10/8/1931 age 87|
|Coaching career (HC unless noted)|
|1958–1959||Air Force (assistant)|
|1995||Memphis Mad Dogs|
|Administrative career (AD unless noted)|
(director of football)
|Head coaching record|
|Accomplishments and honors|
|1 Big Eight (1968)|
Franklin Cullen "Pepper" Rodgers (born October 8, 1931) is a former American football player and coach. He was the head coach at the University of Kansas (1967–1970), University of California, Los Angeles (1971–1973), and the Georgia Institute of Technology (1974–1979), compiling a career college football record of 73–65–3 (.528).
Rodgers was also the head coach of the United States Football League's Memphis Showboats from 1984 to 1985 and of the Canadian Football League's Memphis Mad Dogs in 1995. He also served as the Washington Redskins director of football from 2001 to 2004. At 69, he was considered for the Redskins' head coaching position before Norv Turner's eventual firing during the 2000 season.
From Atlanta, Rodgers played college football at Georgia Tech under head coach Bobby Dodd, where he was a member of the Yellow Jackets' 1952 national championship team as a backup quarterback and placekicker. In his second year as a head coach, he led the Kansas Jayhawks to a share of the Big Eight Conference title in 1968, the program's most recent conference championship. They played in the Orange Bowl in Miami, but lost by a point to Penn State.
At UCLA in the Pac-8, Rodgers installed the wishbone offense and with junior college transfer quarterback Mark Harmon in 1972, the Bruins upset top-ranked and two-time defending champion Nebraska in the season opener, snapping the Huskers' 32-game unbeaten streak. UCLA finished 8–3 and fifteenth in the final AP rankings; in 1973 they were 9–2 and ended ranked twelfth. (Prior to the 1975 season, the Pac-8 and Big Ten conferences allowed only one postseason participant each, for the Rose Bowl.) He left after the 1973 season to become head coach at Georgia Tech.
Rodgers is the author of Fourth and Long Gone, a fictional book published in 1985 that is a bawdy roman à clef of his experiences as a college football coach and recruiter. He also wrote an autobiography: Pepper, written with Al Thomy. Rodgers graduated from Georgia Tech in 1955.
On January 1, 2018, the Allstate Sugar Bowl introduced a new Sugar Bowl Hall of Fame with an inaugural class composed of 16 legends of the annual New Orleans football classic. Pepper Rodgers was inducted as a member of the inaugural class. The first class of Hall of Famers spans seven decades of Sugar Bowl action and includes 12 all-star players, two national championship coaches and two individuals who had the rare distinction of both playing and coaching in the Bowl. Pepper Rodgers debuted in the Sugar Bowl in 1953 as he threw a touchdown pass, kicked a field goal and knocked home three point-after kicks in Georgia Tech’s 24-7 victory over Ole Miss. He outdid himself the following year, however, passing for 195 yards and three touchdowns while kicking another field goal and two more extra-points to lead the Yellow Jackets to a bowl record 42 points in a lopsided victory over West Virginia.
Assistant coaches under Pepper Rodgers who became NCAA head coaches:
Sixteen coaches served as assistant coaches under Pepper Rodgers and became NCAA head football coaches. Three of those coaches were inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.
Assistant Coaches under Pepper Rodgers who became NCAA head football coaches and were inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame:
- John Harold Cooper- Cooper was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a coach in 2008. In 1967, Cooper served as defensive coordinator at Kansas under Pepper Rodgers. He served as the head football coach at the University of Tulsa , Arizona State University , and Ohio State University , compiling a career record of 192–84–6.
- Terrence Michael "Terry" Donahue- Donahue was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2000. In 1967, Donahue began his coaching career as an unpaid intern at the University of Kansas under head football coach Pepper Rodgers . He later joined Rodger’s coaching staff at Kansas as defensive line coach and followed Rodgers to UCLA as offensive line coach. He served as the head football coach of the UCLA Bruins from 1976 to 1995, compiling a record of 151–74–8. From 2001 to 2005, Donahue was the general manager for the San Francisco 49ers of the National Football League (NFL). Donahue has the most conference wins of any coach in Pacific-10 Conference history (98) and also the most wins in UCLA Bruins football history (151).
- Stephen Orr Spurrier- Spurrier was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a coach in 2017, making him one of four members to be inducted as both a player and a coach. In 1979, Spurrier served as the quarterbacks coach at Georgia Tech under head football coach Pepper Rodgers. Spurrier served as the head coach of Duke University, University of Florida and University of South Carolina. Spurrier retired as the winningest coach in both Florida and South Carolina history, and has the second most coaching wins in the history of the SEC behind only Bear Bryant. He also served as head football coach for two professional teams, the Tampa Bay Bandits of the United States Football League and the Washington Redskins of the National Football League .
Other Distinguished Assistant Coaches under Pepper Rodgers who became NCAA head football coaches:
- Sandy Buda- Buda served as a graduate Assistant Coach at Kansas under Pepper Rodgers. From 1978 to 1989 Buda served as head football coach at the University of Nebraska-Omaha. One of the most successful football coaches in UNO history, Sandy Buda compiled an 84-49 record from 1978–89 and captured North Central Conference titles in 1983 and 1984. His teams advanced to the NCAA Division II playoffs twice - in 1978 and 1984, when the Mavericks lost in the national semifinal game.
- Dick Bestwick- From 1967 to 1975 Bestwick served as an assistant coach at Georgia Tech. He served as the offensive line coach under Pepper Rodgers. He served as the head football coach of the University of Virginia from 1976 to 1981
- Jim Criner- In 1973, Criner served as the offensive line coach at UCLA under Pepper Rodgers. He served as head football coach at Boise State University and Iowa State University, compiling a career college football head coaching record of 76–46–3. Criner was also the head coach of the NFL Europe's Scottish Claymores from 1995 to 2000, and the short-lived XFL's Las Vegas Outlaws in 2001. Criner was later a scout for the Kansas City Chiefs of the NFL under head coach Dick Vermeil, whom he assisted at UCLA in the mid-1970s.
- William Alexander "Bill" Curry- In 1976, Curry served as an assistant at Georgia Tech under Pepper Rodgers. He served as head football coach at Georgia State University, Georgia Institute of Technology, the University of Alabama, and the University of Kentucky. Curry was honored in 1989 as the SEC Coach of the Year and received the Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year Award. He was a NFL Champion for the 1965 Green Bay Packers, and again in 1966 with Super Bowl I. He played football for ten seasons in the National Football League with four different teams: the Green Bay Packers , the Baltimore Colts , the Houston Oilers , and the Los Angeles Rams . He served for three seasons in the NFL (1977–1979) as Offensive Line Coach with the Green Bay Packers.
- Edward Harrell Emory, Sr.- Emory served as defensive line coach at Georgia Tech under Pepper Rodgers. He became East Carolina University's head football coach in 1980. In 1983, he guided the Pirates to an 8–3 record and a #20 ranking in the Associated Press final national poll.
- Dave Fagg- Fagg served as offensive backfield coach at Georgia Tech, under Pepper Rodgers. He served as head football coach at Davidson from 1990-92. He also served as head football coach at Davidson from 1970–1973.
- Donald Preston "Don" Fambrough- Fambrough served as the offensive line coach at Kansas under Pepper Rodgers. He served as the head football coach at the University of Kansas from 1971 to 1974 and again from 1979 to 1982.
- Dave McClain- From 1967-1968 Mclean was an assistant coach at the University of Kansas under Pepper Rodgers. McClain served as the head football coach at Ball State University from 1971 to 1977 and at the University of Wisconsin–Madison from 1978 to 1985. He was inducted into the Bowling Green State University Athletic Hall of Fame in 1986. He was inducted into the Ball State University Athletic Hall of Fame in 1990. In 1986, the Big Ten Conference dedicated its football Coach of the Year award in honor of McClain. In 2011, McClain was inducted into UW's Athletic Hall of Fame.
- Homer Austin Smith- In 1973, Smith was the offensive coordinator at U.C.L.A. under Pepper Rodgers, when the team, using the wishbone, led the nation in rushing, averaging 400.3 yards a game. Smith served as the head football coach at Davidson College, the University of the Pacific , and the United States Military Academy , compiling a career college football record 53–71–1. In 1997, Smith was a finalist for the Broyles Award, given annually to the nation's top college football assistant coach. Smith was named 1977 Eastern College Conference Coach of the Year and was presented an Outstanding Achievement Award by the American Football Coaches Association in 2006.
- Charlie Taaffe- Taaffe served as a graduate assistant coach-wide receivers at Georgia Tech under Pepper Rodgers. Taaffe served as the head football coach at The Citadel , and was the head coach of the Canadian Football League Montreal Alouettes and Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
- Richard Hastings Tomey- Tomey coached the defensive backs at Kansas from 1967 to 1970 under Pepper Rodgers. In 1971, he followed Rodgers to UCLA where he served as both offensive line and defensive backs coach. Tomey served as the head football coach at the University of Hawaii, University of Arizona, and San Jose State University, compiling a career college football record of 183–145–7.
- Douglas W. Weaver- Weaver served as a graduate assistant coach at Georgia Tech and as defensive end coach at UCLA, under Pepper Rodgers. He served as the head football coach at Kansas State University and at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. Weaver was also the athletic director at the Georgia Institute of Technology from 1976 to 1979 and at Michigan State University from 1979 to 1989.
- Barry Wilson- Wilson served as the linebacker coach at Georgia Tech under Pepper Rodgers. He served as the head football coach at Duke University from 1990 to 1993.
Head coaching record
|Kansas Jayhawks (Big Eight Conference) (1967–1970)|
|UCLA Bruins (Pacific-8 Conference) (1971–1973)|
|Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (NCAA Division I / I-A independent) (1974–1979)|
|1978||Georgia Tech||7–5||L Peach|
- Ferguson, Lew (December 14, 1968). "Kansas coach makes football a fun game". Free Lance-Star. Fredericksburg, Virginia. Associated Press. p. 7.
- "Tech fires Pepper". Spartanburg Herald. South Carolina. Associated Press. December 19, 1979. p. D1.
- McKenna, Dave (2010-11-19). "The Cranky Redskins Fan's Guide to Dan Snyder". Washington City Paper. Retrieved 2012-11-08.
- "Georgia Tech cops 17 to 14 thriller from Baylor Bears". Free Lance-Star. Fredericksburg, Virginia. Associated Press. January 2, 1952. p. 5.
- "Pepper Rodgers hired as UCLA grid coach". Spokesman-Review. Spokane, Washington. Associated Press. January 8, 1971. p. 15.
- Jenkins, Dan (September 18, 1972). "Young Harmon makes his mark". Sports Illustrated. p. 32.
- "Bruins upend Cornhuskers on Herrera's field goal, 20-17". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). Associated Press. September 10, 1972. p. 3C.
- Nissenson, Herschel (January 3, 1973). "It's official: Trojans No. 1 grid team". Reading Eagle. (Pennsylvania). Associated Press. p. 48.
- Nissenson, Herschel (January 3, 1974). "Notre Dame No. 1 in final AP grid poll". Reading Eagle. (Pennsylvania). Associated Press. p. 32.
- "Allstate Sugar Bowl Announces Inaugural Hall of Fame Class".
- Suguira, Ken (October 16, 2015). "Did Georgia Tech and Pepper Rodgers keep Steve Spurrier's career alive?". Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
- Conversations with Coach Pepper Rodgers, January 2018