Hall of Fame - Inductee Detail

Jim "Big Jim" Tatum

Jim "Big Jim" Tatum


  • Position: Coach
  • School: North Carolina, Oklahoma, Maryland
  • Years: 1942-1958
  • Inducted: 1984
  • Place of Birth: McColl, SC
  • Date of Birth: Jul 22, 1913
  • Place of Death: Chapel Hill, NC
  • Date of Death: Jul 23, 1959

Member Biography

"Big Jim" Tatum got his first taste of football with Carl Snavely's North Carolina Tarheels. Born in McColl, South Carolina, in 1913, the 6-foot-3, 230-pounder made All- Southern tackle before going on to coach at North Carolina, Oklahoma and Maryland. His overall record for his career stands at 100-35-7. After graduating from North Carolina, Tatum went to Cornell with Snavely and stayed two seasons as an assistant coach. Tatum then returned to his alma mater as Bear Wolf's assistant, and when Wolf entered the Navy, coached the Tarheels for one season before he, too, enlisted. Following indoctrination, Tatum was assigned to the Iowa Pre- Flight School where he was an assistant under Don Faurot. It was there that Tatum mastered the Split-T offense, and it was this set (with some variations) that he used so successfully during his later coaching days. After leaving the service, Tatum was named head coach at Oklahoma, posting an 8-3-0 record in 1946. In 1947, Tatum accepted the head coaching job at Maryland and compiled an outstanding 73-15-4 record with the Terps, including one stretch of 19 straight wins. The Terrapins beat top-ranked Tennessee, 23-13, in the 1952 Sugar Bowl, and Tatum was elected Coach of the Year in 1953. He returned to his alma mater in 1956 for three more seasons before his death in 1959.