Hugo Bezdek

Hugo Bezdek
Sport(s) Football, basketball, baseball
Biographical details
Born (1884-04-01)April 1, 1884
Prague, Austria-Hungary
Died September 19, 1952(1952-09-19) (aged 68)
Atlantic City, New Jersey
Playing career
1904–1905 Chicago
Position(s) Fullback
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1906 Oregon
1907 Chicago (assistant)
1908–1912 Arkansas
1913–1916 Oregon
1918–1929 Penn State
1937–1938 Cleveland Rams
1949 Delaware Valley
1906–1907 Oregon
1913–1917 Oregon
1919 Penn State (interim HC)
1908–1913 Arkansas
1914–1917 Oregon
1917–1919 Pittsburgh Pirates
1920–1930 Penn State
Administrative career (AD unless noted)
1918–1936 Penn State
Head coaching record
Overall 127–58–16 (college football)
1–13 (NFL)
28–37 (college basketball)
166–187 (MLB)
222–123–1 (college baseball)
Bowls 2–1
College Football Hall of Fame
Inducted in 1954 (profile)

Hugo Francis Bezdek (April 1, 1884 – September 19, 1952) was a Czech American sports figure who played American football and was a coach of football, basketball, and baseball. He was the head football coach at the University of Oregon (1906, 1913–1917), the University of Arkansas (1908–1912), Pennsylvania State University (1918–1929), and Delaware Valley College (1949). Bezdek also coached the Mare Island Marines in the 1918 Rose Bowl and the Cleveland Rams of the National Football League (NFL) in 1937 and part of the 1938 season. In addition, Bezdek coached basketball at Oregon (1906–1907, 1913–1917) and Penn State (1919), coached baseball at Arkansas (1909–1913), Oregon (1914–1917) and Penn State (1920–1930), and served as the manager of Major League Baseball's Pittsburgh Pirates (1917–1919). He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a coach in 1954.

Coaching career

After playing as a fullback at the University of Chicago, Bezdek began his football coaching career at the University of Oregon in 1906, but left after a year to become head coach at the University of Arkansas. Arkansas athletic teams carried the name of Cardinals until the close of 1909 season. Coach Bezdek referred to his team as "a wild band of Razorbacks" at a post-season rally following an unbeaten season. This nickname has been applied to Arkansas teams since that time. After five years at Arkansas, he returned to Oregon for six seasons.

While coaching in Oregon, Bezdek also served as a scout for Major League Baseball's Pittsburgh Pirates, who hired him as their manager in the middle of the 1917 season. He managed the Pirates through 1919, compiling a 166–187 record.

While managing the Pirates, Bezdek continued his football coaching career, moving from Oregon to Penn State in 1919. He was head coach there until 1929, amassing a 65–30–11 record that included two undefeated seasons and an appearance in the 1923 Rose Bowl. Bezdek was noted for changing the Nittany Lions' style of play.[1]

Bezdek also served as Penn State's athletic director from 1918 to 1936, was interim basketball coach in 1919, garnering an 11–2 record, and director of the School of Physical Education and Athletics from 1930 to 1937.

In 1937, Bezdek was hired by the Cleveland Rams as their first head coach after the team joined the National Football League (NFL). His career with the Rams was brief, ending three games into the 1938 season with an abysmal 1–13 record. Nevertheless, Bezdek holds the distinction of being the only person to have served as both manager of a Major League Baseball team and head coach in the NFL.

As a college football coach, Bezdek tallied a career record of 127–58–16. He was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1954.

Head coaching record

College football

Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs
Oregon Webfoots (Independent) (1906)
1906 Oregon 5–0–1
Arkansas Cardinals/Razorbacks (Independent) (1908–1912)
1908 Arkansas 5–4
1909 Arkansas 7–0
1910 Arkansas 7–1
1911 Arkansas 6–2–1
1912 Arkansas 4–6
Arkansas: 29–13–1
Oregon Webfoots (Independent) (1913–1915)
1913 Oregon 3–3–1
1914 Oregon 4–2–1
1915 Oregon 7–2
Oregon Webfoots (Pacific Coast Conference) (1916–1917)
1916 Oregon 7–0–1 2–0–1 2nd W Rose
1917 Oregon 4–3 1–2 4th
Oregon: 30–10–4 3–2–1
Mare Island Marines (Independent) (1917)
1917 Mare Island 1–0 W Rose
Mare Island: 1–0
Penn State Nittany Lions (Independent) (1918–1929)
1918 Penn State 1–2–1
1919 Penn State 7–1
1920 Penn State 7–0–2
1921 Penn State 8–0–2
1922 Penn State 6–4–1 L Rose
1923 Penn State 6–2–1
1924 Penn State 6–3–1
1925 Penn State 4–4–1
1926 Penn State 5–4
1927 Penn State 6–2–1
1928 Penn State 3–5–1
1929 Penn State 6–3
Penn State: 65–30–11
Delaware Valley Aggies (Independent) (1949)
1949 Delaware Valley 2–5
Delaware Valley: 2–5
Total: 127–58–16

See also


  1. COACH BEZDEK CHANGES TEAM'S STYLE OF PLAY FOR THIRD TIME TROJANS TO TACKLE A REORGANIZED ELEVEN; Nittany Lions to Take Field With Almost a Completely New Bunch of Regulars. Los Angeles Times, December 27, 1922. Hugo "Spinx" Bezdek, commander-in-chief of the Penn State football squad, which is to meet the University of Southern California in the annual East-West Tournament of Roses New Year's Day game, changes the style of his eleven's play almost as much as a woman changes her mind.
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