Jim Crowley

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Jim Crowley
Sport(s)Football
Biographical details
Born(1902-09-10)September 10, 1902
Chicago, Illinois
DiedJanuary 15, 1986(1986-01-15) (aged 83)
Scranton, Pennsylvania
Playing career
1922–1924
1925
1925
1925
Notre Dame
Waterbury Blues
Green Bay Packers
Providence Steam Roller
Position(s)Halfback
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1926–1927
1928–1932
1933–1941
1942
1947
Georgia (assistant)
Michigan State
Fordham
North Carolina Pre-Flight
Chicago Rockets
Head coaching record
Overall86–23–11 (college)
0–10 (AAFC)
Bowls1–1
Statistics
College Football Data Warehouse
College Football Hall of Fame
Inducted in 1966 (profile)
 
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Jim Crowley
Sport(s)Football
Biographical details
Born(1902-09-10)September 10, 1902
Chicago, Illinois
DiedJanuary 15, 1986(1986-01-15) (aged 83)
Scranton, Pennsylvania
Playing career
1922–1924
1925
1925
1925
Notre Dame
Waterbury Blues
Green Bay Packers
Providence Steam Roller
Position(s)Halfback
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1926–1927
1928–1932
1933–1941
1942
1947
Georgia (assistant)
Michigan State
Fordham
North Carolina Pre-Flight
Chicago Rockets
Head coaching record
Overall86–23–11 (college)
0–10 (AAFC)
Bowls1–1
Statistics
College Football Data Warehouse
College Football Hall of Fame
Inducted in 1966 (profile)

James Harold "Jim" Crowley (September 10, 1902 – January 15, 1986) was an American football player and coach. He gained fame as one-fourth of the University of Notre Dame's legendary "Four Horsemen" backfield where he played halfback from 1922 to 1924. After a brief career as a professional football player, Crowley turned to coaching. He served as the head football coach at Michigan State College from 1929 to 1933, at Fordham University from 1933 to 1941 and at the North Carolina Pre-Flight School compiling a career college football record of 86–23–11. Crowley also coached the Chicago Rockets of the All-America Football Conference in 1947. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a player in 1966.

Contents

College playing career

Born in Chicago, Illinois and raised in Wisconsin, Crowley played high school football at Green Bay East High School, where he learned the sport from head coach Curly Lambeau, the founder of the National Football League's Green Bay Packers.

After graduating from high school in 1921, Crowley attended the University of Notre Dame. With Harry Stuhldreher, Don Miller and Elmer Layden, Crowley formed one of college football's most powerful offenses. Head coach Knute Rockne devised the four-back formation, putting Crowley at left halfback, Miller at right halfback, Layden at fullback and Stuhldreher at quarterback. Notre Dame won 37 of its 41 games during the amazing four-year run of the "Four Horsemen," losing just three times and tying once.

Nicknamed "Sleepy Jim" by Rockne because of his low-key demeanor and droopy eyelids, Crowley's finest season with the Fighting Irish came in 1924, when he led the team in scoring and joined Layden and Stuhldreher on the All-American Team. Notre Dame finished the year a perfect 10–0 and was college football's national champion.

Not until late in that championship season was the foursome of Stuhldreher, Miller, Crowley and Layden was first called the "Four Horsemen." While watching Notre Dame defeat Army on October 18, popular sportswriter Grantland Rice recalled the biblical devastation of the "Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse" in the opening sentence of his newspaper column for the New York Herald Tribune:

"Outlined against a blue, gray October sky the Four Horsemen rode again."

Professional playing and college coaching careers

Following his graduation from Notre Dame in 1925, Crowley played in just three professional football games with the National Football League's Green Bay Packers and Providence Steamrollers. In 1925, the Waterbury Blues signed Crowley, to join ex-Horseman Stuhldreher in the backfield against a team from Adams, Massachusetts. Crowley's regular job at the time was assistant coach at the University of Georgia. The Blues put on a good show by driving to a 34–0 triumph, with Crowley scoring three touchdowns and Stuhldreher booting two field goals and three extra points. Crowley picked up his check after the game and left the team.[1] Crowley stayed in football as an assistant coach at Georgia and was named head coach at Michigan State University, then known as Michigan State College, in 1929. In four seasons, Crowley's Michigan State Spartans went 22–8–3.

Football power Fordham University lured Crowley away from Michigan State in 1933. Crowley enjoyed tremendous success at Fordham by building one of the top defensive teams in the country. In 1936 and 1937. the Rams' stout defensive line, coached by future Notre Dame head coach Frank Leahy, was dubbed the "Seven Blocks of Granite." The defense was led by two-time All-American lineman Alex Wojciechowicz, who later starred professionally for the Detroit Lions and was named to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Another "Block of Granite", Vince Lombardi, would gain fame as a championship coach for the New York Giants and Green Bay Packers.

In 1939, Crowley coached Fordham in the first-ever televised football game. The Rams defeated the Waynesburg Yellow Jackets by a score of 34–7.[2]

Crowley's last two teams at Fordham each went to bowl games. The Rams lost, 13–12, to Texas A&M in the 1941 Cotton Bowl Classic and defeated the Missouri, 2–0, in the 1942 Sugar Bowl. Crowley left Fordham after the Sugar Bowl, having compiled a record of 56–13–7 as the Rams' head coach.

World War II and the AAFC

During World War II, Crowley served with the United States Navy in the South Pacific. In 1942, he served as the head coach for the North Carolina Pre-Flight School team and led the Cloudbusters to an overall record of 8–2–1.[3] In late 1944, he agreed to become the first commissioner of a new professional football league, the All-America Football Conference. The league kicked off in 1946 and quickly became a formidable rival to the National Football League.

Following the 1946 season, Crowley stepped down as commissioner to become part-owner and coach of the AAFC's worst team, the Chicago Rockets. Crowley's success as a college coach didn't translate to the pros. The Rockets went just 1–13 in 1947 and Crowley quit his dual role with the team before the 1948 season.

Later life

Crowley left football behind following his disastrous stint with Chicago, moving to Pennsylvania to become an insurance salesman. In 1953 he moved to Scranton, Pennsylvania, to take over as station manager and sports director of independent television station WTVU. Two years later, Crowley was named chairman of the Pennsylvania State Athletic Commission, a position he held until 1963.

Named to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1966 as a player,[4] Crowley cashed in on his football fame in the 1960s and 1970s as a much sought-after speaker at banquets and dinners. The last living member of the "Four Horsemen," Crowley died in Scranton on January 15, 1986.

Head coaching record

College

YearTeamOverallConferenceStandingBowl/playoffsAP#
Michigan State Spartans (Independent) (1929–1932)
1929Michigan State5–3
1930Michigan State5–1–2
1931Michigan State5–3–1
1932Michigan State7–1
Michigan State:22–8–3
Fordham Rams (Independent) (1933–1941)
1933Fordham6–2
1934Fordham5–3
1935Fordham6–1–2
1936Fordham5–1–215
1937Fordham7–0–13
1938Fordham6–1–215
1939Fordham6–217
1940Fordham7–2L Cotton12
1941Fordham8–1W Sugar6
Fordham:56–13–7
North Carolina Pre-Flight Cloudbusters (Independent) (1942)
1942North Carolina Pre-Flight8–2–1
North Carolina Pre-Flight:8–2–1
Total:86–23–11
#Rankings from final AP Poll.

References

External links