and spent the 1917 fall season helping to coach the football team at DePauw University. In 1918, Bachman returned to the field, playing center for the legendary U.S. Navy team at Great Lakes Naval Station. The Great Lakes team posted a 7–0–2 record; it beat Navy, Illinois and Purdue, tied Bachman’s former Notre Dame team, and defeated Mare Island Marine Base in the Rose Bowl. His Great Lakes teammates included Paddy Driscoll and George Halas.

In 1919, at age 26, Bachman began his head coaching career at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. Bachman brought a number of former players returning from World War I military service to Northwestern, but his team posted a disappointing 2–5 record. He moved on to Kansas State College in Manhattan, Kansas following this season, and the losing record proved to be an aberration; from 1920 to 1927, Bachman posted a record of 33–23–9 at Kansas State. In 1924, Bachman’s K-State team beat the University of Kansas for the first time in eighteen years. Bachman coached Kansas State’s first All-American, and under his leadership the school also permanently returned to its former nickname of Wildcats and began using a live bobcat as a mascot.

Bachman accepted the head coaching position at the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida in 1928, where he posted an 8–1 record his first season, the best in the Florida Gators’ history up to that time. The 1928 Gators’ sole loss came in their final game of the season, a disappointing 12–13 upset by Robert Neyland’s 8–0–1 Tennessee Volunteers in Knoxville. While at Florida, Bachman coached the Gators’ first first-team All-American, Hall of Fame end Dale Van Sickel, in 1928 and 1929. He also led the 1929 Gators in their first major intersectional match-up, a “neutral site” game in Miami against John McEwan’s 7–2 Oregon Ducks football team, with the Gators coming away with the 20–6 victory. Bachman’s first two seasons with the Gators were his most successful, but he continued to lead the Gators Eleven for five seasons, posting an overall record of 27–18–3.

Bachman left Florida to become the head football coach of Michigan State College in East Lansing, Michigan, coaching from 1933 to 1942 and from 1944 to 1946. Similar to the situation he inherited at Kansas State, Michigan State had not beaten the University of Michigan for eighteen years (1916–1933), but under Bachman, Michigan State defeated Michigan four consecutive seasons (1934–1937). Bachman’s overall record at Michigan State was 70–34–10. His Spartan teams were also notable because he outfitted them in gold and black uniforms instead of the official school colors of green and white. In 1953, Bachman was named the head football coach at Hillsdale College in Hillsdale, Michigan. He held that position for one season, posting a record of 5–3–2.

Bachman was inducted into the University of Florida Athletic Hall of Fame as an “honorary letter winner” in 1971, and later, the College Football Hall of Fame in 1978. He died in Port Charlotte, Florida in 1985; he was 93 years old. Bachman was survived by his wife Grace and their three sons, including noted software engineer Charles W. Bachman.

 

Bobby Layne  (December 19, 1926 – December 1, 1986) was a quarterback who played for 15 seasons in the National Football League. He played for the Chicago Bears in 1948, the New York Bulldogs in 1949, the Detroit Lions from 1950–1958, and the Pittsburgh Steelers from 1958–1962. He was drafted by the Bears in the first round of the 1948 NFL Draft. He played college football at the University of Texas. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1967 and inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1968. His number, 22, has been retired by the University of Texas Longhorns and Detroit Lions.

Layne was born in Santa Anna, Texas and attended Highland Park High School in Dallas. He played football with teammate Doak Walker. One of the greatest quarterbacks ever to play for Texas, Layne was selected to four straight All-Southwest Conference teams from 1944-1947. He was one of the first inductees into the Cotton Bowl Hall of Fame. In the 1946 Cotton Bowl Classic, where Texas beat Missouri 40-27, Layne accounted for every point, scoring four touchdowns, kicking four extra points and throwing for two other scores. In 1946, Layne finished 8th in Heisman Trophy balloting to Glenn Davis of Army and in 1947 he finished 6th to John Lujack of Notre Dame, and was voted the Outstanding Back in the 1948 Sugar Bowl victory over #6 Alabama. Layne finished his Texas career with a school record 3,145 passing yards on 210 completions and 400 attempts. Layne also had success in baseball as a pitcher for Texas as well. In his career as a pitcher he threw two no hitters.

Drafted into the National Football League by the Chicago Bears, Layne was the 3rd overall selection in the 1948 NFL Draft and was the 2nd overall selection in the 1948 AAFC Draft by the Baltimore Colts. Layne was offered $77,000 to play for the Colts, but George Halas “sweet talked” him into signing with the Bears. He promised a slow rise to fame in the “big leagues” with a no-trade understanding. After one season, Layne was the third-string quarterback, behind both Sid Luckman and Johnny Lujack, and refused to return to the Bears and tried to engineer his own trade to the Green Bay Packers. Halas, preoccupied with fending off a challenge from the AAFC, traded Layne to the New York Bulldogs for their #1 draft pick and $50,000 cash. The cash was to be paid in four installments. The team won only one game and lost 11, but Layne played well and developed quickly. Layne compared one season with the soon-defunct New York Bulldogs as worth five seasons in the NFL. In 1950, Layne was traded to the Detroit Lions for defensive end Bob Mann. The Lions also picked up the tab and made the final three payments to Halas (Halas would remark later that the Lions should have continued the yearly payments indefinitely to him in view of Layne’s performance).

From 1950-1955, Layne was re-united with his great friend and Highland Park High School teammate Doak Walker. In 1952, Bobby led the Detroit Lions to their first NFL Championship in 17 years. Layne would repeat this in 1953 for back to back NFL Championships, but fell short of a three-peat when the Detroit Lions lost to the Cleveland Browns in the 1954 NFL Championship Game. In 1957, Layne was leading the Lions toward another Championship when fate stepped in. In a game late in the season Layne broke his leg in three places during a pileup. His replacement, Tobin Rote, finished the season and led the Lions to victory in the 1957 NFL Championship Game.  During his career, Layne played for the Chicago Bears (1948), New York Bulldogs (1949), Detroit Lions (1950–1958) and the Pittsburgh Steelers (1958–1962). After retiring from 15 seasons in the NFL, Layne held the career records for both passes attempted (3,700) and completed(1,814), as well as yards gained passing (26,768) and passing touchdowns (196). Layne was not the most gifted or talented person in the NFL at the time, his passes sometimes looked like wounded ducks on the field, but his drive, leadership, and clutch play (he is credited with creating the two-minute offense) made him great. Layne was one of the last players to play in the NFL without a facemask.

After retirement, Layne stated the biggest disappointment in his football career was having never won a championship for the Pittsburgh Steelers and especially, Art Rooney. Layne did serve as an assistant coach for the Steelers after his retirement on the staff of Buddy Parker. Layne was known more for his leadership and determination than for pure athletic ability. According to Doak Walker, “Layne never lost a game…time just ran out on him.” In 1962 Layne’s book on the NFL titled “Always On Sunday” was published. Layne was voted into the Texas Longhorn Hall of Honor in 1963 and the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1967. In a special issue in 1995, Sports Illustrated called him “The Toughest Quarterback Who Ever Lived.” In 1999, he was ranked number 52 on the Sporting News’ list of Football’s 100 Greatest Players. Layne may not have been among the greatest quarterback in stats, but he was one of the greatest quarterbacks in leadership and bravery. He used to play without a facemask and usually drove himself to the edge of physical endurance. Layne, often accompanied by Alex Karras, was well known for his late-night bar-hopping and heavy drinking. It was often said of him, “He would drink six days a week and play football on Sunday.” His heavy drinking may have led to his death shortly before his 60th birthday. Layne is reported to have stated: “If I’d known I was gonna live this long, I’d have taken a lot better care of myself.” That line was later used by baseball legend Mickey Mantle, a Dallas neighbor and friend of Layne’s, who also died in part due to decades of alcohol abuse. Layne also suffered from cancer during his last years, which may have been a factor in his death.

In 1958, the Lions traded Layne to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Layne responded to the trade by supposedly saying that the Lions would “not win for 50 years”. This story has been disputed as being a hoax, particularly because the quote was never published at the time.  Still, for the next 50 years after the trade, the Lions accumulated the worst winning percentage of any team in the NFL. They are still one of only two franchises that have been in the NFL since 1970 that have not played in a Super Bowl (the other team is the Cleveland Browns, although the first Browns team did win the Super Bowl after the 2000 and 2012 seasons as the transplanted Baltimore Ravens). The Lions, for those 50 years, were 1-10 in ten postseason appearances; their lone playoff win came against Dallas following the 1991 regular season. In the last year of the supposed curse, 2008, Detroit went 0-16 and thus became the first team to lose every game of a 16-game season.

Coincidentally, in the 2009 NFL Draft, right after the curse supposedly expired, the Detroit Lions drafted University of Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford first overall. Stafford was an alumnus of Layne’s former school Highland Park High School and also lived in a house on the same street as Layne’s. In the 2011 season, Stafford’s first full injury-free season, he led the Lions to their first playoff berth since 1999 but lost to fellow Texan Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints.

 

Rob Waldrop born December 1, 1971 is a former defensive tackle in the National Football League (NFL) and Canadian Football League (CFL). He played college football for the University of Arizona Wildcats, where he was a two-time consensus All-American. He played professionally for the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs, and the Memphis Mad Dogs and Toronto Argonauts of the CFL. He is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame. Waldrop was born in Atlanta, Georgia. He attended Horizon High School in Scottsdale, Arizona, where he played for the Horizon Huskies high school football team. While attending the University of Arizona, Waldrop played for the Arizona Wildcats football team from 1990 to 1993. He was recognized as a consensus first-team All-American in 1992 and 1993. He was also the recipient of the Outland Trophy as the best interior lineman in the country, the Nagurski Award as the best defensive player, and United Press International’s Lineman of the Year award. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2011.

The Kansas City Chiefs selected Waldrop in the fifth round of the 1994 NFL Draft, and he played for the Chiefs in three regular season games in 1994. He played for the CFL’s Memphis Mad Dogs in 1995, and for the CFL’s Toronto Argonauts in 1996 and 1997. He gained his greatest recognition with the Argos, when he was a member of their back-to-back Grey Cup championship teams in 1996 and 1997, and was selected as a CFL All-Star in both years.

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