Hall of Fame - Inductee Detail

Jake Gaither

Jake Gaither


  • Position: Coach
  • School: Florida A&M
  • Years: 1945-1969
  • Inducted: 1975
  • Place of Birth: Dayton, TN
  • Date of Birth: Apr 11, 1903
  • Place of Death: Tallahassee, FL
  • Date of Death: Feb 18, 1994

Member Biography

Jake Gaither had a simple coaching philosophy, one which has become the most-quoted recruiting theory in football. He wanted his players "mo-bile, a-gile and hos-tile". He found enough players of that caliber, and taught them well enough, that he will never be forgotten whenever the conversation settles upon the names of football's great coaches. Gaither was an All-Conference end at Knoxville College. He coached at the academy level, Henderson Institute and St. Paul's, 1927-36. He moved to Florida A&M as assistant coach in 1937 and was Florida A&M head coach 1945-69. His 25- year record was 203-36-4, a percentage of .844. His teams won their conference 18 times and were black college national champions six times. His name was Alonzo Gaither; everybody called him Jake. He had a bachelor's degree from Knoxville, 1927, and master's from Ohio State, 1937. In 1963 he wrote a book, "The Split Line T." Gaither was a member of the President's Council on Physical Fitness. In 1975 he was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame, received a Distinguished American Award from the Walter Camp Foundation, and received the A.A. Stagg Award from the American Football Coaches Association. The state of Florida produced a film "Coach and Teacher" portraying him as part of its "Great Floridian" series. In Tallahassee, a street, a park, a golf course, and a gymnasium were named for him. In a 10-year streak 1953-62, his teams went 87-7-1. He was a champion debater in college and a dynamic speaker afterward. Gaither was born April 11, 1903, in Dayton, Tennessee. He died February 18, 1994, at age 90.