January 26: This Date in American Football History

Notre Dame - Manti Te'o
Manti Te’o

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.


1926 – College Football Hall of Fame Class of 1994 member John Merritt was born. Merritt played guard for Kentucky State (1947-1949). After graduation, he entered the coaching profession rising quickly to take over as the head coach at Jackson State (1952-1962). He then took over at Tennessee A&I (now Tennessee State) where he spent the final 21 seasons of his career (1963-1983). He finished with a career record of 233-67-11.

1948 – College Football Hall of Fame Class of 2011 member Mike Kelly was born. Kelly played quarterback for Manchester in the 1960’s. He then entered the coaching profession eventually taking over as the head coach a Dayton where he spent 27 years (1981-2007) in the role before retiring.

1965 – College Football Hall of Fame Class of 1958 member Harry Stuhldreher died. Stuhldreher played quarterback for Notre Dame (1922-1924). After college, he signed with the independent Waterbury Blues for the 1925 season which then became the Hartford Blues late in the season after an agreement to join the NFL for the 1926 season. Stuhldreher played for the Blues that season as well and also spent time that season with the league’s Brooklyn Lions. His professional career as a player overlapped the beginning of his college coaching career, too, as he took over as the head coach of the Villanova program in 1925 and ultimately coached the Wildcats through the 1935 season. In 1936, he took over the Wisconsin program and remained there for the final 13 years of his coaching career retiring after the 1948 season. He was elected to the Hall of Fame as a player, but also compiled a respectable 110-87-15 record as a coach.

1983 – College Football Hall of Fame Class of 1986 member Paul “Bear” Bryant died. Bryant played end for Alabama (1933-1935). He immediately entered the coaching profession after college eventually taking over as the head coach at Maryland for one year (1945). He then moved on to Kentucky (1946-1953) and Texas A&M (1954-1957). He made his name as, perhaps, the greatest coach in college football history, however, at Alabama where he won six national championships over the course of his final 25 seasons (1958-1982) as a college head coach. He coached his final game on December 29, 1982, leading the Crimson Tide to a 21-15 win over Illinois in the Liberty Bowl. Less than a month later, he passed away at the age of 69.

1991 – Multiple award winner Manti Te’o was born. Te’o played linebacker for Notre Dame (2009-2012).  During his senior season, he was one of the biggest individual award winners in college football history taking home the Maxwell Award, the Walter Camp Player of the Year Award, the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, the Chuck Bednarik Award, the Butkus Award, the Rotary Lombardi Award and the Lott Trophy while finishing second in the Heisman Trophy voting. He was selected in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft by the San Diego Chargers where he has played ever since.


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