A Burly Young student wandered down to Cornell's Percy Field in 1892 to watch football practice. While he was observing the proceedings the coach singled him out and asked if he had ever played the game. Not only had he never played, the student said, he had never even watched before. The persistent coach persuaded him to join the practice session. After one day of fundamentals and scrimmaging, the newcomer was named first-string guard. Thus was Glenn Scobey ("Pop") Warner, who died this month at 83, introduced to football, the sport to which he contributed more than any other individual in the history of the game.
Warner played at Cornell for 3 years; then, his LL.B. in his pocket, joined a Buffalo law firm. But when Iowa State wrote to Cornell asking if any of the graduating players was interested in a coaching job, Pop decided to shuck torts for pigskins. From Iowa State he shifted to the University of Georgia and then back to Cornell. In 1898 Cornell played Carlisle, a government school for Indians. The redmen appealed to Warner's imagination. He applied for the coaching post and was accepted.
The union of superbly muscled Indians and the wily Warner made football history. In his years at Carlisle, Warner placed his personal stamp on the game and made it what it is today (opposite). He discovered a slender Sac and Fox Indian named Jim Thorpe and developed him into the greatest athlete the world has ever known. Tiny Carlisle became the scourge of the Ivy League, toppling giants. When Thorpe stunned the world with his 1912 Olympic feats, Pop's fame reached new heights—but victory turned to ashes when Thorpe was tainted with professionalism. Warner moved on to Pittsburgh, then Stanford where he coached the great Ernie Nevers, another all-time All-American. In 1938, Pop ended his career as a full-time coach at Temple University, completing 44 years of coaching during which his teams rolled up 312 wins, 104 losses and 32 ties.