Andy Kerr

The Man from Wyoming
(Andy Kerr, Photo Credit: Colgate Special Collection and University Archives)
    Andy Kerr was a man who, whether he consciously chose to or not, changed the way college football was to be coached for many years to come.  Born in Cheyenne, Wyoming on October 7, 1878, Kerr and his family moved from the Midwest and settled in the quaint area of Carlisle in central Pennsylvania. Growing up, he was always involved in sports, and later in his teenage years attended Dickinson College, where he played football, baseball, and was a member of the track team.  After college, he became an assistant to the legendary coach Pop Warner at the University of Pittsburgh.  After brief stints as the head coach at Stanford and Washington and Jefferson, in 1929, Kerr became the head coach at Colgate University.  He would remain in Hamilton until 1946, amassing an overall record of 95-50-7, a winning percentage of 0.625, second only to Colgate's last head coach, Dick Biddle.  During his time, Kerr coached 10 All-Americans, 6 receiving First Team All-American honors, and was 13-3-1 against Syracuse, 13-1-1 against Brown, and 7-0-1 against Lafayette, Colgate's three biggest rivals during that time. Kerr was elected into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1951 as a coach and the Colgate University Hall of Honor in 1979.

The Innovator of his Time
    While at Colgate, Kerr accomplished much that has to do with revolutionizing the game.  Dubbed for coaching "Football of the Future", one of his biggest accolades was the normalizing of the forward pass. Within a pass happy game these days, it is hard to remember that the forward pass was frowned upon early in the formation of football, and was only seen as a desperation play.  If you could not be manly and tough by gaining yards by running the ball, then you had to resort to the less-masculine concept of passing the ball.  However, Kerr saw past this negative stigma and saw how this had the potential to change the game forever. He saw the forward pass as a vital part to an offensive game plan, meaning that if a team was not expecting a pass, then the ability to pass the ball successfully increases significantly.  Without directly saying so, Kerr popularized the concept of a "play-action pass", whereas the offense fakes a run play followed by a downfield pass. Overall, Kerr believed that deception on offense and shifting on defense were the most successful approaches in ensuring that his team would achieve victory. Also, Kerr was one of the first coaches to really emphasize how special teams were just as important to a team's success as offense and defense, and therefore allotted more time to the development of his special teams.

Sample of Kerr's Plays and Practice Schedules
(Click on the photographs for a larger image)

 
 

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