Hall of Fame - Inductee Detail

Tommy Prothro

Tommy Prothro


  • Position: Coach
  • School: Oregon State, UCLA
  • Years: 1955-1970
  • Inducted: 1991
  • Place of Birth: Dyersburg, TN
  • Date of Birth: Jul 20, 1920
  • Place of Death: Memphis, TN
  • Date of Death: May 14, 1995

Member Biography

Tommy Prothro was a winner all the way. He played quarterback under Hall of Famer Wallace Wade at Duke, and in 1941 won the Jacobs Award as the best blocker in the Southern Conference. In 10 years at Oregon State he had a 63-37-2 record, the best on the west coast. Moving to UCLA in 1965, he coached there six years and went 41- 18-3. That made his overall record 104-55-5. He had two Heisman winners, Terry Baker at Oregon State, 1962, and Gary Beban at UCLA, 1967. After UCLA he moved to the pros, with the Los Angeles Rams and San Diego Chargers. Prothro attended Central High School in Memphis and Riverside Military Academy. He competed in football, baseball, and lacrosse at Duke and graduated in 1942 with a degree in political science. In the fall of 1942 he was line coach at Western Kentucky. Prothro served 39 months in the Navy; he was a lieutenant on an aircraft carrier. He joined the staff of Red Sanders and was his assistant at Vanderbilt 1946-48 and UCLA 1949-1954. When he became head coach at Oregon State in 1955, the school had just finished a 1-8 season, its worst in history. His first team went 6-3. His next team was 7-3-1 and went to the Rose Bowl. Prothro's 1962 team finished 9-2 and won the Liberty Bowl from Villanova 6-0 on Terry Baker's 99-yard run. He moved to UCLA in 1965, went 8-2-1, and was Coach of the Year. That team lost to Michigan State 13-3 in September, met Michigan State in a rematch in the Rose Bowl, and won 14-12. Prothro was born July 20, 1920, in Dyersburg, TN and died May 14, 1995, in Memphis. He was the son of Thompson "Doc" Prothro, a major league baseball manager, and a nephew of General Clifton Cates, commandant of the US Marine Corps.