In case you missed it, the big news of Monday was former Michigan quarterback Wilton Speight claiming Jim Harbaugh didn’t eat chicken because it’s a “nervous bird.” (Training camp cannot start soon enough.)
However, it turns out that Harbaugh isn’t the only successful coach who has some, uh, odd dietary opinions. He has company in the form of Amos Alonzo Stagg.
If you’re not familiar with football history, suffice to say Stagg is responsible for a whole heckuva lot of it. Born in 1862, Stagg played at Yale and Chicago and coached at a number of places over a career that lasted 68 years (SIXTY-EIGHT YEARS!). Stagg began coaching in 1890 and didn’t stop until 1958, when he served as Stockton College’s kicking coach at age 96.
Stagg was so central to the game’s founding that he was an original member of the College Football Hall of Fame as a player and is widely credited with inventing such fundamental concepts as the lateral pass, the tackling dummy, the linebacker position, uniform numbers and the huddle, among others. (Oh, you coach linebackers? This man invented the position.)
Stagg’s brilliance wasn’t confined to football, either. A was a successful baseball player, he was credited with inventing the batting cage, and with standardizing five players to a side in basketball. In fact, he played in the first public game, in 1892, at the famed Springfield, Mass., YMCA, the game’s birthplace, where he scored his team’s lone bucket in a 5-1 loss. As if that wasn’t enough, Stagg also coached the USA’s 800-meter runners at the 1924 Paris Olympics.
While Stagg, pictured above coaching the University of Chicago’s baseball team in 1904, was a revolutionary coaching thinker, his legitimate visionary thinking didn’t extend to nutrition.
As discovered by SB Nation’s Matt Brown, here is a passage from “The Vegetarian Crusade: The Rise of an American Reform Movement, 1817-1921”:
I would love to see a GA go tell his strength coach, team nutritionist, head coach, and/or AD that their football team should become vegetarians because it would promote their moral character and that “beef-fed” players were “ear twisting” savages.
Hey, it worked for one Hall of Fame coach.