Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Red and Black Roots: Herman J. Stegeman

Red and Black Roots will be a special monthly article detailing a notable figure in the history of the University of Georgia. Their influences have led to a storied traditon and without these people, UGA would be Tech. (Yeah, I try to do it all that I possibly can.)

I can't quite remember how I happened upon our football record from the 1920 season last night, but it was really interesting. The team was one of UGA's greats, while capturing a Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association championship they only allowed 17 total points in nine games. Of those 17, only two teams scored on the Bulldogs that year: Alabama (14), and Oglethorpe(3). This was from an era of Georgia football that I wasn't familiar with and I decided to look into things further.

With minimal research I stumbled upon Herman J. Stegeman and quickly realized why the Coliseum bears his name. I never knew where "Stegeman" came from, though I did know it recieved the title in 1996, for some odd reason. I had my media guide and Wikipedia handy and decided to see what else I could dig up.

Stegeman was from Holland, Michigan and attended the University of Chicago in the early 1910's, where he lettered in many sports including football and track and field. During his time in Chicago he played under the legendary Amos Alonzo Stagg, where Stagg often said that Stegeman was one of the finest athletes he ever had the prviledge of coaching. After winning a NC in 1913 and graduating in 1915, Stege had coaching stops at Beloit and Monmouth before being sent to UGA in 1919 by the Army for an R.O.T.C. program.

After being named assistant football coach by W.A. Cunningham in 1919, Stege was named head coach in 1920 after Cunninham's return to the Army. The original "Bulldogs" moniker was also coined this year by Atlanta journalist Cliff Wheatley in writing about the November 6th game. HJS also took over the head coaching positions for the basketball, baseball, and track and field teams that year. He stepped down as baseball coach in 1921, only completing one season. After a S.I.A.A co-championship in 1920 and a 20-6-3 record, in 1922 Stege relinquished his duty as head football coach to become director of athletics.

From 1920 until 1931, Stege led the Hoop Dawgs t0 170-79 record which still stands today as the 2nd best mark in the program's history. His track and field and AD tenure lasted until 1937, the summer after his coaching chops were displayed when Forrest "Spec" Towns won the gold in 110m hurdles. He coached the UGA track team to its only men's championship in his last year. Being a model student was also extremely important to Stege. In order to see that through, he served the university as the Dean of Male Students as well.

Stegeman never regained his health after a heart attack in 1938 and died the next year at the age of 48. He was a Dawg until the end. As the story goes, he passed away shorty after listening to then first-year coach Wally Butts stumble in Louisville at the hands of the Kentucky Wildcats.

Herman James Stegeman, a great man and a Damn Good Dawg.

No comments:

Post a Comment