Hall of Fame - Inductee Detail

John Heisman

John Heisman


  • Position: Coach
  • School: Oberlin, Akron, Auburn, Clemson, Georgia Tech, Pennsylvania, Washington & Jefferson, Rice
  • Years: 1892-1927
  • Inducted: 1954
  • Place of Birth: Cleveland, OH
  • Date of Birth: Oct 23, 1869
  • Place of Death: New York, NY
  • Date of Death: Oct 03, 1936

Member Biography

John Heisman, for whom the coveted Heisman Trophy is named, stands only behind Amos Alonzo Stagg, Pop Warner and Walter Camp as a master innovator of the brand of football of his day. The Cleveland, Ohio, native originated the hidden-ball play, was the first to place his quarterback at safety on defense, invented the center snap, dreamed up the concept of the scoreboard, introduced the "hike" vocal signal for initiating a play, led the fight to reduce the game from halves to quarters, and was in the forefront of the move to legalize the pass in 1906. Heisman played every line position during his years at Brown (1887-1889) and Penn (1890-1891), and began his coaching career at Oberlin in 1892. A year later, he moved to Akron, then back to Oberlin in 1894, followed by Auburn (1895-99), Clemson (1900-03), Georgia Tech (1904-1919), Penn (1920-1922), Washington & Jefferson (1923), and finally, Rice (1924-1927). His overall career record stood at 185-70-17 when he closed out his coaching days after the 1927 campaign. A Shakespearean actor during the off-season, Heisman enjoyed a sense of drama, often giving his pep talks in an exaggerated stage English. His philosophy insisted a coach must be masterful and commanding, even dictatorial. Heisman was 66 and preparing to write a history of football when he died in 1936.