On May 18, 2010 Nick Saban will be at the United States Sports Academy in Daphne, Al. to receive the Amos Alonzo Stagg Coach of the Year Award. The award is given to the "individual, group or institution whose services have been outstanding in the advancement of the best interest of football."
Saban finds himself in great company. Previous winners include Eddie Robinson, Joe Paterno, Don Shula, Bobby Bowden, Larry Bird, Bill Belichick, and Tony Dungy.
Knowing who Amos Alonzo Stagg was and what he did for American Football (and sports in general) helps one to understand the honor bestowed upon the recipients of this award. Stagg instituted many changes in many sports that still impacts us today.
Amos developed basketball as a five player sport and was one of the first elected into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1959. After pitching on his college baseball team Stagg had the opportunity to go pro but declined. That didn't deter him in inventing the batting cage, a device that all baseball players on all levels still enjoy today.
His greatest innovations came in football though. He was the first to put names on the uniforms of players and have the players wear helmets. He also invented the tackling dummy. Stagg was the person who introduce the lateral pass and the man in motion concept to football. To top it all off, Amos Alonzo Stagg is the inventor of the Statue of Liberty play.
In 1951 Stagg was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as both player and coach. He was the only person to hold that honor until the 1990s. He was also one of the first members in the College Football Hall of Fame.
Other interesting footnotes in Amos Alonzo Stagg's life and career include coaching the Olympic Track and Field team in 1924 and playing himself in the 1940 movie Knute Rockne, All American. Stagg died March 17, 1965 in Stockton, Ca. at the age of 102.