January 4: This Date in American Football History

Everyday RoadTripSports.com celebrates the past, present and future of American football including birthdays, deaths, and important games and events that have occurred in the past through our daily feature This Date in American Football History. Get to know the legends of American football – the sport’s greatest heroes including players and coaches, and relive some of the greatest plays and moments in the game’s history.

Then be sure to check out our Legends Library for historical profiles on the game’s greats or research your favorite schools or players in our databases for College Football Hall of Fame inductees, All-Americans and major award winners. Or take a moment to explore the various branches of the internet’s most complete coaching tree!

You can also follow your favorite teams here as well by selecting the appropriate division on our College Football Teams page or by locating your favorite professional team page. Team pages for all divisions of college football are available including NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS)NCAA Football Championship Subdivision (FCS), NCAA Division II, NCAA Division III, NAIA, NJCAA, CCCAA and CIS (Canada). Also, independent team and club team pages are available including teams holding associate membership in the USCAA and NCCAA.


1874 – Consensus All-American George Adee was born. Adee played quarterback for Yale (1892-1894) and was named an All-American in 1894.

1898 – College Football Hall of Fame Class of 1980 member Jack Harding was born. Harding played at Pittsburgh (1924-1925) before moving directly into his first head coach position at St. Thomas College in Pennsylvania (1926-1936, now the University of Scranton). He then served two stints as the head coach at Miami (FL) from 1937-1942 and again from 1945-1947. He was elected to the Hall of Fame as a coach after compiling a career record of 103-69-12.

1898 – College Football Hall of Fame Class of 1971 member Jess Neely was born. Neely played halfback for Middle Tennessee State (1917) and Vanderbilt (1920-1922) before embarking on a coaching career. He was elected to the Hall of Fame as a head coach serving first at Southwestern University (1924-1927, now Rhodes College) followed by a longer stint at Clemson (1931-1939). Neely, however, cemented his legacy as a Hall of Fame candidate during a 27-year stint at Rice (1940-1966). He finished his career with a record of 207-176-19.

1925 – College Football Hall of Fame Class of 1960 member Johnny Lujack was born. Lujack played quarterback for Notre Dame (1943, 1946-1947) winning the Heisman Trophy in his final season. Lujack then played four years for the NFL’s Chicago Bears (1948-1951).

1943 – College Football Hall of Fame Class of 1971 member “Big Bill” Edwards died. Edwards played guard for Princeton (1896-1899). In 1926, he served as the president of the first American Football League.

1973 – College Football Hall of Fame Class of 1970 member Albert Exendine died. Exendine played end for the Carlisle Indian School (1902-1907) before embarking on a coaching career. His head coaching stops included Otterbein (1909-1911), Georgetown (DC) (1914-1922), Washington State (1923-1925), Occidental (1926-1927), Northeastern State (1929) and Oklahoma A&M (1934-1935, now Oklahoma State).

1975 UCF head coach Scott Frost was born. Frost played quarterback at Stanford (1993-1994) and Nebraska (1995-1997) before moving to safety and special teams during an NFL career that included stints with the New York Jets (1998-2000), Cleveland Browns (2001), Green Bay Packers (2001-2002) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2003). He then began his coaching career working his way up through the ranks until taking over as the head coach at UCF in 2016.

2000 – College Football Hall of Fame Class of 1976 member Tom Fears died. Fears played end for UCLA (1942, 1946-1947). He then played for the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams (1948-1956) earning induction to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1970.

Games, Plays and Events

1999 – The 1999 Fiesta Bowl featured the No. 1 Tennessee Volunteers and the No. 2 Florida State Seminoles in the first year of the Bowl Championship Series. The Vols proved up to the task beating the Seminoles 23-16 for the national championship.

2000 – The 2000 Sugar Bowl featured the No. 1 Florida State Seminoles against the No. 2 Virginia Tech Hokies. One year after being denied a national title in the Fiesta Bowl, the Seminoles rebounded for a 46-29 win in the Sugar Bowl to claim the national championship.

2005 – The 2005 Orange Bowl featured the No. 1 USC Trojans against the No. 2 Oklahoma Sooners. The game was the first to feature two Heisman Trophy winners with 2003 winner Jason White playing quarterback for the Sooners while 2004 winner Matt Leinart led the Trojans. In the end, Leinart and his teammates crushed the Sooners 55-19 in the BCS National Championship Game, a win that was vacated in 2010 at the completion of an NCAA investigation that determined Trojans’ running back Reggie Bush had been ineligible for the 2005 season. The Trojans retained their AP national championship.

2006 – The 2005 Rose Bowl featured the No. 1 USC Trojans defending their national title against the No. 2 Texas Longhorns. For the second year in a row, USC’s bowl game featured two Heisman winners, but this time they were both Trojans – 2004 winner Matt Leinart at quarterback and 2005 winner Reggie Bush. Texas, however, featured quarterback Vince Young, and in a dramatic finish, Young’s touchdown run with just 19 seconds remaining gave Texas a 41-38 win and its first national championship since 1970.


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