This Day in College Football History – July 17th

Ralph “Shug” Jordan (September 25, 1910 – July 17, 1980) was a football, basketball, and baseball player and coach of football and basketball. He served as the head football coach at Auburn from 1951 to 1975, where he compiled a record of 176–83–6. He is the winningest coach in Auburn Tigers football history. Jordan’s 1957 Auburn squad went undefeated with a record of 10–0 and was named the national champion by the Associated Press. Jordan was also the head men’s basketball coach at Auburn (1933–1942, 1945–1946) and at the University of Georgia (1946–1950), tallying a career college basketball record of 136–103. During his time coaching basketball, he also served as an assistant football coach at the two schools. Auburn’s Jordan–Hare Stadium was renamed in Jordan’s honor in 1973. Jordan was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a coach in 1982.

After graduation, Jordan became the head basketball coach and an assistant football coach at Auburn. In ten seasons (1933–1942, 1945–1946) as the head coach of the Auburn Tigers men’s basketball team, he compiled a record of 95–77. Jordan also compiled 45 wins as head basketball coach at Georgia. In addition to being the winningest football coach in Auburn history, Jordan ranks fifth in wins among Tigers basketball coaches.

 

During World War II, Jordan fought in four major invasions as a United States Army officer. He saw action in North Africa and Sicily before being wounded in the invasion of Normandy and receiving a Purple Heart and the Bronze Star. After recovering from his wounds, he continued action in the Pacific theater, serving at Okinawa.

 

Prior to being hired as Auburn’s head football coach in 1951, Jordan spent one season as an assistant coach of the Miami Seahawks of the All-America Football Conference in 1946, and then four years as an assistant at the University of Georgia. When he became head football coach at Auburn, he retained assistants Shot Senn (linemen), Joel Eaves (defensive ends), and Dick McGowen as head freshmen team coach, all former Auburn players who had assisted Jordan’s predecessor, Earl Brown. Jordan also hired George L. “Buck” Bradberry (defensive backfield), Homer Hobbs (assistant line), Gene Lorendo (offensive ends), all former Georgia players, and Charlie Waller (offensive backfield). McGowen also served as Auburn’s head baseball coach from 1951 to 1957. In his first season as head football coach, Jordan guided the Tigers to a 5–5 record, breaking Auburn’s string of five straight losing seasons. In 1957, Jordan led Auburn football to its first Southeastern Conference title and the team’s first national championship, which is shared with Rose Bowl Champions Ohio State. Auburn was ineligible for a bowl game, however, having been placed on probation indefinitely by the Southeastern Conference, after having paid two high school players US $500 apiece.

 

In 1971, Jordan coached quarterback Pat Sullivan to the Heisman Trophy. However, Sullivan’s Heisman-winning season ended in disappointment with a convincing loss to the Oklahoma Sooners in the Sugar Bowl. The next year, Jordan’s Tigers upset heavily-favored, arch-rival Alabama in the Iron Bowl, a victory which became known by the nickname Punt Bama Punt. In 1973, the university renamed Cliff Hare Stadium as Jordan–Hare Stadium in Jordan’s honor, the first stadium in the United States to be named for an active coach. When Jordan retired after the 1975 season, he had amassed a record of 176–83–6 for a .675 winning percentage. His Auburn football teams had .500 or winning records in 22 of 25 seasons he coached. Jordan died on July 17, 1980 at his home in Auburn, Alabama after a four-month fight with leukemia.

 

 

Bill Fincher (November 12, 1896July 17, 1978) was a football player and coach. He played college football as an end and tackle at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Fincher was a substitute for the 222 to 0 rout of Cumberland, and a starter for the 1917 national championship team. The 1917 team was Tech’s first national championship and outscored opponents 491 to 17. He was also a consensus All-American in 1918 and 1920. Fincher coached college football for one season. In 1921, he led the William & Mary Indians football team to a 4–3–1 record. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a player in 1974.


 

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