Did You Know…..? Pop Warner

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By Pam Teel

With the fall comes football season and young boys all over America participate in the Pop Warner Program. Did you ever wonder where the term Pop Warner came from? It was actually named after a real man, Glenn Scobey (Pop) Warner, who was highly instrumental in shaping the sport of football into what it is today. Warner was born in 1871 in New York.

Warner innovated new offenses and won 319 NCAA games but his name stuck forever with the Jr. Foot- ball Conference after Warner proved his dedication to the youth of the time and to football. On a cold, rainy, sleet-filled night, a whole score of coaches were supposed to come and lecture the local youth. Due to the weather, not a one showed up, except for Warner, who spent hours of his time in front of 800 boys telling sports stories and answering questions despite the foul weather. At the end of the night, the players and the league organizers were so taken with Warner’s generosity and enthusiasm toward the children that they renamed the program “the Pop Warner Conference” and thus began Pop Warner’s legacy. The Jr. Football Conference was originally started to keep children of Philadelphia busy and out of trouble.

Warner got his lifetime nickname “Pop” from other players on his football team at Cornell because he was a few years older than them all. After college, he became a lawyer in New York City but he found it wasn’t his calling. He hated what he was doing and took a job at Iowa State College to become a football coach. Over his 44-year career, he was head coach at various colleges that included Georgia, Cornell, Pitt, Stanford, Temple, and the Carlisle Indian School- a Native American College. This is where he met the legendary Jim Thorpe who was known as the greatest athlete of his time.

Thorpe was watching the varsity track team practice their high jumps. With the bar set at 5’ 9”, Thorpe who was on the sidelines, asked if he could try to jump it. The coaches let him. Thorpe cleared the bar with no problem. Later Warner called him into his office. Thorpe immediately thought he did something wrong after Warner asked him if he knew what he had done. What he had done was set a new school record and he went on breaking many more school records while at Carlisle. Warner guided him in both track and football all throughout his stay at Carlisle. With Thorpe on his football team, Carlisle began defeating top colleges like Princeton and Harvard and people were taking notice. For the first time in football history, during a game with Columbia, in which Carlisle won, Warner used the 3-point stance where backs and linemen crouched to start. The three-point stance is a stance used by linemen and running backs in American football when ready for the start of a play. This stance requires one hand to touch the ground with the other arm cocked back to the thigh/hip region. The back should be slightly inclined forward, as well as the arm, which is placed on the ground. Warner figured that if sprinters could get a faster start with their hands on the ground, partially supporting their bodies, then the same method would increase speed in football. Warner had the Indians practice the crouching start for a long time in practice and then sprung the stance against Columbia. Soon all teams were using the crouch for both backs and linemen.

Warner was one of the first to use the single wingback attack and he also invented the double wingback formation, the screen pass, the reverse play, the mousetrap, the unbalanced line, rolling and clipping blocks, numbering players jerseys, improving helmets, thigh and shoulder pads, and other things. He died at the age of 83 after a long successful career as a coach.

For his contribution to football, the American Football Coaches Association gave Warner its Almos Alonzo Stagg Award in 1948.